Category Archives: Lifestyle

UN Faces Many Challenges as It Prepares to Mark 75th Anniversary

GENEVA – Preparations for the observation of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary are underway as the world body’s ability to maintain global peace and security appears ever more tenuous.

The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of World War II on October 24, 1945, to prevent another devastating conflict. The 51 founding members hoped this new body would succeed where its predecessor, the League of Nations, had failed in maintaining global peace and security.

U.N. Undersecretary General Fabrizio Hoschschild is special adviser on the preparations for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. He acknowledges the world body has fallen short of this mark, but he tells VOA conflicts would have been more intense and frequent, and longer without the United Nations. Moreover, he adds, some superpower confrontations have certainly been averted.

“But at the moment, the conflict resolution aspect of the United Nations, the principle body of which is the Security Council, is clearly not fulfilling its promise. And, perhaps the most painful testimony of that is the hundreds of thousands of dead that have come out of the Syrian conflict,” he said.

Against these setbacks, Hoschschild says, are significant achievements made over the last 75 years in the betterment of the social, economic and human rights of people throughout the world.

“If we think of health, the average life expectancy when the U.N. was founded was around 50 years. Today it is around 75 years. People are living 25 years longer if we think of poverty eradication � when the U.N. was founded global poverty levels were 50%. Today they are down to 10%,” he said.

Special events are being planned in the lead up to the U.N.’s 75th anniversary on October 24. These include a large-scale youth forum at the end of March in New York and a ceremony in San Francisco on June 26 to mark the signing of the U.N. charter there on that day in 1945.

On September 21, world leaders will gather in New York at a U.N. Summit coinciding with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. They will discuss opinions and suggestions gathered throughout the year on ways to increase global cooperation.

Source: Voice of America

UN Faces Many Challenges as It Prepares to Mark 75th Anniversary

GENEVA – Preparations for the observation of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary are underway as the world body’s ability to maintain global peace and security appears ever more tenuous.

The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of World War II on October 24, 1945, to prevent another devastating conflict. The 51 founding members hoped this new body would succeed where its predecessor, the League of Nations, had failed in maintaining global peace and security.

U.N. Undersecretary General Fabrizio Hoschschild is special adviser on the preparations for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. He acknowledges the world body has fallen short of this mark, but he tells VOA conflicts would have been more intense and frequent, and longer without the United Nations. Moreover, he adds, some superpower confrontations have certainly been averted.

“But at the moment, the conflict resolution aspect of the United Nations, the principle body of which is the Security Council, is clearly not fulfilling its promise. And, perhaps the most painful testimony of that is the hundreds of thousands of dead that have come out of the Syrian conflict,” he said.

Against these setbacks, Hoschschild says, are significant achievements made over the last 75 years in the betterment of the social, economic and human rights of people throughout the world.

“If we think of health, the average life expectancy when the U.N. was founded was around 50 years. Today it is around 75 years. People are living 25 years longer if we think of poverty eradication � when the U.N. was founded global poverty levels were 50%. Today they are down to 10%,” he said.

Special events are being planned in the lead up to the U.N.’s 75th anniversary on October 24. These include a large-scale youth forum at the end of March in New York and a ceremony in San Francisco on June 26 to mark the signing of the U.N. charter there on that day in 1945.

On September 21, world leaders will gather in New York at a U.N. Summit coinciding with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. They will discuss opinions and suggestions gathered throughout the year on ways to increase global cooperation.

Source: Voice of America

Sudan Declares Christmas Public Holiday

KHARTOUM, SUDAN – Sudan’s transitional government has declared Christmas a public holiday for the first time in years. A Sudanese minister said the decision is in line with the freedoms enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Religion Affairs and Endowments Minister Nasraddeen Mufreh said the decision is a result of the historic political changes in Sudan this year. Sudan’s military leaders ousted President Omar al Bashir in April after months of nationwide protests. Later, after a deadly crackdown by the military on demonstrators in Khartoum, opposition groups and military leaders agreed to form a joint transitional government.

Mofreh said the transitional government is committed to guaranteeing all freedoms enshrined in the constitutional declaration signed in August.

The United States recently dropped Sudan from its list of nations that severely violate religious freedoms, signaling its increasing support for Sudan’s transitional government.

Mofreh welcomed the U.S. decision.

We really thank them for recognizing our efforts toward respecting freedom of worship in Sudan. They have now realized that we are a civilian government after the revolution of the great Sudanese people, Mofreh told South Sudan in Focus.

Before South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, Christian civil servants and students in Sudan would get three paid days off from work at Christmas time. But when South Sudan and its large Christian population seceded, Sudanese authorities said the country was 97 percent Muslim and imposed restrictions on religious pluralism, including restrictions on Christmas celebrations.

The secretary-general of the Sudan Council of Churches, Father William Deng, says declaring Christmas a public holiday was the proper thing to do. He says providing more rights and freedoms in Sudanese society will encourage citizens to participate in rebuilding what was destroyed during the 30 years of Bashir’s autocratic rule.

We are not Muslims, we are not Christians, we are not Arabs, and we are not Africans, we are Sudanese. And within this Sudan, there are Muslims, there are Christians, there are Africans and there are Arabs. Sudan is for the Sudanese and these Sudanese people are faithful to different religions, Deng told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

Khartoum resident Imman Kamaluddeen, who is from a Muslim family, said the transitional government is fulfilling a promise it made to the people.

There is a need for all groups to enjoy the freedom of worship, and what I am seeing in this latest decision by our government to grant Christmas as a public holiday is something good and it indicates that our government is respecting freedom of worship of all Sudanese religion, Kamaluddeen told South Sudan in Focus.

Clara Ismael, a member of Sudan’s Episcopal Church, said she is grateful to the government for declaring Christmas day a public holiday again, and she will use the occasion to visit friends and neighbors, including Muslims.

This is something worth honoring, and we really thank the transitional government and we wish them all the best for the peace process in Sudan. People need to get stability. God is great and he will bless every step, Ismael told South Sudan in Focus.

Source: Voice of America

South Africa Destroys Seized Illicitly Imported Clothes at Peak Shopping Season

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s tax authority recently destroyed more than half-a-million dollars worth of illicitly imported goods � including more than 13,000 bales of clothing � just as many South Africans are staring down a tight holiday season and a sluggish economy in a nation where millions live beneath the poverty line.

It was a tragedy, said Patrick Moeng, the executive for customs investigations in the South African Revenue Service. Just not in the way that many South Africans see it.

We have noticed over a period of time since about 2006 even earlier than that, 2001 that there has been a negative impact which was brought about by the proliferation of cheap clothing items into the market which led to the closure of a number of manufacturing firms that were responsible for employing a number of people,” he said, noting that the government has made several other large seizures of illegal goods this year.

“So, many people lost their jobs and those firms when they closed down, you are not able to create new employment which actually leads to a spiraling effect of a number of different ills that the society faces.

Now comes the math portion of this story: South Africa has long struggled with high unemployment, hitting an unprecedented level of 29 percent this year. Also this year, the nation’s manufacturing sector shrank by nearly four percent.

What that adds up to, for a lot of struggling South Africans, is outrage that the authorities couldn’t just, say, give the clothes away, or at least let people have access to cheap clothes. Many items in the latest haul, Moeng says, were perfectly useable they included children’s clothes, shoes and blankets.

Tracey Gilmore was also familiar with those dismal numbers when she founded the Clothing Bank, a business training project, in 2010. The nationwide program takes in some 2 million pieces of unsold or returned clothing items each year from major South African retailers.

But surprisingly, she says she supports the destruction of the seized clothing, much of which, she says, would never have made its way to people who truly need clothes.

The South African retail industry creates 16 million jobs,” she said. “And counterfeit clothing destroys jobs. It’s a really difficult conversation, it’s a very difficult topic because we do have a huge poverty problem in South Africa. But you can’t you can’t endorse illegal activities. You can’t accept that. And I mean how would one reasonably redistribute all of that stock?

Other African countries have also taken seemingly counterintuitive steps to protect local industry. In 2016, the East African nations of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda hiked tariffs on imports of second-hand clothing.

The U.S. which has a large stake in the global market for used clothes retaliated with threats to existing trade deals, causing Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to ease their stance. But Rwanda has stood firm on its refusal to back down, saying the cheap imported clothes are hurting local manufacturing.

Moeng says jobs are, ultimately, more important than cheap clothes and notes that South African retailers produce a wide range of locally made garments at many different price points.

He also says that when authorities tried to give away the seized clothing, they ran into more problems.

We used to donate such goods to the nongovernmental organizations that are responsible for distributing those goods to the needy in our country and things like that,” he said. “But there was a procedure that needed to be followed with it. But as a result of the challenges and the risks that we have identified through the distribution of the donation of those items into the NGOs, we found out that such goods do not find their way to the needy people where they were supposed to be going.

Source: Voice of America

South Africa Destroys Seized Illicitly Imported Clothes at Peak Shopping Season

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s tax authority recently destroyed more than half-a-million dollars worth of illicitly imported goods � including more than 13,000 bales of clothing � just as many South Africans are staring down a tight holiday season and a sluggish economy in a nation where millions live beneath the poverty line.

It was a tragedy, said Patrick Moeng, the executive for customs investigations in the South African Revenue Service. Just not in the way that many South Africans see it.

We have noticed over a period of time since about 2006 even earlier than that, 2001 that there has been a negative impact which was brought about by the proliferation of cheap clothing items into the market which led to the closure of a number of manufacturing firms that were responsible for employing a number of people,” he said, noting that the government has made several other large seizures of illegal goods this year.

“So, many people lost their jobs and those firms when they closed down, you are not able to create new employment which actually leads to a spiraling effect of a number of different ills that the society faces.

Now comes the math portion of this story: South Africa has long struggled with high unemployment, hitting an unprecedented level of 29 percent this year. Also this year, the nation’s manufacturing sector shrank by nearly four percent.

What that adds up to, for a lot of struggling South Africans, is outrage that the authorities couldn’t just, say, give the clothes away, or at least let people have access to cheap clothes. Many items in the latest haul, Moeng says, were perfectly useable they included children’s clothes, shoes and blankets.

Tracey Gilmore was also familiar with those dismal numbers when she founded the Clothing Bank, a business training project, in 2010. The nationwide program takes in some 2 million pieces of unsold or returned clothing items each year from major South African retailers.

But surprisingly, she says she supports the destruction of the seized clothing, much of which, she says, would never have made its way to people who truly need clothes.

The South African retail industry creates 16 million jobs,” she said. “And counterfeit clothing destroys jobs. It’s a really difficult conversation, it’s a very difficult topic because we do have a huge poverty problem in South Africa. But you can’t you can’t endorse illegal activities. You can’t accept that. And I mean how would one reasonably redistribute all of that stock?

Other African countries have also taken seemingly counterintuitive steps to protect local industry. In 2016, the East African nations of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda hiked tariffs on imports of second-hand clothing.

The U.S. which has a large stake in the global market for used clothes retaliated with threats to existing trade deals, causing Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to ease their stance. But Rwanda has stood firm on its refusal to back down, saying the cheap imported clothes are hurting local manufacturing.

Moeng says jobs are, ultimately, more important than cheap clothes and notes that South African retailers produce a wide range of locally made garments at many different price points.

He also says that when authorities tried to give away the seized clothing, they ran into more problems.

We used to donate such goods to the nongovernmental organizations that are responsible for distributing those goods to the needy in our country and things like that,” he said. “But there was a procedure that needed to be followed with it. But as a result of the challenges and the risks that we have identified through the distribution of the donation of those items into the NGOs, we found out that such goods do not find their way to the needy people where they were supposed to be going.

Source: Voice of America