UN report exposes human rights violations and abuses against civilians in and around Yei, South Sudan

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May 192017
 

A United Nations report published today released the findings of an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in and around Yei town, Central Equatoria (150km southwest of the capital, Juba) between July 2016 and January 2017.

The report by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office documents violations and abuses against civilians both sides of the conflict, based on ethnicity and/or their presumed support for other side. This includes 114 killings by pro-Government forces. The extent of the abuses by armed opposition groups remains unclear due to lack of access to areas where these groups are active. The report finds that these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and that they warrant further investigation.

The report exposes cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting.

Until recently, Yei was largely a peaceful town, with between 200,000 and 300,000 residents of many different ethnicities. In July 2016, violence erupted between Government and Opposition forces, which led to the departure of Opposition leader Riek Machar together with a small group of followers across the Equatorias, into the Democratic Republic of Congo. As Government forces pursued him, fighting simultaneously broke out along the route, particularly in Yei. This violence fuelled strong divisions along ethnic lines and resulted in targeted killings, arrests, rapes and mass civilian displacement of more than half of the population of the town.

Satellite imagery used to corroborate allegations shows that there was widespread burning of homes and businesses, resulting in the forcible displacement of tens of thousands of civilians. Even as people fled the violence, reports suggest that armed actors harassed, robbed and targeted them as they headed to Uganda to seek refuge.

The report documents “the profound human suffering caused by the ongoing conflict and the exploitation of local and ethnic divisions for political ends.”

“The conflict in Yei, in particular, highlights the startling level of impunity in South Sudan, which has fed successive cycles of violence across the country,” the report states.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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As Yemen conditions deteriorate, Somali refugees look to return home

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May 192017
 

As the bitter conflict in Yemen grinds on and the humanitarian situation there continues to deteriorate, conditions facing the almost 280,000 refugees in-country are worsening and their needs and vulnerabilities are growing by the day.

Yemen has remained both a destination and a transit hub for refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa and beyond, the overwhelming majority of refugees in Yemen, 91 per cent or some 255,000, are Somali refugees who have been coming to the country since the early nineties.

Though Yemen has traditionally been very generous in accepting those in need of international protection and is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula signatory to the Refugee Convention and the Protocol, the ongoing war has limited the capacities to provide adequate assistance and protection to refugees.

After more than two years of war, many refugees face increased hardship; struggling to cover basic needs, losing livelihoods and lacking access to basic and essential services.

With conflict in Yemen affecting civilians and resulting in deaths and casualties, some 30,600 Somalis have reportedly already returned to Somalia from Yemen since the beginning of the current war. An increasing number are now approaching UNHCR for assistance to support their return, citing safety and security concerns and limited access to services in Yemen.

UNHCR is now providing some support to those choosing to return on their own. In 2017, UNHCR is able to assist up to 10,000 Somali refugees who have made the choice to return, based on the information received at Return Help Desks on conditions in Somalia and the assistance package that is being offered both in Yemen and Somalia. UNHCR’s humanitarian operations in Yemen will continue to provide support to those refugees who remain in Yemen.

Most Somali refugees registered in Yemen originate from Banadir, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Middle Shabelle and Woqooyi Galbeed regions in Somalia. In Yemen, most reside in Aden, Sana’a and Lahj governorates, the latter of which is where Yemen’s only refugee camp, the Kharaz refugee camp, is located.

UNHCR assistance will include documentation, travel and transportation assistance and financial support in Yemen to facilitate the journey, as well as assistance upon arrival in Somalia. Special measures will be put in place for the travel of individuals with specific needs. Most refugees opt to return to Mogadishu, in the anticipation that assistance and services will be more accessible and available.

In Yemen, UNHCR has been providing protection and services for refugees and asylum seekers including by providing legal assistance, supporting education and livelihoods programs, and providing access to health and pyscho-social services, a cash programme for persons with specific needs amongst others.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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WCC delegation visits Zimbabwe

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May 192017
 

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe yesterday leading a delegation of church leaders from Europe, Africa and North America.

The two-day visit in the capital is an ecumenical solidarity visit to manifest Christian churches’ support for the people of Zimbabwe.

“We make this solidarity visit to Zimbabwe to express our commitment to work with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), including our member churches and all peace-seeking people of Zimbabwe, and to support their tireless efforts on the ground to secure justice and peace in the country, said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

The delegation will meet with Zimbabwe government officials, including the vice president.

Most Christian Churches in Zimbabwe are members of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, which is undergoing a revitalization under its new leader, Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata.

“We see ourselves as a manifestation and extension of the global Christian family, and we are confident that we can play an important role for the people of our country. The solidarity visit puts us on the ecumenical map and shows the vitality of our Christian fellowship”, explained Mtata.

In a country where 80 percent of the population is Christian, the ZCC’s mission is to facilitate the empowerment of and renewal of its member churches, so that they have a sustainable and transforming Christian presence in Zimbabwe.

“We envision a strong Christian ecumenical fellowship for a united, peaceful, just and prosperous nation, where all citizens experience holistic salvation”, said Mtata.

Press Conference Friday 19 May at 2pm (Local time)

Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), will this afternoon (Friday 19 May 2017) address a Press Conference at the Holiday Inn, Harare, to brief the media on the WCC solidarity visit to Zimbabwe.

The Press Conference will start at 2pm. (Local time).

Distributed by APO on behalf of World Council of Churches (WCC).

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AGCO reaffirms further commitment to Challenger farm machinery brand in Africa

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May 192017
 

AGCO (www.AGCOcorp.com), Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, is to further develop its Challenger farm machinery business in Africa as part of the Company’s global strategy for this leading brand.

Challenger’s product offering includes high-performance tracked tractors and sprayers built by AGCO in North America for the African market. AGCO’s Challenger Manufacturing Plant in Jackson, Minnesota has been the subject of multi-million dollar investments over the last five years including a 75,000 sq.ft (6967 m2) expansion to the tractor assembly line and the opening of a new visitors’ centre. In 2013, a US$42 million upgrade and expansion was announced for engineering and manufacturing facilities to improve quality and increase production capacity. This upgrade included new component manufacturing facilities, new robotic welders, end-of-line quality testing, and new engineering and collaboration capabilities using virtual reality modeling in 3-D.

Challenger is a core brand for AGCO in Africa. The Company has plans to expand its product portfolio and utilise its established brand equity and Dealer network strength to propel further growth in the Africa region.

In Europe and Middle East (EME), where Challenger product has more of a niche market position, AGCO has proposed to integrate Challenger into the organisation of its Fendt operation from January 2018. The proposed organisational change in EME is subject to formal consultation processes. As an evolution of AGCO’s Commercial and Market strategy, the proposed changes would be an important step in the Company’s approach to best serve its customers and Dealers across the widest range of farm enterprises and machinery applications.

The proposed changes in EME do not affect the Challenger business in Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America where the brand is an important part of AGCO’s long-term go-to-market strategy and will continue to be one of AGCO’s core brands going forward.

Distributed by APO on behalf of AGCO Corporation.

Contacts:
Louisa Parker
Manager, External Affairs
Zambia Mobile: +260 971398169
UK Mobile +44(0) 7789746268
Email: Louisa.Parker@AGCOcorp.com

Paul Lay
Manager, Marketing Communications
Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 851209
Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 805993
Email: Paul.Lay@AGCOcorp.com

About AGCO:
AGCO (NYSE: AGCO) (www.AGCOcorp.com) is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural solutions and supports more productive farming through its full line of equipment and related services. AGCO products are sold through five core brands, Challenger®, Fendt®, GSI®, Massey Ferguson® and Valtra®, supported by Fuse® precision technologies and farm optimization services, and are distributed globally through a combination of approximately 3,000 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries. Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, GA, USA. In 2016, AGCO had net sales of $7.4 billion. For more information, visit www.AGCOcorp.com. For company news, information and events, please follow us on Twitter: @AGCOCorp. For financial news on Twitter, please follow the hashtag #AGCOIR.

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