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Africa is home to a tenth of the planet’s oil, a third of its mineral reserves and produces two-thirds of its diamonds. Scholars have long suspected that its plentiful natural resources also breed instability and violence. Politicians and their cronies cannot resist skimming off some of the huge profits, the theory goes, which enrages those who are left out. Struggles over this wealth has played a part in many African troubles, from militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Sudanese civil wars. 
A new paper from four academics at Swiss universities gathered data for each year from 1997 to 2010, on the location of hundreds of mines and thousands of conflict events (including riots and violence against civilians) across Africa. Then they divided the continent into 10,000 cells measuring half a degree of latitude and half a degree of longitude (about 55 km squared at the equator). All of this allowed them to analyse the effect of changes in the world price of 15 minerals on the areas in which that commodity is produced. Over the period of the study, mineral prices more than doubled, thanks in particular to ravenous demand from China. Some commodities grew even more expensive: in 1997 an ounce of gold cost about $300, but by 2010 it was going for well over $1,000.

The research paper found that dearer minerals also led to fiercer competition over mines, with shockingly violent consequences. Had mineral prices remained at their levels from 1997, the paper calculates, over the subsequent 13 years the average African country would have seen 25% fewer violent events. Higher prices were responsible for 65% of the outbreaks that took place in South Africa. Even these results may be an underestimate, since the proceeds from mines in one area may have been used to fund conflicts in others.
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As Europeans argue over whether to call new arrivals migrants or refugees, Israel’s government calls the Africans “infiltrators”, a word loaded with negative connotations.
“We are a country of refugees,” says Anat Ovadia, a spokesperson for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, one of the non-governmental organisations that petitioned for the detainees’ release. “It is very shameful that Israel forgets its history.”
Israel has about 45,000 asylum-seekers, 34,000 of them from Eritrea and 9,000 from Sudan. Most entered via Egypt’s Sinai desert up to 2013, when Israel completed a formidable steel fence at the frontier. The Africans live in Israel in legal limbo. They have visas that allow them to stay but that bar them from working. The visas must be updated at least every three months. Holot is an “open” facility in Israel’s southern Negev desert, where detainees are required to report for regular roll-calls to prevent them from working in Israel, where many Africans have menial jobs.
Israel has granted only a tiny number of asylum requests, and offers cash incentives for Africans to leave.  Refugee experts say that Israel’s policies toward migrants reflect both political pressures to do something and demographic anxieties in its rightwing governing elite about maintaining a strong Jewish majority in the country.
“This week’s events reflect once again the lack of a policy of the Israeli government when it concerns non-Jewish immigration to Israel,” says Jean-Marc Liling, an Israeli lawyer specialising in refugee law. “There is a complete incapacity to deal with the fact that Israel has become a country of immigration and not only a country of Aliyah [Jewish immigration].”
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West Africa’s air pollution is reaching dangerously high levels—and we don’t know the worst of it. Air pollution in fast-growing West African cities is reaching dangerous levels. But the worst part, according to a new study published by Nature magazine this week, is that we know almost nothing about the pollutants emerging from these new urban centers and their impact on weather systems, crops, and public health at large. There’s little monitoring of pollution, no emissions inventories, or statistical information on things like fuel consumption. Researchers say that they struggle to find funding to study the issue. While air pollution in India, China, and other emerging economies has become a major area of focus for scientists and policymakers, it has gained little traction in Africa where it’s a growing problem across the continent.
In Lagos, smog has quickly become another aspect of city life. In the city of more than 21 million people—known to some as “Africa’s first city”—the majority of residents live near industrial plants, breathing in exhaust from thousands of cars and millions of generators providing power to the city. As much as 94% of Nigeria’s population is exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed what the World Health Organization deems as safe. Gaborone in Botswana was the seventh-most polluted city in the world, according to WHO data in 2013. And pollution within homes, often from fuel stoves and diesel generators, is believed to have contributed to as many as 600,000 deaths in Africa in 2012, the highest deaths per capita from indoor pollution of any region in the world.

“Not only is pollution in these cities killing local residents, we found these emissions may even be altering the climate along the coast of West Africa, leading to changes in the clouds and so potentially to rainfall with devastating effects,” wrote the study’s co-author, Matthew Evans, a professor atmospheric chemistry at the University of York. Evans and the study’s lead author, Peter Knippertz, from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, worry that these pollutants will change the West African monsoon, a sensitive atmospheric circulation system that controls everything from wind and temperature to rainfall across huge swathes of the region. (Scientists have previously linked aerosols to changing rainfall patterns in Asia and the Atlantic Ocean.) Population growth in West Africa, expected to reach 800 million by 2050, will exacerbate these effects, they say. 
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NOT JUST REFUGEES BUT ALL ARE WELCOME  Austrian police opened the back of a truck abandoned on the side of a motorway to find the bodies of 71 migrants. They had suffocated after paying smugglers to transport them across the border from neighbouring Hungary. Despite having made it into the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone, they still felt the need to travel clandestinely to avoid being
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A leaflet being distributed by our Kent and Sussex Regional Branch on Jeremy Corbyn.
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