UNHCR seeking 1,300 urgent resettlement places for vulnerable refugees in Libya

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched today (December 11, 2017) an urgent appeal calling for 1,300 resettlement places to be made available by the end of March 2018 for highly vulnerable refugees stranded in Libya.

“This is a desperate call for solidarity and humanity. We need to get extremely vulnerable refugees out of Libya as soon as possible,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

“Many refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Libya are victims of serious violations of human rights, including different forms of inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment,” says UNHCR’s Flash appeal*, which also notes that a large number of them are detained for an indefinite period of time in deplorable conditions.

As the refugee protection agency, UNHCR is strongly opposed to the routine detention of refugees and displaced people, and continuously advocates for alternatives to detention and for fair asylum systems.

“Given the imminent humanitarian needs and the rapidly deteriorating conditions in detention centres in Libya, UNHCR is actively working to organize more life-saving refugee evacuations to Niger in the coming weeks and months,” said Turk. A first group of 25 refugees of Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese nationalities were evacuated from Libya to Niger last month.

Vulnerable refugees are to be evacuated to Niger and hopefully other emergency transit mechanisms pending their resettlement to other countries. They include unaccompanied children, single female parents, women at risk, people with serious medical conditions as well as people who have been severely tortured or ill-treated during their journey or in detention in Libya.

“In view of the current critical humanitarian situation in Libya and the appalling conditions in detention centres, UNHCR once again calls upon the solidarity of the international community,” said Turk.

“Given the seriousness of the situation for refugees in Libya, we need to explore all sorts of solutions, including resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to UNHCR-run emergency facilities in other countries, or voluntary return,” he added.

*UNHCR’s Resettlement Flash Appeal for Libya is available
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Source:: UNHCR seeking 1,300 urgent resettlement places for vulnerable refugees in Libya


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International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster to Brief Media on Progress Made in the Implementation of the MTSF 2014-2019 in the Second Quarter

International Cooperation, Trade and Security (ICTS) Cluster departments, will lead a media briefing to give an update on the progress made on the implementation of the MTSF 2014-2019 in the second quarter towards achieving the goals of the NDP: Vision 2030.

Members of the media are invited to the briefing as follows:
Date: Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Time: 12:00
Venue: GCIS Head Office, Tshedimosetso House, 1035 Frances Baard Street, Hatfield, Pretoria

NB: Please note that there will be a video link up to Imbizo Media Centre at Parliament, Cape Town

Takalani Mukwevho (Pretoria)
Email: takalanim@gcis.gov.za
Cell: 082 227 9308

Andile Duka (Parliament, Cape Town)
Email: Andiled@gcis.gov.za
Cell: 063 237 6805

Follow the briefing on Twitter by using the hashtag #ICTSCluster

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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Source:: International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster to Brief Media on Progress Made in the Implementation of the MTSF 2014-2019 in the Second Quarter


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The European Investment Bank and Banque Misr provide EUR 250 million to finance small and medium-sized enterprises in Egypt

The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a financing agreement of EUR 250 million with Banque Misr to finance investments by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and midcaps in the manufacturing and services sectors to improve their competitiveness in Egypt. The financing agreement is expected to sustain thousands of jobs in Egyptian enterprises.

The EIB’s loan is the first tranche of EUR 500 million approved by the European Investment Bank’s Board of Directors. It will support Banque Misr’s ambitious plans to expand SME financing to meet the considerable growth expectations for SME lending in the coming years.

The finance, which will improve SMEs’ access to finance, is in line with the priorities of the Egyptian Government and the EU’s cooperation with Egypt. The European Investment Bank has provided a number of loans for SMEs and midcaps in Egypt. Since 2009 the EIB has provided financing to 246 SME projects in Egypt for a total value of EUR 743 million, most of which (56%) were in manufacturing sector. These projects helped to sustain over 40.000 jobs at private businesses. Additional financing to SMEs (such as this loan to Banque Misr) is continuously being made available in Egypt.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB).

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Source:: The European Investment Bank and Banque Misr provide EUR 250 million to finance small and medium-sized enterprises in Egypt


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Transparency is key to corruption-free infrastructure in Africa

The first Regional Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance was held in Cape Town at the beginning of November. Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International (www.Transparency.org), who addressed the event, reflects on the vital importance of openness and transparency for successful and sustainable infrastructure projects.

Corruption is nothing new and it’s certainly not unique to Africa. When I worked in the World Bank’s East Africa office back in 1991, it was not just common to see multi-national companies in developed countries pay bribes to secure lucrative projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia, this behaviour was often encouraged by governments.

In Germany, for example, a company found guilty of bribing a German official at home would face severe criminal sanctions. But a bribe to a foreign government was tax deductible as a business expense.

It was disgust at this state of affairs that prompted me to found f Transparency International in 1993. In the nearly 25 years since then, the situation has improved significantly.

Thanks partly to the activism of Transparency International and other civil society organisations (CSOs), many of those same countries that encouraged the paying of bribes and a number of those on the receiving end of such payments have signed international agreements committing themselves to avoiding such practices. Quite a few have enacted legislation outlawing corruption and encouraging transparency.

But as several examples cited at the Cape Town roundtable demonstrated, there’s still much room for improvement. Projects in certain sectors, especially extractive industries like oil and gas, and mining, are highly attractive to corrupt players because of the enormous sums of money involved.

Transparency International has discovered that the most effective approach to tackling this scourge is a joint effort from government, the private sector and CSOs. We refer to this as the Magic Triangle and, from modest beginnings in a handful of countries, this has grown into the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative which now has 54 countries participating.

The key mechanism for avoiding corruption is as much transparency as possible, particularly with regards to the amounts paid to governments to take on these massive projects. In the initiative’s early days, some felt transparency alone was not enough. But it turned out that transparency enables a deliberative process involving all three elements of the Magic Triangle. This, in turn, creates the raw materials for good governance.

Here, sunlight really is the best disinfectant. It means that when countries like Nigeria, Liberia, and Indonesia put these numbers into the public arena their parliaments knew just how much money the executive branch was collecting.

Transparency International now hopes to apply the same successful model to other industries. A few weeks ago, in Bali, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative was created. Similar initiatives are underway in the garment and construction sectors, the latter of which featured prominently in deliberations at the Cape Town conference.

Of course, the Magic Triangle is not without its limitations, the most significant being that it requires the goodwill and active participation of all three elements: government, private sector and civil society.

There are, alas, still many countries where CSO activists are viewed with suspicion or outright hostility, facing intimidation, imprisonment and even death. In other countries where CSOs face fewer restrictions, key government and private sector stakeholders may be more concerned with pandering to political or shareholder constituencies and their short-term interests than taking a longer-term view for meaningful participation in a Magic Triangle.

On the positive side, many of the sentiments expressed at the roundtable indicate that these attitudes are changing. There was a focus on enhanced standardisation, with number of impressive tools showcased, aimed at assisting state, private sector and CSO actors in promoting the transparency necessary for good infrastructure governance.

Good governance, in turn, helps countries attract quality investors who are knowledgeable, ethical and have financial depth. Trust plays a big role here. The private sector needs to trust that the bidding process is transparent and fair. Government and CSOs need to trust the bidder to deliver good quality, sustainable infrastructure.

The role of data also came out strongly. Undoubtedly evidence-based data is essential for the transparency needed for the deliberative process at the heart of the Magic Triangle.

Nevertheless, tools and data necessary, but not sufficient to guarantee transparency. Without the will to employ them with integrity, even the best tools and data can be manipulated by those bent on subverting the bidding process.

What is needed now is political will. That does not fall from the heavens.

A new paradigm of government is needed that must include a very strong voice of civil society. My hope is that the role of CSOs —which include the media, researchers and labour unions—in holding governments’ feet to the fire becomes stronger.

Civil society’s vision of fairness, sustainability—and transparency— must feed consistently and strongly into the democratic process of nation states. This matters tremendously for infrastructure, which is the backbone of how we power our schools and hospitals, how we get to our jobs and voting stations, and whether we have healthy water to drink. Infrastructure that is lacking, poor quality, or overpriced due to corruption saps our very quality of life.

The Cape Town roundtable capitalized on some momentum that was already building about the proper governance of infrastructure. Now we must kick it into high gear.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Chris Heathcote, CEO, The Global Infrastructure Hub.

Source:: Transparency is key to corruption-free infrastructure in Africa


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