Author: Susie

Sudan Protests

The world had been firstly encouraged by the sign of peaceful protesters in Khartoum calling for the end of the dictatorial regime of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan which resulted in the president’s resignation and a Transitional Military Council taking control. The iconic image of the revolution was a woman, dressed in white to signify peace, standing on a car roof addressing the crowds. The unleashing of excessive violence on peaceful protestors on 3 June by so called Janjaweed militia (Rapid Support Forces), resulting in an estimated 200 deaths and many more injured, has caused outrage and the African Union has suspended Sudan. The political situation in Sudan is further complicated by Middle East tensions and the fact that Saudi Arabia wants to keep Sudanese troops fighting in the war in Yemen (Africa Confidential 14 June).

Peaceful protests against the 30 year dictatorship have often met with violence. Since Dec 2018 protesters have occupied parts of central Khartoum calling for a return to civilian rule. The medical profession has been particularly targeted by authorities because they report the injuries and the types of weapon used. Medical staff have been beaten in hospitals, dragged out and detained, even killed. Recently hospitals have reported the use of rape as a weapon. There are also reports of bodies of protesters being dumped in the Nile to disguise the true number of deaths. The use of the dreaded Janjaweed, infamous for the atrocities they committed on civilians in Darfur Province, is a tactic to spread terror and traumatise the protesters.

Fergal Keane reported for the BBC on the aftermath of the attacks on protestors. He writes “Sudan has been driven backwards by the conspiracy of a military elite whose priority is the survival of their power and privilege.” Freedom of expression has also been curtailed by the closing down of the internet in Sudan since 3 June. Despite this, reports have reached outside Sudan and inside people continue to mobilise. Young people in Cardiff staged a dramatic protest in Queen Street, walking while covered in fake blood. The Sudanese community in Wales called for solidarity with a global protest on 30 June against the silence surrounding the events in Sudan. 30 June is the 30th anniversary of Omar al-Bashir seizing power.

Aphrael’s volunteer experience

Skills building with WCIA

Volunteer Aphrael with Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language shaking a bucket for Cyclone Idai

From the 8th February to the 7th May, I carried out work experience as a website editor for the WCIA. Initially I believed this work experience would only consist of adding new posts to their website (something I was already looking forward to as I was very excited to learn how to do this) and perhaps I would write some blog pieces of my own. I did indeed do both of these activities (you can see a blog post I wrote here), however, there was so much more to this placement that really sparked my interest.

On my first day, Susie (the Chief Executive) asked me what aspects of international affairs I might be interested in, in hopes of tailoring my work experience to suit me. I explained how I was interested in policy work and she took it on board really well. I carried out work such as reading Welsh Government documents; I once did this to help Susie create a policy piece on a ‘Globally responsible Wales’. I also got to visit the Welsh Assembly to sit in a Human Rights cross party group, and I listened in on a meeting which focused on how the new Welsh curriculum could help created better global citizens. All of these experiences have allowed me to enhance my experience in the political and social policy area. This is something that is very useful as I wish to go into the political sphere as a career, this work experience has given me so much that I know will be useful in helping me achieve this goal.

I also helped out at events during my time doing work experience which was such a brilliant opportunity. As someone who finds it difficult putting herself out there, this was a huge confidence boost (especially when you get the opportunity to talk to Welsh Ministers which I was very lucky to do.) One such event I helped out at was ‘Wales in a Post-Brexit World’. At the start of the event I marked everyone in to ensure those who had a ticket received a seat (the event was quite popular!). During the event I wrote notes so that an article could be created the next day on what people had said and what was discussed. At the end of the evening I helped collect donations for Mozambique who suffered massively due to Cyclone Idai by standing with a fundraising bucket at the door as people were leaving to go home. This was all a first for me as I have never felt comfortable helping out at events, however, everyone at the WCIA were great at making the event fun rather than stressful as I always feared events would be!

I always felt like I could ask for help if I was uncertain about a task as no-one looked down at you for being unsure. They would instantly explain what was required which made the whole work experience process much more enjoyable as I felt like I was constantly progressing and gaining new skills.
I feel like I have gained so many skills from this work experience. From website editing to communicating with others, the list was endless. I think one of the skills I will take away with me as the most useful however, was learning how to effectively problem solve. As much as I knew people were around to help me, sometimes solving the problem through experimenting was more useful as it helped me to not only think outside the box a bit and it also meant that I gained better awareness of what each part of the website was useful for.

Is Universal Health Care Sustainable?

“It depends what you want,” responded Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners representing over 50,000 GPs, when speaking at the Temple of Peace on 9 April at an event sponsored by WCIA and the Learned Society of Wales as part of a series of lectures celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Professor Stokes-Lampard advocated the value for money in building capacity at primary health care level when it comes to reducing mortality. She used the illustration of a three-legged stool: primary, secondary and social care have to be in balance. Any stress or lack in one part affects the whole system.

The “inverse Care Law,” first coined in 1970s, holds for today: the need for health care is inversely proportionate to the quality provided. That is, poor people need good health care but in general poor quality is provided. Adding market forces to health care provision makes this worse. Prof Stokes Lampard also used illustrations of the type of funding mixes used by different countries because none, not even the NHS, uses public funding alone – all use some kind of top up in the form of fees. The greatest inequalities are in private insurance health care which lead to the denial of health care provision to the most vulnerable.
Linnet Mesuoh, Year 2 medial students described the lecture as “Very interesting and insightful.”

Fierce final in Schools Debating Championship

Debating

The exciting range of debates at the Wales Schools Debating Championships included feminism, genetically modified babies, the role of social deprivation in causing crime, banning child performers and charging people for treatment for health issues caused by lifestyle choices. Talented students from five schools competed for the individual speaker and the team Championships.

The team competition was won by Dagmawi Yosief and Restam Ehmo Agha from Howells Schools with Sophia Wallo and Gethin Jones from Coleg Menai as runners up. Both teams came through very tough semi- finals in the morning when teams form Cardiff Sixth Form College and Ysgol Dyffyn Aman put up very strong performances.

Arianne Banks, who won the individual speaker competition said, “I have really enjoyed speaking in the Council Chamber at the Temple of Peace. Debating has given me life skills which will be valuable in the future.”

All the participants enjoy the competitive element to this style of debating, although member of the winning team Dag said, “It is stressful and I often think after a competition, that’s my last, and then I come back for more.”

WCIA , with long standing funding support from the Hodge Foundation, has run the competition for many years. The aim is to make these opportunities available to as many schools as possible. Next year’s debating training and competition dates will be available soon.

You can watch the debating final video here

The Strong Bond of friendship between Wales and Italy will survive Brexit

By WCIA Volunteer Morgane Dirion

Highlighting the “long friendship” and “strong bond” between Wales and Italy, Deputy Presiding Officer Ann Jones introduced Raffaele Trombetta, Italian ambassador to the UK. the event, on 11th February 2019 at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, was hosted by the Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University.

Initially, addressing Brexit and Italy, Trombetta said “it is time and it is important that people know more” about Italy, such as the thousands of innovative start-ups flourishing there or its competitive machinery industry.

After explaining what a “significant contribution to Welsh life” the Italian community had brought, he moved to the main point of his speech. He explained that the negotiation phase of Brexit, so far, had had no effect on the bilateral trade between the two countries. He said it was important to respect the decision made in June 2016 but that, however, he was and would always be a “committed member” of a united Europe and that anything that potentially has a negative effect on trade would be of concern. He clearly said that the worst scenario we could be faced with today was a no-deal Brexit.

Trombetta also answered dozens of questions from his audience – a mix of concerned UK and Italian citizens and Politics students. Questions included: his perception of Wales; the meaning of a no-deal Brexit for Italy; concerns about dual citizenship or the benefits of the European Union for disadvantaged people.

He made sure to emphasize once again the importance of Italian projects in Wales and the need to find new ways to keep building the relationship between the two countries.
Trombetta said that he wished there was no talk about a post-Brexit Europe but as it was something that, in today’s political climate, cannot be avoided, he stressed the importance of the Union as an architect of peace. The next European elections will be decisive, he admitted. These elections will not be some kind of test of national governments but a true chance to focus on the structure of Europe, to allow a constructive debate about the very nature of the Union and to try to take a position on deeper integration or a looser union.

You are welcome!

By WCIA Volunteer, Teresa Morandini

“You are all welcome,” said Eluned Morgan, Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, at the Holocaust Memorial event, “Torn from Home” at the Temple of Peace Cardiff on 28 January 2019.
The event, organised by the Josef Herman Foundation and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, reflected on the loss of a safe place due to persecution and genocide, and the need for a place of refuge.

Eluned Morgan added: “People generally want to stay at home. If they have fled from somewhere it will be a for a good reason.” To feel welcome everyone needs to be helped to integrate.
Celebrating the artist, Josef Herman is important because of both the welcome he found and the contribution he made in sharing Welsh life with the world though his art: “Only someone from the outside could help us to understand who we are”.

Josef Herman was born in 1911 into a Jewish family in Warsaw, where he attended the School of Art. However, after 1938, Josef was forced to abandon Poland to escape anti-Semitism. In 1942 Herman was working in Glasgow when he learned through the Red Cross that his entire family had perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1944, while he was travelling in Wales, Herman’s art was influenced by a visit to Ystradgynlais, a South Wales mining town, which turned into an 11-year stay. In a short time, he turned to a familiar face in the community who gave him the affectionate nickname of “Joe Bach”. He found “home far from home”.

Since Herman’s time, Ystradgynlais has been a place of sanctuary. It was one of the first places to accept Syrian refugees. The evening saw the screening of three short films supported by the Josef Herman Foundation , to link the past and the present. The animations were made though a collaboration between local schools in Ystradgynlais, Syrian a refugee family, the actor, Michael Sheen, The Welfare, Ystradgynlais, Ffilm Cymru and the Cardiff based animation company Winding Snake. The audience also heard personal stories from refugees, who are now living in Wales.

Joseff, an asylum seeker and now Welsh speaker from Côte d’Ivoire, said: “Learning Welsh has been helpful to feel part of the community, to meet other people and, most importantly, to feel welcomed”. His entire speech was in Welsh, which earned him a huge round of applause. Joseff, who is in his 40s, encouraged other refugees look at Wales as a new home, a new start free from violence and persecution. Gareth Morgan, spoke enthusiastically about how a local Cardiff football team in Tongwynlais has found, not only success on the field, but also new, life-enhancing friendships since inviting a group of asylum seekers to join their team. Other asylum seekers and refugees also shared their stories of difficulties with the asylum system, of discrimination at times, but also of welcome as they settled in Wales. Finally, cellist, Rosie Biss, played a moving Bach solo as the audience reflected on the stories told and how Wales is working towards becoming a Nation of Sanctuary.

Members of the audience agreed that the short films presented should be played to the wider public, to encourage the knowledge about the asylum seekers’ situation and Josef Herman’s story.
Ffion, journalism student at the Cardiff University, said the event was very inspiring. “I learnt new perspectives and personal stories. Now I am wondering about what I can do in the future”.