Nov 252014

OTTAWA, Canada, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada is shocked that Gambia has signed a piece of legislation that will make some acts of homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment. We strongly urge President Yahya Jammeh to uphold Gambia’s international obligations and protect the fundamental human rights of all Gambians, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“Equally troubling, a new anti-homosexuality law is reportedly being drafted by some members of Parliament in Uganda, who have promised to have Parliament pass it as a ‘Christmas gift’.

“These acts are a serious setback for human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms and should be widely condemned.

“Canada has repeatedly raised concerns with governments that impose such cruel restrictions. Any governments pursuing such legislation should know that our engagement on human rights issues will only become more persistent.

“Canada urges both the Government of Gambia and the Government of Uganda to abandon these serious breaches of their international commitments.”

Nov 252014

VATICAN, Holy See, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Yesterday, 24 November, Pope Francis received in audience Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Following this encounter the president met with Cardinal…

Nov 252014

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, expressed regret today that defenders in Burundi are deemed to be political opponents, when in reality they are activists working to promote and protect human rights and civil liberties.

“I was very struck by the incredible vitality and professionalism of civil society in Burundi despite the difficult environment in which they work. They face serious obstacles that can amount to violations of their rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as their legitimate right to promote and protect human rights,” said Mr. Forst.

General situation

Threats and defamation campaigns by certain media outlets weigh on human rights defenders, who also report a high number of cases of physical threats, anonymous phone calls, assaults, arbitrary arrests, and judicial harassment.

“The arrest and detention of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa and unfair disbarment of Isidore Rufykiri, the president of the Bar, constitute, in my view, an unacceptable escalation of the harassment of defenders by the State’s authorities,” Mr. Forst said.

Freedom of Expression

Burundi is fortunate to have a dynamic civil society and a bold and free press, and yet the public authorities’ attempt to restrict their freedom of expression by accusing them of being opposition actors when they report on events or testimonies questioning State institutions.

The Special Rapporteur shared his concerns with the Government regarding provisions of the law on the press that are contrary to international obligations. In particular, he noted the requirement that journalists reveal their sources, which would limit effective enjoyment of freedom of expression.

He highlighted the cases of the arrests and repeated threats made against certain journalists and radio stations dealing with politically sensitive topics, such as the allegations of arms distribution or the controversial methods of issuing identity cards.

“A free, independent, and occasionally impertinent press, able to expose abuses of power and corruption, is essential to preserve civil liberties and to promote transparency and foster broad participation in public life,” Mr Forst said. .

Freedom of assembly and demonstration

Freedom of assembly and demonstration is guaranteed by the Constitution of Burundi, but in practice only protests in favour of the Government were reportedly authorised, while all others were systematically prohibited.

“By adopting an abusive interpretation of the concept of public order, in effect, the authorities muzzle freedom of assembly and demonstration in public spaces,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Liberty of association

The Special Rapporteur also pointed out that the draft law on associations being considered by Parliament includes provisions which hamper the creation and development of associations and which would imperil the very principle of free association.

Approval or annual renewal of such approval poses a threat to the sustainability of certain associations. The appointment of the heads of associations by the Minister of the Interior and his power to suspend the activities of an association are contrary to international norms.

The Special Rapporteur will present his conclusions in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nov 252014

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Sierra Leone has been awarded a 6-month GBP 4.19 million contract by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to manage an Ebola Training Academy in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Currently managed by the UK Ministry of Defence, the academy provides a comprehensive 3-day training programme for frontline Ebola practitioners deploying to operate Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) throughout Sierra Leone.

The training programme, which can graduate over 3,000 health care workers a month, includes modules on the principles of an ETU, donning / removing of personal protective equipment, and cleaning in an ETU. It features a model ETU for practical training.

IOM will manage the academy in close collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Armed Forces Medical Unit. In six months, management of the facility will be handed over to Sierra Leonean counterparts from COMAH – the College of Medicine and Allied Health Science – as well as specialists from King’s College London.

“The academy’s aim is to ensure that health workers dealing with this extremely dangerous virus get the best possible training and remain safe,” said Sanusi Savage, head of Office for IOM’s Ebola response. “IOM is pleased to be working with DFID to help ensure the safety of these health workers and Sierra Leone’s people.”

IOM Sierra Leone has also been awarded a 6-month contract by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a health and humanitarian border management project at the country’s main Lungi International Airport.

The USD 264,000 project will cover training of airport immigration, police and health officials to better identify and respond to suspect Ebola cases, and to protect themselves and others from the spread of the disease through infection prevention and control (IPC) measures.

IOM activities will include the management of 1-day training sessions on health screening standard operating procedures (SOPs) for airport immigration, police and health officials; awareness-raising and technical guidance to airport authorities on SOP implementation; and the training and equipping of 100 airport officials to effectively identify Ebola cases, conduct proper IPC measures and operationalize the SOP.

Added Mr. Sanusi: “These projects can bend the curve of transmission; alleviate the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and help end the epidemic.”

Nov 252014

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Since the beginning of November, new and confirmed cases of Ebola have been declining in Liberia, with 10-20 cases reported daily. But Grand Bassa County remains a transmission hotspot. In the first half of November, Buchanan’s district recorded 17 new cases, including two health workers.

Many residents are still reluctant to report suspected cases and to hand over bodies to safe burial teams. Treatment facilities have also been hard to access by county health teams, with all cases transferred to treatment units in the national capital, Monrovia.

On Friday (21/11) IOM took delivery of Buchanan’s first Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) from the US Department of Defence. The facility will be run IOM international and local staff currently being trained by WHO and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It is equipped to receive and treat up to 50 patients and will likely begin receiving transfers and suspected cases in the first week of December.

IOM is also training social workers to educate communities about the importance of seeking early treatment at ETUs, according to IOM Liberia project coordinator Andrew Lind. “Demystifying the ETU and helping the community to accept it, as well as other measures to prevent further infections, is still very challenging,” he said.

The Buchanan ETU is the second opened by IOM in Liberia and is one of three facilities planned for Bomi, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount counties.

The first was opened a week ago in Tubmanburg in Bomi county and has already received seven patients, with four brought in by IOM ambulance. Two have since been sent home with a survivor kit, including clothes, food and non-food aid items. One died. One patient was referred to the county hospital for treatment. A team of 22 foreign medical workers and 138 national staff are running the unit.

The third ETU will open shortly in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount country, with the capacity to serve up to 50 patients.

“Working with the health system to bring in cases quicker and bring care closer is the final piece of Ebola control, in addition to social mobilization,” said Buchanan ETU Team Leader Brian Hoyers, a staffer at US NGO AmeriCares, seconded to IOM.

The three IOM-managed ETUs have all been built by the US Department of Defense, with the support of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Nov 252014

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At the close of the 46th general meeting of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) (, organised by Air Algérie in early November, Mrs Fatima Beyina-Moussa, Managing Director of ECAir (Equatorial Congo Airlines) (, was named President of AFRAA. Mrs Beyina-Moussa has headed the national airline of the Republic of the Congo since its creation in 2011.



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A graduate of HEC Montreal with an MBA from the University of Ottawa, Mrs Fatima Beyina-Moussa obtained a DEA (postgraduate degree) in International Economics at Sciences Po in Paris, and went on to become a consultant in Congo for Ernst & Young. She later joined the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), and then worked for the United Nations Development Programme before being named an adviser to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Public Portfolio. One of the key matters she dealt with was the establishment of a national airline.

Next November, the national airline of the Republic of the Congo, ECAir, will host the 47th annual general meeting of AFRAA in Brazzaville.

“In three years, we have been on a journey with our company,” says Fatima Beyina-Moussa. “We have trained many Congolese people in aviation trades and our network is growing, along with our fleet. AFRAA represents continuity and complementarity. It is an excellent opportunity to promote our air transport policy and to stimulate discussions with our partners.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ECAir (Equatorial Congo Airlines).

ECAir Communication & Public Relations contacts:

Nicolas Négoce

Tel.: +242 06 510 30 23


About ECAir:

ECAir (, the national airline of the Republic of the Congo, was created in 2011 and employs close to 400 people.In 2013, the airline transported 220,000 passengers.ECAir operates up to 128 weekly flights from Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo) to Paris Roissy, Dubai, Cotonou, Douala, Pointe-Noire and Ollombo. The airline also created a river shuttle for passengers travelling from or to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo). ECAir is the first Congolese airline to connect the continent directly to the Middle East, with three weekly connections to Dubai.

For more information, visit or telephone + (33) 01 78 77 78 77.

For more information:

Information and reservations:




Nov 252014

LAGOS, Nigeria, November 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has mandated VFS TasHeel International ( with managing and administrating the Saudi Arabian visa application process from Nigeria, which will also combine mandatory enrolment process of fingerprint collection and photo capture for all applicants.


VFS TasHeel said it will begin processing Saudi visas of various categories except for Hajj and Umrah. However, pilgrims who have applied for Saudi visas are required to do biometric enrollment at the VFS TasHeel centre.

VFS TasHeel is a joint venture between the global visa processing leader, VFS Global (A division of Kuoni Travel Group, Switzerland) and TasHeel, Saudi Arabia.

Chargee D’affairs of the Embassy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Sa’ad Abdallah Alnofeai, stated, “The newly inaugurated Visa Services Centersin Nigeria will serve people who desire to visit the KSA in addition to providing them with vital information about the Kingdom.”

Services include the dissemination of visa information, application guidance, application processing, biometric enrollment and passport delivery. The Centre is open for extended hours during peak season for speeding up the visa procedures.

“The new Visa Services Centers is packed with convenience and comes with dedicated service counters and a reception area, all to enhance the experience and add value to the process of visa application. We are pleased to be fulfilling the role assigned to us by the Saudi MoFA, which is to facilitate a smooth, streamlined visa application process for travelers to the kingdom. We at VFS TasHeel seek to provide these services through our efficient, customer-friendly approach, acting as a trusted mediator between visa applicants and the Saudi mission.” said Madhan Gopalakrishnan, CEO, VFS TASHEEL International.”

Visa Services Centre in Nigeria is now operational and located at three places:

Abuja Saudi Arabia Visa Service Centre

Address: Rivers Plaza 1st Floor,Plot.No.470,AbogoLargema Street,Off constitution road,Central Business District,Abuja,Nigeria

Lagos Saudi Arabia Visa Service Centre

Address: SKYWATER TOWER (2nd floor) NO.6 Otunba Yomi Oshikoya Drive, Off Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

Saudi Arabia Visa Service Centre

Address: Plot 11-13, along Race Course,

Opposite to Kano Golf Course Club, Kano, Nigeria

Further information and appointment booking details can be accessed at

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of VFS TasHeel International.

Media Inquiries:

Priyanka Padiyar

Assistant Manager – Corporate Communications

VFS TasHeel International

About VFS TasHeel International:

VFS TasHeel ( is a joint venture between the global visa processing leader, VFS Global (A division of Kuoni Travel Group, Switzerland) and TasHeel, Saudi Arabia. The collaborative enterprise is tasked with managing and administrating the Saudi Arabia visa application process as mandated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Saudi Arabia in 33 countries.

Nov 242014

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Moroccan government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) signed an agreement today that formalizes the relations the ICRC has had with Morocco since the…