Sep 262014

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Department of the Treasury

Washington, DC

September 26, 2014

Sylvia, thank you very much. I couldn’t hear a word out there so I was entirely presumptuous and said, “That must be me.” (Laughter.) Thank you.

I’m delighted to be here with all of you and appreciate Sylvia’s leadership on this and I think she summed it up best the other day when she said that there isn’t a Democrat way or a Republican way to solve Ebola. And obviously, I think everybody in this room understands that. Solving this crisis is going to require all hands on deck, and every single one of us are profoundly grateful for Susan Rice’s leadership, the President’s leadership, and this meeting here today, which builds on the meetings that we’ve just had in New York, and a particularly important meeting yesterday, which I think you saw the President speak at in which he challenged leaders all across the world to really rise to this enormously challenging and vexing moment.

I want to recognize Dr. Melvin Korkor from Liberia. Dr. Korkor has a remarkable story to tell, and you’ll hear a little bit more about it in a moment, but just quickly I’ll just share it with you. When he first contracted Ebola, which he self-diagnosed after he had been working with a nurse who contracted it, and he then isolated himself, quarantined himself and took certain measures. But an American doctor told him he had a 1-in-10 chance of surviving. Well, Dr. Korkor was determined to be the one of the 10 and he drank a dozen liters of water a day, he held his nose while he ate so that the smell of food wouldn’t make him throw up. He asked for his Bible and he read Psalm 91 and found comfort and inspiration in the words that surely shall deliver – the Lord shall deliver us “from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

It was no exaggeration to suggest that tragically, we are facing West Africa’s pestilence now and potentially even broader if we don’t take the right steps. The scenes are heart-wrenching – men and women dying in the streets; children orphaned, left to assume adult responsibilities at a tender age; pregnant mothers being turned away from hospitals and clinics that are on the verge of collapse. And then there are the volunteers – the nurses, the doctors, all of them putting themselves at risk to fight a disease that currently – because as everybody understands here, there’s a difference between what is happening to people without adequate capacity to care and to diagnose versus what is happening today but which currently kills about half of the people that it infects.

So for the moment, this is SARS on steroids. And we ignore the gravity of this peril at our own crisis and our own peril. Why? Because everybody here understands that if we don’t take concerted action without a very significant intervention, which the President underscored yesterday at the UN, without countries doing more than the normal and doing it fast, this can spiral out of control. That’s not an idle warning. And we know that it presents us with not just a global health crisis, but it also presents us with a human – with a security crisis. Already this epidemic has shaken Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to their very foundations – with genuine, significant, strategic, and economic implications. If left unaddressed, Ebola has the potential to cause instability the likes of which we haven’t seen since Liberia’s civil war, and that is why we have to act and why we have to act now.

So not only do we need to help countries in West Africa beat back the epidemic – which we can do if we respond properly – but we also need to look ahead and think about what this means, what this underscores, and think about the long-term imperatives. This epidemic’s severity is just one symptom of uneven global development – inequity in health delivery systems, extreme poverty, and crumbling public health systems. So in the short term, yes, we need emergency containment. But in the long term, we need to help the hardest-hit countries build the kind of health systems and infrastructure that will allow them to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to the next infectious disease, to any other outbreak, to stop those outbreaks in the first place before they become epidemics.

And the costs should tell us a lot about the nature of this challenge and the imperative. We know that already some 3,000-plus have died in West Africa and potentially hundreds of thousands more at risk. I assume all of you are familiar with and have been – seen the curve and the dramatic impact of what happens by January if we don’t do what we need to do now at the end of September. We know that hospitals and clinics are teetering on the brink of collapse and that already-strained public health systems are being stretched to the breaking point. We know that canceled flights and closed borders are wreaking economic havoc on the hardest-hit countries, showing that – slow down the relief efforts and response efforts and actually set back other things, like tourism, for decades conceivably.

Yesterday I talked with President Kenyatta of Kenya, who informed me they haven’t closed their border and they won’t, but a lot of countries have. And we understand how many flights have been canceled, which disturbs the capacity to move people and goods. We know that farmer stocks are plummeting and food prices are skyrocketing, and this in and of itself creates tension, instability, and a perfect playing field for predators.

We know that the hardest-hit countries, countries that for years were on a path to economic recovery and prosperity, are now facing up to 809 million in lost growth, and that is today’s measurement without this cascade of interconnected events taking place. For a continent that’s been starting to turn the corner in an incredibly exciting way and realize long-promised potential, Ebola could set back the development capacity of whole nations for decades.

We just had 40 African leaders in Washington during the course of the summer, all of them and all of us extolling the possibilities of economic development and growth. Seven of the ten fastest-growing economies of the world are in Africa today, but what happens if we don’t deal with this? Only two months ago we were heralding the extraordinary opportunity, and Ebola threatens to set that future back by years.

And we know there are other challenges of security. We know that eight members of an Ebola awareness team were kidnapped and killed in Guinea. We know that a burial team was attacked in Sierra Leone. And perhaps most troubling, we know that while Ebola itself takes lives, it’s also fear and indifference that are this epidemic’s best allies. During the SARS and H1N1 flu epidemics, it was fear of contagion that actually accounted for as much as 90 percent of the total economic impact. In four months alone, SARS inflicted 30 billion in costs, and Ebola has the potential to inflict even more.

So our mission here today and in the days ahead is clear. First we need to control the outbreak. President Obama has acted swiftly, boldly, and appropriately to do exactly that. We’ve already deployed some 4,000 troops to West Africa, and we’re dispatching our public health workers. We’re establishing a military command center in Liberia. We’re creating an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa. We’re training thousands of health workers and distributing supplies and information kits to families, and we’re partnering with Nigeria and Senegal, which have contained Ebola.

Second, we need to galvanize an international effort, as I mentioned earlier. Just like ISIL, this disease respects no borders and requires a global coalition in order to stamp it out. And that’s why President Obama and I took part yesterday in the high-level meeting on Ebola at the UN and secured additional support. International organizations need to kick into the highest gear ever and match capabilities with needs on the ground. And we’ve also begun to work intensely with our partners to provide lifesaving support.

Canada is sending protective equipment and mobile laboratories. China is sending medical workers. Turkey is providing medical supplies. Britain is sending troops and humanitarian experts. France is sending health experts and medical supplies. And yesterday, the foreign minister of Japan responded to my request for creative thinking about how to protect people, and they have offered 500,000 light-protective suits that had been prepared for SARS. And these initiatives underscore the response that’s beginning to take hold. But it also underscores that there’s a role for almost every single country to play.

Finally we need to make building long-term healthcare capacity in West Africa and frankly around the world a strategic security priority. We have to contain this crisis and coordinate the global response. But make no mistake, unless we help countries build their public health systems that can manager future outbreaks, we’re never going to break out of this tragic cycle of years past, cycles where outbreaks lead to more fear, more fear leads to more suffering, more loss of life with the instability that comes from this cycle. And it is an attack ultimately on the human infrastructure of these countries, and it steals progress from everybody. That’s why the global health security agenda and the action plans that we’ve adopted today are so important. And that’s why we remain committed to the global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction which provide support for bio-security and increasingly for public health.

We all know that health affects the livelihoods of individuals and economic growth and ultimately the development potential of nations. And the health of others affects the health of all of us. Whether it’s SARS or avian flu or even a biological agent, the lives of Americans depend on the ability of other countries to detect, contain, and treat outbreaks within their borders. Every American has an interest in what we are doing here. It is not something over there; it is something that connects everybody all of the time.

A disease like extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis can travel as fast as the fastest jetliner, and in an interconnected world, we invest in global health not simply as a matter of charity or as a matter of more responsibility, but we do it as a matter of national security. So all of us need to take this challenge and take this moment and make it one of transformation – not just dealing with the current outbreak, but building the capacity to better address future crises, and frankly there is enough inspiration in the acts of so many for all of us to get this job done.

Kelly Sites is a nurse from Michigan. When she heard about the outbreak in Liberia, she packed her bags, she left the comforts of home, she spent weeks working in an isolation unit in Monrovia. She tended to the sick, she prepared the dead for burial, she educated people in the local communities about safe practices. Kelly calls Ebola a lonely, isolating disease, but this did not stop her from going to Liberia. And when asked why she took the risk, Kelly said simply, “This is my one little way of doing something.” My friends, that’s courage. That’s also an exercise of global citizenship, and all of us need to take confidence from people like Kelly, from those of us who have the expertise to understand you can be cured, you can prevent yourself from getting this, you can make the difference. And all of us here have come here in order to make sure that we do that.

It’s my pleasure now to introduce His Excellency Jeremiah Sulunteh, Liberia’s ambassador to the United States. (Applause.)

Sep 262014

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday urged the Government of Guinea to take immediate and concrete steps to advance the investigation and prosecution of human rights violations, including killings, rapes and enforced disappearances, allegedly committed by security forces in 2009 against peaceful protestors at a football stadium in downtown Conakry.

On 28 September 2009, tens of thousands of opposition protestors were attacked with tear gas and live ammunition by Guinean security forces. At least 156 people died, 109 women were raped and more than 1,000 people were injured. The whereabouts of dozens of individuals remain unknown five years after the September 2009 events. In their aftermath, a UN-led international commission of inquiry recommended that the Government should take appropriate measures to respond to this situation. Subsequently, the Government set up an investigation led by a team of three magistrates, but the investigation has yet to be concluded and not a single prosecution has taken place so far.

“Five years after the Guinea stadium events, justice remains elusive for the victims,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “It is particularly disturbing that at least two high-ranking officials who were charged in relation to the September 2009 violations remain in influential positions within the defence and security forces.”

Zeid also noted that many officials have been reluctant to respond to court summons. He stressed that Guinean authorities must reaffirm their commitment to ensuring respect for the right to justice and reparations for victims of the violations.

“Immediate, concrete steps need to be taken to advance the quest for justice and the fight against impunity for the crimes and human rights violations that were perpetrated against unarmed civilians in Conakry in 2009,” he said.

“All suspects who are serving members of the administration must be suspended pending the completion of the judicial process. And a clear message needs to be sent from the highest levels that cooperation with the investigation is compulsory.”

Zeid called on the Government of Guinea to ensure that the investigation and any ensuing prosecutions are adequately resourced and enjoy the full backing and cooperation of the Government.

“The victims have already waited far too long,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “The best way for Guinea to put this terrible episode behind it is to confront it honestly, deal with it in accordance with the law, and in so doing reduce the possibility of such crimes being committed again by the country’s authorities.”

Sep 262014

ACCRA, Ghana, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At the request of the Ghanaian authorities, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Joël Toujas-Bernaté initiated discussions on a possible program of economic reforms that could be supported by the IMF. The mission met with President Mahama; Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur; Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission; Finance Minister Seth Terkper; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Ms. Nana Oye Lithur; Bank of Ghana Governor Kofi Wampah; other senior officials, and representatives of the private sector, the donor community and civil society.

Mr. Toujas-Bernaté made the following statement at the end of this visit:

“Ghana continues to face significant domestic and external vulnerabilities on the back of a large fiscal deficit, a slowdown in economic growth and rising inflation. These vulnerabilities are putting Ghana’s medium-term prospects at risk. The mission estimates growth to decelerate to 4 ½ percent in 2014, from 7.1 percent in 2013, and inflation to reach an average of around 15 percent for the year. The fiscal deficit is expected to remain elevated at around 9 ¾ percent of GDP, driven by weak revenue performance, a large wage bill and substantially rising cost of debt service. The external current account deficit is projected to narrow to 10 percent of GDP, as imports declined substantially due to slower growth and a large depreciation of the currency, while export performance remained weak. The currency weakened sharply through August, before recovering very recently. In September, the issuance of a US$1 billion Eurobond and the Cocoa Board (Cocobod) successfully raising US$1.7 billion for the financing of a projected excellent cocoa crop were positive developments. Nonetheless, gross international reserves will remain at a low level.

“The mission had constructive and candid discussions with the authorities who showed an appreciation of the risks associated with these imbalances and vulnerabilities. The authorities identified earlier this year a set of measures designed to put the country back on track, while preserving growth momentum. While important, these measures have not managed to turn the financial situation around as a result of some implementation delays which have set back the objectives of putting public debt on a more sustainable path and reducing inflation. The authorities expressed their intent to prepare and implement additional upfront measures building on ongoing broad consultations.

“The conclusions of the last Article IV consultation (see Press Release No. 14/221) remain valid. A more ambitious and front loaded fiscal consolidation is needed to help place public debt on a sustainable path, and to allow monetary policy to be more effective in bringing down inflation, including by strictly limiting budget deficit financing by the Bank of Ghana. Front loaded adjustment should be realized through reductions in Ghana’s comparatively high public sector wage costs, the elimination of costly and untargeted subsidies for energy and petroleum products, and a better prioritization of capital spending. On the revenue side, reduction of tax exemptions and strengthened revenue administration through a better targeting of large taxpayers appear necessary. At the same time, it will be important to expand well targeted social protection programs to mitigate the potential impact of fiscal consolidation measures on the most vulnerable groups of the population. In the medium term, structural reforms and institutional changes will be key to sustainable fiscal consolidation and lasting expenditure discipline.

“Discussions on a possible program that could be supported by the IMF will continue in Washington during the Annual Meetings. ”

Sep 262014

DAKAR, Sénégal, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Mr. Ali Mansoor, visited Dakar from 16 to 26 September 2014 to conduct discussions for the 2014 Article IV consultations and to undertake the eighth and final review of the three-year arrangement under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) approved in December 2010.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Mansoor issued the following statement:

“Economic performance during the first half of the year was satisfactory. Economic growth picked up and inflation remained low. Budget execution was also satisfactory, with revenue exceeding the program target. The good revenue performance combined with expenditure restraint resulted in a lower budget deficit than programmed in the first half of the year. Overall, the implementation of the PSI was satisfactory with respect to all quantitative criteria and indicative targets through end-June 2014.

“The outlook for 2014 remains positive. The mission now expects economic growth to reach 4.5%, slightly below earlier estimates, reflecting the late start of the rainy season and an expected softening in the tourism sector. Inflation should remain low. The mission welcomes the commitment of the authorities to continue to conduct a sound fiscal policy, including by maintaining their original budget deficit target of 5.1% of GDP for 2014.

“The discussions between the authorities and the mission focused on economic policies and structural reforms that would allow Senegal to achieve and sustain high and inclusive growth. The mission welcomed the ambitious Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE) and agreed with the authorities that economic and social emergence requires the maintenance of a sound economic framework and the acceleration of reforms to enhance productivity and improve the business environment.

“The mission welcomed the authorities’ commitment to implement the PSE while maintaining sound public finances and sustainable debt levels. This requires continued efforts to mobilize revenue and expenditure rationalization through a control of public consumption as well as improving the quality of public spending. In this context, the mission discussed with the authorities different measures that, without harming economic growth, would contain the budget deficit to their original target of 4% in 2015. The mission also stressed the need to continue to improve public financial management and economic governance and to reinforce capacity building to enhance the efficiency of public investment.

“The mission encouraged the authorities to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms, which are essential for the success of the PSE. These include measures to improve the business climate and governance and to deepen the financial sector. The mission also encouraged the authorities to continue the reform of the energy sector to boost electricity generation while achieving a lower cost.

“Subject to management approval, the IMF’s Executive Board is expected to discuss the 2014 Article IV consultation and eighth program review in December 2014

“The mission met with the President of the Republic, Ministers responsible for Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Budget, Higher Education and Energy, the National Director of the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), other senior public officials and representatives of the banking sector, private sector, civil society and development partners.

“The mission wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, their close cooperation and atmosphere of openness that prevailed throughout the talks.”

Sep 262014

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An IPU mission to Zambia to investigate cases involving human rights abuses of MPs has called for authorities there to do more to protect MPs right to assemble freely.

The …