NEW YORK, January 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Security Council, in its resolution 2127 (2013) of 5 December 2013, requested the Secretary-General to rapidly establish an international commission of inquiry for an initial period of one year, including experts in both international humanitarian law and human rights law, in order immediately to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and abuses of human rights in the Central African Republic by all parties since 1 January 2013, to compile information, to help identify the perpetrators of such violations and abuses, point to their possible criminal responsibility and to help ensure that those responsible are held accountable. The Security Council called on all parties to cooperate fully with such a commission.

The international Commission will comprise a secretariat and three high-level experts: Jorge Castañeda of Mexico, Fatimata M’Baye of Mauritania and Bernard Acho Muna of Cameroon. Mr. Muna will serve as the Chairperson of the Commission.

Mr. Castañeda is an academic who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. He has worked at several universities and international foundations in Mexico and in the United States. He has authored more than a dozen books and is a regular contributor to international newspapers and magazines.

Ms. M’Baye is a human rights lawyer and chairperson of the women’s rights commission of the Mauritanian Association for Human Rights. She is Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights and has engaged extensively in human rights activism in her own country and at the global level.

Mr. Muna is a lawyer and advocate of the Supreme Court of Cameroon, as well as a former magistrate. He served as Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and was the President of the Central African Bar Association

The three members of the Commission are expected to travel shortly to New York to meet with the Secretary-General, and will then travel to Geneva and Bangui to carry out their work. The Secretary-General has been requested to report to the Security Council on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry six months and one year after the adoption of the resolution on 5 December 2013. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will provide technical support for the establishment of the Commission.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Communiqué of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 414th meeting, on the revised Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Council,

1. Takes note of the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the revised Concept of Operations for the AU Mission in Somalia;

2. Recalls its communiqué PSC/PR/Comm.(CCCXCIX) adopted at its 399th meeting held on 10 October 2013, endorsing the recommendations of the AU-UN Review of AMISOM and Benchmarking Exercise, as well as the relevant provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2124 (2013), adopted on 12 November 2013, on the development of a new Concept of Operations, with a view to enabling AMISOM to respond to the increasingly asymmetrical tactics used by Al-Shabaab;

3. Commends the Commission for its efforts in developing the revised CONOPS, endorses the said CONOPS and looks forward to its full implementation;

4. Requests the Commission to keep it regularly informed of progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the AMISOM mandate and its revised CONOPS;

5. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Central African Republic: Persistent violence causes great concern

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As a semblance of normality returns to Bangui, violence grinds on elsewhere in the country, particularly the north-west. The ICRC and the Central African Red Cross Society are stepping up their efforts to bring aid to the victims.

Even though an unsure calm can be seen to be returning to the streets of the capital, where life is gradually returning to normal despite ongoing sporadic outbreaks of violence, armed men who are out in strength on the roads leading out of Bangui to the north and west continue to expose the population to attacks.

Over the past three days, Central African Red Cross volunteers have buried over 60 bodies in the area around Bossembélé, Boyali and Boali. The ICRC has removed 29 injured people from the same area. On 18 January, an aircraft chartered by the ICRC landed at Bangui with a 26-tonne load of medical supplies.

The violence is pushing ever more people to take refuge in the bush or in places of worship. The large numbers of displaced people in Bangui do not yet feel secure enough to return to their homes.

In the north of the country, hundreds of people from the capital, including armed men, continue to flow into the Vakaga region, near the borders with Sudan and Chad. For Gabriel Mukalai, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Ndélé, “The presence of heavily armed men in the area, which has been spared the violence that has rocked Bangui and the rest of the country, is disturbing.”

“We are extremely concerned about the welfare of the people. We are calling on all those who have armed themselves to respect human life and dignity,” said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. “The transitional authorities of the Central African Republic and the international armed forces in the country must take immediate action to provide security. Until that happens, people will continue to live in fear.”

Treating the injured: a priority

“The priority is to administer first aid and to manage mortal remains with dignity. The number of casualties in Bangui has been going down, but needs are increasing elsewhere,” said Bonaventure Bawirutwabo, the ICRC’s medical coordinator in the country. “There is an acute shortage of suitable care facilities in the backcountry. That’s why we are arranging to have the most seriously injured people taken to Bangui’s community hospital, where one of our medical teams has been hard at work since the beginning of January.”

ICRC and Central African Red Cross personnel have gone to Bossembélé, Boyali and Boali, north-west of Bangui, to provide care on the spot for people with minor injuries and transfer the seriously injured to hospital. To facilitate the work of Central African Red Cross volunteers, the ICRC provided them with first-aid equipment and the supplies needed to recover and handle mortal remains.

Maintaining relief effort for thousands of displaced people

The priority for thousands of displaced people in Bangui as elsewhere in the country is to obtain shelter and other basic necessities. “People are fleeing the violence in great haste, often leaving everything behind,” said Mr Georgantas. “They need security, but they also need water, food and health care.”

Highlights of the past week’s activities:

• Three additional wells were built and water services provided for 10,000 people in the city of Ndélé.

• More than 210,000 litres of clean drinking water were delivered each day to Bangui airport in cooperation with the national water board to meet the needs of tens of thousands of displaced people living there.

• Some 15,000 litres of clean drinking water were delivered every day to Boy-Rabe monastery, where 30,000 people have taken refuge.

• Enough food was distributed to 7,000 people at the Carmel mission in Bimbo, south of Bangui, to cover their needs for one week.

• Operations were performed on 65 patients at Bangui’s community hospital by an ICRC surgical team.

• Nearly 950 patients, including 169 who came for ante-natal checkups and 13 to give birth to a child, have been seen since the beginning of the year by the medical staff of mobile clinics in Kaga Bandoro, in the centre of the country.

• Three visits to places of detention were carried out to assess conditions. Emergency action was taken in the Ngaragba detention centre, where food was distributed to 45 detainees.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

US Airlifts Rwandans to Central African Republic

KIGALI, Rwanda, January 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Two U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft operating at the request of the French government and African Union authorities continued airlifting a Rwandan mechanized battalion Jan. 19.

The joint operation with personnel from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force is in support of an African Union effort to confront destabilizing forces and violence within Central African Republic.

“The African Union has decided to stand up a mission in the Central African Republic to decrease the violence that has been occurring over the last several months,” Lt. Col. Allen Pepper, senior officer in Central African Republic, U.S. Army Africa said. “A part of that is getting enough troops on the ground to execute that mission.”

Each airlift mission stages out of Entebbe, Uganda and consists of transporting soldiers and equipment from Kigali, Rwanda to Bangui, Central Africa Republic.

Maj. Micah Vander Veen Contingency Response Element Commander, and overall mission commander for the Entebbe stage said, “Our goal is to provide logistical and airlift support to the Rwandan military in order to support their overall mission.”

In Kigali, forces from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 435th Contingency Response Group, U.S. Army Africa and Rwandan mechanized battalion work together to prepare equipment to be loaded onto the C-17 aircraft. Personnel build pallets containing security equipment, clear weapons and create load plans.

“What the Rwandans are doing in Central Africa is very important, they are preventing mass atrocities and helping to stabilize the Central African Republic,” said Lt. Col. David Hernandez, Mission Coordination Cell Rwanda officer in charge. “For this reason, the support we are providing to them is important.”

The joint U.S. military contingent is expected to transport about 850 Rwandan soldiers and more than 1,000 tons of equipment in total over the next few weeks.

This is the second such operation in support of the African Union’s efforts to stabilize Central African Republic. The first occurred late last year when the U.S. Air Force transported Burundi soldiers.

Although the situation is stabilizing in Bangui, additional forces are needed to reinforce the progress being made.

“The most rewarding part of this mission is seeing the quality troops that come off these planes” Pepper said. “They come off [the aircraft] and are ready and eager to go and do their mission. Without these kinds of folks on the ground, this mission could never be completed.”

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

U.S. Welcomes Selection of New Transitional President of the Central African Republic

WASHINGTON, January 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

January 21, 2014

The United States welcomes the selection of Catherine Samba-Panza as Transitional President in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.). As C.A.R.’s first woman head of state since the country’s independence, and with her special background in human rights work and mediation, she has a unique opportunity to advance the political transition process, bring all the parties together to end the violence, and move her country toward elections not later than February 2015.

We also commend the Transitional National Council for conducting the selection process for the new C.A.R. Transitional President in a deliberate, open, and transparent manner that ensured the airing of a full range of views from C.A.R.’s civil society.

The United States has been deeply engaged in the work to help pull C.A.R. back from the brink, including the pivotal visits of Ambassador Power and Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield less than a month ago. The United States, along with regional leaders of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African Union, and other members of the international community, hopes to support President Samba-Panza and call on the people of C.A.R. to work constructively with her, participate in the political process, and avoid any resurgence in violence.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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