Nigeria Receives Record Praziquantel Donation

Merck (www.MerckGroup.com), a leading science and technology company, announced today that the largest single delivery of praziquantel tablets in the history of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program recently arrived in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The west African country has received around 34 million tablets for mass distribution to school children. With this, Merck has donated more tablets to a single country than it did to the entire continent in 2012 (27 million). Today in Geneva, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, expressed his country’s thanks to Merck and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their joint efforts in the fight against the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis. Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck, met the minister on the occasion of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of WHO, in Geneva. The participants included Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, as well as WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Ren Minghui.

“We want to eliminate the insidious worm disease and give children the opportunity to participate in the economic development of their home countries. Our donation of 34 million tablets to WHO for Nigeria – enough to treat 13.6 million school children – shows that we are on the right track. However, millions of children still suffer from schistosomiasis. And we know that we alone cannot solve the problem with our tablets,” said Oschmann. In Africa, Merck is supporting educational and awareness programs, researching schistosomiasis therapies for very young children and cooperating with partners in the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, among other things. “Furthermore, in the future we will collaborate even more closely with our partners to finally eliminate schistosomiasis,” Oschmann continued.

“With more than 235 million people requiring treatment, schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent tropical diseases in Africa. The worm disease is widespread in all regions of Nigeria, above all among children. We are therefore grateful for every sustained initiative that supports us in fighting schistosomiasis,” said Adewole. Admasu added, “Merck’s commitment not only helps children who are ill – it also relieves the public healthcare systems of the affected countries.”

Minghui continued, “Medicine donations such as this are essential to the fight against neglected tropical diseases. If we are to meet the ambitious sustainable development goals, we need the strong engagement of the private sector, sectors outside health and all development partners.”

As part of its responsibility for society and within Health, one of its corporate responsibility strategic spheres of activity, Merck is supporting WHO in the fight against the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. Praziquantel is well tolerated and the most effective treatment to date for schistosomiasis. Since 2007, more than 74 million patients, primarily school children, have been treated. To this end, Merck has donated over 340 million tablets to WHO.

According to WHO, Nigeria is the world’s most endemic country for schistosomiasis. It is estimated that around 37% of the overall population (64.1 million people) requires treatment. Nigeria has been participating in the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program since 2008. To date, through WHO Merck has donated nearly 105 million tablets to Nigeria, making it the main beneficiary country of the donation program. In total, nearly 20 million Nigerian patients have been treated to date, primarily school children.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Merck KGaA.

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Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis is a chronic condition and is one of the most common and most devastating parasitic diseases in tropical countries. It is estimated that 260 million people are infected worldwide and that around 200,000 die from it each year. Flatworms transmit the chronic disease. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions where large sections of the populations have no access to clean water and sanitary installations. People become infected with the disease by worm larvae mainly in freshwater, for example while working, swimming, fishing or washing their clothes. The miniscule larvae penetrate human skin, enter the blood vessels and attack internal organs. The infection rate is particularly high among school-aged children. Praziquantel is the only active ingredient with which all forms of schistosomiasis can be treated. WHO has therefore deemed praziquantel, the most cost-efficient solution for the health of patients in need, as the drug of choice.

The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program
Merck initiated the Praziquantel Donation Program in cooperation with WHO back in 2007. Since then, more than 340 million tablets have been donated and over 74 million patients treated, mainly school children. Merck has committed itself to maintaining its efforts in the fight against the tropical disease until schistosomiasis has been eliminated. To this end, Merck is donating up to 250 million tablets per year to WHO. The planned annual donation has a value of around US$ 23 million. In addition, Merck is supporting an awareness program at schools in Africa in order to educate children about the causes of schistosomiasis and ways to prevent it. Furthermore, as part of a public-private partnership, the company is researching a new formulation of praziquantel that can also be administered to very young children. To date, the tablets are only suitable for children older than six. At the end of 2014, Merck founded the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance together with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision International.

Further information on the fight against schistosomiasis is available on the Internet: http://www.apo.af/FAS9kr.

All Merck news releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck website. Please go to www.MerckGroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

About Merck
Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2015, Merck generated sales of € 12.8 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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Commissioner Acyl stresses the need for Member States and Stakeholders to come together in order to achieve the structural transformation of Africa

The Ministerial Session of the First AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals (STC-TIM), commenced on 23 May at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme: “Promoting Regional Integration through Trade and inclusive and sustainable Industrialization in Africa”. The STC-TIM is set to provide technical guidance to the Policy Organs of the African Union, to ensure implementation of agreed programs and projects as well as establish synergies, linkages and complementarities in the areas of Trade, Industry and Minerals in line with the AU Agenda 2063 and its Ten Year Implementation Plan. The Meeting will bring together AU Ministers responsible for Trade, Industry and Minerals, and their relevant Senior Officials, Regional Economic Communities and Collaborating Institutions as Observers.

The rationale behind the creation of the Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals is to make trade, industry and minerals policies work in a coherent manner to ensure Africa’s structural transformation. The issues of Trade, Industrialization and the effective use of Africa’s natural resources, including its Mineral Resources, lie at the heart of the continent’s development agenda.

In his statement, Mr. Jean Bakole, the Regional Director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), commended the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl for the achievement of Department under her leadership since her election in 2012. He noted that the promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) constitutes UNIDO’s response as a means to harness the potential of industry’s contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and prosperity for a growing share of the youth population. According to Mr. Bakole, it is imperative to boost Intra-African Trade. “This implies accelerating industrialization through promotion of regional value chains. Trade promotion is among the critical components of industrialization, it also plays a fundamental role in the structural transformation of the economy”, he emphasized. To conclude, the Regional Director of UNIDO urged Member States to develop appropriate policies to foster regional integration and boost Intra-African Trade and infrastructure. “In this regard, UNIDO is a major supporter of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) as it is a critical enabler for an industrializing Africa”, he announced.

Dr. Stephen Karingi, Director Regional Integration and Trade Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), underscored the fact that UNECA’s analysis shows that Africa imported at an estimated $87 billion worth of services from outside Africa and if barriers to trade are reduced in trade in services between African countries, Africa may be able to capture that business increasing the integration of its economies through higher cross-border flows of services within the continent. “Analysis done by UNECA suggests that a Continental Free Trade Area in goods alone would lead to an increased Intra-African trade of around $55 billion or 60% of its current level. If this is complemented by Africa taking trade facilitation measures that reduce trade costs by half, these increases would be even greater”, he specified. He finally commended Members States for the Tripartite Free Trade Area arguing that the Tripartite as a whole would see its welfare rise and would also remove all tariffs.

In her opening statement, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl thanked Senior Officials for having demonstrated during the last few days, high commitment and expertise in assessing progress made on CFTA negotiations, on Quality Infrastructure, on the implementation of other continental strategies in the sectors of Trade, Industry and Minerals as well as on customs and trade facilitation issues. She informed the Ministers that Senior Officials have also discussed World Trade Organization (WTO) and African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), issues that have a definite impact on Africa’s trade with the rest of the world and if utilized properly can increase Africa’s domestic capacities. Commissioner Acyl acknowledged the progress made by the CFTA Negotiating Forum on the Rules of Procedure for the CFTA negotiating Institutions, the definition of guiding principles for the negotiations and formulated important recommendations. “It’s time to move forward our Agenda. Africa can no longer wait. The world is watching. It is our responsibility as Member States, Regional Economic Communities and Cooperating and Development Partners to overcome our differences and effectively work together in order to positively impact our people’s lives” she urged. In conclusion, she thanked all stakeholders, cooperating and development partners for their continued efforts to support the implementation of key Departmental frameworks. She announced the launch of the Trade Facilitation website (http://www.tfa4africa.com), which she said, will be of great assistance to our Member States in their trade facilitation activities, including the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. With regards to the Institutionalization and hosting of the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), Commissioner Acyl pointed out that a lot of interest has been expressed by Member States. “We hope that by the next Summit the AMDC will finally find a permanent location”, she indicated.

The key recommendations from the STC will be submitted for approval at the upcoming Summit in July in Kigali, Rwanda for the necessary political endorsement.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Donor Support Allows WFP To Extend Africa Disaster Insurance So Risks Are Managed

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says that it will extend disaster insurance coverage to more African countries to help transform how they cope with drought and floods – from responding only after disasters strike to managing the risks before.

Investment in early response and risk management are humanitarian finance reforms being considered at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, where WFP announced that an innovation commitment of US$1.6 million from the Government of Denmark will be used to support the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Replica insurance policies.

In order to provide Replica coverage to more countries, WFP will also receive the support of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, which says that it especially appreciates the role ARC can play in building and enhancing people’s resilience to food shocks, in cooperation with governments.

“WFP is transforming the way we assist vulnerable communities to cope with natural disasters, from disaster response to risk management,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “Countries themselves need to own and manage their disaster risk first and foremost.”

“Early and predictable response saves lives and livelihoods,” she added. “Insurance is one of the most powerful ways of helping governments and WFP to respond to the needs of vulnerable people, enabling them to bounce back from shocks.”

“Transforming how the humanitarian system is financed will not happen overnight. Full replication could take years. From Istanbul we are calling on humanitarian donors to invest in early response. It’s a win-win for all,” said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the ARC Agency Governing Board.

WFP helped the African Union to create a sovereign disaster insurance pool, ARC, in 2012. A total of 32 African states have signed the ARC treaty and ARC has insured seven countries over the last two years with coverage of over US$300 million.

For countries that have demonstrated their long-term commitment to this mutual insurance system by renewing their policies for the third year running, WFP will help scale up these efforts by taking out matching policies, replicating the countries’ own efforts.

In so doing, WFP aligns its financing and operational response with government-led efforts, doubling the coverage available to vulnerable people. WFP, by supporting ARC’s Replica policies, can help ARC insurance reach 150 million people by 2020 and contribute to the Elmau G-7 Climate Insurance targets of 180 million people protected in Africa by 2020. By 2030, WFP aims to have insurance finance for half its overall natural disaster aid expenditures in Asia as well as in Africa.

In addition to WFP, the START Network, a consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations, is looking to launch Replica in partnership with ARC and its member states.

Donor contributions will now allow WFP to pay premiums for replica insurance policies in African countries, allowing the organization to match insurance policies already taken out by governments to respond early to drought and floods and doubling the number of people covered.

Early response makes economic sense. With donor resources stretched to the limit and humanitarian needs only increasing, investing in shifting the humanitarian system from responding late to disasters to one that manages risk and is predictably financed could save billions of dollars a year over time. It could also improve the impact of donor investments as affected countries can increase their own capacity to manage increasing droughts and floods.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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On International Day to End Obstetric Fistula – 23 May, the African Union Commission Highlights Key Interventions to End Fistula within a Generation

What is Obstetric Fistula?

Fistula is a childbirth injury (a hole in the birth canal) caused by prolonged obstructed labor, the lack of access to proper and prompt medical intervention, leaving the woman with chronic incontinence and in most cases a stillborn baby. The smell of leaking urine, faeces or both, is constant and humiliating, often driving the patients’ family, friends and neighbors away. If left untreated, fistula can lead to chronic medical problems including ulcerations, kidney disease, and nerve damage in the legs.

The devastation of obstetric fistula for women and girls in Africa

The United Nations estimates that at least two million women live with fistula in developing countries, with 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year and these numbers represent only those seeking treatment. Women and girls in Africa, south of the Sahara, are mostly affected by fistula as well as other illness from sexual and reproductive health causes.

The tragic mix of young girls being subjected to child marriages, getting pregnant and going through childbirth when their bodies are not developed enough accounts for at least 25% of known fistula cases. Evidence shows that 14 of the 20 countries with the highest rate of child marriage are in Africa.

“I have been dead for 30 years, but today I will start living again.”

– Heartbreaking words of Susan Nyambura, 53, as she waited for her turn to go into theatre for a fistula repair operation at Coast General Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya.

“I still have nightmares when I remember how I used to smell back then”

– Micheline Yotoudjim, a Chadian girl, married off at age 14, became pregnant at 16, and then experienced a prolonged, obstructed labor. Her baby was eventually delivered through a Caesarean section, but died four days later.

In its resolution A/RES/67/147, the UN General Assembly calls on the International Community to use the International Day to significantly raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula.

Prevention is Key to Ending Obstetric fistula

The average cost of fistula treatment is US$400, that cannot be afforded by most women with the condition, however, these key strategies, will help end fistula:

Providing access to adequate medical care for all pregnant women.
Providing emergency obstetric care for those who develop complications.
Increasing access to education and family planning services for women and men.
Postponing pregnancy for young girls until they are physically mature and ending child marriages.
Improving girls’ nutrition to minimize the risk of complications during childbirth.
Repairing physical and emotional damages through specialized interventions.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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World Leaders Meet in the Istanbul to stand up for a Common Humanity and Take Action to Prevent and Reduce Human Suffering

The Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) and the Lutfi Kirdar Convention Centre (LKCC), Turkey, was full to capacity with global leaders from government, business, aid organizations, civil society, affected communities, faith-based organizations, international and national NGOs, academia, diaspora and youth coming to attend the First World Humanitarian Summit to announce major commitments to action, launch new partnerships aimed at saving lives, and highlight innovations which help reduce suffering and uphold humanity in times of crisis.

The summit which officially opened on 23 May 2016, was a crowd puller … The African Union Commission (AUC) took active part in all the major activities and high level discussions during the historical global event. The AUC delegation to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) was led by H.E Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission. H.E. Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AUC was part of the strong AU delegation to the summit. The AU’s theme at the WHS is: “One Africa, One Voice, One Message at the World Humanitarian Summit”.

Meanwhile, the World Humanitarian Summit is a global call to action by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Held at the highest level, the Summit brought together the global community to reaffirm solidarity with people affected by crises, and our collective commitment to humanity.

In his inaugural speech, UN Secretary-General asked that the search for solutions to the growing challenges facing the humanitarian system be based on and informed by the experience of all relevant stakeholders. He said over the course of eighteen months, a worldwide consultation process took place to gather the views of affected people, governments, civil society, humanitarian organizations, the private sector and other partners. The consultation reached more than 23,000 people in 153 countries making it the most comprehensive consultation on humanitarian action ever done.

Some African Union Heads of State who spoke during the opening ceremony echoed the determination of the continent to end violence and silence the guns by 2020 as stipulated in the Africa Agenda 2063. They highlighted the theme of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government during the January 2016 Summit held in at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Speaking at the High Level Leaders’ roundtables that followed the opening ceremony of the WHS, AUC Deputy Chairperson thanked the UN SG for the good initiative of organizing such an important event and welcomed the opportunity given to the AU to share its perspective on the role of leadership in providing elements of stability to prevent fragility by putting in place structures of governance to enhance development and create a stable community which is at peace with itself. “In Africa, we have 15 million people displaced, 4 million of which are refugees and the rest are internally displaced persons”, underlined Mr. Mwencha. He further emphasized that the primary role of the state is to protect and provide for its citizens. “States must build up their capacities to be able to predict humanitarian crisis and prevent human suffering by taking mitigating action against their consequences” noted the AUC Deputy Chairperson during the High Level Leaders’ roundtable. He added that, where humanitarian crisis occurs, the state must be able to guarantee the humanitarian space for the delivery of relief and assistance to the affected population. “In this respect, the state must assume a central role in ensuring that in collaboration and cooperation with external actors, the needs of the population are met timeously” stated the AUC head of delegation at the WHS. Mr Mwencha seize the opportunity of the roundtable to present the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness .

Deputy Chairperson Mwencha and Commissioner Abdullahi later joined the other world leaders for a visit to the exhibition site where the African Union stand was very prominent in symbols and strong messages displayed in the publications, flyers and handouts that were put at the disposal of the visitors.

On 24 May 2016, Commissioner Abdullahi is expected to animate an African Union High Level Panel on the theme: “Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa” to unveil Africa’s proposed reforms to its humanitarian architecture. The panelists will exchange views on how to achieve effective humanitarian response and durable solutions to the humanitarian crises in the continent.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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African Union High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa

INVITATION TO MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES

What: African Union High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa

Theme: “One Africa, One Voice, One Message at the World Humanitarian Summit”

When: 24th May, 2016

Where: Istanbul, Turkey

Who: The Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR); United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons; Intergovernmental Authority on Development and Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Why: The High Level Panel will provide space for dialogue between Africa’s leaders and people, and the wider global community on ways of creating an effective and inclusive humanitarian system.

The African Union will present a Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness at the Summit, as its contribution in shaping a future Agenda for Humanity proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations. The CAP encapsulates Africa Union’s (AU) vision on humanitarian issues in line with its Agenda 2063, and represents the voices and concerns of Africa’s leaders and people in shaping a future humanitarian architecture.

To deepen dialogue on this vision, the AU will host a High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa. The High Level Panel will be convened under the theme: Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa. The theme underscores AU’s Humanitarian Agenda in the next decade and the call by Africa’s leaders and that of the UN Secretary General for a future humanitarian system which is effective, relevant and fit for purpose.

Objectives:

The main objectives of the AU High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa are to: Announce Africa’s commitments on effective humanitarian response in line with the 5 Core Responsibilities announced by the UN Secretary General; and engage the wider global community on Africa’s long-term vision on humanitarian issues particularly in addressing underlying structural causes of forced displacement and sustainable durable solutions.

Expected outcomes: In advancing Agenda for Humanity, the African Union will commit to five Core areas:

Commitment to the humanitarian imperative, especially the recommitment to the humanitarian principles and principled humanitarian action;

b) Commitment to humanitarian effectiveness, particularly in ensuring timely protection and assistance of persons affected by humanitarian crises;

c) Commitment of the AU to strengthen the role of States in humanitarian action;

d) Commitments and undertakings of the AU to reform of the humanitarian architecture. In this regard, the AU will seize the opportunity to announce the establishment of the African Humanitarian Agency;

e) Commitments and measures of the AU to put in place predictable financing and alternative resource mobilisation for effective humanitarian response.

Participants:

H.E. Aisha Abdullahi – AU Commissioner for Political and Humanitarian Affairs

Professor Chaloka Beyani – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

H.E Maya Sahli Fadel – Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa

Dr. James Mwangi – Managing Director Equity Bank/Representative of the Private Sector.

H.E. Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya – Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Amb. (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim – Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development

Ms. Phaladi Gogontlejang and Ms Esther Muiruri – Youth Representatives

Background: The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016, is a global call to action by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Summit was called for by the Secretary General of the United Nations during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, in September 2013, as part of his transformative Agenda announced in 2012. This was in response to persistent failures experienced in the global humanitarian system, as a result of the rapidly changing humanitarian landscape.

To reach a consensus on what such an Agenda would entail, the World Humanitarian Summit consultations were carried out in all regions of the world, Africa inclusive. Based on the recommendations of global consultations, the Secretary General of the United Nations, has released a Report on the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” In the report the Secretary General has called for an Agenda for Humanity, in five Core Responsibility areas, namely; global leadership to prevent and end conflicts; uphold norms that safeguard humanity; leave no one behind; change people’s lives-from delivering aid to ending need and invest in humanity.

THE COMMON AFRICAN POSITION ON HUMANITARIAN EFFECTIVENESS

It is with this picture in mind that the Executive Council in its Decision Ex.CL/Dec.817 (XXV), called for a political process to define Africa’s priorities and the changes it would like to see in a future humanitarian architecture.

This is not the first time Africa is calling for such changes. Africa’s leaders as well as voices of its people and civil society, have reiterated the call for change in the way humanitarian response is carried out on the continent. The Common Position is a reminder of previous calls by Africa’s leaders to put mechanisms in place to effectively respond to crises. Indeed numerous measures were deployed in the past, but for a number of reasons, these measures were not well orchestrated. As a consequence, solutions to address humanitarian crises on the continent remained ineffective.

The CAP which has been conceived in wider lenses of Africa’s own long-term vision encapsulated in Agenda 2063, underscores need for a new discourse. The new discourse is premised on the conviction that Africa can find “own solutions to its own problems”.

The Common African Position therefore represents Africa’s appreciation and it’s understanding of the humanitarian landscape and the required intervention that is necessary for achieving sustainable solutions to humanitarian crises.

The Common African Position, emphasizes the primary responsibility of Member States in humanitarian response. It calls for strengthening of State capabilities particularly in ensuring that States play a central role in providing security to affected populations and relief workers and in guaranteeing humanitarian space.

The World Humanitarian Summit is therefore timely. Africa’s leaders as a collective will join the rest of world in shaping a new humanitarian Agenda.

AFRICA’S COMMITMENTS AT ISTANBUL

It was therefore on the basis of this rapidly mutating context and failures experienced in the global system, that it was felt necessary for the African Union to present its case at the World Humanitarian Summit in shaping a future humanitarian architecture.

As underscored by the Executive Council and the Assembly of the Union, time is ripe, it is Africa’s moment to orchestrate the long awaited change, to better serve people afflicted by humanitarian crises.

AFRICAN UNION AND MEMBER STATE PARTICIPATION AT ISTANBUL

Therefore, in light of the importance of this first ever World Humanitarian Summit to bring change, Africa’s leaders need to be part of this process of change. This is not only for historical purposes but, to unequivocally voice Africa’s concerns and aspirations. Africa’s attendance at the highest level of the Union, the Commission, Member States and Regional Economic Communities, is therefore crucial.

At Istanbul, the African Union will present its Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness, as its contribution to the Summit. It is of paramount importance that Africa speaks with one voice as called for by the Executive Council and the Assembly.

The Summit will be attended at the highest level of Heads of State and Government. This provides a good opportunity for Africa’s leaders to demonstrate solidarity with affected people and join the rest of the world in taking forward the Agenda for Humanity.

Journalists are invited to cover the Event.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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African Union High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa

INVITATION TO MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES

What: African Union High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa

Theme: “One Africa, One Voice, One Message at the World Humanitarian Summit”

When: 24th May, 2016

Where: Istanbul, Turkey

Who: The Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR); United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons; Intergovernmental Authority on Development and Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Why: The High Level Panel will provide space for dialogue between Africa’s leaders and people, and the wider global community on ways of creating an effective and inclusive humanitarian system.

The African Union will present a Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness at the Summit, as its contribution in shaping a future Agenda for Humanity proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations. The CAP encapsulates Africa Union’s (AU) vision on humanitarian issues in line with its Agenda 2063, and represents the voices and concerns of Africa’s leaders and people in shaping a future humanitarian architecture.

To deepen dialogue on this vision, the AU will host a High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa. The High Level Panel will be convened under the theme: Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa. The theme underscores AU’s Humanitarian Agenda in the next decade and the call by Africa’s leaders and that of the UN Secretary General for a future humanitarian system which is effective, relevant and fit for purpose.

Objectives:

The main objectives of the AU High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa are to: Announce Africa’s commitments on effective humanitarian response in line with the 5 Core Responsibilities announced by the UN Secretary General; and engage the wider global community on Africa’s long-term vision on humanitarian issues particularly in addressing underlying structural causes of forced displacement and sustainable durable solutions.

Expected outcomes: In advancing Agenda for Humanity, the African Union will commit to five Core areas:

Commitment to the humanitarian imperative, especially the recommitment to the humanitarian principles and principled humanitarian action;

b) Commitment to humanitarian effectiveness, particularly in ensuring timely protection and assistance of persons affected by humanitarian crises;

c) Commitment of the AU to strengthen the role of States in humanitarian action;

d) Commitments and undertakings of the AU to reform of the humanitarian architecture. In this regard, the AU will seize the opportunity to announce the establishment of the African Humanitarian Agency;

e) Commitments and measures of the AU to put in place predictable financing and alternative resource mobilisation for effective humanitarian response.

Participants:

H.E. Aisha Abdullahi – AU Commissioner for Political and Humanitarian Affairs

Professor Chaloka Beyani – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

H.E Maya Sahli Fadel – Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa

Dr. James Mwangi – Managing Director Equity Bank/Representative of the Private Sector.

H.E. Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya – Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Amb. (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim – Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development

Ms. Phaladi Gogontlejang and Ms Esther Muiruri – Youth Representatives

Background: The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016, is a global call to action by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Summit was called for by the Secretary General of the United Nations during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, in September 2013, as part of his transformative Agenda announced in 2012. This was in response to persistent failures experienced in the global humanitarian system, as a result of the rapidly changing humanitarian landscape.

To reach a consensus on what such an Agenda would entail, the World Humanitarian Summit consultations were carried out in all regions of the world, Africa inclusive. Based on the recommendations of global consultations, the Secretary General of the United Nations, has released a Report on the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” In the report the Secretary General has called for an Agenda for Humanity, in five Core Responsibility areas, namely; global leadership to prevent and end conflicts; uphold norms that safeguard humanity; leave no one behind; change people’s lives-from delivering aid to ending need and invest in humanity.

THE COMMON AFRICAN POSITION ON HUMANITARIAN EFFECTIVENESS

It is with this picture in mind that the Executive Council in its Decision Ex.CL/Dec.817 (XXV), called for a political process to define Africa’s priorities and the changes it would like to see in a future humanitarian architecture.

This is not the first time Africa is calling for such changes. Africa’s leaders as well as voices of its people and civil society, have reiterated the call for change in the way humanitarian response is carried out on the continent. The Common Position is a reminder of previous calls by Africa’s leaders to put mechanisms in place to effectively respond to crises. Indeed numerous measures were deployed in the past, but for a number of reasons, these measures were not well orchestrated. As a consequence, solutions to address humanitarian crises on the continent remained ineffective.

The CAP which has been conceived in wider lenses of Africa’s own long-term vision encapsulated in Agenda 2063, underscores need for a new discourse. The new discourse is premised on the conviction that Africa can find “own solutions to its own problems”.

The Common African Position therefore represents Africa’s appreciation and it’s understanding of the humanitarian landscape and the required intervention that is necessary for achieving sustainable solutions to humanitarian crises.

The Common African Position, emphasizes the primary responsibility of Member States in humanitarian response. It calls for strengthening of State capabilities particularly in ensuring that States play a central role in providing security to affected populations and relief workers and in guaranteeing humanitarian space.

The World Humanitarian Summit is therefore timely. Africa’s leaders as a collective will join the rest of world in shaping a new humanitarian Agenda.

AFRICA’S COMMITMENTS AT ISTANBUL

It was therefore on the basis of this rapidly mutating context and failures experienced in the global system, that it was felt necessary for the African Union to present its case at the World Humanitarian Summit in shaping a future humanitarian architecture.

As underscored by the Executive Council and the Assembly of the Union, time is ripe, it is Africa’s moment to orchestrate the long awaited change, to better serve people afflicted by humanitarian crises.

AFRICAN UNION AND MEMBER STATE PARTICIPATION AT ISTANBUL

Therefore, in light of the importance of this first ever World Humanitarian Summit to bring change, Africa’s leaders need to be part of this process of change. This is not only for historical purposes but, to unequivocally voice Africa’s concerns and aspirations. Africa’s attendance at the highest level of the Union, the Commission, Member States and Regional Economic Communities, is therefore crucial.

At Istanbul, the African Union will present its Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness, as its contribution to the Summit. It is of paramount importance that Africa speaks with one voice as called for by the Executive Council and the Assembly.

The Summit will be attended at the highest level of Heads of State and Government. This provides a good opportunity for Africa’s leaders to demonstrate solidarity with affected people and join the rest of the world in taking forward the Agenda for Humanity.

Journalists are invited to cover the Event.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: African Union High Level Panel on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa

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Secretary-General’s message on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

During my recent visit to Mauritania, I had the opportunity to visit fistula patients at a hospital in Nouakchott. I was moved and impressed by their courage and resilience. It pains me deeply that this preventable and treatable condition still exists in our world, mainly affecting the poorest and most marginalized women and girls, causing them even greater suffering and isolation.
The persistence of fistula in some countries and regions is an indicator of very poor access to quality maternal health services. To end it, we must strengthen health systems and address broader development and human rights issues affecting women and girls: poverty, gender inequality, early marriage, early childbearing, and lack of education.

All these aims are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed unanimously by world leaders in September 2015. Goal 1 on ending poverty, Goal 3 on healthy lives, Goal 5 on gender equality and Goal 10 on reducing inequality should make an enormous contribution to preventing and ending fistula.

We have seen great progress on maternal and newborn health in recent years, and more than 70,000 women and girls have had their fistulas repaired since UNFPA and its partners launched the global Campaign to End Fistula in 2003. But two million women and girls around the world continue to live with fistula, and there are between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases every year. At present rates, most will die without ever receiving treatment – a heartbreaking and unacceptable situation.

Fistula has virtually been eliminated in most high and middle income countries around the world, so we know that it can be eliminated in every country.

Today, on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, I call for an end to fistula within a generation. Let us use the momentum of the Sustainable Development Goals together with strong political leadership, accelerated investment and action, and passionate and committed champions, to achieve this historic and transformative goal.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Source:: Secretary-General’s message on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

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Council conclusions on EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia

Recalling its conclusions on Libya of 18 April and also in the light of the ministerial meeting on Libya in Vienna on 16 May, the Council underlines the need to enhance the capacity of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and trafficking networks and to contribute to broader security in support of the legitimate Libyan authorities. In this regard, the Council welcomes the expressed readiness of the President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord, Mr Serraj, to cooperate with the EU on the basis of these conclusions.

To that end, the Council agrees to extend the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia by one year and, while retaining the focus on its core mandate, to add two further supporting tasks:
– capacity building and training of, and information sharing with, the Libyan Coastguard and Navy, based on a request by the legitimate Libyan authorities taking into account the need for Libyan ownership;
– contributing to information sharing, as well as implementation of the UN arms embargo on the High Seas off the coast of Libya on the basis of a new UNSC Resolution.

The Council underlines the need for preparatory work, including on planning, to continue without delay. On the basis of this work, it will then take a Council Decision to extend and amend EUNAVFORMED’s mandate and start the implementation of the new tasks. The Council stresses the importance of continuing coordination with international partners such as UN and NATO.

The Council underlines the urgency regarding the situation in Libya and human smuggling and trafficking in the Central Mediterranean and will work on timely EU action in response. It deplores the loss of so many lives at sea and commends the role the operation and the Member States played in saving tens of thousands of human lives.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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Source:: Council conclusions on EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia

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29th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa

1. At the invitation of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Heads of the United Nations Missions in West Africa and their representatives held their Twenty-ninth High-level Meeting on 20 May 2016 in Dakar.

2. In attendance were the Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General and Heads of UN Missions in Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Mr. Modibo Touré; in Liberia (UNMIL), Mr. Farid Zarif; and in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, as well as the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General of UN Missions in Mali (MINUSMA), Mr. Koen Davidse; and the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Ms. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie.

3. The objective of this bi-annual meeting is to provide insights and exchange views on peace and security dynamics in the areas of operation of the respective missions and in the West African region as a whole, and to strengthen coordination in order to address common challenges in such areas as elections, cross-border security, transnational trafficking, violent extremism, security sector and constitutional reform processes, and democratic transitions in the West Africa region.

4. The meeting welcomed the peaceful and credible electoral processes in Benin, Cabo Verde and Niger. Participants noted that the region was making progress in terms of democratic transition. In this regards, the Heads of missions expressed the hope that the upcoming elections in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali will achieve similar successes and consolidate democratic processes in countries emerging from crisis situations. In addition, participants noted the need to further promote the increased representation of women in the political sphere.

5. The meeting welcomed the ongoing constitutional reforms in a number of countries, which all preserve limitations of presidential mandates, and strengthen institutions, thus consolidating democracy. The meeting called for enhanced national and regional programs of collection and management of small arms and light weapons.

6. The Heads of missions strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in the region and highlighted the importance of support to countries in the region and regional organizations in countering this threat. Participants emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach, which combines security-based counter-terrorism measures and intelligence-sharing, with preventive measures to address root causes of violent extremism, in accordance with the Secretary-General Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism.

7. The Heads of missions strongly condemned the killing of five peacekeepers of the Chadian contingent of MINUSMA in Northern Mali on 18 May 2016.

8. Participants noted the impact of climate change affecting countries in West Africa and the Sahel. Regarding migration movements in the region, the Heads of missions called for a regional approach taking into account root causes of migration as well as developmental issues, with a particular focus on providing opportunities for youth.

9. Participants welcomed the progress made in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease and called on governments and international partners to remain engaged throughout the Ebola-recovery process.

10. The Heads of missions called for the comprehensive implementation of the Malian peace agreement. The meeting welcomed the engagement of various actors and initiatives in the Sahel, highlighting the importance of coordination in order to create synergies and to increase benefits for the populations of the region.

11. The Heads of missions discussed the situation in Guinea Bissau following the dismissal of the Government of Prime Minister Carlos Correia. They took note of ongoing consultations among all parties. They urged all national stakeholders to promote dialogue, inclusiveness and the rule of law, and to protect and defend the interest of the population as they continue to search for a sustainable solution to the political crisis.

12. Regarding the situation in Liberia, participants welcomed national efforts towards assuming security responsibilities from UNMIL and efforts in preparing the 2017 presidential and legislative elections. The Heads of missions expressed hope for greater progress in constitutional reform to strengthen national unity, and the fight against armed robbery, and sexual and gender-based violence and called for sufficient funding for the ongoing security transition to the Government of Liberia from UNMIL.

13. Participants agreed to continue to cooperate closely and to share information and experiences on key issues affecting the region.

14. The Heads of missions thanked SRSG Chambas of UNOWAS for the organization of the meeting.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).

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Source:: 29th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa

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Council conclusions on South Sudan

The Council adopted conclusions on South Sudan, following the formation of a transitional government of national unity in South Sudan on 29 April 2016. The EU notably encourages the transitional government to take swift and decisive steps to restore peace and stability in the country and to move forward promptly with implementation of the 2015 agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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Source:: Council conclusions on South Sudan

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The Project for the Expansion of Dormitory: Kakamega County

The Government of Japan has been providing funds to local non-profit organizations through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) since 1989.

The Ground Breaking Ceremony of “The Project for the Expansion of Dormitory for St. Anne’s Girls Primary School” was held in Mumias central Division, Mumias District, Kakamega County on 20th May, 2016.

With the objective of improving the environment of dormitory life and academic performance of girls, the project received a grant amount of USD 85,321 (approx. Kshs 8.2 Million) which was used for the construction of 2 dormitories to accommodate 200 girls at St. Anne’s Girls Primary School.

During the Grand Breaking Ceremony, Mr. Mikio Mori, Charge d’ Affairs ad interim of Japanese Embassy in the Republic of Kenya, congratulated St. Anne’s Girls Primary School for initiating the project and encouraged the community to work together in order to successfully complete the project.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Embassy of Japan in Kenya.

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Source:: The Project for the Expansion of Dormitory: Kakamega County

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