United Nations, United States and European Union call for immediate action on South Sudan

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The heads of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response today called for more support for the people of South Sudan, who have been severely affected by conflict, displacement and food insecurity.

“We are here today to sound the alarm for South Sudan,” said UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos who co-chaired the Humanitarian Ministerial Meeting with USAID’s Administrator, Rajiv Shah and EU Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva.

“The effects of the conflict are significant– millions of people have been affected, cities have been destroyed, the economy has collapsed and food production has been devastated,” said Amos. “We fear a serious food and nutrition crisis in the next few months if the situation doesn’t improve soon.”

The leaders issued a Call for Action on South Sudan urging immediate action on three critical fronts. They called for an end to the fighting, underscored the need for humanitarian funding over the next three months to help people cope with the crisis, and demanded that all parties to the conflict respect the people of South Sudan and abide by International Humanitarian Law.

“This declaration is a wake-up call to prevent a deeper catastrophe from unfolding in South Sudan,” said Dr. Shah. “Today, indicators tell us that South Sudan is on the brink of famine, and it’s clear that the world must now do more to address this crisis.”

“We all celebrated with the world’s newest nation when South Sudan became independent,” said Ms. Georgieva. “Less than three years later, we are witnessing a humanitarian disaster of appalling proportions. It is innocent civilians who are paying the highest price for what has happened. We need to stand by them, while doing everything we can to get their leaders to put an end to a conflict that is wrecking lives and livelihoods across South Sudan.”

Since the start of the conflict in late2013, more than a million people have been forced from their homes, including 800,000 people who are internally displaced and some 280,000 people who have fled to neighbouring countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya.

Millions more are already at risk of severe food insecurity. Conflict and a funding gap of nearly US$800 million continue to affect emergency aid efforts. As the rainy season looms, UN agencies and humanitarian partners warn that heavy rains and flooding could put a serious strain on their operations and further limit their access to people in need.

The United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan and on 25 March announced an additional $83 million in assistance. With this new funding, the U.S. Government is providing more than $411 million in 2013 and 2014 to date to help those affected by the crisis. The European Commission today announced that it will be boosting its life-saving assistance by $62 million (■45 million), making its total contribution for this year $131 million (■95 million).

Other high-level participants at the meeting included African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, and ministers from Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Kenya, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Also present were representatives from regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Islamic Development Bank, as well as heads of UN agencies and international humanitarian partners such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, InterAction and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Source: APO

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The African Union Launches Internet Exchange Point in Swaziland: “Contributing to a faster, more secure and affordable Internet in Africa”

MBABANE, Swaziland, April 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 10th April 2014, the African Union Commission (AUC), through the Infrastructure and Energy Department, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology of the Kingdom of Swaziland and Internet Society (ISOC) launched the Internet Exchange Point in Swaziland.

The Internet Exchange Point in Swaziland will contribute to bringing efficiency in the routing of intra-country internet traffic and hence faster and more secure exchange of intra-country internet traffic.

Through the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project, the African Union Commission has so far extended capacity building support to facilitate the establishment of internet exchange points in 24 Member States including Swaziland. The capacity building support facilitated the setting up of the necessary structures and prepared network engineers with the technical skills to interconnect their networks to the internet exchange point.

In addition to the capacity building support, the AU has so far donated equipment and services to set up and launch the Internet Exchange Points in Namibia, Burundi and Swaziland. The total cost of the support extended to realize each internet exchange point is USD 63,000. The Kingdom of Swaziland is the third Member State to launch the Internet Exchange Point with the support of the African Internet Exchange System Project of the AU.

“It has been a long road travelled together with the African Union Commission towards what we are here about today – our national internet exchange point (IXP). The African Union Commission has indeed proved to be a real mother to the nations on the African Continent by pioneering the African Internet Exchange System Project which has helped countries to establish their own internet exchange points” said Hon. Dumisani C. Ndlangamandla, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology.

“I find it proper to implore the committee and all the stakeholders to treat this gift from the African Union Commission with utmost attention and care. This is a gift to Government, to you stakeholders who are the primary users and to the whole Swazi Nation, added the Hon. Minister.”

“While the launch of the internet exchange point is a welcome and laudable development towards our efforts to reduce cost and inefficiency associated with routing of the continent’s internet traffic through overseas carriers, we are still at the very early stage of harnessing the potential of Internet Exchange Points in Africa. It is in this regard that the African Union Commission plans issue a request for proposals to select internet exchange points to be supported to grow into regional internet exchange points” said Mr. Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society Division, African Union Commission.

The launch was also attended by Mr. Michuki Mwangi from the Internet Society and attended by Senior Government Officials and Leaders of the Industry.

For more information on the African Internet Exchange System Project of the African Union, visit www.au.int/axis

Source: APO

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African Union commemorates 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda genocide (1994-2014)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Musical theatre and choir, stories, video documentaries, religious services and prayers from different religious denominations based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were some of the activities that took place during the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide commemorated today, 11 April 2014 at the headquarters of the African Union.

The ceremony also included statements from Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Tewodros Adhano, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AU, Mr. Hamadi Meimou, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Chairperson of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), Mr. Bulus Paul Lolo, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chair of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, and Mr Joseph Nsengimana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda.

It was recalled that around 1,000,000 people lost their lives during the 100 day period of the genocide. The 20th anniversary was observed under the theme: KWIBUKA20 “Remember, Unite, and Renew”.

“We must renew our determination, and make the choice: that Africa shall be peaceful; that we will integrate; that we shall be prosperous and that we will never again tolerate genocide on African soil”, underscored Chairperson Dlamini Zuma, while emphasizing on the need for Africa to silence the guns by 2020. (See complete speech of the AUC Chairperson on the AU website: www.au.int ).

Minister Tewodros referred to the genocide as an unprecedented tragedy on the continent “never to repeat itself again”.

Ambassador Lolo on his part said Africa has pledged never again to stand and witness the tragedy that took place some 20 years ago”.

Ambassador Nsengimana expressed appreciation for the contribution of the African and international community in the reconstruction journey of his country. He shared his wish for an Africa free of conflict and genocide, “respectful of the fundamental human rights”.

The AU Staff Association president Mr. Salah Siddig Hammad recalled the horrific acts that took place during the genocide and urged everyone to take action to prevent such atrocities from happening in the future.

Also featuring in the celebrations was the lighting of the commemorative torch in remembrance of the victims of the genocide in the presence of the international community, AU Commissioners and AU staff, representatives of the civil society organizations, diplomatic corps and the Rwandan community in Addis Ababa among other invited guests.

Source: APO

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The Commission of the African Union signs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UNESCO International Institute

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Commission of the African Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) on Wednesday 9 April 2014, at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST), stated that the signing of the MOU was another step towards strengthening partnerships in Education on the Continent. His counterpart Mr. Arnaldo Nhavoto echoed his remarks, commenting on IICBA’s commitment to assist in achieving the goals set out in the 2nd Decade of Education.

The Commission, as the Secretariat of the African Union, through its Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST), runs education programmes, which seek to promote the implementation of the Plan of Action for the African Union Second Decade of Education for Africa, particularly in the thematic areas of teacher development; the harmonization of education policies; and contribution to revitalized, quality, relevant education systems responsive to Africa’s needs, aspirations, and capacity.

The counterpart in the MOU, IICBA focuses on building and strengthening capacities of teacher education institutions in Africa and contributes to the design and implementation of the Second Decade of Education for Africa in the areas of teacher development, school leadership and management and school supervision and support.

The cooperation engendered in the mentioned MOU allows for a pooling of efforts and resources towards achieving common objectives and strengthening cooperation in education on the Continent.”

Source: APO

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MSF welcomes the news of the safe release of the two Kenyan nationals freed from nearly three years of captivity in Somalia.

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — MSF confirms that Daniel Njuguna was not an MSF member of staff. At the time he was taken captive, he was working as a driver’s helper for the transport company Shibli Enterprises Ltd, that was contracted to transport MSF supplies from Nairobi to Marere, Middle Juba, Somalia.

We wish them both a swift recovery and reunification with their loved ones.

Source: APO

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