Newsflashes

23 March, 2009
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call denouncing racial discrimination. UNHCR’s Navanethem Pillay, points out that, "Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are insidious, corrosive and sometimes explosive forces that devastate the lives of many individuals and, if left to fester, can undermine societies as a whole."  "They present a threat to security and often feature among the root causes of violent conflict," she says.
23 March, 2009
The head of Kellogg Co., the world's largest cereal maker, is planning to urge the US Congress to revamp how the government polices his industry. Kellog chief executive, David Mackay, wants food safety placed under a new leader in the Health and Human Services Department. Mackay is also calling for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods and other reforms.
23 March, 2009
The Freedom House has called for an independent investigation into the recent death of an Iranian blogger, who was imprisoned two years ago for posting negative blogs against Iran's leadership. Freedom House, executive director, Jennifer Windsor points out that, "Omidreza Mirsayafi's death illustrates the dangerously inhospitable environment in which bloggers operate in Iran."
23 March, 2009
Two NGOs have filed a constitutional petition in the Tanzanian High Court challenging that country’s attorney-general and three government ministries over the killings of people with albinism. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and Albino Society of Tanzania (TAS) say in their petition the attorney-general's office and ministries have violated the Constitution by not effectively dealing with the gross violations of the rights of people with albinism.
23 March, 2009
NGOs are feeling the pinch as the country teeters on the brink of a recession. This is according to the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), SANGONeT executive director, David Barnard, points out that some NGOs will have to close many of their branches especially in poor communities, if they do not receive substantial funding in the next few months.
23 March, 2009
The United Nations (UN) and several members of its security council have urged Sudan to reverse its decision to expel 13 foreign aid groups; the country says it will never back down. United States Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told the 15-nation Security Council that, “We urge the international community to press the government of Sudan to reverse its expulsion edict and to ensure it does nothing to worsen an already grave situation."
17 March, 2009
A land rights group, the Right to Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign, has rejected Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana's "use it or lose it" hard line on land redistribution. In a press statement, the organisation demands an immediate halt to the process of taking land away from historically disadvantaged farmers.
17 March, 2009
The United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) says it received last year a record number of complaints on cybersquatting - or abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet. WIPO deputy director general, Francis Gurry, points out that, "Cybersquatting remains a serious issue for trademark holders." The organisation states that in 2008, 2 329 cybersquatting cases more were brought to it for arbitration and mediation centre, up eight percent from 2007.
17 March, 2009
According to a recent report by UK think-tank Development Initiatives (DI), NGO private funding outstrips humanitarian financing from some of the world’s largest government donors. However, the volatile nature of the private funding base, particularly in periods of economic downturn, worries some NGO fundraisers.
16 March, 2009
Education Minister Naledi Pandor says government funding of higher education has risen sharply in recent years and is expected to continue to increase at rates above inflation. Pandor points out that in the 2009/10 financial year, the government will provide funding of up to R19.3 billion to public higher education, R4.1 billion more than that spent in 2007/08.
16 March, 2009
The Gauteng Provincial government has blamed the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) for creating a refugee crisis in Johannesburg. Gauteng government spokesperson Themba Sepotokele, points out that since February, the UNHCR has been providing transport for thousands of Zimbabwean refugees to come to Johannesburg without informing the authorities. “It isn't right, at all right for [the UNHCR] to bring these people into the city. They should have had the decency to communicate to the city [their plans]," says Sepotokele.
16 March, 2009
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will act to ensure developed countries keep financial pledges to Africa as the global downturn deepens, even though the continent is likely to avoid a deep recession. IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, points out that the institution is reforming its policies to give poor countries better access to credit, and more influence over its decisions.
16 March, 2009
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that the number of people who have died from cholera in the country has topped 4 000, with over 89 000 infected by the disease, but there has been a decline in new cases. WHO spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, points out that the organisation has recorded a decline in cases and deaths from week to week since the start of 2009.
16 March, 2009
According to a United Nations’ (UN) top humanitarian official, the UN and the Sudanese government do not have the capacity to fill all the gaps left by NGOs asked to stop working in Sudan. "We do not, as the UN system, the NGOs do not ... and the [Sudanese] government does not have the capacity to replace all the activities that have been going on, certainly not on any short- or medium-term basis," says John Holmes.
16 March, 2009
The Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) says that the Zimbabwe’s government of national unity is too young for Zimbabweans in South Africa to start thinking of going back home. AISA CEO, Patrick Matlou, points out that, “We must remember that the recently established government of national unity in Zimbabwe is only two months old, meaning that we still have to wait and see.”

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