South Sudan: Deminer killed in incident at Melut demolition site

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) South Sudan has confirmed that a deminer working for a contracting partner suffered serious injuries while working at a demolition site and later died in hospital.

A second deminer received minor injuries in the incident which took place at Melut in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan on 7 March 2018.

UNMAS South Sudan Programme Manager, Tim Lardner, said the mine action community in South Sudan was deeply shocked by the loss of their long-time colleague.

“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to the family of the deceased who had devoted much of her life to removing explosive hazards in South Sudan and was committed to building a safer country for future generations,” said Tim Lardner. “UNMAS is working with its partners, including the South Sudan National Mine Action Authority, to fully investigate the cause of the incident and to support the friends and relatives of our departed colleague.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN in South Sudan, David Shearer, also expressed his sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of the deminer.

“My sincere condolences go to all of those who will be deeply affected by this tragic loss – the family and friends – but also the entire mine action community who work so hard in challenging and dangerous conditions to make the environment safer for the people of South Sudan,” said David Shearer.

Large areas of South Sudan are littered with explosive hazards after decades of conflict in the East African nation. Nearly 90 million m2 are thought to be contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Since its inception in South Sudan in 2004, UNMAS has surveyed vast tracts of land, cleared 37,839 landmines and 939,552 UXO to make 998 water points, 180 schools and 152 clinics safe for use by local communities.

“At this sad time, we remember our departed colleague and the lasting contribution she has made to the development of her country. We also pay homage to the brave and highly skilled women and men in the 49 demining teams currently operating across South Sudan,” said Tim Lardner.

He said that UNMAS, which is part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), will continue to work tirelessly to remove the threat of explosive hazards, to protect civilians, and support the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

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Joint Communique on High level meeting between African Union Commission Chairperson and U.S. Secretary of State

African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat today hosted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Both sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Their conversation today builds upon their previous meeting in November on the margins of the annual U.S.-AU High Level Dialogue in Washington D.C. The United States was the first country to establish a mission uniquely dedicated to the AU in 2006.

During their meeting, Chairperson Faki and Secretary Tillerson reinforced their commitment to common priorities. The AU has made significant progress on its institutional reform process and on regional integration, including the planned signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market. The United States applauds the work of the AU’s Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), which has successfully tracked and responded to disease outbreaks on the continent.

The AU has named 2018 as the year of “Winning the Fight against Corruption,” and the United States supports the AU’s fight against all forms of corruption to improve the conditions for free and fair trade and enable the environment for business and good governance.

Meeting against the backdrop of International Women’s Day, the AU and the United States wish to join their efforts to those who decry gender-based corruption, inequality of opportunity, harassment, and gender-based violence.

Economic engagement between the United States and the AU is extensive and builds on existing U.S. programs such as Trade Africa, Power Africa, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and Feed the Future. Opportunities for greater collaboration include joint trade facilitation workshops, and supporting greater agricultural trade between the United States and Africa, including by harmonizing agricultural standards and building on ongoing food safety standards efforts through the AU-led Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa.

The AU’s ongoing efforts to enhance its legal framework through the early entry into force of its Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection will establish a sound basis for collaboration on efforts to develop cybersecurity capacities to protect Africa’s citizens.

Peace and security remain a mutual priority. The February launch of a U.S.-supported unarmed, unmanned aerial surveillance platform to support the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) underscores commitment to the fight against terrorism in Somalia. The United States recognizes the perseverance and sacrifice of African Union soldiers participating in AMISOM and acknowledges the need to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM to enable it to achieve its mandate.

The Secretary and Chairperson agreed that the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) should continue to press the parties in South Sudan for a negotiated solution, to protect the lives and welfare of innocent South Sudanese. They reiterated their commitment to punitive measures, as necessary, firmly grounded in IGAD and AU Peace and Security Council decisions, on those who hinder the peace process to demonstrate the united resolve of international partners and the African continent to effect peace in South Sudan.

The United States and the AU believe it is imperative that all parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – including the Government of the DRC and the political opposition – work towards free, fair, and transparent elections in December 2018.

In the wake of recent attacks in Ouagadougou, Chairperson Faki and Secretary Tillerson also exchanged views on the situation in the Sahel. They applauded the G5 countries for their efforts; the AU welcomed additional U.S. support to G5 countries.

The U.S. underscored strongly its concerns with DPRK development of weapons of mass destruction. The AU and United States reiterated commitment to non-proliferation and called for strict adherence to U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Chairperson Faki and Secretary Tillerson committed to enhance the United States’ and AU’s strategic relationship at the sixth High Level Dialogue this year in Addis Ababa. U.S.-AU Technical Working Groups will lay the groundwork for that exchange.

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

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Source:: Joint Communique on High level meeting between African Union Commission Chairperson and U.S. Secretary of State

      

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Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo

Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo:

Thank you Mr President.

Let me begin by welcoming the presence today of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Okitundu, and thank you also to SRSG Zerrougui for updating us on the intensifying instability, and the dire humanitarian consequences, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Kingdom is deeply concerned by the proliferation of violence in the DRC, particularly in North and South Kivu, Tanganyika, Ituri and the Kasai and at significant increases in human rights abuses, with 744 violations in January, 60% of which were perpetrated by state agents.

As is too often the case, and as the civilian population of the DRC know all too well, the result of this instability has been devastating. 4.5 million Congolese have now fled their homes and communities; there are more internally displaced people in the DRC than anywhere else in Africa. 40,000 people have fled from Ituri to Uganda in this year alone, bringing the refugee population up to 670,000. This has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis – over 13.1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. This number has doubled since 2017.

Mr President,

There is clearly a link between the ongoing political uncertainty and the increasing insecurity. The Congolese people cannot express their legitimate concerns with the political situation without risking their lives. On 21 January and 25 February, security forces once again violently repressed demonstrations leaving at least 9 people dead, dozens wounded and hundreds arrested. This must stop.

The holding of credible and constitutional elections by 23 December this year leading to a democratic and peaceful transition of power is essential to ending the political crisis. Without this, there is a significant risk of further violence destabilising not just the DRC, but the wider region also.

We welcome the progress made towards elections so far, including the completion of voter registration, the passing of electoral laws and the announcement of an electoral budget. However, this is no time for complacency. There is much more to do.

It is essential that the election calendar is honoured and that key dates set out in the electoral timetable are met, including the completion of the Voter Register List by 5 April, the Audit for the electoral list by 25 May, convocation of the electoral process in June and registration of Presidential candidates in July.

But, Mr President, holding credible elections is about more than complying with timelines, it is also about creating the conditions than enable free and fair elections to take place. In order to do this, we call on the Government to implement the 31 December Agreement in full, including full implementation of the confidence-building measures set out in this agreement.

The Government must also respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of the DRC, opening political space and allowing peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression. The UK is extremely concerned at the high numbers of violations of political rights and fundamental freedoms in January. And we were appalled by the disproportionate use of force against churchgoers and peaceful protesters on 31 December 2017, 21 January 2018, and 25 February 2018 and the subsequent loss of life.

We recognise that the onus is not only on the Government to deliver credible elections and in this context we call on the opposition to engage constructively in the process on the basis of the 31 December Agreement, which will demonstrate their credibility and potential to govern.

Mr President,

MONUSCO has a crucial role to play in this crucial year in the DRC in protecting civilians and supporting the implementation of the 31 December Agreement.

We welcome the efforts to improve MONUSCO’s ability to carry out these tasks more efficiently and more effectively. In particular we welcome efforts to enhance the flexibility and mobility of MONUSCO’s forces and to improve their performance. It is important that these reforms are implemented swiftly.

Mr President,

In conclusion, let me be clear: the violence and resulting dire humanitarian situation in the DRC are the result of continual disappointment of the people in the political process and the political leaders responsible for this process. The only way to avert further violence is for free and fair elections to take place in December and for the 31 December Agreement to be fully implemented. Further excuses and delays will only lead to more violence and despair. The Security Council cannot allow this to happen. The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo cannot afford to wait any longer.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo

      

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Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo

Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo:

Thank you Mr President.

Let me begin by welcoming the presence today of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Okitundu, and thank you also to SRSG Zerrougui for updating us on the intensifying instability, and the dire humanitarian consequences, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Kingdom is deeply concerned by the proliferation of violence in the DRC, particularly in North and South Kivu, Tanganyika, Ituri and the Kasai and at significant increases in human rights abuses, with 744 violations in January, 60% of which were perpetrated by state agents.

As is too often the case, and as the civilian population of the DRC know all too well, the result of this instability has been devastating. 4.5 million Congolese have now fled their homes and communities; there are more internally displaced people in the DRC than anywhere else in Africa. 40,000 people have fled from Ituri to Uganda in this year alone, bringing the refugee population up to 670,000. This has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis – over 13.1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. This number has doubled since 2017.

Mr President,

There is clearly a link between the ongoing political uncertainty and the increasing insecurity. The Congolese people cannot express their legitimate concerns with the political situation without risking their lives. On 21 January and 25 February, security forces once again violently repressed demonstrations leaving at least 9 people dead, dozens wounded and hundreds arrested. This must stop.

The holding of credible and constitutional elections by 23 December this year leading to a democratic and peaceful transition of power is essential to ending the political crisis. Without this, there is a significant risk of further violence destabilising not just the DRC, but the wider region also.

We welcome the progress made towards elections so far, including the completion of voter registration, the passing of electoral laws and the announcement of an electoral budget. However, this is no time for complacency. There is much more to do.

It is essential that the election calendar is honoured and that key dates set out in the electoral timetable are met, including the completion of the Voter Register List by 5 April, the Audit for the electoral list by 25 May, convocation of the electoral process in June and registration of Presidential candidates in July.

But, Mr President, holding credible elections is about more than complying with timelines, it is also about creating the conditions than enable free and fair elections to take place. In order to do this, we call on the Government to implement the 31 December Agreement in full, including full implementation of the confidence-building measures set out in this agreement.

The Government must also respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of the DRC, opening political space and allowing peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression. The UK is extremely concerned at the high numbers of violations of political rights and fundamental freedoms in January. And we were appalled by the disproportionate use of force against churchgoers and peaceful protesters on 31 December 2017, 21 January 2018, and 25 February 2018 and the subsequent loss of life.

We recognise that the onus is not only on the Government to deliver credible elections and in this context we call on the opposition to engage constructively in the process on the basis of the 31 December Agreement, which will demonstrate their credibility and potential to govern.

Mr President,

MONUSCO has a crucial role to play in this crucial year in the DRC in protecting civilians and supporting the implementation of the 31 December Agreement.

We welcome the efforts to improve MONUSCO’s ability to carry out these tasks more efficiently and more effectively. In particular we welcome efforts to enhance the flexibility and mobility of MONUSCO’s forces and to improve their performance. It is important that these reforms are implemented swiftly.

Mr President,

In conclusion, let me be clear: the violence and resulting dire humanitarian situation in the DRC are the result of continual disappointment of the people in the political process and the political leaders responsible for this process. The only way to avert further violence is for free and fair elections to take place in December and for the 31 December Agreement to be fully implemented. Further excuses and delays will only lead to more violence and despair. The Security Council cannot allow this to happen. The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo cannot afford to wait any longer.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo

      

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