5 Congolese refugees killed in food protests in Rwanda

Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo carry their belongings as they walk near the (UNHCR) offices in Kiziba refugee camp in Karongi District, Rwanda February 21, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018

5 Congolese refugees killed in food protests in Rwanda

KAMPALA: Five Congolese refugees have been killed during protests over reduced food rations, with the UN refugee agency saying Friday that police fired at the angry protesters.
Another 15 refugees were injured this week as several hundred marched to the UN agency offices in Kiziba camp in the west, Rwandan police said in a statement.
Police intervened when “demonstrators armed with stones, sticks and metal projectiles assaulted and wounded seven police officers,” the statement said. The refugees had been reminded that “disruption of public order was unacceptable.”
The UN refugee agency in a statement said it was “shocked” by the deaths, adding that “disproportionate use of force against desperate refugees is not acceptable.” It urged police not to use force and called on authorities to investigate.
The demonstrations demanding better living conditions or relocation began Tuesday in Kiziba camp, which hosts over 17,000 Congolese refugees.
Underfunding forced the UN World Food Program to cut food rations by 25 percent in January.


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 10 August 2020

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”