Africa can do it, says Louis Michel

STRASBOURG, France, December 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Delegations

“Africa is able not only to transform the lives of a billion citizens, but to improve those of millions of people throughout the world ! said Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the opening its 28th session in Strasbourg on 1 December.

Africa, once seen as the « forgotten continent » is today « THE continent of the future », said Mr Michel. He listed the assets that have made possible an “African renaissance”: immense tracts of arable land, a wealth of raw materials, growing cultural influence and a youthful population. The “continent’s economic take-off », with an average economic growth rate of 5% and population growth of 2.5% per year, « has become indissociable from globalisation », he added.

Yet much remains to be done to make these assets really work for Africa. Growth must be “sustainable and inclusive” said Mr Michel, citing the business climate, the tax system and the exploitation of raw materials as key challenges.

According to JPA Co-President Fitz A. Jackson (Jamaica) “when we speak of economic growth, we should also consider the critical role that the private sector plays in facilitating economic growth and reducing poverty, inequality and income disparity in ACP States.”

No development without security

Peace and stability are threatened by developments in the Sahel, Darfur, Somalia, the Horn of Africa, DRC, Mali and Nigeria (where the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram operates) in Niger, and finally, by the emergence of the so-called « Islamic state ». To prevent Africa turning into a « lawless area for traffickers worldwide”, the African authorities “must be given the means to run an effective and lasting counter-terrorist policy”.

Fitz A. Jackson recalled that the terrorism had various facets” and highlighted “its trans-boundary nature and ongoing internationalisation”.

End impunity

Like terrorism, “wars, massacres and ethnic violence know no borders», said Mr Michel. “Reconciliation (…) is always painful, but it is the only way to return to the peace and harmony that cement a people”, he continued, stressing that it is also necessary to «shoulder the burden of truth”. He saluted the role of the International Criminal Court “in this dual process of justice and reconciliation”.

Fitz A. Jackson also expressed concern about the security of the population in some post-conflict countries where tensions between former protagonists persist. “This could be due to the absence or weakness of democratic structures, cultures and practices, and the consequent struggle for democratisation, good governance and reform of political systems” he said. He also called on his European counterparts to ensure that there is absolute transparency in the sale of weapons from their countries which (…) could end up perpetuating conflicts and terrorism in Africa and other countries”.

Ebola: the worst outbreak of the disease in history

The Ebola outbreak “has become the worst outbreak of the disease in history, not only for Africa but also elsewhere in the world”, said Mr Michel. “The Ebola epidemic remains a global issue that urgently needs a sustained response based on our sense of humanity and empathy”, said JPA Co-President Fitz A. Jackson.

Mr Michel welcomed joint EU and USA efforts to provide the authorities of the affected countries with financial and technical resources to help in their fight against the disease.

“This is indeed human solidarity when it is most needed. But I still believe that the international community can do more”, said Mr Jackson. He also drew the Assembly’s attention to the long-lasting social and economic impact of the epidemic.

In this regard, he supported “the call by the United States for the International Monetary Fund to cancel debts owed by the severely affected countries” and invited “other multilateral and bilateral lenders to favourably respond to this call”.

28th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) brings together elected representatives of the European Union (EU) and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), with MEPs and MPs from the 78 signatory states to the Cotonou Agreement, which is the basis for ACP-EU development cooperation.

The Assembly will vote on Wednesday 3 December on three resolutions:

• the social and economic consequences of malnutrition in ACP countries (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Alban Bagbin, ACP, and Norbert Neuser, EU),

• private sector development strategy, including innovation, for sustainable development (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Arnaldo Andrade Ramos, ACP, and Bogdan Brunon Wenta, EU), and

• the challenge of national reconciliation in post-conflict and post-crisis countries (debate and vote on Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Komi Selom Klassou, ACP, and Joachim Zeller, EU).

Two urgent topics will be debated and concluded with resolutions:

• the Ebola outbreak (debate Monday, vote Wednesday) and

• the expansion of terrorism in Africa (debate and vote Wednesday)

‘Double victims’ – in conflict zones, people with HIV are twice as vulnerable

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The past decade has seen major improvements in people’s ability to access lifesaving HIV treatments – but if you live in Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan or parts of Yemen, you could be forgiven for thinking nothing has changed. The fact is that in most unstable areas, HIV services remain largely non-existent. People living with HIV/AIDS in conflict zones are victimised twice – first by the virus itself, and second by the breakdown of health services, which can make treatment impossible to come by.

The general perception is that HIV prevalence rates in unstable countries are low – but the reality is that pockets exist where HIV prevalence is as high as 10%. Meanwhile, coverage of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in these contexts is often below 20%, as so many challenges exist to providing treatment.

In a conflict area or warzone, patients and health workers may be forced to flee their homes due to violence, while shifting frontlines may cut off supplies of drugs. This can have serious health consequences, as HIV infection requires high levels of adherence to treatment to control the disease.

The side effects of conflict – including food insecurity, contaminated water, diseases and the physical and psychological stress of living in a warzone – can all have negative influences on the evolution of the disease.

When displaced people flee across borders, it can also have serious repercussions on their continuity of care. During the conflict in CAR, large numbers of people fled to Chad, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Uganda and settled in temporary refugee camps. With so many competing health priorities, HIV care is still not available in the camps, nor can refugees seek HIV care in the host countries.

But while treating any patient in a conflict setting is difficult, it is not impossible. For the past decade, our teams have been reaching and treating HIV patients caught up in conflict zones.

Key to this has been adapting our activities to the lives of our patients and the specific situations in which they are living, using simplified packages of care and easy-to-use monitoring tools. Our approach is patient-focused, with medication available near the patients’ homes, and prescription refills provided for three to six months at a time. Counselling and patient empowerment also play an important part.

We have also developed a number of innovative strategies, such as ‘runaway packs’ – a supply of drugs that patients can take with them if forced to flee – and transferring patients to clinics in more stable areas. In Boguila, CAR, MSF provides some 500 HIV-positive people with ARV treatment, but recent violence year left more than 200 patients unable to access their medication.

Prior to the conflict in South Sudan, which began a year ago, MSF provided HIV care and treatment in Lankien, Bentiu, Nasir and Leer, with a total of 293 patients on ARV treatment. Forced by violence to flee, our patients were displaced to areas without access to alternative healthcare, and faced serious interruptions to their treatment. Again, runaway packs helped patients continue their treatment even while hiding in the bush.

In Yemen, where violent conflict has intensified since 2011, we have been providing HIV care and treatment to 350 patients. During the unrest, MSF teams gave patients information cards with the phone numbers of MSF staff so that, even when in hiding, they could arrange a meeting and organise to have their drugs delivered.

Our experience shows that difficult conditions should not be an excuse for inaction. We have proved that providing HIV care and treatment in conflict zones is possible; now governments, donors and health NGOs need to take up the challenge and do more to meet the health and humanitarian needs of people with HIV/AIDS by, improving their access to HIV care and treatment and ensuring that they have continuity of care.

Despite the successes so far, a great deal more still needs to be done by everyone involved –including MSF – to meet the emergency health needs of people made twice as vulnerable as a result of conflict.

First Ever Mapping of Activities of External Security Actors in Africa Confirms Trends Towards Multilateralism and ‘Africanization’

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, December 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Over the past decade, major external actors have developed policy initiatives to advance their security, geopolitical and economic interests in Africa. Analysis of the security activities of seven major actors in Africa—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations—shows an increasing use of multilateral approaches, support for the ‘Africanization’ of African security, and the privatization of external security support. These are the main findings of a new SIPRI monograph edited by Olawale Ismail and Elisabeth Sköns (

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The book is the first attempt to make a comprehensive mapping of seven major external actors’ security activities in sub-Saharan Africa. It provides data and analysis of the official security-related activities of five states—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—and two organizations—the EU and the UN. It also identifies the security policies and strategies within which these activities have been developed. One of the main objectives of the book is to serve as a resource for civil society groups in Africa, which are increasingly engaging in security-related issues in their respective countries.

‘The form of external security activities in Africa has shifted over the past 10 to 20 years: from permanent military presence to temporary interventions, often within a multilateral framework; from direct military intervention to training of African security forces and other support for African security; and from large-scale arms transfers to allied African countries to lower levels of arms transfers linked to specific security programmes’, says Dr Elisabeth Sköns, Head of SIPRI’s Africa Security and Governance Project. ‘Of course there are major exceptions to this, such as the US military base in Djibouti and French bilateral interventions in West Africa, but by and large these are the main trends.’

Many external security activities in Africa are driven by self-interest

While the form is shifting, the drivers are basically unchanged. External actors in Africa continue to pursue policies based on their own self-interest, making lasting progress in African security issues problematic. ‘Many of their activities in Africa are part of policies to prevent security problems in Africa—such as transnational crime, violent radicalization and international terrorism—from spreading to their own countries, or to seek access to resources in Africa’, says Dr Olawale Ismail, co-editor of the book, and now Head of Research at International Alert.

Multilateralism and the need for true partnerships

External actors’ security activities in Africa take place within the context of a global trend towards multilateralism, especially in peace operations. Overall, between 1989 and 2013 the UN conducted 33 peace operations in Africa.

‘At the same time, we have seen that some actors revert to bilateral intervention when multilateral approaches are too slow’, says Dr Vincent Boulanin, a Researcher with the SIPRI European Security Programme and author of the chapter on France. ‘The recent interventions by France in Mali and other West African countries are cases in point.’

‘External actors increasingly emphasize the importance of local ownership and device policies to support African countries to help themselves. However, they often come with predefined programmes and they tend to interfere as things do not develop as they would like to see it. There is a need for true partnerships,’ says Ismail.

For editors

Security Activities of External Actors in Africa aims to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the activities of external actors in Africa. The book provides data and analysis of the official security-related activities of seven major external actors in sub-Saharan Africa, including five states—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—and two organizations—the EU and the UN. It also identifies the security policies and strategies within which these activities have been developed. The study was supported by the Open Society Foundation.

Download a sample chapter:

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

For interview requests please contact SIPRI Communications Director Stephanie Blenckner at +46 8 655 97 47, email:

About the editors

Dr Olawale Ismail (Nigeria) is Head of Research at International Alert, and was a Senior Researcher at SIPRI between 2009 and 2012. He has a strong research and publication record on security issues, especially on Africa and developing countries.

Dr Elisabeth Sköns (Sweden) is a Senior Fellow at SIPRI. Her research interests focus on security and governance in sub-Saharan Africa. She currently heads a research project supporting the contributions of Malian civil society to peacebuilding.

Contributing chapter authors: Chin-hao Huang and Olawale Ismail (China), Vincent Boulanin (France), Paul Holtom (Russia), Sam Perlo-Freeman (UK), Elisabeth Sköns (USA), Mark Bromley (EU) and Sharon Wiharta (UN).

To order: Security Activities of External Actors in Africa (ISBN 978-0-19-968642-1) can be ordered from all good bookshops and online booksellers or directly from Oxford University Press:


SIPRI ( is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and

recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. SIPRI is regularly named as one of the world’s leading think tanks.

APO reinforces its presence in Nigeria by signing a renewal contract with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM)

ABUJA, Nigeria, December 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — APO (African Press Organization) (, the sole press release newswire in Africa and the global leader in media relations relating to Africa, today announced its renewed and extended contract as exclusive supplier for press release wire distribution in Africa with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) (, an Export Credit Agency (ECA) with a share capital of N50, 000,000,000 (Fifty Billion Naira) held equally by the Federal Ministry of Finance incorporated and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Logo APO:


Photo Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard: (Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization)

Photo Roberts U. Orya: (Mr. Roberts U. Orya, Managing Director of Nigerian Export-Import Bank)

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank was established as an Export Credit Agency with the broad mandate to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil.

“For the past year, APO has played a substantial role in increasing NEXIM’s visibility, not only in Africa but also on an international scale, by distributing our press releases on Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters. We are Government’s Trade Policy Bank committed to the diversification of Nigeria’s economy away from oil for creation of Nigerian jobs and foreign exchange generation. We see our relationship with APO as a strategic one and are looking forward to working with them in 2015,” declared Mr Roberts Orya, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM).

NEXIM’s press releases are distributed via Africa Wire® (, the newswire service for press release distribution and monitoring in Africa. This reaches over 50,000 media outlets, bloggers and social networks, and redistributes content to more than 50 African websites, as well as to Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters, Lexis Nexis, Dow Jones Factiva, 250 million mobile subscribers in 30 countries, and more.

Used by some of the world’s largest companies, PR agencies, institutions and organisations, APO Africa Wire® has a potential reach of 600 million and guarantees the most extensive outreach in Africa, acting as a channel that allows APO’s clients to target audiences in all parts of the continent and also the world.

“We have built a solid relationship with Nigerian organizations that are driving the country’s economic growth and we are proud to continue expanding our footprint in Nigeria, supporting media relations for clients ranging from ministries, to companies in the financial sector,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, APO Founder and CEO.

More information about Africa Wire® Competitive Advantages can be found here:

More information about APO Media Reach can be found here:

More information about Africa Wire®, the service for newswire press release distribution in Africa, is available at

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization).


APO (African Press Organization)

Aïssatou Diallo

+41 22 534 96 97

Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM)

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About APO

APO (African Press Organization) ( is the sole press release newswire in Africa and is a global leader in media relations relating to Africa.

With offices in Senegal, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, and Seychelles, APO owns a media database of over 100,000 contacts and is the main online community for Africa-related news.

It offers a complete range of services, including press release distribution and monitoring, online press conferences, interactive webcasts, media interactions, strategic advice, public diplomacy, government relations and events promotion. To find out more, please visit

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About NEXIM Bank

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank ( was established by Act 38 of 1991 as an Export Credit Agency with the broad mandate to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies; risk-bearing facilities through export credit guarantee & export credit insurance; business development and financial advisory services etc.

In pursuit of its mandate of promoting export diversification and deepening the non-oil sector, the Bank’s current strategic initiatives are targeted towards boosting employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in the Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals and Services (Tourism, Transportation and Entertainment) industries.

U.S. Congratulates Namibia on Presidential Elections

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 30, 2014

The United States congratulates the people of Namibia for exercising their democratic right to vote in pr…

First Francophonie Economic Forum: Laying the groundwork for economic development with a Francophone Economic Union

DAKAR, Senegal, November 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Initiated by Senegalese President S.E. Macky Sall and organised by APIX and Richard Attias & Associates, the first Francophonie Economic Forum ( will bring together over 1000 political and economic decision-makers from five continents at the Dakar International Conference Centre (DICC) in Senegal on the heels of the 15th Summit of Heads of State of the Francophonie.


The forum aims to promote trade and interconnections in territories in the Francophonie. It will bring together economic players in the Francophonie and, in turn, transform this linguistic solidarity into economic opportunities and joint development prospects.

The objective is to create a true common vision for the Francophonie by 2024, notably with the creation of an Economic Institute of the Francophonie.

The program of this first Francophonie Economic Forum will focus on two principal themes: how to activate the tremendous potential of the Francophone economic community, and how to put Africa at the centre of this emergence.

The subjects to be addressed by participants include:

• Opening of borders between Francophone countries

• Establishment of a legal framework to promote trade within the Francophonie

• Deployment of concrete tools to support entrepreneurship and promote innovation, platforms for inclusive economic wealth creation

• Development of Public-Private Partnerships in Francophone Africa to support infrastructure development

• Implementation of investment programs in Senegal, the host country of this first Forum, and more broadly in Francophone territories

Some of the many political and economic leaders who have already answered the Senegalese authorities’ call to take part in discussions on a Francophone Economic Zone:

• S.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal

• Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and President of the Urban Community of Bordeaux; former Prime Minister of France

• Jean-Jacques Bouya, Minister to the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Land Use Planning and of the General Delegation for Major Projects, Republic of the Congo

• Thierry Breton, CEO, Atos and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bull; former Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, France

• Brahim Benjelloun-Touimi, Board Member and Deputy Managing Director, BMCE Bank, Morocco

• Amadou Ba, Minister of the Economy, Finance and Planning, Senegal

• Joaquim Chissano, Former President of the Republic of Mozambique

• Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region, World Bank, United States

• Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Canada

• Stéphane Volant, Company Secretary, SNCF, France

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the 1er Forum économique de la Francophonie (FEF).

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Door to door Ebola campaign expands to new epicenters, reaching 100,000 Households.

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, November 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — “Without community ownership, it will be difficult to fight Ebola, even impossible to make any meaningful headway” Director of Disaster Management Department.

Disaster Management Department (Office of National Security) with support from UNDP is expanding its door to door campaign to the new Ebola epicenters in the country targeting 100,000 households in the next two weeks in Waterloo, Port Loko and Moyamba with specific lifesaving information. The campaign is expected to reach one million people in total.

The door to door campaign is taking place following the recruitment and training of 300 community disaster management volunteers which ends in Moyamba town today. The volunteers, drawn from the localities in the new Ebola epicenters will give out information ranging from the importance of early treatment, keeping families safe from infection while waiting for help and welcoming survivors back into the community as a way of reducing stigma associated with Ebola. The UNDP-supported campaign is part of national efforts to engender behaviour change in order to stem the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone.

In the past 21 days Sierra Leone has recorded exponential rise in the number of Ebola infections. Latest WHO figures show that while reported case incidence is stable in Guinea with 148 confirmed cases reported in the week to 23 November, stable or declining in Liberia – 67 new confirmed cases in the week to 23 November, but in Sierra Leone the infection may still be rising with 385 new confirmed cases in the week to 23 November.

In addition to the continued rise of cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, the epicenter is shifting from the east of the country (Kailahun and Kenema) the original epicenters, to the Northern Province which includes the iron ore mining districts of Port Loko and the Western Area, which includes Waterloo and Freetown.

The Western Area continues to have the highest rate of infection, with 280 cumulative cases in the past week. Port Loko is also a major area of concern, with 120 cases in the past 7 days according to WHO figures.

Town chief, turned community volunteer, Chief Alimamy Bethembeng II from Waterloo, himself a volunteer in the door to door campaign in the Waterloo community, said that with the right information, using face to face methods, and using people who are part of the community, things will hopefully change. “We have to defend our communities from Ebola.” He said as he moves from house to house in Faya-mambo neighbourhood in Waterloo, one of the worst hit areas in the Western Area.

During one of the training sessions in Port Loko, Director of the Disaster Management Department, Mary Mye-Kamara said that the face to face campaign has been extremely successful around the slums of Freetown and is the preferred method for effective awareness raising on Ebola.

Ms Mye-Kamara said “People in some of these communities are still suspicious of outsiders coming into their neighbourhoods and villages telling them about Ebola. Some of them think that these outsiders are the ones spreading the virus. This is why we are engaging the local people, train them so that they will do the awareness raising themselves. That is the only way forward now.”

She added “Without community ownership this is difficult, even impossible to make any meaningful headway. The imams need to understand and accept that they cannot be doing the same burial rites like before…otherwise the virus will spread.”

Mye-Kamara noted further that denial is still very high, as is distrust and reticence in the community and says that everyone should now get involved “People said to us why should they be bothered to take their sick relatives to the hospitals and treatment centres when the ones who had been taken before did not return… they are going to die anyway. But now we are saying to our compatriots that, with early treatment, there is a huge chance of survival. We are showing them evidence of people who have recovered from the virus. They are seeing it and we continue to hope things will change. Ebola will go” She said.

Denial, suspicion about the spread of the disease, low level of knowledge and information are still very much prevalent especially among the poor in urban and rural areas. The face to face campaign hopes to target the hard to reach villages and communities with the right information in Port Loko, Moyamba and Waterloo in particularly where the virus is spreading.

UNDP Programme Manager Saskia Marijnissen says “Stopping the Ebola outbreak will not only depend on improved knowledge, but also on a change in attitude and practices. Our approach actively engages community members in a dialogue to motivate behaviour change.”

UNDP is at the forefront of the fight against Ebola, mobilizing communities against the disease, helping people recover from the crisis and assisting governments to continue to provide basic services, and to develop Ebola impact assessments and recovery plans.

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Benghazi: Civilians paying the price of conflict

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent are deeply concerned about the civilians caught up in the fighting in Benghazi, and urge all parties to respect and protect them.

Every aspect of civilian life in Benghazi has been adversely affected by the ongoing conflict. Services at the main hospitals in the city have been seriously disrupted by the precarious security conditions, foreign health workers have left, and there is an acute shortage of medical supplies: as a result, there is little or no access to health care. The violence has forced over 10,000 families to flee Benghazi; many others have been displaced within the city.

“The fighting has reached heavily populated areas,” said Omar Jaouda, the secretary-general of the Libyan Red Crescent. “It has become extremely difficult to move about in the city. There are checkpoints everywhere. Cash is scarce, and even basic items of food are in short supply. The situation will only worsen if the fighting continues. Volunteers at our National Society are working round the clock to evacuate the wounded and help civilians reach safe areas, but access to people in need is becoming increasingly problematic.”

The ICRC, in partnership with the Libyan Red Crescent, is responding to health emergencies in Benghazi and throughout the country. In recent days, it has donated medical supplies, surgical instruments and body bags to the Benghazi Medical Centre. It has also provided the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi with 6,000 blood bags, as well as blood-giving sets and hundreds of body bags. ”We remind all parties to the conflict to respect the lives and dignity of civilians and facilitate the work of medical workers and Libyan Red Crescent volunteers,” said Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC’s delegation for Libya, who is temporarily based in Tunis. “We will continue to do our utmost to assist the victims of the conflict in Benghazi and in Libya as a whole, despite these extremely testing circumstances.”

The ICRC is carrying on its humanitarian work in Libya through its 140 local staff and its four offices in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata and Sabha.

Mauritania National Day

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

November 28, 2014

On behalf of the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Mauritania on the 54th anniversary of your independence on November 28.

Mauritania and the United States have a strong partnership founded on shared interests for regional peace and security, and countering the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Last August, I hosted President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Washington at the U.S. – African Leaders Conference. I thanked President Aziz for his work in crafting a ceasefire agreement in Mali and for your country’s commitment to counterterrorism efforts throughout the Sahel.

I look forward to working with the Mauritania government and civil society to expand trade and increase prosperity for all Mauritanians in the years ahead.

On this day of celebration, I wish all Mauritanians a joyful Independence Day.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: More than 50 children returning to their families

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Beginning today, 52 children under the age of 17 will be rejoining relatives after being separated from them for several months. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and volunteers from the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had to go to great lengths and undertake extensive research to find the children’s families, who were scattered throughout the country.

“The children – 22 boys and 30 girls – have been living without their parents for many months because of the conflicts in certain parts of the country. Most of them became lost as they fled their villages,” said Veronika Hinz Gugliuzza, who coordinates the ICRC’s tracing services in the country. “After establishing their identities we placed them temporarily in centres or with foster families until we located their families. It’s a great joy for all our staff to be able to lead them back to their homes today.”

The youths will be taken home aboard two ICRC aircraft carrying out flights over several days and travelling thousands of kilometres in several provinces – Kinshasa, North Kivu, Eastern, Katanga and Maniema – in the east and west of the country.

Throughout the year, the ICRC has continued its efforts to enable members of dispersed families to find each other. In all, 626 children have rejoined their families, while 520 others are still awaiting their return home in transit centres or in host families across the country.

IOM, INTERPOL Combat Trafficking in Uganda

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Uganda’s borders are porous and the country is vulnerable to illegal cross border activities, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Between 2008 and 2013, 72 Ugandans identified as victims of trafficking abroad were helped to return home by IOM.

In order to improve the country’s capacity to combat migrant smuggling and other cross-border crimes, IOM this week organized a five-day INTERPOL training: “Smuggling Training and Operation Program (STOP)” in Entebbe. It was the first such training held in Uganda.

STOP is a multi-faceted response to criminal activities in the field of people smuggling. The aim of the programme is to empower front line officers at border crossings to detect suspect criminals, forged travel documents and other illegal cross border activities by cross checking data provided by the 190 member countries of INTERPOL.

The training, which was led by an expert from the Interpol Border Management Task Force (IBMTF), was attended by 22 participants from agencies including the Directorate for Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC), the Uganda Police Force, the NCB INTERPOL Kampala, the Internal Security Organization and the External Security Organization.

Participants were trained on both theoretical and operational aspects of combating human smuggling. The training included a practical session at Entebbe International Airport.

In opening remarks, Nerimana Rifatbegovic, IOM’s project manager on border management stated that capacity building and information sharing are vital for fighting all forms of cross border criminal activities, such as smuggling migrants and trafficking innocent people.

The training was part of IOM’s “Strengthening Border Management in Uganda” project, which is funded by the Government of Japan and aims to build Uganda’s capacity to effectively manage its borders and increase the border security. Training runs through the end of December 2014.