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‘Staggering’ Hunger Crisis: Democratic Republic of the Congo

‘Staggering’ Hunger Crisis Identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

April 7 (EIRNS)—The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable; they are the results of humanity’s failure to leave the oligarchical system behind. As American statesman Lyndon LaRouche proved scientifically, and China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.” China’s full report is here.


Nigerian President: Lake Chad Water Transfer Is Imperative

Nigerian President: Lake Chad Water Transfer Is Imperative

April 4 (EIRNS) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari forcefully relaunched the Lake Chad Water Transfer Project, known as Transaqua, in a meeting with visiting Chad President Idris Deby on March 27.

Buhari reminded everyone that about 30 million people are adversely affected by a shrunken Lake Chad, which is now just about ten per cent of its original size, and “It is imperative that there be water transfer to the Lake Chad from the Congo Basin, so that the people can resume their normal lives.” This was reported in an official press release from the Presidency.

“He added that with inter-basin water transfer, farming, fishing, animal husbandry would resume, and curtail irregular migration of youths, who now brave the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to get into Europe, seeking greener pastures,.” says the statement by Buhari’s special media advisor Femi Adesina.

“I’ve been engaging with the relevant stakeholders in Africa and beyond, on why we need to recharge Lake Chad. Nigeria will benefit more, but it is also advantageous to everyone,’’ President Buhari added.

Chad President Idris Deby said that the recharge of Lake Chad is of importance not only for the whole of Africa but for the entire world. He counseled the Nigerian President to consider convening an international summit to move the idea forward.

At the end of February 2018, member states of the Lake Chad Basin Committee adopted Transaqua, the project drafted by a group of Italian engineers led by Dr. Marcello Vichi over 40 years ago, as the only feasible solution to the Lake Chad crisis. Eventually, the Italian Environment Ministry and the Lake Chad Basin Commission signed an MoU for a 1.5 million Euro grant to finance a feasibility study for the project. At the end of 2019, Italian senator Tony Iwoby provided for doubling that fund with an entitlement in the 2021 national budget. However, the study has never taken off, allegedly because the African side did not take action, despite the Italian Ministry of Environment having given green light to the proposed Terms of Reference. It is not excluded that some LCBC member states underwent pressures from European neocolonial circles who have long undertaken a stealth opposition against Transaqua.
Meanwhile, last November 2020, former EU Commission Chairman and former UN envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi confirmed his full support for Transaqua and for a possible international coalition to build Transaqua, involving the UN, the EU, the OAU and China.

President Buhari’s new intervention is hopefully giving new impulse to the project


Catholic Cardinal in Syria Tells World ‘Time Is Running Out’ for Syria Reconstruction

Roman Catholic Cardinal Mario Zenari, the representative of the Vatican in Syria since the beginning of the Syria war, issued an appeal for international support to reconstruct the country, as time is running out. “Peace, I repeat, will not come to Syria without reconstruction and without economic recovery,” Zenari said March 23. “But how long will Syrians have to wait? Time is running out. Many of the people have lost hope. Urgent and radical solutions are needed.”

Zenari said that the “present political deadlock” between the parties in the Syrian conflict must be overcome through “mutual and reciprocal [steps], step by step from the Syrian government and the opposition and key international players.” He further stated, “While the peace process is in this moment in a complete deadlock, poverty, on the contrary, is moving forward fast.”

Zenari was speaking via Zoom from Damascus at a virtual event organized by the Catholic charity Caritas Internationalis.

Zenari said about 90% of the population of Syria is living below the poverty line, which according to UN figures is “the highest percentage in the world.” He cited the Lebanese financial crisis, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, internal corruption, and foreign sanctions have all contributed to the deepening poverty in Syria caused by 10 years of war.

“The Syrian pound has lost much of its value against the U.S. dollar. The price of food has significantly increased. At the bakeries, people queue to try to get limited subsidized bread that is available. The same scene for petrol all around the country. … The people call this difficult time an ‘economic war,’ worse than that of previous years,” he said.

The World Bank estimates that the country has suffered at least $197 billion worth of infrastructure damage during the war.

Pope Francis marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Syrian war by praying for an end to the war and a renewed commitment from the international community for rebuilding efforts, at the end of his Sunday Angelus on March 14. Zenari first arrived in Syria as apostolic nuncio in 2008, and in 2016 Pope Francis made him a cardinal as a sign of the Pope’s closeness to Syria, Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Catholic News Agency (CNA) at the time.

Here we review a proposal for the reconstruction of Syria called Project Phoenix, focusing on how Syria, which enjoys an ideal position at the crossroads of three continents, can benefit from connecting to the New Silk Road and the emerging World Land-Bridge. This video was produced for the June 25-26, 2016 Schiller Institute conference in Berlin, Germany, “Common Future for Mankind, and a Renaissance of the Classical Cultures”


Peace Through Development: Italy’s Messina Bridge Campaign Grows

Campaign for the Messina Bridge Intensifies

March 17 (EIRNS) – In a few days, the “Technical Commission” established by the Conte2 government to evaluate alternatives to the Sicily-Italy bridge connection will present its conclusive report. According to insider sources, the Commission will issue a pilatesque report, avoiding to endorse either solution.

In view of this, the pro-Messina bridge lobby has mobilized in an unprecedented way to put pressure on the Draghi government:

1. A bi-partisan parliamentary group has been formed, composed by members of Lega, Forza Italia and Italia Viva (Renzi), to endorse the Bridge project.

2. Webuild, the largest construction firm in Italy and contractor for the Bridge project, has published a beautiful video on the Bridge as an engine of development and a technical jewel.

3. “Lettera 150”, an organization gathering hundreds of academicians, has drafted a Memo of Understanding under the direction of Schiller Institute friend prof. Enzo Siviero, which will be signed by the presidents of the two regions, which will be connected by the bridge, Sicily and Calabria, March 26.   

A statement by the newly formed bipartisan group says: “A parliamentary intergroup, composed by several components of national politics: this will be ‘Bridge on the Strait – Italian recovery and development starting from the South.’ An alliance aimed at Italian infrastructural development starting from the Mezzogiorno which, turning the paradigm upside   down, is meant as an expression of social-economic potentiality.”

The six-minute Webuild video presents the Bridge as a large payroller: it will create 118,000        jobs and “will attract towards Italy world trade gravitating in the Mediterranean.” It will “turn Southern Italy into the logistic pole of the EU and will promote the know-how of Italian companies involved.” It will be the longest single-span bridge in the world with a total length of 3,660 m and a 3,300 m long span. It will also be the highest, with towers 399 m  high, and the largest with a 65 meter driveway. It will require 1.5 million tons of concrete and 376,000 tons of steel. It will carry 60,000 trains and 6 million vehicles per year. Webuild is the largest Italian construction and engineering firm. They have built, among other things, the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia and the second Panama Canal. Last year, they built the new Genoa highway bridge in less than 12 months.


Caribbean Nations to Join China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Caribbean Nations Want to Cooperate With China on the Belt and Road

March 17 (EIRNS)—Chinese President Xi Jinping held separate teleconferences yesterday with the President of Guyana and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and their teams, encountering great interest from each in expanding their country’s collaboration with China on economic development, and with the Belt and Road Initiative, in particular, according to Xinhua’s report. Xi spoke with both of China’s willingness to work together with the entire Caribbean region on development.

Guyanese President Dr. Irfaan Ali had his Vice President and three cabinet ministers (Foreign Affairs, Public Works and Finance) join him in the discussion, his office reported. Xinhua reported that Dr. Ali thanked Xi in the name of the leaders of major political parties and ministers of Guyana, for China’s assistance in the fight against the pandemic, and spoke of how Guyana “regards China as the most important cooperative partner in its national development, and is committed to strengthening relations between the two parties and two countries.” He conveyed that “Guyana expects to actively promote the Belt and Road cooperation with China, and strengthen cooperation in infrastructure and other fields, and stands ready to actively promote the development of relations between the Caribbean Community and China,” Xinhua noted.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley was also joined in his teleconference call with Xi by three ministers (Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, National Security and Health), along with the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister, his office reported. From Xinhua’s report, it can be said that the geopolitical tale of a “malign” China has not made headway here. Rowley spoke of “the great achievements of the Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in such fields as economy, science and technology and poverty alleviation.” Citing China’s success in defeating the COVID-19 epidemic, and leadership in the global fight against the pandemic, Rowley told Xi: “the CPC should feel proud of itself.” As had the Guyanese President, he expressed his nation’s willingness to work with China to actively promote Belt and Road cooperation.


U.S.-China: A Shared Humanity

U.S.-China State Legislators Meet for 5th Forum; Amb. Cui Lauds Cooperation

March 4, 2021 (EIRNS)–The 5th China-U.S. Sub-national Legislatures Cooperation Forum met online on March 2. Attending were state legislators from the states of Alabama, Hawaii, California, Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee. On the Chinese side were leaders of the standing committees of provincial or municipal people’s congresses of Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Hubei, Guangdong and Yunnan. The forum was the outcome of President Xi’s state visit to the United States in 2015. 

During the course of the Forum, the two sides had extensive discussions on the theme of “Win-win Cooperation for a New Chapter.” The U.S. legislators’ organization participating in the meeting is the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, whose president is Stephen Lakis.

China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai addressed the group. He  underlined that this was the first such event since the change of administrations, and he emphasized the importance of U.S.-China cooperation, particularly in a year in which the world is still in a major fight against COVID-19. Cui referred to the call that the two presidents had made in February as the possible beginning of an improved relationship between the two countries.
            “A China-U.S. relationship based on coordination, cooperation, and stability is both in the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and meets the shared aspiration of the international community,” he said. “The two countries need to work together under the principle of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, focusing on cooperation and managing differences, to promote the healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relations, to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples, and contribute to peace and development of humanity.”


U.S.-China Diplomacy: Needs to Aim for Unity

China to Biden Team: It Is ‘Evil’ To Try and Prevent Any
People’s Right To Pursue a Better Life.

March 3 (EIRNS)—China’s Global Times responded strongly to a report issued March 1 by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which accused China of undermining U.S. national interests through coercive and unfair trade practices and promised to use all available tools to pursue “strengthened enforcement” of China’s existing trade obligations. In other words, as the Global Times yesterday took due note, “the Biden administration has repeatedly said it is reviewing the previous administration’s China policy, but recent messages emanating from Washington suggest that the new administration is keeping the hardline stance against China. The Trump administration’s strategic goal of containing China will be inherited, and only the means of dealing with China may be adjusted.”

It is “understandable” and even “reasonable” that Washington would seek to maintain its leading position in technologies, and to protect its intellectual property rights, the editors of this official daily correctly assert. China does not protest U.S. policies towards China which aim at promoting U.S. development and increasing U.S. strength, but containment smacks of the “barbaric geopolitical games” of the 19th and early 20th century.

“We are in the 21st century…. Be they Americans, Chinese, Latin Americans or Africans, all people have the right to pursue a better life…. [P]olicies targeted at preventing China’s continuous development and even pushing China’s economy backward are evil. They pose a direct harm to the interests of the 1.4 billion Chinese people, depriving the natural right of the Chinese people to seek a better life….

“Restricting China from the perspective of intellectual property rights protection is different from jeopardizing China’s scientific and technological research and development capabilities. The former is part of the intellectual property rights protection regime, while the latter is an evil result of the geopolitical mentality.

“China has 1.4 billion people, more than the West combined, and much more than the population of the major Western countries combined. China’s development is the grandest project of the global human rights cause, and China’s development needs a relatively friendly international environment, including fair conditions for trade and technology exchanges…. It is malicious to take tough measures to suppress the ability of developing countries, and to tell large countries like China that ‘you deserve to be poor’….

“This kind of malicious policy cannot be followed up in a broad and lasting way in the 21st century. We hope the U.S. ruling team can see clearly the general trend, stop talking about human rights when it is trying to deprive the sacred rights of 1.4 billion Chinese people…. At last, we have to say that such evil is doomed to failure in the 21st century.”

{Source: “Policies Containing China’s Development Malicious: Global Times Editorial” https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1217096.shtml }


Russia: Maglev Rail Moves Ahead

Russia Designing Its Own Maglev

Feb. 17 (EIRNS)– Chief Designer Yuri Solomonov of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, a Russian engineering and scientific research institute which is part of the Roscosmos space corporation, told TASS this week that his institute is developing an experimental prototype of a magnetic levitated train that can operate in an unmanned mode.. “The aim of the project,” he said, “is to create…a full-scale demonstration model of a train to check and confirm the main technical characteristics of new technological solutions related to implementation of the maglev (magnetic levitation) technology.” The project involves a significant modernization of the current monorail transport system, created in the early 2000s. It will move along a single steel beam and operate in an unmanned mode or with minimal human control. “The tentative time frame to begin running tests is the third quarter of this year,” Solomonov added. Following trials, a decision will be made on whether to begin full-scale work to launch the serial production of the new transportation system. This same institute has developed Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, including Topol, Topol-M, Yars and Bulava.


World Land-bridge: Creating a Human Future

Schiller Institute author, Hussein Askary, speaks to Nigerians: Africa will become the workshop of the world.

On Feb. 4, Hussein Askary, a Schiller Institute member and co-author of its special report, Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa – a Vision of an Economic Renaissance, spoke to a webinar in Abuja, Nigeria. The event, sponsored by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), focused on critical need for railway development across Nigeria. The country’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was unable to attend but sent his remarks, declaring the Buhari administration is looks to build a “functional and industrial transportation backbone [to] aid economic growth.”

Askary broadened the event’s focus stressing the need for African wide transport network integration. This, he said, would lead to what Lyndon LaRouche called for, i.e. development corridors spiraling outward from the rail lines. He showed China’s critical role in nurturing this development and debunked so-called “debt trap” charges. Askary painted Africa’s future, with its young population, as bright, and if given the tools of progress, one in which it will become the breadbasket and workshop of the world. Here is his 15 min. presentation.

To learn more visit our World Land-Bridge page: https://schillerinstitute.com/our-campaign/build-the-world-land-bridge/


Italy and China Sign Groundbreaking MOU on Belt and Road Initiative

Italy and China have signed the famous Memorandum of Understanding on Belt and Road cooperation Friday, together with 10 economic agreements and 18 institutional agreements (19 with the BRI MOU). The MOU is a milestone and is said to already be being studied by other countries that want to follow Italy.

The MOU says at the outset that

“The Parties will work together within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to translate mutual complementary strengths into advantages for practical cooperation and sustainable growth, supporting synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and priorities identified in the Investment Plan for Europe and the Trans-European Networks, bearing in mind discussions in the EU China Connectivity Platform.”

With the MOU, Italy is the first large industrial economy to join the Belt and Road, as Chinese media proudly stress. The signature of the MOU occurred in spite of trans-Atlantic pressures and open hostility by Italy’s “partners” in the EU. Italian Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio, who signed the MOU together with his counterpart He Lifeng, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that

“today is for us a very important day, in which the Made in Italy is winning, Italian firms are winning. We made a step to help our economy to grow. Italy came first with China.”

The economic agreements include: a strategic partnership between the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the Bank of China to finance Italian firms in China; a MOU between the Italian oil company ENI and the Bank of China for explorations in China; Ansaldo Energia signed two agreements, one to develop gas turbines with UGTC and another one for the supply of a turbine to Shanghai Electric and Benxi Steel; the Port Authorities of Trieste and Genoa signed an agreement with the construction giant CCCC. Cassa Depositi and the natural gas utility Snam signed a deal with the Silk Road Fund for investments along the Silk Road; the Institute for Foreign Trade signed a deal with Suning to create a platform to promote Italian lifestyle in China; and the Danieli group signed a contract with China Camc Engineering for the construction of a steel plant in Azerbaijan.

The institutional agreements, besides the MOU on the BRI cooperation, include cooperation on innovative startups and electronic trade, as well as cooperation between the two space agencies, agriculture and culture, health and media.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella told the business leaders that, once again, there is a “culture of growth.” He said, “we can have confidence in both countries” that there will be development. The Memorandum of Understanding has been worked on since last September, and the cooperation between Italy and China will not only facilitate our own development, but will “enable global growth.” He said that ‘the globalized world needs more consultations” between nations, in all areas, especially trade, space and culture.

In an interview with Chinese journalists, Italian President Mattarella spoke at length about the ancient bonds between Italy and China and the future perspective for cooperation. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and this partnership is “built on solid foundations, inspired by natural convergences between two very ancient civilizations,” Mattarella was quoted by Xinhua.

Mattarella underscored the “growing and fruitful interaction between our peoples, who are so similar in terms of industriousness and creativity.”

Xi’s visit is an expression of the “solidity of the bond and the mutual respect” between Italy and China, he said.

After some lip service to transparency and openness, Mattarella said that on the cultural front, the heritage of both Italy and China “arouses admiration everywhere in the world,” and this heritage could be a great development driver. He referred to the mechanism of forging twinning relationships between the two countries’ World Heritage Sites.

Speaking of how the Italy-China partnership contributes to a better and more stable world, the President said that Italy is committed to safeguarding peace and rules-based multilateralism, and is pleased to see the two sides have consensus on that.

The Italian press agency ANSA reported that Mattarella expressed the wish that, with the visit of President Xi, “agreements, ideas, projects can come out, in which the Italian-Chinese partnership could develop further, including for a larger benefit of the collaboration between Europe and Asia, which needs an ever bigger volume of sustainable investments in infrastructure, to ensure a future of well-being and peace for all peoples of the two continents.”


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