Aug 272014

OTTAWA, Canada, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada is concerned by reports that a UN helicopter crashed after being attacked near Bentiu, South Sudan. Three crew members are confirmed to have died. The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan [UNMISS] has dispatched an investigative team to confirm the cause of the crash.

“This incident comes only one day after the Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army [SPLA] in Opposition signed an agreement in Ethiopia to work toward a permanent ceasefire and form a national unity government within 45 days.

“Canada urgently calls on both sides to respect agreements they have made toward preventing more violence and bloodshed in the area and to cease military engagements. They must also allow UNMISS to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and facilitate full, safe, unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of South Sudan.

“An immediate ceasefire is essential to ensuring the safe delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid.”

Aug 272014

ROME, Italy, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In a major effort to revitalize agriculture here, the government, the European Union and FAO have helped over 20,000 smallholder farmers produce more, higher-quality food and connect with new markets. Agriculture is on its way to become a key driver of Swaziland’s development.

The vast majority of Swaziland’s 1.2 million people depend on subsistence farming. But years of economic slowdown, a devastating AIDS pandemic and recent droughts linked to climate change have made it increasingly hard for the rural population to live off the land.

According to FAO’s most recent hunger figures, one in three people in Swaziland is undernourished.

Improving the food security and nutrition of vulnerable communities and helping small holder farmers move away from subsistence farming are key objectives of the Swaziland Agricultural Development Project (SADP), a government-led initiative assisted by the EU and FAO, which is focused on creating a vibrant commercial agricultural sector.

After five years, the programme is entering a final phase. “SADP has touched our smallholder farmers,” said Swaziland’s Minister for Agriculture, Moses Vilakati. “It has helped them become commercial. Continued support is necessary if we want agriculture to take a lead role in our economic development.”

Moving on

“The European Union is proud to be part of this endeavour that has reached over 20 000 farmers and has linked production to processing and marketing,” said Nicola Bellomo, the EU’s ambassador to Swaziland. “It shows that the country wants to move on.”

Set up in 2009, SADP first focused on the most vulnerable, particularly the elderly and Swaziland’s youth.

Household gardens allowed vulnerable families to grow vegetables for their own consumption, or to sell within the community. Youth groups got assistance to set up small agribusinesses, including poultry farming, pig raising, or vegetable and crop production.

Gradually, the project started disseminating good agricultural practices among Swazi smallholders, helping them to grow more, better-quality produce while preserving the environment and reducing pressure on limited natural resources. Thousands of farmers were trained in such good practices as conservation agriculture, agro-forestry and seed multiplication.

In addition, construction and rehabilitation works in the livestock sector, water infrastructure and government services have also supported farmers in increasing their output.

Producing more food meant that farmers needed a way to sell their surpluses. So a €1 million Marketing Investment Fund was established to strengthen farmers’ links to the markets by supporting agri-businesses who process and market the small holder’s produce.

A miracle

“Swaziland can make it,” said FAO’s Nehru Essomba, chief technical advisor of SADP. “They have the potential to export. In livestock, for instance. Or in niche crops. All that’s required now is some thinking.”

Thinking under SADP has already yielded an impressive record of institutional support. This is part of SADP’s long-term impact, and can lead the way towards a more sustainable, high income generating and market oriented agriculture.

National policies on research and extension have been updated, while SADP’s ultimate legacy is still in the making: a ten year national agricultural investment plan, currently being developed.

The plan is being drafted by the government along with help from the EU and regional partners, such as COMESA and NEPAD, in the framework of Africa’s foremost agricultural development initiative, known as CAADP.

Aiming at an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture by 2015, the governments that have signed up to this Africa led initiative have agreed to increase public spending on agriculture by a minimum of 10 per cent of their national budgets.

In Swaziland, such a paradigm shift could make agriculture the driver of the country’s own ambitious development plans.

“Our role is to help catalyse them,” said Nehru Essomba. “And then, the miracle can happen.”

Aug 272014

OSLO, Norway, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ‘It is regrettable that the parties to the conflict in South Sudan have failed to fulfil their obligations to introduce a ceasefire and establish a framework for the formation of a transitional government, as they agreed in June. I urge the parties to take advantage of the new opportunity they have been given to establish a national unity government with broad representation within 45 days,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

‘The creation of the post of prime minister will allow for a distribution of power that should be acceptable to both parties. The international community cannot accept further excuses from the parties while millions of people are suffering. Enough is enough,’ Mr Brende said.

At a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) yesterday, the parties to the conflict in South Sudan were given a new deadline of 45 days to establish a national unity government. The armed opposition led by former Vice President Riek Machar is to be offered the post of prime minister in a transition government that will also include other political forces, such as previously imprisoned SPLM leaders and representatives of opposition parties. The transition period will last for two and a half years and elections are to be held two months before the end of that period.

‘It is encouraging that the Government signed a new agreement yesterday on the establishment of a transition government, and I urge Riek Machar to do the same immediately so that real negotiations can begin in Addis Ababa. South Sudan’s neighbouring countries are showing responsibility through their active engagement. The parties in South Sudan must now show responsibility by working towards a political solution in order to prevent a full-blown famine in the country,’ Mr Brende said.

Aug 272014

JUBA, South Sudan, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Advisory

What: Journalists are invited to a press briefing with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Mr. Toby Lanzer. Mr. Lanzer will brief on the humanitarian …

Aug 272014

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (CMW) is meeting from 1 to 5 September to review Belize and Ghana. They are among the 47 S…

Aug 272014

NEW YORK, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Mark Lyall Grant ( United Kingdom):

On 7 August, the members of the Security Council heard briefings by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, the outgoing Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and the Minister for Defence of Angola, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, in his capacity as representative of the Chair of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The members of the Security Council welcomed the nomination of Said Djinnit as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the progress against armed groups, including the military defeat of the 23 March Movement (M23), the signing of the Nairobi Declarations by the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government and M23, and the significant weakening of the Allied Democratic Forces—National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU), but regretted that no significant progress was made towards the neutralization of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). They noted the initial efforts made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government and the Governments of the region towards fulfilling the commitments made under the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework, including the development of national and regional benchmarks. The members of the Security Council welcomed the efforts of regional organizations, in particular the role of the ICGLR, including that of President José Eduardo dos Santos as Chair, as subsequently demonstrated by the holding of two Heads of State and Government Mini-Summits in Luanda ( Angola) on 25 March and on 14 August.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their support for the swift neutralization of FDLR, as a top priority in bringing stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region. They recalled that leaders and members of FDLR were among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, and recalled that FDLR is a group under United Nations sanctions, operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and which has continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They expressed deep concern regarding the sustained domestic and regional threat posed by FDLR, including recent reports of continued human rights abuses by members of FDLR and continued recruiting and training of combatants, including children, and stressed the importance of disarming and ending the threat caused by this illegal armed group.

The members of the Security Council took note of ongoing ICGLR and Southern African Development Community (SADC) diplomatic efforts to harmonize views and approaches on the neutralisation and unconditional disarmament of FDLR. They further took note of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of FDLR from 2 July and the review of progress after three months, as set out by the joint ICGLR-SADC meeting of Ministers of Defence on 2 July. They expressed concern about reports by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo that FDLR has interpreted this six-month timeframe as a call to stall previously scheduled demobilizations. They noted that the disarmament process should be concluded swiftly, have a clearly defined end state and be supported by credible military action. Meanwhile, they encouraged the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government, in coordination with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), to actively pursue military action against those leaders and members of FDLR who do not engage in the demobilization process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses. They underlined MONUSCO’s mandate to neutralize all armed groups, in line with resolutions 2098 (2013) and 2147 (2014), and further underlined their support for an effective disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement programme, paying a particular attention to women and children, as part of the demobilization process.

The members of the Security Council took note of the technical missions carried out by the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government-led delegations to Uganda and Rwanda in April and July, respectively, to assess and process amnesty requests for former M23 combatants, in preparation for the repatriation of those eligible for reintegration, and underlined the need to fast-track and conclude their return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in accordance with an agreed timetable. In this regard, they encouraged the parties to speed up the implementation of the Kampala Dialogue/Nairobi Declarations in order to ensure the permanent demobilization of M23.

The members of the Security Council called for the full and swift implementation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s national commitments under the Peace and Security Council Framework, including the restoration of State authority and the wider governance, economic and security sector reforms needed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to consolidate the progress made so far. They noted in this context the particular importance of security sector reform, including the establishment of a rapid reaction force. They stressed that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo bears primary responsibility for security, protection of civilians, national reconciliation, peacebuilding and development in the country.

The members of the Security Council commended the work of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kobler and outgoing Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Robinson, and underlined the continuing crucial role of MONUSCO in protecting civilians and promoting peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They stressed the importance of the troop-contributing countries’ role in the implementation of the Mission’s full mandate, including the neutralization of all armed groups through its Intervention Brigade, in support of the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, either unilaterally or jointly with the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), and in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO. They further emphasized the importance for MONUSCO to support and work with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. They also stressed the need to continue to increase the effectiveness of the Mission, and looked forward to the outcome of the forthcoming Strategic Review of MONUSCO and the wider United Nations presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the United Nations, the African Union, ICGLR, SADC and other relevant international and regional organizations to continue to work together to support the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Governments of the region towards the full implementation of the national and regional commitments under the Peace and Security Council Framework.

Aug 272014

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily pulled back its health workers from the Kailahun post in Sierra Leone to the capital after the announcement over the weekend that one of their health workers was infected.

“This was the responsible thing to do. The field team has been through a traumatic time through this incident,” says Dr Daniel Kertesz, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone. “They are exhausted from many weeks of heroic work, helping patients infected with Ebola. When you add a stressor like this, the risk of accidents increases.”

Today the Organization sent a team to the town near the border with Guinea to do a review of the incident on the colleague who became infected. The team will try to determine how the health worker became infected, review the living and working environment of all the workers, try to identify factors that increase risk of infection, and address these issues.

“We recognize that this will interrupt the work in the field for the short term, but it ensures we protect health workers and the help the community over the longer term,” says Dr Kertesz. “We are working rapidly to ensure we can return to the field as quickly as possible.”

Once the investigation has been completed and appropriate actions have been taken, WHO will move a team back to Kailahun. In the meantime, the laboratory work will be performed at the facilities in Kenema. The next team of health workers for the Kailahun deployment is waiting on standby in Freetown.

Aug 262014

OTTAWA, Canada, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today, The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, chaired the first meeting of the Redesigning Development Finance Initiative (RDFI) Steering Committee, a joint global project between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC).

The RDFI brings together development finance institutions, governments, providers of official development assistance, foundations and private sector investors. Its goal is to expand the pool of foreign and domestic capital available for economic and social development in developing countries, including in such sectors as infrastructure, agriculture and energy. The initial focus will be on mobilizing and enabling private investment in Africa.

“Accelerating private sector-led, sustainable economic growth is our most effective tool to eradicate poverty around the world. We need to look at new approaches to mobilizing investment for development,” said Minister Paradis. “Through this initiative, Canada will use its world-leading expertise in innovative financing to help developing countries grow their economies more sustainably, manage their resources more responsibly, and build tomorrow’s markets for trade and investment.”

The RDFI Steering Committee aims to promote a more systematic approach to testing and scaling up financial innovations that accelerate progress toward development objectives by blending capital from philanthropists, private and commercial investors, and development institutions. Today’s meeting focused on the initiative’s expected outcomes and a plan of action for achieving them in the lead-up to the next International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015, including key milestones such as the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Quick Facts

• The RDFI was launched in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 7, 2014, at the WEF Regional Meeting on Africa. It aims to assist developing countries in accelerating social and economic progress by enabling increased private sector financing.

• Before being named Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, Chair of the RDFI Steering Committee, held the economic portfolios of Industry and Natural Resources, and served as Minister of State (Agriculture).

Aug 262014

JUBA, South Sudan, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirms that three crew members of a UN-contracted MI-8 helicopter have died in this afternoon’s crash near Bentiu in Unity State.

One surviving crew member has received treatment from the Médecins Sans Frontieres team in Bentiu.

The helicopter, which was on a routine cargo flight from Wau in Western Bahr El Ghazal State to Bentiu, lost contact with UNMISS at 14:28 hours.

“I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and wish a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew member,” said Toby Lanzer, the officer-in-charge of UNMISS.

The Mission is launching an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.