Danes demand human rights in Western Sahara

With the backing of a majority of parliament, the Danish organization Afrika Kontakt is calling on the UN to step up human rights efforts and protect the native people of Western Sahara.

Danes demand human rights in Western Sahara
A mosque in Dakhla, Western Sahara. Photo: David Stanley/Flickr
In a letter, Danish solidarity organization Afrika Kontakt, along with Danish MEP Rina Ronja Kari and other Danish organizations, has urged the President of the United Nations Security Council to give the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, a mandate to monitor the human rights situation in Africa’s last colony. The letter also urges the President to protect the natural resources of the indigenous population in Western Sahara, the Saharawis.
“The implementation of these two matters is essential for a just, peaceful and viable solution to the Western Sahara conflict in accordance with relevant human rights treaties, the UN Charter and the Geneva Convention, as well as for the protection of the interests of the Saharawis until such a solution is found”, the letter states, pointing to the fact that “the UN and many human rights organizations have documented numerous instances of ongoing human rights violations such as torture, unfair trials and arbitrary court rulings, as well as discrimination and illegal plundering of the natural resources that legally belong to The Saharawis”.
The letter also states that these pleas are in line with the explicit wishes of a vast majority in the Danish parliament.
“In this request, we are in line with the Danish government and a vast majority of parliament. The Danish Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2014 adopted a report on Western Sahara that, amongst other things, stated that Denmark will continue to support the endeavours of the United Nations to ensure a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, that MINURSO must be allowed to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and that Danish governmental institutions and companies are recommended not to buy products from Western Sahara”.
MINURSO is the only UN peacekeeping mission established since 1978 not to have a human rights mandate, although UN Security Council Resolution 1979 recommends the establishment of such a mission.
The UN Security Council will decide whether to allow MINURSO to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara, when they extend MINURSO’s mandate at the end of this month.
Read the whole letter here
Peter Kenworthy is a freelance journalist for Africa Kontakt and other publications. 

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Denmark makes massive new Ebola contribution

An additional 115 million kroner, health personnel and a military supply ship are among the new commitments Denmark has made to help contain the Ebola epidemic.

Denmark makes massive new Ebola contribution
A Liberian health worker holds a baby infected with the Ebola virus on October 18th at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center in Monrovia. Photo: Zoom Dosso/Scanpix
For the second time in as many days, Denmark on Wednesday announced an increased contribution to the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.
Wednesday’s announcement was the significantly larger of the two, with Trade and Development Minister Mogens Jensen saying that Denmark will provide an additional 115 million kroner ($19.5 million), make medical workers available and supply a camp to accommodate international health personnel in Sierra Leone.
“From the Danish side, we have committed a quick and massive effort to contain the epidemic through a comprehensive approach. We can help save thousands of lives in west Africa and contribute to keeping the epidemic under control,” Jensen said in a statement. 
The announcement came just one day after Denmark committed an additional ten million kroner ($1.7 million) to Ghana’s regional efforts to combat Ebola. 
The new donation includes 30 million kroner ($5.1 million) in the form of contributions to a base camp and training facilities for up to 60 international health workers, 30 million kroner each to the UN’s Ebola trust fund and the World Bank’s Ebola fund, ten million kroner to cover the costs of sending Danish health workers to affected areas and 4.8 million kroner ($816,000) to the WHO’s efforts in Mali. 
On top of that, the Defence Ministry will contribute ten million kroner of its budget to send a Danish transport ship stocked with emergency materials. 
“I’m proud that the Defence and the Danish Emergency Management Agency are contributing with talented experts who can help to fight the epidemic and save lives,” Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen said in a statement. 
With the new contributions, Denmark has now given a total of 190 million kroner to the efforts to contain Ebola in west Africa, where it is estimated to have claimed some 4,500 lives.