February 23, 2011

Mapping the Humanitarian Terrain

I've been incredibly busy lately, so the posts have slowed down, but today I discovered UNOCHR's dynamic regional maps on the ongoing multi-sector status of various regions and felt its worth sharing.   I'm always impressed by UNOCHR's website, although I'm often frustrated that the wealth of information available is so hard to locate or discover.  Just click the image above to explore the site.

I also discovered the monthly humanitarian update, its not very detailed, but it does at least present a decent overview.

Lastly, for today's post, I'm attaching a brief article from the ICRC on the perils of combining humanitarian aid with military support.  The author makes the point that humanitarian actors need to be clear in there policies, not just politicians or military commanders, that humanitarian aid should be independent of military support.  He also raise the point that "humanitarian space" may not actually exist, although most humanitarian's lament the space as merely shrinking.  Ultimately he argues that while conflict becomes increasingly fragmented, it is important to draw clear lines between military and humanitarian actors so as to assist the most vulnerable populations and with the least risk.  

February 6, 2011

Essay by Egyptian Activist, Demaugh Mak: "Mubarak, You are 30 years late." #Egypt, #Cairo, #FREEEGYPT, #25jan

For over a decade, if not several, Demaugh Mak has been one of the leading voices of human rights activism in Egypt.  In the few years  that I've known him, he has been arrested by the Egyptian police on several occasions for speaking out and fighting for the needs of the marginalized and oppressed people in his country - yet his convictions have only strengthened with each obstacle.  He has been kind enough to contribute this essay, highlighting some of the living conditions in Egypt and underscoring the demand for change.

Mubarak, You are 30 years late.

When you set an appointment with someone and he doesn’t show up for ten or fifteen minutes, or sometimes half an hour you may wait for him to arrive. But when he is thirty years late, that’s when you explode.

After 30 years of false promises from Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president who stepped into the ruling chair in 1981 after the late president Saddat was assassinated, how could the Egyptian people not rise up and fight for their rights?

 A real revolution has suddenly hit. All over Egypt the people are asking Mubarak to leave after all what he did to the people. He took an oath to protect and safe guard Egypt, and promised us a new brighter world, but he didn’t deliver.

Hosny Mubarak turned Egypt into a police state in which the role of the security forces is to secure his presidential throne and his gang's interests in Egypt. He doesn’t care how much 80 million Egyptians are suffering under his dictatorship.

Egyptians became burdened under the pressure of the poor economic situation, which has not improved at all during the last thirty years. Today, more than 10 million people suffer from unemployment in Egypt. Living wages seem like a myth to most. 40 % of Egyptians lives on under 2 dollars a day. Under Mubarak’s rule corruption in the public sector and the government reached levels that have never been seen before in Egypt.

As an example some (experts) are getting hired for 1,800,000 pounds a year and at the same time 10,000 employees in the same governmental sector make 99 pounds a month, which means they make approximately $18 a month. This is not an acceptable salary for a human being.

35% of Egyptians are illiterate and the educational system is getting worse every day. Curricula are irrelevant to the requirements of the market. Untrained teachers and a bad schooling system are taking the people  nowhere in this age where knowledge is power.

Egyptians have the highest rates of heart disease and liver and kidney failure in the world. In addition to the poor conditions of the public hospitals and the lack of appropriate medical services the spread of corruption to every corner of the state is reflected in the patients that do receive quality medical care. Ministers, wealthy businessmen, artists, and football players are treated at the expense of the State in the biggest hospitals in Europe and America, while some commit suicide because they cannot afford the medicine to save their children from death.

All of this didnt humiliate the Egyptians as much as the police damaged their dignity. Under Mubarak Egyptians have experienced countless incidents of torture of citizens in police stations and too many cases of murder without the officers responsible being charged. The spread of police harassment of citizens in the streets including beatings and insults created a relationship completely devoid of trust between the citizens and the police. When the police have all of the power and the people have none it creates an atmosphere where ugly things can happen.
The most dangerous sector of the police in Egypt is the state security, which controls every aspects of Egyptians’ lives. You cannot do anything in Egypt, not even hold a wedding in a hotel hall, without a permit from the State Security. The stories of kidnappings, rapes, and murders by the State Security department are too gruesome and sad to share here and there are so many they could fill the Library of Congress.
This is Egypt and this is how Egyptians were living before they decided to say “Enough!” and rise up, ironically and intentionally on the (Police Day) the 25th of January, 2011.
‘We are all Kahled Saed’ Facebook group, (Khaled was an Egyptian citizen from Alexandria who got beaten to death in the streets by two police officers.) called for a day of anger demonstration on the Police Day. No one expected the Egyptian people to take to the streets in the greatest Revolution Egypt has ever seen.

Egyptians occupied the public squares and main streets of most cities in Egypt demanding the resignation of President Mubarak, the dismissal of the government, and parliament to be dissolved. The people demanded the establishment of free elections, democracy, amendments to the constitution, and prosecution for those responsible for the rampant corruption in Egypt, and Ending of the Emergency Law that they have been living under for 30 years.

But Mubarak's regime did not respond. Rather, all of the communication networks were ordered to be shut down, this included all internet and cell phone networks, and the police were ordered to fire on demonstrators, which leads us to the Revolution on the fifth day. As of now, Egyptian police have killed more than 130 people and injured about 4000.

When demonstrators faced all of this the police forces withdrew and a malicious plan to cause chaos was enacted. Police freed criminals and thugs in the streets to steal, plunder, and rape. After this, the order was issued to bring out the army to maintain security after the withdrawal of the police and for the implementation of a curfew order. Thus far the curfew has not been enforced by the army and the army has been in the streets with the people for three days. The army was welcomed by the citizens as there is a close relationship between the army and the people. The army has a history of standing with the people and refusing to fight with them.

Demonstrators who have never used violence towards any person or establishment have formed  groups to maintain security and help the army deal with groups of criminals. They have succeeded in arresting many criminals and discovered that many of them are actually police or government backed thugs. Many of them were even carrying state issued police identification cards that stated their ties to the government.
And Now. Egyptians are controlling their country for the first time. Mubarak still doesn’t want to step down. He has made one speech in which he offered to ask the government to resigned and formed a new government with most of his old gang, but the Egyptians didn't fall for that scheme. They know that the problem isn’t just the government as much as it’s the whole fascist regime. The people insist that they want Mubarak out of power.

The Egyptian people have charged their hearts with 30 year of corruption and oppression, and anger. They will not go home and sleep without knowing they will wake the next morning to a free country.