Conclusions of the inaugural meeting of the International Contact Group for Libya

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — 1. At the initiative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the International Contact Group for Libya (ICG-L), established pursuant to the communiqué adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), at its 459th meeting held at ministerial level in New York, on 23 September 2014, convened its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa, at the AU Headquarters, on 3 December 2014.

2. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Smaïl Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, and attended by representatives of Libya and its neighbors (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia), other AU Member States (Mauritania, as Chair of the AU, Nigeria and South Africa), members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America), the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CENSAD) and the European Union (EU), as well as by Italy and Spain. The AU Special Envoy for Libya, Dileita Mohamed Dileita, and the UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Leon, were also in attendance.

3. Participants reviewed the current situation in Libya and the efforts being made to end the violence in the country, as well as facilitate political dialogue among the Libyan stakeholders, with a view to promoting national reconciliation and completing the ongoing transition. In this respect, they received updates by the Foreign Minister of Libya, the UN Special Representative and the AU Special Envoy, as well as by Algeria and Egypt as Chairs of the Security and Political Committees established within the framework of the Ministerial Committee of the countries of the region, and had in-depth exchanges of views on the situation on the ground, regional and international efforts, as well as on the modalities for the functioning of the ICG-L.

4. Participants expressed deep concern at the prevailing situation in Libya, marked by continued fighting and insecurity in different parts of the country, the collapse of State authority, and deep political and social divisions, and a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over 350,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and more than 100,000 refugees who crossed into the neighboring countries. They underlined that this situation poses a serious threat to the cohesion of the Libyan society and the very existence of the State, as well as to regional security and stability. In this respect, Participants noted the growing threat posed by terrorist and criminal groups, some of whom, including foreign elements, have found safe havens in parts of Libya. In this context, they welcomed the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 22 September 2014, of resolution 2178(2014), which condemns violent extremism and terrorism, requests all States to prevent the movement of terrorists and terrorist groups and underlines the importance of addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. They also expressed concern at the continued proliferation and trafficking of arms, and strongly condemned all those involved in these illicit activities. They demanded that all parties facilitate humanitarian access and guarantee the security of humanitarian workers.

5. Participants strongly condemned all acts of violence in Libya, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian institutions, the targeted killing of individuals, including human rights activists and other civil society actors, and retaliatory acts, as well as the senseless destruction of property and infrastructure. In particular, they condemned in the strongest terms the recent land attacks and air strikes, and noted with deep concern their disastrous impact on the civilian population, as well as on property and infrastructure. They reiterated the determination of their respective countries and organizations to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) are held accountable. They agreed on the need for continued efforts to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the embargo on arms and related material of all types, imposed on Libya by resolution 1970(2011) of 26 February 2011.

6. Participants expressed support for UN Security Council resolution 2174(2014) of 27 August 2014, which provides for the imposition of sanctions against all those involved in serious violence of human rights and IHL and those undermining the political process. Participants welcomed the decision of the UN Security Council Sanction Committee of 19 November 2014 to declare the Ansar Al Sharia group as a terrorist organization.

7. Participants, having emphasized that there can be no military solution to the current crisis in Libya, called for an immediate and unconditional end to the fighting. They strongly condemned all external interferences and interventions that are exacerbating the situation on the ground and further polarizing the political and social landscape.

8. Participants noted with appreciation the central role of Libya’s neighbors, who bear the brunt of the crisis, and their extensive efforts in helping Libya to address the many challenges facing it and to facilitate the promotion of lasting peace, security, stability and reconciliation in the country, within the framework of the regional ministerial committee established in Algiers in May 2014. They look forward to the holding of the 5th meeting of the countries of the region, in Khartoum, Sudan, on 4 December 2014. They received an update on the efforts being conducted by Algeria to convene an inclusive inter-Libyan dialogue to restore peace and stability and thus lay the foundation for national reconciliation, and expressed full support for these efforts.

9. Participants also welcomed and strongly supported the efforts of the United Nations, through Special Representative Bernardino Leon and UNSMIL. They also welcomed the efforts of the AU, through the Special Envoy. They further welcomed the efforts of other international stakeholders, including the League of Arab States, the EU and other stakeholders, including bilateral partners, noting in this respect the various meetings of the Special Envoys for Libya and the Madrid Conference of 17 September 2014.

10. Participants reiterated the support of the international community to the Libyan legal institutions. They welcomed the announcement by the UN Special Representative of a new round of talks (Gadames II) due to start on 9 December 2014, to be followed by consultations of the Libyan stakeholders with their respective constituencies, before resuming on 15 December 2014, to reach agreement on the management of the remainder of the transitional period and lay the foundations for building an effective Libyan State that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people. They strongly supported the efforts being deployed by the Special Representative to this effect. They expressed satisfaction at the readiness of the Libyan stakeholders to participate in this inclusive dialogue, which should be based on the following principles: respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya, commitment to the Constitutional Declaration, rejection of the use of force or threat to use force, and promotion of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

11. Participants underlined that a successful international engagement towards the resolution of the Libyan crisis requires a coordinated and harmonized international approach, to leverage the added value of the various regional and international actors concerned. In this respect, they agreed that all countries and organizations involved in the current efforts should, as a matter of urgency, coordinate their efforts. They requested the UN and AU, through the Special Representative and the Special Envoy, to take the necessary steps towards facilitating a unified approach and process, in order to increase the prospects for a successful inclusive dialogue in Libya. In this respect, they look forward to a report on steps taken and results achieved at their next meeting.

12. Participants agreed on the central role that the ICG-L can and should play in facilitating close coordination and harmonization of initiatives. They agreed to meet at least once every two months. In-between the regular sessions of the ICG-L, the AU and the UN will take the necessary steps and arrangements to ensure continued exchange of information on the evolution of the situation and related international efforts, as well as follow-up to the conclusions reached. Participants also agreed that the Special Envoys should act as a supporting mechanism to the ICG-L and feed into the work of the Group.

13. Participants agreed to take advantage of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, due to be held in Addis Ababa, in January 2015, to convene the 2nd meeting of the ICG-L, to take stock of the evolution of the situation and implementation of the present conclusions. They welcomed the offers by the Republic of Niger and Spain to host the two subsequent meetings of the ICG-L. Participants, in the meantime, encouraged the AU PSC and the UN Security Council to remain actively seized of the matter and to take the decisions that may be called for by the situation.

14. Participants thanked the AU Commission for all the arrangements made to ensure the successful convening of the inaugural meeting of the ICG-L.

IMF Management Concludes the Second Review under the Staff-Monitored Program for Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On November 19, the Management of the International Monetary Fund completed the second review under the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP)1 with Sudan.

Despite the major challenges facing Sudan, performance under the SMP, which expires at end–2014, has been satisfactory. The authorities met all June quantitative targets under the SMP, except for reserve money growth, which the authorities are taking corrective measures to address. On structural reforms, the authorities adopted an amended law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and closed all government accounts in commercial banks. They continue to minimize non-concessional borrowing and maintain satisfactory track record of payments to the Fund as agreed under the SMP. Fund Management welcomes the authorities’ commitment to meeting the program’s objectives.

The outlook for the rest of 2014 remains favorable. Non-oil growth is projected at 2.9 percent as gold extraction is expected to be strong and agriculture to rebound due to favorable weather. Inflation is expected to drop to 29 percent by year-end from 47 percent in July as the one-off effects of the September 2013 fuel price increases dissipate, monetary policy is tightened, and food prices decline owing to the expected good harvest. The fiscal deficit is expected to narrow to about 1.0 percent of GDP. The outlook for 2015 has improved but is subject to domestic and regional risks. Real GDP growth is projected at 3.4 percent supported by a good harvest, robust gold production, and the recovery of oil production.

The authorities’ medium-term program focuses on policies and reforms to reduce inflation, increase international reserves and achieve high and inclusive economic growth. The implementation of the government’s medium-term program faces challenges, including a dearth of external financing, economic sanctions, and an unsustainable external debt burden.

Sudan is in debt distress with most of its external debt in arrears. Debt relief prospects are predicated on normalizing relations with international creditors. In this context, Sudan has to intensify efforts, jointly with South Sudan, to secure broad support for comprehensive debt relief from Sudan’s bilateral external creditors. The agreement between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to extend the deadline for the “zero option” for two more years is positive in this regard.2

IMF staff will continue to provide the authorities with policy advice in implementing and monitoring their economic program. The IMF will also continue to provide technical assistance to Sudan to help strengthen institutional capacity for economic management.

1 An SMP is an agreement between country authorities and Fund staff to monitor the implementation of the authorities’ economic program. SMPs do not entail financial assistance or endorsement by the IMF Executive Board.

2 In September 2012, Sudan and South Sudan reached the so-called “zero option” agreement under which Sudan would retain all the external liabilities after the secession of South Sudan, provided that the international community gave firm commitments to the delivery of debt relief to Sudan within two years. Absent such a commitment, Sudan’s external debt would be apportioned based on a formula to be determined.

Namibia First Developing Country to submit Report on Mitigation Measures and their Effects.

LIMA, Peru, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The report, called ‘biennial update report’ (BUR) provides a summary of Namibia’s actions to implement the Convention, including actions taken to mitigate climate change, as well as their effects. It also includes information on greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the report spells out financial, technological and capacity-building needs and support received.

Biennial update reports are an integral step towards the implementation of the framework for developing countries’ measurement, reporting and verification to enhance the transparency of mitigation actions, their effects and the support received.

Namibia is the first developing country to submit a BUR. Further BURs are expected soon in line with agreed timelines, which is the result of a mandate from the UN Climate Change Conference held in Cancun in 2011.

This is clear testimony to the fact that developing countries are acting to mitigate climate change and are transparently contributing to fully implementing the climate change convention. It is also clear testimony to increasing cooperation among nations.

WCC general secretary extends sympathies for those affected by Nigeria mosque attack

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following the attack on the Great Mosque of Kano in Nigeria on 28 November resulting in the deaths of over 100 people, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit extended sympathies for those bereaved or wounded, offering prayers for Nigerians who, he said, are “so full of potential” yet “wounded by violence and injustice”.

Tveit made these comments in a statement issued on 3 December from the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the statement, Tveit said the attack is a “salutary reminder that both Muslim and Christian communities are threatened by, and suffering from, the extremist violence which is impacting the lives of so many of the people of northern Nigeria”.

“There is a particular evil in any attack on people at a place of worship. My sympathies go to those who have been bereaved or wounded in this shocking attack,” he added.

Tveit extended his support to the Emir of Kano, H.E. Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi, as he seeks to lead his community and nation forward following this tragic event. Recalling his visit to Nigeria in 2012, cosponsored by the WCC and the Jordanian Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, he said, “We, Christians and Muslims together, had the honour of meeting the Emir’s predecessor H.E. Abo Bayero and were made very aware of the important and constructive role being played by the Emirate of Kano both in inter-religious relations and in challenging corruption in government and society”.

UN Envoy for Somalia congratulates new leader of Interim South West Administration

MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, welcomed the inauguration of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan as the head of the newly formed Interim South West Administration (ISWA). Speaking at a ceremony held in Baidoa SRSG Kay said, “I congratulate Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan on his inauguration. Today is a significant step forward in building a strong, united and federal Somalia as envisaged in Vision 2016. I welcome the importance placed on the need for inclusivity and reconciliation with all local constituents of the ISWA, and I urge all stakeholders to continue these efforts.”

“The establishment of the ISWA paves the way to focus efforts on building a functioning administration that is able to deliver much needed services to local communities,” said SRSG Kay. “I look forward to the establishment of inclusive institutions with participation and representation by women, youth and minority groups.”

“ISWA and other interim regional administrations also have a key role to play in the review and implementation of the Provisional Constitution, including preparation for elections and the establishment of a federal system, as well as the implementation of the New Deal Compact for Somalia. I reiterate the firm commitment of the United Nations to support these processes and to help build peace, stability and prosperity in Somalia and the region.”

Car Bomb Attack in Mogadishu this Morning

MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) can confirm that a car bomb detonated at approximately 09.40 am in the vicinity of a UN convoy travelling near Mogadishu…

Shop smart online this festive season: Vital tips for consumers when purchasing gifts online

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, December 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In the lead up to the festive season, consumers are increasingly turning to online shopping portals instead of visiting physical stores.

Oliver Facey, VP Operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa (http://www.dpdhl.com), says that shopping online not only offers consumers access to a greater selection of products with easy to compare prices, but also allows individuals to purchase products that may not yet be available in in their own country.

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Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1596 (Oliver Facey, VP Operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa)

Although internet penetration in Sub Saharan Africa is still far below the world average of around 30%, the numbers are increasing as Africans become more familiar and comfortable with online shopping. According to figures from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in South Africa, 51% of individuals with internet access shop online and in Kenya, 18-24% make online purchases and according to a 2014 Phillips Consulting survey, Nigeria’s online shopping sector grew from N68.4 billion in 2011 to N78 billion in 2012, representing a growth of 25%.

He warns though that while there are many motivators of why to shop online, consumers must be aware of the do’s and don’ts of online shopping to avoid possible drawbacks. Consumers should also be aware of the regulations involved with purchasing from international retailers, in order to avoid incurring additional expenses, thereby making the product less of an attractive buy.

Facey offers advice to consumer on what to consider when buying from international e-retailers:

Be conscious of Customs’ import duties and taxes:

Consumers are often caught off-guard when their shipments arrive from international retailers with unexpected additional charges. It is therefore imperative for consumers to be aware that they may have to pay customs duty for their online purchases, depending on the country that they are buying the goods from.

All shipments transported across international borders must be cleared through Customs, where, depending on the type of goods being shipped, they may also be subject to additional charges. Import duties and taxes differ in each country and are usually calculated as a percentage of the item value. Import shipments may also be subject to interventions by Customs where the price, contents and country of manufacture are often investigated to mitigate a wide range of risks. This could result in delivery delays as well as additional costs.

There are also e-retailers that offer Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) terms which clearly communicates that all costs, inclusive of the duties, taxes and clearance costs, are payable at checkout, to avoid any surprise costs at destination.

Regulations/restrictions on certain products:

Some products are prohibited or have certain limitations when imported. These could be aviation restrictions – for example, flammable liquids are categorized as dangerous goods, therefore importing of perfume would be restricted. There may also be country specific restrictions – for example, on certain food or animal by-products.

Gifts are not necessarily exempted from duties and taxes:

When purchasing online products as a gift, check on the receiving country’s regulations to avoid the recipient being held liable for additional charges. For example, Customs Bureaus in Angola have legislated tax-free exemptions for gifts to an individual as long as the value is less than USD 350. In Zimbabwe, the limit is USD 50. This shows the varying limits for exemptions and demonstrates the importance of checking local regulations prior to making your online purchases.

Check delivery options and costs:

Most websites offer a variety of delivery options, with associated costs. Make your decision by taking into account the cost of shipping, the expected transit times and the value of your order. For peace of mind, it is advisable to select a premium courier delivery option, where the delivery process can be tracked from dispatch to final delivery.

Use reputable e-retailer websites:

Be sure to only make online purchases from websites that are well-known and reputable. Do not be fooled by websites with offers that may look enticing – if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

“Online shopping is definitely the way to go, from a convenience and cost saving point of view, so once consumers become familiar with their local regulations, they can really reap the rewards. We have seen a steady increase over the past couple of weeks as consumers took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals available online.

The build up to the festive season is always peak season for parcel shipments within the express industry, and this year is no different. We recognize and welcome the influx of volumes and our ongoing investment in our people and extensive infrastructure across Africa ensures that we are well positioned to continue to exceed our customers’ service expectations,” concludes Facey.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.

Media Contact:

Megan Collinicos. Head: Advertising & Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa

DHL Express

Tel +27 21 409 3613 Mobile +27 76 411 8570

megan.collinicos@dhl.com

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Migrants and the Mediterranean – UN rights expert visits Malta to follow up EU border management study

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, will visit Malta from 6 to 10 December 2014 as follow-up to his 2012 year-long study on the management of the external borders of the European Union.

“Given Malta’s proximity to North Africa, Malta is a key entry point for those wishing to reach Europe,” Mr. Crépeau said. “Understanding how this maritime border is managed, and their impact on the human rights of migrants, will be an essential part of the visit to Malta.”

During his four-day country visit to Malta, the independent expert will meet with a range of Government officials responsible for border management, EU institutions present in the country, international organisations, and migrants themselves, to discuss the complex management of the Malta maritime border.

Mr. Crépeau’s visit to Malta is the second stage in his follow-up study on the management of the EU external borders. He is currently on an official visit to Italy, as another key entry point for migrants to Europe.

At the end of the mission, the UN Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary conclusions at a press conference on 10 December 2014 at 10am, at the Grand Excelsior Hotel, Great Siege Road, Floriana FRN1810.

The follow-up study, launched by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will result in a country mission report and a thematic report on EU border management which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.