Torture and illegal detention on the rise in Burundi – Zeid

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned Monday of “a sharp increase in the use of torture and ill-treatment in Burundi” and voiced concerns about worrying reports of the existence of illegal detention facilities, both in Bujumbura and in the countryside.

“Since the beginning of the year, my team has recorded at least 345 new cases of torture and ill-treatment. These shocking figures are a clear indicator of the widespread and growing use of torture and ill-treatment by government security forces,” said Zeid. In all, some 595 people have been ill-treated or tortured since April 2015, a figure which is likely to be an under-estimate.

“Torture and ill-treatment mainly take place at the time of arrest, upon arrival or during detention, especially in facilities run by the Service national de renseignements (SNR), the police and, to a lesser extent, the army. Perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment have so far enjoyed total impunity,” the High Commissioner said.

“Many detainees visited by our team in the past few weeks had fresh wounds on their bodies. Some were unable to walk without assistance after being beaten with belts, iron rods or sharp objects, or burned. I am profoundly disturbed by these terrible accounts and I urge the Burundian Government, in the strongest terms possible, to put an immediate end to these unacceptable and illegal practices,” said Zeid.

Most of the tortured and ill-treated detainees say they were denied medical treatment. Some said intelligence services hid them in the toilets for days so their torture wounds could heal before they were returned to cells holding other prisoners.

During a visit by a UN human rights team to SNR facilities in Bujumbura last week, 30 of the 67 people held there displayed physical signs of torture. Many irregularities were identified during the visit, including the fact that 25 of the detainees had been kept in custody beyond the prescribed maximum time limit. In addition, while all detainees had been arrested for what were reportedly minor offences, the accusations entered against many of them in the SNR registry were for much more serious criminal offences, including undermining State security, illegal possession of arms and espionage.

Several cases of ill-treatment and torture have also been reported at police stations, especially in those located in the two Bujumbura neighbourhoods of Citiboke and Musaga, and at the Mutakura military camp.

The High Commissioner noted that the use of torture and ill-treatment was also widespread in the countryside, noting a case of two men who said they were arrested by SNR agents in Nkamba province at the end of March. They said they were seriously beaten and repeatedly dropped in Lake Tanganyika with their hands tied on several occasions in order to force them to confess to crimes.

“I recognize the efforts made by the Government in releasing at least 45 demonstrators following the Secretary-General’s visit. However, in addition to the reports of torture and ill-treatment in official detention facilities, I am deeply concerned about information emerging about the existence of secret detention facilities across the country,” the High Commissioner said. A man who was arrested at the end of March by unidentified armed individuals stated that he was taken blindfolded to an unfinished building in an unknown location, where nine other people were also being held. The victim reported witnessing the execution of two fellow detainees before he managed to escape. Reports have also been received of another illegal detention facility, allegedly set up by the police with the support of the Imbonerakure militia, in the city of Ngozi, in the northern part of the country.

The High Commissioner said he had also received “persistent reports of arrest, detention, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and assassination of certain members of the police and military by other government forces.” Members and officers of the former Burundian Armed Forces – known as ex-FAB and which was predominantly Tutsi – appear to have been particularly targeted, including some retired soldiers.

Many soldiers interviewed by the UN Human Rights Office while in detention said that the torture or ill-treatment they endured was aimed at forcing them to confess their support for rebel groups or to provide names of other people suspected of supporting them.

Some soldiers detained at the SNR facilities claimed to have witnessed the killing of a number of their colleagues. On 10 April 2016, the body of an ex-FAB soldier, who had been arrested the previous day by the police, was found in Gesenyi, near Citiboke. At least five soldiers have also been reported missing following their arrest by police or military forces over the last few weeks.

Zeid also deplored the increase in attacks by unidentified armed men, reportedly linked to rebel groups. At least 30 attacks in Bujumbura and in several provinces took place in March, killing one civilian and four soldiers. Around five civilians were also reportedly killed during a rebel attack near the Tanzanian border on 11 April.

The High Commissioner also condemned the targeting of members of the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, including the assassination of a local official and member of the CNDD-FDD who was shot at his home by unidentified armed men on 13 April in the town of Kajaga, in Bujumbura Mairie province.

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

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Philip Hammond visits Tripoli to support new Libyan Government

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Tripoli on Monday 18 April, in a show of support for Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj and the new Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).

This visit follows the recent arrival of the GNA in Tripoli and is the first visit of a Foreign Secretary since 2011 and since the evacuation of the British Embassy in 2014.

In meetings, the Foreign Secretary discussed the GNA’s priorities on security, rebuilding the economy and restoring public services for the benefit of all Libyans. He also discussed their plans to tackle the threat of Da’esh and countering people trafficking.

During the visit the Foreign Secretary also announced £10 million funding to support the GNA. This includes £1.5million for tackling illegal migration, smuggling and organised crime, and £1.8 million to support counter-terrorism activities.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“Britain and its allies fully support Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and his government as they restore peace and stability to the whole of Libya. We stand ready to provide further assistance to Libya and its people.

“Britain is at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to stabilise Libya and is committing an extra £10 million to help the Government of National Accord strengthen political institutions, the economy, security, and justice. This fund builds on our existing support to Libya of £11.5 million last year for development and humanitarian assistance.

“I welcome the continued efforts of Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and members of the Presidency Council to make progress on security, rebuilding the economy and restoring public services for the benefit of all Libyans.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Agriculture is key to achieving lasting peace in Central African Republic

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera for talks that focused on rebuilding the country’s agriculture sector and making it an engine for peace and sustainable development.

In particular, they discussed ways in which to tap into the Central African Republic’s considerable agricultural potential and how to support family farmers and small holders to improve food security and nutrition and strengthen rural livelihoods.

Years of conflict and political instability have hampered agricultural activities on which nearly 75 percent of the country’s population rely for food and income. Some 1.3 million people in the Central African Republic are severely food insecure.

President Touadera, who took office last month, has made boosting agriculture and the rural economy one of his policy priorities. The President warmly thanked FAO for its continuous support during the crisis and acknowledged the current programmes and projects being implemented by the Organization in his country.

“Implementing our ‘Disarming, Demobilisation and Reintegration of armed groups’ strategy requires that we put all our efforts into the agriculture sector so that our population can meet their immediate and longer term needs. That is the main priority of my government,” President Touadera said.

For his part, Graziano da Silva congratulated the President on his recent election and underscored how the establishment of a new constitutional order “brings hope for the country’s stability and sustainable development.”

“FAO, through its knowledge and experience, is ready to provide support in building a peaceful and inclusive society in the Central African Republic in particular for the young people in the context of a post conflict situation,” Graziano da Silva added.

The FAO Director-General called on the international community to play its part. “What is crucial right now is maintaining food production and rebuilding the agricultural sector– as it is key to employment, peace and stability — while we have this window of opportunity. FAO will be part of that process,” he said.

Without food security, no lasting peace can be achieved, and without peace, we cannot have improved food security and nutrition, FAO’s Director-General added, echoing comments he made to the UN Security Council last month.

Considerable agricultural potential

The Central African Republic has a dense network of water resources, abundant rainfall and a vast surface of land suitable for agriculture, but to date, only 5 percent of arable land is exploited each year, while only half of the available pastoral land is used for livestock.

There is a need to improve agricultural technologies and inputs, including seeds and fertilizers, but also strengthening rural policies such as land tenure reforms to allow wider access to rural jobs and livelihoods.

FAO’s role

During the past three years of crisis, FAO has supported vulnerable communities affected by the conflict by helping to build up their resilience.

The organization has also engaged in trainings and capacity building of public officers and national partner non-governmental organizations in various sectors including income-generating activities, savings and loan schemes and food security analysis.

Plans for 2016 include: policy and strategy formulation for the development of the agriculture sector; restructuring of the Central African Republic’s Chamber of Agriculture, Livestock, Water, Forests, Hunting and Tourism; development of small businesses to promote youth employment; and support of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process through the engagement of communities in the recovery of the agriculture sector.

In 2016, FAO is appealing for $86 million to assist 1.5 million people. $36.5 million are immediately needed to support 550,000 of the most vulnerable farmers during the next planting season.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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AU chairperson condemns attack by South Sudanese gunmen in the Gambela region of Ethiopia

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, condemns in the strongest terms the criminal attack carried out by South Sudanese armed elements in the Jakawa area of the Gambella region of Ethiopia, on 15 April 2016, killing 208 people and abducting 102 women and children.

The Chairperson of the Commission expresses the AU’s heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to the injured. She assures the Government and people of Ethiopia of the AU’s full solidarity and support in these difficult circumstances. She demands the immediate and unconditional release of the women and children abducted from Ethiopia.

The Chairperson of the Commission looks forward to joint efforts by the Governments of South Sudan and Ethiopia to bring to justice those who committed this despicable act. She expresses the AU’s readiness to contribute to their efforts and support them as appropriate, through the existing regional and continental mechanisms and instruments, including the Djibouti Process on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation in the East Africa Region and the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation, known as the Niamey Convention, which contains provisions relating to border security.

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

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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.

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

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

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