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Greenpeace: Environmental Movement Can Do Better in Africa

By Bruno Gaston

International Editor 

April 23, 2009, 12 a.m. - Greenpeace responded to charges in the hip-hop community that environmental advocates have neglected Somalia and there is a double standard for Africa when it comes to environmental activism. 

John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace, spoke to Redding News Review after listening to hip-hop journalist and activist, Davey D, discuss the position of environmental advocacy groups amid reports of illegal dumping of nuclear waste and overfishing off the country's coastline in an interview with Somali-Canadian rapper K'Naan. 

Responding to a question about whether or not environmental groups saw the issue as equally important, K'Naan said: "What's really the sad thing about Somalia and Africa in general when it comes to these kinds of progressive movements you have in the west and in the U.S. such as the green movement, the environmental culture and so on....once it's black, green doesn't really matter so much anymore." 

Hocevar says although Greenpeace has done work in West Africa, he says K'Naan has a point. 

"It's hard to dispute the fact that a lot of the environmental movement has not given proper attention to Africa," Hocevar said. "At the same time, I think it's fair to say that a pretty big focus of Greenpeace's work has been in the developing world particularly from the oceans campaign with pirate fishing. For example, one of the main priorities of our organization is called the Stolen Fish campaign." 

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The news comes after a report from the International Maritime Bureau that piracy attacks have almost doubled in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, largely due to Somali pirate activity. Monday, a Somali teenager arrived in a New York federal court for charges that he helped hijack an American cargo ship two weeks ago. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced plans to prosecute Somali pirates and freeze their assets after the incident. 

"We are looking at and facing an environmental disaster, affecting the entire region of Eastern Africa....the home of the world's birthplace basically," K'Naan also said. "This [nuclear waste] could have major consequences on the environment and human lives for generations to come."

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