IOM Partners with Bangui Communities to Restart CAR Livelihoods

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) has brought the country’s economy to a near standstill. IOM is responding with support from the European Union (EU) by partnering with local communities to offer cash-for-work activities to help restart individual economic livelihoods in the capital of Bangui.

Cash-for-work teams perform various types of work, including cleaning rain gutters, markets and canals, waste management, and street and bridge repairs in Bangui’s first, third, and fifth districts.

Cash-for-work teams are composed of 750 people representing diverse ethnic, religious, and professional backgrounds. Half of the participants are women. Each team works for 10 days and each participant earns USD 50 at the end of the working period.

Esther, a cash-for-work beneficiary, started a small business selling donuts with the money she earned from the project. She shares her work space with two other cash-for-work beneficiaries, who all come from different ethnic and religious groups.

Esther said: “We thought it would be best if we rented this small place together. Now all of our families and friends visit us and buy our food. It is best for our business this way. I think we are a good example for the community. It is not necessary to fight in order for people to receive food. Hopefully the situation will continue to stabilize and more people will come to buy our food.”

IOM works closely with local authorities, under the guidance of the Ministry of Planning, to identify participants for the cash-for-work programme. Community meetings are held in each district to endorse clean-up projects to be undertaken, the community members who will participate, and the procedure for recruiting them. By engaging directly with local authorities, IOM intends to strengthen the relationships between local authorities and their constituents.

Some 5,050 people have participated in IOM cash-for-work projects since March and to date, cash-for-work teams have worked on over 35 infrastructure projects in the three districts.

One cash-for-work beneficiary, a former fighter with the anti-Balaka militia said: “I am here to work to bring peace back to my country. We want reconciliation. I have laid down my weapons and want to help re-establish the country along with others who have given up fighting. We don’t want anything bad anymore.”

IOM’s cash-for-work programme is part of the EU-funded Community Stabilization project. It began in March 2014 and will run for 18 months. The project has three components: cash for work, infrastructure projects in mixed communities, and the promotion of social cohesion among communities who have suffered extreme violence.

The African Union strongly rejects the Conclusions contained in the Report of the Human Rights Watch on allegations on sexual exploitation and abuse by AMISOM / The AU reiterates its zero tolerance policy on misconduct and abuses in peace support ope

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Commission of the African Union (AU) is concerned by the report entitled “The Power These Men Have Over Us: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) by African Union Forces in Somalia”, issued today by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Commission takes note of the allegations contained therein. These allegations will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate measures will be taken if they are found to be true, through the relevant mechanisms that have been developed by the AU to prevent and respond to issues of misconduct and abuse in peace support operations, in accordance with the AU’s zero-tolerance policy on this matter.

The Commission would also like to emphasize that these allegations do not define the character, organizational culture and management of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), currently one of the largest peace support operations in the world. Accordingly, the portrayal of the Mission and the general conclusions drawn from the allegations against it, as reflected in the title of the HRW report, constitute a misrepresentation of the sacrifices, achievements and genuine commitment of AMISOM and the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (TCCs/PCCs), in support of the people and the Federal Government of Somalia in their quest for sustainable peace, security, stability and reconciliation. In 2014 alone, AMISOM recovered more than 14 new areas from the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al Shaabab, and opened up Main Supply Routes (MSRs) for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to areas that had been unreachable by humanitarian agencies for extended periods of time.

The Commission notes with deep concern the imbalance, inaccuracies and partial view contained in the HRW report. In this respect, the Commission would like to highlight the following points:

(i) Firstly, the HRW report uses a small number of cases to arrive at a generalized conclusion. The HRW report claims that it has documented 21 alleged cases of sexual exploitation and rape. It further states that a single soldier carried out most of these acts. The generalization contained in the report does not reflect the highest professional standards with which the overwhelming majority of AMISOM uniformed personnel have continued to discharge their responsibilities.

(ii) Secondly, it is contradictory that the HRW makes sweeping general assertions about AMISOM culpability yet admits that its research did not exhaustively interrogate the scale and prevalence of these allegations. Furthermore, it would have been extremely helpful for HRW to present, even if in confidence, important facts and evidence to the senior leadership of the AU Commission and indeed to AMISOM, who would then have been in a position to conduct an in-depth investigation into this matter. This request was made by AMISOM in a letter to HRW on 3 June 2014, and there was an opportunity to fulfill this request during a meeting between the AU Commission and HRW on 5 September 2014. HRW’s failure to engage constructively with AMISOM and the AU Commission regarding the disclosure of evidence of wrongdoing, despite the AU’s willingness to do so, undermines the spirit of cooperation that would ensure the prevention and response to such allegations, in an effective manner.

(iii) Thirdly, the HRW report lacks coherence in its account of AU’s efforts to prevent and respond to SEA allegations in the Mission area. On one hand, the report argues that AMISOM leadership overlooks allegations of sexual misconduct. On the other hand, it makes mention of ongoing efforts to tackle allegations by citing the case of the deployment of a Ugandan Divisional Court Martial within Somalia to deal with SEA allegations. The HRW report also alludes to the fact that a Ugandan soldier is facing a court martial in Uganda for a sexual offence committed while serving in Somalia.

The Commission also notes with regret the factual inaccuracies of some of the claims made in this report. For instance, the HRW report states that all AMISOM staff, including locally-recruited Somalis, are immune from prosecution for criminal acts committed in their official capacity and that, as such, no action is taken against alleged perpetrators of rape and SEA. In this regard, the AU would like to stress that immunity is conferred only with regard to civil matters involving AMISOM personnel, including AMISOM national staff. The Commission takes strong exception to the insinuation that persons allegedly involved in SEA and rape are afforded official protection for such crimes. The HRW report ignores tools and mechanisms such as the Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA) signed between the AU Commission and the Somali Government and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the AU and TCCs/PCCs that contain provisions that address issues relating to transgressions.

The 2012 Report by an Independent Panel of Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, which was constituted by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, departs from the assessment and conclusions of the HRW report regarding AMISOM compliance with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. Specifically, the Experts’ report notes that “Regular training of AMISOM forces on humanitarian and human rights laws had yielded positive results, including in regard to the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence” (A/ HRC/21/61, 13 August 2012, paragraph 20).

The Commission would like to use this opportunity to re-iterate that internal mechanisms have been established to prevent, mitigate and discipline personnel that may have committed sexual exploitation and abuse in AMISOM and in other AU’s peace operations. These preventive measures include pre-deployment training for all AMISOM uniformed personnel before their deployment into the Mission area. Robust training packages cover SEA, gender-based violence, obligations with regard to International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Refugee Law, amongst others. Such training also includes AMISOM Military Rules of Engagement and Police Guidelines on Use of Firearms as they relate to women, children and other vulnerable groups. This training is conducted in conjunction with the United Nations.

Other preventive measures include: release of Force Commander’s Directive on Conduct of Military Actions; in-Mission refresher training covering the same subjects and/or recent developments on the same; establishment of Gender Focal Points in the various contingents; development of a conduct and discipline capacity in the Peace Support Operations Division of the Peace and Security Department of the Commission; and the strengthening of AMISOM Human Rights, Protection and Gender Unit.

AMISOM has also established mitigating measures such as the institution of a Board of Inquiry (BoI), at both contingent and headquarters levels, and the establishment of a Disciplinary Board, especially where there are alleged cases of sexual harassment by AMISOM national and internationally recruited personnel.

These existing mechanisms are being enhanced further to ensure greater effectiveness and accountability. In this respect, the Commission welcomes some of the HRW recommendations that could be considered as part of AU’s efforts to strengthen existing mechanisms. The introduction of in-country divisional Court Martials in Somalia by all TCCs/PCCs, finalization of the SEA policy document and enhanced information sharing between the TCCs and the AU Commission on prosecutions will be given due consideration.

The Commission wishes to reiterate its appreciation to all the TCCs/PCCs, as well as to the AMISOM civilian personnel and leadership, for their huge sacrifices and unwavering commitment to support the FGS and other Somali stakeholders, in their efforts to bring about lasting peace, security, stability and reconciliation in Somalia.

UNAMID calls for restraint over Kalma IDP camp tensions

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, September 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 4 September, The African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (AUNAMID), received information that a Government of Sudan police team had entered Kalma camp for in…

EU supports African Union mission to fight Ebola

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The European Commission will provide €5 million to the newly established mission of the African Union (AU) “Support to Ebola Outbreak in West-Africa” (ASEOWA) that will join the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the disease in the region.

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said “We welcome the AU’s new mission and will fully support its work. The EU stands side by side with our African partners – we all need to cooperate closely in fighting this deadly disease. Today’s funding is part of our contribution to a strong, coordinated international response.”

Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “The crisis continues to deteriorate, with Ebola cases surging even in places where it was brought under control. We must join forces in the fight against this deadly epidemic. Europe’s humanitarian assistance is reaching the affected areas as we speak. The needs, however, are constantly growing.”

ASEOWA is planned to last six months, with headquarters in Liberia and a minimum of 100 staff. It will provide advice to the Ebola coordination structures in the affected countries and engage in joint operations with them. It will also provide medical support in their on-going responses to the Ebola outbreak and assist local authorities and the international community in consolidating the control over the virus’ epidemic. It will also support the establishing of institutions and conducive conditions for the control and eradication of Ebola, as well as liaise with humanitarian actors and facilitate, where possible, humanitarian assistance to isolated and quarantined centres.

Today’s announcement was made in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) at an AU Partner Group’s meeting on Ebola.

Background

€2 million of today’s funding come from EU support for fighting Ebola that has been announced by Commissioner Piebalgs last Friday during his official visit to Benin (see IP/14/974); the remaining €3 million will be provided through the so-called African Union Support Programme, an existing EU funding mechanism that provides technical capacity to the AU.

UNEP MEDIA INVITATION: SEED Awards Briefing

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UNEP MEDIA INVITATION: SEED Awards Briefing

What: SEED Awards Media Briefing

Who: Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources (TBC);

Manu Chandaria, Comcraft Group Chairman;

Helen Marquard, SEED Executive Director;

SEED Award Alumnus Evans Wadongo;

2014 SEED Award Winners

When: 10 September 2014, 14:00 h

Where: Safari Park Hotel, VIP Rooms 1 & 2 (above the Pavilion) Nairobi, Kenya

RSVP to: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Small, micro and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) are the backbone of society, accounting for about 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment around the globe. Women own at least 30 per cent of SMMEs worldwide.

These enterprises are engines of economic growth and sources of new employment. They can nimbly adapt to new technologies and respond quickly to changing market needs. In fact, most innovation happens at the SMME level, but the right conditions are needed to create, commercialize and scale up innovative solutions.

Meanwhile, it has been proven that eco-innovative companies – those with sustainability integrated into their DNA – show an average 15 per cent increase in annual growth in an otherwise flat market.

Founded by UNEP, UNDP and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and supported by a group of intergovernmental partners, SEED works to build on the potential of social and green enterprises in building inclusive and green economies, which will be a critical component of the post-2015 development agenda.

This year, the SEED Awards – the world’s premiere award for small and micro-sized eco-startups – once again recognize businesses that tackle local and global problems with eco-innovative solutions.

From aflatoxin-free peanut butter and recycled briquettes to solar-powered computers, this year’s winners are great examples of how small and micro enterprises are already making the Green Economy a reality. They prove that environmental challenges can be solved in a way that creates economic and social benefits.

Join Kenya’s Manu Chandaria, Chairman of the Comcraft Group, Cabinet Secretary for Environment Prof. Judy Wakhungu and 2014 SEED Award winners and SEED alumni for a media briefing to learn more about SMMEs, eco-innovation and how they can support the transition to an inclusive Green Economy in the post-2015 era.

THE POPE TO THE BISHOPS OF CAMEROON: EVANGELISATION IS CLOSELY LINKED TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

VATICAN, Holy See, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today Pope Francis received the prelates of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit. At the end of the audience the Pope expressed his encouragement and confidence in the bishops, whose visit to Rome underlined the spirit of communion with the Apostolic See, and handed them his written discourse, in which he writes that “for the Gospel to profoundly touch and convert hearts, we must remember that only our unity and love make it possible to bear witness authentically and effectively”. “You must keep unity and diversity closely linked in order to accommodate the human and spiritual wealth of your dioceses, that is expressed in many ways”.

Pope Francis mentioned the good collaboration between the Church, the State and society in Cameroon, as shown recently by the signing of a framework agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Cameroon, and invited the prelates to put this agreement in practice, “so that legal recognition of many ecclesial institutions will enable them to exercise greater influence, to the benefit not only of the Church but also of the whole of society in Cameroon”. In this context, he also referred to the considerable commitment on the part of the local churches in social work, especially in the fields of education, health and charity, that is recognised and appreciated by the civil authorities and must be the fulcrum of “a fruitful collaboration between the State and the Church, with full respect for her freedom. Commitment to social work is an integral part of evangelisation, as there is an intimate link between evangelisation and human development, which must be expressed and developed in all evangelising work”.

The action of evangelisation will be more effective when the Gospel “is truly lived by those who have received and profess it. This is how we find the way of drawing to Christ those who do not yet know Him, demonstrating the power of His love that is able to transform and illuminate human life”. Given the significant presence of Muslims in some dioceses, the Pope encouraged the bishops to “develop a dialogue of life with them, in the spirit of mutual trust”, which is now “essential to maintain a climate of peaceful co-existence and to discourage the development of the violence that Christians are victims of in certain regions of the African continent”.

He continues, “Families, equally, must continue to be the focus of your particular care, especially today as they experience grave hardships – poverty, the displacement of peoples, lack of security, the temptation to return to ancestral practices incompatible with the Christian faith, or even new lifestyles promised by a secularised world”.

It is also essential that the clergy “offer witness to a life inhabited by the Lord, coherent with the demands and the principles of the Gospel”, he writes, inviting the prelates to be fathers attentive to their priests, so that they are helped to avoid the temptations of power, honours and money. “In relation to this latter point, the negative example that may be given by poor management of goods, personal enrichment or wastefulness will be particularly scandalous in a region where many people lack basic necessities”. Similarly, “the unity of the clergy is an indispensable element in the witness to the risen Christ … and which depends upon unity among bishops, who are often faced with the same challenges and called upon to offer common and joint solutions, as well as the unity of the ‘presbyterium’ that the Lord calls on us to build every day, setting aside all forms of prejudice, especially on the basis of ethnicity”.

The Pontiff finally offers encouragement to consecrated persons, whose life is “always a prophetic witness and model in matters of reconciliation, justice and peace” and concludes by urging the prelates of Cameroon not to fear difficulties and to continue to proclaim the Good News with a renewed missionary spirit “to all those who still await it or are most in need”.

POPE’S TELEGRAM FOR THE THREE NUNS KILLED IN BURUNDI

VATICAN, Holy See, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Holy Father to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, for the killing of three Italian Xaverian Missionary sisters yesterday, Sunday 7 September, in their convent in Kamenge, north of the capital Bujumbura.

Cardinal Parolin writes, “His Holiness Pope Francis has learned with great sadness of the murder of three nuns, Sister Bernadetta Bogiann, Sister Lucia Pulici and Sister Olga Raschietti, who were in the pastoral service of the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti in Bujumbura. The Holy Father begs the Lord to welcome into his kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns. In these tragic circumstances, he expresses his closeness to their religious community, to the families of the victims, and the entire diocesan community. He imparts the comfort of a heartfelt and affectionate apostolic blessing to all those affected by their sudden loss. I join the Holy Father in offering my condolences and wish to assure those close to the departed Sisters of my fervent prayers”.

The Secretary of State also sent another telegram to Sister Ines Frizza, superior general of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, in which he expresses his sadness for the tragic death of the missionaries and “assures his heartfelt participation in the profound suffering of the Congregation for the loss of such dedicated sisters”. The Holy Father, “in the hope that the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples, raises fervent prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and for their generous witness of the Gospel. To their families, the entire Institute and those who mourn their loss, he imparts the comfort of his apostolic blessing”, the Cardinal concludes.

GeoPoll adds VP of Business Development in Africa, Expands Global Sales Presence

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — GeoPoll (http://www.geopoll.com), the world’s largest real-time mobile survey platform, today announced the hire of John Muthee as VP of Business Development in Africa. Muthee will drive the strategy and execution of key growth initiatives as GeoPoll expands its mobile survey capabilities across the continent. The company recently opened a regional hub office in Nairobi and hired several experienced business development veterans, including Wavinya Kiagiri in Kenya, Matt Angus-Hammond in South Africa, and Gordon Grant Biaku in Ghana.

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

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1347 (John Muthee, VP of Business Development in Africa, GeoPoll)

“As GeoPoll becomes the go-to solution for organizations looking to gain insight into African audiences, we’ve expanded accordingly,” said Steve Gutterman, President of GeoPoll. “Our new hires bring valuable market research experience that will be a key asset in addressing our clients’ information needs. John and his business development team will lead our sales efforts and provide clients with insight regarding key markets, demographics, and customer preferences that has heretofore not been available on a real-time basis.

Muthee most recently served as Managing Director for GfK East Africa, where he oversaw the Consumer Choices research division, and all client engagements across the region. In his previous role as Regional Manager at GfK, Muthee coordinated the development of a retail panel across East Africa. Prior to joining GfK, Muthee was Country Manager for Tanzania at The Steadman Group.

Additional new hires bring significant experience in local sales and marketing:

● Wavinya Kiagiri, Business Development Director, Media Products for East Africa. Wavinya was formerly Head of Operations for Advertising at Kenya’s Nation Media Group, driving the use of research for sales, product development and strategy. At GeoPoll, Wavinya will be driving the adoption of GeoPoll’s Audience Measurement Service throughout East Africa. Prior to joining the Nation Media Group in 2009, she was the Media Research Director at Steadman Synovate, now Ipsos. Wavinya will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

● Gordon Grant Biaku, Business Development Lead for West Africa. Gordon was formerly an Account Director at market research company Millward Brown in West Africa. Based in Accra, Gordon played a pioneering role at establishing Millward Brown’s presence in West Africa. Prior to joining Millward Brown in 2009, Gordon was the Country Manager at Steadman, now Ipsos. Gordon will be based in Accra, Ghana.

● Matt Angus Hammond, Business Development Lead for Southern Africa. As the Market Insights Director for East and West Africa at Millward Brown, Matt spearheaded the company’s expansion into Africa before moving to South African research house KLA as the African Business Development Director. In October 2013 he took a sabbatical and spent seven months driving through nine countries from Johannesburg to Kinshasa, including a six week journey down the Congo River on a cargo barge. He will be leading GeoPoll’s business development efforts in Southern Africa based out of Johannesburg.

● Wangui Gikonyo, Business Development, Social Sector, for East Africa. Wangui has experience in both the corporate and social sectors, having worked with leading consumer goods brands, and more recently for several NGOs, including heading The AMREF Flying Doctors Society of Africa and working as Fundraising Director of the Kenya Community Development Foundation. Wangui will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

This announcement follows GeoPoll’s recent office opening in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as the launch of new product offerings catering to strategic sectors. In June, GeoPoll announced its Audience Measurement Service, and with it, the first ever overnight television ratings for multiple countries in Africa. The service currently represents daily television and radio consumption of over 300 million Africans, and aims to give advertisers and broadcasters an unprecedented, real-time look at viewing habits through individual action.

GeoPoll has also expanded its subscription services to include surveys on other key sectors, including Health, Finance, and Food & Agriculture. The GeoPoll database now includes more than 200 million users, and is projected to expand to 500 million by the end of the year.

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

Media contact:

Iz Conroy

+ 1 415-625-8555

GeoPoll@launchsquad.com

About GeoPoll

GeoPoll (http://www.geopoll.com) is the world’s largest real-time mobile survey platform, reaching a growing network of more than 200 million users in 20 countries worldwide on a deeply granular level and at unprecedented scale. Through partnerships with telecom providers and a multimodal platform powered by text, voice and web-based communications, GeoPoll enables companies and organizations to gather quick, accurate and in-depth insights on anything from preferences on consumer goods to election transparency and access to basic government services. GeoPoll is powered by Mobile Accord, the creators of the mGive mobile donation platform and experts in powering mobile insights across the globe.

WIN an Invitation to AfricaCom 2014, Africa’s Leading Telecoms Event

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, September 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — APO will offer transport, accommodation and perdiem for one African journalist to attend the AfricaCom 2014, Africa’s leading telecoms event (http://www.comworldseries.com/africa), held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 11–13 November 2014.

AfricaCom 2014 will bring together individuals and companies to debate on how to embrace innovation in Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT markets.

The deadline for entry is midnight on October 17, 2014.

Winner will be announced on October 23, 2014.

APPLY to win the invitation: http://www.apo-opa.com/application_twitter.php?L=E&vc=WIN

More information about AfricaCom 2014: http://africa.comworldseries.com