Nov 052014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 465th meeting held on 3 November 2014, adopted the following decision on the situation in Burkina Faso:

Council,

1. Takes note of the statement made by the Chairperson of the Commission and the briefing provided by the Commissioner for Peace and Security on the situation in Burkina Faso. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representative of Burkina Faso, as well as by those of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations;

2. Recalls the relevant provisions of the AU Constitutive Act, as well as those of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Council also recalls its previous press statements and communiqués on the issue of unconstitutional changes of Government and popular uprisings, including Press Statement PSC/PR/BR.(CDXXXII) adopted at its 432nd meeting held on 29 April 2014, in which it reiterated its rejection of unconstitutional changes of Government, as well as the recognition of the right of peoples to rise up peacefully against oppressive political systems;

3. Expresses its solidarity with the people of Burkina Faso, and acknowledges their profound aspiration, to uphold their Constitution and to deepen democracy in the country;

4. Strongly condemns the acts of violence that took place in Burkina Faso, which led to the loss of human lives and destruction of property, and urges that the sponsors and authors of those acts of violence be brought to justice. Council presents its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to the injured. Council deeply deplores the destruction of private and public property and calls for the return to calm and an end to all acts of violence and destruction of property;

5. Takes note of the resignation of Mr. Blaise Compaoré from his post of President of Faso, which constitutes an important step in the search for a consensual and lasting solution to the crisis in that country;

6. Deplores the declaration by the military through which it suspended the Constitution and assumed power, following the resignation of the President of Faso, as constituting a coup d’État, which Council strongly condemns;

7. Endorses the press releases issued by the Chairperson of the Commission on 30 October 2014 and on 1 November 2014. Council commends the Chairperson of the Commission for her commitment and efforts towards the early settlement of the crisis in Burkina Faso and the establishment of a civilian-led and consensual transition. Council also welcomes the dispatch of an AU/ECOWAS/United Nations Joint Mission to interact with the Burkinabe stakeholders and facilitate a consensual way out of the crisis;

8. Welcomes the statements made by the current Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, on the situation in Burkina Faso, on 30 October and 2 November 2014;

9. Underlines the need and the urgency for a rapid solution to the current crisis based on the respect of the Constitution and the aspiration of the people of Burkina Faso to the deepening of democracy in their country, as well as on consensus among all concerned Burkinabe stakeholders, within the framework of the relevant AU instruments. In this regard, Council:

(i) underlines the continued validity of the Constitution of Burkina Faso;

(ii) reaffirms the imperative of a civilian-led and consensual transition in Burkina Faso, it being understood that a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Burkina Faso, as well as to the relevant AU instruments;

(iii) demands that the Burkinabe military steps aside and hands over power to a civilian authority, in accordance with the Constitution, within a maximum period of two weeks from the date of the adoption of the present communiqué, failure of which, measures including those indicated in paragraph 14 below shall be instituted. Council underlines that there shall be no exception to this decision;

(iv) underlines that the civilian authority who will take over the interim leadership of the country will enhance a consultative process involving all Burkinabe political actors and other stakeholders to agree on the modalities, duration, leadership and content of a civilian-led and consensual transition which will lead to the holding, as quickly as possible, of free, fair and transparent elections; and

(v) reaffirms the duty and the obligation of the defense and security forces to place themselves at the disposal of the civilian authorities, who should conduct the transition, and to act in a republican spirit, and urges them to refrain from any act or statement that would further complicate the situation in Burkina Faso and negatively affect regional security and stability;

10. Emphasizes, once again, the AU’s conviction that only a civilian-led and consensual transition would meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of Burkina Faso to uphold the Constitution and deepen democracy, and would allow the mobilization of the international support necessary for a successful end to the crisis. In this context, Council reiterates the AU’s readiness, working in close collaboration with ECOWAS and the United Nations, to accompany the Burkinabe people, as well as the political and social stakeholders, and to help mobilize all the international support they need;

11. Welcomes the appointment by the Chairperson of the Commission of Mr. Edem Kodjo, former Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo, member of the AU Panel of the Wise, as the AU Special Envoy for Burkina Faso;

12. Notes with satisfaction the return to Ouagadougou, on 3 November 2014, of the AU/ECOWAS/United Nations Joint Mission to continue the consultations initiated with the Burkinabe stakeholders in the search for an early solution on the basis of the principles set out in paragraph 9 above. In this regard, Council calls on all parties in Burkina Faso to extend full cooperation to the Joint Mission;

13. Urgently appeals to all the AU international partners to extend full support to the ongoing efforts for the search of a solution on the basis of the principles set out in paragraph 9 above. In this regard, Council welcomes the statements issued by AU bilateral and multilateral partners marking their support to the ongoing African-led efforts to find a solution to the crisis;

14. Requests the Commission to report to it, no later than 18 November 2014, on the evolution of the efforts to promote a civilian-led and consensual transition, as spelt out in paragraph 9 above, to allow Council, if the situation so demands, to take all appropriate measures, including the suspension of Burkina Faso from participating in AU’s activities and the imposition of targeted sanctions against all those who would be obstructing the efforts referred to above, in accordance with the relevant AU instruments;

15. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Nov 052014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A new British Ebola treatment facility opens to patients today in Kerry Town, near the Sierra Leone capital Freetown.

The Kerry Town complex includes an 80 bed treatment centre to be managed by Save the Children and a 12 bed centre staffed by British Army medics specifically for health care workers and international staff responding to the Ebola crisis. The 12 bed facility is expected to expand to 20 beds in the New Year.

The construction of the treatment facility was funded by the Department for International Development and designed and overseen by British Army Royal Engineers. It is the first of six centres to be built by Britain in a bid to contain, control and defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The scale of the Ebola crisis has left Sierra Leone with a severe shortage of beds to treat Ebola patients. The WHO estimates that there are currently just 326 treatment beds in Sierra Leone.

The site also hosts an Ebola testing laboratory run by British scientists to accurately diagnose patients. The lab began operating last week and has doubled the country’s lab capacity.

Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, said:

“Sierra Leone does not have enough hospital beds to cope with the scale of the Ebola crisis. Patients are being turned away from hospitals, reducing their chance of survival and allowing the disease to spread.

“That is why British Army Engineers together with Sierra Leonean construction workers have been working round the clock for the last eight weeks to get Kerry Town built. This treatment facility, the first of six British-built centres, will give patients the care they need to fight Ebola, limiting the spread of this terrible disease.

“I pay tribute to Save the Children and to the heroic British medics, Sierra Leonean health workers and international volunteers whose work in this facility has the potential to save countless lives.”

Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois said:

“The completion of the Kerry Town treatment facility is a testament to the hard work and ability of the Armed Forces. Without the effort of our troops, the steps taken so quickly to assist in tackling this unprecedented epidemic would not have been possible.

“We should all be immensely proud of what the Armed Forces have achieved in such a short space of time. The UK has been at the forefront of responding to the epidemic and our medics will now continue the great work already carried out.”

Save the Children is recruiting over 200 clinical staff as well as many more support staff to help run the Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre.

Justin Forsyth, CEO Save the Children, who has recently returned from Sierra Leone, said:

“The Kerry Town treatment centre is critical to the fight against Ebola.

“On my recent trip I was moved by the impact on children. I met one girl who lost her entire family and then all her possessions when her house was burnt down, leaving her with nothing. She said I am completely alone. We must stand with children like Emma in their hour of need.

“I was inspired by Save the Children staff, both Sierra Leonean and international, on the front line, fighting the spread of Ebola. They are heroes, putting their lives on the line every day.

“I’m proud of Save the Children’s partnership with UK Aid, working together with DFID and the Army to build and run Kerry Town. But we know we need to redouble our efforts if we are to get ahead of this crisis. We are in a life and death race against time.”

The 12 bed facility, which will be enlarged to 20 beds after 60 days, will be staffed by medics from the British Army’s 22 Field Hospital Army for the first four months of operation.

The total capacity of the 80 bed facility will be phased in over the coming weeks, giving staff time to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff and reduce the risk of infection.

Construction has begun on five other treatment facilities, at Port Loko, Makeni, Moyamba, and two more centres in Freetown. Once built these facilities will take the number of UK-supported beds to over 700, providing direct medical care to up to 8,800 patients over six months.

Britain’s wider £230 million Ebola response package includes funding for burial teams to increase capacity and work with communities on new burial practices, the roll out of up to 200 new community care centres and help to shore up the country’s stretched public health services to help contain the disease. This includes vital supplies such as chlorine and protective clothing for thousands of health workers.

Nov 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will share with the media its concluding observations of its 59th session on Friday 7 November at 13:30 in Press Room 1, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Among the issues discussed during the session:

Venezuela: Widespread and rising violence against women and girls; high rates of maternal mortality; high number of teenage pregnancies; restrictive abortion laws forcing women to resort to unsafe abortions; shortages of antiretroviral treatment for women living with HIV/Aids; persistence of deep-rooted stereotypes, especially media portrayal of women as sex objects; women’s representation in the National Assembly below the regional and world average.

Poland: Gender discrimination in education, health care, private and family life;

limited effect of anti-trafficking measures; persistent gender wage gap; impact of unsafe abortions on women’s health; restrictive legal and policy frameworks in place restricting women’s access to safe abortion services; frequent refusal by doctors to perform abortions based on the “conscience clause”.

China, China Hong Kong, China Macau: Threats of reprisals against human rights defenders attending the Committee’s session; reports of extra-legal places of deprivation of liberty (black jails); measures to combat infanticide, sex-selective abortion, forced abortions and sterilisations; participation in political life of ethnic minority women (Tibetan and Uighur women); women’s political participation in politics in Hong Kong; abuse of foreign women domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Ghana: Obstacles to women’s access to justice; barriers to women’s effective political participation; persistence of violence against women and harmful practices such as widowhood rites, female genital mutilation (FGM); ritual slavery, polygamy and child marriage; high rates of teenage pregnancies and maternal mortality; gender pay gap; harmonisation of marriage laws; women’s land and property rights.

Belgium: Lack of effective implementation of law banning FGM; lack of information on impact of ban on wearing of headscarves; risk of deportation faced by undocumented migrant women awaiting residence permits based on family reunification or domestic violence.

Brunei Darussalam: Adoption of Syariah Penal Code (2013), imposing the death penalty, stoning and corporal punishment for a significant number of offences; polygamy and FGM; absence of specific legislation on violence against women; criminalisation of abortion and prostitution; divergent and very low legal minimum ages of marriage for girls; discriminatory laws on nationality, marriage, inheritance and family relations.

Guinea: Discriminatory provisions in the Civil Code and the Criminal Code; follow-up on the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry into events of 28 September 2009; harmful practices including FGM, succession rites, early marriages; high level of sexual violence; high maternal mortality rate; human trafficking; child labour; female illiteracy and school dropout rates; the impact of Ebola on women’s rights.

Solomon Islands: Extremely high level of violence against women; justice and reparations for women victims of human rights violations during the ethnic tensions from 1998 to 2003; women’s role in peacebuilding; prevailing harmful practices such as bride prices and early marriages; trafficking in women and girls for purposes of sexual and labour exploitation; lack of maternal health care facilities; near absence of women in public and political life – currently one woman in 50-member parliament.

Nov 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Special Rapporteur Urmila Bhoola, will visit Niger from 11 to 21 November 2014 to assess the situation in the country regarding contemporary forms of slavery and slavery-like practices.

“Niger criminalized slavery in 2003 and I look forward to discussing with the Government on the impact of the legislation in practice,” said Ms. Bhoola ahead of the first official visit to Niger of an independent expert monitoring contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences.

“This visit will provide an opportunity for a fruitful exchange on the initiatives undertaken by the Government to combat slavery and slavery-like practices and on the challenges they face, as well as to explore solutions to address these,” the human rights expert noted.

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on issues such as hereditary and caste-based forms of slavery, forced labour, debt bondage, serfdom, children working in slavery or slavery-like conditions, domestic servitude, sexual slavery and forced marriage around the world.

During this eleven-day mission, Ms. Bhoola will meet representatives of the State and local authorities, as well as civil society organizations, diplomatic community and the UN.

At the end of her visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on Friday, 21 November, at 12:00 noon, in the meeting room of the UN House (428 Avenue du Fleuve, Niamey) to share her preliminary observations.

Following the visit, the expert will present a report containing her conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

Nov 052014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Modification: Adjusted translation

In response to recent developments in Burkina Faso, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today announced that Canada will immediately suspend development assistance funding provided directly to the Government of Burkina Faso and its institutions.

“Given the current climate, it is not possible to provide development assistance dollars directly to the Government of Burkina Faso and ensure they are spent effectively and as intended,” said Minister Paradis. “We stand with the people of Burkina Faso and urge those responsible to put the needs of the Burkina Faso people first. To this end, we are conducting an immediate assessment and review of all Canada’s development assistance programs currently operating in the country.”

“Canada will suspend all direct funding to the Government of Burkina Faso until we are satisfied that the situation has been resolved, and that a legitimate and accountable civil authority has been put in place. We therefore encourage all parties to quickly set out a timetable for a rapid return to democratically-elected authorities, in line with the Constitution of Burkina Faso,” added Minister Paradis.

In 2014 Burkina Faso was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

The strategic direction of Canada’s program in Burkina Faso is to help the country secure a future for children and youth, and stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Quick Facts

• There is a long tradition of strong partnerships between Canadian and Burkina Faso civil society organizations. With Canada’ support more than 20 Canadian organizations are delivering development projects in areas as diverse as agriculture, entrepreneurship, women’s rights, technical professional training and health.

• Canada’s support to the microfinance sector in Burkina Faso has contributed to a strengthened business environment, while also promoting the creation of financial centres for entrepreneurs, including those operating in the agriculture sector.

• Since 2006, Canada has been supporting Burkina Faso’s education sector. As a result of the Canada’s contribution, the number of classrooms at the primary level have increased by 36%, from 38,269 classrooms in 2009 to 52,008 in 2014.The enrolment rate increased by 9% overall, with a significant gain for girls (increasing from 71.2% in 2009 to 84.2% in 2014), and the primary school completion rate rose from 45.9% in 2009 to 59.5% in 2013. Management of the education system, access to education, especially among girls, and the quality of instruction are all improving.

Nov 052014
 

BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On Wednesday, 26th November 2014, the EU- Africa Chamber of Commerce (EUACC) (http://www.eu-africa-cc.org) will host a gala ceremony to showcase the winning projects of the first edition of the “CSR in Africa Awards”. (http://www.csr-in-africa.eu). The EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the EU Commission and the sponsor of Afreximbank, will reward some best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The 8 shortlisted companies running for the final prizes, after more than forty manifestations of interests received, are: Cocopack (http://www.cocopack.ci), Deutsche DHL (https://www.dpdhl.com), Ecofund (http://www.ecofund.org), Frigoken (http://frigoken.com), Kakuzi (http://www.kakuzi.co.ke), Mars (http://www.mars.com), Newmont Ghana (http://www.newmont.com/africa), Woolworths (http://www.woolworths.co.za).

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/euacc.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1517 (Mr. Serguei Ouattara, President and Executive Manager of the EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1518

The EUACC “CSR in Africa Awards” aims to: (1) give a higher visibility to CSR best practices in Sub-Saharan Africa, (2) raise awareness and showcase CSR as a tool of performance and competitiveness, (3) encourage shared-value approaches and engage the private sector from Africa and Europe. Three main categories have been defined: The Sustainable Economy Award – The Environment Award and The Social Impact Award. Including two distinguished categories: The “EUACC – Promising Project” Award and The “EUACC – Be Inspired” Award.

Mr. Serguei Ouattara, President and Executive Manager of the EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce states that: “This gala ceremony will also mark the official launch of the 2nd edition of the CSR in Africa Awards and help us to get ready for the upcoming European Year for Development 2015”.

The European Year for Development 2015 (EYD2015) is indeed planned to gather all existing development experiences, best practices and showcase them at European level. The coming year is crucial for the future of development: the deadline for the MDGs will be reached, and the final efforts to reach the goals and targets set out will be assessed. Hence, the European Year for Development 2015, motto is: “Our world, our dignity, our future”.

Moreover, a recent European Commission Communication advocated for: “A stronger role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries” introducing private sector engagement as a new dimension into EU development cooperation. The Commission Communication “Action 10: Promote international Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines and principles through policy dialogue and development cooperation with promotion of sustainable consumption and production” encourages the responsible engagement of European companies in developing countries, including their adherence to social, environmental and fiscal standards, as well as their respect of human rights, in the framework of implementing the EU Strategy on CSR.

“The EYD2015 is therefore an excellent opportunity to spread the message on Corporate Social Responsibility and the EUACC “CSR in Africa Awards” is a key tool to engage the private sector both from Africa and from Europe,” adds Serguei Ouattara.

The EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce has opened its office in Brussels in 2012. The EUACC truly believes that CSR is a key way to help ensuring inclusiveness and sustainability in the development of SSA. The EUACC sees its CSR Awards as an added value, to its mission which is: to promote the development of the African private sector, and to encourage win-win partnerships between the European private sector and the African private sector.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce (EUACC).

Media contact

Sonia Toro

Director Communication and CSR

E-mail: sonia.toro@eu-africa-cc.org

Tel.: +32 471 10 84 83

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EUAfricaMonitor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/EU-Africa-Chamber-of-Commerce/187177630165

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Nov 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Committee against Torture is due to review Burundi on 11 and 12 November in sessions that will be webcast live.

Burundi is one of the 156 States parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and is required to undergo regular examinations of its record before the Committee of 10 independent experts. The Committee will engage in a dialogue with the Burundian government delegation and also hear from NGOs.

Public sessions: 10:00-12:00 on 11 November, 15:00-17:00 on 12 November

Venue: Palais Wilson, Geneva

Live webcast: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

Among the possible issues to be raised are: measures to address torture and extrajudicial killings by police and national intelligence service; fair trial guarantees, including access to a lawyer and medical care; arbitrary detention; the high number of cases of sexual abuse of women and minors, notably by police officers and soldiers; conditions of detention and prison overcrowding; and protection, justice and reparation for victims of torture.

Further information and Burundi’s report are available at: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=930&Lang=en. The Committee will publish its concluding observations here on Friday 28 November.

A news conference is scheduled for Friday 28 November at 14:00 at Palais des Nations in Geneva when the Committee will discuss its concluding observations on Burundi and the other countries being reviewed – Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, USA, Croatia, and Kazakhstan.

Nov 042014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Government is to provide €2 million to aid agencies responding to the deepening crisis in South Sudan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, have announced.

Widespread violence against civilians in South Sudan has forced almost two million people to flee their homes. Almost half a million of these have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, where President Michael D. Higgins, accompanied by Minister Sherlock, will visit refugee camps in Gambella today. Gambella provides shelter to many of the 180,000 South Sudanese who have fled to Ethiopia as a result of the conflict.

The funding, which will provide food, clean water, healthcare, shelter, education programmes for children and protection to vulnerable people, is being distributed as follows:

• €1 million to Médecins sans Frontières, GOAL, Plan Ireland and Concern to provide health care, clean water and sanitation and education for South Sudanee refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia.

• €1 million to Concern, Christian Aid and Trócaire for programmes in South Sudan to provide emergency nutrition, improve food security and assist people to develop livelihoods.

• This brings to over €8.5 million the funding provided by Ireland to the South Sudanese crisis in 2014.

Minister Charlie Flanagan said:

“With an estimated 3.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, I am gravely concerned at the impact that the violence is having on the civilian population. I am particularly alarmed by the high levels of sexual and gender based violence being perpetrated against women and girls and at the plight of refugees who have fled the country.

“Given the seriousness of the crisis and the urgent needs of innocent civilians, Ireland will provide a further €2 million to our NGO partners in South Sudan and Gambella, Ethiopia.”

Minister Sherlock, who is accompanying President Michael D. Higgins on his visit to refugee camps in Gambella today, said:

“The vast majority of South Sudanese refugees arriving in Ethiopia are women and children. Many are in very poor health having walked for weeks from a number of areas of South Sudan to reach shelter. This additional funding of €2million will ensure that effective aid is delivered in a concentrated manner to where it is most needed here.

This funding will assist Irish Aid’s key partners in their efforts to meet the urgent needs of extremely vulnerable refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia through the provision of food, clean water, healthcare, shelter, sanitation, hygiene and protection’.

Nov 042014
 

MORONI, Comoros, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Mr. Harry Trines, Mission Chief for Comoros, visited Moroni during October 20−November 4 to conduct discussions for the 2014 Article IV consultation. The mission met with President Dhoinine Ikililou and held discussions with Vice President and Minister of Finance Mohamed Ali Soilihi, Minister of Planning Alféine Soifiat Tadjiddine, Governor of the Central Bank Abdou Mohamed Chanfiou, Councilor to the President and Permanent Secretary of the Economic and Financial Reform Agency Chei Oubeidi, and other government officials, representatives of the private sector, unions, and the donor community.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Trines issued the following statement:

“While Comoros has made notable progress in recent years and macroeconomic policy making and economic performance have improved since the adoption of the new constitution in 2009, much remains to be done to consolidate and accelerate inclusive economic growth through continued focus on policies that emphasize macroeconomic stability and improvements in infrastructure, and that foster structural reforms that improve the competitiveness of the economy and strengthen the business environment.

“Real economic growth is estimated at 3.5 percent in 2013 and is expected to be 3-3.5 percent in 2014. Inflation was 3.5 percent at end-2013 but had eased to 0.7 percent by August 2014. Both exports and imports grew strongly in volume terms in 2013, the former from a very low base. While remittances also continued to increase, the current account deficit is estimated at above 10 percent in 2014 compared to 9.5 percent in 2013.

“Fiscal developments in 2013 were strongly affected by the spending of significant amounts of proceeds from the Economic Citizenship Program (ECP) that accrued in 2012. The overall balance (cash basis, net of debt relief) went from a surplus of 1.6 percent of GDP in 2012 to a deficit of 1.3 percent in 2013.

“Comoros faces many challenges. In the near term, the government must strive to find a better balance between the resources available and expenditures so that it can avoid the incurrence of arrears, particularly on wages and external debt, and make allocations to some important initiatives. Urgent action is also needed to improve the reliability of the energy supply, a key constraint to growth. For the medium term, the key challenges are to create fiscal space for infrastructure investment and social spending through greatly strengthened revenue mobilization, accelerate inclusive growth and employment generation, and reduce poverty, while also strengthening resilience against external shocks, including natural disasters.

“Implementation of the 2014 budget has been challenging, particularly after mid-year. Resources have been inadequate to meet the higher wage bill resulting from the increase in teacher salaries approved in March and previously unbudgeted expenditures, including on the administration of the elections. In the discussions, the mission urged the authorities to prioritize spending for the remainder of the year so that arrears on wages and salaries and external loans can be eliminated by year-end.

“The mission underscored that the main cause of the current difficulties, as well as the inability to undertake more public investment projects, lay in the low level of domestic revenues. Therefore, the most urgent task for the authorities is to strengthen domestic revenue mobilization. In this regard, the mission urged the authorities to focus their efforts on strengthening revenue administration, including through a freeze on new exemptions, better management of the large tax payers list, and improving general tax compliance. The mission also noted the importance of strengthening public financial management, particularly through the implementation of effective cash management and greater fiscal transparency. All transactions on behalf of the government, whether for revenue or spending, should be reflected in the budget. Better cash management should limit the incurrence of arrears, including on wages and salaries, while greater transparency should contribute to lessened distrust among stakeholders, including autonomous island governments.

“Regarding the 2015 budget, the mission emphasized the need to base spending plans on realistic expectations of resource availability. The results of increased efforts to strengthen revenue mobilization are bound to take time. With the scope for financing constrained, current spending, particularly on wages and salaries, the largest component of expenditure from domestic resources, needs to be carefully controlled in the near term.

“The mission noted that the authorities are in the process of developing a new strategy for sustainable development (SCADD) to replace the expiring poverty reduction strategy. The mission concurred with the main objectives of the strategy but pointed out that it needed to be based on realistic assumptions regarding available financing and should contain a strong component aimed at improving the attractiveness of the Comorian economy as an investment and tourist destination. The mission urged the authorities to add a strong private sector development component to the SCADD. Furthermore, already started reforms in the electricity sector with the help of the World Bank and the African Development Bank need to be pursued vigorously and deepened to alleviate the electricity shortages that are currently affecting the country and are a key impediment to economic growth.

“The mission noted that nonperforming loans in the banking system have increased and recovery is difficult. It encourages the Comorian authorities to implement structural reforms and correct weaknesses in the application of the law.

“Finally, the mission observed that Comoros’ economic data gathering was in urgent need of strengthening. The lack of high quality and timely economic data makes assessment of economic performance, as well as the formulation of economic projections, difficult. Despite the challenging budgetary environment, the mission urged the authorities to make adequate allocations to the new statistical agency to enable it to provide the data necessary for efficient policy making.

“The IMF continues to work closely with the authorities in providing policy advice and technical assistance and training in areas of its competence, including the development of an effective macroeconomic and budgetary framework and cash management. Additional technical assistance is also planned for tax policy, balance of payments and national accounts statistics, as well as banking supervision.

“The Executive Board of the IMF is expected to consider the staff report on the 2014 Article IV consultation in late January 2015. The mission wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality and constructive cooperation.”

Nov 042014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 464th meeting held in Addis Ababa, on 29 October 2014, adopted the following decision on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa:

Council,

1. Takes note of the briefings made by the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs on the Ebola situation in some countries in West Africa, the efforts of the affected countries and the support being provided by the AU, as well as by the Director of the United States of America Centre for Global Health based in Atlanta and the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy on Ebola. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, as well as by those of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Norway, the UN and the European Union (EU);

2. Recalls communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(CDL) on the outbreak of Ebola, adopted at its 450th meeting held on 19 August 2014, as well as decision Ext/EX.CL/Dec.1(XVI) on the same subject, adopted by the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council held in Addis Ababa on 8 September 2014;

3. Reiterates its deep concern over the continued spread of the epidemic and its growing negative impact on the socio-economic fabric of the affected countries, in particular, and on peace and security, in general. Council also reiterates AU’s full solidarity with, and support to, the countries affected by this epidemic;

4. Notes with deep appreciation the efforts being deployed by the Commission in responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including the deployment of the AU Support Mission for the fight against the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), as well as the recent visit by the Chairperson of the Commission to the countries most affected by the epidemic. Council welcomes the calls for support, particularly through the provision of medical personnel and equipment, launched by the Chairperson of the Commission, to all AU Member States, and commends those that have positively responded and urges the others to expedite their responses;

5. Commends the countries of the region, under the auspices of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the other AU Member States, as well as the rest of the international community, for the steps they have already taken in responding to the Ebola outbreak. In this regard, Council calls on all AU Member States and other members of the international community, which have not yet done so, to also join the fight against Ebola and extend the necessary support to ASEOWA;

6. Reiterates the call by the Chairperson of the Commission to stop stigmatizing and isolating the countries affected by Ebola, as well as to avoid creating problems for these countries beyond what the epidemic is already doing. In this regard, Council calls on all AU Member States to immediately lift all travel bans and restrictions and to respect the principle of free movement, as well as to resume flights to those countries, consistent with decision Ext/EX.CL/Dec.1(XVI), and scientific advice by the World Health Organization and recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO);

7. Further reiterates the need for particular attention to continue to be paid to the impact of the epidemic on the post-conflict reconstruction and socio-economic development efforts in the countries affected;

8. Emphasizes the need for long-term solutions in order to effectively contain the spread of the epidemic and prevent its recurrence. In this regard, Council urges Member States to further strengthen their healthcare delivery systems;

9. Notes that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is of an unprecedented scale and therefore, requires a united, coordinated and sustained approach in order to successfully contain and eradicate it;

10. Stresses the need for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Ebola under the aegis of the AU with a view to mobilizing additional support towards the fight against the epidemic and long-term mitigation of its effects. Council calls on the Commission to take the necessary steps to this end;

11. Council further stresses the urgent need to step up African efforts to fight against the epidemic; and, in this respect, requests the Chairperson of the Commission to appoint a Special Envoy for Ebola, who, in addition to providing political leadership of ASEOWA, will be responsible for political coordination with the affected countries and other actors on the ground, as well as for mobilization and follow-up of the required resources in the fight against the epidemic;

12. Reiterates the request of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Executive Council for the Commission to take all the necessary steps for the rapid establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP), pursuant to Assembly Decision AU/Dec.499(XXII) on the establishment of the Centre;

13. Decides to dedicate every month a meeting on the Ebola epidemic, on the basis of comprehensive reports to be submitted by the Commission, covering the evolution of the situation, the implementation of ASEOWA’s mandate, the status of contributions by AU Member States and the level of engagement of the larger international community;

14. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Nov 042014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, November 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In response to recent developments in Burkina Faso, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today announced that Canada will immediately suspend development assistance funding provided directly to the Government of Burkina Faso and its institutions.

“Given the current climate, it is not possible to provide development assistance dollars directly to the Government of Burkina Faso and ensure they are spent effectively and as intended,” said Minister Paradis. “We stand with the people of Burkina Faso and urge those responsible to put the needs of the Burkina Faso people first. To this end, we are conducting an immediate assessment and review of all Canada’s development assistance programs currently operating in the country.”

“Canada will suspend direct funding to the Government of Burkina Faso until we are satisfied that a legitimate and accountable civil authority has been re-established. We encourage all parties to quickly set out a timetable for a full return to democratically-elected authorities in line with the Constitution of Burkina Faso,” added Minister Paradis.

In 2014 Burkina Faso was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

The strategic direction of Canada’s program in Burkina Faso is to help the country secure a future for children and youth, and stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Quick Facts

• There is a long tradition of strong partnerships between Canadian and Burkina Faso civil society organizations. With Canada’ support more than 20 Canadian organizations are delivering development projects in areas as diverse as agriculture, entrepreneurship, women’s rights, technical professional training and health.

• Canada’s support to the microfinance sector in Burkina Faso has contributed to a strengthened business environment, while also promoting the creation of financial centres for entrepreneurs, including those operating in the agriculture sector.

• Since 2006, Canada has been supporting Burkina Faso’s education sector. As a result of the Canada’s contribution, the number of classrooms at the primary level have increased by 36%, from 38,269 classrooms in 2009 to 52,008 in 2014.The enrolment rate increased by 9% overall, with a significant gain for girls (increasing from 71.2% in 2009 to 84.2% in 2014), and the primary school completion rate rose from 45.9% in 2009 to 59.5% in 2013. Management of the education system, access to education, especially among girls, and the quality of instruction are all improving.