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By Ralf Falbe
02 Jun 2016

Fishermen with their raft passing the river in Roxas, Panay, Philippines.

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Blood Sugar: life in the Cambodian su...
By Ruom
04 Jul 2014

Human rights organisations have estimated that 12,000 people in Cambodia have been forced off their land to make way for a new surge of sugar production. The European Union’s initiative ‘Everything but Arms’, which allows Cambodian sugar to be sold duty-free on the European market at a minimum price per tonne, has created a “sugar rush” in Cambodia. As a result, crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest. Given no option but to accept inadequate compensations, villagers gave up their homes and farmlands.

The EU is, to date, yet to investigate these reports.

In the meantime, families forced off their land, who have lost their only source of income, have little choice but to work for the very companies who have claimed their land, either at factory level, or cutting and bundling sugar canes for rates as low as US$2.50 per day. The dire economic situation means that children also work in the cane fields but still the families earn barely enough money to survive.

On March 2013, a lawsuit was filed in the UK against Tate&Lyle, the multi-national sugar giant, to which the majority of exports from the Koh Kong plantation are being sent. 200 Cambodian farmers are suing the company for violating their rights as, under Cambodian law, the fruits of the land belong to the landowner (or lawful possessor in this case). According to humanitarian organizations Tate&Lyle is knowingly benefiting from the harvest of stolen land, and the rightful owners of the harvest are not receiving their share of sugar sales.
Land ownership in Cambodia is difficult to establish, due to the country’s evolving legal and political structures following the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, and the country is slowly trying to re-establish land titling through government programs. Though in the past, and still for the time being, small-scale farmers and poor households are often forced to give up their land for little compensation.

Fair development and industrialization is a struggle for this South East Asian nation, where, for the right price, powerful landowners, wealthy businessmen, and foreign investors have their pick of the country’s prime real estate.

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New York's Poorest Ignored by Politic...
Bronx, New York, US
By mcseaniew
11 Jan 2013

The community of Highbridge in the South Bronx has never been an affluent part of the United States, much of which was created in the 1940's to accommodate a huge incline in immigration to the city. Today it is home to over 35,000 people, the majority of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants from Dominica, Puerto Rico or Africa. The buildings that were created to house thousands who couldn't afford townhouses and brownstones, are now crumbling. Crime and drug abuse are sky-high. Income disparity in the US is at an all-time high. New York City is home to the most millionaires in the country. But it's also facing a food crisis. Nowhere is this starker than the South Bronx, America's poorest district, where over a quarter of a million people live below the poverty line. No wonder more folks than ever are relying on the Highbridge Community Church food pantry, run by local nonprofit the Muslim Women's Institute for Research and Development (MWIRD). But the pantry faces a closure that would plunge over 2,500 locals into an even-deeper plight.

Welfare is dwindling, and those who need it most find the labyrinthine processes almost impossible to navigate. Many don't speak English as their first language, making the system impenetrable. People who lost their jobs in the recession are struggling to make ends meet. Organisations like the Muslim Women's Institute are many folks' first - and last - resort if they want to eat well. But with the economy the way it is private funds are slipping away, and the pantry the MWI provides could go out of business at any moment. America's philosophies have always made it difficult to allot public funds to society's poorest. But now they face a crisis like never before.

Ibrahim Ramey is a long-time human rights advocate. A Washington DC resident, he has been involved in educating Muslims and Americans about political action in countries as far-flung as Tanzania and Afghanistan. Ibrahim is on the board of the Muslim Women's Institute, the Temple of Understanding (which aims to promote religious coexistence) and the Climate Crisis Coalition. He is also vice president of the Steering Committees of the Religious NGO Community at the UN. Ibrahim is increasingly worried about the lack of political dialogue concerning New York's poor, and the plight of those maligned by the current economic meltdown.

The extreme poor's lifelines are being pulled from them, creating a forgotten underclass no-one is addressing. This 4-6min video reveals the vital role the pantry plays in its neighbourhood, the Bronxites who are being marginalized and the stoic folks who run the pantry, despite the specter of closure remaining ever-present.

Additional footage:

  • Interview with local mother. Discusses how the local govt does nothing, but that the way the pantry is run (because they have no cash) makes her feel as if she is begging.

  • Interview with an older lady about the state of New York City now, compared to decades gone. She complains that 'we don't help others' in this country, mentioning how people have struggled through times like this for years.

  • Interview with a Spanish-speaking middle-aged man, about New York and how difficult it is for people to navigate welfare.

  • Much additional b-roll and OTF footage of the pantry, people cooking fresh food and queuing to get supplies.

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Income for the Family
Mafraq, Jordan
By Osie Greenway
31 Oct 2012

Abu Hamed and his brother have organized a series of small shops where refugees can purchase vegetables, water, candy, and even cigarettes. The currency used is everything from Syrian to Jordanian even Saudi. Zataari Refugee Camp Mafraq Syria, Oct 31, 2012

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The poor living conditions of indigen...
San Antonio Palopo
By hiroko tanaka
06 Jun 2012

Gustavo Angel lives in a one-room house with his mother. As the father of Gustavo has another family, he does not provide any help to Gustavo and his mother Manuela. Twenty eight years old, Manuela works with handicrafts and earns $6 per week but her income is not enough to cover their expenses. The house the two live in is a part of Manuela’s brother’s property. There is no electricity and the two sleep on the plastic sheet on the dirt floor.

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Fears of Economic Depression Loom in ...
By sarakeawal
24 Apr 2012

The international community is going to hand over full responsibility of the security and defense of Afghanistan to Afghan forces by 2014. It has been declared by the international community that the military pullout of the international forces will be accompanied with a reduction in aid money.

This happens at a time when 90 percent of GDP of Afghanistan is dependent on the foreign aid, and within the past ten years, solid measures to help Afghanistan become self sustainable financially have not been taken by the Afghan government and its international benefactors.

Many in Afghanistan believe that the reduction of aid without solid measures will lead to a financial crisis in Afghanistan, which will pave the ground for political instability and pervasive insecurity.

According to the World Bank's recent report TRANSITION IN AFGHANISTAN LOOKING BEYOND 2014, which came out in November 2011, the reduction in aid money will reduce civilian service delivery and will thus lead to economic depression.

The report says, "Aid for Afghanistan in 2010-11 was about $15.7 billion and World Bank's estimation suggests that a $0.5 billion decline in the external budget, which is going to happen, could affect 11,000-18,000 job opportunities in Afghanistan (on a six-month basis.)

Amar Rezayee, who is 23-year-old Afghan and an employee of one of the projects of USAID, which is the biggest donor in Afghanistan, says,

Translation sound bite #1, Amar Rezayee (USAID employee) (00:57- 1:52): "After 2014 the situation in Afghanistan will get worse because America says that they will take their troops out of Afghanistan, so it will effect security and will also have a bad affect on the economic situation in Afghanistan. Now there are a lot of salaries from USAID that are very high and can help me pay for my tuition at the American University of Afghanistan. But when Americans leave this country there will be high salaries for a limited number of people. Personally for me, it will have a very bad effect and I will not be able to attend this university because I won't be able to pay."

The World Bank report also states that In 2010/11, total public spending, including the “core budget” and “external budget,” was $17.1 billion.

Of this total spending, $15.7 billion was financed by international aid and only $1.9 billion of it was Afghanistan's budget.

Some people in Kabul are already scared of Afghanistan's future after 2014.

Vox Populi:

Translation Sound bite #2 Shafiq saighani (Kabul resident) (2:00-2:27) " If the US leaves Afghanistan, the financial support will be cut from Afghanistan, educational scholarships will be cut from Afghanistan, the unemployment will raise up and not only Taliban but also Iran and Pakistan will interfere in Afghanistan's affairs."

Analysts are also pessimistic about Afghanistan's future because of the foreseeable economic crisis after 2014.

Translation Sound bite #3, Candace Rondeaux (Crisis Group’s senior analyst in Kabul)(2:47-4:33) "The impact of the economical transition and the lack of planning will be tremendous. Politically it increases competition between Afghan elites. but more importantly what it does is it creates an environment of instability and insecurity and that I think will create incentives around the accedes of many, many Afghans for major capital flight, and also it will raise competition and rivalry between communities that could become very, very violent.

The impact of the internationals being present here has increased income tenfold for the average Afghan man. It has created opportunities for Afghan women, which weren't there before. Once all of that collapses, first there is the impact on the family life which is going to be tremendous. Where women once had the ability to go out and work and find some sort of independence, I think that will go away quickly, in fact I think that will be the first thing that will go away. For young men, who have been earning a thousand dollars a month or in some case five thousand dollars if they were working on an international organization, for them, they have been in a certain standard of living in the past ten years and have become completely dependent on this type of money. They have cars now, they have got houses to maintain and suddenly that goes away. Imagine the impact on the family; already there is a lot of intentions around money issues in every family, doesn't matter if its Afghan or American but when income starts to shrink that always has an impact."