One year later: MJ Sharp’s parents reflect

It became evident that a Congolese government translator deliberately misled MJ and Catalán because he did not translate for them part of a message saying their safety could not be guaranteed. An investigation by a U.N.-appointed international team working with the Congolese government is ongoing. The Congolese government has said militia members killed MJ and Catalán.

.. He knew when and how to ask questions and when and how to listen.

.. After building a trust relationship, the peacebuilders offered alternative ways to meet the rebels’ objectives nonviolently. In this way, the cycle of violence stopped. Talk about a revolutionary way to work.”

.. Reporters from the New York Times and NPR describe MJ sitting under a banana tree with a warlord, listening to his story, offering alternative ways of meeting his goals. Over the course of several years, MJ and his team persuaded some 1,600 rebels to lay down their weapons, which impacted some 23,000 family members. Some of those militia groups sent condolences to MJ and Catalán’s families after their deaths.

.. “Maybe we could apply [MJ’s strategy] to white supremacist groups, who also have a story to tell and are working for a goal, which is probably unachievable, but to give the respect of listening, could be a first step in resolving that conflict,” John said. “Could we do the same in the church? Instead of arguing our position, could we spend more time listening to those with whom we disagree, and so offer our respect?

.. he was shot with a shotgun.

.. According to the FBI agent who watched the film, in their final moments, MJ did not show fear, Michele said. “To the end he continued to relate on a human, relational level to his captors. I believe that even though he knew the danger he was in, he was able to stay centered and not let his fear overcome him.”

MJ was 10 days away from returning to the United States.

.. “Over the past year, the wave of violence in Kasai has claimed more than 3,000 lives and displaced an estimated 1.4 million people, with rights groups citing evidence of extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and the use of child soldiers.”

 

CDC to Scale Back Work in Dozens of Foreign Countries Amid Funding Worries

Efforts to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats were funded mostly through a five-year supplemental package

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to scale back or discontinue its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries because it expects funding for the work to end, the agency told employees.

.. The CDC currently works in 49 countries as part of an initiative called the global health security agenda, to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous infectious disease threats. It helps expand surveillance for new viruses and​ ​drug-resistant bacteria, modernize laboratories to detect dangerous pathogens​and train workers who respond to epidemics... The package included $582 million in funds to work with countries around the world after the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. But that funding runs out at the end of fiscal 2019.
.. Public health leaders had said they hoped dollars for the work would eventually be added into the CDC’s core budget, after the epidemic delivered a wake-up call about the world’s lack of preparedness for deadly epidemics.
.. if its funding situation remains the same, it will have to narrow activities to 10 “priority countries” starting in October 2019
.. The 10 countries where global health security activities will remain are India, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Jordan and Guatemala
.. Other countries where the agency currently conducts global health security agenda activities include Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the world’s main hot spots for emerging infectious diseases and the site of the first Ebola outbreak in history; Pakistan; Indonesia; Haiti; and China
.. Those countries next on the priority list, after the top 10, are China, the DRC, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Sierra Leone

Switzerland’s Niche in Global Gold Trade Draws Scrutiny

Argor-Heraeus and other Swiss gold refiners are starting to be held accountable for their industry’s alleged role in unlawful transactions and mining abuses.

 All four Swiss-based refiners have been accused in recent years of lapses related to the alleged facilitation of money laundering, human rights abuses and war crimes… a parliamentary proposal made last year for new restrictions on the industry’s acquisition of gold. Voters may have a say in about two years on a measure that could force refiners and other multinationals to disclose data on the human-rights records of their suppliers.

.. Switzerland imports gold in quantities nearly equal to the amount officially taken from the earth in any given year. Last year, Switzerland imported the equivalent of 81% of the world’s gold production from mines

.. According to a decision Swiss federal prosecutors issued last year, gold looted in the Democratic Republic of Congo to fund armed conflict was refined by Argor roughly a decade ago. Argor “provided assistance” to war crimes

Profile: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Named after the enormous Congo River and the large ethnic group living at its mouth, the Kongo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo first had its borders drawn at the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. During this conference, Africa was arbitrarily divided in ways that benefitted the European colonial powers, with no regard for existing tribal systems and linguistic groups. In some instances, these new borders separated families, while other people without previous contact suddenly became part of one nation. Many of Congo’s leaders have favored certain ethnic groups and areas over others, exacerbating differences between ethnic groups. The future of the Congo depends upon average citizens transcending the political rhetoric of hatred and uniting within an African-style democracy.