Sep 162014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Investigators from the International Organization for Migration have obtained eyewitness testimony of a tragic incident in which as many as 500 migrants were drowned when their vessel was deliberately sunk in the Mediterranean.

These reports point to a growing death toll off Europe’s shores which this year already approaches 3,000. That’s nearly four times the figure from 2013, which IOM’s Missing Migrants Project estimated to be 700 deaths.

“The numbers dying off Europe’s coasts are shocking and unacceptable,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing, “These are women, children and men who only hope for a more dignified life. The risks they take reflect their desperation and we cannot keep abandoning them to their fate.”

IOM staff and Italian police have interviewed two survivors brought ashore to the town of Pollazzo in Sicily. Both are Palestinian men from Gaza who were rescued separately after days in the water clinging to flotation devices. They told investigators that their overcrowded vessel was sent to the bottom by enraged smugglers when demands that they move to a less seaworthy vessel were rejected by the migrants. The survivors, aged 27 and 33, who have requested asylum, described harrowing scenes as exhausted victims succumbed all around them.

By Tuesday morning authorities in Italy, Malta and Greece had confirmed to IOM staffers the rescue of 10 migrants from the lost vessel. Additionally, three bodies from the shipwreck have been found.

The survivors in Sicily told IOM that they left the port of Damietta in Egypt on Saturday, September 6th, with some 500 men, women and children from the Middle East and Africa aboard. They said they were forced to switch vessels several times but resisted a switch to a replacement craft they deemed un-seaworthy. Enraged, the traffickers reportedly rammed the boat with their own, the witnesses said.

The two witnesses told IOM staff they fled Gaza through Egypt at the beginning of September.

According to their testimony there were Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese aboard.

“If survivors’ reports are confirmed, this will be the worst shipwreck of migrants in years, not an accidental tragedy, but the apparent deliberate drowning of migrants by criminal gangs who extort money for their desperate journeys. Their actions are as callous as they are evil,” said IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle.

Other survivors of the tragedy who were brought ashore in Crete confirmed that there were some 500 migrants on the vessel when it sank.

Most of the 500 passengers drowned, but others managed to remain afloat by holding on to debris and flotation devices. After almost two days in the sea, a Panamanian-flagged merchant vessel “Pegasus”, carrying 386 migrants rescued from yet another boat, found the two Palestinian men floating in the water. They were taken to the Italian port of Pozzallo two days ago where they remain in a state of exhaustion and shock after their experience.

A UK-flagged vessel saved another five adults and a child from the sea and they are now in Crete. Two others were rescued off Malta.

Authorities are also investigating a report that a further 200 people are missing, presumed drowned in an incident off Libya and another 15 died off the coast of Egypt.

If these reports are verified, the death toll for the past week would be over 700 people lost at sea, making this one of the most deadly periods of recent years.

Sep 162014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Investigators from the International Organization for Migration have obtained eyewitness testimony of a tragic incident in which as many as 500 migrants were drowned when their vessel was deliberately sunk in the Mediterranean.

These reports point to a growing death toll off Europe’s shores which this year already approaches 3,000. That’s nearly four times the figure from 2013, which IOM’s Missing Migrants Project estimated to be 700 deaths.

“The numbers dying off Europe’s coasts are shocking and unacceptable,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing, “These are women, children and men who only hope for a more dignified life. The risks they take reflect their desperation and we cannot keep abandoning them to their fate.”

IOM staff and Italian police have interviewed two survivors brought ashore to the town of Pollazzo in Sicily. Both are Palestinian men from Gaza who were rescued separately after days in the water clinging to flotation devices. They told investigators that their overcrowded vessel was sent to the bottom by enraged smugglers when demands that they move to a less seaworthy vessel were rejected by the migrants. The survivors, aged 27 and 33, who have requested asylum, described harrowing scenes as exhausted victims succumbed all around them.

By Tuesday morning authorities in Italy, Malta and Greece had confirmed to IOM staffers the rescue of 10 migrants from the lost vessel. Additionally, three bodies from the shipwreck have been found.

The survivors in Sicily told IOM that they left the port of Damietta in Egypt on Saturday, September 6th, with some 500 men, women and children from the Middle East and Africa aboard. They said they were forced to switch vessels several times but resisted a switch to a replacement craft they deemed un-seaworthy. Enraged, the traffickers reportedly rammed the boat with their own, the witnesses said.

The two witnesses told IOM staff they fled Gaza through Egypt at the beginning of September.

According to their testimony there were Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese aboard.

“If survivors’ reports are confirmed, this will be the worst shipwreck of migrants in years, not an accidental tragedy, but the apparent deliberate drowning of migrants by criminal gangs who extort money for their desperate journeys. Their actions are as callous as they are evil,” said IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle.

Other survivors of the tragedy who were brought ashore in Crete confirmed that there were some 500 migrants on the vessel when it sank.

Most of the 500 passengers drowned, but others managed to remain afloat by holding on to debris and flotation devices. After almost two days in the sea, a Panamanian-flagged merchant vessel “Pegasus”, carrying 386 migrants rescued from yet another boat, found the two Palestinian men floating in the water. They were taken to the Italian port of Pozzallo two days ago where they remain in a state of exhaustion and shock after their experience.

A UK-flagged vessel saved another five adults and a child from the sea and they are now in Crete. Two others were rescued off Malta.

Authorities are also investigating a report that a further 200 people are missing, presumed drowned in an incident off Libya and another 15 died off the coast of Egypt.

If these reports are verified, the death toll for the past week would be over 700 people lost at sea, making this one of the most deadly periods of recent years.

Sep 162014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 456th meeting held on 12 September 2014, adopted the following decision on the progress report of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan:

Council,

. Takes note of the progress report of the AUHIP [PSC/PR/2.(CDLVI)], as well as of the introductory remarks by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Chairperson of the AUHIP. Council also takes note of the statements made by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for Sudan and South Sudan and the Joint Special Representative (JSR) for the AU – UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and Joint Chief Mediator (JCM). Council further takes note of the statements made by the representatives of the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, the European Union (EU), the League of Arab States (LAS), Italy, in its capacity as co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Partners Forum, Norway, in its capacity as a member of the Troika on Sudan and South Sudan, as well as France, United Kingdom and the United States of America, as permanent members of the UN Security Council;

. Recalls its earlier communiqués and press statements on the implementation of the various aspects of the mandate of the AUHIP and other related AU’s efforts, including communiqués PSC/AHG/COMM/2.(CCCXCVII) and PSC/AHG/COMM/1.(CCCLIII), adopted at its 353rd and 397th meetings held in Addis Ababa and in New York, on 25 January and 23 September 2013, respectively;

. Commends the AUHIP and its members, namely former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Pierre Buyoya, as well as the Support Team, for their persistent engagement with, and support to, the efforts of the Governments and peoples of Sudan and South Sudan. Council also commends the Chair of IGAD, Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, for his continued engagement and support to the efforts of the AUHIP and the promotion of peace, security and stability in the Horn of Africa region;

. Expresses appreciation for the important role of the JSR/JCM, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Haile Menkerios, and the Special Envoy of IGAD, Lissane Yohannes, in the overall efforts aimed at achieving peace, security and stability in the region, and notes with satisfaction the exemplary cooperation between them and the AUHIP. Council also expresses appreciation for the support and assistance being extended to the AUHIP by the AU bilateral and multilateral partners;

. Reiterates its appreciation to President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad for his continued contribution to the peace efforts in Darfur, including the convening, in Umdjaras, Chad, from 26 to 30 March 2014, of the Forum for Reconciliation in Darfur for the purpose of encouraging all concerned groups to join the peace process;

. Welcomes the continued engagement of the State of Qatar in the search for peace in Darfur, in particular its significant financial contribution for the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and the Darfur Development Strategy (DDS), thus assisting in alleviating the suffering of the population of Darfur, including the internally displaced persons (IDPs);

. Notes the numerous challenges that continue to face Sudan, including armed conflicts in the Two Areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile and in Darfur, which threaten the well-being of the Sudanese people and indeed the future of the country, and stresses the need for renewed African efforts, with appropriate international support, to assist the Sudanese parties in overcoming these challenges, promoting national reconciliation, enhancing unity within diversity and strengthening democracy and good governance;

. Recalls its earlier pronouncements on the need for a holistic approach to the challenges facing Sudan, as articulated in the report of the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD), adopted by the 207th meeting of Council held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 29 October 2009 [communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.1(CCVII)], and, in this regard, fully supports the coordinated effort to address national issues, as well as the situations in the “Two Areas” and in Darfur, within a common framework;

. Welcomes the speech made by President Omar Hassan Al Bashir of Sudan, on 27 January 2014, outlining the framework for a National Dialogue, based on the following agenda: peace and national unity, economy, basic rights and freedoms, national identity, constitutional review and governance;

. Further welcomes the determination of all the components of the people of Sudan to move forward to achieve a comprehensive, fair and lasting settlement to the armed conflicts and other political problems that afflict their nation. In this respect, Council notes with satisfaction the adoption of the Paris Declaration and the Roadmap of the “7+7” Committee, on 8 and 9 August 2014, respectively, as well as the readiness of the registered Political parties, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement-SLM (Minni Minawi) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-SLM (Abdel Wahid al-Nur) to participate in a common process, as expressed in the Addis Ababa Agreement of 5 September 2014 on the principles of the National Dialogue, its objectives and the key steps necessary for the creation of the enabling environment;

. Recognizes the importance of the National Dialogue, as an authentic, transparent, inclusive and fair process initiated and owned by the people of Sudan, in order to bring about lasting peace across the entire country;

. Emphasizes that the international community should do its part in supporting the people of Sudan at this historic juncture, noting that Sudan faces economic hardships and that the prospects for the success of the National Dialogue will be greatly enhanced by international measures to alleviate the economic distress facing the country. Council notes that, while Sudan has followed international economic prescriptions to stabilize its economy, the country still does not have access to international financial support, including debt relief, concessionary loans and other mechanisms normally available to countries undergoing such hardships;

. Recognizes the critical leadership role of the AUHIP in the coordination of the various mediation tracks underway in Sudan. In this regard, Council urges all international actors with a mediation mandate to pool their resources together, as well as harmonize their interventions, in a manner that optimizes the window of opportunity presented by the National Dialogue, with a view to finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflicts in Sudan;

. Endorses, in light of the above, the following steps to ensure harmonized and focused action by the AUHIP in support of the efforts of the Sudanese stakeholders to address the issues confronting their country:

(i) the negotiations on cessation of hostilities, immediately leading to a comprehensive security arrangements agreement, should resume at the earliest opportunity, under the auspices of the AUHIP and in collaboration and coordination with the JSR/JCM;

(ii) the negotiations on the cessation of hostilities for the Two Areas and for Darfur should be conducted in a synchronized manner;

(iii) a meeting of the Sudanese parties to discuss relevant process issues, in order to pave the way for the National Dialogue should be held at the AU Headquarters under the facilitation of the AUHIP, as requested by the Sudanese stakeholders, , to ensure that the necessary confidence-building are taken, the key steps of the National Dialogue process are fully agreed upon, and that the process is fair and will result in the mutually-agreed objectives;

. Welcomes the commitment of the Sudanese stakeholders immediately to establish a conducive environment for the holding of the National Dialogue, and encourages the Government to expedite its efforts towards implementing the agreed confidence-building measures, including:

(i) the release of all political detainees and prisoners;

(ii) the adoption and implementation of all necessary steps to ensure political freedoms and full guarantee of the freedom of expression and publication, including by enacting the necessary legislation to give effect to these freedoms;

(iii) ensuring that the judiciary will be the only institution to adjudicate matters relating to the exercise of the freedom of expression and publication, with no resort to extraordinary measures; and

(iv) providing the necessary guarantees for the armed groups freely to participate in the National Dialogue, once the comprehensive ceasefire and security arrangements agreements have been concluded, and facilitating humanitarian assistance to all populations in war-affected areas;

. Urges all Sudanese stakeholders participating in the National Dialogue to refrain from hate speech and from conducting negative media campaigns against each other;

. Further urges the international community, especially the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and bilateral partners, to consider providing an economic support package to Sudan, including expediting debt relief and extending concessionary loans, in support of the people of Sudan as they move forward. Council appeals to all States that have imposed sanctions on the financial services sector to lift them, in order to contribute positively towards the creation of enabling conditions for the success of the National Dialogue;

. Recalls the 27 September 2012 Agreements between South Sudan and Sudan and welcomes the positive evolution of the relations between the two Governments. Council also recalls the Agreement on the Temporary Security and Administrative Arrangements for the Abyei Area of 20 June 2011 and subsequent meetings between the Parties on the implementation of that Agreement;

. Commends the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and its Force Commander, as well as the members of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission, for their efforts towards the implementation of their respective mandates;

. Further commends the Government of Sudan for receiving South Sudanese fleeing the conflict in their country and extending the Four Freedoms to them while in Sudan, as well as for allowing the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected populations in South Sudan;

. Notes with satisfaction the significant progress made in implementing the September 2012 Cooperation Agreements. At the same time, Council notes with concern that not all the elements of the Agreements have been fully implemented, particularly with respect to the Security Agreement, including the determination of the centreline of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) that will lead to the establishment of the SDBZ;

. Supports the envisaged convening, as soon as possible, by the two Governments, of a meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism, to address all outstanding security issues pertaining to the September 2012 Agreement, particularly the determination of the centreline of the SDBZ;

. Notes the progress made towards the stabilization and normalization of the situation in the Abyei Area, including the return of the displaced persons. At the same time, Council notes with concern that key elements of the June 2011 Agreement have not yet been implemented, and that these delays are affecting the normalization of the life of the people of Abyei. Council emphasizes that without further progress, the achievements made to date will be jeopardized. Council recalls that the two Presidents have continuously affirmed the they will jointly handle the question of the final status of the Abyei Area;

. Urges the expedited implementation of the outstanding administrative and security elements of the June 2011 Agreement on the Abyei Area, in order to meet the everyday needs of the people of Abyei, emphasizing that the Parties may interpret those provisions creatively based on mutual understanding, and that the implementation of the temporary arrangements should, in no way, jeopardize the discussions on the final status of Abyei;

. Notes with appreciation the cooperation extended by the Parties to the AU Border Program (AUBP), leading to the completion of the AUBP Technical Assessment Report on the capacity of Sudan and South Sudan to demarcate their border;

. Appreciates the assistance given by the Parties to the AU Team of Experts (AUTE) on the Settlement of Boundary Issues, and urges that the process of exchanging the written submissions be expedited, to enable the AUTE complete its work in a timely manner;

. Recalls the support expressed by the Assembly of the Union, in decision Assembly/AU/Dec.536(XXIII) adopted at its 23rd Ordinary Session held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 26 to 27 June 2014, for the Joint Approach by Sudan, South Sudan and the AUHIP, including comprehensive debt relief and lifting of sanctions for Sudan and development support to South Sudan. Council urges the international donors and creditors to provide such financial assistance and comprehensive debt relief as may be required to enable the two States to implement policies and programs designed to promote their economic development and to improve the lives of their peoples. Council requests the AUHIP to continue supporting these efforts;

. Recalls its request to the AUHIP, in close consultation with the Chair and Secretariat of IGAD, to contribute to the promotion of a regional and holistic approach to the challenges of peace, security, stability and development in the Horn of Africa, in support of IGAD’s efforts, as contained in communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM/2.(CCCXCVII), bearing in mind the relevant decisions of the Assembly of the Union, including decision Assembly/AU/Dec.536(XXIII). Council looks forward to an update by the AUHIP on the follow-up steps taken;

. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Sep 162014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has opened its first Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone, one of the districts worst affected by the deadly outbreak.

“This treatment centre is desperately needed,” says Tiina Saarikoski, IFRC treatment centre manager. “Kenema has been greatly affected by this outbreak. This centre will help relieve some of the pressure on the local government hospital where several doctors and nurses have fallen victim to the Ebola outbreak.”

Built at the request of the government on the outskirts of Kenema city, the treatment centre is currently staffed with 19 international workers and 80 national employees. It has already received its first patients, four men and an 11 year old girl from the capital city Freetown. To date, Sierra Leone has recorded more than 1,400 Ebola cases and 524 deaths.

“The treatment centre will accommodate 60 patients, but for now, we are going to stagger admissions,” adds Saarikoski. “Our team is ready, but for their safety, and the safety of patients, we want to ensure they are not overwhelmed. Making a mistake here can prove deadly and is obviously something we want to avoid.”

The treatment centre is expected to operate for up to twelve months, if funding is available to keep the doors open. “We are greatly appreciative of the support from our donors which enabled us to open the Ebola treatment centre,” says Stephen McAndrew, IFRC head of emergency Ebola operations in Sierra Leone. “However, at the moment, we do not have sufficient funding to keep the clinic open for the full twelve months. Also, with the situation evolving, we will have to extend and expand our efforts, to keep up with escalating needs.”

Funds are needed to support the deployment of additional healthcare workers as the operation scales up and more patients are admitted, as well as the tools, supplies and equipment needed to do the job. “When operating at full capacity, we can go through up to 200 sets of personal protective equipment every day,” says Saarikoski. “Most of the kit has to be destroyed after one use to avoid cross contamination.”

IFRC has revised its emergency appeal upwards from 1.4 million Swiss francs to 12.3 million Swiss francs, to expand its operations in response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. An extraordinary allocation of the IFRC disaster relief emergency fund of one million Swiss francs also allowed for the deployment of an emergency response unit to Kenema to facilitate the start-up of the treatment centre.

Since the first confirmed case was identified in Sierra Leone in May, teams of volunteers with the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society have been trained and deployed to communities to collect and bury bodies, follow up with those who may have come into contact with an infected person, raise awareness about Ebola, and provide psychosocial support. These activities will be scaled up under the revised emergency appeal, with more than 1,600 volunteers trained to ensure larger geographical areas can be reached.

Sep 162014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — WHO welcomes the commitment from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to dispatch a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone to enhance the laboratory testing capacity for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.

The contribution comes in response to WHO’s appeal for further assistance to Ebola response efforts in Africa and requests by the government of Sierra Leone. In addition to laboratory experts, the 59-person team from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses. They will support Ebola response efforts at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital, which was built in 2012 with assistance from the Chinese Government.

“The most urgent immediate need in the Ebola response is for more medical staff,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The newly announced team will join 115 Chinese medical staff on the ground in Sierra Leone virtually since the beginning. This is a huge boost, morally and operationally.”

The WHO Ebola response roadmap, released on 28 August, highlights the need for a massively scaled response to support affected countries. The commitment from the Chinese Government exemplifies the kind of international effort required to intensify response activities and strengthen national capacities.

Sep 152014
 

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Frank A. Rose

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH)

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

September 8, 2014

Thank you so much for having me here today.

It is an honor to be here at COSTECH and to have the opportunity to speak with you. This is my first time visiting Tanzania, so it is a real pleasure to be with you today.

I’m also particularly pleased to be here in following the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As you know, last month, President Obama welcomed leaders from across this continent to Washington for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. The President also welcomed outstanding young African leaders who had been participating in the Young African Leaders Initiatives.

These meetings built on the President’s visit to Africa in the summer of 2013 and helped strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions.

The theme of the Summit was “Investing in the Next Generation.” I’m here today to continue to discuss that theme and to once again underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa cooperation.

Specifically, I would like to talk to you about the importance of space to African nations and our work of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment.

It is critical that we work together to preserve and protect outer space for the next generation so countries like Tanzania can continue to utilize space applications for sustainable development on Earth.

Why Space Matters to Africa

Outer space and space assets – like satellites – provide value to countries and peoples around the world. Space systems provide tremendous benefits to the health and development of African nations, even those without space programs or satellites. As you know, space has real benefits for countries like Tanzania as well as all of Africa.

First, space is about connecting people.

Navigation satellite systems and satellite communications help us navigate the globe and connect and communicate with people around the world. Mobile phones, GPS, and television broadcasts all rely on space systems to connect us to distant places and people. For example, if you’ve ever used a cell phone in a remote area, you may have used a satellite to connect your call.

Second, space is about health.

Many countries in Africa and around the world suffer shortages of doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and facilities. Recently, many nations have been turning to space systems to help deal with this issue. For example, the European Space Agency, through the “Satellite African eHealth validation” program, is providing telemedicine services through satellite technology. This program connects remote regions in Sub-Saharan Africa with hospitals in larger cities for medical services and education.

Third, space is about education.

Space assets can be utilized to provide access to all levels of education to students that might not otherwise have access. African nations are working with other nations around the world to provide a variety of tele-education services by connecting leading African and foreign universities to remote classrooms.

Fourth, space is about collecting critical information.

African nations utilize Earth observation data for a variety of activities, including disaster monitoring and resource management. For example, Kenya hosts a UN Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) which utilizes data from American Earth observation satellites to respond to requests from member States for crop monitoring, water conditions, and disaster warning. The RCMRD also hosts the East Africa node of the SERVIR program, a joint venture between NASA and USAID which provides satellite-based Earth observation data and science applications to help developing nations improve their environmental decision making.

Fifth, like the goal of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit said, space is about investing in the next generation.

Active space sciences and astronomy programs also can encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math studies. As a part of the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge, the Agency is currently discussing opportunities for the government of South Africa to contribute to the global search for hazardous Near-Earth Objects as a means of boosting South Africa’s focus on human capital development.

Sixth, space is about growth and development here on Earth.

Space technology and its applications, such as Earth observation systems, meteorological satellites, communication satellites and global navigation systems make significant contributions to achieving sustainable development in Africa.

In fact, during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012, delegations from around the world specifically recognized the importance of space-technology-based data and reliable geospatial information for sustainable development and recognized the need to support developing countries in their efforts to collect environmental data.

Space technology can be useful for nations with rapidly growing populations. In India, the government uses satellite imagery to help with city planning, especially those cities undergoing massive demographic changes.

Many people around the world are also using space assets to help with forest management. Satellite companies and foreign governments are making satellite imagery available to other governments and NGOs so that they can more effectively track changes and monitor land use.

Additionally, commercial ventures, relying on emerging small and microsatellite technologies, offer the potential for even wider access to critical earth observation information.

The use of space technology benefits Africa and its peoples in various ways. Space applications offer effective tools for connecting people around the world, monitoring and conducting assessments of the environment, managing the use of natural resources, managing responses to natural disasters and providing education and health services in remote areas.

How Africa Can Work Together on Space

These and countless other examples make clear that space is critical to the developing countries, including those in Africa. The number of African nations with their own space agencies and/or satellites continues to grow. African nations are more reliant on space applications than ever before to ensure their sustainable development. However, in order to continue utilizing these essential space applications, we need to preserve the outer space environment.

The long-term sustainability of space activities is at serious risk from space debris and from irresponsible actors and their actions. This summer, that risk became even clearer. On July 23, the Chinese Government conducted a non-destructive test of a missile designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit. Despite China’s claims that this was not an anti-satellite weapon, or ASAT, test, let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment. That event was indeed an ASAT test.

Irresponsible acts against space systems do not just harm the space environment, but they also disrupt services that the citizens, companies, and governments around the world depend on. Ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment is in the vital interests of the United States, African nations, and the entire global community.

As African nations benefit more and more from space, and many begin to own satellites, it’s our hope that African nations will play an active role in developing international “best practices” of responsible behavior, such as discussions on the draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Threats to Outer Space

The utilization of space for sustainable development is not unique to Africa; nations and peoples around the globe now recognize the benefits that space applications have to offer. Today, approximately 60 nations, international organizations, and government consortia operate satellites. There are also numerous commercial and academic satellite operators.

This evolution in the use of outer space has greatly benefited society and has brought people around the world closer together, but it also presents challenges. As more countries and people benefit from space applications and the demand for satellite use has grown, the orbital environment has become increasingly congested.

Today, the orbits close to Earth, where most of our operations are conducted, are increasingly littered with debris. The U.S. is currently tracking tens of thousands of pieces of space debris 10 centimeters or larger in various Earth orbits. Experts warn that the current quantity and density of man-made debris significantly increases the odds of future damaging collisions. I strongly believe it is in our individual and collective interest that all spacefaring nations work to maintain the sustainability of the space environment, so that we can continue to reap the developmental benefits that space provides here on Earth.

Code of Conduct

Perhaps one of the most beneficial actions we can take for ensuring sustainability and security in space would be adopting of an International Code of Conduct. The United States is working with the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

An International Code of Conduct, if adopted, would help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust in space by establishing guidelines to reduce the risks of debris-generating events, including collisions. As more countries field space capabilities, it is in all of our interests to work together to establish internationally accepted “rules of the road” to ensure that the safety and sustainability of space is protected. We strongly encourage all African nations to participate in the development of the International Code of Conduct and rules of responsible behavior in space.

Conclusion

When President Obama addressed the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, he said this:

“I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children.”

Space plays a major role in facilitating those connections, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be with you today to discuss the benefits of space and how we can utilize its power to strengthen the future for generations to come.

Thank you very much.

Sep 152014
 

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Statement by EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva and EU Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, following the High Level Event to coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa:

The EU is gravely concerned by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, where the situation continues to deteriorate. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the dedicated healthcare workers who are doing their utmost to fight the spread of the virus and take care of the victims. Today, we have discussed with EU Ministers how to coordinate further steps in a Europe-wide response to the epidemic.

We welcome the contributions made already by our EU Member States through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. We call on them to continue and strengthen their support to the region in order to respond to pressing needs such as effective treatment centres, sufficient numbers of health workers, and ensuring macro-economic stability. We will also do our utmost to align to the priorities identified and coordinated by the WHO.

The EU has increased its response on several occasions since the outbreak of the epidemic and has so far pledged almost €150 million to help the affected countries. This includes ensuring treatment for infected patients and measures to contain the epidemic, as well as strengthening health care systems and improving food security, water and sanitation. EU mobile laboratories are deployed in the region to help with the diagnostics and confirmation of cases and train laboratory technicians. Furthermore, Liberia and Sierra Leone will receive financial assistance through budget support to help them deliver health care services and bolster macro-economic stability in response to wider economic challenges arising from the crisis.

The EU is firmly committed to supporting the affected countries and their development in the immediate and longer-term.

Today’s meeting has reaffirmed our partnership and solidarity with West Africa. We also discussed actions to facilitate transport in and out of the region.

We welcome the participation of the UN at this meeting, laying out efforts for international coordination, notably through the establishment of operational platforms. These efforts deserve our full support, and provide the appropriate backbone to deliver the European Comprehensive response to the Ebola crisis.

We agreed on the crucial importance of reliable systems of medical evacuation for humanitarian staff and medical workers in the affected countries so as to maintain an effective international response on the ground. To this end, we agreed to launch work without delay on developing a European co-ordination mechanism for medical evacuations. Participants at the meeting expressed their appreciation for a proposal from France which could form the basis of further discussion on such a mechanism.

Despite the low risk of the virus circulating within EU countries, the need to continue working on preparedness and coordination of risk management was also stressed.

Sep 152014
 

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 15, 2014

I am pleased to announce that we are resuming operations at our embassy in Bangui. The people and leaders of the Central African Republic have made progress in ending the violence and putting their nation on a path toward peace and stability. But we all know that much work remains to be done.

That’s why I asked David Brown to serve as Chargé d’Affaires and to work closely with the transitional government, as well as our international friends and partners, to advance a peaceful, democratic and inclusive political transition. And that’s why, on his arrival in Bangui, we announced an additional $28 million in U.S. humanitarian funding, bringing the U.S. total to $145.7 million this year alone.

With the September 15 transition to the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, we extend our profound thanks to the African Union, its force-contributing countries, as well as the French and European forces, for their important contributions to peace and stability in the Central African Republic. We call on all parties to fully support the UN mission in its vital task ahead as it takes over from the African Union mission. And as we reopen our embassy, I want to thank our dedicated Central African colleagues for their service during these difficult 21 months.

Only a fully inclusive, peaceful, and democratic political transition process can stop the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic. That process must include the voices of all Central Africans, especially refugees and internally displaced persons. It must end impunity and give all citizens access to justice while holding those who have committed abuses accountable for their actions. And it must lead to free and fair elections that give all Central Africans a stake in the future of their country.

The Central African Republic and its people are at a crucial juncture. The United States is determined to help make this moment of opportunity a success.

Sep 152014
 

ROME, Italy, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Includes new figures on the number of hungry people in the world, key lessons from individual countries on food security and nutrition.

On Tuesday 16 September at 10:00h Rome-time, the three Rome-based UN food agencies – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – will launch the new edition of the annual The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) is published jointly by FAO, IFAD and WFP.

This year’s edition of SOFI presents new estimates on the number and proportion of chronically undernourished people in the world and also reports on progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and World Food Summit (WFS) hunger targets.

The report also examines seven case studies – Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Yemen – that highlight diverse experiences in creating an enabling environment to improve impact on hunger and malnutrition.

The new SOFI and its main findings will be presented at a news conference at FAO’s headquarters, which will be webcast live at http://www.fao.org/webcast/

The report will also be available online from 10:00 at http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/

WHO: José Graziano da Silva – Director-General, FAO

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, WFP

John McIntire, Associate Vice-President on behalf of President Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD

WHAT: News conference to present 2014 edition of the UN’s

annual world hunger report

WHEN: Tuesday 16 September 2014, 10:00h CET

WHERE: Sheikh Zayed Media Centre, FAO headquarters

Rome, Italy | Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, corner with Viale Aventino. Metro stop Circo Massimo.

Accreditation will take place at the main FAO visitor’s entry kiosk. A valid press card or letter of assignment on company stationery, plus picture ID, required.

Webcast: http://www.fao.org/webcast/

Twitter hashtags: #UNFAO #SOFI2014 #foodsecurity #foodinsecurity #hunger

Twitter accounts: @faonews, @faoknowledge, @IFADnews @WFP, @WFP_media

Sep 152014
 

PRETORIA, South-Africa, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Envoy Said Djinnit completed a two-day visit to South Africa, as part of his first tour of signatory countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region. The Special Envoy met with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Minister of State Security, Mr. David Mahlobo.

“South Africa is a crucial regional partner. South African troops in the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in DRC play a vital role in maintaining stability in eastern DRC, and I commend the dedication of South African men and women to this fundamental task. As a signatory country to the PSC Framework, South Africa further helps establish key linkages between the ICGLR and SADC and spur regional cooperation on priority issues under the Framework”, Mr. Djinnit said.

Special Envoy Djinnit and South African officials discussed progress in the implementation of the PSC Framework, focusing in particular on neutralization of negative forces, and the need to strengthen regional relations. “I am pleased with the constructive discussions I had and the support I received in South Africa for my mandate. I look forward to working closely with the Government of South Africa, as a PSC Framework signatory country and Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, to make progress on some of the most urgent issues we face under the Framework, such as the FDLR. I am also pleased with South Africa’s pledge of support for an upcoming Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference, which shows a shared long-term vision under the PSC Framework towards lasting peace and greater economic development for the region”, according to Mr. Djinnit.

Sep 152014
 

DAKAR, Senegal, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ten African journalists, including three in Kenya, two in Ethiopia, two in South Africa, one in Burkina Faso, one in Ghana, and one in Rwanda, have been selected as finalists in the 2014 APO Media Award (#APOMediaAward) (http://www.apo-opa.com/apo-media-award.php).

Logo APO: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/apo-african-press-organization-small.png

Photos of the finalists: http://bit.ly/1qOdGN1

APO Media Award celebrates brilliant and inspiring stories about Africa. Stories are judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

2014 APO Media Award Finalists are:

Aimable Twahirwa (@atwahirwa) – Rwanda

“Tech Entrepreneur Encourages Rwanda’s Young Women to Venture into ICT” (http://bit.ly/1ogmYkJ)

Andualem Sisay Gessesse (@andualemsisay ) – Ethiopia

“The new face of agriculture in arid Ethiopia?” (http://bit.ly/1pALjMX)

Claire Muthinji (@cmuthinji) – Kenya

“Maintaining a strong saving culture in Africa” (http://bit.ly/Wpv6mE)

Elias Gebreselassie Woldegebriel (@EliasGebre) – Ethiopia

“For Ethiopia, wildlife protection makes economic and climate sense” (http://tmsnrt.rs/ZcpUEK)

Félix Dela Klutse (@felixklutse) – Ghana

“Unlocking the potential of agribusiness in Africa” (http://bit.ly/1pAM60f)

Inoussa Maiga (@MaigaInou) – Burkina Faso

“La révolution mobile au Sahel” (http://bit.ly/1AiJRF2)

Kristia Van Heerden (@k_r_isis) – South Africa

“How the poor can make you rich” (http://bit.ly/ZcqRgm)

Peter Kahare (@PeterKahare) – Kenya

“In Saving a Forest, Kenyans Find a Better Quality of Life ” (http://bit.ly/1qp3PJh)

Pius Sawa (@kharunda) – Kenya

“Cheap, green solar bottles light up Kenyan slum” (http://tmsnrt.rs/1rNAlco)

Sumitra Nydoo (@sumitranydoo) – South Africa

“South Africa’s Wonderbag Revolutionizes Cooking” (http://bit.ly/1qvB9SW)

The three winners will be announced on 29 September 2014.

The first-place winner will be presented with $500 a month for one year, one laptop and one intercontinental flight ticket to a destination of his or her choice as well as one year of access to over 600 airport VIP lounges worldwide.

The second-place winner will be awarded $300 a month for one year.

The third-place winner will receive $200 a month for one year.

Follow APO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apo_source

Follow the hashtag: #APOMediaAward

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization).

Contact:

award@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

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