Progress Towards Dialogue Amongst Burundian Stakeholders

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

May 24, 2016

The United States is encouraged by the recent consultations held in Arusha, Tanzania, and the progress towards a comprehensive dialogue amongst stakeholders to peacefully resolve the crisis in Burundi. We commend former President Mkapa’s leadership in facilitating the consultations and appreciate his pledge to ensure greater inclusivity by meeting in the near future with representatives not in attendance at this round of consultations. We also welcome the sense of urgency demonstrated by the participants in setting imminent dates for next steps.

It is of utmost importance that all stakeholders be represented in the dialogue, including new and former opposition parties and civil society leaders. We fully support President Mkapa’s strong statements – consistent with the African Union and United Nations Resolutions – that the Arusha Agreement is not open for negotiation. An inclusive dialogue that protects this foundation of Burundi’s past decade of progress provides the best and only peaceful path to a sustainable solution to this crisis. To create the conditions that foster dialogue, all sides must cease any and all violence, and the Government must cease all acts of torture and political detentions. The United States stands ready to support this peace process, as well as to impose additional targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for human rights abuses.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Human rights in Burundi: UN Independent Investigation completes on-the-ground deployment

The United Nations Independent Investigation in Burundi, which was set up to investigate human rights violations in the country since April 2015, has completed the deployment of a team of human rights monitors on the ground.

The UN Human Rights Council established the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) in December 2015 to investigate violations and abuses of human rights in Burundi, make recommendations on the improvement of the human rights situation, and to engage in a dialogue with the authorities and other relevant actors in the ongoing crisis. UNIIB consists of three independent human rights experts with a supporting team of four experienced human rights officials.

“Following our first visit to Burundi in early March, the deployment of human rights monitors is a new and important step forward in our investigations, and will help us collect meaningful information on human rights violations and abuses which have been committed in Burundi since April 2015. The team will not only collect information in Burundi but will also visit neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Christof Heyns, Chair of the Independent Investigation. The visits to neighbouring countries will allow the human rights investigators to meet with Burundian refugees and collect testimonies from those who have fled the violence.

“Now that the team is fully in place and operational, I hope that we will receive information and documentation* from many individuals, groups and organisations on the human rights violations and abuses which have been taking place in Burundi since the crisis started, a year ago,” said Mr. Heyns.

The three human rights experts will undertake a second visit to Burundi in June 2016 and present their final report to the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, in September 2016.

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

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Categories: AFRICA

Africa agrees on common position to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

Ministers of Health meeting ahead of the World Health Assembly on Saturday deliberated and agreed on a Common African Position (CAP) to the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS that will be taking place in New York from 8 to 10 June 2016.

“The Common Africa Position is critical in the political declaration negotiations that are ongoing. It is imperative that Africa negotiates as one block, highly impacted by AIDS, and demand a political declaration that commits to bold strategies that aim to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030”, said Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.

Africa has made remarkable progress in the AIDS response

Through sustained leadership and political commitment at various levels Africa has made significant progress in responding to the AIDS as a public health threat. The world achieved the UN General Assembly Political Declaration target of having 15 million people on treatment by 2015, nine months ahead of schedule, with 10.7 million people on ART in Africa alone, up from fewer than 100,000 in 2002. As a result, AIDS-related deaths decreased by 48% between 2005 and 2014. New HIV infections in Africa declined by 39% between 2000 and 2014, and since 2009, there has been a 48% decline in new HIV infections among children in the 21 priority countries of the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections in Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive. TB-related deaths in people living with HIV have fallen by 36% since 2004.

Despite the unparralled progress, the AIDS epidemic is an unfinished business

At the end of 2014, there were 25.8 million people living with HIV in Africa South of the Sahara. Approximately 800,000 people died of AIDS-related causes in Africa south of the Sahara in 2014. TB remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. In 2014, there were an estimated 1.4 million new infections, approximately 70% of the global total of new infections. New infections have not declined fast enough in recent years, facilitated by the insufficient scale of prevention programmes and inadequate investments. While much progress has been made in financing the AIDS response, the resources required for the AIDS response by all African countries will need to increase to a projected US$12.2 billion by 2020, then gradually decrease to US$10.8 billion by 2030.

Common position to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

As the continent heavily impacted by AIDS, the Common Africa Position demands a political declaration that commits to bold strategies that aim to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. It seeks to commit to a Political Declaration that has global targets and strategies, as well as Africa-specific targets. The proposed targets for Africa are to reduce AIDS-related deaths to less than 375,000 per year by 2020, and less than 150,000 per year by 2030; reduce new HIV infections to less than 375,000 per year by 2020, and less than 150,000 per year by 2030 and end HIV-related discrimination by 2020.

The CAP provides concrete recommendations in eight broad areas that include Africa specific targets in the political declaration negotiations, treatment, stopping new HIV infections, human rights, gender and social protection, sustainable financing, strengthening health systems, access to affordable and quality assured medicines, commodities and technologies and leadership and accountability.

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

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Categories: AFRICA

Ministers adopt Africa’s key health policies

Ahead of the Wold Health Assembly African Ministers of Health met on Saturday and adopted key health policy instruments that will provide the strategic direction for the continent for the next fifteen years. These health policy instruments were finalised by Member State Health experts meeting in Addis Ababa in April this year for consideration by health ministers.

“I am confident that the Africa Health Strategy will provide the strategic direction that is needed to create better performing health sectors and address the major challenges impeding our efforts to reduce the continent’s disease burden” said Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission.

The revised African Health Strategy provides the overarching superstructure to address Africa’s broad health and development agenda in the next 15 years. To strengthen health systems the strategy addresses issues related to health financing, governance and improved multi-sectoral partnerships. The framework also refocuses service delivery, community empowerment and seeks to expand social protection to address equity. The blueprint also prioritises human resources for health, commodity security, regulatory and support environment for provision of quality medicines and technologies, disease surveillance and disaster management.

“I commend the increasing role played by the African Union Commission in positioning health at a very high level on the continental agenda. These health policy instruments are important reference frameworks for addressing the unfinished agenda of the MDGs and for meeting the new SDG agenda” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the Regional Director for Africa, World Health Organisation.

During the meeting the Ministers of Health also adopted the Maputo Plan of Action (2016-2030) and the Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. The revised Maputo Plan of Action provides a framework for the full implementation of the continental policy framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The action plan seeks to catalyse the expansion of contraceptive use, reduce levels of unsafe abortion, end child marriage, eradicate harmful traditional practices, eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls and ensure access to services by young people.

The Catalytic Framework provides a business model for investing for impact to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. The framework focusses on three strategic investment areas, each with clear catalytic actions. These areas are health systems strengthening, generation and use of evidence for policy and programme interventions and advocacy and capacity building.

During the meeting the Ministers of Health adopted the concept document on the establishment of the African Health Volunteers Corps which will operate within the umbrella of the recently established Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Through this dedicated Corps the Africa CDC’s capability to assemble, equip, and mobilise a deployable roster of volunteer medical and public health professionals will be assured. This will ensure rapid and effective responses to public health emergencies to Member States and address matters of global concern including health impacts of natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

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

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Categories: AFRICA