New Palestinian Ambassador to Seychelles accredited

The new Palestinian Ambassador to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. Hazem M. Shabat presented his credentials to President James Michel in a ceremony held at State House today.

President Michel congratulated Ambassador Shabat and said that Seychelles values its relations with the State of Palestine.

During their meeting, President Michel and Ambassador Shabat discussed how Seychelles and the State of Palestine could further develop their friendly and fraternal relations in various fields.

“We are based in certain occupied territory… we tend to consider that human capacity is our natural resource. We have experts in almost every field, from doctors, engineers, agriculture and others. We have the highest level that can be found actually and we are ready to put all our expertise at the disposal of the government of Seychelles should it decide to seek our assistance,” said Ambassador Shabat.

He was speaking to the national media after the accreditation ceremony and his meeting with Vice-President Danny Faure.

Ambassador Hazem M. Shabat is based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Also present at the meeting this morning were the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Barry Faure and the President’s Diplomatic Advisor, Ambassador Callixte D’Offay.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.

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The African Union Commission and the Afro-Arab Youth Council sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation and collaboration

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Afro-Arab Youth Council (AAYC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today for strengthening cooperation and collaboration between the two parties to facilitate the implementation of the development and integration agenda of the African Union.

The MoU was signed by H.E. Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and Mr. Yousif Al-Kazim President of the Afro-Arab Youth Council, who was represented by Mr. Awad Hassan, the Secretary General of the AAYC.

Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi expressed her appreciation for the level of the existing working relationship between the two institutions and described the signed MoU as a platform to strengthen this important partnership.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs also made reference to the Declaration of 2016 as “African Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on the Rights of Women”, which provides an opportunity for the entire continent to take stock of the human rights situation on the continent in general, and the rights of women in particular. Dr. Abdullahi further added that the celebration of 2016 as the year of human rights in Africa seeks to, among other things, enhance public awareness on human rights instruments and mechanisms; assess the ratification and implementation of the human rights instruments.

Dr. Abdullahi concluded by calling on the Afro-Arab Youth Council to encourage its members to be part of the continental youth movement that is supporting the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063 by adopting policies, plans of actions and programmes at the national level. She also called on the AAYC to work closely with the AUC to promote democracy and good governance as well as the protection and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa.

Mr. Awad Hassan, Secretary General of the AAYC reaffirmed the commitment of the AAYC to work closely with the AUC towards the two institutions’ common goals as well as the implementation of joint activities to ensure the involvement of African youth in the promotion of democracy, good governance and the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. He also expressed the intention of the AAYC to partner with the AUC in implementation of the AU Agenda 2063.

According to the signed MoU, the African Union Commission and the Afro-Arab Youth Council will explore opportunities for cooperation and non-exclusive partnership in the area of participation of African youth in policy development and implementation at the continental level, involvement of African youth in the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa, implementation of the AU Human Rights Strategy for Africa, implementation of Project 2016 and the implementation and population of the AU Agenda 2063.

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

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AU Commission Chairperson in Italy for First Africa-Italy Ministerial Conference

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has arrived in Italy, for the First “Africa-Italy Ministerial Conference” expected to hold on 18 May 2016, at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Rome.

The conference will allow the Heads of delegation from Africa and Italy to discuss common challenges such as the fight against violent extremism, managing migration flows, and sustainable development. Conclusions of their discussions will enable strengthened collaboration between Africa and Europe, as well as the AU Commission and the European Union to overcoming these challenges.

The AU Commission Chairperson, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is participating in the Conference on the invitation of the President of the Republic of Italy, H.E. Sergio Mattarella, extended during his first official visit to the AU Commission on 15 March 2016.

The AU Commission Chairperson, will take the opportunity to sign, on 17 May 2016, in Milan, a Memorandum of Understanding between the AU Commission and E4Impact Foundation, aimed at enhancing agribusiness and agricultural entrepreneurship. The former Mayor of Milan, Mrs Letizia Moratti, Founder and Chairperson of E4Impact Foundation, will sign for her organization.

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

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The Senior Officials Session of the First African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals (STC-TIM) commences at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Senior Officials Session of the First AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals (STC-TIM), kicked off today at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme: “Promoting Regional Integration through Trade and Industrialization in Africa”. The STC is set to provide technical guidance to the Policy Organs of the African Union, to ensure implementation of agreed programs and projects as well as establish synergies, linkages and complementarities in the areas of Trade, Industry and Mining in line with AU Agenda 2063 and its Ten Year Implementation Plan. The Meeting will hold for nine days bringing together AU Ministers responsible for Trade, Industry and Minerals, and their relevant senior officials, Regional Economic Communities and Collaborating Institutions as Observers.

The STC on Trade, Industry and Minerals offers the opportunity for participants to review the progress made in respective areas of work, in implementing the African Union related Decisions, identifying delays and bottlenecks and to offer appropriate solutions.

In his statement, Mr. Jean Bakole, the Regional Director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) highlighted the initiatives his organization has been undertaking over the last fifty years to promote regional integration through trade and inclusive and sustainable Industrial Development in Africa. Mr. Bakole recognized that even though African countries have been expanding at over 5% per year, the trend has not generated the effective solution to the unemployment challenge among the population. “The key reason is that that growth in Africa has been essentially driven by a commodity exports boom of mineral and oil resources; while, in most other regions growth is driven by structural change to manufacturing and value-added services”, he justified.

According to Dr. Kojo Busia, the Ag. Coordinator of the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), Africa’s over reliance on production and export of raw commodities makes the continent more vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices and the continued failure of the continent to leverage on the strategic importance of Africa’s abundant mineral resources. He indicated that the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), provides a framework for unleashing a commodity-led and sustained economy-wide structural change. “The outcome expected from the AMV includes a transformed mining sector which serves as key component of diversified vibrant and globally competitive industrializing economies. In this regard, a Country Mining Vision (CMV) framework was developed by the AMDC to support countries to align their long-term ambition for the sector with the AMV”, he explained.

On his side, Dr. David Luke, the Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) welcomed the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which will be launched by the indicative date of 2017. He underscored the fact that Africa is making progress towards consolidating its regional integration efforts through the CFTA that is currently being negotiated. “Should the CFTA be implemented, Africa could benefit from USD 40 billion increase of its exports instead of the loss of USD 2.7 billion, which may arise if Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and other agreements are implemented before the CFTA. Concluding an ambitious CFTA is thus a critical matter for Africa; and it is urgent that we do so quickly. That’s why the CFTA is good news for Africa”, he mentioned.

In her opening remarks, the Director of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, Mrs. Treasure Thembisile Maphanga reminded the participants that the main objective of the STC is to make trade, industry and minerals policies work in a coherent manner and to ensure better coordination and harmonization for wealth creation as well as Africa’s structural economic transformation. After revealing some critical statistics about Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the past years, Mrs. Maphanga pointed out that prices for Africa’s commodities fell sharply in 2015 and are not expected to see much of a recovery this year. “This scenario compounded with the fact that the previous growth period did not result in improvements in the quality of life for the African people should be a reason enough for Africa to start thinking and acting differently”, she emphasized. In this vein, she informed delegates of the ongoing process to develop an AU Commodity Strategy and SME/SMI Master Plan 2016-2020. Before officially opening the meeting, the Director urged participants to continue questioning and reflecting on the strategic interactions of Trade, Industry and Minerals Policies and their implementation at country, regional and continental level for a sustainable economic transformation of Africa. In conclusion, she thanked all stakeholders, cooperating and development partners for their continued efforts to support the implementation of key frameworks such as AIDA, AMV, BIAT/CFTA amongst others.

The Ministerial Session of the First AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals (STC-TIM), will open on Monday 23 May 2016.

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

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The 2nd Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The 2nd Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF), kicked off today at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa. During the next five days, Member States will consider all the post launch preparatory issues and essential process issues and technical documents that will enable the efficient conduct of the negotiations. The Meeting will specifically, among others, consider and adopt definitions of the Principles Guiding the CFTA Negotiations, and also discuss Approaches and Modalities for CFTA Negotiations.

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2015, launched the negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The launch of the negotiations marked a major milestone in the implementation of the Summit decision to establish a continental free trade area by the Indicative date of 2017.

On behalf of H.E. the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, the Head of Trade Division, Mr. Nadir Merah recalled the achievements of the 1st Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum and commended negotiators for the commitment to conclude CFTA Agreement by 2017. He informed the Negotiators that the Department of Trade and Industry is committed to providing technical and administrative support to the negotiations through the just established CFTA Support Unit. He emphasized that the principles guiding the CFTA negotiations should be defined in such a way that the CFTA will achieve the intended objectives. He stressed the importance of establishing the Technical Working Groups as well as agreeing on the CFTA Negotiating Forum Work Plan. Before concluding, Mr. Merah informed the Negotiators that a dedicated session to discussing modalities for the CFTA negotiations was planned on Friday which is the last day of the meeting.

The Chair of the meeting, Mr. Sayed Elbous, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Trade and Industry Ministry of the Republic of Egypt, welcomed the participants to the meeting and recalled the successful conclusion of the 1st Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum held in February 2016. He emphasized the importance of the second meeting as key milestone towards the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area.

The role of the African Union Commission in the negotiations is to provide and coordinate technical and administrative support to the Member States and REC’s. The AUC also serves as the Secretariat to the CFTA Negotiating Forum. In playing its support and harmonization role, the AUC closely collaborates with the RECs, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who are members of the Continental Task Force on the CFTA operating at the level of Chief Executive Officers and at the Technical level.

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

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The 2nd Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The 2nd Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF), kicked off today at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa. During the next five days, Member States will consider all the post launch preparatory issues and essential process issues and technical documents that will enable the efficient conduct of the negotiations. The Meeting will specifically, among others, consider and adopt definitions of the Principles Guiding the CFTA Negotiations, and also discuss Approaches and Modalities for CFTA Negotiations.

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2015, launched the negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The launch of the negotiations marked a major milestone in the implementation of the Summit decision to establish a continental free trade area by the Indicative date of 2017.

On behalf of H.E. the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, the Head of Trade Division, Mr. Nadir Merah recalled the achievements of the 1st Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum and commended negotiators for the commitment to conclude CFTA Agreement by 2017. He informed the Negotiators that the Department of Trade and Industry is committed to providing technical and administrative support to the negotiations through the just established CFTA Support Unit. He emphasized that the principles guiding the CFTA negotiations should be defined in such a way that the CFTA will achieve the intended objectives. He stressed the importance of establishing the Technical Working Groups as well as agreeing on the CFTA Negotiating Forum Work Plan. Before concluding, Mr. Merah informed the Negotiators that a dedicated session to discussing modalities for the CFTA negotiations was planned on Friday which is the last day of the meeting.

The Chair of the meeting, Mr. Sayed Elbous, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Trade and Industry Ministry of the Republic of Egypt, welcomed the participants to the meeting and recalled the successful conclusion of the 1st Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum held in February 2016. He emphasized the importance of the second meeting as key milestone towards the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area.

The role of the African Union Commission in the negotiations is to provide and coordinate technical and administrative support to the Member States and REC’s. The AUC also serves as the Secretariat to the CFTA Negotiating Forum. In playing its support and harmonization role, the AUC closely collaborates with the RECs, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who are members of the Continental Task Force on the CFTA operating at the level of Chief Executive Officers and at the Technical level.

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

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Source:: The 2nd Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

African Union Calls for intensification of efforts to improve Maternal and Child Survival at the Women Deliver Conference

As part of concerted efforts to reduce maternal and child deaths the African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with MSH-ASH, USAID and key partners, organized a high level side event in the margins of the Women Deliver Conference. The event was aimed at strengthening collaboration among advocates and partners in support of the AU Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), and to ensure that coordinated campaign efforts coalesce into accelerated action towards ending preventable maternal and child deaths. The session provided an opportunity to articulate the campaign focus in the post 2015 period, increase the visibility of the revised AU’s policy instruments in the context of other continental and global frameworks such and Agenda 2063 and the SDGs as well as promotes the use of the AU resources, such as the CARMMA website and the African Health Stats data platform as tools for strengthening accountability in the region.

Speaking during the event, the Head of the HIV&AIDS, TB and Malaria Division Dr. Marie-Goretti Harakeye emphasized the need for partners to work together to achieve health commitments across Africa. She reiterated the importance ‪of multi-sectoral approach to deal with the social determinants of health, noting the importance of strengthening health systems in the SDG era. Ms Diene Keita, UNFPA Country Representative in Democratic Republic of Congo lauded the Commission for establishing the data platform and was optimistic the platform will be used to hold African governments accountable for progress against their own commitments for maternal survival. She also called on the Commission to draw the attention of the African leadership to good work CARMMA is doing at country level to save lives of women and children in Africa Dr. Ishrat Husain, Senior Health Advisor, Africa Bureau, USAID acknowledged the importance of evidence to the AUC’s efforts with CARMMA. The panel led an interesting discussion, and concluded that CARMMA needed to utilize the data platform to hold member states accountable to ending preventable maternal and child mortality.

The Commission will showcase the African Health Stats data platform in a forum on Tuesday 17 May 2016.

Meanwhile, the 4th Women Deliver Conference, the largest gathering on girls and women’s health and rights for more than a decade, has officially opened with statements from the Patron the Women Deliver 2016 Conference Crown Princess Mary and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. The opening session was followed by a lively panel discussion with Dr Margaret Chan Director-General of WHO, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin Executive Director of UNPFA Ms Tawakkol Karman the Nobel Peace Prize laureate amongst others served as panelists. About 5,500 participants are attending the Conference.

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

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Southern Africa: IFRC announces major initiative to scale-up drought response, strengthen resilience

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has announced a major, 110 million Swiss franc, four year initiative to support National Red Cross Societies respond to the drought that is affecting millions of people across southern Africa. The initiative will increase Red Cross relief activities significantly, alongside an important expansion of long-term efforts to strengthen the resilience of 1 million vulnerable people.

IFRC Secretary General, Mr Elhadj As Sy, made the announcement following a mission to Malawi and Zimbabwe where he travelled to some of the areas worst-affected by a drought driven by one of the strongest El Niño phenomena.

“Much more needs to be done to support communities to survive and strive over the coming months. We met families who have received no external support and who are simply desperate,” said Mr Sy. “The needs far outweigh the response to date. We need to urgently scale-up our interventions to prevent this situation from becoming a catastrophe.”

An estimated 31.6 million people across the region are currently struggling to get adequate food, and this figure may climb to more than 49 million people by the end of the year. Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have all declared states of emergency, as have seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Mozambique declared a Red Alert, the highest level of national emergency preparedness, in its central and southern provinces.

In addition to scaling up relief efforts, including emergency distributions of cash, the IFRC’s drought resilience initiative places heavy emphasis on supporting at-risk communities to better withstand future challenges.

“In Mwanza district (southern Malawi) I met families who, as a result of long-term support from the Red Cross and other partners, were better able to cope with the impact of this drought,” said Mr Sy.

One project, implemented by the Malawi Red Cross Society with the support of the Finnish Red Cross, saw vulnerable families receive goats that they could breed and sell for income. Each family is expected to return some of their livestock to the scheme, ensuring that more families can then receive these precious assets

AH, a widow with three children, lives with HIV. She has reared several goats over the past few years and sold them to purchase food, pay for her children’s school fees, and build a new home. She has sold some of her goats to withstand the current drought. “I used to rely on piece work for an income, but it did not pay a lot and we could only afford to eat once a day,” said AH, who currently has 23 goats in her herd. “Now, we are eating three times a day, which is especially important so I can continue my medication. This project has helped me a lot.”

“This is one example of what is needed: a large-scale expansion of small-scale interventions that can have a sustainable and life-changing impact,” said Mr Sy.

Mr Sy was joined in Malawi and Zimbabwe by a number of partners, including the CEO of Devex, Raj Kumar, and UNICEF’s El Niño Senior Advisor, Shadrack Omol. The participation of partners highlighted the importance of improving coordination and cooperation for an effective response.

“The challenges we are now seeing in southern Africa won’t be easily overcome, and they most certainly won’t be overcome if we continue working as we have in the past. A new kind of humanitarian response is needed: one that is built on a coalition of actors committed to breaking the silos we currently work in, and who are committed to taking long-term local action to strengthen resilience – now and for the future,” said Mr Sy.

The IFRC is now working with partners to secure funding for this initiative.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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NAADS, WFP to build grain stores to benefit 4,000 farming families in 10 districts of Uganda

The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have signed an agreement to construct 10 community-level grain stores in 10 districts of Uganda over the next four months in an effort to address grain storage challenges nationally while enhancing small-scale farmers’ access to quality produce markets.

Under the agreement, NAADS will provide US$1 million for WFP to construct and equip the warehouses in the districts of Adjumani, Hoima, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kiryandongo, Kyenjojo, Masindi, Mubende, Nakaseke and Napak. Each unit will have a storage capacity of between 200 and 300 metric tons and is expected to support up to 400 farming households.

“NAADS has been focusing on providing seeds, and this has helped to increase production country-wide,” the NAADS Executive Director, Dr. Samuel Mugasi said today. “However, this partnership with WFP will take us a step higher in the value chain. It will enable NAADS to achieve its purpose of assisting farmers to reduce post-harvest food losses – including through modern storage – benefit from group marketing and improve their household incomes and livelihoods.”

Mugasi said there was no better choice of partner than WFP. He said, “WFP has built a good reputation in grain handling, mobilizing farmers for production and supporting agriculture value chains. It has a good model in place, and we are excited to be part of it. Under the MoU, WFP and NAADS will also jointly support small-scale farmer groups with soft skills and other capacity building for group marketing.”

WFP’s Country Director, Michael Dunford, said WFP’s role in Uganda primarily is to support the vision of the government, working with capable entities such as NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation in building agricultural capacity.

“Good infrastructure empowers farmers to access markets, gives them control over when they get to sell their grain and, as such, protects them from hunger,” Dunford said.

NAADS and WFP plan to work together to build another 10 stores next year. WFP has already established 60 storage facilities countrywide – using mainly funding from the United States — and farmers trading through them have been selling their grain more profitably.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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Source:: NAADS, WFP to build grain stores to benefit 4,000 farming families in 10 districts of Uganda

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Remarks at the Libya Ministerial

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj

Vienna, Austria

May 16, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening, everybody. Thank you for your patience. For my part, let me just say that I’m very pleased to be able to be back in Vienna. I’m very grateful – we all are very grateful – to the Government of Austria for its continued hospitality and for hosting this latest round of talks.

I’m very grateful as well to Foreign Minister Gentiloni and UN Special Representative Martin Kobler for their deep engagement and leadership on this issue. Italy has long had a special relationship and interest in what happens in Libya and obviously is on the front lines in many ways in this effort. I want to thank Prime Minister Sarraj for taking the time to be here and to make his entire team available to us from yesterday through today as our team has been working together, and I thank the Libyan representatives who made this journey. And particularly, I want to express – we all want to express – our gratitude to the many other foreign ministers and senior officials who came from many different countries, which is a strong statement about the international commitment to this current effort. We have senior officials or foreign ministers from Algeria, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the African Union, and every single one of them participated in this meeting. Their presence is a powerful statement about the international community’s commitment to the GNA, to Prime Minister Sarraj, and to the effort to bring unity to Libya and the long-term goal of a stable Libya that is at peace with itself, which is unified and secure.

That goal is important, but it is also urgent – and I think no one understands this better than the Libyan leaders who are here with us in Vienna – the urgency of resolving certain issues quickly. They know the unacceptable price that personal rivalry and/or internal strife are inflicting on the Libyan people, on the Libyan economy, on its security; and the rise of extremism which has taken advantage of this. And so they are here, all of us, concerned about the social cohesion of the country and the importance of taking steps rapidly to address those concerns. Everyone has seen the hardships that are being felt by the Libyan citizens in all regions and by members of every clan and every tribe in Libya, and they have witnessed the emergence of a new threat to their country’s future in the form of the terrorists who are affiliated with Daesh.

As the communique that we produced earlier makes clear, it is imperative to put the international community’s full weight behind the Government of National Accord. And the GNA is the only entity that can unify the country and address the economic crisis and humanitarian suffering. Libyan people want a government; the government is here, supported by the international community and ready to go to work. It is the only way to ensure that vital institutions, such as the central bank and the national oil company – that they fall under representative and acknowledged authority and that they receive the supervision and the direction that they need. And it is the only way to generate the unity and the cohesion that is required to defeat Daesh and other violent extremists who want to pull Libya backward into thuggery and violence and a battle over ambitions of individuals who are not serving the broad interests of Libya itself, but serving their own interests.

To that end, the international community spoke today with a single voice on several key points.

First, the House of Representatives must take a vote on the GNA and honor the Skhirat agreement, and the international community can help that by being present when that takes place.

Second, the unified Libyan Government must move forward to counter Daesh and other terrorist groups through the joint command under civilian authority.

Three, the international community must support the Presidency Council decision on GNA entry into the ministries so that the government can begin to provide Libyans with essential services.

Fourth, humanitarian aid to the Libyan people must be accelerated.

Fifth, the international community will support the Presidency Council as it seeks exemption from the UN arms embargo to acquire those weapons and bullets needed to fight Daesh and other terrorist groups.

And finally, the international community will stand behind the Skhirat agreement and its principles of Libyan sovereignty, stability, security, and unity.

Now, given the stakes, I want to be absolutely clear: Those who engage in acts that threaten Libya’s peace and security or who obstruct or undermine a successful political transition will face the prospect of sanctions outlined by various UN Security Council resolutions.

And to those like Prime Minister Sarraj who are ready to choose reconciliation and who are focused on solving problems rather than on sowing discord, our message is just as clear: The United States and the international community represented here today and beyond will back you every step of the way.

That means working hard through the UN to prepare security arrangements so the new government can further establish itself in Tripoli. It means helping to ensure that such key institutions as the central bank and the national oil company receive the oversight and the direction that they need. It means doing more to address urgent humanitarian requirements. It means laying the groundwork for sustained support in the fields of security, finance, counterterrorism, and overall governance. And it means a true partnership between the people of Libya and the international friends of Libya to see that the future of that country is one of unity, prosperity and peace.

Nearly five years ago, Libya overthrew a dictator. The question mark that we have to ask ourselves even still today is: What is Libya going to look like five years from now? That’s what motivated us to come here today and build the consensus that we have produced. Libya has an opportunity to be a safe country for its citizens or could be a safe haven for terrorists, trapped in division and chaos and beset by personal, international, and tribal rivalries. Or Libya could be a country with a functioning government, with an entrepreneurial economy, and a population that is both diverse and unified at the same time. The choices required to shape Libya’s future are in the hands of its leaders, and they were here today. But they’re going to need our support, and if they do their part, we are here today to say that we’re willing to do ours. For the sake of Libya’s future, we need to seize this moment.

Now I turn the floor over to my friend and colleague, Paolo Gentiloni.

FOREIGN MINISTER GENTILONI: Well, thank you very much, John, especially for your extraordinary commitment on this Libyan crisis which was absolutely decisive to reach the first results that we are reaching since a few months. Thank you to Martin Kobler for your efforts and for the results that the UN activity produced on the Libyan dialogue. And thank you very much to Prime Minister Sarraj. I think that your courage on March the 30th to go to establish the Libyan Presidential Council on Tripoli will be remembered as a turning point in the crisis, and it is something we can invest in now.

I think that the meeting today of a so large number of foreign ministers is very clear in itself. There is a large support to the Presidential Council and to the Government of National Accord – a large support because we all know, as John just said a minute ago, that the stabilization of Libya is the key answer to the risk that we have. And to stabilize Libya, we need a government. And we have a government with the support of such a large number of member states and international and regional organization.

So stabilization is the key. With stabilization, we can fight terrorism; we can assure development to a country with rich potentialities but with a strong humanitarian crisis now. We can tackle the migration issue; we can develop the resources of Libya. Without stabilization, we risk tensions, divisions, and intra-Libyans fights.

So this is, I think, the message of our meeting. It is a political message because we are supporting the recent decision of the GNA, first of all, the constitution of a presidential guard that we will support; second, the constitution of a joint command to fight Daesh; and third, the decision to give a transitory legitimacy to the ministers until the formal swearing will be accomplished.

With this support, I think that we have the possibility to reach several goals. The most urgent one – and Italy and several other countries are working on this – the most urgent one is to give humanitarian aid to hospitals and cities not only in the west, but also in the east of country, through the Government of National Accord. Then we have to begin our cooperation for development of Libya.

And finally, we have to cooperate on security to make possible a Libyan ownership of the anti-terrorism fight. We all know that to make this possible, the Libyan process should be – you should have new steps. We will look for a validation for the Libyan parliament. We will look for inclusiveness of all the subject that are on the field fighting Daesh, including the general after. But this will be something based on the authority of the Government of National Accord and on the support, the international support, to GNA. This is, I think, the reason why we can be satisfied with what we have done today, but we know that we will have further steps to work on.

And now, John, maybe we give the floor to Prime Minister Sarraj again, thanking him for being here.

PRIME MINISTER AL-SARRAJ: (Via interpreter) First of all – salute Secretary Kerry and the Italian minister for organizing this and Austria for hosting this meeting. The presence of the ministers today will (inaudible) message of support for the National Accord Government and (inaudible) is interested in Libya. It was a fruitful, frank, and transparent meeting. We talked about the political, economic, and social aspects.

Regarding the political situation or the political track internally, we authorized ministers to take over their ministries. We called upon the House of Representatives to assume its responsibility in playing its role. We can overcome this political impasse. We call upon all countries and parties active in Libya to cooperate with us positively. The situation in Libya is extremely bad – I’ll be very frank – economically, financially, and security-wise. It requires the collaboration of all parties. We need the collaboration of the active parties in Libya in a positive manner. The situation cannot afford any political maneuvers by any party internal or external. The situation in Libya involves humanitarian suffering, misplaced people or displaced people, forces of terrorism that are lying in wait for Libya. The international community and the neighbors will not be spared this danger if terrorism were to grow outside Libya.

We’ve called for lifting the embargo on arms to support the joint command and the military establishment. We’ve called for equipping and arming – (interruption) – the (inaudible) presidential guard, which will have a clear role in fighting extremism and securing key institutions, and it’s not a substitute to police or the army. We’ve also talked about securing our borders to enforce or to prevent illegal immigration so that it can play its role effectively. We call upon all neighbors or friendly countries to coordinate with the Presidency Council in any initiative they put forward toward a national reconciliation based on the Libyan political agreement. We continue to expand the basis of participation and accord among all Libyans to ensure – to – that we reach our goal of reconciliation and accord in general.

We have a major challenge ahead of us – terrorism, fighting ISIS. We’ve established operations room, special operations room. We hope that there will be a joint operations room that will lead the fight against terrorism. We urge the international community to assist us. We’re not talking about international intervention; we’re talking about international assistance and training, equipping our troops and training our youth.

Once again, we thank the international community for their interest in Libya, and we hope for the best. Thank you.

MR TONER: We have time for just two questions. The first goes to Dave Clark from AFP.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Prime Minister, Minister, Secretary. Mr. Prime Minister, were you able today to present a detailed breakdown of the kinds of equipment and training your forces will require? And Minister and Mr. Secretary, when do you think the international community will be able to begin meeting these needs? And when do you think you’ll be able to get waivers from the UN arms embargo?

PRIME MINISTER AL-SARRAJ: (Via interpreter) With respect to our call for the embargo to be lifted, all the authorized authorities in power to lift this embargo will be provided with a list as soon as possible.

SECRETARY KERRY: The – we have now had a request come to us. Now, this obviously has to be discussed and go through the process with respect to the UN. The arms embargo does allow for the Government of National Accord to request weapons if it needs them specifically to secure the country and to combat Daesh. So that is the consideration, and we will measure whatever requests there are for their legitimate arms requests with our call to all states to improve the enforcement of the arms embargo itself in order to prevent arms transfers from taking place to people outside of the GNA’s authority. So it’s a delicate balance, but we are, all of us here today, supportive of the fact that if you have a legitimate government and the legitimate government is struggling against terrorism, that legitimate government should not be made the prisoner or it should not be victimized by virtue of the UN action that has been taken that has always awaited a legitimate government. So we believe it makes sense, but obviously, carefully sculpted. And that’s what we will make sure we do.

FOREIGN MINISTER GENTILONI: We are ready to answer to requests from the Libyan Government. The prime minister said the request will be about training and assisting, and we will consider them with absolutely rapidly and with great interest. And as Secretary of State Kerry said, and we are not discussing of eliminating the embargo. But the embargo in itself allows exemptions given certain circumstances. And these are circumstances that we all are appreciating. So we will face the list that will be asked not to eliminate the embargo, but to authorize exemptions to the embargo for certain kind of arms.

MR TONER: Second question goes to Lucia Goracci from Rai TV.

QUESTION: Thank you. For months we have talked about some international military intervention against Daesh in Libya. And now it does not seem imminent anymore. And today we read an open letter written by Prime Minister Sarraj, who says we don’t need foreign soldiers. I would like to ask both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gentiloni what are their comments.

SECRETARY KERRY: What we recommend?

QUESTION: Yeah. Comments, comments about the –

SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, to comment about that. Go ahead.

FOREIGN MINISTER GENTILONI: Well, I don’t think we have to comment, but we have to take note of the position of the Libyan Government and we are to be ready to cooperate. I think that the Libyan Government said not only today but in several occasions that they will not ask in this moment for, as we say, boots on the ground or such kind of intervention but they will ask for support in several security dimensions, and I think that we will respond to these requests. And I think they are legitimate in having these requests because they are stressing the Libyan ownership of the stabilization process.

SECRETARY KERRY: So let me confirm that, first of all, we made it clear today and we’ve made it clear from our last meetings in January and then in December we support a Government of National Accord in Libya and we are supporting this government, and we are working with them to help them to be able to respond to the terrorist threat that is posed by ISIL, by Daesh. And we’re also working with them to try to de-escalate the level of conflict in the country. So there’s a lot of political component of this also. But the United States stands ready and the international community stands ready to provide humanitarian, economic, and security support to the new Libyan Government on their request. And right now, the government is requesting assistance in certain ways, but as Paolo said, we’re not talking about troops and boots and that kind of intervention.

We continue right now to assess the ISIL activity that’s taking place, and we’re working with our partners to determine the best way forward to help Libya to be able to deal with that threat and – but also let me make clear, President Obama has already acted and will act whenever he deems it necessary to defend United States national security interests. And since Daesh plots against us and others, those interests are real. But there’s been no request otherwise at this point in time for some other kind of intervention. We’re simply in a mode of trying to help and assist and develop a Libyan capacity to be able to respond to the challenge of security within Libya.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I don’t think we have any more time. So thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all.

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

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Source:: Remarks at the Libya Ministerial

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Ministerial Meeting for Libya Joint Communique

We welcome the presence of Prime Minister al-Sarraj and commend his leadership in guiding Libya’s institutions through seating the government in Tripoli, a turning point in the Libyan political process.

We express our strong support for the Libyan people in maintaining the unity of Libya. We reaffirm our support for the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) of Skhirat, Morocco signed on December 17, 2015, and for the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the sole legitimate government of Libya, as stated in the Rome Communique of December 13, 2015, and endorsed in UN Security Council Resolution 2259. We urge all parties to work constructively towards the completion of the transitional institutional framework, particularly by enabling the House of Representatives to fully carry out its role as outlined in the LPA.

We renew our firm support to Libya’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity. We share the Libyan people’s aspiration to transform Libya into a secure and democratic state, achieve unity and reconciliation, and restore the rule of law and state authority. We express our solidarity with the Libyan people in the face of the humanitarian and economic hardship that the political crisis has created. We reiterate our determination to assist Libyan institutions as they work to reestablish prosperity and urgently deliver basic services. All segments of society from all Libya’s regions must find their rightful place in the political process and contribute to charting the path towards stability. We encourage Libya’s new authorities to strengthen their outreach inside Libya and seek effective mechanisms for a dialogue to support reconciliation. We are committed to supporting all efforts of the GNA in order to enhance political outreach throughout the country. The GNA should provide swift humanitarian assistance to the whole country, especially in Benghazi.

We commend the efforts of the neighboring countries, the regional countries, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the European Union, and the United Nations to contribute to achieving these goals. We reiterate our full political backing for the efforts of Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Martin Kobler and commend his recent outreach to various Libyan communities.

Security is key for the future of Libya. The GNA faces critical security challenges, but it does not face them alone. We salute the Presidency Council’s creation of the Presidential Guard which will be composed of professional personnel according to Article III of the Presidential Council Decree No 2 to protect national institutions, members of the Presidential Council, and members of the government. We recognize the necessity of enhanced coordination efforts between legitimate Libyan military and security forces and urge them to work quickly to implement a unified command in accordance with the LPA, to coordinate the fight against Da’esh and UN-designated terrorist groups in Libyan territory. Ensuring security and defending the country from terrorism must be the task of unified and strengthened national security forces. Libyans must fight against terrorism with unity.

We look forward to partnering with the GNA and neighboring countries to tackle the threat posed throughout the Mediterranean and on its land borders by criminal organizations engaged in all forms of smuggling and trafficking, including in human beings. We appreciate the cooperation between Libyan Authorities, neighboring countries, and the European Union aimed at dismantling the business model used by the criminal networks, including through building the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard. We are ready to respond to the Libyan government’s requests for training and equipping the Presidential Guard and vetted forces from throughout Libya.

The Government of National Accord has voiced its intention to submit appropriate arms embargo exemption requests to the UN Libya Sanctions Committee to procure necessary lethal arms and materiel to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat Da’esh throughout the country. We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo.

We reiterate our commitment to ceasing support to and official contact with parallel institutions. The GNA is the sole legitimate recipient of international security assistance and is charged with preserving and protecting Libya’s resources for the benefit of all its people. While deploring recent oil and arms transactions made outside the scope of the GNA, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding the arms embargo and measures concerning illicit oil exports, established pursuant to UN Security Council 2278 and other relevant resolutions.

Libya’s national economic institutions, including the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), National Oil Corporation (NOC), and Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), must function under the sole stewardship of the GNA.

The international community is willing to reopen diplomatic missions in Tripoli as soon as possible. The GNA shall take all necessary measures in order to provide the security conditions that will allow the return of the diplomatic missions.

Algeria, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the African Union.

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

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Source:: Ministerial Meeting for Libya Joint Communique

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Governor of Nairobi, Environment Cabinet Secretary and UNEP Executive Director to Brief Journalists Ahead of the UN Environment Assembly

Nairobi, regarded by many as the environment capital of the world, will next week (23-27 May) host over 100 Ministers and thousands of participants from over 155 countries for the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2).

Decisions taken at UNEA, the world’s de facto Parliament of Environment, can shape humanity’s development trajectory and address some of the most critical issues of our time, from air pollution that kills millions of people every year to the illegal trade in wildlife, which is pushing species to the brink of extinction.

When: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Time: 10:00 -11:00 a.m.

Who:
· Dr. Evans Kidero, Governor – Nairobi
· Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary Environment and Regional Development Authorities – Kenya
· Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-Generaland Executive Director UNEP

Location: City Hall, Governors’ Lounge

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Source:: Governor of Nairobi, Environment Cabinet Secretary and UNEP Executive Director to Brief Journalists Ahead of the UN Environment Assembly

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