Nov 122014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

• The Planet Earth Institute NGO will host first ever ‘Africa Data Challenge’ as part of the second #ScienceAfrica UnConference on November 18th

• During the ‘Africa Data Challenge’ innovators will pitch ideas for data-driven projects that achieve practical, human impact in Africa

• Judges include African Development Bank, Elsevier and Intel

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) (http://www.planetearthinstitute.org.uk), an international NGO that works for the scientific independence of Africa, will host the first-ever ‘Africa Data Challenge’, as part of their #ScienceAfrica UnConference, held at Impact HUB, Westminster on November 18. The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ is a groundbreaking competition that invites parties to pitch their ideas for projects that harness data for real, human impact in Africa.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/planet-earth.png

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1542 (Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1543 (Africa topology graphic)

While the ‘data revolution’ is a major theme in conversations on technology and business, there’s little discussion on how it can enhance Africa’s scientific development in a practical way. The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ invites innovators from around the world to pitch their ideas for projects that can help translate and transmit the power of data to those on the continent. Projects are unlimited in scope and focus, but must be designed to have a practical, human application in the next 12 months. Contestants will present their project live in front of a panel that includes Beejaye Kokil, Head of the Economic & Social Statistics Division, African Development Bank, David Tempest, Head of Director of Access Relations, Elsevier, Richard Pilling, Director, Director of Professional Services & Analytics (EMEA and APAC), Intel and Mariéme Jamme, entrepreneur and CEO of SpotOne Global. The successful innovators will be rewarded with a cash prize of £7,000 and receive PEI’s support to roll out their project.

The ‘Africa Data Challenge’ forms part of the PEI’s second #ScienceAfrica UnConference, which is hosted by Rt Hon Lord Boateng and run in partnership with UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Bank and the European Commission.

The UnConference brings together over 120 people passionate about and working in science, development and Africa for an interactive day of workshops and discussions.

Participants come from diverse sectors, including international policy makers, academics, students as well as the general public. The UnConference will also be live streamed on the PEI website and people are encouraged to use the #ScienceAfrica hashtag on Twitter to engage in a robust discussion about science, technology and innovation in Africa.

Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, said:

“Data holds a huge amount of promise for scientific development in Africa, and for many different business sectors too, but we haven’t yet fully explored how it can be used at a local level to improve lives. As an NGO we are always looking for practical ways to support science and technology, and this Africa Data Challenge will help do just that – developing and incubating new ideas with real impact.

I’m looking forward to supporting the winning project over the next year, and to rolling out the competition across Africa. Working with our partners around the world, we are deeply committed to supporting innovations in this way, and strengthening the growing movement for scientific investment and development in Africa”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI).

Interviews or further information

For further information on the Africa Data Challenge and #ScienceAfrica UnConference or for interview requests with those involved please contact:

James Knight on james@planetearthinstitute.org.uk or +447725209507.

Sarah Hambly on sarah@planetearthinstitute.org.uk or +447879739405

Notes to Eds

• The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) (http://www.planetearthinstitute.org.uk) is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa. While other emerging regions have invested heavily in science and technology, Africa is falling behind in the race for scientific development.

• All of our work is built around the three pathways we believe will help lead Africa to scientific independence: Higher Education, Technological Innovation and Policy and Advocacy. In other words, we want to support and strengthen higher education institutions, help incubate and seed-fund technologies able to drive scientific advancement and campaign for a science-led development agenda for Africa.

• The PEI is headquartered in London, UK with a core executive team, and with regional project offices in Luanda, Angola and Kigali, Rwanda.

Working for the scientific independence of Africa

Nov 122014
 

WASHINGTON, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

November 11, 2014

The text of the following statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

Begin Text:

The members of the Troika (the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway) welcome the convening of negotiations between the Government of Sudan and both the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North and the Darfur elements of the Sudan Revolutionary Front. These talks are a critical step towards both the resolution of ongoing conflicts and a comprehensive process of national dialogue that can address the range of issues that have fueled Sudan’s conflicts and political unrest. We welcome the African Union High-level Implementation Panel’s continued efforts and facilitation of these talks. We strongly urge the parties to the conflicts to show their commitment to peace by coming to Addis Ababa this month prepared to engage substantively on the issues identified by African Union Peace and Security Council in September, including:

• A synchronized cessation of hostilities for Darfur and the Two Areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile;

• Preparations for a meeting of all Sudanese parties to discuss relevant process issues and agree on the terms and objectives of the National Dialogue;

• Necessary confidence-building measures to establish a conducive environment for broad Sudanese participation in the National Dialogue;

• Humanitarian assistance for all populations in war affected areas;

While we are encouraged by the announcement of coordinated negotiating tracks, we remain concerned by ongoing violence and the dire humanitarian conditions in both Darfur and the Two Areas. Recent reports indicate an increase in aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and we are alarmed by the recent statements from government officials on plans for major military offensives in both regions. History has shown that these conflicts cannot be won militarily. Further offensives only serve to increase the human suffering of the civilians in these areas.

In order to build confidence and create an environment conducive to dialogue and compromise, we urge all parties to cease such harmful actions and inflammatory rhetoric. We urge the parties to seize this opportunity and build a truly comprehensive process for national dialogue and a sustainable peace.

Nov 122014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UK deeply concerned about political instability in Somalia. Urges all parties to resolve differences through political process.

Following plans to table a parliamentary motion calling for a vote of no confidence in the Somali Prime Minister and his government, an FCO spokesperson said:

“The UK is deeply concerned that political instability risks undermining recent progress in Somalia, and delaying progress on vital political, security and development paths. Time is already short to achieve the goals set out in the Vision 2016 strategy, including elections in 2016. We therefore urge all Somali parties to resolve differences through the political process, including respecting parliamentary procedure, and to act together in the interests of Somalia.

The timing of this crisis is regrettable when the focus should be on the political process to 2016 and just before next week’s planned meeting in Copenhagen, where Somalia and its international partners should review progress against the Somalia New Deal Compact, agreed last September. The UK remains committed to helping to build a sovereign, secure, democratic, united and federal Somalia.”

Nov 122014
 

BASEL, Switzerland, November 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

• Power of One campaign, supported by exclusive treatment sponsor Novartis, raises funds for three million treatments for children with malaria

• Novartis associates rallied behind Power of One to fund close to 500,000 antimalarial treatments for Zambia

• Company reaches delivery landmark with 700 million antimalarial treatments supplied without profit in 60 malaria-endemic countries since 2001

Novartis (http://www.novartis.com) announced today that, through Power of One, enough funds have been raised to deliver three million antimalarial treatments for children in Zambia. Launched in September 2013, Malaria No More’s Power of One campaign is supported by Novartis as the exclusive treatment sponsor.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/novartis.jpg

Although preventable and treatable, malaria still kills a child every minute(1). Support for Power of One reflects the Novartis commitment to help accelerate progress toward malaria elimination. Every dollar donated to the campaign buys and delivers a treatment for a child with malaria in Africa. Using social, mobile, and e-commerce technologies, donors can see the impact of their donation on the ground, share the experience with their networks and recruit other donors.

“Power of One is a natural extension of our company’s commitment to the fight against malaria and I am very proud of the contributions Novartis associates have made to help children in Zambia,” said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “Over the past decade, we have delivered 700 million antimalarial treatments without profit in malaria-endemic countries but more work is needed. We need to continue to step up efforts, not only by increasing access to antimalarials but also by researching next-generation treatments to move closer to our vision of a malaria-free world.”

The Novartis Malaria Initiative (http://www.malaria.novartis.com) has pledged to match up to 1 million treatments funded by the public every year through 2015, doubling the impact of Power of One donations. Novartis Group company associates from 42 countries also rallied behind Power of One to support the company’s goal to eliminate malaria. During the past 12 months, several creative efforts have enabled associates to raise enough money to fund close to 500,000 treatments. Activities included a brand-related cause marketing campaign led by the Over-the-Counter business in Switzerland, participation in the Global Corporate Challenge® through the company’s Be Healthy well-being program and a global internal fundraising competition.

“After only a year, thanks to the generosity of the global public and Novartis associates, we have been able to meet our goal of raising three million treatments for children in Zambia,” said Martin Edlund, CEO, Malaria No More. “This is a great achievement but we need to continue the fight and help ensure no child dies from malaria due to lack of a one dollar treatment.”

The initial focus country of Power of One was Zambia, the first African country to change its treatment guidelines from chloroquine to newer artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). The campaign will now also benefit patients in Kenya, where 200,000 treatments have just been delivered, in an effort to help drive down malaria morbidity and mortality among children.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Novartis International AG.

About Power of One

Malaria No More’s Power of One campaign offers the global public and corporations the opportunity to help end malaria deaths one dollar and one child at a time. Every dollar donated funds a full treatment course for a child diagnosed with malaria in Africa. Malaria No More is grateful for the support and contributions of Power of One partners: Novartis, Alere, the Zambian Government, 21st Century Fox, AGFUND, AHAlife.com, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Causes.com, Havas Worldwide, John Snow, Inc., Newman’s Own Foundation, PATH/MACEPA, Peace Corps, Time Warner, Twitter, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative, Venmo, West, and more. Additional information is available at www.Po1.org.

About the Novartis Malaria Initiative

The Novartis Malaria Initiative (http://www.malaria.novartis.com) is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s largest access-to-medicines programs, focused on treatment, access, capacity-building and research & development. Over the last decade, the initiative has delivered 700 million treatments without profit, mostly to the public sector, including 250 million pediatric antimalarials developed specifically for children. Moving forward, Novartis is committed to working towards malaria elimination by driving the development of next-generation antimalarials, with two new classes of drugs currently in Phase II clinical development. For more information, please visit: www.malaria.novartis.com.

Disclaimer

The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by words such as “commitment,” “next generation,” “vision,” “pledged,” “will,” “committed,” or similar terms, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential marketing authorizations for next generation antimalarial medicines, or regarding potential future revenues from such medicines. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on the current beliefs and expectations of management regarding future events, and are subject to significant known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. There can be no guarantee that any next generation antimalarial medicines will be submitted or approved for sale in any market, or at any particular time. Nor can there be any guarantee that any such medicines will be commercially successful in the future. In particular, management’s expectations regarding such medicines could be affected by, among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, including unexpected clinical trial results and additional analysis of existing clinical data; unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; the company’s ability to obtain or maintain proprietary intellectual property protection; general economic and industry conditions; global trends toward health care cost containment, including ongoing pricing pressures; unexpected manufacturing issues, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Novartis (http://www.novartis.com) provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 133,000 full-time-equivalent associates and sell products in more than 150 countries around the world. For more information, please visit www.novartis.com.

Novartis is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @Novartis at twitter.com/novartis.

References

1. World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

Novartis Media Relations

Central media line:

Liz Power

Novartis Global Media Relations

+1 212 830 2466 (direct)

+1 617 583 3015

elizabeth.power@novartis.com

Nadine Schecker

Novartis Malaria Initiative Communications

+41 61 696 8633 (direct)

+41 79 682 1326 (mobile)

nadine.schecker@novartis.com

e-mail: media.relations@novartis.com

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For questions about the site or required registration, please contact: journalisthelp@thenewsmarket.com.

Novartis Investor Relations

Central phone: +41 61 324 7944

Samir Shah +41 61 324 7944

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e-mail: investor.relations@novartis.com

North America:

Stephen Rubino +1 862 778 8301

Jill Pozarek +1 212 830 2445

Susan Donofrio +1 862 778 9257

e-mail: investor.relations@novartis.com

Nov 112014
 

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by George Tsibouris, visited Madagascar during October 29−November 11, 2014 for the first Article IV consultation1 (since 2007), and to initiate discussions of a medium-term reform program that could be supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement2. Discussions focused on recent economic developments, policy implementation, and prospects for further economic and structural reforms.

At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Tsibouris, issued the following statement:

“There are early signs of an economic recovery, with growth at 3 percent and inflation at under 7 percent in 2014. Given still weak tax revenue collections, spending on high-priority areas, such as education and health, continues to be constrained. Budgetary pressures are intensified by the need to finance fuel subsidies, public enterprises (such as JIRAMA), and the under-funded civil service pension fund. Growing credit demand has prompted domestic interest rates to increase and has raised the cost of domestic budgetary financing, leading the government to increase statutory advances from the central bank. The current account deficit is projected to narrow to about 2 percent of GDP in 2014 (from 5½ percent of GDP in 2013) driven by growing mineral exports, and decreasing food and energy imports. The Ariary has depreciated by about 15 percent against the US dollar so far in 2014, while foreign exchange reserves of the central bank have dwindled somewhat.”

“In the medium term, the key challenge for Madagascar is to secure strong, sustainable, pro-poor growth to help reverse the deterioration in development indicators. The government has an important role to play in this process, through the scaling up of essential infrastructure, reforms to improve the business climate including governance, and enhanced social development policies. To meet Madagascar’s development needs and to preserve macroeconomic stability requires broadening the tax base, improving the quality and composition of public spending, and reinforcing anti-corruption institutions. The mission welcomes the authorities’ recent moves toward clearing domestic budgetary arrears and encourages them to proceed with the planned phased further reduction in fuel subsidies and to ensure the financial viability of public enterprises.”

“Monetary and financial sector reforms should include strengthening the capital base of the central bank and enhancing its oversight and independence. It will be important to ensure that the foreign exchange market is sufficiently liquid and reflects market conditions. In that context, the central bank should rebuild its international reserves.”

“The government’s reform program, laid out in the National Development Plan (NDP), will set a framework for robust growth and poverty reduction over the medium term. It is important to translate this framework into specific priorities and actions to enable the achievement of the government’s medium-term objectives.”

“The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to discuss the 2014 Article IV in January 2015. Discussions on a medium-term economic reform program that could be supported by an ECF arrangement will continue in the period ahead.”

“The mission met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Roger Kolo, Minister of Finance and Budget Jean Razafindravonona and Minister of Economic Planning Herilanto Raveloharison, and Central Bank Governor Alain Rasolofondraibe, other senior government officials; members of the National Assembly; representatives of the private sector, civil society, and the development partners. The IMF team thanks the authorities for their constructive discussions and hospitality and reaffirms the IMF’s support to the government’s efforts to implement their economic reform program.”

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country authorities.

2 The ECF is the IMF’s main tool for medium-term financial support to low-income countries. Financing under the ECF currently carries a zero percent interest rate, with a grace period of 5½ years, and a maturity of 10 years.

Nov 112014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and Minister for Armed Forces Mark Francois, will visit Sierra Leone on the 12 November to demonstrate the UK’s continued support and commitment to defeating Ebola and to see the challenges first hand.

Mr Hammond will visit Port Loko to see the construction of one of the additional five 100-bed Ebola treatment centres being built and supported by the UK. The first UK-funded centre opened in Kerry Town last week. He will also meet President Koroma to demonstrate his support and encourage continued momentum in the fight against Ebola.

Mr Hammond and Mr Francois will both meet members of the British Armed Forces who are training Ebola workers in how to use personal protective equipment at the Ebola Training Academy. They will also visit the Western Area District Command and Control Centre located at the British Council, where they will meet UK and Sierra Leonean government staff working together alongside other members of the international community to respond to Ebola in the district.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois will also visit members of 22 Field Hospital, military medics who are staffing the UK-built facility within the Kerry Town Treatment Centre, dedicated to treatment of HMG personnel and International Healthcare Workers. He will also meet with Royal Engineers who are designing and supervising construction of all the Ebola treatment units.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said:

“The UK is leading the international effort to defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone. I shall be getting an update on our intervention and seeing how our support is making a difference when I meet members of our Armed Forces and health workers who have joined the fight to end Ebola.”

Nov 112014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and Minister for Armed Forces Mark Francois, will visit Sierra Leone on the 12 November to demonstrate the UK’s continued support and commitment to defeating Ebola and to see the challenges first hand.

Mr Hammond will visit Port Loko to see the construction of one of the additional five 100-bed Ebola treatment centres being built and supported by the UK. The first UK-funded centre opened in Kerry Town last week. He will also meet President Koroma to demonstrate his support and encourage continued momentum in the fight against Ebola.

Mr Hammond and Mr Francois will both meet members of the British Armed Forces who are training Ebola workers in how to use personal protective equipment at the Ebola Training Academy. They will also visit the Western Area District Command and Control Centre located at the British Council, where they will meet UK and Sierra Leonean government staff working together alongside other members of the international community to respond to Ebola in the district.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois will also visit members of 22 Field Hospital, military medics who are staffing the UK-built facility within the Kerry Town Treatment Centre, dedicated to treatment of HMG personnel and International Healthcare Workers. He will also meet with Royal Engineers who are designing and supervising construction of all the Ebola treatment units.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said:

“The UK is leading the international effort to defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone. I shall be getting an update on our intervention and seeing how our support is making a difference when I meet members of our Armed Forces and health workers who have joined the fight to end Ebola.”

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Violence by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast continues to send thousands of refugees across the border into neighbouring Cameroon. According to Cameroonian authorities, some 13,000 Nigerian refugees crossed from Adamawa state after insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October. The refugees fled to the towns of Guider and Gashiga in the North region of Cameroon and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North.

According to local authorities in Cameroon, the vast majority of these 13,000 Nigerians have now returned to Nigeria, saying that their final destination was Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, about 200 kilometres south of Mubi.

In the days immediately following the attack on Mubi, it was reported that refugees arrived in Cameroon in over 300 vehicles – including many personal vehicles, as well as some trucks and rented cars. The Cameroonian authorities reported that they facilitated onward transit movements and provided escorts to ensure the safety of those transiting through Cameroonian territory.

On the Nigeria side, a UNHCR team confirmed that thousands of Nigerians are now being hosted at Girei (Gombe State) and at the National Youth Service Centre in Yola (one of five sites in Adamawa State hosting internally displaced persons). The newcomers are receiving assistance from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the National Red Cross Society and the International Rescue Committee.

In Yola, UNHCR has interviewed some of the people who transited through Cameroon before re-entering Nigeria. The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon. We are also examining claims that some of these refugees may have been forced to return to Nigeria. We are seeking assurances from both Nigeria and Cameroon that the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis. Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. We encourage Cameroon to continue with its policy of welcoming refugees.

In other areas in the Far North region that border Nigeria’s Borno state, Cameroonian authorities continue to report regular attempts by insurgents to carry out incursions into Cameroonian territory, frequently launching attacks from their strongholds on the Nigerian side of the border. Before the latest attacks in Mubi, Cameroonian authorities had confirmed that over 43,000 Nigerians had sought refuge in Cameroon, of whom close to 17,000 are currently living at Minawao refugee camp managed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile in Niger, at least 1,000 people have arrived in the Bosso area, in the south of the country, following the capture by insurgents last week of the garrison town of Malam Fatori. The Nigerian town is located only a few kilometres from the border with Niger. The new arrivals in Bosso say that Malam Fatori is now almost empty, as most inhabitants have fled without taking any belongings with them. Children show signs of trauma. At this point, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have arrived in the past few days.

The crisis in the northeast of Nigeria has led to the flight of over 100,000 people to Niger since May 2013 (this includes both Nigerian refugees and citizens of Niger) according to the local authorities, as well as 2,700 refugees to Chad. At the same time, over 650,000 people are internally displaced in Nigeria’s six north-eastern States.

UNHCR recently updated its return advisory regarding people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) and surrounding region – Update I *). We are urging States to keep their borders open for Nigerians fleeing the country and who may be in need of international protection. The Advisory seeks to ensure that humanitarian and asylum principles are upheld in light of the ongoing insecure situation in north-eastern Nigeria.

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Violence by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast continues to send thousands of refugees across the border into neighbouring Cameroon. According to Cameroonian authorities, some 13,000 Nigerian refugees crossed from Adamawa state after insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October. The refugees fled to the towns of Guider and Gashiga in the North region of Cameroon and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North.

According to local authorities in Cameroon, the vast majority of these 13,000 Nigerians have now returned to Nigeria, saying that their final destination was Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, about 200 kilometres south of Mubi.

In the days immediately following the attack on Mubi, it was reported that refugees arrived in Cameroon in over 300 vehicles – including many personal vehicles, as well as some trucks and rented cars. The Cameroonian authorities reported that they facilitated onward transit movements and provided escorts to ensure the safety of those transiting through Cameroonian territory.

On the Nigeria side, a UNHCR team confirmed that thousands of Nigerians are now being hosted at Girei (Gombe State) and at the National Youth Service Centre in Yola (one of five sites in Adamawa State hosting internally displaced persons). The newcomers are receiving assistance from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the National Red Cross Society and the International Rescue Committee.

In Yola, UNHCR has interviewed some of the people who transited through Cameroon before re-entering Nigeria. The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon. We are also examining claims that some of these refugees may have been forced to return to Nigeria. We are seeking assurances from both Nigeria and Cameroon that the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis. Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. We encourage Cameroon to continue with its policy of welcoming refugees.

In other areas in the Far North region that border Nigeria’s Borno state, Cameroonian authorities continue to report regular attempts by insurgents to carry out incursions into Cameroonian territory, frequently launching attacks from their strongholds on the Nigerian side of the border. Before the latest attacks in Mubi, Cameroonian authorities had confirmed that over 43,000 Nigerians had sought refuge in Cameroon, of whom close to 17,000 are currently living at Minawao refugee camp managed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile in Niger, at least 1,000 people have arrived in the Bosso area, in the south of the country, following the capture by insurgents last week of the garrison town of Malam Fatori. The Nigerian town is located only a few kilometres from the border with Niger. The new arrivals in Bosso say that Malam Fatori is now almost empty, as most inhabitants have fled without taking any belongings with them. Children show signs of trauma. At this point, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have arrived in the past few days.

The crisis in the northeast of Nigeria has led to the flight of over 100,000 people to Niger since May 2013 (this includes both Nigerian refugees and citizens of Niger) according to the local authorities, as well as 2,700 refugees to Chad. At the same time, over 650,000 people are internally displaced in Nigeria’s six north-eastern States.

UNHCR recently updated its return advisory regarding people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) and surrounding region – Update I *). We are urging States to keep their borders open for Nigerians fleeing the country and who may be in need of international protection. The Advisory seeks to ensure that humanitarian and asylum principles are upheld in light of the ongoing insecure situation in north-eastern Nigeria.

Nov 112014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Three members of the Irish Defence Forces are to deploy to Sierra Leone to reinforce Ireland’s capacity in Sierra Leone as the international relief effort ramps up, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister for Defence today announced.

The three personnel, all of whom have vast collective experience in West Africa, will be deployed to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown under the Emergency Civilian Assistance Team initiative, established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to international crises.

As one of a small number of countries with an embassy in Freetown, Ireland has been very active in working with our local and international partners to fight the ebola epidemic and the Defence Forces’ deployment will bring key technical skills which will enhance the mission’s ability to respond.

Their role will include reviewing and enhancing the embassy’s contingency plans for security-related events and providing advice and support in logistics and emergency planning. They will not be working directly on the frontline of the ebola response.

The Minister for Defence also advised the Government that consideration is being given to the deployment of members of the Permanent Defence Force to be embedded as part of a UK Armed Forces Treatment Unit in Kerrytown, Sierra Leone. The facility provides UK standard Ebola Virus Disease treatment to International Healthcare Workers who are providing care to the Sierra Leone population.

Discussions are continuing between the Irish and UK authorities in order to determine the roles that may be assigned to the Irish personnel and to establish if the appropriate clinical competencies are available within the Defence Forces.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“The deployment of Defence Forces’ personnel to the embassy in Sierra Leone is a clear example of the whole of government approach required to fight this dreadful disease. By bringing field experience in areas such as emergency planning and response, logistics and risk mitigation, those deployed will add a significant new dimension to the Ireland’s contribution.”

Minister Coveney said:

“Irish Defence Forces personnel have a sterling record of service in support of humanitarian crisis across the globe. Working in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the ECAT initiative, and possibly with the UK Armed Forces, these soldiers will bring a wealth of experience that enhances Ireland’s support to the people of Sierra Leone.”

It is expected that the Defence Forces personnel assigned to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown, will depart for Sierra Leone in the coming days. In partnership with our Embassy, the HSE and other Irish staff working for international and Irish NGOs, they again demonstrate clearly the long standing commitment of the Irish people to assisting the most vulnerable communities overseas.

Minister Coveney also said that: “the request received from Irish Aid Agencies, to consider sending volunteers to assist their teams in West Africa, is currently under consideration in the Department of Defence”.

Since the first cases in March 2014, the current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976 with more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined.

So far this year, Ireland has contributed over €17 million to the affected countries in West Africa including €4 million for Ebola treatment facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the worst affected countries.