Categories
New Media Social Media Security

Latin America’s Wired Activists Take on Crime

2011 Peace march in Mexico City. Image: Wikipedia.

Buenos Aires, 5 November 2013 (IRIN) – In Latin America, where violent crime rates are six times higher than in any other region and where most residents have reported distrust in the state’s ability to fight crime, a number of communities have taken to social media to boost security, say analysts.

“Violent crime in Latin America undermines the social fabric of communities [and poses] a major human security threat to populations who live in slum areas,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a US-based non-profit security policy group.

Violent crime has soared in the past decade with murder rates for Latin and Central America four times the global average in 2011, at 29 per 100,000 people, according to a 2013 UN Development Programme (UNDP) report.

In parallel, internet access in Latin America has multiplied thirteenfold in the past decade, providing communities with an alternative way to report crimes in near anonymity, share information on violence hotspots, mobilize community policing and organize protests calling for greater security.

Categories
International Relations Elections

Guinea Poised to Complete Transition to Civilian Rule

Cellou Dalein Diallo, Former Prime Minister of Guinea and President of Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). Image by Friends of Europe / Flickr.

Guinea’s parliamentary election, to be held later this month, will establish a legislative assembly after almost five years without one, and formally complete a transition to civilian rule. But the long-overdue poll is fraught with political and ethnic tensions that analysts say hinder reforms and progress.

The legislative election was supposed to be held six months after the 2010 presidential poll that brought President Alpha Condé to power, but after protracted disputes between the government and the opposition, Guineans will instead vote on 24 September of this year.

Guineans remain sharply divided over Condé’s win in the run-off against opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, and supporters on each side see the legislative poll as an occasion to demonstrate their party’s political weight. Many political leaders who backed Condé in 2010 are now supporting the opposition in the parliamentary election.

Categories
Security

New Opium Elimination Plan in Myanmar

Opium poppy. Photo: Laughlin Elkind/Flickr
Opium poppy after harvest. Photo: Laughlin Elkind/Flickr.

A recent peace initiative in Myanmar’s eastern Shan State could play a key role in poppy eradication in a country which is the world’s second largest opium producer, experts say.

“It’s a very important milestone,” Jason Eligh, country manager for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Myanmar, told IRIN explaining a new plan to wean farmers off poppy in rebel-controlled areas. “It demonstrates a good starting point in developing trust.”

The plan, involving the Burmese government and its military, an armed ethnic group in Shan State, and UNODC, will allow survey staff into Shan State, responsible for 90 percent of the country’s poppy cultivation.

Despite past government efforts to rid the country of poppy, the rate of cultivation has steadily risen over the past six years, experts say.

Categories
Government

Tamils Want More Devolved Power in Sri Lanka’s North

Man walking in North Sri Lanka.

Ahead of Sri Lanka’s planned provincial election in a former war zone, the country’s main ethnic minority Tamil party is pushing to have as much power devolved from Colombo as possible.

The island nation has grappled for decades with the question of the devolution of power to its nine provinces, particularly the Northern and Eastern provinces, considered by Tamils to be their homeland.

In the early 1980s Tamil frustrations at what they perceived to be discriminatory tactics employed by the state led to the growth of a militant movement and a 26-year civil war that lasted until May 2009, when government forces defeated the separatist Liberations Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“The issue really is the extent of executive powers the [presidentially appointed provincial] governor will be sharing with the [provincial] board of ministers,” Abraham Sumanthiran, an MP from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said recently. TNA is the largest national party representing minority Tamils from the north.

Categories
Uncategorized

Slowing Nigerian Grain Trade Threatens Sahel Food Security

Local maize storage barn in Africa.

Northern Nigeria’s grain trade, which supplies almost half of the Sahel’s cereals, has slowed severely, while abnormally high prices of staple grains across the Sahel are causing serious food security concerns in this chronically vulnerable region.

The areas most at risk are southeastern and central Niger, which are highly dependent on Nigerian grain flows, as well as northern Nigeria and northern Benin. Chad is somewhat protected from the dynamic, as it produced a healthy harvest in 2012, says FEWS NET.

World Food Programme (WFP) market analysts report that grain supply is low in many of the main markets across the region, and that fewer traders from Niger and elsewhere are crossing the border to re-supply in Nigeria. Cross-border trade is significantly down in Nigeria’s Maigatari market (near Zinder in Niger), Illela (near Tahoua), Jibya (near Maradi) and Damassack (near Diffa), according to WFP.