Three times during his seven-hour swim, Omar Jabr thought that he was not going to make it. The only thing he could hear was his pounding heart, a sound he tried to drown out with silent prayers. He was helped by the sounds of his exhausted body as it fought its way through the water.
When the boat capsized, he had volunteered to do the swim. After all, he was the best swimmer on board, and he judged the visible stretches of the Greek shore to be just about one hour away. While the remaining 20 people from the boat treaded water somewhere in the Aegean Sea that separates Turkey and Greece, he swam. For their lives and his own.
For the 30-year-old father of five, the water marked the difference between the hopeless situation in his native Syria and a future in the safety of Europe. He knew he couldn’t return to Syria, but he had no idea where he should seek refuge. He did not care either. For the time being he was more than preoccupied with staying alive.
By David Meffe
This story was originally published on the New African magazine.
In the post-2015 development era, many stakeholders are expected to play a role in the implementation of sustainable development in Africa, including the Nordic countries. But David Meffe asks whether all such engagement has had a positive impact.
The story was originally published on Pandeia.
The internet and its technologies have opened up endless possibilities and changed profoundly the way we structure our lives. The recent and ever growing phenomenon of the sharing economy has generated new online platforms like Airbnb, BlaBlaCar and Jobbatical, just to name a few. However, sharing has always been part of our social life.
Think about all those cookies you shared with friends at school or the many lighters you have used from strangers not to give up smoking that one last cigarette. According to Sharing Economy expert April Rinne "own less, embrace more" represents the slogan of the future.
The potential of the 'sharing economy' might be enormous with benefits for all classes, if it is integrated within the legal market. Policy makers are warned: play it smart and take it to the next level.
Chu nibbles at an unripe mango.The hard chunks quickly disappear in his tiny mouth to later end up in his round belly, distended by hunger. His fragile five-year-old body seems even smaller when he stands in front of the dark green meter-high tea plants that cover a field behind his back. It is February in the Mulanje region in the South of Malawi. Every centimeter of land seems to be covered by growing crops. The next local market, a one-hour walk away, is bulging with vegetables, fruits and dried fish. Still, Chu is chronically hungry. He does not run as much as other children his age and even smiling sometimes is hard for him. Often, a small portion of Nsima, a white watery maize porridge, is his only meal.
Half of Malawi children under 5 are like Chu – stunted: too small for their age. His organs and brain capacity may not develop properly. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 842 million people are undernourished worldwide – more than the population of the U.S. and Europe together. Every six seconds a child is dying due to the consequences of undernourishment, a quarter of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. They don't make it to the headlines or evening news. Thankfully the times of disastrous famines that alarmed the world society, like Ethiopia in the 80s, are over. Today’s hunger is quiet. It is a daily misery in a world of abundance, hidden in regions like Mulanje, far from electricity and Internet. Despite horror scenarios of a growing world population and upcoming food shortage, today we have more than enough. The existing food is enough to feed the world’s population twice, the FAO scientists calculate. Why is Chu hungry then?
Circulating less cash might help Denmark’s economy, but will not eliminate the informal market.
Besides studying in Denmark’s second city Aarhus, Mathias works from time to time helping friends renovate apartments. It allows him to earn some money, which he usually spends quickly. Doing that kind of work – which Danes call ‘sort arbejde’ or black work – Mathias gets paid in cash, and consequently does not pay taxes on it.
Reading reports that Denmark is moving towards being a cashless economy, Mathias is not worried that he will not be able to do this work, nor is he worried about the next generations. The 27-year-old student expects that people will find a way or another to go through it.
He stares at the shelf for half a second only before grabbing a jar of Panzani tomato sauce. Thomas Scharwatt, a student in Strasbourg, is doing his weekly grocery shopping at one of the biggest retailers in France: Leclerc. As he reaches the organic food section, he sounds surprised “they have pasta sauce here again!” But his cart already has the well-known brand. He is fast, knows where to go, which products he wants. Next time, maybe.
Although still a niche in slow progress, organic food consumption in France is not the main issue. Rather, the production is. The latest statistics by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), show that in 2013, only 3.9% of the agricultural land was dedicated to organic in France, leaving the country at the 18th position in the European Union. In Sweden, it was 16.3% and the EU leader, Austria, had 19.5% dedicated to organic production. So why is France behind?
By Jialu Zhang
When Darren Porgieter was the section manager at Niassa National Reserve in the north of Mozambique, he was known as "pilot conservationist", combating poachers with aerial surveillance. "Yes, I’ve seen countless elephant corpses," he admitted, "even piles of corpses, sometimes over 50, 60 all together."
Darren could never forget the day when he just landed by helicopter and about to rush into bushes and start searching for poachers. Gunfire suddenly broke out. "Following the sound, I saw a male elephant with half of his face cut away, lying on the ground. His trunk was thrown aside, and he was still alive, bleeding," Darren said, "It’s all because of his tusk-- ivory."
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in the last 20 years, around 33,000 elephants were butchered every year, and at this rate, African elephants will be extinct in ten years. Though the direct cause of extinction is arguably the poaching, simply a curb on poaching might not solve the problem. From the half-torn-faced elephant, many more hands are stained with blood.
First Pan Am, then ValuJet. Malaysia Airlines was the latest example of an airline that went bankrupt because of a deadly accident – among others. And now even Lufthansa, or more precisely it’s 'budget' subsidiary, Germanwings, has to face and master the challenge that the three mentioned airlines could not: To stay in the black after the most fatal tragedy the airline has ever experienced.
On March 24 this year the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz allegedly committed suicide by crashing a A320 airplane into a mountainside of the French Alps. 149 people, including five crew members, died with him. The event caused widespread media coverage and international outcries ranging from postulating stricter psychological evaluations for pilots to demanding a change in the safety measures for cockpit doors. Investigators assume that the 27-year old man had locked the door while in the cockpit alone – recordings found on the black box opened up assumptions that the pilot of flight 4U 9525 had tried to open the cockpit door from the outside just before the crash to no avail.
People around the world seem to be hit hard by the tragedy, but Germans appear to be a special case. This plane crash seemed to evoke unusually dramatic reactions – possibly because it is connected to Lufthansa. The award-winning airline had enjoyed a nearly impeccable reputation for more than sixty years, "safety" being their brand recognition feature and always played a large role in how they branded themselves. It had also been unaffected by any accidents for more than two decades. Now the question, if one person's actions are sufficient to blacken Lufthansa's spotless sun-yellow image and which are the contributing factors, may be posed.
Why the sino-danish educational collaboration has not become a geopolitical success story.
Joakim Villumsen was thrilled to arrive in China under a clear blue sky, seeing first-hand that his hope of a smog-free Beijing was real. It was summer, late August 2013, and the 25-year-old Danish student was about to start a two-year Master’s program as part of the second ever cohort at the Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC) - a university center based in China, where Danish universities and a Chinese university offer a range of different master’s programs.
Along with being far away from family and friends, the issue of pollution had been the reason behind Joakim doubting whether to go to China for his masters in the first place. However, convinced by the career prospects of obtaining a Chinese university degree and a personal interest in Chinese culture, Joakim applied and regarded himself lucky to get one of only 15 places offered at the master’s programme of Nanoscience and Technology at SDC.
As it turned out, luck had nothing to do with it. The programme had not received many applications. Only three Danish students started alongside Joakim, and less than a year after he was back in Copenhagen, still enrolled at SDC but finishing his studies in familiar surroundings. Over winter, the smog had returned to Beijing covering the city like an inescapable veil.
Not a brand new story of Chinese immigrants.
By Shulun Huang
It is an usual Sunday, December 1st, 2013. Many people are enjoying the weekend with their family. But the fire accident in a Chinese-owned factory snatched seven Chinese immigrant workers’ lives. The factory is located in Prato, Tuscany. Those Chinese workers both lived and worked at the factory, some have no identity authority to live in Italy. This accident has been widely reported, attracting worldwide attention.
The Italian authority, local procurator in Prato, started to investigate the accident immediately. After one year, reported by The Local, Lin You Lan, the manager of the factory was sentenced 8 years and 8 months in prison. Her sister Lin You Li was also found guilty. But this accident has been described as foretold as Roberto Pistonina from Italian Confederation of Worker’s Trade Unions, posted on his Facebook page to describe that hundreds of Chinese immigrant workers were "living and working in conditions of near-slavery." Many hard-working Chinese work day in and day out in Prato with a lack of enough concern about production safety.
"Made in Italy" is actually mostly made by Chinese, the clothing produced by Chinese cheap labor is "at a lightning pace for sale at rock-bottom prices" to occupy large quantity of the European garment market. Alongside with the terrible accident, competition, conflicts between Chinese immigrant group and native Italian group have been surfaced distinctly.