March 18, 2009 · 12:03 am
Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration
Mr. Obama will tap Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force officer who grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries, to take on one of the most delicate diplomatic missions of his presidency, according to three administration officials, who were not authorized to discuss the selection before the official announcement on Wednesday.
March, 18th 2008 – New York Times
According to the NYTimes, President Obama plans to appoint Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a retired general and a close adviser as his Special Envoy to Sudan as the administration turns up the pressures on the Government in Khartoum. This is especially significant given that the International Criminal Court (ICC), issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. President al-Bashir responded by expulsion of aid groups.
What makes Major Gration an interesting choice is his past. Beyond just being a Swahili Speaker he has been in a similar situation thrice in his life, according to his Wikipedia entry
Gration grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his parents worked as missionaries; during the Congo Crisis in the early 1960s, his family was evacuated three times and became refugees.
This also reminds me of a much discussed piece on twitter that was featured in the Huffington Post by Mona Gable on “Why Obama Needs A Special Envoy to Africa (& not just George Clooney)” http://bit.ly/1SooZn
Hopefully, an envoy to Sudan is a begining for a more engaged Africa policy from this administration … and in more areas than just conflict resolution and into areas such as balanced trade, renewable energy and education initiatives.
November 8, 2008 · 1:09 am
The DRC deployment can be found at http://DRC.ushahidi.com, and the mobile number to send SMS reports to is +243992592111
Internally Displaced People leave Kibati heading north from the city to their villages, Kibumba and Rugari, north of the provincial capital of Goma, Congo, on November 2, 2008. Several thousand people displaced in the fighting between rebels and government troops in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo began returning home Sunday as a ceasefire held, an AFP correspondent on the scene reported. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Full Photo Set from the DRC here: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/conflict_in_congo_refugees_on.html
The Ushahidi team released an instance of their crowd sourced crisis reporting engine for the Congo today.
Just days after announcing their alpha release Ushahidi already has it’s first major crisis deployment at hand. The team took a collective decision last week to work overtime and deploy in the Democratic Republic of Congo even though the Engine is still in Alpha and has some kinks — everyone agrees that the current situation is dire and we could not justify the wait.
The Congo poses a difficult, but all too common crisis situation and the team is working overtime to tackle multiple challenges. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced into refugees, many of them sick, wounded and starving. Since this is an open source project, a major part of the work is done by volunteers ALL of whom believe in the necessity of accurate reporting in a time of crisis.
Ushahidi was very effective when first deployed to document the incidents of violence and looting during the post-election crisis in Kenya, but more than the need for accurate reporting, the assimilated incident reports help Coordinate Humanitarian Resources and Aid to those most afflicted by the conflict.
I believe in Ushahidi. There are numerous reasons why Ushahidi must succeed, but most of all because it holds parties accountable for their atrocities when humanity is at its worst — thus preserving some dignity for those dispossessed.
How to Help?
- Get the Word Out Help spread the word that the website is live. Share this with everyone you know – the more the people know about what is happening on the ground, and the more the media keep their focus on this story, the more likely our leaders will intervene to make a difference.
- Help verify and collect reports: Unlike our first installation in Kenya, the Congo poses some real challenges for the Ushahidi team. UN peacekeepers and NGo’s are being evacuated in droves and we need to get the message to the people on the ground in the Eastern Congo that this tool is now available for them to report incidents in on. If you have contacts there, or can help spread the word through some other means, tell them about our SMS number +243992592111
- Help make Ushahidi better: Since Ushahidi is an open source effort, we are always looking for help to make the tool better. We are still in the Alpha Stages of development but David Kobia and the team decided that we had a stable enough install to have a working version for the Congo. We are always working out kinks and incorporating lessons learnt. Hop on over to the Ushahidi blog for up to date updates and reach out if you think you can help.
Learn more about Ushahidi and how you can help here
Filed under Democracy, Governance and Activism
Tagged as africa, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eastern Congo, Goma, IDP, kenya, Laurent Nkunda, Open Source, Short message service, SMS