Pope Francis donates to FAO to assist drought and conflict-stricken populations in East Africa

Pope Francis donates to FAO to assist drought and conflict-stricken populations in East Africa

In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis has symbolically donated €25,000 to FAO’s efforts supporting people facing food insecurity and famine in East Africa.

Pope Francis said the funds are “a symbolic contribution to an FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.”

The pontiff’s remarks were contained in a letter written to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva by Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN food agencies in Rome.

Pope Francis’ gesture stemmed from a pledge he made in a message to FAO’s Conference on 3 July 2017 and was “inspired also by the desire to encourage Governments,” Monsignor Chica wrote in the letter.

Famine was declared in parts of South Sudan in February and while the situation has eased after a significant scaling up in the humanitarian response, some 6 million people in the country are still struggling to find enough food every day.

Meanwhile the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in five other East African countries – Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – is currently estimated at about 16 million, which marks an increase of about 30 percent since late 2016.

Pope Francis, who has made solidarity a major theme of his pontificate, is set to visit FAO’s headquarters on 16 October to mark
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South Africa : Launch of the Truman Magubane Family Foundation

President Zuma to Address the Launch of the Truman Magubane Family Foundation

President Jacob Zuma will on Saturday, 22 July 2017, address the launch of the Truman Magubane Family Foundation whose aim is to support underprivileged children in various fields, in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Foundation, which is named after its founder and Grand Patron, Mr Truman Magubane, will support underprivileged children particularly in the fields of education, leadership training, cultural activities and sports in uMsunduzi and surrounding areas in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Magubane, a former Chief Whip in uMsunduzi Local Municipality, is one of the most respected struggle stalwarts and a former Robben Island prisoner is well known for his noble and fearless leadership he displayed during the liberation struggle and has also made an enormous contribution in the development of the country since the dawn of democracy.

The event will take place as follows:
Date: Saturday, 22 July 2017
Time: 16h00
Venue: Pietermaritzburg City Hall, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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Kenya, Rwanda : COMESA to observe elections

COMESA will deploy short term electoral observation missions to the upcoming presidential and general elections in Rwanda and Kenya scheduled on 4th and 8th August 2017 respectively. Both missions will be led by members of the COMESA Committee of Elders.

Ambassador Dr. Simbi Mubako from Zimbabwe will lead the team to Kenya. The team is expected to arrive in Nairobi on 30 July 2017. Bishop Mary Nkosi from Malawi will lead the team to Rwanda. The advance team will arrive in Kigali on 27 July 2017.

The teams will observe the pre-election, election and post-election activities. In addition, they will consult with other key stakeholders in both countries. They will issue preliminary statements immediately after observing the elections. Comprehensive reports will follow after 90 days.

COMESA believes that elections play a pivotal role in societal transformation in the region and provide a footstall for entrenching democratic principles.

Premised on this critical role, Member States have continued holding periodic elections which have heralded a new dawn by signifying steady progress towards deepening and institutionalizing democracy in the 19-member bloc.

The general elections in Kenya will be the second after the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010. The new constitution which is considered progressive in the region introduced new political positions.

In total, Kenyans are going to vote for 6 elective positions that include the president, governor, senator, Member of Parliament (MP), women representative, and member of county assembly. President Uhuru Kenyatta will be running for his second term in office.

Like other countries in the COMESA region, Kenya has made commendable progress in galvanizing its economic gains and development. Progress has also been made in consolidating national cohesion following the post-election violence that was experienced in 2007.

The presidential elections in Rwanda follows the 2015 referendum that unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that allowed President Paul Kagame to run for office in 2017. The forthcoming elections are considered important in Rwanda’s socio-economic and political progress.

In the past years, Rwanda has made significant progress in consolidating its political stability, economic growth and development. Furthermore, Rwanda has recorded major milestones in consolidating democracy through holding periodic parliamentary and presidential elections as stipulated in its legal framework.

Since 2008, COMESA has continued to support the elections process in Rwanda. COMESA observed the parliamentary elections that were held in 2008, 2013 and the presidential elections held in 2010.

COMESA observes elections in Member States as a means of promoting and consolidating democracy in the region.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

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Nigeria : UN deputy chief – messages of women vital to sustainable peace, development

Urgent action is needed now towards the meaningful participation of women in peace processes, as well ensuring their voices are heard in all aspects of society, the United Nations deputy chief told reporters in Abuja today as part of a first-ever UN-African Union trip focused on women, peace and security.

“It is about action. It is about implementation,” Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the press in the Nigerian capital, where she also spotlighted the importance advancing gender equality as a precondition for sustainable development for all.

During the joint AU-UN high-level trip, which will move on from Nigeria to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ms. Mohammed will be accompanied by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and the Special Envoy of the AU on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop.

“It is a new era,” Ms. Mohammed continued, “a new era where we have many tools at our disposal.”

“We know that from the economy to stability and peace, we are not able to achieve our goals if we are only investing in half of the population. Human resource is a major asset of a nation and a continent. Women often account for half. But they lack the investment we need,” she added, urging that women’s voices be heard in all aspects of society.

Ms. Mohammed cited various challenges, which went beyond abject poverty to encompass high maternal mortality rates, extremism and education gaps.

“What we really want to do is to hear and bring the messages of women – women in decision-making, women who bear the brunt and carry the burden of many of the tragedies that we see – to see how we can come out of this, how we can be a constructive partner in finding the solutions to sustainable development,” she stressed.

According to Ms. Mohammed: “It makes economic sense. It’s not charity. It is about rights […] it’s a huge part of our economic development.”

Over the past two days, the deputy UN chief met with the acting President and key ministers on these and other issues that affect development.

Investing in Sustainable Development Goals can help prevent conflict

From the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria’s north-east to the conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, she said conflicts drain the country’s economy of resources that could be better used for development.

“Without peace we cannot have development. Whatever investments that we are putting into development we are seeing them eroded by the lack of peace,” she underscored.

Ms. Mohammed also spoke about meeting with young refugee girls, who, living in camps, fled tragedies, including some of the freed Chibok girls. “We heard stories that young girls should not have to tell, and these have been a tragedy for all of us,” she lamented.

However, the deputy UN chief was inspired by their spirit as they “refuse to be victims and are survivors with a future that is bright.”

“We saw girls […] who talked about their dreams – no longer their nightmares,” she said, adding that while challenges remain as there are many girls still left behind, “it shows that there is hope.”

Ms. Mohammed underscored the importance of strengthening partnerships with Nigeria and the African Union for a scaled-up response to support women and girls who face these tragedies.

Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she emphasized that by investing in them, “we can look at the root causes […] we can prevent the conflict from happening.”

Also, as present conflicts are resolved, the
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