Report: Anogola’s Historic Drought Threatens The Lives of Tens of Thousands

A new report from Amnesty International cautions the international public and Government of Angola that the lives of tens of thousands of its citizens are currently at risk of death/famine if nothing is done to help them in the immediate future. The drought is itself is said to have been an ongoing situation dating back to October 2018, and the crisis has been making international headlines dating back to May 2019 as the situation continued to worsen. Now, today, Amnesty International is warning that “tens of thousands of pastoral farmers who have been driven off their land to make way for commercial cattle ranches have been exposed to a greater risk of hunger and starvation as drought grips southern Angola.

As was explained by Amnesty International in more detail, “since the end of the civil war in 2002, the authorities have been diverting communal grazing land of Tunda dos Gambos and Vale de Chimbolela for commercial farming.” As a result, “the rise of commercial cattle ranches on this traditional grazing land has eroded economic, social, and cultural resilience, most notably food security, among the Vanyaneka and Ovaherero people in the Gambos, Angola.” This is also important to understand because it is the people/farmers whom have been locked out for federal/commercial land which have been the hardest hit by this drought, because the Government as offered them no money, resources or irrigation like they have to commercial farmers. As such, these are the people most likely to die the longer the drought exists.

Download Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR1210202019ENGLISH.pdf

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Understanding How The Global Arms Trade Leads To UAE War Crimes In Yemen

(AI) – An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen’s conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced weaponry. The investigation, “When arms go astray: Yemen’s deadly new threat of arms diversion to militias,”shows how the UAE has become a major conduit for armoured vehicles, mortar systems, rifles, pistols, and machine guns – which are being illicitly diverted to unaccountable militias accused of war crimes and other serious violations.

Full Research Presentation via Shorthand: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/

While the USA, the UK, France and other European states have rightly been criticized for supplying arms to Coalition forces, and Iran has been implicated in sending arms to the Huthis, a deadly new threat is emerging. Yemen is quickly becoming a safe haven for UAE-backed militias that are largely unaccountable,” said Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes. The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war.

The armed groups on the receiving end of these dodgy arms deals, including “The Giants,” the Security Belt and Elite Forces, are trained and funded by the UAE but are not accountable to any government. Some of them stand accused of war crimes, including during the recent offensive on the port city of Hodeidah and in the UAE-backed network of secret prisons in southern Yemen.

States Supplying Arms To UAE

According to publicly available data, since the outbreak of the Yemeni conflict in March 2015, Western states have supplied the UAE with at least US $3.5 billion worth of arms. Among them are heavy conventional weapons – including aircraft and ships – small arms, light weapons and associated parts and ammunition. Despite the serious violations attributed to the UAE and militias it backs, the following states have recently supplied the Emiratis with arms: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the USA, among others.

Amnesty International analysed open-source evidence around the battle for Hodeidah and found that military vehicles and weapons supplied to the UAE are now widely in use by militias on the ground. A wide variety of US-supplied armoured vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns, including M-ATV, Caiman and MaxxPro models, have been documented in the hands of UAE-backed militias Security Belt, Shabwani elite forces and “The Giants.

Belgian Minimi light machine guns, also likely sold to the UAE, are being deployed by “The Giants.” Other weapons used by UAE-allied militias in Hodeidah include Serbian-made Zastava MO2 Coyote machine guns and the Agrab armoured-truck-mounted Singaporean 120mm mortar system – the UAE is the only country known to purchase this combined weapon system.

Read More – The Hodeidah Offensive: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-hodeidah-offensive-3d5xqrhJxd

Elsewhere in Yemen, the UAE has directly trained and funded militias including the Security Belt and Elite Forces, which operate a shadowy network of secret prisons known as “black sites.Amnesty International and others have previously documented these forces’ role in enforced disappearances and other violations at these facilities – including detention at gunpoint, torture with electric shocks, waterboarding, hanging from the ceiling, sexual humiliation, prolonged solitary confinement, squalid conditions and inadequate food and water.

The UAE-backed militias running these black sites wield Bulgarian rifles and drive US armoured vehicles.

Read More – UAE Detention Facilities: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-detention-facilities-lbS06e1oz6

2018 Report On UAE Detention/Torture Facilities:

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Violating the Arms Trade Treaty

Many of the states that continue to supply arms to the UAE are party to the global Arms Trade Treaty. Some have other legal obligations as EU members or under domestic laws not to transfer arms being used to commit war crimes. By persisting in transferring arms to the UAE, despite overwhelming evidence those arms are being used in war crimes and other serious violations in Yemen, they are flouting these obligations.

Amnesty International calls on all states to stop supplying arms to all parties to the conflict in Yemen until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have recently announced suspending arms transfers to the UAE.

As the next round of peace talks on Yemen’s conflict looms, arms-supplying states need to reflect hard on how their arms transfers are continuing to directly and indirectly fuel war crimes and other serious violations. The proliferation of unaccountable, UAE-backed militias is worsening the humanitarian crisis and posing a growing threat to the civilian population,” said Patrick Wilcken. “Only a handful of countries have done the right thing and stopped the conveyor belt of arms to the Yemen’s devastating conflict. Others must follow in their footsteps or they will share responsibility for the devastating toll these billions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers are wreaking on civilians in Yemen.

Take Action – Sign Online Petition: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/#group-take-action-yHMN9qaIhu


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 5th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits, Tweets and Hyperlinks To Reports added by Rogue Media Labs

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New Study: Only 24.1% of Yemeni Citizens Currently Have Access To The Internet

Earlier this week, along with the help of Citizen Lab, Shodan, VirusTotal, Censys, ReversingLabs and Rapid7, Recorded Future published their latest research paper. Officially entitled “Underlying Dimensions of Yemen’s Civil War: Control of the Internet,” the paper chronicles the devastating effects of years of War on Yemen internet infrastructure, usage and connectivity. Among other topics, the report details how control of the internet in the country has shifted over the years, as well as how the internet landscape has shifted as different Waring factions have taken control over different portions of the country.

Key Findings/Statistics:

  • Since taking Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in September 2014, the Houthi rebels have controlled YemenNet – Yemens main ISP.
  • Houthi rebels continue to use what’s left of YemenNet’s IP infrastructure to host Coinhive mining services in order to generate revenue to fund their War effort.
  • The Houthi Government controls about 500 “official” Yemeni Government websites through the .ye domain.
  • In June 2018 the Hadi government created an entirely new ISP called AdenNet to counteract Houthi internet controls.
  • Only a small percentage of internet users in Yemen have the skills or knowledge to utilize VPNs, Tor, or routers with DNS recursion to circumvent government controls/surveillance.
  • Major international players, including the United States, Russia, and China have deployed malware/spyware as a means to supplement military efforts and/or leverage political opponents/dissidents.
  • Dating back to 2015, the “Yemen Cyber Army” has emerged as a major player launching attacks against government agencies.
  • Yemen ranks 50th global in population, but 148th in domain registrations.
  • The Houthi Government continues to block public access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Since the Yemeni Civil War first began, roughly 80% of all fiber optic cables have been destroyed.
  • Only 24.3% of Yemeni citizens currently have access to the internet in 2018, up from 19.1% in 2014.
  • Roughly 50% of Yemeni citizens have access to cellular phones and/or landlines.

Download Full Research Paper Here: https://go.recordedfuture.com/hubfs/reports/cta-2018-1128.pdf

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Online Activists Launch Massive Crowd-Sourcing Campaign To Document, Map & Decode Raqqa’s Destruction

(AI) – Thousands of digital activists around the world will take part in an innovative new crowdsourcing data project Amnesty International is launching today, which uses satellite imagery to help plot how the US-led military coalition’s bombings destroyed almost 80% of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Strike Tracker” is the next phase of an in-depth Amnesty International investigation, in partnership with Airwars, into the shocking scale of civilian casualties resulting from four months of US, UK and French bombardment to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from Raqqa. Amnesty International’s field investigations and analysis since the battle ended in October 2017 presented compelling evidence of apparent violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by the US-led Coalition. They prompted the Coalition to revise its civilian death toll statistics upwards of 300%.

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Based on our meticulous on-the-ground investigations, hundreds of interviews amid the rubble of Raqqa, and expert military and geospatial analysis, we’ve been able to push the US-led coalition to admit to almost every civilian death case we’ve documented so far. But with bodies still being recovered from the wreckage and mass graves more than a year later, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Milena Marin, Senior Adviser for Tactical Research on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team. “There is a mountain of evidence left to sift through, and the scale of the civilian devastation is simply too large for us to do this alone. With thousands of ‘Strike Trackers’ on the case to help us narrow down precisely when and where Coalition air and artillery strikes destroyed buildings, we can significantly scale up our ability to map out the apocalyptic destruction in Raqqa.

Get Started- Project Site Tracker: https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/strike-tracker

How It Works

Strike Tracker” will allow anybody with a mobile phone or laptop to contribute to Amnesty International’s vital research into the pattern of civilian devastation – including potential violations of the laws of war – that the Coalition has been unable or unwilling to acknowledge so far.

UN data shows that more than 10,000 buildings in Raqqa were destroyed or damaged over the course of the battle in 2017. “Strike Tracker” will help to narrow down the time-frame of the destruction of each of these from months to weeks – or even days. Volunteers will track a building across a timeline of satellite images during the battle, looking for changes and marking the dates before and after the building’s destruction.

It is expected that anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 digital activists will get involved in the month-long project. To ensure data quality, the aim is to have each destroyed building analysed multiple times by multiple trackers.

What Happens Next?

The results of “Strike Tracker” will contribute to Amnesty International’s wider efforts to:

  • raise awareness of the devastating impact on civilians trapped in Raqqa during the battle;
  • move the US-led Coalition’s position on civilian casualties from ongoing denial to accepting greater responsibility and carrying out meaningful investigations; and
  • assist and empower victims’ families and survivors to seek justice and reparation.

In a September 2018 letter to Amnesty International, the US Department of Defense – whose forces carried out most of the air strikes and all the artillery strikes on Raqqa – made clear it accepts no liability for the hundreds of civilian casualties it caused. The Coalition does not plan to compensate survivors and relatives of those killed in Raqqa and refuses to provide further information about the circumstances behind the strikes.

The Coalition’s blatant denials and shoulder-shrugging are unconscionable – their military offensive killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and then left the survivors to pick up the pieces,” said Milena Marin. “The data we glean from ‘Strike Tracker’ will take us one step closer to establishing the staggering scale of civilian casualties and will build on the legal obligation, as well as the moral imperative, for the Coalition to take full responsibility for its actions. It must acknowledge and properly investigate these cases once and for all, paving the way for justice and reparation.

Amnesty International and Airwars will publicize the results of “Strike Tracker” as part of an interactive digital platform in early 2019.

Background on Decoders

Strike Tracker” is the latest in a series of Amnesty International crowdsourcing data projects called Decoders. Since Decoders launched in June 2016, Amnesty International has successfully completed four projects, mobilizing more than 50,000 digital activists from 150 countries. The volunteers sifted through huge volumes of data, processing more than 1.5 million tasks. They helped Amnesty International researchers to analyse the success of urgent action campaignsdetect destroyed villages in remote Darfurhold oil companies to account for thousands of oil spills in Nigeria; and analyse tweets to detect online abuse and threats against women.

Learn More:

Syria – A year after Raqqa, US-led Coalition’s ongoing denials an insult to survivors: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/syria-a-year-after-raqqa-us-led-coalitions-ongoing-denials-an-insult-to-survivors/

Syria – Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led ‘war of annihilation’: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/06/syria-raqqa-in-ruins-and-civilians-devastated-after-us-led-war-of-annihilation/

No Where To Run – Trapped Inside Raqqa Syria: https://raqqa-syria.amnesty.org/


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on November 21st 2018. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and pictures added by Rogue Media Labs