Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson

Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson:

The United States remains concerned about ongoing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), and condemns in the strongest terms the continued targeted attacks against civilians, peacekeepers, and humanitarian actors. We further emphasize our strong support to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), in its efforts to protect civilians from violence, prevent atrocities, and help stabilize the country.

Fourteen UN peacekeepers have been killed in CAR since 2017 while providing support and protecting the CAR population from predatory armed groups that target, exploit, and kill civilians. These deaths are a tragic reminder of the high cost of violence and the price that peacekeepers, civilians, and humanitarian actors continue to pay.

We call on armed groups to put down their weapons and engage, without preconditions and in good faith, with the CAR government. We firmly oppose impunity for human rights violations, and support the Special Criminal Court to promote justice for victims and accountability for those responsible for atrocities.

The United States stands with the CAR Government, MINUSCA, and all Central Africans, as they strive for peace, justice, accountability, and the prevention of future atrocities in CAR.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson

      

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Democratic Republic of Congo: New ‘Kivu Security Tracker’ Maps Eastern Violence

The new Kivu Security Tracker will map violence by armed groups and Congolese security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s eastern Kivu provinces, Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group said today. The joint project will monitor the worst violence in North and South Kivu provinces through maps, graphs, and analytical reports.

According to initial results from the Tracker, from June to November 2017, at least 526 civilians were killed in the Kivus, at least 1,087 people were abducted or kidnapped for ransom, and there were at least 11 incidents of mass rape.

“As civilians suffer alarming attacks in eastern Congo, the Kivu Security Tracker will provide policy makers, journalists, activists, and others with an innovative new tool to better understand the violence,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope the Tracker will be used to more effectively address the root causes of Congo’s conflict, support communities affected, and hold those responsible to account.”

Since the Tracker began documenting incidents in June, a team of 14 Congolese researchers based across North and South Kivu have spoken daily with victims of abuses and their families, witnesses, customary chiefs, clergy, activists, and government officials to document abuses and seek to identify the armed actors responsible. Project staff in Congo and abroad then verify their reports with reliable sources before publishing incidents on the website, providing comprehensive and timely accounts that are updated as additional information becomes available.

The Tracker records violent incidents by armed groups and members of the Congolese security forces, both in armed conflict and political violence. The data set includes violent deaths, clashes between armed groups, abductions, kidnappings, mass rapes (with at least five victims in a single attack), property destruction, and the repression of peaceful political demonstrations. Nearly 800 incidents were logged during the first six months of reporting.

The Tracker is intended to promote greater understanding of events in a country facing increased violence. Last year, 922,000 people were displaced in Congo, more than anywhere else in the world. In October, the United Nations declared a “Level 3 emergency” in Congo, a category only given to three other countries: Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The Congolese conflict, however, is marked by enormous complexity – the Tracker maps areas of control for 120 armed groups in just two of the country’s 26 provinces. This has made it difficult for policymakers to devise solutions and for media to tell the story behind the violence, the organizations said.

The Tracker helps address this challenge. By highlighting patterns and trends, and through a graphic representation of the violence, it aims to make the conflict more comprehensible. The initial findings indicate that much of the violence in the Kivus goes unreported. Ninety percent of the incidents documented on the Tracker, amounting to 70 percent of violent deaths, were not mentioned at all in international media. More than half are absent from the best available academic trackers of violence.

While many factors contribute to the violence, some trends stand out. Congolese security forces were responsible for over 100 violent deaths over the past six months, more than any single armed group and roughly one fifth of total killings documented. One of the worst single incidents documented was a massacre of at least 39 Burundian refugees by Congolese security forces in Kamanyola, South Kivu, on September 15.

The Tracker’s findings also suggest that the conflict in eastern Congo has been exacerbated by the country’s general political crisis, as President Joseph Kabila has delayed elections and used violence, repression, and corruption to entrench his hold on power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended on December 19, 2016. Armed groups have formed coalitions to challenge Kabila’s extended presidency, while the government has cracked down violently on peaceful protesters.

“Levels of displacement in Congo today are higher than ever recorded,” said
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Reforming and revitalizing higher education sector crucial for Africa’s development, experts say

The fourth Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and the African Transformation Agenda ended in Dakar Friday with experts making concrete recommendations for consideration by policy makers, universities, regional and continental organizations on how to align higher education policy with science, technology and innovation (STI) and industrial policies to support the transformation of Africa’s economies in line with the continent’s integration and development agenda.

Experts attending the meeting under the theme; ‘Higher education, science, technology and innovation and African integration and development’, agreed funding increases for universities and other higher education institutions are needed if these institutions are to make a significant contribution to Africa’s development.

The recommendations, which will be detailed in a report to be shared with African governments and other stakeholders, include the need to reform and revitalize the higher education sector in Africa; leveraging higher education and STI to achieve the sustainable development goals; exploring innovative ways of financing higher education institutions; and formulating incentives for university researchers to promote transfer of technology from universities to the private sector.

Kasirim Nwuke, Chief, New Technologies and Innovation Section in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Special Initiatives Division, said countries could begin by enacting domestic laws similar to the United States’s Bayh-Dole Act, a law which enables universities, non-profits, to own, patent and commercialize inventions that result from research funded by the US government.

The experts are also urging governments to increase research funding for STEM education and encourage more women to take STEM subjects.

Mr. Nwuke said a smart higher education and STI policy should include recruiting the best talent no matter where they are from.

“African governments could consider using targeted immigration and free-movement of Africans to attract talent to build world class competitive universities, great centres of research excellence,” he said, adding there were two good examples worthy of consideration; one is the Carnegie University programme in Rwanda and the American University of Nigeria (AUN).

Governments were also urged to deploy ICT to improve access to higher education, reduce the cost of research innovations and to use continental trade policy, notably Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) that is currently being negotiated, to advance the focus of African universities and to drive STI.

In closing Mr. Nwuke said this SED was successful as participants had used it to broaden and deepen the constituency for higher education and STI on the continent as they sought to help Africa to support higher education and STI ‘because it is only by so doing that we can achieve African development and integration’.

Professor Amadou Thierno Gaye, Senegal’s Director General of Research and Innovation said information and communications technologies and digital infrastructures were crucial for Africa’s success.

ICTs, he said, were increasingly becoming the backbone of teaching and the SED had emphasised on this and the need for them to foster scientific research, technological progress and innovation.

On the last day of the SED, the senior experts visited centres of excellence in and outside Dakar, including the Knowledge City, that is currently under construction, which will bring together Senegal’s higher education and research communities and promote innovation and scientific culture, among others.

They also toured the Amadou Mahtar Mbow University that is currently being constructed on the outskirts of Dakar. The university will take 30,000 students upon completion concentrating in science and innovation.

This SED was organised by the ECA and Senegal’s Higher Education, Research and Innovation Ministry.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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Department for International Development Ghana Country Director’s speech at Business Cost of Violence Against Women & Girls in Ghana forum

Department for International Development Ghana Country Director’s speech at Business Cost of Violence Against Women & Girls in Ghana forum:

Honourable Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Distinguished representatives of Government British High Commissioner for Ghana, Members of the Diplomatic Corps Development Partners, academia, representatives of the private sector Traditional leaders, Members of the press. Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon.

It’s great to be here today at the British High Commissioner’s Residence to mark the 16 Days of Activism towards ending gender based violence and to launch preliminary findings from the UK aid-funded study on the “Business Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls in Ghana”.

35% of women across the world have experienced some form of violence in their lives.

As well as a gross violation in itself, Violence Against Women and Girls also limits individuals, communities and societies.

Girls and women who experience violence are less likely to complete their education, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, and are at increased risk of maternal mortality.

For children that see one parent assaulting another, the long-term health and social consequences are similar to those of child abuse and neglect.

For economies, the costs of VAWG are estimated at between 1.2% and 3.7% of GDP. And we will hear more later from Dr Asante and his team on how Violence Against Women impacts on the economy.

In short, violence against women and girls is a global pandemic.

But while the scale of the problem seems daunting, change is possible and is already happening. This year’s 16 Days of Activism is occurring at a time when across the world men and women are standing up to address the issue of violence against women.

The #MeToo movement has gone viral. The hashtag has been used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts. It has trended in at least 85 countries. For too long, violence against women, including sexual harassment and assault, has been unspoken, private, something to be ashamed of. This campaign has succeeded in breaking the silence – providing us with a real sense of the magnitude, and the shocking scale and reach of the phenomenon in both public and private spheres across the world.
And it has opened up a global conversation about men’s behaviour towards women.

Ladies and Gentlemen The UK is proud to be a global leader in efforts to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms. This includes support to women’s rights organisations; tackling the attitudes that make violent behaviour seem normal; getting comprehensive services to those who have experienced violence; and ensuring that national legislation and policies are in place and implemented.

DFID currently works across 12 countries – including Ghana – to tackle Child Early and Forced Marriage – a £39m programme funded by the UK taxpayer. We continue to build on the momentum of the 2014 Girl Summit by supporting new international resolutions on Child Marriage.

The UK also provided financial and technical support to government for the 2016 Domestic Violence in Ghana Survey.

Our new Secretary of State announced last week a £12 million package to help around 750,000 women and girls globally over the next three years.

Studies reveal that in Ghana VAWG is deep-rooted and widespread. We know from a UK aid funded Domestic Violence in Ghana survey that an estimated 71.5% of women and 71.4% of men reported having experienced at least one form of violence (domestic and non-domestic) over their lifetime. A number of other harmful traditional practices still exist in Ghana, including female ritual slavery, FGM, Child Early Forced Marriage, widowhood rites and witch’s camps.

We appreciate that the Government, under the leadership of the Honourable Minister, is actively addressing these challenges – through the work of the Domestic Violence Secretariat, and ongoing reforms are being put in place to tackle violence against women. For example, laws have been passed on inheritance rights, FGM, the Children’s Act (1998), Human Trafficking Act (2005), Domestic Violence Act (2007).

I mentioned earlier the UK’s global lead in efforts to address VAWG.

Ghana could also be a global leader on this issue. In the past week His Excellency the President has passionately espoused the need for African countries to grow “beyond aid”. The President is championing gender equality and ensured that women are represented at the very highest levels in his government with 29 female parliamentarians and 20 female Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

The President is also the AU Gender Champion and Co-chair of Advocates for the SDGs.

Ghana, as it prepares to organise a Girls’ Summit in 2018, could take a leadership role in addressing VAWG across the region, if not the continent. The UK stands ready to support this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today, the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) – University of Ghana – will present preliminary findings from a survey conducted among 100 businesses in Ghana assessing how domestic violence impacts businesses.

The UK aid-funded research looking at the Economic and Social Costs of Violence against Women and Girls is a three year multi-country project that estimates the costs of violence, both social and economic, to individuals and households, businesses and communities in Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan. As we stand here this afternoon, people are similarly gathered – but in a much colder London – to launch the findings from South Sudan.

No such analysis has previously been carried out in Ghana, or indeed elsewhere in West Africa. The impact of the Ghana study, once assessed, is therefore likely to be significant – with the new data helping us better understand the impact of Violence Against Women on community cohesion, economic stability and development and providing further evidence for government to accelerate efforts to address Violence Against Women.

Before I hand over to the Honourable Minister to say a few words, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Minister for agreeing to assume the Chairmanship of the National Advisory Board (NAB) – the body which will ensure that the research is used effectively to advocate for increased resources and emphasis on the elimination of violence against women in Ghana.

In conclusion, I’d like us all to remain alert to the fact that VAWG is present in our homes and our work places. With the #MeToo movement in mind, let us create opportunities to break the silence, opened up a conversation about men’s behaviour towards women, and be bold for change in order to end the violence.

I’d now like to introduce the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection – Honourable Otiko Afisa Djaba.

Thank You.

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

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Source:: Department for International Development Ghana Country Director’s speech at Business Cost of Violence Against Women & Girls in Ghana forum

      

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