FCO Press Release: Foreign Office Minister meets President of Somalia

LONDON, United-Kingdom, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Mark Simmonds meets President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia

Foreign Office Minister for Africa visited Somalia on 15 April to demonstrate UK support for Somali peace and development. He held constructive talks with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Defence Minister and other government ministers on issues including security, human rights and economic development.

During the visit the Minister expressed concern about recent terrorist attacks in Mogadishu and welcomed the advances made by the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Somali National Army in securing more territory from Al Shabaab. He also visited Villa Somalia, where he gave a keynote address on the progress made, the challenges still ahead in Somalia and UK support.

Mr Simmonds said:

“I am delighted to have visited Somalia at a crucial time for the Federal Government in their fight against Al Shabaab. The UK remains at the vanguard of international efforts to support the people of Somalia in their desire to build a stable, democratic and prosperous society. I reiterated UK support in my discussions with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and other ministers. I also encouraged the Federal Government to inject further momentum in its efforts towards a federal settlement and constitution ahead of elections in 2016.

“In Mogadishu I saw first-hand some of the progress made since my last visit the challenges that conflict brings, in particular its impact on women and children. I was glad to visit a PSVI empowerment centre for victims of sexual violence. We will work with the UN and Somalia to ensure that security is provided to all communities in a way that upholds the highest human rights standards.”

Source: APO

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NEW YORK, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President U. Joy Ogwu ( Nigeria):

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack against the Jordanian diplomatic convoy in Tripoli, Libya, on 15 April, which resulted in the abduction of the Jordanian ambassador and injuries to his driver.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at this attack and called for the immediate release of the Jordanian ambassador.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that such acts are unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed. They underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice.

The members of the Security Council called on the Libyan authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel, to respect fully their international obligations in this regard and to work towards the safe release of the ambassador.

The members of the Security Council recalled the fundamental principle of the inviolability of the persons of diplomatic agents and consular officers, and the obligations on host Governments, including under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on the person, freedom or dignity of such agents or officers.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the durable commitment of the international community to support Libya’s transition to a peaceful and prosperous democracy.

Source: APO

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IOM Launches Report Highlighting Psychosocial Needs in South Sudan

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has issued a report on psychosocial needs and resources in South Sudan, highlighting serious protection and mental health concerns in a country that has been wracked by conflict as well as major deficiencies in the health care system.

The report is based on an assessment of the psychosocial support needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking protection on the UN peacekeeping compound in Bor. Forty-eight interviews with 192 individuals were conducted during the assessment, together with interviews and focus group discussions with humanitarian actors and community leaders.

The report aims to identify psychosocial needs, resources and gaps in displacement sites, and determine the existing technical resources and coordination mechanisms that could be mobilized in response to those needs. Furthermore, through sharing the report and opening dialogue on psychosocial needs, IOM aims to help build the psychosocial response capacity of humanitarian partners in the country.

The outbreak of conflict in December 2013 has displaced over one million South Sudanese from their homes and taken an enormous physical and emotional toll on the country.

When asked to identify their main feelings, over 80 per cent of the displaced persons interviewed in Bor expressed negative emotions, including fears and concerns, a general feeling of being emotionally unwell, and uncertainty and confusion about the future.

These findings emphasize the overwhelming need for more attention to be given to psychosocial support in the country’s displacement sites.

“Psychosocial support is about helping individuals, families and communities to develop and maintain their existing coping mechanisms,” said Guglielmo Schininá, Head of IOM’s Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication Section. “It is an approach that can potentiate humanitarian assistance as a whole and ultimately pave the way for dialogue among and between individuals, groups and communities.”

The report identifies a series of actions promoting well-being at the individual, family and community levels. These actions include support to activities promoting resilience, such as religious services and recreation activities for children, adolescents and adults, as well as training on psychosocial counselling for social workers within the community.

“The underlying emotional impact of conflict on individuals and families is often overlooked,” said IOM Migration Health Officer Haley E. West. “Failing to address these psychosocial needs can have a negative impact on communities and be a driver of future conflict.”

As a next step, IOM is working to fund a proposal based on this assessment to pilot a community-based psychosocial support project in Bor and other field locations throughout South Sudan.

The full report can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/P002Gu

Source: APO

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IOM Targets Returnees to Neighbouring Countries in CAR Regional Response Plan

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) is causing massive human displacement and neighbouring countries with limited resources are carrying an increasingly heavy financial burden.

Tens of thousands of CAR Muslims, migrants and returnees fleeing armed groups continue to pour into Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo (RoC). An estimated 200,000 have already fled CAR.

IOM has stepped up its response to the influx in Chad and Cameroon, and is now present on the borders of both countries to provide registration, medical and psychosocial assistance, and onward travel.

IOM registration teams report that many returnees and migrants arrive at borders in a desperate state after living out in the open for long periods of time. Many have lost their livelihoods and have limited access to safe water, hygiene and primary health care.

Families and individuals are subsisting on depleted savings and are unable to pay for onward transport to their places of origin or to be reunited with family members.

IOM is coordinating assistance to Third Country Nationals and returnees in close collaboration with the respective governments, the UN and other humanitarian actors.

It has already supported the evacuation and return to their home country of over 100,000 stranded and vulnerable migrants, including more than 10,000 who received direct international transport assistance. Returns have been organized from both CAR and neighboring Cameroon, mainly to Chad.

IOM will today take part in the launch of the CAR Regional Response Plan 2014, a multi-sector response implemented by 15 agencies, including IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, FAO, UNWOMEN, Avions Sans Frontieres, CARE, Caritas, IMC, Oxfam, PLAN International, Premiere Urgence and Save the Children International.

The inter-agency appeal aims to mobilize the emergency response for the influx of refugees from CAR to Cameroon and Chad, the DRC and RoC. Immediate priorities include food, protection, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and shelter.

Assistance will be provided for people who have fled CAR since December 2013, as well as their host communities, who often share limited resources and are struggling to cope with the influx.

The CAR Regional Response Plan is seeking a total USD 274 million to provide life-saving aid to tens of thousands of people who have fled for their lives and are now destitute.

IOM is appealing for USD 38.6 million for its response in countries neighbouring CAR. This includes USD 7.2 million for Cameroon, USD 29.9 million for Chad, and USD 1.5 million for DRC.

Source: APO

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Cameroonian newspaper editor jailed for defamation

NEW YORK, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Authorities in Cameroon should release a newspaper editor who has been imprisoned since March 29 after being convicted of criminal defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On Friday, a judge postponed indefinitely a bail hearing for Amungwa Tanyi Nicodemus, according to news reports.

On March 10, a court in the northwestern city of Bamenda sentenced Nicodemus, publisher and editor of the private weekly The Monitor, to four months in prison and ordered him to pay 10 million CFA francs in damages (US$21,000), his defense lawyer, Yijofmen Kol, told CPJ. The journalist was not at the trial, news reports said. He is being held at a prison in Bamenda.

Kol told CPJ he has appealed the conviction and that a hearing is scheduled for April 28.

The charges were based on a complaint filed by the Cameroon Co-operative Credit Union League (CAMCCUL), an umbrella body of cooperative credit unions, over a series of articles published in The Monitor. The articles alleged, among other things, that the microfinance institution had used and distributed unlicensed software, embezzled funds, and engaged in bribery, according to a copy of the judgment which CPJ obtained. CAMCCUL denied the allegations.

The court also accused Nicodemus of failing to respond to a summons that had allegedly been served to him on December 16, according to the judgment. Kol told CPJ the journalist never received any notice of proceedings against him. The court issued an arrest warrant for Nicodemus after the verdict was announced, and he was picked up by police in the capital, Yaoundé, before being taken to Bamenda, according to Kol.

The African Union’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information has called for the repeal of criminal defamation laws on the continent.

“Defamation complaints against the press should be settled before civil court. Journalists are too often sent to prison in order to suppress allegations of corruption,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We call on authorities in Bamenda to release Amungwa Tanyi Nicodemus pending his appeal.”

Source: APO

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