Statement by HR/VP Federica Mogherini on EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia

As concrete follow up to the 18 April Foreign Affairs Council, EU Ambassadors in the Political Security Committee agreed yesterday to extend the mandate of Operation Sophia by one year with continued emphasis on its core mandate of disrupting the business model of human smugglers and traffickers.

It was also decided to add two further supporting tasks to the operation; capacity building and training of, and information sharing with, the Libyan Coastguard and Navy based on a request by the legitimate Libyan authorities taking into account the need for Libyan ownership, and contributing to information sharing, as well as implementation of the UN arms embargo on the High Seas off the coast of Libya on the basis of a new UNSC Resolution.

This will now require political endorsement by the Council. The Operational Commander has been requested to urgently start operational planning on these two additional tasks, and preparatory work, including on planning, will continue in the coming days.

These developments are very welcome given the urgency of the situation in Libya. I will have the opportunity to discuss this further with the Libyan Prime Minister in Vienna on Monday at the Libya conference convened by the United States and Italy.

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

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Comoros elections – African Union expert observer mission

African Union expert observer mission to the re-run presidential and gubernatorial elections in 13 polling stations in the autonomous island of Anjouan in the Union of Comoros 11th May 2016

INTRODUCTION

At the invitation of the Government of the Union of The Comoros, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma deployed an election experts mission on the 7th May 2016 to the re-run of presidential and gubernatorial elections in 13 polling stations in the autonomous Island of Anjouan of the Union of The Comoros held on 11th May 2016.
The Mission is led by H.E. Barrister Mr. Bartholomew KERE, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Burkina Faso. The Mission comprising a team of twenty (20) experts from 15 African countries was supported by experts from the AUC and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
The Mission’s mandate is conduct an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the 11th May 12016 polls .The evaluation was based on the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance adopted in 2007 and entered into force in 2012; the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa 2002; the AU Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions of the 2002, relevant international instruments governing election observation, as well as the legal framework for the presidential and governorship elections in the Autonomous Islands in the Union of The Comoros .

II. OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY OF THE MISSION

In fulfilling its mandate as stipulated under the AU instruments governing democratic elections in Africa, the objective of the AUEOM is to make an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the re-run elections that the Constitutional Court ordered to be conducted. The Mission deployed a short-term methodology for this election. Thus, the observers of the Mission were able to follow both the voting procedures, tallying, counting of the ballots and display of results at each of the polling stations in accordance with Article 150 the Electoral Code.
The Mission had consultations with key stakeholders including: government authorities, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the Constitutional Court and the Civil Society. The Mission also held discussions with representatives of United Nations Development Program, (UNDP), the Diplomatic Corps in the Union of The Comoros and presidential candidates.
During the consultative meetings with some candidates’ representatives and Civil Society Organizations, the AUEOM noted the desire of the latter to see that the CENI publishes the results from the 13 polling stations.
The Mission will continue to meet with stakeholders and monitor post-election developments until its departure from the country.
In order to prepare the observers for deployment, the AUEOM held a briefing and orientation on the 10th May 2016. This session allowed the observers to be informed on the specific context of the elections of 11th May 2016.
The AUEOM deployed 13 observers who were stationed in all the 13 polling stations where re-run elections were held.
This statement presents the Mission’s preliminary findings up until the close of polls and based on data gathered through direct observations and consultation with relevant stakeholders.

III. BACKGROUND OF 11th MAY 2016 VOTES

The re-run presidential and gubernatorial elections of the 11th May 2016 in the Island of Anjouan, was a result of the Decision No. 021 / E / G / NDZ / DC of the Constitutional Court of 30th April 2016 that ruled that fresh elections be conducted in 13 polling stations on the island of Anjouan. The registered voters in these polling stations were unable to vote on 10th April 2016 due to some challenges.
Although the re-run elections were conducted in 13 polling stations, it mainly has a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential election results. The same reason explained why political tensions have been high and exceptional security measures were put in place during the re-run elections.

IV. PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS

Opening of the polling stations

77% of polling stations opened late, between 15 and 30 minutes. The delays were mainly due to the late setting up of the polling stations because the election materials were not delivered on time and some organizational adjustments between staff of polling stations and CENI delegates.

Electoral Materials

In all the 13 polling stations, election materials were available in sufficient quantities throughout the voting period.

Election Staff

In the 13 polling stations, all the election officials were present at the opening of polls with 33% of the staff being women.
In all the polling stations, election staff interacted well with both voters and candidates agents. However, there were some misunderstandings reported in some polling stations, especially in Mrijou 2, Mjimandra 2 and Nyamboirmo 2.
Despite these misunderstandings, the Mission noted that the polling staff showed a good professionalism in conducting the voting and counting procedures as provided for in Articles 118 and 131 of the Electoral Code.

D. Voting Procedures

Voting was conducted peacefully without any interference. No major incidents were observed.
The voting procedures as provided for in the electoral law were generally followed. Voters who required special assistance including people with disabilities were provided with such support.
However, the Mission observed some misunderstandings among polling staff and candidates’ representatives in some polling stations at Bimbini 2, Bongouani 2 and Nyamboimro 2.

E. Candidates’ Agents and Election Observers

The Mission noted the presence of the candidates’/party agents in all the polling stations (11/13were for presidential candidate Mohammed Ali Soilih, 13/13 were for presidential candidate Azali Assoumani, 7/13 for candidate Mouigni Baraka, 13/13 for candidate Abdou Abdou Salami and12/13 for candidate Anissi Chamsidine). The candidates’ agents were vigilant throughout on the Election Day and interacted professionally with the election officials, with some minor exceptions where actions of some of them seemed untimely.
The Mission met with some observers who also deployed during the re-run elections including the Indian Ocean Commission, the Platform of Women and Youth for peaceful elections in the Union of The Comoros, Elections Observatory of the Union of The Comoros and the Comorian Federation of Civil Society.

F. Security

The Mission noted that there was heavy deployment of security forces at the entrances of the polling centers. It noted that the security conducted themselves professionally through checking voters in a peaceful and orderly manner. No acts of intimidation or intrusion in the conduct of voting were observed.

G. Participation

The mission noted a high voter turnout at all polling stations. According to data collected by the AUEOM observers at the close of polls, the overall voter turnout was 68.80%.
The Mission also noted with satisfaction the high participation of women.

H. Closing and counting of votes

The closing and counting were conducted in accordance with the requirements of Articles 131 and 132 of the Electoral Code. The voters present at the polling station before closing time were all allowed to cast their votes. Counting procedures were conducted by members of the polling stations, assisted by the inspectors without any interruptions.

I. Results Management.

In all polling stations, copies of the duly signed result forms were given to candidates agents. However, the pasting of electoral results for the general public’s attention has not been systematic in all the polling stations.

V. CONCLUSIONS

Following its observations, the AUEOM noted that the 11th May 2016 re-run elections in the autonomous Island of Anjouan in the Union of The Comoros, was conducted in a peaceful and calm environment.
The Mission congratulates people of the Union of The Comoros for the good conduct of the re-run elections which was inclusive, free and transparent and was a reflection of the will of the people.
The AUEOM congratulates the people of the Island of Anjouan for their contributions to the proper conduct of 11th May 2016 re-run elections. It particularly applauds the Comorian Civil Society for their central role in maintaining an atmosphere of peace that has prevailed s throughout the process.
The AUEOM also welcomes the progress of CENI since the elections of 2015, particularly regarding the steady progress of the electoral staff in mastery of the conduct of elections.
The AUEOM finally urges all election stakeholders to consolidate their efforts to promote peace and social cohesion as shown by the maturity of the Comorian people during the conduct of the re-run elections.

Done at Anjouan, 12th May 2016

By H.E. Barthélémy KERE

Head of Mission

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

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Launch of the African Economic Outlook 2016

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will release their joint African Economic Outlook 2016. This yearly report contains country notes with projections and analysis on macroeconomic, finance, trade, social and human development trends and statistics for all 54 African countries. For the first time, the statistical annex includes data on gender, comparing indicators from the three partner organisations. The report will be launched on the first day of the 51st AfDB Annual Meetings, which will take place from May 23-27, 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia.

With its special theme on Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation, the 2016 edition of the African Economic Outlook analyses the diversity and specific features of the continent’s urbanisation process, how it is profoundly transforming African societies, and what opportunities it offers for structural transformation and sustainable growth.

The report will be launched by:

The new Chief Economist and Vice-President, AfDB Group
Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre
Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director, UNDP Africa

In the honourable presence of:

Joan Clos, Executive Secretary, UN Habitat
Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, UNECA

Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation

The African Economic Outlook 2016 and 54 country notes will be available in English and French from 7 a.m. GMT for immediate release on the African Economic Outlook website http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/.

The presentation will be webcast live (www.afdb.org/am). Join the debate on Twitter: #AEO2016 and #AfDBAM2016.

Requests to receive the African Economic Outlook 2016 under embargo should be sent by e-mail to bochra.kriout@oecd.org. Journalists requesting an electronic version in advance of the release time agree to respect OECD embargo conditions.

Please note: The OECD’s embargo rules prohibit any broadcast, news wire service or Internet transmission of text or information about this report before the stated release time. They also prohibit any communication of the contents of the report or any comment on its forecasts or conclusions to any outside party whatsoever before the stated release time. News organisations receiving OECD material under embargo have been informed that if they breach the OECD’s embargo rules they will automatically be excluded in the future from receiving embargoed information.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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Ibrahim Halawa 1000 days in prison

 Ibrahim Halawa 1000 days in prison: “Release him immediately and unconditionally”, asks DROI Chair

 

European Parliament Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES) expresses her profound concern at Mr Halawa’s arrest, the conditions of his detention and the continued postponement of his trial and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. DROI Chair made the following statement:

“As stated in the European Parliament’s resolution of 17 December 2015, Mr Halawa is a prisoner of conscience, detained for having exercised his right to freedom of expression. He should be immediately and unconditionally released and the government of Egypt should honour its commitment to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

“I call on the European External Action Service to monitor closely the case of Halawa, take all necessary steps and measures to guarantee his fair trial and to raise his case at the highest level of its political dialogue with Egypt”, she added.

In August 2013, Ibrahim Halawa who is an Irish citizen participated in peaceful protests in Cairo, which led to a violent crackdown by security forces in Cairo. On 17 August 2013, he was arrested and is still in jail 1000 days after, facing the death penalty despite being a juvenile at that time.

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

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Greenpeace slams Eskom CEO’s anti-renewable energy propaganda

Reacting to claims made by Eskom CEO Brain Molefe during his State of the System briefing in Cape Town yesterday, that Renewable Energy is a ‘disappointment’, Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org) has said:

“Greenpeace condemns the anti-renewable energy propaganda coming from Eskom in the strongest possible terms, at a time when renewable energy projects have added more than 1800MW of installed capacity to the grid in just two and a half years (which equates to 4% of the total installed capacity). In fact, renewable energy is the only technology currently delivering new electricity capacity on time and on budget to South Africa’s constrained grid.

If Mr Molefe would like to discuss the use of outdated technology then Eskom need look no further than Eskom’s ailing, and hugely polluting, coal-fired fleet which the utility is looking to refurbish rather than decommission. This at a time when more than half the assets in the global coal industry are now held by companies that are either in bankruptcy proceedings or don’t earn enough money to pay their interest bills, according to data compiled by Bloomberg[1].

As companies begin to divest from coal in the face of catastrophic climate change, the evidence that the global economy is moving away from their dependence on coal is clear. This brings to the fore the question of what vested interests are causing Eskom and the South African government to still focus on coal and nuclear energy as a means to power South Africa?

Eskom has disappointed South Africa with a recent history of unreliable supply, rapidly increasing costs and delays in construction of the two mega coal-fired power stations Medupi and Kusile. Coal has failed the people of this country, and instead of capitalising on cutting-edge renewable energy technology, Eskom has further disappointed the fledgling renewable energy industry in South Africa through their inability to plan ahead and timeously connect new renewable energy projects. Lastly, Eskom has disappointed business in South Africa as large-scale load shedding seriously damaged and constrained the economy.

The current position Eskom finds itself in whereby they are forced to buy electricity from Independent Power Producers talks directly the utility’s lack of ambition and marginal approach to investing in renewable energy project developments. If Eskom lacks the vision to build renewable energy projects themselves then other stakeholders most certainly will, as renewable energy is the power source of the future. In fact, a recent Ernst and Young study revealed that South Africa is the 11th most attractive country in the world for renewable energy investments[2].

Ultimately, it is time to kick start a thriving renewable energy market that will help remove the barriers to small-scale renewable energy investments and allow all South Africans to benefit from affordable renewable energy. The time for vested interests setting the agenda is over; it is time for people to take the power back into their own hands. Eskom has a choice to either join the energy of the future or be left behind struggling with an outdated, polluting and unreliable energy model that is taking South Africa nowhere slowly.”

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

Contact:
Greenpeace Africa Pressdesk: +2711 482 4496 / +27716881274 / +2772 560 8700: akarnein@greenpeace.org, makiy@greenpeace.org

Notes to the Editor:
1. Available: http://www.afr.com/business/mining/coal/half-of-all-global-coal-assets-may-be-uneconomic-20160510-gos37u
2. Ernst and Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index: http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-RECAI-47-May-2016/$FILE/EY-RECAI-47-May-2016.pdf

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Over 417,000 Internally Displaced in Libya: IOM Report

IOM Libya this week released its latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report. The DTM Round 3 provides a comprehensive overview of the latest numbers and mobility patterns of internally displaced persons (IDPs), asylum seekers, migrants and returnees in the country, providing a baseline for full country coverage to be used for coordinating and planning humanitarian assistance.

The report identified 417,123 IDPs in Libya, half of whom are under the age of 18. This number is a result of three waves of displacement – the first taking place in 2011; the second from 2012 to mid-2014, and the third and largest, which began in mid-2014.

The report also identified 234,699 migrants in the country for a variety of reasons including labour, transit, or forced migration. It notes that migrants and asylum seekers in Libya continue to face marginalisation and discrimination which, combined with weakened social or consular networks, leave them increasingly vulnerable to exploitation.

Transit migrant populations contain mixed flows of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom are vulnerable groups at risk of exploitation. IOM has recorded 14 maritime incidents between 30th March and 1st May 2016 on the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy. Some 1,580 individuals were rescued, while 753 are missing, presumed drowned.

Only 35 percent of migrants are currently living in private accommodation, while the rest are staying in informal settings, market places, transport points or unfinished buildings. Another 4 percent are in detention centres. Men make up 89 percent of the migrant population, and the main countries of origin are Niger, Egypt, Ghana and Mali.

IOM’s figures indicate 47 percent of all IDPs in Libya originate from Benghazi, the metropolitan center which also is hosting the largest proportion of IDPs in the country. There are also a significant number of IDPs from Sirte and Tripoli.

Most recently, displacement from Sirte to Bani Walid and Tarhouna, due to a spike in military conflict in Sirte, has been flagged as a growing concern. The DTM has identified 20,000 IDPs in Bani Walid – 82 percent of them from Sirte. However, this number is expected to continue to increase, with thousands more being displaced daily from Sirte.

Displaced populations are forced to flee due to conflict and a lack of security, destruction of property, and limited access to health and schooling. Much of the conflict is concentrated in urban areas, with IDPs often fleeing from one neighbourhood to another. But some now travel longer distances.

Due to the stresses of multiple displacements, financial insecurity, and difficulty in accessing protection, the coping capacity of many IDPs is being eroded, and the ability of host communities to address their needs is severely overstretched.

The DTM characterizes the living conditions of many IDP households as unsafe or unhealthy. While most are hosted in private settings in urban areas, 16 percent are taking shelter in collective or non-formal settings, sharing living spaces in unfinished or deserted buildings, tents, caravans or makeshift shelters.

As a result, they often lack access to basic services such as water, sanitation, hygiene and electricity: minimal requirements for a safe, dignified and healthy environment. These situations are particularly acute in the areas of Al Kufrah, Dirj, As Sidr and Marandah.

Concurrently, the report did find that the number of IDPs returning to their homes is increasing. The total number of returnees currently stands at 149,160 individuals. The majority are returning to Warshefanah and to the south of Tripoli. Returns to Sabratah, Derna, Gwalesh and Ajdabiya were also noted.

But damaged health and educational facilities, lack of security – characterized by increased crime and the presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – are hindering prospects for safe and sustainable return for many IDPs. This has been exacerbated by rising prices and the limited financial resources of the IDPs, which has limited their ability to carry out necessary repairs to their homes.

The report was prepared using the DTM’s third round of data collection. The DTM is a system that enables the development and maintenance of baseline information on displaced populations. It provides evidence for targeted assistance and better understanding of the push and pull factors related to displacement and/or migration. In Libya it focuses on tracking IDPs, returnees and migrants through the publication of monthly reports, alert snapshots, maps and raw data. In Libya DTM is co-funded by the European Union and UK DFID.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Office of Migration (IOM).

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Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 188,075; Deaths 1,357

IOM reports an estimated 188,075 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 11 May, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

Latest fatalities stand at 1,357. By comparison, deaths in 2015 through 11 May on all Mediterranean routes totalled 1,792, which is approximately 32 percent higher than 2016’s total thus far.

Total arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean

Over the past two days around 800 migrants have been rescued on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy, including Egyptians, Sudanese, Somalis and a number of migrants from the Comoro Islands.

Migrant arrivals in Italy for all of 2016, including those still at sea scheduled to arrive in Italian ports today, are close to 32,000, according to IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio di Giacomo. That compares to around 47,500 through the first five months of 2015.

“We are seeing that migrant flows have remained more or less stable during the first five months of 2016, compared to the same period last year,” said Di Giacomo. “The top nationalities arriving in Italy are also similar – mainly Sub-Saharan Africans.”

Initial reports suggested that the 800 migrants rescued over the past two days on the Central Mediterranean route included some 200 Syrians and Iraqis. Both nationalities used this route to reach Europe in 2015, but have been largely absent during 2016, preferring to travel through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.

But this morning (13/5), IOM staff monitoring their arrival in Italy reported that there were in fact just two passengers who claimed to be Syrians. These individuals may have been long-term residents of Egypt.

Despite a sharp drop in departures of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans from Turkey to Greece, IOM has yet to see any evidence that these nationalities are responding to the closure of the Balkan route by returning to the Central Mediterranean route and trying to reach Italy via Egypt or Libya.

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Over the past two days around 800 migrants have been rescued on the Central Mediterranean route, including Egyptians, Sudanese, Somalis and a number from the Comoro Islands. Migrant arrivals to Italy for all of 2016, including those still at sea scheduled to arrive in Italian ports today, are close to 32,000 estimates IOM Rome spokesman Flavio di Giacomo. That compares to around 47,500 through the first five months of 2015.

“We are seeing that migrant flows have remained stable between the first five months of 2016 and the same period last year,” said Mr. Di Giacomo. “The top nationalities arriving are also similar—mainly Sub-Saharan Africans.”

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For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic please go to:
http://missingmigrants.iom.int/sites/default/files/Mediterranean_Update_13_May_2016_0.pdf

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:
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Two Namibian Football Coaches participate in Sport 4 Development Training Course

On 11 May 2016 the two Namibian football coaches Thuba Sibanda and Juliana Skrywer were bid farewell by Luise Haunit, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Christian Schlaga, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Embassy. The two coaches will participate in an International Coaching Course in Kamen Kaiserau in Germany from 25 Mai to 03 June 2016.

Ambassador Schlaga praised the programme, as football has a high potential for improving the sporting development of a country as well as the characters of its youths. Germany supports this development through the training of coaches as they are important multipliers.

The cooperation between the German Football Association (DFB) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is based on their common desire to use sport, and in particular football, as an instrument to help achieve development objectives. The initiative focuses on training and personality development in specific environments. As a contribution to social development, the goal of sustainably teaching social skills and universal values to young girls and boys is widely accepted. This allows sport to step beyond its role in non- formal education and position itself as an education provider in a special sense.

To reinforce this trend, DFB and BMZ are organising their first multipliers’ course for selected sports coaches focusing on football, including the two Namibian coaches. During the course, the participants from around the world will become familiar with the Sport for Development approach and learn various methodological skills.

Mrs Sibanda said that she is very excited to travel to Germany. “I look forward to meeting new people and learning new information – including topics beyond the football pitch. I want to bring that information back to Namibia so I can apply it here.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany – Windhoek.

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USAID Announces New South Sudan Mission Director

On May 12 in Washington, Jeffrey Bakken was sworn in as the new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission director for South Sudan. He will begin his post in Juba on May 18. He succeeds Teresa McGhie, who has served in that position since July 2014.

USAID is the largest donor to South Sudan, having provided nearly $1.6 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan since civil war erupted in December 2013, as well as $1.3 billion in development assistance since South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

As mission director, Mr. Bakken will oversee USAID’s extensive humanitarian and development programs in South Sudan, which include lifesaving food and other emergency assistance. He will also supervise development programs in health, education, conflict mitigation, democracy and governance, and economic growth focused on livelihoods and agriculture development.

A career member of USAID’s Senior Foreign Service at the Minister Counselor level, Mr. Bakken has worked in overseas development assistance for over three decades after joining USAID in 1993. Mr. Bakken most recently served in USAID’s Global Development Lab as Agency Engagement Director. Before that, he was deputy mission director in Pakistan and director of USAID’s Office of Pakistan Affairs in Washington. Previously, he led the interagency Humanitarian Intelligence Unit at the Department of State and headed U.S. Government efforts to help Haiti recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. Other positions include serving as director of the Office of South American Affairs in USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean and senior development advisor in Iraq. He also served with USAID in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and South Africa. Before joining USAID, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps as a volunteer, trainer, deputy director and acting director in Ecuador.

“We want to thank Teresa McGhie for her outstanding service during her assignment, and welcome Jeff Bakken, whose distinguished background in the development field positions him to play a strong leadership role in supporting the Transitional Government of National Unity during this critical period,” said U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee.

Mr. Bakken, who is from the state of Minnesota, earned a Bachelor of Science in Spanish and Latin American Studies from St. John’s University in Minnesota and a Master of Science in Aquaculture Development from Auburn University in Alabama.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Juba.

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South Sudan: 32,000 families receive seeds for planting across the country

More than 370,000 kilograms of seeds for the planting season have been distributed across the country by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Across the areas most affected by either drought or violence,nearly 32,000 South Sudanese families received the seeds.

The typical seed distribution package included 5 kilograms of sorghum seeds, 5 kilograms of maize seeds as well as a variety of vegetable seeds including pumpkin and okra. Some areas also received 16 kilograms of groundnut seeds. Food was given out during ICRC seeds distribution so that families can spend time planting knowing that they have a ready food supply to eat.

“Given the dry weather El Nino brought last year compounded with consequences of two years of conflict, the most recent harvest was very small. That means there was only a little food left at the end of the season, sometimes forcing families to eat the seeds that they would have planted the next season,” said Christa Utiger, the ICRC person overseeing economic security projects in the country.

“The timely distribution of seeds is a good start for a good harvest and we hope this will lead to tens of thousands of families planting so that they regain an independent food production capacity,” she said.

Through emergency interventions as well as resilience building projects, the ICRC is committed to continuing its support to communities affected by two years of conflict.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

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USAID Announces nearly $128 Million in Additional Humanitarian Aid to Ethiopia

The United States Agency for International Development announced nearly $128 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help the people of Ethiopia face the impacts of the worst drought in fifty years.

Triggered by El Niño, the drought follows successive poor rainy seasons and now exceeds many people’s ability to cope. Today’s announcement will provide vital humanitarian aid including relief food assistance, safe drinking water, nutrition services, and mobile health teams to help address the needs stemming from the drought. In addition, it will also help people by providing seeds for food production during the upcoming rains.

Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Affairs Thomas H. Staal announced the new funding in Ethiopia alongside Commissioner Mitiku Kassa-a tireless partner from Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission. In his remarks, Staal said, “This new funding underscores the United States’ commitment to working with Ethiopia to prevent this drought from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.”

With this announcement, the United States has provided nearly $705 million in humanitarian assistance since October 2014, and continues to be the largest humanitarian donor to Ethiopia. The U.S. commends the other donors who have contributed generously to the drought response, and encourages others to join this international effort to address the drought’s impacts and also protect hard-earned development gains.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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President of the Republic of Ghana to Visit Japan

1. H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, and his spouse, Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana will pay an Official Working Visit to Japan from Tuesday, May 17 to Friday, May 20, 2016.

2. During their stay in Japan, the President and his spouse will make a State Call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, will hold a meeting with the President and host a dinner for him.

3. The Government of Japan sincerely welcomes the visit of the President and his spouse, and hopes that this visit will further strengthen the friendly relations between Japan and the Republic of Ghana.

(Footnotes)
(1) This will be H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama’s second visit to Japan as President.

(2) President Mahama had a meeting with Prime Minister Abe on the occasion of the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in 2013.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

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