AU Commission condoles with former Dean of the Diplomatic Corps

The Chief of Staff in the Bureau of the Chairperson, of the African Union Commission (AUC), Ms. Jennifer Chiriga has expressed condolences to the family of the former Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Addis Ababa, and immediate past Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E. Mr. Gerard Mapango Kemishanga. He died on 12 May 2016, while undergoing medical treatment in South Africa.

The Chief of Staff signed the condolence book opened at the DRC embassy, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, recognizing the former Ambassador’s contribution to supporting and advancing the mission of the Union. Ms. Chiriga also expressed condolences to the Government and People of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The late Ambassador Gerard Mapango Kemishanga served for 14 years, (2002 to March 2016), as DRC’s Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Commissioner for Peace and Security meets the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho

The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smaïl Chergui met Hon Tlohang Sekhamane, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho on the margins the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference in Rome, Italy on 19 May 2016.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the two to exchange views on the situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho and matters of common interest concerning peace, security, development and cooperation in Africa.

The Honorable Minister briefed the Commissioner on recent developments in Lesotho including on the recent attack on Professor Mafa Sejanamane, senior academic and former Acting Vice Chancellor at the National University of Lesotho. He expressed his strong concern regarding the incident and reassured the Commissioner that the situation in the country was stable.

The Commissioner welcomed the reassurances from the Honorable Minister and reiterated the AU’s full support to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) peace and stabilization efforts in the Kingdom of Lesotho. He further emphasized the AU’ readiness to support the Government and people of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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UN expert group on arbitrary detention urges Gambia to respect the rights of journalist Alhagie Ceesay

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention today raised concern about the current situation of Alhagie Ceesay and urged the Gambian authorities to ensure that his rights are respected regardless of his location.

Mr. Ceesay, the director of the Teranga FM radio station, has been detained and on trial for sedition since July 2015. He was last seen in April 2016 when he was transferred from detention to a hospital to receive urgent medical care. Mr. Ceesay has been hospitalized on several occasions for serious health problems, reportedly due to torture and ill-treatment he has been subjected to while in detention.

In a legal Opinion* adopted in December 2015, the expert panel established that the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Ceesay is arbitrary, and requested the Gambian Government to take the necessary steps to remedy his situation.

“We urge the authorities of the Gambia to uphold our Opinion concerning the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Ceesay, which we deemed arbitrary and called for his immediate release,” the Working Group’s experts said.

“We reiterate that Gambia must accord Mr. Ceesay an enforceable right to compensation and to ensure that his right to liberty, personal security, freedom of opinion and expression are effectively protected,” they stressed.

The Working Group noted that Mr. Ceesay’s arrest and detention appear to be related to his profession as a journalist, and result from the exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression.

“We are deeply worried that the crime of ‘sedition’ is used to deny Mr. Ceesay the enjoyment of his rights and freedoms. Mr. Ceesay was arrested twice without a warrant and there have been serious violations of his right to fair trial in the legal proceedings against him,” the Working Group concluded.

(*) Check the Working Group’s Opinion No.50/2015 concerning the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Ceesay: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/Opinions2015AUV/Opinion%202015%2050_TheGambia_Ceesay_AUV.pdf

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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EU announces €19 million new support for women and girls’ empowerment at ”Women Deliver” Conference

Today, the EU has reconfirmed its support to women and girls’ empowerment by announcing €19 million support to gender-driven international projects.

EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, made the announcement at the ”Women Deliver” Conference in Copenhagen today, one of the world’s largest events on women and girls’ rights, health and well-being.

Commissioner Neven Mimica, said: ”The Commission is fully dedicated to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, including early or forced marriages, which not only constitute a violation of their human rights but are blatant examples of discrimination rooted in gender inequalities. Put simply, gender equality and global development cannot be achieved until all forms of gender-based violence are ended. Today’s EU contribution of €19 million will further support this aim.”

The European Commission’s new financial contribution is aimed at strengthening women’s empowerment and will benefit women and girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The envisaged grants will provide support to three projects implemented with the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and theUnited Nations Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Organisation (UNICEF), targeting the sustainable end to child marriage, improving the sex ratio at birth and fighting female genital mutilation (FGM).

Background:

Some 700 million girls and women alive today were married as children, and a further 280 million girls alive today will be married by age 18 if this issues is not tackled with urgency. This is one of the reasons forced child marriage was included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under goal number 5 on gender equality, on which the EU is a fierce defender and supporter together with many international partners.

In addition, gender equality is at the heart of the EU’s development cooperation policy. To address this complex issue the EU adopted in autumn 2015 a new Gender Action Plan ”Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations” (GAP) for 2016-2020. The financial support announced today is fully in line with the new Gender Action Plan (GAP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The European Commission is committed to the idea of building and strengthening existing partnerships in achieving all the targets by 2030.

During the Women’s Deliver Conference, Commissioner Mimica will take part in a discussion entitled ”Men with Power: Delivering for Girls and Women”, which looks at the role of men and boys on achieving gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes.

More information on actions supported by the European Commission:

The EU will support actions to end child marriage with the aim of contributing to a decrease of at least 10% in the percentage of women 20-24 who are married before they reached maturity age at 18 in the targeted areas by the end of 2020. Raising awareness among the community and educating parents and offering economic incentives for girls and their families to empower girls with skills, while advocating for the need for a policy framework will also be supported.

The EU will help accelerate the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), a dangerous practice, which is still regionally widespread in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Families and communities will be supported to understand and accept the elimination of FGM whereas girls and women at risk of or having experienced FGM/C will be supported with appropriate and quality services.

Finally, the European Union will also support actions preventing son preference and gender-biased sex selection together with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to improve the sex ratio at birth in select countries in Asia and the Caucasus. This matter is crucial to gender discrimination, since recent analysis indicates a growth in sex-ratio imbalances in favour of boy children in some Asian countries, where levels of sex ratios at birth (SRB) may reach as high as 130 in some specific regions, whereas the normal sex ratio at birth varies between 102 and 106 males per 100 females.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Commission.

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AU Expresses Condolences to Egypt and victims’ families following Egypt Air Crash

The Chairperson of African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed heartfelt condolences to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the families of the 66 passengers on board Egypt Air flight MS804, which crashed in the early hours of Thursday, 19 May 2016 over the Mediterranean Sea.

“It is with deep sorrow and sadness I extend my most sincere condolences to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the people of Egypt and the grieving families who lost loved ones to this dreadful event,” Dr. Dlamini Zuma condoled. She further sends thoughts and prayers to other nationalities mourning this loss.

Search and rescue efforts are underway as relevant authorities investigate the tragedy. The flight had a total of 56 passengers and 10 crew members.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Security Council Press Statement on Terrorist Attack Against MINUSMA

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on 18 May 2016 against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) near Aguelhok, in the Kidal region, during which five peacekeepers from Chad were killed and three others injured.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government of CThe members of the Security Council called on the Government of Mali to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. They underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice. They stressed that those responsible for these killings should be held accountable and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. They reaffirmed the need for all States to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their full support for MINUSMA and the French forces that support it. They reiterated their strong support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, and for MINUSMA to assist the Malian authorities and the Malian people in their efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to their country, including through MINUSMA’s support to the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. They paid tribute to the peacekeepers who risk their lives in this respect.

The members of the Security Council expressed their concern about the security situation in Mali. They noted that the full implementation of the Agreement and the intensification of efforts to overcome asymmetric threats can contribute to improving the security situation across Mali. They further stressed the importance that MINUSMA has the necessary capacities to fully fulfill its current mandate.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Security Council.

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Minister Dion heading to North Africa and the Gulf

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that he will travel to North Africa and the Gulf from May 21 to 26, 2016.

The Minister’s meetings in the region will provide significant opportunities to address pressing concerns, including regional and international security, stability in an increasingly volatile region, and how pluralism and respect for human rights are an integral part of the solution to these challenges.

Minister Dion will discuss the ongoing crises in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the impact the conflicts are having on the surrounding region. Canada has increased its diplomatic engagement in North Africa and the Middle East in an effort to help find a solution to these crises, including by reinforcing ceasefire mechanisms in Syria, by providing sustained and improved access for urgent humanitarian assistance, by building counterterrorism capacity in North Africa and, more recently, by joining the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

In Tunisia on May 21, Minister Dion will meet Prime Minister Habib Essid and Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui, and will reiterate Canada’s support for Tunisia’s pluralistic democracy, which provides an important model for the region. He will also meet Fathi Mijbari, Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord, and Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, to discuss the serious situation in Libya and efforts by the international community, including the UN, to assist the new government.

The Minister will then participate in the Canada-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Dialogue Meeting of Foreign Ministers on May 23 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will allow for a wide discussion on a range of regional issues, including the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and joint efforts to combat the expansion of terrorist groups, such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al Qaeda, while setting a path for continued political and humanitarian cooperation. The GCC Strategic Dialogue will be followed by bilateral discussions with the Minister’s counterparts from the Gulf, including from Saudi Arabia, as well as other senior government representatives and members of civil society.

Minister Dion will then go to Cairo, Egypt, from May 25 to 26, where he will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other senior officials. They will speak about economic security and political developments in Egypt and the region. There will also be discussions related to the investigations on the tragic events surrounding EgyptAir’s flight MS804.

Human rights will be top of mind throughout Minister Dion’s visit to the region as he makes the case that the crucial regional stability and the global security that all countries seek must be in lockstep with advances in the protection and promotion of human rights. To that end, Minister Dion will also meet with youth, women’s and human rights groups in addition to meeting with government representatives.

Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs), will also join Minister Dion on his trip and meet with counterparts.

Minister Dion’s visit to the region follows his discussions at the ISSG in Vienna, Austria, and his participation in the Meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Belgium.

Quotes

“Building on discussions at the International Syria Support Group meeting in Vienna earlier this week, I am engaging my counterparts on critical issues related to stability, security, human rights and the prospects for peace throughout the region.”

– Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

Established in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in May 1981, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Since its 2011 Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country that remains committed to a wholly democratic path. Canada strongly supports Tunisia’s democratic and pluralist model, and is providing counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to help Tunisia combat growing terrorist and regional security threats.
Since the fall of the Qadhafi regime in 2011, the situation in Libya has remained unstable. The international community is now assisting the newly established Government of National Accord to end internal conflict, restore economic health, confront ISIL and curtail the highly dangerous departure of migrants across the Mediterranean.
Through Global Affairs Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, Canada is supporting Egypt in its work to strengthen asset declaration to prevent conflict of interest, as well as Egyptian efforts to enhance legislation and skills to limit the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.

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Egypt Air Flight MS 804

I regretfully confirm that one of the passengers on Egypt Air flight, MS 804, en route from Paris to Cairo was an Australian-UK dual national.

We are working closely with UK authorities, which are taking the lead in the provision of consular assistance to the man’s family.

The government is working with our partners and allies to understand the reasons behind the flight’s disappearance and presumed crash. It is too early to speculate on the cause of this incident.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected.

Out of respect for the man’s family, the government will not provide more details at this stage.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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Expression of condolences: Egyptair flight MS 804

The Council President and Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu and Dr. Fang Liu, expressed the UN agency’s deepest condolences today for the families and friends of the victims of EgyptAir MS804, a scheduled commercial flight from Paris to Cairo which crashed due to unknown causes on Thursday morning.

The flight was carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew and its wreckage has now been located near Karpathos island, south east of the Greek mainland.

“Any accident or incident resulting in loss of life is always a matter of utmost concern to ICAO and to the entire air transport community,” President Aliu remarked. “ICAO will await the Annex 13 accident investigation Preliminary and Final Reports to learn more about the causes and contributing factors of this event, and ultimately we will work with the global civil aviation community on any associated risk mitigation recommendations appropriate to our role.”

“ICAO stands ready to lend assistance to the aircraft accident investigation, should the State or States with due authority under Annex 13 request us to do so,” noted ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu, who also stressed that the organization does not normally participate in investigations conducted by its Member States. “In those exceptional circumstances, we would normally be requested to serve as an official observer and/or to clarify the technical requirements which must be adhered to.”

The below Fact Sheet explains how accident investigation participating States are determined, as well as the process leading to the issuance of an accident investigation Preliminary Report (within 30 days of the event) and Final Report (asap or within 12 months of the event). Final Reports ultimately provide as much official information as possible on an accident’s contributing causes and factors, as well as any recommendations on how the safety framework should be amended in the future.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

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Converging crises in the Lake Chad basin risk dire humanitarian consequences says un emergency relief coordinator

More than 9 million people affected by the Boko Haram-related conflict across the Lake Chad Basin – 76 per cent of whom are in Nigeria – are grappling with dire conditions that will worsen if immediate humanitarian needs are not met, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, warned as he concluded a four-day visit to Niger and Nigeria.

“The situation in the Lake Chad Basin is unique,” said USG O’Brien, “Environmental degradation, poverty, under-development and violent extremism are converging to create a complex and multi-faceted crisis, and only with comprehensive coordination from humanitarian, development and security actors will we be able to deliver for people who are suffering so terribly.”

In Nigeria’s Borno State, Mr. O’Brien visited a camp in Konduga locality hosting some 1,600 displaced people. Around 20,000 internally displaced persons are living in communities close by. Insecurity in the area means that people are unable to access humanitarian assistance, leaving them in desperate need of food, clean water, basic services and protection. Venturing more than a few km outside the camp to fetch firewood carries the risk of attack or abduction by Boko Haram.

“Eleven months ago the people in this camp were torched out of their homes by Boko Haram. We have to listen to them. We must respond to what they actually need,” said Mr. O’Brien. “Our responsibility as humanitarians is to identify and meet with great urgency the immediate needs of saving lives and protecting civilians. At the same time, we need to make sure that girls and women are protected, and young boys are not taken to camps by factions of the fighting forces. We must make sure that there are opportunities for education, and for families to stay together.”

“It’s not enough to deliver aid today. We must end need tomorrow, as well. To stop Boko Haram and to protect women and children we must first recognize that deradicalization is an essential part of humanitarian work, and part of the platform to effective development.”

As he departed for the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Mr. O’Brien called on global leaders to share the responsibility to prevent and end conflict, and to support countries hosting people forced into displacement. “Aid agencies in Nigeria have appealed for US$248 million for 2016, and of this only $43 million has been received. Investing in humanitarian action now is the best way to spend to save for the future,” he said. “This is the best way to invest in the people of Nigeria, and to save lives and livelihoods today and tomorrow.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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Statement by Minister Dion on crash of EgyptAir flight MS804

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims on board EgyptAir flight MS804, travelling from Paris to Cairo.

“Based on the information currently available, we confirm that two Canadian citizens are among the passengers on this flight. We are providing consular assistance to the families and Canadian officials are working closely with the authorities to confirm whether there were any additional Canadian citizens on board. Consular officials were immediately deployed to the airport and reached out to government agencies to ascertain the facts and provide the most effective support to families. Global Affairs Canada is also working with French and Egyptian counterparts as well as other impacted countries to assess the situation and consider any requests for support.

“Friends and relatives in Canada seeking information about Canadian citizens believed to be on board should contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 613-996-8885 or 1-800-387-3124 (toll-free from the U.S. and Canada only) or by sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca. Canadian citizens in Egypt requiring consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Cairo at +20 2 2461 2200 or call (collect) the Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre at +1 613 996-8885.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.

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Statement by the Spokesperson on the appointment of negotiation teams for the peace talks in Mozambique

The steps taken both by the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi and the leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama to restart the peace dialogue is a critical development. It is now essential for both parties to commence preparatory talks at the earliest opportunity. A conducive environment for such peace talks requires the restoration of trust between all stakeholders.

Now is the time for both sides to work resolutely towards a political solution and to abandon all military means. A meaningful peace dialogue remains the only route to durable national reconciliation, a precondition for the Mozambican people to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity.

The European Union will continue to support Mozambique’s political, economic and social development.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Union.

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