Mobilitas-AGS inaugurates its biggest multimodal logistics platform in Africa

The Mobilitas-AGS group’s new multimodal logistics platform in Gauteng province, South Africa (www.MobilitasAfrica54.com) has officially been delivered. The facility is built on a 90,000 m2 site near the O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest on the African continent. The Gauteng logistics hub’s goal is to improve Mobilitas-AGS’ services delivered to its clients, increase its competitiveness and support the growth of its activities across Africa.

The site is as a key international platform for the operations of each Mobilitas-AGS group brand, including the Laser Transport Group, the South African leader in logistics. It comprises four warehouses devoted to archive storage and document digitisation, with 150 km of archiving capacity, fine art storage and management and a bonded warehouse.

The site is also equipped with two special areas: one storage area for wine and another for sensitive products.

The Mobilitas-AGS group has invested 260 million rand (around EUR 18 million) in the construction and outfitting of the first tranche of the logistics site. “The inauguration of the logistics complex is an important step for the continuing development of Mobilitas-AGS activities in Africa. Moreover, because of its ultra-modern design, a complex such as the one we have just inaugurated improves the competitiveness of our businesses in southern Africa”, says Alain Taïeb, Chairman of Mobilitas-AGS’ Supervisory Board.

Infrastructures are a major issue for private-sector actors in Africa. Businesses can see their competitiveness reduced by 40% by inadequate logistical infrastructures. This situation increases the costs of goods by 30% to 40% when they are traded in Africa. By optimising the logistics chain, Mobilitas-AGS is meeting the market’s needs, which is a strategic development pillar.

The Gauteng logistics complex is in line with Mobilitas-AGS global strategy aiming at building multimodal logistics infrastructures. Similar projects have been completed over the last few years in France and Germany, and others are planned in Africa. Thus, Mobilitas-AGS continues to demonstrate its ability to implement major international projects.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Mobilitas Africa.

Press contact:
35°Nord press agency
Bony Kamanzi
+33(0)7 87 62 52 26
BK@35Nord.com

About the Mobilitas group:
Created in Paris in 1974 under the brand AGS, the group was originally specialised in removal services for individuals and businesses in the Paris region. Today, Mobilitas is one of the leaders in international mobility (relocation, executive support) and physical and digital archiving.
The Mobilitas group has 4,325 employees in 94 countries around the world.
Although its African strategy only began in 1993, the Mobilitas group is now established in all 54 African countries and today has 2,807 employees on the continent.

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President Zuma to host the 2017 Africa Day Celebration

President Jacob Zuma will on Thursday, 25 May 2017, host the national 2017 Africa Day celebration at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, in Pretoria.

Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May within the African continent to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963 and the African Union in 2002 as well as chart the progress made by the continent since then to advance democracy, peace, stability and socio-economic development.

The theme for Africa Month 2017 is “The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World” South Africa will use the day to reaffirm support for the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and commit the country to playing its role within the AU to ensure the successful implementation of the vision and plan to build a better Africa.

The 2017 Africa Day will also mark the celebration of 23 years since the country’s reintegration into the OAU/AU and the international community, following the dawn of freedom and democracy in 1994

“Africa Day affords us an opportunity to celebrate our African identity. Our country was isolated for decades from the rest of the continent due to the evil system of apartheid colonialism. We are now a full member of the African continent, and since 1994, our continent is correctly the primary focus of our foreign policy,” said President Zuma.

The President said the celebration of Africa Day also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the contribution of the African continent to South Africa’s struggle for liberation.

“Through establishment of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1963, the Africa continent became a pioneer in being the first continent to focus on and encourage nation building through unity and freedom from oppression. We can never forget the refuge provided by many countries in the continent to South Africans who went into exile and provided material, social, political and military support. Africa Day thus provides an opportunity to celebrate that African solidarity and to continue expressing it through the ongoing support for many in the continent who are caught up in conflict. It is a day for us to celebrate African solidarity, friendship, a common humanity and destiny,” said the President.

The celebrations take place a few weeks after the successful hosting of the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting.

“The 27th session of the World Economic Forum on Africa was a tremendous and fruitful success for South Africa as we have collectively made a clear and coherent statement that South Africa and the African continent are ideal investment destinations and they are open for business, President Zuma said.

South Africa continues to contribute to peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction and development efforts in the continent. South Africa also plays a key role in the economic development of the continent through the growing private sector investment in many countries within the continent.

The Africa Day celebration will be attended by ambassadors and high commissioners from Africa and abroad as well as stakeholders from various sectors.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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Sudan: Obstruction of Aid Endangers Women’s Lives

Most women and girls in the rebel-held Nuba Mountains of Sudan lack access to reproductive health care, including emergency obstetric care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Their plight is one of the little known yet far-reaching effects of years of obstruction of aid to the area by the Sudanese government and armed opposition.

The 61-page report, “No Control, No Choice: Lack of Access to Reproductive Healthcare in Rebel-Held Southern Kordofan,” documents how women and girls cannot get contraception and have little access to health care if they face complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The parties to the six-year-long conflict, the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA/M-North), have both obstructed impartial humanitarian aid.

“Women and girls in the Nuba Mountains are suffering and dying from years without access to life-saving humanitarian aid,” said Skye Wheeler, a women’s rights emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Sudanese government and armed opposition need to put the people first, and should immediately smooth the way for impartial and independent aid agencies to reach the area.”

The Sudanese government, which has a long history of obstructing humanitarian aid to conflict zones, promised to improve aid access across Sudan before the United States government agreed to lift economic sanctions in January 2017. While the government appears to have eased access restrictions in some parts of the country, neither the government nor the rebel group has agreed to conditions for allowing aid into rebel-controlled parts of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The United Nations and its members should investigate both parties’ obstruction of offers of impartial aid as a violation of international humanitarian law. The UN and others should consider individual sanctions against commanders or leaders determined to be responsible for clear obstruction of aid or any serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

The two sides have been fighting in both Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011. Unlawful and terrifying airstrikes by the government on populated areas, along with food shortages, have pushed more than 200,000 people into refugee camps in South Sudan and displaced hundreds of thousands more within Sudan.

In December 2016, Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 25 women in the Nuba mountains counties of Heiban, Delami, and Um Dorien about their access to health care, as well 65 local authorities, humanitarian and health workers, and other civilians.

No one in the rebel-held areas has had access to government health services or unhindered humanitarian aid since the conflict began. In mid-2014, Sudanese forces bombed in and around several health facilities in what appeared to be targeted attacks, shutting down two major facilities that provided emergency obstetric care and contraception. There are only five doctors for perhaps as many as 900,000 people and two functioning hospitals, both in Heiban county, which can be up to a two-day journey for many people. Active front lines sometimes make the hospitals entirely inaccessible. There are no ambulances in the rebel-held area and few civilian cars.

Most pregnant women have no prenatal care or must rely on local birth attendants without formal training, or trained midwives with no, or insufficient, equipment. When women and girls face complications during labor, they sometimes only reach care after many hours of travel by motorcycle, carried between two men, or transported on beds.

The lack of access to prenatal care, skilled health providers during delivery, and emergency obstetric care are risk factors for maternal deaths. In the most recent statistics available, the Sudanese government in 2006 put Southern Kordofan’s maternal mortality rate at 503 per 100,000 live births, compared with 91 in Northern state and 213 in Southern Kordofan’s neighboring Northern Kordofan state.

The little information available suggests that maternal mortality remains high. Local administration officials said that about 350 women died in 2016, and they suspected that most of them were pregnant. The Diocese of El Obeid’s Mother of Mercy Hospital documented two maternal deaths in 2016 and three in 2015 at their hospital, out of 260 to 280 births a year. Cap Anamur (German Emergency Doctors) recorded two maternal deaths at their hospital in 2016, out of 193 deliveries and six maternal deaths in women’s homes in areas near their outreach clinics. However, all the health workers Human Rights Watch interviewed said that they believe most women who die in pregnancy, including childbirth, do so at home, far from help.

Family planning is largely unavailable, making it difficult for women and men to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and for women to control their fertility. Three organizations and local authorities all reported that detected cases of syphilis and gonorrhea are increasing. In one facility, for example, gonorrhea cases jumped from 39 in 2013 to 896 in 2016. The Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, which houses the area’s largest maternal health program, reported that 20 percent of pregnant women in their care tested positive for Hepatitis B.

The rebel SPLA/M-North civilian administration has maintained about 175 clinics in the area, but these do not regularly distribute contraception. German Emergency Doctors is the only organization consistently providing contraception in rebel-held areas, but local restrictions require women to obtain permission from their husbands.

“The women we spoke to wanted to space their children, in part because they were worried about food shortages,” Wheeler said. “But most of the women we interviewed did not know what a condom or contraception was or had never seen any.”

Sudan declared a unilateral ceasefire in June 2016 in Southern Kordofan, which it then extended to all conflict zones, and appears to have stopped aerial bombardments in 2017. The US decision to suspend economic sanctions will become permanent in July if Sudan shows progress on a number of fronts, including humanitarian access. The US should delay the decision, allow more time for Sudan to demonstrate progress, and monitor a wider set of human rights concerns.

The UN should also step up its engagement on the conflicts. The UN Security Council issued a resolution in May 2012 threatening punitive measures if the parties did not allow aid to flow freely to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, but has taken no further action.

“The scrutiny from the UN Security Council on Sudan in 2011 and 2012 has given way to silence and non-action,” Wheeler said. “The UN and donors should urgently press the parties to allow them to provide desperately needed emergency assistance to civilians, including women and girls, in this long-neglected crisis.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Fight against illegal fishing: Commission lists Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Comoros as non-cooperating, and issues warning for Liberia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Comoros have been identified as non-cooperating third countries under the EU’s regulation to fight and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, while Liberia has been pre-identified.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, commented: “We are showing our commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. The EU’s actions in the past years created an incentive for states to take their responsibilities seriously, and implement reforms to their fisheries sector. We do not like to impose sanctions on third countries, but sometimes clear action is needed. We invite the Comoros and Saint Vincent and Grenadines to seriously step up their fight against illegal fishing so that we can reverse this decision quickly. Following today’s warning to Liberia we hope their authorities choose to act quickly and correct their wrongdoings.”

The decision to issue a red card to the Comoros is based on the typical use of its flag as flag of convenience, which means registering a ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship’s owners. Most of the Comorian fleet has no connection to the country and operates in breach of national law, mainly in the waters of West Africa. These vessels have been found to disregard the laws applicable in the national waters they operate in, transhipping fish from one vessel to another, a practice related to the laundering of illegal catches.

Despite receiving a yellow card in October 2015, and despite considerable effort by the European Commission to support this country in addressing the issue, no progress has been made. Although the red card implies trade sanctions, in this particular case the decision will not impact on trade as the Comoros do not export fish to the EU. However, EU vessels will no longer be allowed to take licences to fish in their waters.

For Saint Vincent and the Grenadines the decision comes due to the lack of control by the authorities of vessels flying their flag. These vessels operate all over the Atlantic and offload their catches in Trinidad and Tobago (which has already been warned in order to improve control over activities in its ports). Effectively, these vessels elude any control over their activities. This raises the concern that they are involved in illegal practices. Two vessels from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are already on the international vessel “black list” compiled by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. Similarly to the Comoros, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines do not export fish to the EU.

Liberia has the second biggest shipping registry in the world with over 100 fishing transport vessels registered under this flag. The national fisheries authorities do not have the information or means to control this fleet. This lack of control has been confirmed by the listing of a Liberian vessel on the international “black list” last October. Liberia has taken reform measures including the revision of its fisheries laws, but no tangible progress has followed. The Commission hopes that the pre-identification will raise political awareness and encourage the country to implement the necessary reforms in fisheries governance.

The Commission’s decisions taken today are the result of thorough analyses, following informal and formal discussions with the relevant authorities in each country. The Commission has proposed to Liberia a tailor-made action plan and estimates the identified issues can be resolved in six months. The Comoros and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received action plans when they were pre-identified (in October 2015 and December 2014, respectively). Ongoing dialogue and support will encourage these countries to step up their efforts to fully implement these action plans.

Fighting illegal fishing is part of the EU’s commitment to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, and in the context of promoting better governance of the oceans worldwide. The Commission attaches great importance to cooperation with third countries. The EU’s support helps these countries strengthen their fight against IUU fishing.

Background

Today’s Decisions are based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which entered into force in 2010. This key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing ensures that only fisheries products that have been certified as legal can access the EU market.

Since November 2012 the Commission has launched formal dialogues with several third countries (pre-identification or “yellow card”), which have been warned of the need to take strong action to fight IUU fishing. When significant progress is observed, the Commission can end the dialogue (lifting the pre-identification status or “green card”). A few countries have not shown the necessary commitment to reforms. As a result fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries are banned from being imported into the EU (identification and listing or “red card”). A full list of countries is available on our here.

The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at approximately 10 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, corresponding to at least 15% of world catches. The EU is the world’s biggest importer of fisheries products.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia.

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