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Andrei Popoviciu

Dakar, Senegal
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About Andrei
Andrei Popoviciu is an independent investigative journalist, reporter, audio-visual producer and photographer covering human rights, security, migration, international development and foreign affairs stories across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is currently based in Dakar, Senegal but has reported from Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, DR Congo, the Gambia, Senegal, Chad, Sweden, France, France, Romania, Moldova and Serbia. He has experience of working in hostile environments and has received first aid and hostile environment training. 

His reporting and writing appeared in the Guardian, Al Jazeera English, the Telegraph, New Lines Magazine, Foreign Policy, In These Times, Libération, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, VICE World News, Middle East Eye, the Calvert Journal, Are We Europe and the Daily Star Lebanon. Andrei also produces long-form narrative audio stories, with notable work in Are We Europe, the Europeans and Kerning Cultures podcasts, but also radio news reports, having worked for media like RFI. He also films, edits and produces news packages for TV and short documentaries. 

Andrei has won or been nominated for several awards for his investigative work, including the Ján Kuciak Award for Investigative Journalism, the One World Media's New Voice Award, the De Tegel Award, the IJ4EU Impact Award, the Fetisov Award and the Signal Gold and Listener's Choice Awards. In 2023, he was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. 

He earned his bachelor's degree in international relations and war studies from King's College London and his double master's degree in journalism and international human rights and humanitarian law from Sciences Po Paris.
Languages
English French Romanian
Services
Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast)
+17
Skills
Business Politics Current Affairs
+14
Portfolio

In some classrooms in Senegal, deaf and hard-of-hearing students now study alongside everyone else

10 Apr 2024  |  The Record
Senegal is in the process of developing a national strategy for inclusive education, despite recent political instability in the country hindering progress. This initiative aims to integrate deaf and hard-of-hearing students into mainstream classrooms.

In some classrooms in Senegal, deaf and hard-of-hearing students now study alongside everyone else

10 Apr 2024  |  abc17news.com
Mouhamed Sall and three other students are part of a new inclusive education approach in Senegal, where deaf and hard-of-hearing students study alongside their hearing peers. This initiative, supported by organizations like UNICEF and Humanity and Inclusion, aims to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms. Despite challenges such as the need for more teacher training and financial support for commuting, the program has shown success and is praised for promoting equality and acceptance. The government is working on a national strategy for inclusive education, although political instability has slowed progress.

Yemen: Saudi Arabia bombs Sanaa airport after telling civilians to evacuate

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
Sanaa airport, a crucial hub for humanitarian aid in Yemen, has been closed for three days and was targeted by airstrikes. The airport, controlled by the Houthi movement, has been at the center of the conflict between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen's government. The closure has halted the delivery of vital aid, including food and medicine. International organizations, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme, have emphasized the airport's importance for aid delivery and called for its immediate reopening. Medecins Sans Frontieres highlighted the impact of the closure on humanitarian operations. The Saudi-led coalition has enforced a blockade on Yemen since 2016, allowing only essential humanitarian flights. The recent airstrikes were in response to Houthi drone attacks, including one aimed at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah airport.

How IS uses hacked accounts to flood Twitter with propaganda

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the efforts of independent vigilante groups, particularly Katiba des Kuffars (KDK) and Ruth, in combating the Islamic State (IS) group's online presence. These groups, which emerged from the global hacktivist collective Anonymous, conduct cyberwarfare against IS by tracking and reporting their digital activities. They use diverse socio-economic backgrounds and languages to infiltrate IS networks and gather intelligence, which is sometimes shared with security services. The article also touches on the challenges faced by these groups, such as the digital expansion of IS and the impact of state-led operations like Europol's crackdown on Telegram channels and the US government's Operation Glowing Symphony. Despite setbacks, these vigilante groups remain committed to their cause, aiming to prevent further militant attacks.

Award-winning documentary 'Sabaya' accused of faking scenes and manipulating characters

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The documentary 'Sabaya' has come under scrutiny after an investigation by Swedish magazine Kvartal revealed potential ethical breaches in its production. The film, which won awards at international festivals including Sundance, depicts the rescue of Yazidi women from the Islamic State by two men, Mahmud and Ziyad. However, the report alleges that scenes were faked, the men's actions were misrepresented, and the women were manipulated and coerced. Former US Ambassador Peter Galbraith claimed the men separated women from their children and engaged in questionable practices. The film's director, Hogir Hirori, and one of the men, Ziyad, declined to comment on the allegations, while Mahmud has passed away. The documentary was partly funded by Swedish taxpayers and co-produced by SVT.

Russia-Ukraine war: Moldova greets refugee influx with compassion and wariness

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the plight of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, focusing on the story of Natalia, a 67-year-old refugee who fled Mykolaiv due to Russian attacks. Moldova, a small Eastern European country, has become a major reception point for Ukrainian refugees, with Moldexpo, an international exhibition center, now serving as the main refugee triage point. Despite the hospitality of many Moldovans, there are rising social tensions, with some politicians and social media campaigns painting refugees negatively. The Moldovan government and volunteers are providing aid, but the country is heavily reliant on international support to manage the crisis. The UNHCR is involved in aiding both refugees and the host community. Financial pledges from the EU and other organizations have been made, but the actual funds are slow to arrive. The article also touches on the narrative of security risks posed by refugees and the propaganda efforts to stir discontent among Moldovans.

France accused of aiding Egyptian military in killing suspected smugglers

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
American advocacy groups Egyptians Abroad for Democracy and Code Pink have filed a complaint with France's anti-terrorism prosecutor and the UN, alleging French complicity in crimes against humanity in Egypt. The complaint is based on a report by Disclose, which revealed that French intelligence provided to Egypt facilitated air strikes and executions of civilians suspected of smuggling at the Libyan border. Despite internal alerts about these violations, French authorities, including former presidents Hollande and Macron, did not halt Operation Sirli. The NGOs claim that the aftermath of the air strikes could be considered as 'crimes of torture'. France, a major arms exporter to Egypt, has continued arms sales without making them conditional on human rights concerns, as stated by President Macron in December 2020.

Meet the ministers who make up Israel's most right-wing government ever

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
Benjamin Netanyahu's sixth government, Israel's most right-wing administration to date, was sworn in amidst protests. The coalition, comprising Likud, far-right religious Zionist factions, and ultra-Orthodox parties, holds a majority in the Knesset. Netanyahu, facing legal charges, returns as Prime Minister. The government's policy emphasizes Jewish sovereignty over all areas of the Land of Israel and intends to develop settlements, including in occupied territories. Key appointments include Bezalel Smotrich as Finance Minister and Minister in the Defence Ministry, Arye Dery as Interior and Health Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir as National Security Minister, and Eli Cohen as Foreign Minister. The article details the backgrounds, controversies, and roles of various ministers in the new government, highlighting their political stances and past actions.

Chad replaces Sudan as regional meat exporter as war strangles sector

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the impact of the war in Sudan on the meat processing market in Chad. With Sudan's exports hampered by conflict, Chad has become an attractive destination for foreign investors looking to develop its meat processing industry. Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms and Laham Chad are among the organizations involved in this development. The article highlights the challenges faced by local workers and the potential for growth if investments are made. It also touches on the geopolitical situation in the region, with Chad remaining relatively stable despite being surrounded by conflict-ridden countries. The establishment of slaughterhouses and tanneries is seen as a way to help local workers access international markets and reduce the risks associated with exporting livestock by foot through insurgent areas.

Polio survivors' plight amid the virus's resurgence

04 Apr 2024  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
The article discusses the resurgence of poliovirus in the UK, Jerusalem, and New York, specifically the vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV), which has raised concerns about the re-emergence of polio in the West post-pandemic. VDPV can occur when the oral polio vaccine, containing a weakened virus, is shed in the stool and spreads in under-vaccinated communities. The article highlights the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has experienced numerous VDPV outbreaks and faces challenges in vaccination due to conflict, displacement, and logistical issues. The importance of maintaining high vaccination levels to prevent outbreaks is emphasized, as well as the efforts of the World Health Organization and other partners to eradicate polio. Personal stories of polio survivors in DRC, such as Olivier Bakweto, are shared to illustrate the lifelong impact of the disease and the importance of vaccination.

Fears and Preparations in Moldova Amidst Ukraine War

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the impact of the Ukraine war on Moldova, highlighting the fears and preparations of Moldovan citizens in the face of potential Russian aggression. Alex Sirbu and Maria Miron, residents of Chisinau, express their concerns about the war reaching Moldova, especially with Russian troops in Transnistria and intelligence suggesting an attack on Odessa, near the Moldovan border. The article notes Moldova's small military and its neutral stance, despite President Maia Sandu's recent EU membership application. It also touches on the economic and humanitarian challenges Moldova faces, including its heavy reliance on imports and remittances from Russia. The international community, including the UN and EU, has shown support for Moldova during this crisis. Moldovans are preparing for the worst by getting passports ready and considering escape plans, with some, like Miron, ready to use their dual citizenship to flee to Europe if necessary.

UN continues contracting companies linked to Assad in Syria

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the United Nations' procurement practices in Syria, highlighting that the UN continues to contract companies with links to Bashar al-Assad's regime. In 2020, UN agencies spent over $240 million on goods and services in Syria, with the World Food Programme being the largest spender. The FDD's report by David Adesnik revealed significant expenditures at the Four Seasons Damascus, owned by individuals close to Assad. Concerns were raised about the lack of transparency and the potential redirection of aid to Assad's government. The article also mentions the use of security companies with ties to Assad and the withholding of supplier information in procurement reports. Natasha Hall from CSIS and Ian Larson from COAR provided insights into the issues of contracting with human rights violators and the need for greater transparency and accountability in UN operations in Syria.

The perils of separating culture and occupation in Palestine

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article explores the significance of tatreez, a traditional Palestinian embroidery, as a symbol of cultural identity and resistance against Israeli occupation. Malaak Altakruri and her tutor, Margot Zeidan, are featured as practitioners of tatreez, which became a form of silent protest during the Palestinian uprisings when symbols and flags were banned. The article also delves into how Palestinian cultural practices, including cuisine and poetry, are intertwined with the political situation and occupation. Abood al-Saed discusses how food is political in the West Bank, and Mousa Nazzal relates his experiences to a poem by Mahmoud Darwish. The author was in Palestine to help produce an audio series focusing on traditional practices and their role in shaping Palestinian identity, only to realize that occupation is inseparable from cultural expression. The article concludes that while occupation influences culture, it also drives the preservation of Palestinian heritage.

The European Union is militarizing Africa’s internal borders to curb migration, with little regard for human rights.

04 Apr 2024  |  popularresistance.org
The article discusses the European Union's strategy to militarize Africa's internal borders, particularly in Senegal, to prevent migration to Europe. It highlights the use of advanced surveillance technologies, such as the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) by Cellebrite, biometric fingerprinting, facial recognition software, and drones, funded by the EU and provided to Senegalese border police. The article raises concerns about the violation of human rights and the misuse of such technologies for purposes other than migration control, such as targeting political dissidents. It also covers the controversial potential deployment of Frontex personnel in African countries and the EU's broader strategy of 'border externalization.' The article critiques the EU's approach, which focuses on security rather than addressing the root causes of migration, and points out the lack of transparency and accountability in EU migration funding. It also touches on the impact of EU policies on local economies, such as the fishing industry in Senegal, and the ineffectiveness of EU-funded reintegration and prevention initiatives.

Tunisia: 24 die at sea as drownings spike amid immigration crackdown

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
A boat carrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa capsized off the Tunisian coast, resulting in at least 24 deaths and many missing. The incident is part of a recent increase in such accidents, with over 14,000 people intercepted or rescued in the first quarter of the year, and 441 confirmed deaths on the central Mediterranean route. The surge in crossings follows a crackdown on Black immigrants in Tunisia, incited by President Kais Saied's comments on 'irregular immigration' and claims of demographic change. This has led to increased violence and evictions of Black immigrants, with many now attempting the perilous journey to Europe. Italy has declared a state of emergency on immigration and is seeking EU support to prevent sea arrivals. The EU has been criticized for its role in facilitating crimes against humanity in Libya through support for the Libyan coast guard.

Saudi import ban spells more trouble for Lebanon's economy

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the seizure of Captagon pills in Saudi Arabia, which were smuggled from Lebanon in crates of pomegranates. This incident led to a ban on Lebanese fruit and vegetable imports by Saudi Arabia, exacerbating diplomatic tensions between the two countries. Experts suggest that the ban is politically motivated, aimed at pressuring Lebanon to distance itself from Iranian influence. The article also touches on the history of Captagon production, shifting from Bulgaria to Syria, and then involving Lebanon, particularly areas controlled by Hezbollah. The ban is seen as ineffective in stopping drug trafficking, as alternative routes and methods are likely to emerge. The economic impact on Lebanese farmers is severe, potentially driving more people into the drug trade. The article also highlights the need for a public health approach to address the reasons behind drug use in the Gulf states.

Israel's new Gaza barrier: A $1.1bn high-tech wall or a deeper entrenchment of occupation?

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
Israel has inaugurated a new $1.1bn barrier along the boundary with the Gaza Strip, which includes a high fence, a subterranean metal wall with sensors, and advanced surveillance technology. The barrier, stretching 65 kilometers and built with 140,000 tonnes of iron and steel, is equipped with cameras, radars, and a remotely controlled weapons system. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz claims the barrier will hinder Hamas's capabilities. Palestinians, including a teacher and journalist Ruwaida Amir, view the wall as a further entrenchment of Gaza's isolation, likening it to an 'open-air prison' and exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation. The barrier is part of Israel's broader strategy of using high-tech walls for security, with similar structures in the West Bank and plans for one on the Lebanese border. Critics argue that Israel's approach to the Palestinian issue as a security problem neglects the root causes and denies Palestinians their rights.

Bahraini activist goes on hunger strike in London to ‘stop father dying in prison’

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
Ali Mushaima, the son of imprisoned Bahraini opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, is on a hunger strike outside the Bahraini embassy in London to protest the detention conditions of his father and academic Abduljalil al-Singace. Both detainees are serving life sentences for their roles in Bahrain's 2011 pro-democracy uprising. Al-Singace is also on a hunger strike in a Bahraini prison, demanding the return of his confiscated research. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) and Human Rights Watch have called for their release, and British MPs have shown support. The UK has been criticized for its military ties with Bahrain, which may affect its stance on human rights issues in the Gulf state.

Europa Está Externalizando su Represión Transfronteriza a África

04 Apr 2024  |  inthesetimes.com
The article is a call to action from Alex Han, the Executive Director of 'In These Times', asking readers to consider making a year-end donation to support their journalism. The publication prides itself on being independent, not relying on corporate advertising or billionaire funding, and is supported by its readers. With the 2024 election approaching, 'In These Times' emphasizes the importance of their fearless and independent reporting. They aim to raise $150,000 to fund their reporting in 2024 and maintain their no-paywall policy, relying on reader contributions to cover issues important to the progressive movement.

Islets, interim measures and illegal pushbacks

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
A group of approximately 40 asylum seekers is stranded on an islet in the Evros river on the Greece-Turkey border without access to essentials. A young girl died from a scorpion sting, and another child requires urgent medical attention. The group has been subject to alleged illegal 'pushbacks' by Greek and Turkish police. International law protects the right to seek asylum, and pushbacks are prohibited. Access to the militarized border area is restricted for aid organizations. The European Court of Human Rights has intervened, mandating the Greek government to provide temporary assistance to the group. Greek authorities have reportedly not complied with the ECHR ruling, and local citizens have reported hearing cries for help. Rights groups have documented systematic pushbacks since 2019, with the ECHR granting interim measures in similar cases, but Greek authorities have frequently not acted on these rulings.

Uighurs in Turkey file criminal complaint against Chinese officials for rights violations

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
Uighur Muslims in Turkey have filed a criminal complaint against Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, for genocide, torture, rape, and crimes against humanity related to the treatment of Uighurs in China. The complaint, filed in Istanbul, is supported by witness statements, photographs, videos, and reports from both governmental and non-governmental organizations. The Uighurs, some of whom are Turkish citizens, are seeking justice for family members detained in what China refers to as 'vocational centres' but are described by witnesses as sites of systematic sexual abuse, forced labor, and sterilization. The lawsuit aims to pressure the Turkish government to act and to hold Chinese officials accountable under international law. The Chinese embassy in Ankara and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not commented on the lawsuit. The case highlights the deep ethnic ties between Uighurs and Turks and raises concerns about an extradition treaty between China and Turkey that could potentially lead to the deportation of Uighurs to China.

Ukrainian Jewish refugees find a passage to Israel through Moldova

04 Apr 2024  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the plight of Ukrainian Jewish refugees in Moldova, focusing on their transit through the Agudath Israel synagogue in Chisinau, which provides food, medicine, accommodation, and transport. It highlights the story of Galina, a 74-year-old Ukrainian Jewish refugee, and her journey to Israel. The Israeli government, expecting a significant number of Jewish emigrants from Ukraine, has prepared to take in refugees, with special provisions for non-Jewish Ukrainians. The article also touches on the historical significance of the Jewish community in Ukraine and the support from US and Israeli Jews, including volunteers like Ari from New York. Agudath Israel has been a key organization in the relief efforts, raising funds and providing essential services to refugees. The article also mentions the concerns of Palestinians regarding the potential settlement of Jewish refugees in the occupied West Bank.

The tax inspectors competing to be Senegal’s new president

23 Mar 2024  |  www.aljazeera.com
In Senegal, tax inspectors are prominent figures in the upcoming presidential election, with candidates Amadou Ba, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Mame Boye Diao, and Ousmane Sonko all having backgrounds in tax inspection. While some view their financial acumen as an asset, others are concerned about elitism and corruption. Ba, a former prime minister, is the candidate for the ruling Alliance of the Republic party, while Diao has launched his own campaign. Sonko, a former mayor and opposition figure, has been barred from running due to legal charges. The candidates are vying to change the country and gain the trust of the people, with tax inspectors' reputations being both beneficial and harmful.

In Senegal, domestic violence survivors craft hope in silver

12 Mar 2024  |  The Christian Science Monitor
In Senegal, domestic violence survivors like Ndeymour are finding new hope and empowerment through a silversmith training program at Green Wave, a woman-owned jewelry store in Dakar. The initiative, led by British silversmith Harriet Batchelor, offers financial stability and a sense of self-worth to women who have fled abusive situations. Supported by the women's shelter Maison Rose, these women are reclaiming their lives and building a supportive community as they craft bespoke silver jewelry.

Pushbacks — The Europeans

20 Nov 2023  |  The Europeans
The article discusses the issue of pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, where asylum seekers are being illegally prevented from entering EU waters to claim asylum. The focus is on the EU's border agency, Frontex, which is alleged to have been involved in these pushbacks. The article suggests that there is increasing evidence of Frontex's participation or complicity in these activities, which are against international law. The journalist also recommends the work of Lighthouse Reports, which has conducted investigations into Europe's border policies and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Unmasking Europe’s Shadow Armies

20 Nov 2023  |  Lighthouse Reports
An investigation led by Lighthouse Reports, in collaboration with multiple European media outlets, has uncovered a campaign of illegal and violent pushbacks against asylum seekers at the borders of Croatia, Greece, and Romania. These pushbacks are conducted by masked men, believed to be part of state security forces, who have been operating without accountability due to a lack of identifiable insignia on their uniforms. The investigation, which took eight months and involved testimonies, social media, satellite imagery, and financial tracking, has linked these actions to EU funds. High-resolution footage and whistleblower interviews have confirmed the involvement of specific police units, such as Croatia's Intervention Police. The investigation has highlighted the plight of individuals like Nazila, a young Afghan refugee, and has used advanced technology and software provided by Maltego and Social Links to analyze social media content related to the pushbacks.

Middle East Eye: Transnistria: The breakaway region torn between Moldova, Russia and the EU

How Europe Outsourced Border Enforcement to Africa

20 Nov 2023  |  In These Times
The article discusses the deployment of advanced surveillance technologies, including the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) by Cellebrite, at the border between Senegal and Mauritania. These tools, funded by the European Union, are part of a broader strategy to prevent West Africans from migrating to Europe. German MEP Cornelia Ernst and her Dutch counterpart Tineke Strik, concerned about the erosion of fundamental human rights, embarked on a fact-finding mission in West Africa. They discovered that the EU, through its border and coast guard agency Frontex, is attempting to extend its border control into African nations, raising concerns about the potential for abuse and lack of oversight. The article also highlights the EU's investment of billions in anti-migration projects in Africa, which have been criticized for their lack of transparency and potential misuse, particularly in countries with weak democratic safeguards. The EU's policies are seen as contributing to the erosion of fundamental rights, national sovereignty, and local economies in African countries.

Syria war: British children and women 'abandoned to torture and death' in IS camps

04 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
British children and women detained in al-Hol and al-Roj camps in northeastern Syria face conditions amounting to torture, according to a report by Rights & Security International. The report highlights the dire living conditions, including poor sanitation, inadequate healthcare, and constant threats of violence, which have led to preventable deaths. The British government is criticized for not repatriating its citizens, thereby exposing them to ongoing risks. The Kurdish authorities, who manage the camps, acknowledge their limited resources and the challenges they face. The report calls for urgent action to address these humanitarian issues.

Vice held a rave in the Saudi desert and its journalists are not happy about it

03 Oct 2023  |  Middle East Eye
Vice Media secretly organized the Azimuth music festival in Saudi Arabia, earning $20 million despite previously halting operations in the country due to human rights concerns. The festival, subsidized by the Saudi government, featured international artists and high-end experiences but kept Vice's involvement hidden. Vice employees expressed disappointment and concern over the company's actions, which they see as whitewashing Saudi Arabia's image. The event highlights ongoing tensions between Vice's editorial independence and its business dealings in the region, amid broader criticisms of Saudi Arabia's human rights record and its role in the Yemen conflict.

How Europe Outsources Migration Control to Africa (2/4): 'We Need Help, Not Security Tools'

07 Sep 2023  |  lemonde.fr
The article investigates how European Union funding and technology are used to manage migration in Africa, particularly in Senegal. It highlights the EU's partnership with the International Organization for Migration to create and equip border posts with surveillance technology, including biometric systems. Experts warn that such systems could facilitate illegal expulsions and abuses. The article also discusses the EU's carrot approach, offering local business subsidies and vocational training to discourage migration. However, the effectiveness of these measures is questioned, as bureaucratic delays and insufficient funding fail to address the root causes of migration. The article includes perspectives from Senegalese officials, entrepreneurs, and migrants, illustrating the complex impact of EU policies on African migration.

How Europe Outsources Migrant Control to Africa (1/4): 'Frontex Threatens Human Dignity and African Identity'

06 Sep 2023  |  lemonde.fr
The article by Andrei Popoviciu investigates the European Union's migration control policies in Africa, particularly the deployment of advanced surveillance technologies and the controversial role of Frontex, the EU's border and coast guard agency. It highlights concerns about human rights violations, the misuse of technology against migrants and political dissidents, and the broader implications of the EU's externalization of its borders. The piece also discusses the historical context of European colonialism and its modern-day echoes in the EU's migration strategies. The article is part of a four-part series originally published in English in the American magazine In These Times.

Thousands of Gambians Were Accused of Witchcraft and Tortured. Can Their Country Make Them Whole?

18 Aug 2023  |  New Lines Magazine
The article recounts an incident from December 2009 in Jambur, a village in Gambia, where local witch doctors and soldiers known as the Green Boys, who were loyal to then-dictator Yahya Jammeh, forcibly gathered villagers in the town square. Boubacarr Sibi, a resident of Jambur, was at home when he heard drums and saw witch doctors accompanied by the Green Boys at his door, demanding he join the others in the square. Initially hesitant, Sibi complied after considering his wife's fears of potential repercussions from resisting the soldiers.

The Shadow of the Next Pandemic Looms in a Virus Hotspot

10 Aug 2023  |  Foreign Policy
The article discusses the healthcare challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), focusing on a recent mpox (formerly monkeypox) outbreak and the persistent threat of measles. Nana Ibumbu, a nutritionist at an orphanage near Kinshasa, suspected measles in children showing symptoms, but Dr. Tresor Gulefwa suggested mpox. Samples were sent to the INRB, the only lab for infectious diseases testing in the DRC and neighboring Republic of the Congo. The article highlights the low vaccination rates in the DRC, the difficulties in controlling outbreaks due to limited resources, and the risk of disease spread beyond its borders. It also touches on the challenges of maintaining vaccine temperatures, disinformation about vaccines, and corruption affecting healthcare workers' pay. Despite international support for vaccines, the DRC struggles with infrastructure and funding for comprehensive vaccination campaigns. The article concludes with the orphanage children's recovery from the outbreak, though they remain vulnerable due to the lack of vaccination supplies.

A rare form of polio threatens DR Congo – this is why it matters in the UK

12 Apr 2023  |  telegraph.co.uk
Health officials in the UK announced the detection of a vaccine-derived poliovirus in London's wastewater, indicating a potential spread among unvaccinated individuals in the northeast of the city. This form of polio, known as vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV), is rare but can cause symptoms similar to traditional polio, including paralysis. VDPV can occur when the oral polio vaccine, which contains a live but weakened virus, is administered and the virus is shed in the stool of vaccinated children. The virus can then spread in areas with low vaccination rates and poor hygiene. The case in London is thought to have originated from a person who received the OPV abroad and then transmitted it to others in the UK who were not immunized.

Twitter: Fears over its collapse leave Arab activists scrambling

05 Apr 2023  |  middleeasteye.net
The article discusses the impact of Twitter as a platform for free speech in the Arab world and the concerns following Elon Musk's takeover, which led to layoffs and uncertainty about the platform's future. It introduces Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter, which operates on a different premise, focusing on small communities and individual exchanges without ads or algorithms. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse, allowing interoperability between different social networking apps. The article provides a guide for Middle East and North Africa dissidents and journalists on how to migrate to Mastodon, explaining the process of joining instances, setting up profiles, and using the platform. It emphasizes Mastodon's community-focused nature, which could offer safer spaces for activists and dissidents. However, the platform's readiness for a mass migration from Twitter is questioned by Mohamad Najem, executive director of Smex.

Opposition leader Sonko’s trial on Thursday could mark the start of political unrest or strengthen the incumbent president’s grip, analysts say.

30 Mar 2023  |  aljazeera.com
In Senegal, opposition leader Ousmane Sonko is set to face libel charges in court, which could prevent him from running in the 2024 presidential elections. The case has heightened political tensions, with Sonko alleging an assassination attempt and his lawyer Ousseynou Fall being suspended. Analysts like Alioune Tine and Renna Hawili express concerns over the potential for unrest and damage to Senegal's democratic reputation. President Macky Sall's possible third-term candidacy, despite constitutional term limits, adds to the controversy. The opposition, galvanized by the trials and led by the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition, is organizing protests despite government disapproval. The outcome of Sonko's trial could significantly impact Senegal's political stability.

Arab students flee Ukraine, become refugees in Romania

03 Mar 2023  |  middleeasteye.net
The article tells the story of Fedi, a Tunisian medical student who had to flee Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, becoming a refugee. Fedi, along with other Tunisian students, was evacuated 1,000 km from Dnipro to Romania. The evacuation was coordinated by Nadhem Bahri, a Tunisian doctor and director of Dnipro Service, an educational consultancy. The Tunisian government deployed embassy staff from Eastern Europe to assist at border crossings, with the Tunisian embassy in Belgrade overseeing the Siret crossing. Students faced numerous checkpoints and had to leave most of their belongings behind. The article also touches on the experiences of other Arab and Indian students, some of whom faced discrimination during the evacuation. The students do not wish to return to Ukraine even after the war ends, citing safety concerns and the destruction of their university.

France and Egypt sued for 'crime against humanity' after operation at Libyan border

15 Sep 2022  |  middleeasteye.net
American human rights groups Egyptians Abroad for Democracy and Code Pink have filed a joint complaint with the French National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office and the UN, alleging complicity in crimes against humanity by France in Egypt. The complaint follows Disclose's revelations of civilian executions and indiscriminate airstrikes by Egypt, facilitated by French military intelligence. Legal representatives Louise Dumas and Haydee Dijkstal hope for an investigation into the opaque arms contracts and the end of impunity for the Egyptian regime's crimes, including torture. Despite French soldiers' alerts about violations during the Sirli operation, neither former President François Hollande nor President Emmanuel Macron terminated the mission, leading to accusations of French state complicity in arbitrary executions. France remains a major military equipment supplier to Egypt, with significant arms exports and a €4 billion Rafale fighter jet deal, despite human rights concerns.

In Moldova, a pro-Russia region welcomes Ukrainian refugees

13 May 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the complex geopolitical situation in Gagauzia, an autonomous region in Moldova. Gagauzia is Moldova's poorest region, with a Russian-speaking Turkic minority. The region is caught in a tug-of-war for influence among Russia, Turkey, the EU, and Moldova's central government. The EU has invested in infrastructure, while Turkey has contributed to local development and aid for Ukrainian refugees. Gagauzians have a historical distrust of Romania and lean towards pro-Russian sentiments. The recent application of Moldova for EU membership has been met with resistance in Gagauzia, where people value their autonomy and fear the imposition of EU laws. The article also touches on the local impact of the Ukraine war and the differing perspectives of Gagauzians, from those who are pro-Russian to the youth who see value in aligning with the EU.

While some fear Russia, others view Moscow as a saviour as the conflict in Ukraine comes closer to Moldova’s borders.

10 May 2022  |  aljazeera.com
In Moldova, Victory Day celebrations highlighted the country's deep divisions between pro-Russian and pro-European Union sentiments. The event, which commemorates Soviet soldiers from WWII, saw participants like Sergei Izbas showing Soviet symbols, while others expressed their desire for unification with Romania. Moldova's government, aiming to maintain neutrality, banned pro-war symbols linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite fears, the event passed without violence. Moldova's pro-European president, Maia Sandu, has faced criticism for her EU membership bid, especially from pro-Russian socialists like former president Igor Dodon. Tensions in the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria escalated with recent explosions, and the EU has recognized it as occupied by Russian troops. The EU is considering increasing military support to Moldova. Moldovans like Mariana Bogdan express fear over the potential for conflict to spread to their country.

The Mystery of Resignation Syndrome

08 Apr 2022  |  KERNING CULTURES كيرنينج كلتشرز
The article discusses a unique medical and psychological condition known as resignation syndrome, primarily affecting asylum-seeking children in Sweden. It tells the story of a Yazidi family whose daughter has been in a coma-like state for five years due to this syndrome after their arduous journey seeking asylum. The condition is characterized by the children 'falling asleep' for extended periods, akin to a coma. The piece includes insights from families, healthcare professionals, and social workers who are involved in treating and understanding this mysterious illness. The production team, consisting of Zeina Dowidar and Andrei Popoviciu, along with other contributors, have worked on this episode to bring light to the challenges faced by these children and their families.

Hundreds of Ukraine’s Roma people face an uncertain future in Moldova’s capital Chisinau as many are not documented.

07 Mar 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the plight of approximately 800 Roma people from Ukraine who have taken refuge in the Manej Sport Arena in Chisinau, Moldova, following the Russian invasion. Many of these individuals, including a woman named Cristina, have lost their homes and possessions and lack documentation, which complicates their situation. The Roma face discrimination and logistical challenges, such as family separations and difficulties in finding accommodation due to their large family sizes. Moldovan authorities are working on solutions, including coordinating with Romania to accept undocumented refugees. The article highlights the strong family ties within the Roma community and their willingness to work and adapt if given the opportunity.

Indians fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine describe their journey to safety

03 Mar 2022  |  aljazeera.com
The article details the experiences of Indian students fleeing Ukraine amidst the Russian invasion, particularly their journey to safety in Romania. Ridha, a medical student, chose Romania over Poland for evacuation and felt fortunate for the smooth crossing and warm reception by Romanians. Sruthi, another student, faced a longer wait at the border due to separate corridors for Ukrainians and foreigners. Jenadeen, a 19-year-old student, also experienced delays. Despite these challenges, the students received assistance from Romanian volunteers and local authorities. Mayor Vasile Cărare of Milișăuți coordinated support for the students, who were temporarily housed in a sports hall. Some students, like Keerthi and her friends, took matters into their own hands, seeking shelter independently. The article highlights the solidarity and support extended by the Romanian community to the Indian students during this crisis.

Despite assurances from Romania’s leadership, many in the Eastern European nation fear wider Russian attacks.

26 Feb 2022  |  aljazeera.com
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Defence Minister Vasile Dancu have assured citizens that Romania is secure and will not be drawn into the military conflict in Ukraine, despite the country's history of Russian invasions and proximity to Russian-controlled Transnistria. Romania, a NATO member, has pledged support for Ukraine and is dealing with an influx of Ukrainian asylum seekers. The US and other NATO countries have sent troops and support to Romania, which is seen as a strategic partner. Concerns also extend to Moldova, which has close ties with Romania but is not part of NATO. The article discusses the fears of Romanians, the country's readiness to accept refugees, and the potential economic and social repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine.

Roma and Queer in Romania

24 Jun 2021  |  areweeurope.com
The article discusses the experiences of genderfluid and Roma individuals in Romania, focusing on the discrimination and activism within the LGBTQ+ community. Bianca Varga, who is genderfluid and Roma, faced discrimination at a queer club in Bucharest. Despite growing up in the post-communist orphanage system and facing challenges, Varga became an activist and now works in social services. Roxana Marin, working for MozaiQ, is dedicated to creating safe spaces and opportunities for queer Roma people. Antonella Lerca Duda, a trans Roma woman, faced exclusion and was trafficked into sex work in Italy before becoming a prominent activist and the first trans woman to run for public office in Romania. The article also touches on the broader context of discrimination against the Roma community and the lack of legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in Romania. It highlights the importance of intersectionality in activism and the need for those with intersectional identities to lead the movement for more effective change.

Migration - Onions, Bread, and Beatings

10 Apr 2021  |  freitag.de
The EU's external borders have been technologically fortified with drones, thermal imaging cameras, and heartbeat detectors to prevent migrants from crossing. Despite the increased surveillance, migrants like Khaled and Osman have faced violent pushbacks by border police, violating their right to seek asylum. The Border Violence Monitoring Network has documented numerous instances of police brutality against migrants. The EU budget for border and migration management has significantly increased, but fair asylum procedures are being neglected. Frontex's budget rose from 6.3 million euros in 2005 to 420.6 million euros in 2021, but the agency denies any link between its funding, new technologies, and violent pushbacks. Critics argue that reliance on technology for migration control lacks humanity and fails to address the root causes of migration.

‘They can see us in the dark’: migrants grapple with hi-tech fortress EU

26 Mar 2021  |  www.theguardian.com
The article discusses the plight of migrants like Khaled, an Afghan asylum seeker, attempting to cross into the EU through the Balkans. It highlights the increasing use of surveillance technologies such as drones, thermal-vision cameras, and heartbeat detectors by European police to prevent migrants from crossing borders. The EU has significantly funded border security, with Frontex's budget increasing to €420.6m. The article also touches on the violent pushbacks by border police, which are illegal under EU law, as they deny migrants the opportunity to apply for asylum. The Border Violence Monitoring Network has documented numerous instances of violence against migrants. Despite the challenges, Khaled eventually managed to reach Germany and is applying for asylum. The article raises concerns about the militarization of borders and the dehumanization of migrants due to the over-reliance on technology.

The failed diplomacy between Morocco and Polisario

18 Nov 2020  |  aljazeera.com
The article discusses the escalation of violence in Western Sahara, marking the end of a 29-year ceasefire between the Polisario Front and Morocco. The conflict, which began after Spain's withdrawal in 1975, has seen both sides struggle over the territory's sovereignty. The UN's peacekeeping mission, MINURSO, was responsible for organizing a referendum for the Sahrawi people to choose between self-determination and Moroccan autonomy, but the referendum has been stalled due to disagreements, particularly over voter eligibility. Morocco has been accused of attempting to change the demographics of Western Sahara to influence the referendum's outcome. Despite various peace initiatives and negotiations, including those led by US diplomat James Baker, the conflict remains unresolved. Morocco's recent diplomatic efforts have led to a decrease in international recognition of the Polisario Front, while the UN has not appointed a special envoy for Western Sahara for over a year. The article suggests that the Polisario Front's recent engagement in conflict may be a strategy to draw attention to their cause.

The Shadowy Diplomats Hired to End Global Conflicts

03 Nov 2020  |  vice.com
The article discusses the role of informal diplomacy, or Track II diplomacy, in attempting to resolve the Syrian civil war. It highlights a meeting in London organized by William Morris of the Next Century Foundation, which brought together various stakeholders to discuss peace in Syria. The article explains the challenges of mediating in a conflict with numerous interest groups and the importance of including a diverse range of actors. It also mentions the involvement of Siwar al-Assad and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. The effectiveness of Track II diplomacy is contrasted with traditional state-to-state diplomacy, which has been less successful in Syria. The article also touches on the concerns about accountability and effectiveness of these informal talks, and the shift towards more private, inclusive peace processes involving civil society actors, known as Track III initiatives.

Self-Mutilations and Hunger Strikes: The Mental Health Crisis Inside French Migrant Detention Centres

22 Sep 2020  |  vice.com
The article discusses the conditions at the Mesnil-Amelot migrant detention centre near Paris, where detainees awaiting deportation are held. It highlights the negative impact of detention on the mental health of migrants, exacerbated by the lack of regular psychiatric care. La Cimade, a French association providing legal and political support to migrants, operates at the centre and has observed an increase in suicide attempts and self-mutilation among detainees. The article also touches on the broader context of EU migration laws, particularly the Dublin Regulations, and France's administrative detention regime. It mentions the recent law extending the detention period to 90 days and the absence of adequate medical services at the centre. The article includes personal accounts from detainees and comments from La Cimade's legal advisor, Louise Lecaudey, and MEP Damien Carême.
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