Thousands newly displaced after renewed clashes in Upper Nile, South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, April 13, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Increased clashes and continuing tension in Upper Nile since the beginning of April have led to 4,600 newly displaced people at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) in Malakal town, the capital of the state. MSF continues to support the hospital in the PoC in the town.

In Mellut, around 1,000 families, mostly of the Shilluk ethnic group, have fled their camp and sought refuge across the Nile in an area called ‘Noon’, approximately 10 Km from Mellut. MSF, one of the few organisations working in Mellut, has set up a mobile clinic to assist this population and is preparing to do a supplementary food distribution.

Source:: Thousands newly displaced after renewed clashes in Upper Nile, South Sudan

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Minister Nicholson Disappointed by Sudanese President’s Failure to Hold National Dialogue Ahead of Elections

OTTAWA, Canada, April 10, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

“Canada is disappointed by the failure of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to deliver on his promise to hold an inclusive national dialogue in the lead-up to the Sudanese general and presidential elections.

“Over the last year, Sudanese authorities have repeatedly seized newspapers’ print runs, ordered political arrests—including those of opposition leaders—hindered pre-electoral activities and targeted civilians in the states of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“These actions have obstructed the emergence of a free and open democratic process and have led many opposition parties to boycott the elections. As a result, the outcome of the elections will not reflect the will of all Sudanese people.

“Canada calls on the Government of Sudan to honour in full its commitment under the national dialogue road map and to build the necessary trust for a return to dialogue, which is the only way to resolve the current conflicts in Sudan and to ensure the rights and interests of all Sudanese are respected.”

Source:: Minister Nicholson Disappointed by Sudanese President’s Failure to Hold National Dialogue Ahead of Elections

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Statement on the 5th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 10, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 regarding the Ebola virus disease (EVD, or “Ebola”) outbreak in West Africa was conducted with members and advisors of the Emergency Committee on Thursday, 9 April 2015.

As provided in the IHR 2005, the main issues for the Committee’s advice to the Director-General were: (1) does the event continue to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and, if so, (2) should the current temporary recommendations be extended, revised, and/or new temporary recommendations issued.

The Committee reviewed developments since the previous meeting on 20 January 2015, including the current epidemiological situation. The Committee noted that as a result of further improvements in EVD prevention and control activities across West Africa, including in the area of contact tracing, the overall risk of international spread appears to have further reduced since January with a decline in case incidence and geographic distribution in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. These three IHR States Parties provided updates and assessment of the Ebola outbreak, in terms of the epidemiological situation and the status and performance of exit screening and contact tracing.

The Committee recognized the progress achieved by all three countries and emphasized that there was no place for complacency, the primary goal remaining the interruption of transmission as rapidly as possible. The Committee reinforced the importance of community engagement in “getting to zero”. The Committee expressed its continued concern about the recent infection of health care workers and reaffirmed the importance of ensuring the rigourous application of appropriate infection prevention and control measures.

The Committee discussed the issue of probable sexual transmission of EVD, particularly the recent case who is likely to have been infected following sexual contact involving an Ebola survivor some months after his recovery. The Committee welcomed the ongoing programme of research underway in this area and urged its acceleration as a priority.

The Committee discussed the issue of inappropriate health measures that go beyond those in the temporary recommendations issued to date. The Committee was very concerned that additional health measures, such as quarantine of returning travellers, refusal of entry, cancellation of flights and border closures significantly interfere with international travel and transport and negatively impact both the response and recovery efforts. Although some countries are reported to have recently rescinded these additional health measures, and some regional airlines have resumed flights to affected countries, about 40 countries are still implementing additional measures and a number of airlines have not resumed flights to these countries.

The Committee concluded that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and recommended that all previous temporary recommendations should be extended. The Committee provided the following additional advice to the Director-General for her consideration in addressing the Ebola outbreak in accordance with the IHR.

Recommendations for the most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone)

The Committee strongly reiterated the need for continued exit screening in the three affected countries. Such exit screening must be maintained for at least 42 days after the last case has twice tested negative for Ebola; countries are encouraged to maintain exit screening until human-to-human transmission has stopped in the entire subregion. The Committee again urged affected countries to provide WHO, on a monthly basis, with the number of people screened at international airports and the results of such screening.

Recommendations for countries sharing borders with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

The Committee reemphasized the need to continue to reinforce active surveillance, particularly in border areas, and to engage in cross-border cooperation, information and asset sharing, continued vigilance for new cases, and tracing of known contacts. The Committee highlighted the strong social and cultural linkages that cross national boundaries and must be taken into account in planning and implementing such activities.

Recommendations for all countries

The Committee reaffirmed the need to avoid unnecessary interference with international travel and transport, and to only implement measures which are commensurate with the current public health risks, as specified in Article 2 of the IHR 2005 and expressed in the current temporary recommendations. The Committee welcomed WHO’s continued work to monitor inappropriate measures and urged States Parties to reverse quickly any such measures and to inform WHO of such action in advance of the World Health Assembly discussion on the Ebola crisis in May 2015.

Based on this advice and the information considered by the Committee, the Director-General declared that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s advice, extended the existing Temporary Recommendation and issued the additional advice as new Temporary Recommendations under IHR (2005). The Director-General thanked the Committee members and advisors for their advice and requested their reassessment of this situation within three months or earlier should circumstances require.

Source:: Statement on the 5th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

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UN Security Council press statement on Mali

NEW YORK, April 10, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The members of the Security Council heard a briefing on Mali by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr Hervé Ladsous, on 9 April 2015.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, which was initialed on 1 March 2015 by representatives of the Malian Government, one of the coalition of armed groups “Platform” and all members of the international mediation team, as a critical step to achieve lasting peace in Mali. The members of the Security Council considered this agreement as balanced and comprehensive, aiming to address the political, institutional, governance, security, development and reconciliation dimensions of the crisis.

The members of the Security Council commended the role played by Algeria and other members of the international mediation team for their continued efforts to assist the Malian parties to achieve lasting peace in Mali.

The members of the Security Council urged the armed groups of the Coordination to initial the draft agreement and called on all actors who have influence on the Malian parties to use it in this regard. The members of the Security Council expressed their intention to follow developments in this respect closely.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the parties to seize this historic opportunity and to continue to engage constructively with sustained political will and in good faith, supported by the members of the international mediation team, to sign this agreement as soon as possible and commit to its effective, complete and sincere implementation, through the further development of implementation modalities and timelines.

The members of the Security Council underlined that the responsibility for the full and faithful implementation of a peace agreement rests with the Malian parties, supported by the international mediation team and the wider international community.

The members of the Security Council underscored the need for clear, detailed and concrete oversight mechanisms to support the implementation of the future agreement, which has to be Malian-led and Malian-owned, and expressed their intention to facilitate and follow closely its implementation, in close coordination with the international mediation team. The members of the Security Council reiterated the leading role the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), in conjunction with the other members of the international mediation team and the wider international community, to support and oversee the implementation of this agreement.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern over the volatile security situation in the North of Mali and the continued attacks, including against MINUSMA, and violent clashes in Mali. The members of the Security Council urged all parties to swiftly implement all agreed confidence-building measures to facilitate the implementation of the ceasefire, with the support of and in coordination with MINUSMA. The members of the Security Council reiterated their demand that all parties refrain from any action, whether direct or conducted through proxies, that jeopardizes prospects for peace. In this regard, they reiterated their readiness to consider appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire.

Source:: UN Security Council press statement on Mali

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Press Statement of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 497th meeting held on 9 April 2015, on the terrorist attack perpetrated in Garissa, Kenya

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 10, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 497th meeting held on 9 April 2015, adopted the following press statement on the terrorist attack perpetrated in Garissa, Kenya, on 2 April 2015:

Council condemned, in the strongest terms possible, this terrible terrorist attack, in which al-Shabaab terrorist group stormed the campus of Garissa University College in Garissa, during which more than 148 innocent students and staff were killed, while many others were injured.

Council stressed that this barbaric act against innocent civilians is tantamount to an attack on the African continent as a whole. Council reiterated AU’s full solidarity with the people and the Government of Kenya and expressed its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Council wished speedily recovery to all injured victims.

Council underlined that the escalation of terrorist attacks in the continent highlights the need for renewed efforts to address the scourge of terrorism, on the basis of the relevant AU and international instruments. Council called on all Member States and partners to redouble their efforts in this respect, and to enhance inter-African counter-terrorism cooperation.

Council reaffirmed its commitment to take appropriate steps to enhance the functioning of its Committee on Counter-Terrorism in order to enable it to effectively react to the scourge of terrorism.

Council commended the Government of Kenya for its efforts and role in combating terrorism and for its outstanding contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as part of the overall efforts to promote peace and security in the region and the continent as a whole. In this regard, Council also expressed its commitment to continue working with the Kenyan Government towards the mobilization of the required international support to the fight against terrorism.

Council reiterated the AU’s determination to continue its efforts in Somalia, in order to rid the country and the region of terrorist and criminal groups, and bring about lasting peace, security and stability in Somalia, in the region and the continent as a whole.

Council agreed to dispatch a delegation to Kenya to convey its heartfelt condolences and to express its solidarity to the people and Government of Kenya, in the aftermath of the barbaric terrorist attack in Garissa.

Source:: Press Statement of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 497th meeting held on 9 April 2015, on the terrorist attack perpetrated in Garissa, Kenya

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USAID Launches Eye Radio Repeater Station in Torit

JUBA, South Sudan, April 10, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Internews, a media development organization, and Zain Telecommunications Company today launched the first Eye Radio repeater station in Torit, Eastern Equatoria State in a ceremony attended by the Mission Director of USAID, the State Minister of Information, and other dignitaries. This is the first of ten planned radio repeaters to extend Eye Radio reception to all ten South Sudan states and their rural communities.

Radio is the primary source of information for most people in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS), yet access to radio is challenging in many areas, particularly rural communities. Radio access has also deteriorated because of the ongoing conflict, which has displaced more than two million people from their homes.

Since 2003, USAID has supported the development of independent media in RSS. The new repeater in Torit will increase Eye Radio’s audience by approximately 100,000 listeners in Eastern Equatoria State. The Eye Radio expansion, which has been made possible by the partnership with Zain Telecommunications Company, will ultimately enable expansion of Eye Radio to all the RSS states.

The pilot repeater station in Torit will be followed by other repeater stations in Wau, Rumbek, Kwajok, Aweil, Bor and Yambio, to reach as many as 750,000 listeners, in addition to Eye Radio’s existing audience in Central Equatoria State.

In the near future, Internews will also distribute approximately 50,000 solar-powered, hand-crank radio receivers to communities in RSS that lack access to radio, building on USAID’s legacy of helping RSS’s citizens gain access to information. Before the RSS’s independence, USAID distributed tens of thousands of such radios to communities in the then Sudanese nation.

“Our main goal is to empower and strengthen free and independent media in the Republic of South Sudan in a way that is self-sustaining. By doing so, we will improve access to information for the people of South Sudan, to help them become better informed citizens of their nation,” said Teresa McGhie, USAID Mission Director.

Under this program USAID has also supported the provision of lifesaving and life-enhancing information to people displaced by the conflict in the Lakes State, as well as the protection of civilian sites at United Nations compounds in Juba and other areas.

Source:: USAID Launches Eye Radio Repeater Station in Torit

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