EUSEC RD Congo extended

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Council today extended the mandate of the EU mission to provide advice and assistance for Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (EUSEC RD Congo) until 30 June 2015.

This decision extends the transition period, during which the mission will have a reduced staff and will focus on preparing the transfer of most of its duties to a major programme to support defence reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the 11th European Development Fund.

From 30 June 2015 until 30 June 2016, EUSEC RD Congo will be preserved as a CSDP “Micromission”, maintaining the EU’s support to the Congolese military authorities for activities which cannot be supported from the European Development Fund, such as strategic advice and support to military schools.

The mission will continue assisting the Congolese authorities on the implementation of reforms in the Congolese army (FARDC) by providing advice at the strategic level as well as further support to administrative modernisation, setting up of an effective human resource management system for the army, and building a permanent high quality military education system including schools for both officers and non-commissioned officers.

EU SEC RD Congo’s headcount will be reduced from 1 October 2014 from 41 currently to 30 personnel and will be further cut as tasks are passed on. A budget of €4.6 million is available until 30 June 2015.

EUSEC RD Congo has supported since 2005 the Congolese authorities in rebuilding an army that could guarantee security throughout the whole country, permitting the conditions necessary to stabilisation, restoration of state services and economic and social development. In close cooperation and coordination with other actors in the international community, the mission is focusing its efforts on activities that directly contribute to the structural stabilisation of the FARDC and the improvement of its operational capabilities, in accordance with the principles of good governance and respect for human rights, integrating all actions in the gender perspective.

To date, the mission’s accomplishments include the support to the legal framework for the reform of the army, helping to set up a nationwide basic military education system for officers and noncommissioned officers, and the establishment of both a biometric census and a payment system for all personnel of the FARDC. EUSEC RD Congo has contributed to more transparent financial procedures in the FARDC and to modernising the management of military arms and munitions stockpiles.

Colonel Jean-Louis Nurenberg has been the Head of Mission since October 2014. Currently,

10 EU Member States and the United States of America contribute to the mission.

Philips pledges support to the United Nations initiative Every Woman Every Child

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

– Philips to target sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia where high maternal and infant mortality can be addressed through early diagnosis, proper nutrition, remote monitoring innovations and access to energy.

– Philips commits to improve the lives of 100 million women and children by 2025.

Royal Philips (AEX: PHIA, NYSE: PHG) (http://www.philips.com), joins UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s initiative Every Woman Every Child (http://www.everywomaneverychild.org) and commits to improving the lives of 100 million women and children by 2025. In Philips’ pledge of support to the UN, Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, underlined the need for improving lives in areas where maternal and infant mortality is concentrated and where nutrition and energy challenges are most acute.

To download the Philips pledge to the Every Woman Every Child initiative please click here: http://goo.gl/YSCKai .

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1400 (Philips showcases Respiratory Rate Monitor)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1401 (Philips VISIQ ultrasound)

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/philips-1.jpg

“We look forward to working with the UN and its partners in Every Woman Every Child to deliver impact at scale in regions where women and children need it the most”, said Frans van Houten (http://goo.gl/VtDeQF) . “The goals of Every Woman Every Child are well aligned with Philips’ vision (http://goo.gl/tXMlik) to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation and our ultimate goal of improving the lives of three billion people a year by 2025.”

Philips has a long tradition of partnering with national Health Ministries throughout the world and has undertaken several country-wide rehabilitation programs across Africa. By targeting sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia specifically, Philips will mobilize resources to support access to healthcare through large scale healthcare transformation projects, in combination with clinical education and skills training for healthcare professionals.

Through the Philips Africa Innovation Hub (http://goo.gl/C5lzKw), the company will develop and deploy quality solutions and new business models that enable access and improve quality of care for mothers and their children in low-resource settings. The Innovation Hub has already developed automated respiration monitors that support the diagnosis of pneumonia in children under 5, clean cooking stoves and solar lighting, as well as telehealth and mobile-health solutions which can provide early diagnosis and healthy living and nutritional advice. Philips has recently piloted the telehealth “Mobile Obstetrical Monitoring” (MoM) project in Indonesia to remotely monitor pregnant women for early high risk identification.

“The private sector has become eager to increase its engagement, not just because there are business opportunities but because they see the value in ethical business and in helping to improve people’s lives”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Every Woman Every Child initiative:

An estimated eight million children die a year before reaching their 5th birthday, and about 350,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth. The provision of simple inexpensive tools and practices can save millions of lives each year. Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. The initiative matches two of the five Millennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals) and aims for a two-thirds reduction in under-five mortality and a 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality by 2015. Every Woman Every Child is a global initiative that seeks to mobilize international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world.

To download the Philips pledge to the Every Woman Every Child initiative please click here: http://goo.gl/YSCKai .

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Royal Philips.

For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey

Philips Group Communications – Africa

Tel: +31 625259000

E-mail: radhika.choksey@philips.com

About Royal Philips:

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at http://www.philips.com/newscenter.

Online system enhances transparency of humanitarian financing in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — So far in 2014, donors have contributed close to US$1.2 billion for humanitarian action in South Sudan, including over $980 million for projects in the South Sudan Crisis Response Plan.

To enhance transparency of the flow of resources for humanitarian action in South Sudan and other emergencies around the world, the United Nations maintains an online system called the Financial Tracking Service (http://fts.unocha.org/). This public system tracks donations in real-time, specifying which organization has received resources for which projects. For South Sudan, the system has been in operation since the country gained independence in 2011.

“The Financial Tracking Service is one of the tools we use to make sure that the aid operation is transparent and accountable to the people we are here to serve,” explained Toby Lanzer, Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan. “At the click of a button, people can find out how much money non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies have received, for what purpose, and from which donor.”

Users of the Financial Tracking Service can download pre-prepared tables detailing donors and recipients of funds; create customized searches or focus on specific sectors or organizations; and compare financing flows between different crises across the globe. Though internet-based, the system makes it easy to create, print and share tables with financial information in other formats.

Visit the Financial Tracking Service on: http://fts.unocha.org/. For information on South Sudan, click on “Republic of South Sudan – Crisis Response Plan 2014”.

The Secretary-General remarks at high-level meeting on Somalia

NEW YORK, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General remarks at high-level meeting on Somalia

Thank you for your commitment to Somalia, and thank you for your participation discussing the situation in Somalia. I am glad to see so many partners, including the leaders from Ethiopia, Italy and the United Kingdom who jointly suggested this meeting.

I am delighted to welcome my co-chairs, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

I would like to salute the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government, in carrying out an ambitious political process under challenging circumstances.

I wish to express appreciation to the African Union for its continued support to the Federal Government’s security and stabilization efforts, especially the latest joint operations against Al-Shabaab. We pay tribute to AMISOM, the Somali security forces and the Somali people for their courage and sacrifice.

I also take this opportunity to recognize the staff of the United Nations, under the leadership of Special Representative Nicholas Kay, and other international partners serving in Somalia for their dedication to peace.

The peace process in Somalia is gathering momentum.

Since we last met, the Federal Government has set out its “Vision 2016” plan for Somalia’s political transformation. Agreements have been reached to forge interim administrations in south, south-west and central Somalia. I welcome IGAD’s important support to these developments.

But there is no time to lose if elections are to take place in 2016 as the President has pledged. I urge all Somalia’s political institutions to keep this process on track. Parliament has a central role to play in establishing the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission that must be delivered this year.

National reconciliation remains crucial. I welcome the efforts of the emerging interim regional administrations, together with the Federal Government, to convene inclusive reconciliation conferences. Inclusive local administrations are also urgently needed in newly recovered areas. The participation of women at all levels in these processes and in Somalia’s institutions is an imperative.

Political progress also depends on security, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights. I welcome the recent discussions in London on building effective and human rights-compliant security forces. I urge the Federal Government to firmly place human rights, especially the protection of women and children, at the centre of its state-building policies and programmes.

The current operations to recover more locations from Al Shabaab are critical to enable delivery of critical supplies to communities cut off by the group’s blockades.

I remain extremely worried about the humanitarian situation. Malnutrition rates are again on the rise. If we do not increase humanitarian support, all other gains could be jeopardized.

I am pleased to announce that the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund under the Somali Compact is operational. We are also working with the World Bank on an initiative to promote resilience and economic development in the Horn of Africa.

There is much work still ahead. I urge you, Mr. President, and the Federal Government to redouble efforts to deliver on “Vision 2016” and the Somali Compact. Yet they cannot achieve this ambitious agenda alone. As we look forward to the High-Level Partnership Forum in Copenhagen in November, I appeal to the international community to continue its support to Somalia so that its people can reap the dividends of peace.

The United Nations remains strongly committed to supporting these efforts.

Thank you.

Humanitarian community in South Sudan launches planning for 2015

JUBA, South Sudan, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are launching the planning for the 2015 aid operation in South Sudan at the beginning of October. The planning is to take place in close collaboration with South Sudanese people and institutions and authorities at the local, state and national levels in order to help inform the aid community’s response to the ongoing crisis.

“South Sudan is home to one of the world’s largest aid operations, and the enormous needs we are seeing today are likely to persist into 2015,” said Toby Lanzer, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan. “We look forward to working closely with national and local authorities, civil society organizations and conflict-affected men, women and children of South Sudan to make sure that the aid operation is tailored to meet the most acute needs on the ground.”

Nine months into the conflict, close to 1.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes, including over 450,000 people who have fled to neighbouring countries. 2.5 million people are projected to be severely food insecure between January and March 2015, and malnutrition threatens the lives of tens of thousands of children. So far this year, aid agencies have reached over 3 million people, many in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

“To get the response right in a crisis of this magnitude, consultation is key,” continued Mr. Lanzer. “The people of South Sudan know best what they need to get through this crisis, and we will reach out and do all we can to make sure that their perspectives are included in every stage of the planning for our work next year.”

West Africans Shine at 2014 Anzisha Prize Gala Awards

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Alain Nteff (Cameroon), founder of Gifted Mom was announced as the grand prize winner of the 4th annual Anzisha Prize Award (http://www.anzishaprize.org), receiving a $25,000 cash prize to support his social business. He leads a rising tide of West African youth entrepreneurs.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/anzisha.jpg

Photos: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?searchterms=AnzishaPrize2014&level=search

Schoolbag manufacturer Thato Kgatlhanye (South Africa) was first runner up, with second runner up going to 17-year-old farmer Gabriel Kombassere (Ivory Coast). They received cash prizes of $15,000 and $12,500 respectively to catalyze their venture growth.

18-year-old Tom Osborn from Kenya received a special $10,000 energy prize award from Donors Circle for Africa, for his eco-fuel venture, Greenchar. This year’s awards were judged by respected entrepreneurs Wendy Luhabe (South Africa), Khanyi Dhlomo (South Africa), Willy Mukiny Yav (DRC), Wanjiru Waithaka (Kenya) and Mohamed Nanabhay (South Africa).

The 2014 Anzisha Finalists were honored at a prestigious ceremony last night at the Focus Rooms in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. The keynote speaker was Divine Ndhlukula, founder and Managing Director of Securico, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies.

Nteff Alain (22) founded the Gifted Mom project, an e-content platform for pregnant women in underserved areas, to help them have safe pregnancies and combat the lack of access and knowledge that has led to high mother and infant deaths in Cameroon. Gifted Mom works with health providers and medical students to create profiles for pregnant women to send automated alerts that help them track antenatal care. Since starting his project, more than 200 medical students have been trained, 1200 pregnant women impacted resulting in a 20% increase in antenatal attendance rate for pregnant women in 15 rural communities.

Thato Kgathlanye (21) co-founded Repurpose Schoolbags that designs schoolbags made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags integrated with solar technology. Mini solar panels are encased in the bags, charging up during the day and transforming into light for learners to study after dark. She runs a factory in Rustenburg, South Africa where she employs eight women, has impacted the lives of over 120 children and taken major strides in reducing her carbon footprint through recycling over 10,000 plastic bags.

Gabriel Kombassere (17) founded Ribla Neda, an association seeking to eradicate starvation in his region. His principle is “We may be students but we can help our parents.” Having grown up farming from the age of eight, he invested in what came naturally by asking his uncle for a piece of land and started to grow maize and cassava. He employees four students and has 30 members in his organisation. Annually, he produces over 20 bags of maize and a cargo of cassava.

Tom Osborn (18) is founder of Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook-stoves throughout Kenya. It was started to fight deforestation and the health problems that result from smoke inhalation from charcoal. Greenchar coals are carbonized, producing long-lasting, high-energy and smokeless coals, made from revitalized agricultural forests. Tom was recently named an Echoing Green fellow.

“Every year it gets harder to choose a winner,” commented Josh Adler, Director for the Centre of Entrepreneurship at African Leadership Academy. “All of our finalists this year are shining examples of youth entrepreneurship – examples we hope will inspire teenagers across the continent to start and grow similar ventures.”

Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Economic Opportunities for Youth, The MasterCard Foundation, added, “We are thrilled once again to be part of this wonderful program and wish the grand prize winners every success as they invest the prize money to grow their businesses.”

The Anzisha Prize received 339 applications this year from 32 countries for Africa’s premier youth entrepreneurship award.

Now in its fourth year, the Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation. 12 finalists were flown to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2014 Anzisha Week that took place from 18 – 25 September where a panel of judges from across the entrepreneurial sphere convened to select the grand prize winners. They received training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and engaged with industry leaders, mentors and engaged with change agents from across the continent.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the Anzisha Prize.

Media contact:

Lydia Byarugaba – lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org or +27 84 375 1222

Should you write an article using this press release, Anzisha Prize would like to link to the article on its website. Please email any articles to lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org

For more information on the Anzisha Prize and the campaign, go to:

➢ Website: www.anzishaprize.org

➢ Facebook: www.facebook.com/anzishaprize

➢ Twitter: @anzishaprize

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Anzisha Prize

The Anzisha Prize (http://www.anzishaprize.org) is managed out of African Leadership Academy’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which was established through a multi-year partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent.

About African Leadership Academy

African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. For more information, visit http://africanleadershipacademy.org.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

Jumia, Ivory Coast’s leading e-commerce site, donates 1,000 school kits to pupils in a village in Abidjan

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — To coincide with the return to school, and as part of the #Tousalecole (Back to School) campaign, Jumia Ivory Coast (https://www.jumia.ci) has offered 1,000 school kits to primary school pupils in Yopougon Kouté in a ceremony attended by members of the National Ministry for Education and Technical Education (http://www.education-ci.org).

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/jumia.png

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1381 (Fatoumata Ba, Managing Director of JUMIA Côte d’Ivoire)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1384 (Pupils having received their school kit)

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1383 (The pupils from Yopougon Kouton all reunited)

Photo 4: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1382 (A pupil from primary school)

“Society gives us a lot. Today is our chance to give something back to society and to make our contribution” said Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia Ivory Coast, adding that the organisation believes in education as “the cornerstone of the future”.

She asked pupils to “make good use” of these gifts, before giving them out in the presence of Inspector for Preschool and Primary Education in Yopougon Kouté and Mme Grah, the Secretary General for the Abidjan 3 Regional Department of National Education and Technical Education, who was attending on behalf of the Minister of Education Kandia Camara.

Each student from the school group, which ranged from years CP1 to CM2 (aged 6-11), received a kit comprising a backpack containing plastic wallets, exercise books, a pencil and an eraser, as well as a slate and chalk for years CP1 and CP2.

Kouté’s village chief Agbassi Aimé expressed gratitude to the company, describing the event as “historic” in his speech. “This is the first time that our school has received school kits, and we thank the donors for their support of our children’s schooling. This is proof that Yopougon-Kouté has not been forgotten,” he said.

On behalf of the National Ministry of Education, Mme Grah praised “this gesture which supports the action of the government” and called for other businesses to follow Jumia’s lead. “Normally, it is the government who provides these school kits. With this donation today, we feel that the situation is changing and moving in a positive direction. Thank you for what are doing, because you are contributing to the development of the Ivory Coast. I invite the leaders of private businesses to do the same in order to support parents, especially those whose incomes are limited,” she stated.

This ceremony for the donation of school kits marks the launch of a series of social initiatives, with a particular focus on schools in the most disadvantaged areas of Abidjan. The money for the #Tousalecole campaign comes from purchases made online on the website https://www.jumia.ci.

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

Contact Us

SHERYN TOIFL

PR & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER—JUMIA COTE D’IVOIRE

Email : sheryn.toifl@jumia.ci

Mobile : +22546750604

About JUMIA

JUMIA (https://www.jumia.ci) is Africa’s leading online shopping destination. Customers across the continent can shop amongst the widest assortment of high quality products at affordable prices – offering everything from fashion, consumer electronics, home appliances to beauty products. Jumia was the first African company to win an award at the World Retail Awards 2013 in Paris as the “Best New Retail Launch” of the year.

About AIH

Africa Internet Holding (http://africainternetgroup.com) introduces and accelerates the online shift in Africa – for its people and its culture. It is committed to running successful and vibrant internet companies which boost the evolution of African online culture. AIH is the parent group of nine successful and fast-growing companies in more than 25 African countries, accounting for over 3000 staff. AIH cares about entrepreneurship and brings together all the key elements required to build great companies: team, concept, technology and capital. Its network of companies includes JUMIA, Kaymu, Hellofood, Lamudi, Carmudi, Zando, Jovago, Lendico and Easy Taxi.

Pope Francis to the bishops of Ghana: the importance of the healthcare apostolate

VATICAN, Holy See, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The tragedy of the Ebola outbreak and the healthcare apostolate, the need for testimony of integrity in the face of corruption, and ecumenical cooperation were the main themes of the written discourse the Holy Father handed to the bishops of the Ghana Bishops’ Conference yesterday afternoon, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit.

In the document, the Pope comments that “The 2009 Synod on Africa noted as a principal concern the need for the Church’s pastors to ‘inspire in Christ’s disciples in Africa the will to become effectively committed to living out the Gospel in their daily lives and in society … and to obery Christ who calls constantly for metanoia, for conversion’”.

In this regard, he notes that “The work of conversion and evangelisation is not easy, but it bears precious fruit for the Church and the world. Out of the spiritual vitality of all the faithful come the Church’s numerous charitable, medical and educational endeavours, and her works of justice and equality. The varied services, carried out in God’s name, especially for the poor and weak, are the responsibility of the entire local Church, under the prayerful oversight of the bishop. I think in a particular way about the importance of the Church’s healthcare apostolate, not only in Ghana, but throughout western Africa, which is suffering at this time from the outbreak of Ebola. I pray for the repose of the souls of all who have died in this epidemic, among whom are priests, men and women religious and healthcare workers who contracted this terrible disease while caring for those suffering. May God strengthen all healthcare workers there and bring an end to this tragedy”.

He continues, “The Church in Ghana is justly respected for the contribution she makes to the integral development of individuals and the entire nation. At the same time, she often finds herself lacking in the material resources necessary to fulfil her mission in the world. In this regard, I would offer you two thoughts. First, it is imperative that whatever temporal means the Church has at her disposal continue to be administered with honesty and responsibility, in order to provide good witness, especially where corruption has hindered the just advancement of society. … Second, material poverty can be an occasion to draw greater attention to the spiritual needs of the human person, thus leading to a deeper reliance on the Lord, from whom all good things come. While your communities rightly make many efforts to alleviate extremes of poverty, so too the Church is called, in imitation of Christ, to work with humility and honesty, using the goods at her disposal to open minds and hearts to the riches of mercy and grace flowing from the heart of Christ”.

Finally, the Pope advises the bishops, “Be close to other Christian leaders and the heads of other religious communities. Ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, when carried out with respect and an open heart, contribute to the social harmony of your country, and enable growth in understanding of the dignity of each person and a greater experience of our common humanity. Thankfully, Ghana has been spared many of the tribal, ethnic and religious divisions that have afflicted too many other parts of Africa, a continent whose promise, in part due to these divisions, has yet to be fulfilled. I pray that you will be ever greater promoters of unity and leaders in the service of dialogue. May you be firm in upholding the Church’s teaching and discipline, and unyielding in your charity. And may your generosity in offering Christ be matched only by your humble and patient openness to others”.

The Pope calls for prayer for African countries in Ebola epidemic

VATICAN, Holy See, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At the end of today’s general audience, the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages, as usual. Before the greetings in Italian, he launched an appeal for the countries in Africa that suffer as a result of the Ebola epidemic. Pope Francis assured his closeness to the many people affected by this virus and invited the faithful to pray for them and for those who have tragically lost their lives. “I hope that there will be no shortage of necessary help from the international community to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters”.

Fighting Ebola: European Commission sends representatives to Sierra Leone and Liberia to coordinate EU support

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The European Commission is continuing its active participation in the efforts to contain the outbreak of Ebola which has already claimed 2811 lives in Guinea, Liberia, Siera Leone and Nigeria. Two high-level officials from the Commission have visited Sierra Leone (Freetown) and Liberia (Monrovia) last week to discuss the coordinated response to the epidemic and to confirm continued European Union support to the affected countries.

Marcus Cornaro, Deputy Director General of the Commission’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation (EuropeAid) and Philippe Maughan, Head of Sector for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean at the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response (ECHO) met with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. They also held meetings with the national authorities (including the Minister of Health and Finance) and international organisations operating on the ground in response to the emergency. They also had exchanges with representatives of the US Army and the African Union who had just arrived to set up their respective missions.

On his return, Marcus Cornaro said: “The situation in the two countries is extremely serious and the international community must increase its support to fight the epidemic. In my meetings I confirmed that the EU has put a comprehensive range of support measures in place. We are determined to help the countries and the many victims with immediate support through humanitarian aid, but will also give development assistance to the region to strengthen health systems, as well as budget support to Sierra Leone and Liberia to cushion the severe macroeconomic impact of the crisis.”

Philippe Maughan added: “As a medical doctor and emergency healthcare expert, I commend the healthcare professionals working around the clock to contain the spread of the disease, often at risk for their own lives. The capacity of first responders is stretched. The surge of the international response in recent weeks is welcome, but it urgently needs to be translated to concrete action on the ground”.

LEADERS AT UN SUMMIT TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE FOOD SECURITY FOR 9 BILLION PEOPLE BY 2050

NEW YORK, September 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — With demand for food set to increase 60 per cent by 2050, world leaders, major corporations and civil society at the United Nations Climate Summit today pledged commitments to transform agricultural practices by increasing productivity while reducing carbon emissions.

“I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he opened the meeting. “These efforts will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people.”

Nine billion people are expected to be living on the planet in 25 years and food production will need to spike in order to feed them.

Today, at the biggest climate conference in history, more than 20 Governments, and 30 organizations and companies announced they would join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, which aims to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture.

The countries joining represent millions of farmers, a quarter of the world cereal production, 43 million undernourished people and 16 per cent of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Civil society organizations also committed to take action on the ground that “protect the poorest and most vulnerable farmers from climate change,” according to a joint statement released today.

While farmers, fishers, and foresters have already adapted to climate change through indigenous and scientific knowledge, they need investment and policy changes to better manage risk, forecast weather and better use natural resources.

The Global Alliance strives to achieve increases in agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes while simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ensuring people have access to quality food and nutrition is also a priority.

On a regional level, the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance- set up by the African Union- brings governments and civil society together to help about 25 million farming households across the continent practice climate-savvy agriculture by 2025.

“Africa is leading by example, and the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance will help ensure that the agriculture sector can continue to be an engine of economic growth and social development for all our people, even in the face of climate change,” said Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission in a statement.

A similar initiative in North-American will be launched in 2015 to help farmers adapt and improve resilience to climate change.

Major corporations are committing to the cause as well. Walmart, McDonald’s and the Kellogg Company have committed to increase the amount of food in their supply chains that are produced with climate-smart approaches – an important step to curb carbon emissions.

Walmart, the world’s largest grocery store, sells 70 million tonnes of food annually. McDonald’s buys two per cent of the world’s beef, a major source of agricultural greenhouse gas production.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank also announced today that 100 per cent of their agricultural investment portfolios – about $11 billion – would be climate-smart by 2018.

And the World Food Programme (WFP) expanded its R4 Rural Resilience Initiative to empower food insecure rural households in Malawi and Zambia.

These pledges come on the heels of the Secretary-General’s plea to keep global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius by reducing emissions, moving money, pricing pollution, and strengthening resilience.

Agriculture is just one of eight action areas identified as critical during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014. Others include sustainable urban public transport and investment in renewable energy.