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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • Reeva Steenkamp shot in 'rapid fire' April 16, 2014
      The girlfriend of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was shot in quick succession, a forensics expert says, contradicting police ballistics testimony.
    • Remittance fees 'hurt Africans' April 16, 2014
      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • Head of oldest African park shot April 16, 2014
      The Belgian director of Africa's oldest national park - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - is shot and wounded in an ambush.
    • Search after Nigeria school kidnap April 16, 2014
      The Nigerian military joins the search for at least 100 teenage girls abducted from a school in the remote northeast.
    • South Sudan rebels 'seize' oil hub April 15, 2014
      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
    • Elite marathon runner misses flight April 15, 2014
      A London Marathon runner from Sierra Leone is missing after she disappeared and failed to catch a flight home.
    • Jordanian envoy kidnapped in Libya April 15, 2014
      Masked gunmen kidnap Jordan's ambassador to Libya in the capital, Tripoli, in an attack that left his driver wounded, officials say.
    • More than 70 killed in Nigeria blast April 14, 2014
      More than 70 people are killed in a powerful explosion at a crowded bus station near Nigeria's capital, Abuja, officials say.
    • Rwandan musician and journalist held April 14, 2014
      One of Rwanda's best-known musicians and a leading journalist are arrested over their alleged links to an opposition group and rebels.
    • Video link trial for Gaddafi's son April 14, 2014
      A Libyan court rules that the late Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and other Gaddafi officials being held outside Tripoli, can be tried via video-link.
    • Farah eighth in London Marathon April 13, 2014
      Kenyan athletes come first and second at the London marathon in both men's and women's races.
    • Libyan PM to step down after attack April 13, 2014
      Abdullah al-Thinni was only confirmed as prime minister last week but he is stepping down after he and his family were attacked.
    • VIDEO: Abducted Nigerian girls still missing April 16, 2014
      Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for 100 teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
    • AUDIO: 'Killing books' in Libya April 15, 2014
      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
    • VIDEO: At site of Nigeria bus station blast April 14, 2014
      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
    • VIDEO: Cleaning up Cairo's waste system April 14, 2014
      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
      The prosecutor at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial suggests the South African athlete is using his emotions "as an escape".
    • VIDEO: Ghana's 'waste to wealth' initiative April 12, 2014
      Suzanne Vanhooymissen reports on the large and smaller-scale enterprises set up to segregate waste and encourage recycling in Ghana.
    • VIDEO: Stalemate for SA's platinum miners April 12, 2014
      Lerato Mbele reports on the impact of the platinum workers' strike in South Africa, which has so far lasted for almost three months.
    • VIDEO: Kenya first lady in marathon quest April 11, 2014
      Kenya's first lady is in London, but she is not here for a state visit. Instead, Margaret Kenyatta is training for the London Marathon which is taking place on Sunday.
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    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
    • Meet Nigeria's 'Mark Zuckerberg' April 3, 2014
      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
    • Why we need more geek girls April 3, 2014
      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
    • 'Uncle Ebo' revives Ghanaian theater April 15, 2014
      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
    • How medics saved lives at Westgate April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
    • Holy water at baptism festival March 25, 2014
      France has Lourdes, but Ethiopia has Gondar -- with thousands of pilgrims swimming in its holy waters to celebrate the baptism of Jesus.
    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
    • Africa's most endangered April 16, 2014
      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Ebola: A swift and bloody killer April 16, 2014
      It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here.
    • 'I lost my fingers, made new ones' April 14, 2014
      A South African carpenter lost his fingers in an accident -- now he's making mechanical fingers and hands for others.
    • Kenya double in London Marathon April 13, 2014
      World record-holder Wilson Kipsang completed a Kenyan double at the London Marathon Sunday as home hope Mo Farah disappointed on his debut over the 42km distance.
    • Pistorius at mercy of 'bull dog?' April 11, 2014
      He's known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and just two days in to Gerrie Nel's merciless cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, it's easy to see why.
    • 'Now is the time for Afro-realism' April 11, 2014
      Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
    • Africa's tastiest street food April 11, 2014
      Here are your photos of the tastiest -- and most unusual -- African street food.
    • Most stylish tribe in Africa? April 10, 2014
      A South African designer is making sure that when Xhosa boys come of age, they're dressed to the nines.
    • Egypt's sex pest epidemic? April 9, 2014
      A university student cowers in a pharmacy as a mob outside threatens her with sexual violence. A law student is groped by her classmates, the dean cites her "inappropriate attire." Frightening allegations but advocates say this is an everyday reality for women in Cairo.
    • Day that changed Kenya forever April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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Japan Backs IOM Community Stabilization Project in Northern Kenya

Posted by African Press International on April 16, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ IOM has received USD 1 million from Japan to support a project that aims to enhance community stabilization for mobile populations and communities that host them in Northern Kenya.

The project was launched yesterday (14/4) by Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Tatsushi Terada and will be implemented in close cooperation with the local (county) governments of Turkana, Marsabit, Uasin Gishu and Garissa.

Turkana County is currently grappling with drought and an influx of refugees from South Sudan. The targeted counties have also had to contend with severe flooding, landslides and recurrent inter-communal conflicts.

About 30 per cent of people in the region are dependent on food aid in the course of a normal year, and conflict and sudden changes in the environment can have an immediate and devastating effect on their lives and livelihoods.

This project will contribute towards building the resilience of vulnerable mobile communities through improved human security. This will be achieved by addressing their shelter needs and improving small-scale infrastructure, such as livestock markets and water treatment systems, to support their livelihood activities.

Speaking at the launch, Ambassador Terada underscored the need to improve the livelihoods of women and youth in the region.

“Kenya’s government is tackling inequality and poverty through (its) Kenya Vision 2030 (development blueprint). This project will support that effort by improving the resilience of pastoralists affected by natural disasters and conflicts, and providing emergency aid to improve human security. It will offer practical, appropriate and affordable help, but will also give local communities the knowledge that they need to improve their lives by themselves,” he said.

The project will also emphasize the importance of peace and livelihood creation opportunities will aim to reduce resource-based conflict. There will also be a focus on the special needs of women and young people.

Japan has funded IOM projects to enhance peace-building and livelihood opportunities for migrants and host communities affected by natural and man-made disasters in Kenya since 2009.

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

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UK Foreign Secretary condemns bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on April 15, 2014

LONDON, United-Kingdom, April 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Foreign Secretary condemns Abuja bomb attack and offers continued UK support for Nigeria.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the bomb explosion in the east of Abuja. I unreservedly condemn those responsible and hope they are swiftly brought to justice.

“I offer the British government’s deepest condolences to the bereaved and those who have suffered injury. We will continue to work closely with the Nigerian government to help them tackle the threat from terrorism.”

SOURCE

United Kingdom – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Kenya’s terror fight: 46 Ethiopians in court as illegal aliens

Posted by African Press International on April 15, 2014

Forty-six Ethiopians suspected of being in the country illegally were arraigned in court on Monday.

 

End

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South Sudan: Humanitarian situation critical before rainy season

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ Four months after the beginning of the conflict, humanitarian needs continue to increase in South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. Tens of thousands need medical care. With fighting continuing in several areas and the rainy season approaching, the ICRC is concerned.

“We are concerned about the worsening of the humanitarian situation. There is growing food insecurity since the production and marketing of food have been disrupted in many places by violence or displacement,” said Melker Mabeck, head of the ICRC delegation in South Sudan. “This, combined with disruptions to water and health services where they exist, means that needs will only become more critical.”

“The longer the conflict persists and security is lacking, the more difficult it will be for people to obtain food and meet their other basic needs,” he added. In addition to responding to the emergency by providing food, water and medical assistance, the ICRC is helping farmers and livestock herders in violence-affected communities to maintain their livelihoods wherever possible.

Fighting continues in some parts of South Sudan. “We remind the parties of their obligation to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law,” said Mr Mabeck. “They must respect civilians and their property. Civilians and people no longer taking part in hostilities must be spared. Commanders must enforce discipline, issue clear orders and punish those who break the rules.”

The ICRC is also reminding all parties to respect medical personnel and facilities. “Anyone who is wounded or sick, whether civilian or combatant, must be allowed access to health care, regardless of which side or ethnic group the person is associated with,” said Mr Mabeck.

“We know from long experience in southern Sudan that the approaching rainy season will have a direct impact on the population. It will also have an effect on the ICRC’s work, and that too may be felt by the population,” he said. Roads will become impassable and aircraft will not be able to use landing strips that have turned to mud. “We have boosted our logistical capacity and will continue to adapt our response, but it will still be a challenge to accomplish what we set out to do,” he added.

South Sudan is the site of one of the ICRC’s largest operations in the world in terms of resources committed. The organization currently has 600 staff in the country working in close cooperation with the South Sudan Red Cross. Its annual budget for the country comes to 64 million Swiss francs (around 72 million US dollars). Four ICRC mobile surgical teams – more than in any other country – are currently working in various parts of South Sudan.

“We will soon need more resources to respond to the ever-growing needs,” said Mr Mabeck.

Since the beginning of the latest emergency, in mid-December, in close cooperation with the South Sudanese Red Cross the ICRC has:

•    provided food for around 160,000 people in the states of Lakes, Unity, Upper Nile, Warrap, Jonglei, Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal and Western Equatoria, and in Juba;

•    supplied an additional 770 tonnes of essential food for patients and detainees;

•    provided household essentials for over 220,000 people throughout the country;

•    vaccinated nearly 44,000 head of livestock, benefitting an estimated 22,000 people in Northern Bahr el Ghazal who depend on the animals for their living;

•    provided over 24,000 people with seed and tools for their own farming and over 27,000 with fishing equipment in certain areas;

•    provided clean water for nearly 96,000 people in displaced and other conflict-affected communities as well as in health and detention facilities in various parts of the country;

•    performed over 1,200 operations and provided post-operative care in eight different health-care facilities around the country;

•    provided 24 first-aid and other health-care facilities with wound-dressing materials and other medical supplies;

•    visited over 1,800 people held in various places of detention;

•    arranged for nearly 5,000 phone calls to be made between family members.

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

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Chadians Continue to Flee CAR, Often Destitute: IOM

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ Since late December 2013 IOM has registered and tracked over 95,000 often destitute Chadian returnees, Central African nationals and other Third Country Nationals (TCNs) arriving in Chad from the Central African Republic (CAR).

At least 10,000 Chadians and other TCNs, including Malians and Sudanese, have fled to Cameroon. IOM organized road convoys from the CAR-Cameroon border to Moundou in Chad on 30th March and April 2nd. These convoys facilitated the return home of 1,219 stranded migrants.

IOM has now helped some 4,900 stranded migrants to leave Cameroon by road and by air and is continuing to monitor developments on the Cameroon-CAR border, as well as the Chad-CAR border, to help stranded migrants.

Mohamed was among the Chadians who returned to Chad with an IOM road convoy from Kentzou on the Cameroon-CAR border.

He fled his home in the mixed quarter of Miskine in the CAR capital Bangui after his brother and nephew were brutally murdered by anti-balaka militia.

Initially he found sanctuary in Bangui’s Central Mosque and eventually managed to reach Cameroon, where he was stranded at the border for over a month, without shelter and with little food or water.

With IOM’s help, Mohamed reached Chad’s Moundou transit site and continued to Sarh, where he was reunited with family members sheltering at the Doyaba transit site.

But the family was separated during the journey, and Mohamed believes that his wife and two children, who left Kentzou after him, are still stranded at the border. He is now receiving medication for traumatic stress caused by his experiences.

As people continue to flee CAR, the limited resources of neighbouring countries are being placed under massive strain. The withdrawal of the Chadian troops from CAR could also result in new waves of arrivals in both Chad and Cameroon, according to IOM Chad Chief of Mission Dr. Qasim Sufi.

With approximately 96.5 per cent of migrants, refugees and other TCNs fleeing the CAR arriving in Chad and Cameroon, the CAR crisis has become a Chadian and Cameroonian challenge from a humanitarian, security and financial perspective, he notes.

“We expect people to keep coming in the coming weeks and months, unless the level of violence in CAR decreases. This means that we will need to continue to provide transport and other assistance to these people, most of whom are destitute, vulnerable and traumatized,” he adds.

IOM is appealing for USD 28 million for Chad, USD 30 million for CAR and USD 7 million for Cameroon.

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

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Checkpoint 13.04.2014 : Insecurity in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2014

End

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African Union commemorates 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda genocide (1994-2014)

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/– Musical theatre and choir, stories, video documentaries, religious services and prayers from different religious denominations based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were some of the activities that took place during the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide commemorated today, 11 April 2014 at the headquarters of the African Union.

The ceremony also included statements from Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Tewodros Adhano, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AU, Mr. Hamadi Meimou, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Chairperson of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), Mr. Bulus Paul Lolo, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chair of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, and Mr Joseph Nsengimana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda.

It was recalled that around 1,000,000 people lost their lives during the 100 day period of the genocide. The 20th anniversary was observed under the theme: KWIBUKA20 “Remember, Unite, and Renew”.

“We must renew our determination, and make the choice: that Africa shall be peaceful; that we will integrate; that we shall be prosperous and that we will never again tolerate genocide on African soil”, underscored Chairperson Dlamini Zuma, while emphasizing on the need for Africa to silence the guns by 2020. (See complete speech of the AUC Chairperson on the AU website:http://www.au.int ).

Minister Tewodros referred to the genocide as an unprecedented tragedy on the continent “never to repeat itself again”.

Ambassador Lolo on his part said Africa has pledged never again to stand and witness the tragedy that took place some 20 years ago”.

Ambassador Nsengimana expressed appreciation for the contribution of the African and international community in the reconstruction journey of his country. He shared his wish for an Africa free of conflict and genocide, “respectful of the fundamental human rights”.

The AU Staff Association president Mr. Salah Siddig Hammad recalled the horrific acts that took place during the genocide and urged everyone to take action to prevent such atrocities from happening in the future.

Also featuring in the celebrations was the lighting of the commemorative torch in remembrance of the victims of the genocide in the presence of the international community, AU Commissioners and AU staff, representatives of the civil society organizations, diplomatic corps and the Rwandan community in Addis Ababa among other invited guests.

SOURCE

African Union Commission (AUC)

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Statement by the International Criminal Court on the passing of Arthur Robinson

Posted by African Press International on April 12, 2014

The International Criminal Court (ICC) joins with the people of Trinidad and Tobago in mourning the passing of Arthur Robinson, former Prime Minister and later President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He played a critical role in the establishment of the ICC.

“It is with great sorrow that I learnt of the passing of former President Robinson. He will be remembered by many as the ‘grandfather’ of the International Criminal Court”, said ICC President Sang-Hyun Song. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, Mr Robinson revived the idea of establishing a Court with jurisdiction over international crimes, triggering the process that eventually led to the adoption of the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding treaty. Over the years that followed, he supported the efforts of the international community and civil society to bring the Court into existence through the  negotiation, adoption and entry into force of the Rome Statute.

In 2006, former President Robinson was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims, which offers reparations for victims of crimes before the ICC. In recent years, he was active in campaigning for continued support for the Court, particularly among Latin American and Caribbean States. As a long-lasting tribute to President Robinson, the ICC’s main Courtroom is named in his honour.

 

End

source ICC

Though the world has lost a true pioneer of global justice, his legacy remains in the realm of international criminal law, as the International Criminal Court continues to strive for universal protection for all people against genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Austria / Foreign Ministry: Council of Ministers decides on appointments to leading diplomatic mission posts abroad

Posted by African Press International on April 12, 2014

VIENNA, Austria, April 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – At the request of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Council of Ministers decided on new appointments to leading positions at Austrian diplomatic missions abroad.

It was suggested to entrust the following persons with leadership functions abroad:

Dr. Franziska HONSOWITZ-FRIESSNIGG, Austrian Embassy Algiers,

Dr. Caroline GUDENUS, Austrian Embassy Dakar,

Dr. Georg STILLFRIED, Austrian Embassy Cairo,

Dr. Harald GÜNTHER, Austrian Embassy Nairobi,

Dr. Ronald STURM, Austrian Embassy Tripoli,

The diplomats above will be accredited after consent to their appointment has been given by the receiving state and after Austria’s Federal President has provided the respective credentials.

SOURCE

Austria – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award goes to Nigerian Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2014

ABUJA, Nigeria, April 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (http://www.fmf.gov.ng) yesterday, April 8th, has been honoured with the prestigious David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award alongside Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and Simao Jatene, Governor of the State of Para, Brazil in New York.

Okonjo-Iweala was joined by a list of high profile personalities such as the late Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan, Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Bill Gates, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, James Wolfenson etc, that have been honoured in the past.

The only other Nigerian who has previously received the award for her decades-long work of empowering women is Mrs. Bisi Fayemi.

In Okonjo-Iweala’s case, she is being honoured for her uncommon courage and capacity to deliver on the economy and lead, in a very difficult environment.

Organised as part of the Synergos Institute University for a Night Series, the event brings together leaders from business, government and civil society to discuss innovative ways of addressing global problems.

Synergos is a group of leading philantropists that look at issues such as unleashing the leadership capacity of young people; changing the lives of women and girls; women’s health and social justice; improving governance to meet human needs; overcoming violence and sustaining peace.

Founded in 1986 by Peggy Rockefeller Dulany who serves as Chair, the organization supports initiatives in more than 30 countries and regions. It has staff and representatives in Africa, Europe, Middle East and Latin America.

The award was presented by Mrs. Dulany.

SOURCE

Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria

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Minister Paradis Continues Canada’s Leadership in the Fight to End Polio / Canada announces additional funding to support crucial work in Africa

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2014

OTTAWA, Canada, April 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today announced $2 million in additional funding to support the World Health Organization (WHO) work in Somalia and $1 million to UNICEF in response to recent polio outbreaks in East Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Minister Paradis made the announcement at a gathering co-hosted by Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the Canadian Network for the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and UNICEF Canada.

“All children, regardless of where they live, deserve a future with hope and optimism. That is what drives Canada’s effort to eradicate polio once and for all. Through the Prime Minister’s Muskoka Initiative we are working to ensure that every last child is reached,” said Minister Paradis. “Vaccines are among the most cost-effective investments in global heath, saving about 2.5 million lives each year. As long as polio exists on the planet our government will be a steadfast partner in the fight to make polio history.”

The Government of Canada continues to support key partners, such as the WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International, to help reach the goal set by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by 2018. Last year, Canada pledged $250 million between 2013 and 2018 to this mission and has already disbursed more than $100 million toward polio eradication activities around the world, including in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Pakistan.

“To achieve a polio-free world, sustained support from generous donors like the Canadian government is absolutely critical as it allows us to reach children living in the most remote, disadvantaged and conflict- affected regions of the world,” said UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO David Morley. “Canada’s continued support of polio eradication worldwide reinforces its position as a global leader in maternal, newborn and child health.”

“Canada has been at the front line of this global initiative. Through its government, institutions and organizations, Canada has contributed essential financial and technical resources to consign polio to the history books once and for all,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General for Polio and Emergencies. “We need Canada’s ongoing leadership, to help secure the financial resources needed to complete the job, and to advocate with leaders in the remaining infected countries to ensure every child is reached with the polio vaccine.”

“Rotary commends the Government of Canada for its longstanding support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” said Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, PolioPlus National Advocacy Advisory, Rotary International. “Canada is a true leader in its commitment to ending polio, and the lessons we learn will be applied to other maternal and child health issues worldwide.”

Quick Facts

•    Canada was the first country to donate to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative when it was launched in 1988 by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.

•    Canada has been the single-largest donor to polio eradication in Afghanistan, where more than 12 million children have been vaccinated because of our support.

•    Since 1988, Canada and its partners have supported the immunization of hundreds of millions of children, and polio cases have decreased by more than 99 per cent.

•    The polio virus is had been limited to parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria (where the number of cases was at an all-time low in 2013).

•    There have been recent outbreak areas in the Horn of Africa, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Syria, which are on track to be stopped in the coming year.

SOURCE

Canada – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Shameful attitude to vulnerable displaced shown by leadership of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) / Lives at risk if action not immediately taken

Posted by African Press International on April 10, 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – In a shocking display of indifference, senior United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) officials have refused to improve living conditions for 21,000 displaced people sheltering in a flood-prone part of a UN base, exposed to waterborne diseases and potential epidemics. Despite repeated requests from humanitarian organisations, UNMISS is taking no actions in the camp to improve their chances of survival. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today questions the UN’s commitment to meeting the needs of the war-torn country’s most vulnerable groups and calls for immediate action to save lives in Tomping camp.

The Tomping UN peacekeeping base, in the capital Juba, has been host to people who fled for their lives when conflict erupted in December. They are crowded into low-lying parts of the compound that are known to flood. Diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections and skin diseases already make up more than 60 percent of the cases in MSF’s clinic in the camp. A UN plan to establish an alternative site has been mired in implementation delays and is now unrealistic. Repeated requests by MSF and other organizations to expand the Tomping camp into available non-flooded space in the compound, at least as a temporary life-saving measure, have been inexplicably refused.

“The UNMISS decision not to improve conditions in Tomping is shameful,” says Carolina Lopez, MSF emergency coordinator. “In the first rainfall of the season 150 latrines collapsed, mixing with floodwater. People are living in natural drainage channels as there is no other space and there are 65 people per latrine. The rains, which will last the best part of six months, are getting heavier and if nothing is done right now, the consequences, already horrific, could become fatal. Whether as a permanent or as an interim solution, expanding into the dry parts of the compound has to be an immediate action.”

On April 3, Hilde Johnson, head of UNMISS, stated herself that the Tomping camp is ‘at imminent risk of turning into a death trap’. She then announced that it will be closed in May. However, only 1,118 residents have been moved over the past 5 weeks. Although the plan may have been a valid option a month ago, moving some 20,000 people to a space that is far from fully prepared in this timeframe, with the rains starting, is unrealistic. In the meantime, it is hard to understand why available space in Tomping cannot be used to save lives.

“They say there is not enough space in Tomping, but this is a sickening argument when on the other side of the barbed wire there are dry parking and storage spaces,” says Lopez.

Furthermore, many of the camp residents say they would not want to move to the proposed ‘Juba House’ location, another UNMISS base on the outskirts of Juba, as they would feel less safe there. MSF urges UNMISS to ensure that any movements are voluntary.

In the capital city and therefore easily accessible, Tomping is the most visible example of a shift in gear that is required country-wide. Elsewhere in South Sudan there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people; tens of thousands are in other UNMISS camps where MSF sees a disturbing lack of preparedness for the impending floods. In the UNMISS base at Malakal, for example, provisional data from MSF indicates alarming mortality rates, while preparations to improve the situation are minimal.

In Minkamman, which is an open camp rather than inside a UN compound, some 82,000 people who fled fighting in Bor are also living in appalling conditions. MSF runs four clinics providing 2,000 consultations per week, and with the current gaps in sanitation, the team is very concerned with the possibility of waterborne diseases. As the full rainy season approaches, the urgency to take action increases daily. Delays related to the inflexible UN system mean that plans are drawn up but virtually no infrastructure is in place.

“The UN mission in South Sudan reported to the UN Security Council on 18 March that ‘Protection of Civilians’ is a key priority,” says Jerome Oberreit, MSF Secretary General. “We urge the UN leadership to remember that protection means more than just corralling people in a guarded compound. Adequate living conditions are also essential, and require urgent, pragmatic action. People must be safe from disease as well as safe from violence.”

SOURCE

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

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Deepening crisis in the Central African Republic devastating people’s ability to support themselves / UN report says immediate support for food and livelihoods needed to meet “acute and complex emergency”

Posted by African Press International on April 10, 2014

ROME, Italy, April 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The unprecedented crisis in the Central African Republic is devastating the economy and people’s ability to secure basic necessities, two United Nations food agencies said in an assessment report this week.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the country needed a long and expensive humanitarian operation over at least the next 18 months to stem the growing toll, and pave the way to rebuild livelihoods.

The two UN agencies issued the report as they took action to help displaced and other conflict-affected families gain immediate access to food and cash, while also preparing for a crucial planting season, which will help families produce food and income for the long term.

The joint assessment reports that widespread conflict since December 2012 has caused the destruction of livelihoods, loss of food and cash crops, livestock and crucial productive assets across the country.

As a result, about 1.6 million people directly affected by the crisis are in need of urgent food, more than double the level estimated just over a year ago, in February 2013. Also, as of late March, some 625 000 individuals were displaced due to conflict.

Since early 2013, the people of the Central African Republic have been facing serious challenges in accessing food due to reduced supplies, trade disruption, and loss of purchasing power. Unemployment is rampant in all sectors, both formal and informal, and civil servants have not been paid for several months.

There has been a drastic loss of dietary diversity, and a sharply reduced intake of animal proteins, which raises serious concerns for family nutrition and health, especially among children.

“The level of destitution among many of the families I have seen recently in the Central African Republic is shocking and yet, there is still hope to improve people’s immediate and long-term prospects, if we can act on a broad enough scale to restore livelihoods and food security,” said Dominique Burgeon, the Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.

“First and foremost, we need to see violence stop. At the same time, we need to help save lives and rebuild livelihoods,” said Arif Husain, Chief Economist at WFP. “Every passing day only makes emergency assistance more difficult and more expensive and leads to the loss of more innocent lives.”

The vital agricultural sector contracted by nearly 37 percent in 2013 and business people who managed most of the trade and transport activities have left. This, coupled with a shortage of adequate vehicles, is severely affecting internal commerce, the availability of food and the import-export market.

“Prospects for the 2014 cropping season, beginning from March/April, are grim given the level of insecurity and lack of agricultural inputs,” the report said. Agriculture, the backbone of the economy providing some 57 percent of Gross Domestic Product, was the hardest-hit of all sectors.

The rainy season from this month poses a severe challenge to the already inadequate road network, threatening to make many places inaccessible by road and hindering pre-positioning of food stocks and agricultural inputs.

The report recommended that cash transfer programmes be considered in urban areas with relatively more secure food supply chains. Cash transfers could help revitalize community saving and loans to restart local economies. They could also be combined with in-kind food assistance.

The report said food assistance must include locally-preferred and available foods, such as cassava, rice and maize. Local purchase for delivery in the same area would also relieve pressure on logistics and strengthen liquidity, it added.

Two-pronged approach

FAO has a two-pronged approach to improving food security in the Central African Republic. First, essential agricultural inputs such as seeds and tools will be provided to about 75 000 households in time for the planting period starting in April.

Also, a comprehensive plan aims to help over 400 farmer groups and women’s associations recover their livelihoods and build resilience.

WFP is assisting 1.25 million women, children and men in the country. WFP provides food assistance to internally displaced people, nutrition support to malnourished children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and individuals with HIV/AIDS and emergency school meals for children.

As of March, only one-third of the funding needed by WFP was secured. As a result, vulnerable and displaced people were receiving half-rations with fewer types of food.

Funding is urgently required to provide sufficient life-saving assistance to growing numbers of people during the current rainy season and the lean season. This period, currently underway, is when food requirements are highest.

 

SOURCE

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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New EU programme to strengthen land governance in ten African countries

Posted by African Press International on April 9, 2014

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, April 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – A new programme worth €33 million to improve land governance and help improve the food and nutrition security of family farmers and vulnerable communities in Sub Saharan Africa, was announced today by Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs. This will be done, among other things, through the application, at country level, of some Voluntary Guidelines set up by the international community in 2012 to improve land governance.

Roughly 1.2 billion people worldwide live without permanent homes, land access or formal property rights, a reason which is often used for their land to be attributed to large scale land investors. Therefore, land governance issues are strongly linked to key challenges such as food scarcity, water shortages or urban and population growth.

Speaking ahead of the high level conference on land tenure, due to take place today at the European Parliament in the presence of President Blaise Comparoe of Burkina Faso, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “I am convinced that these land tenure guidelines, which recognise farmers’ ownership and access rights, are essential to achieve efficient, sustainable and inclusive agriculture, and to promoting human rights and peace in society. This new programme will help farmers, and specially women, to make a living and feed their families, without fear of losing their property.”

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloș, who will also attend today’s event, added: “Improving land tenure management is a key challenge to strengthen family farms, encourage investments in agriculture and increase food security. We need to support African countries concretely by sharing our experience in this field to make sure that guidelines and voluntary processes are translated into national legislation or into standard contracts for local governments.”

Other activities of this new programme include:

• the development of new land registration tools and digital land registry techniques for example through satellite images

• support to local organisations and civil society groups in making farmer groups (particularly women and young people) aware of their land rights so they are able to maintain them

• formalisation measures will be put in place to make land use legitimate; e.g. the provision of property deeds and relevant documentation to recognise land rights

The programme will be rolled out across ten African countries: Angola, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Swaziland.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) contributes to the in-country implementation of the programme: in Somalia, it will carry out an in-depth assessment on territorial rights and will set up strategies on land management. In Kenya it will review and harmonise the national strategies, policies and legislation required for strengthening of institutions and for the building up of future strategies.

Ahead of the event, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General of the FAO said: “Any solutions for eradicating poverty must examine the ties between rights, entitlements, opportunities and poverty, with a special emphasis on empowering the most vulnerable. Only an empowered population, with secure rights and a stake in their future can move a nation forward and transform natural assets into wealth.”

Background

The concept of this programme is to apply at country level the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), adopted by the Committee of World Food Security (CFS) in 2012. They were seen as a major step forward by the international community to improve land governance at a global level.

Land governance is a particular challenge in many developing countries; particularly for smallholder farmers who often struggle to gain recognition for a communal area or agricultural investments. Many countries suffer from the lack of a transparent and effective land ownership system, with no public registration system. Fragile states are particularly volatile in terms of land tenure. Setting up a clear legislative framework for land registration and governance in this context is crucial.

The issue of land ownership will become increasingly important as the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Additional pressure is put on land through food and biofuel production, as well as the importance of preserving forest basins and climate change.

Today’s ‘High-Level Conference on Property Rights: Land Tenure Security, the Missing Key to Eradicating Poverty’ will be hosted by Commissioner Piebalgs and MEP Nirj Deva at the European Parliament, from 2pm-7pm. Other high level invitees included President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Dacian Cioloș, European Commissioner for Agriculture, HE Raymond Tschibanda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, HE Pierre Mabiala, Minister for Land Affairs and Public Domain, The Republic of Congo, HE Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture, The Ivory Coast, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General FAO and Klaus Deininger, Lead Economist at the World Bank.

The event marks ten years of strategic cooperation between the EU and the FAO.

SOURCE

European Commission

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The Big Q: President Uhuru Kenyatta on the Government’s Scorecard -Part 1 and 2

Posted by African Press International on April 9, 2014

Part 1

Part 2

end

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

 
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