Refugee To Congress

Refugee To Congress

The election to Congress of the first refugee, a Somali woman from Minneapolis has caused furor in Kenya as prominent politicians congratulated her in spite of aggressively having demanded the closure of the refugee camp she grew up in.

Ilhan Omar was the successful Democrat candidate to replace Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) who stepped down earlier this year after sexual abuse allegations which he vigorously denied, and he just won Tuesday’s Minnesota Attorney General’s race.

There’s more: Trump vehemently warned voters against supporting her, claiming that Minnesota “had suffered enough from Somali immigrants.”

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Calamity Chad

Calamity Chad

Several generations ago five million people depended upon Lake Chad in central Africa for food and work. It was Africa’s fourth largest lake, the size of New Jersey, with bountiful fish and plenty of water for irrigated farming. Today the lake is one-tenth that size and supports 45 million people.

Equal assaults on the lake by climate change and overuse portend a day soon when it will all be sand. The run-up to that could be quick, a year or less, and the human catastrophe would be unprecedented like a nuclear attack on Japan.

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Dangerous Dennis

Dangerous Dennis

norwegiansuitShould a paid aid worker in a dangerous part of the world be able to sue his NGO for not protecting him well enough?

Steve Dennis sued his employer, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), for gross negligence that resulted in his kidnapping in 2012. Dennis refused more than a half million dollars out-of-court settlement, and a Norwegian judge will now soon decide the matter.

Dennis and several others were kidnapped from the Dadaab Refugee Camp on the Kenyan/Somali border by Somali insurgents. They were freed four days later by a commando raid of Kenyan and Somalia government forces.

He contends that his PTSD syndrome and continuing physical ailments that resulted from the kidnapping were all preventable had NRC better security procedures in place.

I think this is nuts.

Everyone – even soldiers and aid workers – should have redress through the courts for being abnormally maligned or mistreated, but Dennis was not.

The NRC is one of the most respected NGOs in Africa. The 100+ recommendations the NRC generated from its own internal investigation into Dennis’ kidnapping have all been implemented and are being widely considered by all NGOs in the Dadaab area.

I suspect there is much more to the story than has reached the media.

Just after the actual incident, the then 37-year old Dennis told his home-town Toronto Globe and Mail:

‘[that] he remains committed to aid work despite having just gone through “a very bad long weekend. I’m still going to be engaged somehow. How, I don’t know. For now I think my job is to take a couple months off and then, if I feel good, take a couple more maybe,” he said with a laugh.’

Dadaab is one of the most dangerous refugee camps in the world, and if I know this I imagine that aid workers do, too.

There are about 22 million refugees living in camps around the world, the majority in United Nations’ organized mini-cities. There are nearly a million in Dadaab alone.

The 10,000 UNHCR employees overseeing these facilities are assisted by an estimated 50,000 other aid workers of the sort Steve Dennis was, persons who are actually working in refugee camps. (Altogether there are around a quarter million humanitarian aid workers worldwide.)

Aid workers are characteristically the most dedicated, moral and upstanding individuals you can imagine. I’ve often pondered why these incredibly intelligent and motivated individuals give up traditional lives with usually greater compensation for such hazardous work.

About a year after the July, 2012, incident Dennis began issuing more and more serious allegations and complaints: his mood had obviously changed. In court documents he chalks this up to his PSTD.

Also about a year after the incident, NRC changed CEOs. In a letter introducing himself, Jan Egeland concluded, “And finally. Be careful, take the necessary precautions and wear a seatbelt. We cannot afford to lose any of you.”

The NRC media arm that issued the letter featured a picture of a smiling, handsome and weathered Egeland holding a large hand-written sign that read, “Listen to Locals And Stay Safe.”

As Dennis’ legal wrangle starting taking shape, he asked the public for $50,000 through FundRazr. The $20,000 that the Guardian newspaper reported he finally raised was apparently sufficient enough to attract ambulance chasers now working on speculation.

I don’t doubt that Dennis suffers from PTSD or that he has other lasting infirmities from his kidnapping. I’m not even sure I approve of the half million dollar settlement NRG offered Dennis, but at the very least it strikes me as incredibly generous.

But if aid organizations are now sued by employees who work in the most dangerous conditions in the world, it would be like soldiers suing the Army for sending them into war!

Norwegians are among the most dedicated aid workers in the world, and Norway among the most committed countries on our planet to making the whole wide world better. So it’s not surprising that they will find fault with themselves.

But I hope the judge notes that Dennis used crowdfunding to attract ambulance chasers. This is not how to save the world.

Politics or People?

Politics or People?

Donald-TrumpYou probably have no idea what an illegal immigrant is.

You’ve heard of course of the hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners and North Africans sailing to Greece to get to Macedonia to get to Serbia to get ultimately and mostly to Germany.

You might even know of a nearly equal number from west and North Africa seeking asylum in France, because they’re native French-speakers.

You’ve probably given a slight ear to news reports about all the political fighting going on right now in Europe and especially Greece and Italy about what to do with the (yes) millions of immigrants who’ve besieged those countries in the last decade.

But do you know anything about these people? These individuals? Whether you want to call them refugees or illegals or desperados or whatever, do you have any idea what these people are really like?

You’d be surprised.

Check this out: an aggressive German journalist is right now traveling with a group of refugees from Aleppo trying to illegally get into Germany. Follow him on Twitter and Periscope by clicking here.

This is real-time journalism and here’s what you’ll find out about these refugees:

1. They’re rich.
2. They’re educated.
3. They’re young.
4. Most are professionals.

And that’s as true for a Libyan or Zimbabwean as a Syrian. There’s an incredible similarity between these fleeing peoples whether they are starving Guatemalans trying to enter the U.S. for a meal, or professionals fleeing bombs from war-torn Libya into France.

If you remove any one of the first three of those characteristics of a typical refugee listed above, they’d never make the journey.

It’s ridiculously expensive for a refugee. Many illegal immigrants from Central America pay upwards of $20,000 to get help sneaking into Texas.

It’s true all over the world.

Only an educated person who can read and speak multiple languages, navigate signs and maps and figure out the necessary deception and convincing to get past authorities has a chance of making it.

It’s strenuous. There’s a lot of walking, bushwacking, sleep deprivation … few but young people are capable of this.

But why professionals? Because in a stressed society, they suffer the most. They’ve made the greatest investment in their lives and are enjoying no return.

Richard Dowden of the Royal African Society has been writing about African refugees for years: “This is not a new problem. It is called globalisation,” he reminds us.

I’ve also written about refugees from northern Africa fleeing to South Africa. See that reference for my profile of Hemadet, shown in the picture above opposite Donald Trump. In fact in that blogpost several years ago I asked, “how soon will there be millions?”

Well, there are right now.

So rethink this refugee, illegal immigrant issue, please! These are not rapists, murders and criminals. A single one of them probably has greater personal character and life accomplishment than the entire bunch of politicians now quibbling over them.

And if borders were thrown wide open and all these people welcomed without question, they’d probably solve all our problems a lot quicker than we’ll ever be able to do ourselves.

Last Hope for Africans : Israel

Last Hope for Africans : Israel

refugees fleeing to israelThe cancerous conservatism and nationalism pumping through the developed world is slamming African refugees hard. Israel may be their last hope.

The Swiss example this weekend is only the latest example. Despite heroic European political leaders trying to open the welcome gates to the new flood of refugees, the electorates are shouting back: get rid of the colored!

The best microcosm of this global phenomenon is in Israel. Few countries implement the necessary safeguards and support for refugees as are enshrined in the Israeli constitution.

Giant caveat: Palestinians aren’t considered refugees – however they end up in Israel – and that remarkable hypocrisy if not hyperbole shows how schizophrenic the Jewish state is.

But excise that bit of nonsense and Israel’s constitution and constant judicial reaffirmation of it guarantee that a refugee who arrives and is not a Palestinian will be cared for. At least until now.

Between 50-60,000 African refugees currently reside in Israel as “illegals” but with considerable state support. Treated much better, for example, than they would be in refugee camps operated by the United Nations, they are given housing, living allowances and schooling.

The majority of these non-Palestinian Africans are smuggled in from Egypt where the potential fugitive from home pays as much if not more than Latinos coming into Arizona and Texas from Mexico.

According to the New York Times, 90 percent of these come from Eritrea or The Sudan.

Except for Syria, whose refugees can much more easily go to Turkey or another closer European country, The Sudan has produced more refugees annually than any other country in the world and for a long time.

Israel’s very active if under-the-table involvement in The Sudan for the last 30 years has likely caused many of the nationals to flee. Many of the weapons in Sudan’s multiple and bloody civil wars have been supplied by Israel.

As one analyst put it, “the chickens are coming home to roost.”

Be that as it may, for the first decade of this century African immigrants coming from The Sudan and Eritrea, Libya and even Egypt have been not only cared for but actually welcomed by most Israelis. The growing conflict with the Palestinians shrunk Israel’s manual labor work force. As in America, these persons of color were needed for menial jobs.

But the wave of anti-immigration flowing across Europe has moved south into Israel. Twice in the last year alone, the Israeli Supreme Court has had to strike down the Knesset’s moves to restrict refugee assistance.

The latest move by Israel is to erect refugee camps modeled after those commonly operated by the UN throughut the rest of the world.

Located in the Negev desert – atypically removed from the populace of the country which is technically the host – refugees are contained in fenced encampments.

This is very different from Israel’s past policy of open house and social integration.

Struck down once by the Israeli Supreme Court, the country has moved to lower the height of the fences and add a few services, and is trying to build the camp, again.

Other methods being used include paying refugees handsomely to return home, but that’s finding an obstacle in the market dynamics. You have to pay a Sudanese an awful lot to return to Darfur.

“The Israelis do not want to forcibly deport the “infiltrators,” as they are called here,” the Washington Post wrote recently, but “Nor do they want them to stay.”

Deportation which would be used by most other countries in this situation of growing citizen complaints is usually not an option for Israel. The countries to which deportation applies – the home country – won’t take anything from Israel, least of all citizens it refers to as spies and traitors.

In this nether-nether world between wanting to get rid of a growing number of “infiltrators” before right-wing Israelis start vigilante action, and upholding their idealistic constitution, and possibly wearing the guilt on their sleeves that they are responsible for the situation in the first place … Israelis are in one of the most difficult quandaries of their existence.

This has given a period of freedom to the refugees who are starting very public and near disruptive protest rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

It shouldn’t seem the least bit counter-intuitive that the world’s growing backlash against refugees is played out most succinctly in Israel. Israel is, in a very real sense, a nation of refugees.

So if Israel turns away from its own fundamental principles, the African refugee in particular is pretty much doomed.

Top Ten 2011 Africa Stories

Top Ten 2011 Africa Stories

Twevolution, the Arab Spring [by Twitter] is universally considered the most important story of the year, much less just in Africa. But I believe the Kenyan invasion of Somalia will have as lasting an effect on Africa, so I’ve considered them both Number One.

On October 18 Kenya invaded Somalia, where 4-5,000 of its troops remain today. Provoked by several kidnapings and other fighting in and around the rapidly growing refugee camp of Dadaab, the impression given at the time was that Kenyans had “just had enough” of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliated terrorism group in The Horn which at the time controlled approximately the southern third of Somalia. Later on, however, it became apparent that the invasion had been in the works for some time.

At the beginning of the invasion the Kenyan command announced its objective was the port city of Kismayo. To date that hasn’t happened. Aided by American drones and intelligence, and by French intelligence and naval warships, an assessment was made early on that the battle for Kismayo would be much harder than the Kenyans first assumed, and the strategy was reduced to laying siege.

That continues and remarkably, might be working. Call it what you will, but the Kenyan restraint managed to gain the support of a number of other African nations, and Kenya is now theoretically but a part of the larger African Union peacekeeping force which has been in Somali for 8 years. Moreover, the capital of Mogadishu has been pretty much secured, a task the previous peace keepers had been unable to do for 8 years.

The invasion costs Kenya dearly. The Kenyan shilling has lost about a third of its value, there are food shortages nationwide, about a half dozen terrorist attacks in retribution have occurred killing and wounding scores of people (2 in Nairobi city) and tourism – its principal source of foreign reserves – lingers around a third of what it would otherwise be had there be no invasion.

At first I considered this was just another failed “war against terrorism” albeit in this case the avowed terrorists controlled the country right next door. Moreover, I saw it as basically a proxy war by France and the U.S., which it may indeed be. But the Kenyan military restraint and the near unanimous support for the war at home, as well as the accumulation of individually marginal battle successes and outside support now coming to Kenya in assistance, all makes me wonder if once again Africans have shown us how to do it right.

That’s what makes this such an important story. The possibility that conventional military reaction to guerilla terrorism has learned a way to succeed, essentially displacing the great powers – the U.S. primarily – as the world’s best military strategists. There is as much hope in this statement as evidence, but both exist, and that alone raises this story to the top.

You may also wish to review Top al-Shabaab Leader Killed and Somali Professionals Flee as Refugees.

The Egyptian uprising, unlike its Tunisian predecessor, ensured that no African government was immune to revolution, perhaps no government in the world. I called it Twevolution because especially in Egypt the moment-by-moment activities of the mass was definitely managed by Twitter.

And the particular connection to Kenya was fabulous, because the software that powered the Twitter, Facebook and other similar revolution managing tools came originally from Kenya.

Similar of course to Tunisia was the platform for any “software instructions” – the power of the people! And this in the face of the most unimaginable odds if you’re rating the brute physical force of the regime in power.

Egypt fell rather quickly and the aftermath was remarkably peaceful. Compared to the original demonstrations, later civil disobedience whether it was against the Coptics or the military, was actually quite small. So I found it particularly fascinating how world travelers reacted. Whereas tourist murders, kidnapings and muggings were common for the many years that Egypt experienced millions of visitors annually, tourists balked at coming now that such political acts against tourists no longer occurred, because the instigators were now a part of the political process! This despite incredible deals.

We wait with baited breath for the outcome in Syria, but less visible countries like Botswana and Malawi also experienced their own Twevolution. And I listed 11 dictators that I expected would ultimately fall because of the Egyptian revolution.

Like any major revolution, the path has been bumpy, the future not easily predicted. But I’m certain, for example, that the hard and often brutal tactics of the military who currently assumes the reins of state will ultimately be vindicated. And certainly this tumultuous African revolution if not the outright cause was an important factor in our own protests, like Occupy Wall Street.

The free election and emergence of South Sudan as Africa’s 54th country would have been the year’s top story if all that revolution hadn’t started further north! In the making for more than ten years, a remarkably successful diplomatic coup for the United States, this new western ally rich with natural resources was gingerly excised from of the west’s most notorious foes, The Sudan.

Even as Sudan’s president was being indicted for war crimes in Darfur, he ostensibly participated in the creation of this new entity. But because of the drama up north, the final act of the ultimate referendum in the South which set up the new republic produced no more news noise than a snap of the fingers.

Regrettably, with so much of the world’s attention focused elsewhere, the new country was hassled violently by its former parent to the north. We can only hope that this new country will forge a more humane path than its parent, and my greatest concern for Africa right now is that global attention to reigning in the brutal regime of the north will be directed elsewhere.

Twevolution essentially effected every country in Africa in some way. Uganda’s strongman, Yoweri Museveni, looked in the early part of the last decade like he was in for life. Much was made about his attachment to American politicians on the right, and this right after he was Bill Clinton’s Africa doll child.

But even before Twevolution – or perhaps because of the same dynamics that first erupted in Tunisia and Egypt – Museveni’s opponents grew bold and his vicious suppression of their attempts to legitimately oust him from power ended with the most flawed election seen in East Africa since Independence.

But unlike in neighboring Kenya where a similar 2007 election caused nationwide turmoil and an ultimate power sharing agreement, Museveni simply jailed anyone who opposed him. At first this seemed to work but several months later the opposition resurfaced and it became apparent that the country was at a crossroads. Submit to the strongman or fight him.

Meanwhile, tourism sunk into near oblivion. And by mid-May I was predicting that Museveni was the new Mugabe and had successfully oppressed his country to his regime. But as it turned out it was a hiatus not a surrender and a month later demonstrations began, twice as strong as before. And it was sad, because they went on and on and on, and hundreds if not thousands of people were injured and jailed.

Finally towards the end of August a major demonstration seemed to alter the balance. And if it did so it was because Museveni simply wouldn’t believe what was happening.

I wish I could tell you the story continued to a happy ending, but it hasn’t, at least not yet. There is an uneasy calm in Ugandan society, one buoyed to some extent by a new voice in legislators that dares to criticize Museveni, that has begun a number of inquiries and with media that has even dared to suggest Museveni will be impeached. The U.S. deployment of 100 green berets in the country enroute the Central African Republic in October essentially seems to have actually raised Museveni’s popularity. So Uganda falters, and how it falls – either way – will dramatically alter the East African landscape for decades.

This is a global phenomena, of course, but it is the developing world like so much of Africa which suffers the most and is least capable of dealing with it. The year began with incessant reporting by western media of droughts, then floods, in a confused misunderstanding of what global warming means.

It means both, just as in temperate climates it means colder and hotter. With statistics that questions the very name “Developed World,” America is reported to still have a third of its citizens disputing that global warming is even happening, and an even greater percentage who accept it is happening but believe man is not responsible either for it occurring or trying to change it. Even as clear and obvious events happen all around them.

Global warming is pretty simple to understand, so doubters’ only recourse is to make it much more confusing than it really is. And the most important reason that we must get everyone to understand and accept global warming, is we then must accept global responsibilities for doing something about it. I was incensed, for example, about how so much of the media described the droughts in Africa as fate when in fact they are a direct result of the developed world’s high carbon emissions.

And the news continued in a depressing way with the very bad (proponents call it “compromised”) outcome of the Durban climate talks. My take was that even the countries most effected, the developed world, were basically bought off from making a bigger stink.

Environmentalists will argue, understandably, that this is really the biggest story and will remain so until we all fry. The problem is that our lives are measured in the nano seconds of video games, and until we can embrace a long view of humanity and that our most fundamental role is to keep the world alive for those who come after us, it won’t even make the top ten for too much longer.

This is a remarkable story that so little attention has been given. An obscure part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act essentially halved if not ultimately will end the wars in the eastern Congo which have been going on for decades.

These wars are very much like the fractional wars in Somalia before al-Shabaab began to consolidate its power, there. Numerous militias, certain ones predominant, but a series of fiefdoms up and down the eastern Congo. You can’t survive in this deepest jungle of interior Africa without money, and that money came from the sale of this area’s rich rare earth metals.

Tantalum, coltran more commonly said, is needed by virtually every cell phone, computer and communication device used today. And there are mines in the U.S. and Australia and elsewhere, but the deal came from the warlords in the eastern Congo. And Playbox masters, Sony, and computer wizards, Intel, bought illegally from these warlords because the price was right.

And that price funded guns, rape, pillaging and the destruction of the jungle. The Consumer Protection Agency, set up by the Dodd-Frank Act, now forbids these giants of technology from doing business in the U.S. unless they can prove they aren’t buying Coltran from the warlords. Done. War if not right now, soon over.

The semi-decade meeting of CITES occurred this March in Doha, Qatar, and the big fight of interest to me was over elephants. The two basic opposing positions on whether to downlist elephants from an endangered species hasn’t changed: those opposed to taking elephants off the list so that their body parts (ivory) could be traded believed that poaching was at bay, and that at least it was at bay in their country. South Africa has led this flank for years and has a compelling argument, since poaching of elephants is controlled in the south and the stockpiling of ivory, incapable of being sold, lessens the funds that might otherwise be available for wider conservation.

The east and most western countries like the U.S. and U.K. argue that while this may be true in the south, it isn’t at all true elsewhere on the continent, and that once a market is legal no matter from where, poaching will increase geometrically especially in the east where it is more difficult to control. I concur with this argument, although it is weakened by the fact that elephants are overpopulated in the east, now, and that there are no good strategic plans to do something about the increasing human/elephant conflicts, there.

But while the arguments didn’t change, the proponents themselves did. In a dramatic retreat from its East African colleagues, Tanzania sided with the south, and that put enormous strain on the negotiations. When evidence emerged that Tanzania was about the worst country in all of Africa to manage its poaching and that officials there were likely involved, the tide returned to normal and the convention voted to continue keeping elephants listed as an endangered species.

For the first time in history, an animal product (ground rhino horn) became more expensive on illicit markets than gold.

Rhino, unlike elephant, is not doing well in the wild. It’s doing wonderfully in captivity and right next to the wild in many private reserves, but in the wild it’s too easy a take. This year’s elevation of the value of rhino horn resulted in unexpectedly high poaching, and some of it very high profile.

This story isn’t all good, but mostly, because the Serengeti Highway project was shelved and that’s the important part. And to be sure, the success of stopping this untenable project was aided by a group called Serengeti Watch.

But after some extremely good and aggressive work, Serengeti Watch started to behave like Congress, more interested in keeping itself in place than doing the work it was intended to do. The first indication of this came when a Tanzanian government report in February, which on careful reading suggested the government was having second thoughts about the project, was identified but for some reason not carefully analyzed by Watch.

So while the highway is at least for the time being dead, Serengeti Watch which based on its original genesis should be as well, isn’t.

The ongoing and now seemingly endless transformation of Kenyan society and politics provoked by the widespread election violence of 2007, and which has led to a marvelous new constitution, is an ongoing top ten story for this year for sure. But more specifically, the acceptance of this new Kenyan society of the validity of the World Court has elevated the power of that controversial institution well beyond anyone’s expectations here in the west.

Following last year’s publication by the court of the principal accused of the crimes against humanity that fired the 2007 violence, it was widely expected that Kenya would simply ignore it. Not so. Politicians and current government officials of the highest profile, including the son of the founder of Kenya, dutifully traveled to The Hague to voluntarily participate in the global judicial process that ultimately has the power to incarcerate them.

The outcome, of course, remains to be seen and no telling what they’ll do if actually convicted. It’s very hard to imagine them all getting on an airplane in Nairobi to walk into a cell in Rotterdam.

But in a real switcheroo this travel to The Hague has even been spun by those accused as something positive and in fact might have boosted their political standing at home. And however it effects the specific accused, or Kenya society’s orientation to them, the main story is how it has validated a global institution’s political authority.

Of The Thousands Who Try …

Of The Thousands Who Try …

It’s hard to imagine the personal stories of the Somalis fleeing their homeland. And contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t just peasants. Many are professionals desperate for nothing more than just an ordinary life.

We all know by now of the 1500-2000 people who daily are arriving the refugee city of Dadaab, Kenya, fleeing death and destruction in next door Somalia, an unprecedented human exodus from a land wrought by drought and war.

But the media leave us with the impression that everyone running away from Somali is a destitute subsistence farmer or shepherd. I imagine most are. But there are also thousands and thousands who are accountants and lawyers, businessmen, teachers and computer techies, skilled individuals of countless professions.

The peasant farmer deserves no less help than the accountant. But the accountant is more skilled, has more savvy. Knows that there are better places to be than Dadaab.

With a bit of saved money, and usually nothing more than a cell phone with a new SIM card (that costs about 50¢) each time he enters a new country, the educated person can pursue a journey to a better place.

I know this. Because I was personally involved in helping a single professional refugee fleeing the 1994 Rwanda genocide. At the time I first thought he was remarkably unique. But in assisting him I learned there were nearly a thousand others like him hiding in Nairobi, waiting for the kind of help I was able to give to only him.

Today, as a result of the war and famine in The Horn, at least 1500 refugees per month have been entering South Africa, according to Abdul Hakim, a Somali leader living in South Africa. Some suggest it’s even more.

According to Natalia Perez of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in the first quarter of 2011, 7200 asylum-seekers were documented entering South Africa at the Beitbridge border with Zimbabwe.

South Africa is the obvious choice for any skilled person fleeing Somalia. Its economy is 20 times larger than the rest of sub-Sahara Africa combined. Its politics are free and generous. Until recently, anyway, refugees were welcomed with open arms.

It’s nearly 2000 miles as the crow flies from Dadaab to the Beitbridge border post, and no refugee flies. In between are at least three countries, some times four depending upon the route, and these countries are hostile to refugees no matter what their skills.

Clearly the person who navigates as a fugitive through multiple layers of police and other officials, who knows how to get foreign currencies to buy bus and train tickets, who speaks multiple languages, who is able to find food and shelter for a subterranean journey that could take months… is no peasant farmer.

She or he is an educated, skilled professional. Ultimately, South Africa will be remarkably enriched by this flood of professionals into its country. But all at once, at a time of a depressed global economy, the stress may have become too profound on South African society.

The country’s open policy is changing.

Although officially denied by South African officials, we have to believe the multiple reports that at least an unstated policy change has occurred. South Africa’s borders are tightening, and this has caused a pushback into lands no skilled refugee would choose to make home.

Zimbabwe is no place of refuge, and there are as many as a thousand Zimbabweans monthly trying to get into South Africa. But Zimbabwe is the natural transit point for asylum seekers from the north wanting to enter South Africa.

Zimbabwe is not a country known for its gentle care. But in a deft political move that gives this ruthless country some cover, Zimbabwe has allowed the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to set up a camp inside Zimbabwe as refugees at Beitbridge find it harder to get into South Africa.

Right now, there are 646 mostly Somalis being held there as if in a prison, picked up by Zimbabwean authorities as they are bounced back from South Africa.

Above Zimbabwe is Tanzania. UNHCR’s Mozambique head told a refugee newspaper last week that nearly a thousand refugees have been stopped at the Tanzania border with Mozambique and are now being held in a nearby prison. He said there were about 50 young children among those now being detained.

If true, Tanzania is violating a number of world treaties and customary human rights practices and could be prosecuted at the World Court.

I think of the one story I know so well of the man I helped in 1994. His story ended fabulously. He lives in the U.S. as a computer scientist, has a wonderful home and three lovely children. The only sadness in the memory is that he was but one of a thousand I had seen.

Today, there are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands.

How soon will it become millions?