Humanitarian assistance for Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia

Today I announce the Australian Government will provide further assistance in response to widespread and devastating hunger and cholera in Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia.

The Government will contribute $30 million in humanitarian assistance for people in these countries who are facing the risk of famine due to conflict and drought.

In South Sudan and Somalia, millions have been forced to flee their homes and more than 13 million people require assistance. Australia is providing $20 million to support international relief efforts in the two countries.

Our assistance will help deliver life-saving food to 50,000 people and deliver clean water and protection services to the most vulnerable, including medical and psychological support for survivors of sexual violence.

This will bring our contribution to the international response to conflict, drought and famine in South Sudan and Somalia to around $64 million in 2017.

In Yemen, 17 million people do not have access to sufficient food, including seven million who are at risk of famine. Over 500,000 people are affected by what the World Health Organization has described as the world’s worst cholera outbreak, with children representing over 40 per cent of those impacted.

Australia is providing $10 million to enable humanitarian agencies in Yemen to deliver food to people in need and to combat cholera, including by supporting 30,000 people to access clean water. This will bring our humanitarian funding for the crisis in Yemen to $20 million in 2017.

We continue to urge all those involved in the conflict in Yemen to return to negotiations towards a permanent solution to the conflict and allow humanitarian agencies to access populations in need.

Australia’s support to South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen will be provided through the World Food Programme, UNICEF, Australian non-government organisations and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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CPJ to release report on Cameroon’s press freedom crackdown

The Committee to Protect Journalists will release its report, “Journalists Not Terrorists: In Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent,” on September 20.

Cameroonian authorities have used a broad anti-terror law, enacted in 2014, to arrest and threaten local journalists who report on the militant group Boko Haram or unrest in the country’s English-speaking regions. Journalists arrested under the act, including Radio France Internationale broadcaster and CPJ International Press Freedom Award honoree Ahmed Abba, face military tribunal and harsh sentences. A presidential decree in August 2017 ended legal proceedings against at least four journalists, but the law remains in place. With elections due to take place next year, many of Cameroon’s journalists say they are too scared to cover politics or sensitive issues.

What: Release of “Journalists Not Terrorists: In Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent.”
When: September 20, 2017, 8 a.m. EST.
Where: www.cpj.org.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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CPJ to release report on Cameroon’s press freedom crackdown

The Committee to Protect Journalists will release its report, “Journalists Not Terrorists: In Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent,” on September 20.

Cameroonian authorities have used a broad anti-terror law, enacted in 2014, to arrest and threaten local journalists who report on the militant group Boko Haram or unrest in the country’s English-speaking regions. Journalists arrested under the act, including Radio France Internationale broadcaster and CPJ International Press Freedom Award honoree Ahmed Abba, face military tribunal and harsh sentences. A presidential decree in August 2017 ended legal proceedings against at least four journalists, but the law remains in place. With elections due to take place next year, many of Cameroon’s journalists say they are too scared to cover politics or sensitive issues.

What: Release of “Journalists Not Terrorists: In Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent.”
When: September 20, 2017, 8 a.m. EST.
Where: www.cpj.org.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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Joint Press Release: 13th Meeting of the United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security

On 15 September 2017, the United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security held its thirteenth consultative meeting at UN Headquarters, in New York, on the margins of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The African Union (AU) Commission and the United Nations (UN) Secretariat were represented respectively by Commissioner Smaïl Chergui (Peace and Security), Commissioner Minata Samaté/Cessouma (Political Affairs) and the Under-Secretaries-Generals Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Jean-Pierre Lacroix (Peacekeeping Operations) and Atul Khare (Field Support). They were accompanied by other senior officials from the two organizations.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) welcomed the signing of the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security on 19 April, which includes four key action areas: preventing and mediating conflict and sustaining peace; responding to conflict; addressing root causes; and continuously reviewing and enhancing the partnership. The JTF noted that the Framework, a key milestone of the reinvigorated UN-AU partnership, provides a comprehensive strategic vision for enhanced cooperation as UN and AU jointly address peace and security challenges across the continent. The JTF further welcomed the progress in implementation of the Joint Framework and stressed the need to maintain the positive momentum towards further joint actions.

On the basis of the Framework, the JTF discussed issues of common interest and identified areas of collaboration in a number of countries. In particular, the JTF reviewed the situations in Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and the Sahel and Central African Republic. UN and AU also exchanged views on the two organizations’ initiatives on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

On Somalia, the meeting exchanged views on recent political developments and agreed to continue working together in support of the political process in Somalia and a condition-based exit of AMISOM, in line with the PSC Communique and Security Council resolution on the AMISOM strategic review. The JTF paid tribute to AMISOM for its sacrifices, and reaffirmed that military operations in Somalia should be conducted in line with international humanitarian and human rights law and that UN support would be provided in line with the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP). The meeting agreed that AU and UN would continue to take steps towards securing predictable, flexible and sustainable funding for AMISOM, in particular in the context of resolution 2372. The JTF established that demonstrating progress of the transition will be imperative to galvanize political and financial support from the Member States and partners. They agreed on the need to coordinate efforts to help build the capacity of Somali security forces.

On South Sudan, the JTF expressed serious concern about the continuing violence and stressed the importance of IGAD-AU-UN partnership to bring the peace process back on track. UN and AU cautioned that the continuing violence and instability was leading to further fragmentation of the country, and abominable suffering for civilian populations. They strongly condemned the massive violations of human rights and human toll of the conflict which is aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation including forcing internal displacement of the population while others are compelled to become refugees in other countries. They urged all parties to advance progress with respect to justice and accountability without which there will be no sustainable peace. They welcomed the proposed IGAD High level Revitalization Forum and committed to actively support IGAD in revamping the peace process, including through coordinated efforts of UN and AU senior officials. They urged all parties to fully implement the peace agreement and ensure an all-inclusive national dialogue. They welcomed the progress made in the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, and look forward to its full and speedy completion. They also welcomed progress with the establishment of the Hybrid Court. The meeting further condemned the continued abuses of human rights particularly sexual violence against women and girls. They commended the neighbouring countries for hosting large numbers of refugees.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN and AU exchanged views on the political situation with a view to support further progress in the implementation of the 31 December 2016 political agreement. They expressed concern about the security and human rights situation in several areas of Kasaï and Kasaï central provinces leading to untold violence against civilians and massive displacement of persons and encouraged DRC authorities to cooperate with international investigations of serious human rights violations and other killings in the Kasaï. They underscored the need for regional actors and international partners, including ICGLR and SADC, to remain united in calling on political stakeholders to swiftly implement the 31 December agreement, resort to dialogue to resolve differences, and to take steps that would help organize elections as soon as possible. The meeting welcomed the convening in the DRC on 19 October 2017 of a Regional Summit of the Guarantors of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security, and Cooperation for DRC and the region. AU and UN agreed to work together to support efforts by the Congolese stakeholders to implement the confidence building measures provided for by the Political Agreement, as well as to ensure coordinated support to the electoral process, including with respect to the mobilization of the required financial and logistical resources.

On Mali, UN and AU called on the Government to continue making implementation of the peace agreement a key priority, including with regard to the setting up of interim political and security arrangements. They agreed to work together to intensify engagement with the signatory parties in Mali to remain committed to the implementation of the peace agreement, respect the ceasefire agreements and to promote inclusivity in the peace process.

On the Sahel, UN and AU welcomed the creation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, noting the potential of the joint force to create a more enabling environment for MINUSMA and to address security threats for which MINUSMA is not suited. They underscored the importance of framing the military response by the G5 Sahel around clear strategic and political objectives that support ongoing peace and stabilisation efforts in Mali and the broader Sahel. In this regard, they agreed on the need to facilitate stronger links between the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the African Union Peace and Security Architecture and Nouakchott process, and to work with all partners to that end.

Regarding the situation in the Central African Republic, UN and AU took note of the progress made, noting however that formidable challenges remain that require sustained commitment to consolidate the gains of the transition. They expressed concern over the continued high levels of ethnic-based violence and targeting of minorities. They also strongly condemned the attacks against peacekeepers and aid workers as well as continued attempts to undermine the peacekeeping operation. UN and AU welcomed the concerted efforts by the region, AU, UN and other stakeholders to revitalize the peace process, particularly the operationalization of the Africa Initiative. They encouraged key stakeholders to play a constructive role in the peace process and to speak with one voice in supporting a unified mediation process on the basis of a single roadmap and to strongly echo the call to adhere to the immediate cessation of hostilities. They discussed options for the UN’s partnership with AU on the African Initiative, including at the political, technical and logistical level. They welcomed the inaugural meeting of the Panel of Facilitators of the African Initiative and urged it to expeditiously facilitate implementation of the Initiative’s roadmap.

On Guinea Bissau, the JTF noted with concern the continuing political impasse in the country and called on the prompt appointment of a consensual Prime Minister and the re-establishment of a functioning, inclusive Government until the holding of timely legislative elections by 2018 on the basis of the Conakry Agreement. The JTF also reiterated strong support for the ECOWAS-led mediation efforts in Guinea Bissau.

On Libya, the meeting discussed recent developments in the country, including the outcome of the latest summit of the High Level Committee on Libya, which called for a harmonized approach of peace efforts in Libya. UN and AU looked forward to the holding of the high-level event on Libya on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly to further coordinate and harmonize peace and security initiatives in Libya.

The Joint Task Force also discussed AU and UN collaboration in conflict prevention. The meeting agreed that AU and UN should work together to promote a renewed commitment towards conflict prevention and mediation, including through the promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance as well as through advocacy in their respective Member States. The JTF agreed on the need to strengthen national peace infrastructures and mechanisms, working with women and the private sector. The UN Secretariat and AU Commission agreed to work to deepen cooperation on peace and security including through strengthening working-level mechanisms for information sharing, and carrying out joint messaging and, where possible, joint, coordinated conflict prevention efforts. The JTF also welcomed AU efforts to enhance accountability in peace support operations, and looked forward to continuing joint work on the development and strengthening of accountability frameworks.

On sustaining peace, the Joint Task Force exchanged views on the electoral process in Kenya, as well as on the modalities for post-UNMIL action and engagement in Liberia, including the possibilities of a reinforced AU presence. The Joint Task Force welcomed the AU’s collaboration in the context of the electoral process in Liberia and underlined the need for the international community to accompany the next government in its efforts to sustain and consolidate peace.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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