Italy contributes €1 million to help WFP support conflict-affected people in Libya

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of €1 million from the Government of Italy to provide much-needed food assistance for vulnerable people affected by the ongoing conflict in Libya.

This timely contribution will allow WFP to provide family food rations for more than 80,000 people in Libya for one month. Each ration is large enough to feed a family of five people for one month and contains basic food items such as rice, pasta, chickpeas, wheat flour, vegetable oil, tomato paste and sugar.

“WFP is very grateful to the Government of Italy for its commitment to support affected households and communities across Libya,” said Carlo Scaramella WFP Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

In 2016, WFP plans to assist up to 210,000 of the most vulnerable people in Libya with life-saving food assistance, including displaced Libyans, host communities, and registered refugees and asylum seekers.

“The conflict in Libya continues to cause large population displacements in the country and is consequently increasing humanitarian needs,” said Wagdi Othman, WFP Country Director for Libya.

Alongside Italy’s support, WFP is grateful to other donors including the UN CERF, Canada and all those who contribute flexible funds. However, to continue its life-saving food assistance to tens of thousands of Libyans in desperate need until the end of the year, WFP immediately requires US$15.4 million.

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

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Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards to be rolled out in African and Asian Universities as part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

  • Merck anounces the winner of Merck Diabetes Award for UAE
  • Merck Diabetes Award willl be rolled out in 30 African and asian Universities aims to create Diabetes experts platform across the continents
  • Merck supports Diabetes education and community awarness through its Merck Capacity Advancement Program.

In April 2016, Merck Capacity Advancement Program recognized the World Health Day by launching the “Merck Diabetes Award and Merck Hypertension Awards” across more than 30 African and Asian Universities with the aim to build a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts across the globe.

In February 2015 Merck in partnership with Dubai Medical University invited all medical students to apply for “Merck Diabetes Award“2016 with the theme of “Every Day is a Diabetes Day”.

Today Merck announces the winner who will receive the award in a big ceremony attended by Merck Health care CEO, The dean of Dubai Medical University, President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Africa, Vice President of Pan African Cardiology Society and the director of NCDs of Indonesia Ministry of Health.

The students across African and Asian medical universities will be asked to submit a concept paper aiming to improve the awareness about Diabetes early detection and prevention in their countries and to encourage their society, scientific community, local authorities, media and relevant stakeholders to think and act on Diabetes Every Day. The winner from each university will be provided by one year postgraduate Diabetes Diploma.

Merck has decided to kick off its Hypertension Award for the same university with theme “What the Health Heart needs”, the winner of this award will be provided by one year Postgraduate Preventive Cardiovascular Medicines in South Wales university

“Merck plays an important role in building healthcare capacity Africa addressing Non Communicable Diseases(NCDs) focusing on rural areas, medical students and local partnership with Academia, Ministries of Health, policy makers and governments” Belen Garijo, CEO of Merck Healthcare and Member of The Executive Board of Merck emphasized.

Dr Dima Abd Elmannan , Clinical Dean of Dubai Medical Colleges emphasized “In recent years, we have seen a rapid rise in type 2 diabetes across all age groups. The UAE is ranked 16th worldwide, with 19.2% of the UAE population living with diabetes. These statistics indicate that the region has high risk factors for diabetes, mostly related to rising obesity rates and physical inactivity. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop accredited teaching programs and encourage people and relevant stakeholders to think and act on diabetes every day. I am sure Merck Diabetes Award will encourage our medical students to be creative in developing new strategies, policies and programs to encourage community members to think about diabetes every day”.

“We’re excited about the medical students application for Merck Diabetes Awards, most of their ideas were very innovative and can make a change in Diabetes landscape in UAE. The scientific committee decided to give the award to two applicants, the first winner was Nujood Al Shirawi, a graduate if Dubai medical University and currently intern house officer under Dubai Health authority (DHA)

The second winner was granted for an application submitted by two medical students in the 4th year of Dubai Medical University, Sana Laraib Daud and Zoubia Fathima.

Dr. Ahmed Reja , the President of IDF Africa and President of Ethiopia Diabetes Association and Chief of endocrinology at Black Lion Hospital emphasized” we are very happy to partner with Merck to drive their strategy to build diabetes capacity and roll out the Merck Diabetes Award across the continent. The outcome in UAE was remarkable, it encouraged the students to be more innovative and take a leadership position to fight Diabetes in their own country.”

“I am confident that the students across The African continent will equally be enthusiastic to participate with their ideas and concepts to improve the access to diabetes healthcare solution in their own countries” he added.

Prof. Eligah Ogola, Vice President of Pan African Cardiology Society said during te event ““We are happy to partners with Merck to implement their Capacity Advancement Program focusing on Hypertension in 2016. This combined Diabetes and Hypertension education program will contribute towards providing guidelines and clinical practice for prevention, diagnosis and management of those diseases and their complications. The objective of this initiative is to increase the level of knowledge for medical students who will work in the near future with patients to help them prevent, understand and control their diseases across the continent”.

Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards mark another step in our commitment to working with Governments, Academia and relevant stakeholders in building healthcare capacity with a focus on non-communicable diseases in various countries in Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America”. Kelej added.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Humpherys Elkington Ltd.

About the Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP)

Merck CAP is a 5-year program aiming to expand the professional capacity in developing countries in the areas of research and development, advocacy building, supply-chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education, and community awareness.

As part of the CAP, in 2015, more than 9,000 medical students in partnership with African universities such as University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Namibia University and University of Ghana, in addition to Asian universities such as Maharashtra university, India and University of Indonesia will benefit from European-accredited clinical chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to better manage and prevent these diseases.

Merck is planning to target more than 25,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non–communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and fertility management. The program will also kick off initiatives on building research capacity and improving supply chain in order to improve patient safety in Africa.

Source:: Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards to be rolled out in African and Asian Universities as part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

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Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards to be rolled out in African and Asian Universities as part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

  • Merck anounces the winner of Merck Diabetes Award for UAE
  • Merck Diabetes Award willl be rolled out in 30 African and asian Universities aims to create Diabetes experts platform across the continents
  • Merck supports Diabetes education and community awarness through its Merck Capacity Advancement Program.

In April 2016, Merck Capacity Advancement Program recognized the World Health Day by launching the “Merck Diabetes Award and Merck Hypertension Awards” across more than 30 African and Asian Universities with the aim to build a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts across the globe.

In February 2015 Merck in partnership with Dubai Medical University invited all medical students to apply for “Merck Diabetes Award“2016 with the theme of “Every Day is a Diabetes Day”.

Today Merck announces the winner who will receive the award in a big ceremony attended by Merck Health care CEO, The dean of Dubai Medical University, President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Africa, Vice President of Pan African Cardiology Society and the director of NCDs of Indonesia Ministry of Health.

The students across African and Asian medical universities will be asked to submit a concept paper aiming to improve the awareness about Diabetes early detection and prevention in their countries and to encourage their society, scientific community, local authorities, media and relevant stakeholders to think and act on Diabetes Every Day. The winner from each university will be provided by one year postgraduate Diabetes Diploma.

Merck has decided to kick off its Hypertension Award for the same university with theme “What the Health Heart needs”, the winner of this award will be provided by one year Postgraduate Preventive Cardiovascular Medicines in South Wales university

“Merck plays an important role in building healthcare capacity Africa addressing Non Communicable Diseases(NCDs) focusing on rural areas, medical students and local partnership with Academia, Ministries of Health, policy makers and governments” Belen Garijo, CEO of Merck Healthcare and Member of The Executive Board of Merck emphasized.

Dr Dima Abd Elmannan , Clinical Dean of Dubai Medical Colleges emphasized “In recent years, we have seen a rapid rise in type 2 diabetes across all age groups. The UAE is ranked 16th worldwide, with 19.2% of the UAE population living with diabetes. These statistics indicate that the region has high risk factors for diabetes, mostly related to rising obesity rates and physical inactivity. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop accredited teaching programs and encourage people and relevant stakeholders to think and act on diabetes every day. I am sure Merck Diabetes Award will encourage our medical students to be creative in developing new strategies, policies and programs to encourage community members to think about diabetes every day”.

“We’re excited about the medical students application for Merck Diabetes Awards, most of their ideas were very innovative and can make a change in Diabetes landscape in UAE. The scientific committee decided to give the award to two applicants, the first winner was Nujood Al Shirawi, a graduate if Dubai medical University and currently intern house officer under Dubai Health authority (DHA)

The second winner was granted for an application submitted by two medical students in the 4th year of Dubai Medical University, Sana Laraib Daud and Zoubia Fathima.

Dr. Ahmed Reja , the President of IDF Africa and President of Ethiopia Diabetes Association and Chief of endocrinology at Black Lion Hospital emphasized” we are very happy to partner with Merck to drive their strategy to build diabetes capacity and roll out the Merck Diabetes Award across the continent. The outcome in UAE was remarkable, it encouraged the students to be more innovative and take a leadership position to fight Diabetes in their own country.”

“I am confident that the students across The African continent will equally be enthusiastic to participate with their ideas and concepts to improve the access to diabetes healthcare solution in their own countries” he added.

Prof. Eligah Ogola, Vice President of Pan African Cardiology Society said during te event ““We are happy to partners with Merck to implement their Capacity Advancement Program focusing on Hypertension in 2016. This combined Diabetes and Hypertension education program will contribute towards providing guidelines and clinical practice for prevention, diagnosis and management of those diseases and their complications. The objective of this initiative is to increase the level of knowledge for medical students who will work in the near future with patients to help them prevent, understand and control their diseases across the continent”.

Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards mark another step in our commitment to working with Governments, Academia and relevant stakeholders in building healthcare capacity with a focus on non-communicable diseases in various countries in Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America”. Kelej added.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Humpherys Elkington Ltd.

About the Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP)

Merck CAP is a 5-year program aiming to expand the professional capacity in developing countries in the areas of research and development, advocacy building, supply-chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education, and community awareness.

As part of the CAP, in 2015, more than 9,000 medical students in partnership with African universities such as University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Namibia University and University of Ghana, in addition to Asian universities such as Maharashtra university, India and University of Indonesia will benefit from European-accredited clinical chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to better manage and prevent these diseases.

Merck is planning to target more than 25,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non–communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and fertility management. The program will also kick off initiatives on building research capacity and improving supply chain in order to improve patient safety in Africa.

Source:: Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards to be rolled out in African and Asian Universities as part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

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Angola Announces Major Push against Ivory Trade as it Gears up for World Environment Day

Angola today announced a major push against the ivory trade, pledging to close one of the largest domestic ivory markets in the world and implement tougher border and screening controls.

The Southern African nation also promised to fulfill its commitments under the UN Environment Programme-hosted Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including stepping up its efforts to implement its National Ivory Action Plan.

The tough new stance comes as Angola firms up plans to play global host to World Environment Day (WED) on June 5th. This year’s WED, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is themed on tackling the illegal trade in wildlife, and aims to mobilize global action around the issue.

Speaking at a meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Cairo, Angola’s Environment Minister Maria de Fatima Jardim said, “The Commission Against Environmental Crimes has presented a decree banning the sale of ivory and ivory artifacts in Angola and we are deploying a wildlife crime unit at Luanda’s international airport. We are determined to end the trade in ivory and build a new Angola, in which both people and our unique species can thrive.”

As a signal of its intent, Angola has also joined twelve other nations as a signatory to the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), which focuses on protecting African elephants through measures such as closing domestic markets. Angola aims to end all domestic trading in ivory, undertake a robust inventory of its stockpile and commit to its destruction before World Environment Day.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The illegal trade in wildlife destroys ecosystems and livelihoods, compromises rule of law and national security, and undermines sustainable development. In the last few years we have seen strong steps to combat this scourge, including the first UN resolution on wildlife trafficking. Angola’s commitments are another milestone and send a powerful message to poachers, and the international criminal networks that back them, that they have no future.”

Angola has already begun engaging with traders in Luanda’s Benfica market, where large amounts of carved ivory are on sale amidst stalls that also sell legal souvenirs to foreign visitors.

“We have informed traders of our intention to halt ivory sales in Benfica market, but we must take care to ensure we do not drive the trade underground, making it more difficult to eradicate,” said Abias Huongo, Director of the National Institute for Biodiversity and Conservation Areas.

In late 2015, Angola hosted the International Conference of the Africa Prosecutors’ Association. The resulting Cuando-Cubando Declaration calls for strengthened international cooperation within the framework of CITES. As part of this activity, under the World Environment Day platform, Angola will look to engage foreign businesses in making pledges to drive change.

”African elephant populations continue to face a very real and immediate threat to their survival from unacceptably high levels of poaching for their ivory, including in Angola,” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General. “We are pleased to see the progress being been made on the ground in implementing Angola’s National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP).

“Winning the fight against elephant poaching and the smuggling of ivory will depend upon the front line actions taken across range, transit and destination states, and we welcome the additional measures being taken by Angola to bring these highly destructive wildlife crimes to an end.”

Little is known about the size of Angola’s remaining elephant population, which historically lived in the southeast of the country. However, the results of recent surveys, due to be released in the coming months, are anticipated to confirm heavy population declines during Angola’s decades-long civil war.

WED—the single biggest day for positive action on the environment worldwide—is this year themed around the illegal trade in wildlife to prompt further awareness and action to combat illegal trade in CITES-protected species.

The number of elephants killed in Africa has exceeded 20,000 a year out of a projected population of 420,000 to 650,000. But with reports that 100,000 elephants were killed in just a three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the population figures may now in fact be lower.

Figures released on World Wildlife Day (March 3rd) by CITES, based on its Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, found that the most serious levels of poaching were recorded in Central and West Africa. Forest elephants in that region have declined by over 60 per cent in a decade.

A troubling upward trend in elephant poaching was, for the first time, observed in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, where populations were formerly thought to be secure—highlighting that enforcement must be combined with global action on demand to ensure poaching is stamped out.

For rhinos, poaching has seen a steady increase in the last ten years. In South Africa alone, rhino poaching increased by about 9,000 per cent between 2007 and 2015. Last year, 1,175 rhinos were poached in the country – roughly one rhino every eight hours.

Other measures to reverse the trend include the African Elephant Action Plan, developed under CITES and implemented through the UNEP-hosted African Elephant Fund, and developing an Electronic Permits Information Exchange System to reduce the likelihood of corruption.

To find out more about World Environment Day, and pledge an activity, please visit web.unep.org/wed/

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Africa seeks stronger ties with the U.S Government

African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha held talks with United States Senator Mr. Christopher Coons highlighting Africa’s priorities as captured in Agenda 2063 and underlined areas of collaboration between Africa and the U.S. Government’s.

Meeting on the sidelines of the Annual 2016 Spring Meetings in Washington DC, H.E. Mr. Mwencha restated the need for support in technology, skills and capacity building from the U.S Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as Africa moves to establish African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (African CDC). He noted that the African CDC are critical and a show of commitment by the continent, to the ownership and improvement of the health for its people. Senator Coons reaffirmed the U.S Government support to Africa in the health sector, highlighting the PEPFAR programme, where he said, millions of US Dollars continue to be allocated in the fight against the HIV/ AIDS pandemic.

On the US – African trade relationship, AUC Deputy Chairperson called for further capacity building to ensure the benefits of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are realized, in promoting growth and development, industrialization and strengthening the intra-continental and global markets.

While highlighting the many factors that contribute to the humanitarian crisis on the African continent, H.E. Mr. Mwencha, observed that a climate-oriented partnership from the U.S Government was paramount. He acknowledged the role of the African Risk Capacity, which he said had been paramount in supporting AU participating member States manage natural disaster risk and adapt to climate change. He however observed the need for further financial and resource support, to strengthen ARC’s capacity in predicting and responding to natural disasters in a timely and effective manner to the affected communities.

In his remarks, Senator Coons highlighted peace and security as one of the areas the U.S Government has been proactive on, particularly on assisting fragile states address security challenges and threats. He underscored the sustainability of peace keeping operations in Africa as key, in addressing the global security burden.

Laudable past

The African Union acknowledged the role that the U.S. Government’s has played in Africa highlighting the historic visit by U.S President Barack Obama’s to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa and that of the of State John Kerry, which H.E. Mr. Mwencha said demonstrated stronger ties between Africa and the U.S. Further, he lauded the frequent dialogue between the AUC Chairperson H.E Dr. Nkosazama Dlamini Zuma and US Secretary Kerry while encouraging such dialogue to continue, especially at the level of congress. The AUC Deputy Chairperson was accompanied on this mission by H,E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, Commissioner for Economic Affairs of the AUC and Mr. Amine Idriss Adoum, Director of Administration and Human Resources Management of the AUC.

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

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Racial discrimination: UN Committee to review Spain, Oman, Rwanda, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Namibia

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is meeting in Geneva from 25 April to 13 May 2016 to review the following countries on these dates: Spain (26-27 Apr); Oman (27-28 Apr); Rwanda (28-29 Apr); Georgia (2-3 May); Azerbaijan (3-4 May); Namibia (4 May pm and 6 May am)

The above are among the 177 States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 18 international independent experts.

The public dialogue between CERD members and a delegation from the respective State runs from 15:00 to 18:00 and then from 10:00 to 13:00 the following day. Live webcasts of the public sessions held at Palais Wilson in Geneva can be viewed on http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/. CERD will also hear from NGOs and national human rights institutions.

More information including the States’ submitted reports, lists of issues, and information from civil society can be found here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1072&Lang=en

The Committee will publish its findings, officially known as concluding observations, on 13 May here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1072&Lang=en

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Readout of the Secretary-General’s telephone calls with H.E. Mr. Salva KIIR, President of South Sudan and H.E. Mr. Riek MACHAR, First Vice-President Designate of the Republic of South Sudan

The Secretary-General spoke today with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan. He commended President Kiir for his decision to welcome Riek Machar back to Juba and swear him in as the First Vice President of South Sudan on Monday, 18 April. He called for the expeditious implementation of the security arrangements envisaged in the peace agreement and the withdrawal additional SPLA troops from Juba.

The Secretary-General also spoke to the First Vice President Designate of the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar. He welcomed his decision to return to Juba and urged him to work with President Kiir to prevent any further violence.

The Secretary-General underscored the need to quickly form the Transitional Government of National Unity, as a crucial next step in the peace process. He reaffirmed the readiness of the United Nations to assist in all efforts to bring peace to South Sudan. He urged both leaders to continue working together with the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, former president Mogae, and the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, former president Konare, towards the implementation of the peace agreement.

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

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Source:: Readout of the Secretary-General’s telephone calls with H.E. Mr. Salva KIIR, President of South Sudan and H.E. Mr. Riek MACHAR, First Vice-President Designate of the Republic of South Sudan

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President James Michel sends message of condolence to Ecuador following devastating earthquake

Following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Ecuadorian coastal town of Manta, claiming over 250 lives, injuring many others and causing widespread structural damage, President James Michel on behalf of the Government and people of Seychelles expressed heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies in a message to Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado, President of the Republic of Ecuador.

In his message, President Michel noted “our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the bereaved, may they find strength to overcome the grief caused by this tragedy.”

The President wished the relief agencies success in the ongoing rescue efforts and noted that both he and the people of Seychelles are in solidarity with Ecuador in this difficult time of loss and suffering

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.

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United States Supports Aspiring Entrepreneurs at Startup Weekend Competition

Hundreds of aspiring Egyptian entrepreneurs participated in a competition this weekend designed to educate and motivate new entrants to the business sector. The StartUp Weekend event, co-sponsored by the U.S. government and the British University of Egypt (BUE), enables Egypt’s tremendous cadre of innovative, educated, business-minded young adults seeking to strengthen Egypt’s economy.

“The American people know first-hand that encouraging innovative entrepreneurs is one of the most effective ways to create jobs and increase incomes,” said Dr. William Patterson from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “USAID is proud to support Egypt’s entrepreneurs and believes these innovators have the talent and ingenuity to help build the foundation of a thriving, stable economy in Egypt.”

During the weekend, aspiring entrepreneurs formed teams to develop and pitch ideas to start new businesses. Teams worked together to refine their business models, develop working prototypes, and present their final ideas to potential investors. Some of these teams will go on to create new business ventures that will create new jobs and contribute to the growth of the Egyptian economy.

The first prize winner, Es3fme, successfully pitched an emergency health service app that notifies relatives, locates the nearest hospital, and provides first aid instructions. This team was awarded five seats to the Oasis 500 acceleration program. Other teams, focusing on education, reading, and medical help apps, received awards such as joining the TIEC acceleration program or receiving in-kind vouchers by Aramex worth up to 35,000 LE that will help them build their start-up companies.

The event is part of USAID’s project to strengthen entrepreneurship and enterprise development in Egypt through supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises. Through developing the ability of new firms to innovate and grow, this project will enable hundreds of MSMEs and entrepreneurs to grow sales as a result of streamlined business procedures, improved business processes, and linkages with firms in fast-growing value chains.

Since 1978, USAID has invested nearly $30 billion in the people of Egypt for projects that reflect our shared goals and values. Working together, our impact include reducing infant mortality and eliminating polio, modernizing the power grid and expanding telecommunications networks, supporting entrepreneurs, and preparing students with marketable skills for the 21st century economy.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Embassy – Cairo.

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African Consultative Group Meeting: Statement by the Chairman of the African Caucus and the Managing Director of the IMF

Mr. Abdoulaye Bio-Tchané, Chairman of the African Caucus, and Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), co-chaired the African Consultative Group meeting today at the IMF Headquarters. They issued the following statement after the conclusion of the Group’s meeting in Washington.[1]

“We had very productive discussions on Africa’s economic prospects, highlighting the near-term policy challenges as well as the continued opportunities. Reflecting the more difficult external economic environment and, in particular, the sharp drop in commodity prices, and tighter financial conditions, growth in Africa is projected to decline to about 3 percent in 2016, the lowest level in a long while. However, there is significant variation in growth performance across countries, with low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa continuing to grow by over 5 ½ percent.”

“We concurred that the decline in commodity prices is likely to be long lasting, as the causes seem structural rather than temporary—including the ongoing rebalancing of demand in China and, in the case of oil, technological innovation that has enhanced supply. We also recognized that non-economic shocks such as weather- and security-related challenges, are posing downside risks to Africa’s economic prospects.”

“Against this backdrop, we agreed that prompt fiscal adjustment is needed to safeguard macroeconomic stability and rebuild policy buffers across the region, especially in oil-exporting countries. We also concurred that, in pursuing these consolidation efforts, country authorities should aim at protecting priority expenditures, such as social expenditures and well-prioritized and efficient infrastructure spending, with a view to ensuring that longer term development goals remain achievable. Furthermore, we agreed that, where feasible, the exchange rate should be allowed to adjust as needed to absorb shocks and improve competitiveness, with central banks’ interventions limited to mitigating disorderly market movements.

“Beyond immediate policy reactions, we agreed on the need to reinvigorate the economic diversification agenda. Stepped-up structural reforms to improve the business environment as well as labor and financial markets and opening to trade are critical for boosting economic prospects, creating jobs, and improving living standards.”

Mr. Abdoulaye Bio-Tchané noted that “it is indispensable for African countries to adapt policies to the new environment and use all tools at their disposal—fiscal, monetary, exchange rate and structural policies to preserve hard-won macroeconomic stability, contain social impact, further strengthen our economies’ resilience to shocks, and support growth. As public investments have helped greatly in preserving positive growth in a very challenging period, it is particularly essential to not slow abruptly the economic dynamism impulse by public and private investment. In this context, African countries look to the Fund not only to continue its effective engagement with Africa, but also to adapt its instruments and financial support to the magnitude of the shocks experienced by African countries. One avenue would be to increase access to the general resources of the Fund for low-income countries. Going forward, as countries seek to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we agreed that it will be important for governments to maintain macroeconomic stability, strengthen institutions and the business environment, address critical infrastructure gaps, expand access to financial services in our economies, and seek to ensure that growth is both broad-based and inclusive.”

Ms. Lagarde stated that “as in the past, the IMF will remain closely engaged with its African members. Appropriate policies will be key to weathering this difficult time and to maintaining a strong foundation for sustainable growth and poverty reduction. The Fund’s support can take several forms, depending on countries’ needs: policy advice, technical assistance and capacity development, and—where appropriate and needed—financial assistance. The IMF will continue to strengthen the analytical underpinnings of its policy advice and instruments and seek to adapt to meet the evolving needs of the membership”.

[1] The African Consultative Group comprises the Fund Governors of a subset of 15 African countries belonging to the African Caucus (African finance ministers and central bank governors) and Fund management. It was formed in 2007 to enhance the IMF’s policy dialogue with the African Caucus. The Group meets at the time of the Spring Meetings, while Fund Management meets with the full membership of the African Caucus at the time of the Annual Meetings.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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United States Condemns The Gambia’s Response to Peaceful Protests

Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC

April 17, 2016

The United States condemns the Government of The Gambia’s severe response to recent peaceful protests. We call for an immediate end to violence and urge all Gambians to exercise restraint and remain calm.

The United States calls on the Government of The Gambia to uphold its international obligations under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to peaceful assembly.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Comment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the situation in The Gambia

“The death in State custody of an opposition leader, Solo Sandeng, is deeply disturbing and I urge the authorities in The Gambia to ensure that it is immediately subjected to an independent and thorough investigation, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. There are also reports that two other members of the opposition died in State custody on Thursday after they were arrested during a protest rally in Banjul. Some others who were detained the same day are reportedly suffering from serious injuries. I remind the authorities of their obligation to ensure that these individuals receive prompt medical attention, and that all the people of The Gambia are free from torture and ill treatment.

The death of Mr Sandeng has brought into stark focus the worrying pre-electoral environment in The Gambia, with reports of forceful suppression of peaceful demonstrations and the arrest and ill treatment of numerous protestors and members of the opposition. Respect for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are particularly indispensible in a pre-electoral context, and the Gambian authorities have a duty to ensure that the conduct of security forces during protests is strictly in line with international human rights standards.* Any allegation of the use of excessive force must be independently investigated.”

* including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/LawEnforcementOfficials.aspx and http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/UseOfForceAndFirearms.aspx

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: Comment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the situation in The Gambia

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