Sep 262014
 

PARIS, France, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Winners of the first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa on Thursday received their awards during a special ceremony held in Grenoble (France) in the presence of Mrs Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com).

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1402

Photo2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1403 (Adedeji Ademigbuji, senior correspondent at The Nation newspaper (Nigeria) and Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric)

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1404 (Birame Faye, reporter at Le Quotidien newspaper in Senegal and Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric)

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

The Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa was established by Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com), the global specialist in energy management. It recognises African journalists who publish or broadcast outstanding investigative reports on issues relating to electrical counterfeiting in Africa.

The first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa was won by Adedeji Ademigbuji, senior correspondent at The Nation newspaper (Nigeria), for his piece entitled “Checking the menace of fake electrical products” and by Birame Faye, reporter at Le Quotidien newspaper in Senegal, for his piece entitled “Electricité – Usage des produits contrefaits : De l’insécurité dans notre confort domestique”.

“Schneider Electric is extremely proud to award the very first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa. I would like to express my warmest congratulations to these two very talented journalists,” said Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric.

Adedeji Ademigbuji started his journalism career in 2001 as an intern after completing a National Diploma Programme from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State (Nigeria).

In 2006, Adedeji joined the National Standard news magazine. Later that year, he left the National Standard as a senior correspondent to work as a freelance writer for The Sun newspaper. In 2011, Adedeji joined the National Mirror as a business correspondent. After winning the 2013 Social Enterprise Reporting Award (SERA) in the CSR category and the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA) Coca-Cola Prize in the Brands & Marketing category, setting records in the Newspaper Reporter of the Year and Telecom Reporter of the Year categories, he was sought out by The Nation newspaper to handle the paper’s Brands & Marketing pages.

A graduate of the Institute of Science and Information Technology (CESTI) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar (Senegal), Birame Faye joined Le Quotidien newspaper immediately after completing his studies. Birame specialised in Online Journalism at the Berlin International Institute, before being assigned to his newspaper’s political section. He then took part in two training courses in Economic and Financial Journalism at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In 2012, he also attended a training course in Investigative Journalism organised by the Panos Institute in West Africa (IPAO). On two occasions, he was awarded the First Prize for Investigative Journalism launched by the IPAO. Birame Faye holds a Master’s degree in Media and Communication, as well as a Master’s degree in Project Management.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Schneider Electric SA.

Contact:

APO (African Press Organization)

schneider@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

About Schneider Electric

As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com) offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in Utilities & Infrastructure, Industries & Machines Manufacturers, Non-residential Building, Data Centres & Networks and Residential. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the Group’s 140,000 plus employees achieved sales of €24 billion in 2012 through an active commitment to help individuals and organisations make the most of their energy.

Sep 262014
 

PARIS, France, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Winners of the first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa on Thursday received their awards during a special ceremony held in Grenoble (France) in the presence of Mrs Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com).

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1402

Photo2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1403 (Adedeji Ademigbuji, senior correspondent at The Nation newspaper (Nigeria) and Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric)

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1404 (Birame Faye, reporter at Le Quotidien newspaper in Senegal and Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric)

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

The Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa was established by Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com), the global specialist in energy management. It recognises African journalists who publish or broadcast outstanding investigative reports on issues relating to electrical counterfeiting in Africa.

The first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa was won by Adedeji Ademigbuji, senior correspondent at The Nation newspaper (Nigeria), for his piece entitled “Checking the menace of fake electrical products” and by Birame Faye, reporter at Le Quotidien newspaper in Senegal, for his piece entitled “Electricité – Usage des produits contrefaits : De l’insécurité dans notre confort domestique”.

“Schneider Electric is extremely proud to award the very first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa. I would like to express my warmest congratulations to these two very talented journalists,” said Tracy Garner, Global Anti-counterfeiting Manager at Schneider Electric.

Adedeji Ademigbuji started his journalism career in 2001 as an intern after completing a National Diploma Programme from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State (Nigeria).

In 2006, Adedeji joined the National Standard news magazine. Later that year, he left the National Standard as a senior correspondent to work as a freelance writer for The Sun newspaper. In 2011, Adedeji joined the National Mirror as a business correspondent. After winning the 2013 Social Enterprise Reporting Award (SERA) in the CSR category and the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA) Coca-Cola Prize in the Brands & Marketing category, setting records in the Newspaper Reporter of the Year and Telecom Reporter of the Year categories, he was sought out by The Nation newspaper to handle the paper’s Brands & Marketing pages.

A graduate of the Institute of Science and Information Technology (CESTI) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar (Senegal), Birame Faye joined Le Quotidien newspaper immediately after completing his studies. Birame specialised in Online Journalism at the Berlin International Institute, before being assigned to his newspaper’s political section. He then took part in two training courses in Economic and Financial Journalism at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In 2012, he also attended a training course in Investigative Journalism organised by the Panos Institute in West Africa (IPAO). On two occasions, he was awarded the First Prize for Investigative Journalism launched by the IPAO. Birame Faye holds a Master’s degree in Media and Communication, as well as a Master’s degree in Project Management.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Schneider Electric SA.

Contact:

APO (African Press Organization)

schneider@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

About Schneider Electric

As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric (http://www.schneider-electric.com) offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in Utilities & Infrastructure, Industries & Machines Manufacturers, Non-residential Building, Data Centres & Networks and Residential. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the Group’s 140,000 plus employees achieved sales of €24 billion in 2012 through an active commitment to help individuals and organisations make the most of their energy.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Millions of people hit by conflict and severe food insecurity need urgent help in South Sudan. World leaders, aid chiefs and other senior representatives came together today at the United Nations to raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian situation and call for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes by violence since last December. Almost half a million people have crossed borders into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, while four million people – more than a third of the entire country – are facing alarming food insecurity.

Led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, keynote speakers at the meeting – including H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Norway, among others, – called for a sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis.

“I have told the parties there is no military solution to the conflict. I call today, once again, on the leadership of both sides to find an inclusive and mutually agreed power sharing arrangement to start a transitional phase of governance,” said the Secretary-General. “Those responsible for atrocities must face justice through a mechanism that meets international standards. The leaders must protect civilians, allow humanitarian access and guarantee the safety of aid operations.”

Nearly forty Member States and regional bodies took part, underscoring the high priority this crisis holds for the international community.

Senior representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Peacekeeping Chief and the SG’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict joined Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in highlighting the appalling situation faced by the most vulnerable South Sudanese, especially women and children.

“Working with our partners we may have managed to avert a famine situation in South Sudan this year. However, the real risk of famine remains for at least 2.5 million people in the coming months, while millions more fear renewed fighting,” warned USG Amos. “It is vital that the political leaders in South Sudan put their people first. Aid organizations cannot solve this man-made crisis – we can only try and help people deal with the dire consequences.”

Humanitarian agencies are seeking to raise US$1.8 billion for South Sudan by the end of 2014 so that aid workers can deliver basic life-saving supplies and services. During the event the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Union pledged more than US$106 million in new funding for humanitarian action, and an additional CERF allocation of $60 million was announced.

In conclusion, USG Amos noted that the international community must ensure that the leadership of South Sudan recognizes the seriousness of the situation: “We have to put the people first.”

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Millions of people hit by conflict and severe food insecurity need urgent help in South Sudan. World leaders, aid chiefs and other senior representatives came together today at the United Nations to raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian situation and call for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes by violence since last December. Almost half a million people have crossed borders into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, while four million people – more than a third of the entire country – are facing alarming food insecurity.

Led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, keynote speakers at the meeting – including H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Norway, among others, – called for a sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis.

“I have told the parties there is no military solution to the conflict. I call today, once again, on the leadership of both sides to find an inclusive and mutually agreed power sharing arrangement to start a transitional phase of governance,” said the Secretary-General. “Those responsible for atrocities must face justice through a mechanism that meets international standards. The leaders must protect civilians, allow humanitarian access and guarantee the safety of aid operations.”

Nearly forty Member States and regional bodies took part, underscoring the high priority this crisis holds for the international community.

Senior representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Peacekeeping Chief and the SG’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict joined Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in highlighting the appalling situation faced by the most vulnerable South Sudanese, especially women and children.

“Working with our partners we may have managed to avert a famine situation in South Sudan this year. However, the real risk of famine remains for at least 2.5 million people in the coming months, while millions more fear renewed fighting,” warned USG Amos. “It is vital that the political leaders in South Sudan put their people first. Aid organizations cannot solve this man-made crisis – we can only try and help people deal with the dire consequences.”

Humanitarian agencies are seeking to raise US$1.8 billion for South Sudan by the end of 2014 so that aid workers can deliver basic life-saving supplies and services. During the event the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Union pledged more than US$106 million in new funding for humanitarian action, and an additional CERF allocation of $60 million was announced.

In conclusion, USG Amos noted that the international community must ensure that the leadership of South Sudan recognizes the seriousness of the situation: “We have to put the people first.”

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mr. Haysom will succeed Jan Kubiš of Slovakia to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and leadership of UNAMA.

Mr. Haysom is a lawyer with a long international career focused on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes, including most recently as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UNAMA since 2012.

He previously held several positions with the United Nations as well as with the Government of the Republic of South Africa, including Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Executive Office of the United-Nations Secretary-General (2007-2012), Head of the Office of Constitutional Support for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (2005-2007), and Chief Legal and Constitutional Adviser in the Office of the President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela (1994-1999). Most notably Mr. Haysom was involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as chair of the committee negotiating constitutional issues (1999-2002) and served as the principal adviser to the Mediator in the Sudanese Peace Process (2002-2005).

Mr. Haysom graduated in Law from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town, South Africa. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cape Town.

Born in 1952, he is married and has five children.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mr. Haysom will succeed Jan Kubiš of Slovakia to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and leadership of UNAMA.

Mr. Haysom is a lawyer with a long international career focused on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes, including most recently as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UNAMA since 2012.

He previously held several positions with the United Nations as well as with the Government of the Republic of South Africa, including Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Executive Office of the United-Nations Secretary-General (2007-2012), Head of the Office of Constitutional Support for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (2005-2007), and Chief Legal and Constitutional Adviser in the Office of the President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela (1994-1999). Most notably Mr. Haysom was involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as chair of the committee negotiating constitutional issues (1999-2002) and served as the principal adviser to the Mediator in the Sudanese Peace Process (2002-2005).

Mr. Haysom graduated in Law from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town, South Africa. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cape Town.

Born in 1952, he is married and has five children.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

New York City

September 25, 2014

MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Could we close those doors?

Thank you for coming. We have a background briefing on Africa-related issues, and we have about 20 minutes, so we’ll get right into it. Again, background briefing, so no names or titles. We have a senior State Department official. Of course, for your – for clarity, this is [Senior State Department Official]. And I will turn it over to [Senior State Department Official] for some remarks, and then we’ll get to questions, so please.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good, thank you very much. I see one or two faces I recognize in the room. It’s really great to be here with you. As you know, we’ve been here in New York – it’ll be close to a week when I leave on Saturday, and we’ve had the opportunity, as UNGA normally gives us the opportunity, to engage across the board with our African partners. It was particularly interesting for us this year because it comes on the heels of the Africa Leaders Summit that took place in Washington in August, so we had the opportunity to follow up with our partners on the leaders summit, to get further impressions from them on this extraordinary event, and to talk to them about some of the initiatives and follow up on initiatives that were announced during the summit.

As you know, one of the most pressing issues that we are dealing with across the board globally is Ebola. It is in West Africa, but the response is global, requiring the attention of all of the countries in the Security Council. President Obama last Tuesday announced a major increase in our assistance to the effort, and we are also using our voice and pressure to encourage other countries to bring more to the table to address what is a very, very serious epidemic that is having a devastating impact on the countries in West Africa. But if it’s not contained, it could spread more widely.

One of the components of our assistance is a new joint force command that will coordinate the regional response on the ground. We will have an estimated 4,000 U.S. forces who will be involved in staging and transporting supplies, building additional treatment units, and they will be setting up a site to train approximately 500 health care providers per week. They will also be providing a health facility to provide treatment to the medical workers and other responders who are assisting in the Ebola outbreak.

A second large issue that we are all involved in is the issue of terrorism. Of course, all of you have been focused on ISIL. I have been focused on Boko Haram and al-Shabaab as the countries in Africa have experienced their own brand of terrorism. The impact of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has been tremendous, and it is an impact that is having an impact on Nigeria’s neighbors in Cameroon and Chad and Niger as well. As Boko Haram continues to make its name known in Nigeria, it’s having a devastating humanitarian impact on northern Nigeria, and we’re also concerned that it could have an impact on the upcoming election if the more than one million people who have been displaced because of Boko Haram’s terror are not able to participate in the electoral process. So we are encouraging Nigeria and Nigeria’s neighbors to work together along with us, the P3, to address this issue.

We also have met with the governments that are impacted by al-Shabaab – with Kenya, with Uganda, with Somalia – to talk about how we work with them to address al-Shabaab. There’ve been a number of meetings on the side that have attracted our attention. There was a meeting yesterday on Somalia, where Somalia’s partners expressed their commitment to continuing to work with the Somali Government. We see for the first time in 20 years that Somalia has an opportunity to actually move forward, and we want to continue to work with the government to build the institutions that they require to become a country that is back into the community of nations.

Today I attended a meeting on South Sudan that looked at the devastating impact of that war, the internal war in South Sudan – the humanitarian impact, but also the lack of progress on the political front in finding a solution to the political situation there. There was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir, who is here in New York, did not attend the meeting. He sent his minister of foreign affairs and some of his ministers, and several of the attendees at the meeting made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.

We will be hosting a meeting tomorrow – or attending a meeting tomorrow that the UN is hosting on CAR and the way forward in that country that is also devastated by war. The hope is that with the interim President Samba-Panza, we will be able to work with her to start to build a process for reconciliation, for the establishment of security in and around Bangui so that they too can start the process of planning for the country to have an election next year, and also start to provide goods and services to their citizens.

I think I will end there. There are a lot more topics related to the African continent, and I’d be pleased to accept your questions.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much. Who would like to lead off? Lesley Wroughton, Reuters.

QUESTION: I just want to come back to the South Sudan. And I interviewed Ambassador Booth earlier this morning and he was talking about expanding sanctions unless the process moved along quickly. Do you agree with that? And given that the President wasn’t even there, is that some kind of indication of the ways he’s generally feeling? I mean, what –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, we have already sanctioned several individuals both from the government side as well as the rebel side. We announced two new names just last week. And as efforts are being made to push for a political solution, efforts that are – have not yet succeeded, all of the parties who are involved in the negotiations have come to the conclusion that if the warring parties do not take this more seriously, then we have to levy more serious sanctions on them. And this is a view that has been expressed not just by the U.S. – and I do agree with Ambassador Booth – but it’s a view that’s been expressed by the negotiators under IGAD.

QUESTION: And you talk about moving – because right now they’ve got – mainly sanctions have been focused on the military side.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On individuals.

QUESTION: Right. How do you see them – I mean, you’re talking about political figures being targeted?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think we’re still – we’re still in the process of discussing how these sanctions will be carried out and who they will be against. The important point here is that the neighbors and the IGAD negotiators also have to be an active participant in the sanctions regime, and they have indicated that they actually are at a place where if these negotiations do not move forward that they’re willing also to impose sanctions on both sides.

MODERATOR: Okay.

QUESTION: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. Ebola response, what its relation is to these UN Mission UNMEER that they’ve announced that’s going to have, they said, 400 vehicles. They said a lot of things. Is the U.S. going to work directly with that mission?

And on South Sudan, one of the sanctioned – sanctionees, Peter Gadet, is accused of having shot down a UN helicopter. And I wanted to know, is that – the UN hasn’t really sort of confirmed that. Is the U.S. concerned about getting to the bottom of that? And who do you think did it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We know – let me start with that first. We know that the UN is investigating and we’re waiting for the results of that investigation. But Gadet has been put on our sanctions list even before that happened. But the shooting down of the UN helicopter is evidence of how difficult it is to work in Sudan, but how committed the UN and others are to provide humanitarian assistance.

One of the commitments that came out of the meeting today with South Sudan announced by the foreign minister was that they would not stand in the way of NGOs and the UN delivering humanitarian assistance. And we have to hold them to that commitment because people are suffering.

On the Ebola response for the UN, we are working very, very closely with the UN. We all have to coordinate to ensure that, one, we’re complementing each other’s efforts, so the UN will be putting its headquarters for UNMEER in Accra and USAID will have some people who will be working very, very closely with them, embedded with them in Accra to ensure, again, that we are coordinating closely. This is a huge, huge crisis and it requires 10 times the people we have currently working on it. So there is so much more need than there is response now, so we are very pleased that the UN has taken this initiative and we have used the opportunities that we’ve had to engage with governments here in New York to encourage more governments to participate. As you know, there was a meeting today in which the governments of the G-7 expressed their support for these efforts, and President Obama participated in that and very, very strongly pressed for additional efforts on the part of every country. There’s not a country that should not be involved in this, and no amount of assistance is too small.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MODERATOR: Yeah. Elliot Waldman.

QUESTION: Yeah, with TBS News. A lot of the countries that are getting involved are countries that may not have good working relationships with the U.S. on other issues and that the U.S. doesn’t cooperate with normally otherwise. China, for instance, has been sending a lot of assistance to the region. And sort of a lot of people talk about the need for coordination in a general way, but what kinds of sort of concrete proposals have been put forth to address this? Is there some kind of a, I don’t know, a proposal to establish, like, an overarching authority or a clearinghouse of some sort to get past the issue of coordinating all these countries, all these organizations, all these different sectors?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the UN will play a key role in coordinating all of the countries’ involvements. We’ve had a broad agreement that the U.S. will focus its attention in Liberia, although we do have a regional response; that the UK would focus on Sierra Leone; and that France would focus on Guinea. That being said, the needs are bigger than any one country can support, and we have encouraged the Chinese, for example, to be actively involved, and they have responded. We have communicated with them on what the needs are and we do think that they have a role to play. This is not a place for politics. It’s a place for ensuring that countries who have resources to contribute, that those countries contribute those resources.

I particularly want to note that in Africa, where you have countries that normally would not be expected, we’re seeing a tremendous response. The AU has created a task force that will be providing up to 200 medical workers to go out. African countries have contributed to that. The Government of Nigeria contributed $3.5 million to the ECOWAS effort and 500,000 to the countries that are affected. Nigeria itself was affected, and I have to say they did an extraordinary job of controlling the situation in Nigeria, and we think that it’s under control now. One index case that led to 19 infections, but almost all of the people were traced, they have been monitored, and so far another case has not been identified.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You’re a former ambassador to Liberia. What went wrong here? I mean, one is analyzing and looking at – people say that the international community has been too disease-specific focused and hasn’t really paid that much attention, specifically in these areas, for building the wider health systems.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think what went wrong with Liberia, and I would say even in the other countries, is a very, very weak health infrastructure. And knowing Liberia as well as I do, the health infrastructure there is barely existent, and once this disease took hold the health infrastructure collapsed. And I think what we all – the conclusion we’ve all drawn is that we have to focus more attention on building a health infrastructure that can withstand these kinds of stresses and respond very quickly. We thought the situation was under control for a period, and then it started getting worse again, and now we’re in the situation we’re in now. But I think the international community is galvanized to support these countries. This is not something that Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea should face alone. It is a disease that we all should be involved in, and I think every single country that we’ve engaged – and there are a lot of them – have responded positively to helping out to address this situation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on another issue, separate? The – as you know, there’s been a focus on the – on fighting ISIL, the coalition building and so on. Would that in any way impact Africa? I know this is far away, but how do you see that impacting (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, I – as I’ve always said, terrorism anywhere affects all of us everywhere. And as we look at the situation related to al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and AQIM and al-Qaida broadly, there is an extremist ideology there that feeds on each other, and there are foreign fighters that are already in Somalia who have been involved with al-Shabaab. There are foreign fighters involved with AQIM. We’ve not seen it yet with Boko Haram, but they could. And as these groups continue to have success or to terrorize communities, I think they feed on each other. So I do not think Africa is immune from the situation related to ISIL. I think Africa – countries in Africa have to be prepared to deal with issues of terrorism, and they have. The bombings at Westgate in Kenya, the Chinese workers who were taken hostage in Cameroon, the Nigerian girls who were taken hostage in Nigeria – these things impact all of us, so we have to continue to work together because this is not just a single event that impacts one country. It’s a global problem that we all have to address.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for one or two more, so yeah, Nicolas.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Boko Haram, are you aware of the claim by the Nigerian military that the leader of Boko Haram might be dead? And if you could give us an update on the operation supported by the U.S. to find the 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Nigerians have announced several times that the head of Boko Haram was dead, and every single time we’ve found out that it’s not true. What I’ve read recently is that the Shekau lookalike, or his – some Shekau impostor was killed, and then I read something later that maybe Shekau himself was killed. I don’t put a lot of weight on those stories until we see more evidence of that. I think we’re still seeing Boko Haram terrorize people in the north, and both in Cameroon and in Nigeria, and there was an attack even in Chad last week.

We’re continuing to work with the Nigerians to try to bring the Chibok girls home. This is a huge challenge. As we know, many of them – it’s been now months and we know that many of them were taken into the forest, and given the time that has passed, it’s possible that many of them have been taken to other locations. It is still our commitment to bring those girls home, as well as all the others that Boko Haram took as hostages. This didn’t just start with the Chibok girls. They were raiding villages and taking girls long before that. They were raiding villages and killing young boys before that, or taking boys and forcing them – young boys, and forcing them to fight. So this is much, much – a much, much bigger operation that we’re dealing with, and the ultimate goal is to stop Boko Haram. It’s to bring the girls home, it’s to stop the fighting, but it’s to actually stop Boko Haram’s terror in northern Nigeria.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks, everyone, for coming and thanks for your questions. Again, this is on background to Senior State Department Official. And we look forward to the next briefing, which we will have here at about 7 o’clock, which will be on the UNAIDS event and PEPFAR issues, so please stick around if you’re interested.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

New York City

September 25, 2014

MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Could we close those doors?

Thank you for coming. We have a background briefing on Africa-related issues, and we have about 20 minutes, so we’ll get right into it. Again, background briefing, so no names or titles. We have a senior State Department official. Of course, for your – for clarity, this is [Senior State Department Official]. And I will turn it over to [Senior State Department Official] for some remarks, and then we’ll get to questions, so please.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good, thank you very much. I see one or two faces I recognize in the room. It’s really great to be here with you. As you know, we’ve been here in New York – it’ll be close to a week when I leave on Saturday, and we’ve had the opportunity, as UNGA normally gives us the opportunity, to engage across the board with our African partners. It was particularly interesting for us this year because it comes on the heels of the Africa Leaders Summit that took place in Washington in August, so we had the opportunity to follow up with our partners on the leaders summit, to get further impressions from them on this extraordinary event, and to talk to them about some of the initiatives and follow up on initiatives that were announced during the summit.

As you know, one of the most pressing issues that we are dealing with across the board globally is Ebola. It is in West Africa, but the response is global, requiring the attention of all of the countries in the Security Council. President Obama last Tuesday announced a major increase in our assistance to the effort, and we are also using our voice and pressure to encourage other countries to bring more to the table to address what is a very, very serious epidemic that is having a devastating impact on the countries in West Africa. But if it’s not contained, it could spread more widely.

One of the components of our assistance is a new joint force command that will coordinate the regional response on the ground. We will have an estimated 4,000 U.S. forces who will be involved in staging and transporting supplies, building additional treatment units, and they will be setting up a site to train approximately 500 health care providers per week. They will also be providing a health facility to provide treatment to the medical workers and other responders who are assisting in the Ebola outbreak.

A second large issue that we are all involved in is the issue of terrorism. Of course, all of you have been focused on ISIL. I have been focused on Boko Haram and al-Shabaab as the countries in Africa have experienced their own brand of terrorism. The impact of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has been tremendous, and it is an impact that is having an impact on Nigeria’s neighbors in Cameroon and Chad and Niger as well. As Boko Haram continues to make its name known in Nigeria, it’s having a devastating humanitarian impact on northern Nigeria, and we’re also concerned that it could have an impact on the upcoming election if the more than one million people who have been displaced because of Boko Haram’s terror are not able to participate in the electoral process. So we are encouraging Nigeria and Nigeria’s neighbors to work together along with us, the P3, to address this issue.

We also have met with the governments that are impacted by al-Shabaab – with Kenya, with Uganda, with Somalia – to talk about how we work with them to address al-Shabaab. There’ve been a number of meetings on the side that have attracted our attention. There was a meeting yesterday on Somalia, where Somalia’s partners expressed their commitment to continuing to work with the Somali Government. We see for the first time in 20 years that Somalia has an opportunity to actually move forward, and we want to continue to work with the government to build the institutions that they require to become a country that is back into the community of nations.

Today I attended a meeting on South Sudan that looked at the devastating impact of that war, the internal war in South Sudan – the humanitarian impact, but also the lack of progress on the political front in finding a solution to the political situation there. There was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir, who is here in New York, did not attend the meeting. He sent his minister of foreign affairs and some of his ministers, and several of the attendees at the meeting made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.

We will be hosting a meeting tomorrow – or attending a meeting tomorrow that the UN is hosting on CAR and the way forward in that country that is also devastated by war. The hope is that with the interim President Samba-Panza, we will be able to work with her to start to build a process for reconciliation, for the establishment of security in and around Bangui so that they too can start the process of planning for the country to have an election next year, and also start to provide goods and services to their citizens.

I think I will end there. There are a lot more topics related to the African continent, and I’d be pleased to accept your questions.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much. Who would like to lead off? Lesley Wroughton, Reuters.

QUESTION: I just want to come back to the South Sudan. And I interviewed Ambassador Booth earlier this morning and he was talking about expanding sanctions unless the process moved along quickly. Do you agree with that? And given that the President wasn’t even there, is that some kind of indication of the ways he’s generally feeling? I mean, what –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, we have already sanctioned several individuals both from the government side as well as the rebel side. We announced two new names just last week. And as efforts are being made to push for a political solution, efforts that are – have not yet succeeded, all of the parties who are involved in the negotiations have come to the conclusion that if the warring parties do not take this more seriously, then we have to levy more serious sanctions on them. And this is a view that has been expressed not just by the U.S. – and I do agree with Ambassador Booth – but it’s a view that’s been expressed by the negotiators under IGAD.

QUESTION: And you talk about moving – because right now they’ve got – mainly sanctions have been focused on the military side.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On individuals.

QUESTION: Right. How do you see them – I mean, you’re talking about political figures being targeted?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think we’re still – we’re still in the process of discussing how these sanctions will be carried out and who they will be against. The important point here is that the neighbors and the IGAD negotiators also have to be an active participant in the sanctions regime, and they have indicated that they actually are at a place where if these negotiations do not move forward that they’re willing also to impose sanctions on both sides.

MODERATOR: Okay.

QUESTION: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. Ebola response, what its relation is to these UN Mission UNMEER that they’ve announced that’s going to have, they said, 400 vehicles. They said a lot of things. Is the U.S. going to work directly with that mission?

And on South Sudan, one of the sanctioned – sanctionees, Peter Gadet, is accused of having shot down a UN helicopter. And I wanted to know, is that – the UN hasn’t really sort of confirmed that. Is the U.S. concerned about getting to the bottom of that? And who do you think did it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We know – let me start with that first. We know that the UN is investigating and we’re waiting for the results of that investigation. But Gadet has been put on our sanctions list even before that happened. But the shooting down of the UN helicopter is evidence of how difficult it is to work in Sudan, but how committed the UN and others are to provide humanitarian assistance.

One of the commitments that came out of the meeting today with South Sudan announced by the foreign minister was that they would not stand in the way of NGOs and the UN delivering humanitarian assistance. And we have to hold them to that commitment because people are suffering.

On the Ebola response for the UN, we are working very, very closely with the UN. We all have to coordinate to ensure that, one, we’re complementing each other’s efforts, so the UN will be putting its headquarters for UNMEER in Accra and USAID will have some people who will be working very, very closely with them, embedded with them in Accra to ensure, again, that we are coordinating closely. This is a huge, huge crisis and it requires 10 times the people we have currently working on it. So there is so much more need than there is response now, so we are very pleased that the UN has taken this initiative and we have used the opportunities that we’ve had to engage with governments here in New York to encourage more governments to participate. As you know, there was a meeting today in which the governments of the G-7 expressed their support for these efforts, and President Obama participated in that and very, very strongly pressed for additional efforts on the part of every country. There’s not a country that should not be involved in this, and no amount of assistance is too small.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MODERATOR: Yeah. Elliot Waldman.

QUESTION: Yeah, with TBS News. A lot of the countries that are getting involved are countries that may not have good working relationships with the U.S. on other issues and that the U.S. doesn’t cooperate with normally otherwise. China, for instance, has been sending a lot of assistance to the region. And sort of a lot of people talk about the need for coordination in a general way, but what kinds of sort of concrete proposals have been put forth to address this? Is there some kind of a, I don’t know, a proposal to establish, like, an overarching authority or a clearinghouse of some sort to get past the issue of coordinating all these countries, all these organizations, all these different sectors?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the UN will play a key role in coordinating all of the countries’ involvements. We’ve had a broad agreement that the U.S. will focus its attention in Liberia, although we do have a regional response; that the UK would focus on Sierra Leone; and that France would focus on Guinea. That being said, the needs are bigger than any one country can support, and we have encouraged the Chinese, for example, to be actively involved, and they have responded. We have communicated with them on what the needs are and we do think that they have a role to play. This is not a place for politics. It’s a place for ensuring that countries who have resources to contribute, that those countries contribute those resources.

I particularly want to note that in Africa, where you have countries that normally would not be expected, we’re seeing a tremendous response. The AU has created a task force that will be providing up to 200 medical workers to go out. African countries have contributed to that. The Government of Nigeria contributed $3.5 million to the ECOWAS effort and 500,000 to the countries that are affected. Nigeria itself was affected, and I have to say they did an extraordinary job of controlling the situation in Nigeria, and we think that it’s under control now. One index case that led to 19 infections, but almost all of the people were traced, they have been monitored, and so far another case has not been identified.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You’re a former ambassador to Liberia. What went wrong here? I mean, one is analyzing and looking at – people say that the international community has been too disease-specific focused and hasn’t really paid that much attention, specifically in these areas, for building the wider health systems.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think what went wrong with Liberia, and I would say even in the other countries, is a very, very weak health infrastructure. And knowing Liberia as well as I do, the health infrastructure there is barely existent, and once this disease took hold the health infrastructure collapsed. And I think what we all – the conclusion we’ve all drawn is that we have to focus more attention on building a health infrastructure that can withstand these kinds of stresses and respond very quickly. We thought the situation was under control for a period, and then it started getting worse again, and now we’re in the situation we’re in now. But I think the international community is galvanized to support these countries. This is not something that Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea should face alone. It is a disease that we all should be involved in, and I think every single country that we’ve engaged – and there are a lot of them – have responded positively to helping out to address this situation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on another issue, separate? The – as you know, there’s been a focus on the – on fighting ISIL, the coalition building and so on. Would that in any way impact Africa? I know this is far away, but how do you see that impacting (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, I – as I’ve always said, terrorism anywhere affects all of us everywhere. And as we look at the situation related to al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and AQIM and al-Qaida broadly, there is an extremist ideology there that feeds on each other, and there are foreign fighters that are already in Somalia who have been involved with al-Shabaab. There are foreign fighters involved with AQIM. We’ve not seen it yet with Boko Haram, but they could. And as these groups continue to have success or to terrorize communities, I think they feed on each other. So I do not think Africa is immune from the situation related to ISIL. I think Africa – countries in Africa have to be prepared to deal with issues of terrorism, and they have. The bombings at Westgate in Kenya, the Chinese workers who were taken hostage in Cameroon, the Nigerian girls who were taken hostage in Nigeria – these things impact all of us, so we have to continue to work together because this is not just a single event that impacts one country. It’s a global problem that we all have to address.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for one or two more, so yeah, Nicolas.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Boko Haram, are you aware of the claim by the Nigerian military that the leader of Boko Haram might be dead? And if you could give us an update on the operation supported by the U.S. to find the 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Nigerians have announced several times that the head of Boko Haram was dead, and every single time we’ve found out that it’s not true. What I’ve read recently is that the Shekau lookalike, or his – some Shekau impostor was killed, and then I read something later that maybe Shekau himself was killed. I don’t put a lot of weight on those stories until we see more evidence of that. I think we’re still seeing Boko Haram terrorize people in the north, and both in Cameroon and in Nigeria, and there was an attack even in Chad last week.

We’re continuing to work with the Nigerians to try to bring the Chibok girls home. This is a huge challenge. As we know, many of them – it’s been now months and we know that many of them were taken into the forest, and given the time that has passed, it’s possible that many of them have been taken to other locations. It is still our commitment to bring those girls home, as well as all the others that Boko Haram took as hostages. This didn’t just start with the Chibok girls. They were raiding villages and taking girls long before that. They were raiding villages and killing young boys before that, or taking boys and forcing them – young boys, and forcing them to fight. So this is much, much – a much, much bigger operation that we’re dealing with, and the ultimate goal is to stop Boko Haram. It’s to bring the girls home, it’s to stop the fighting, but it’s to actually stop Boko Haram’s terror in northern Nigeria.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks, everyone, for coming and thanks for your questions. Again, this is on background to Senior State Department Official. And we look forward to the next briefing, which we will have here at about 7 o’clock, which will be on the UNAIDS event and PEPFAR issues, so please stick around if you’re interested.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you.

Sep 262014
 

BAMAKO, Mali, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christian Josz, visited Bamako from September 11 to 25 for discussions in preparation of the first and second review of the government’s economic program supported under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved in December 2013.

The mission met with Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President; Moussa Mara, Prime Minister; Ms. Bouaré Fily Sissoko, Minister of Economy and Finance; Konzo Traoré, National Director, Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO); Nouhoum Tapily, President of the Supreme Court; Kloussama Goita, President of the Accounting Chamber of the Supreme Court; Amadou Touré, the Auditor General; and representatives from the National Assembly, civil society, unions, the private sector, and Mali’s development partners.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Josz issued the following statement:

“In 2014 Mali’s economy is returning to its normal growth path, with an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 5.8 percent. This follows 2012 when growth was zero due to the security crisis, and 2013 when a poor harvest kept growth at only 1.7 percent. Inflation remains low, at 1 percent after -0.6 percent in 2013. For 2015, the projections are for real growth to continue at 5.5 percent and inflation to remain well below the central bank’s 3 percent target.

“The mission reached an agreement that will permit going forward with both the first and second reviews of the ECF arrangement. The reviews will be presented to the IMF Executive Board for approval in December 2014. A resolution was found for the issues raised by the extra-budgetary spending—on a presidential plane and a military contract—which delayed the first review, originally scheduled for June. It includes: publishing the two independent audit reports on these transactions; reporting on the sanctions process; redressing the overbilling in the military contracts; subjecting future military procurement to stringent controls; incorporating all extra-budgetary spending in the budget, and stopping such practices in the future.

“The government will submit soon a new supplementary budget to the National Assembly to regularize the about CFA 30 billion in extra-budgetary spending which occurred in 2014 to be financed in the regional financial market. This will bring the overall budget deficit to 5.8 percent of GDP, compared to 5.2 percent in the supplementary budget approved in August.

“The mission welcomes the budget the Government intends to present to the National Assembly in October. This budget, which will be the basis for the ECF program in 2015, targets a global deficit of 4.4 percent of GDP. Three quarters of the deficit is financed with donor support, and the rest in the regional financial market. The mission also welcomes the strengthening of structural reforms, notably those aimed at improving tax administration, expenditure control, and debt and treasury management.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities for the excellent organization, the provision of ample information, and the frank and fruitful discussions.”