Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Millions of people hit by conflict and severe food insecurity need urgent help in South Sudan. World leaders, aid chiefs and other senior representatives came together today at the United Nations to raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian situation and call for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes by violence since last December. Almost half a million people have crossed borders into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, while four million people – more than a third of the entire country – are facing alarming food insecurity.

Led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, keynote speakers at the meeting – including H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Norway, among others, – called for a sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis.

“I have told the parties there is no military solution to the conflict. I call today, once again, on the leadership of both sides to find an inclusive and mutually agreed power sharing arrangement to start a transitional phase of governance,” said the Secretary-General. “Those responsible for atrocities must face justice through a mechanism that meets international standards. The leaders must protect civilians, allow humanitarian access and guarantee the safety of aid operations.”

Nearly forty Member States and regional bodies took part, underscoring the high priority this crisis holds for the international community.

Senior representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Peacekeeping Chief and the SG’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict joined Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in highlighting the appalling situation faced by the most vulnerable South Sudanese, especially women and children.

“Working with our partners we may have managed to avert a famine situation in South Sudan this year. However, the real risk of famine remains for at least 2.5 million people in the coming months, while millions more fear renewed fighting,” warned USG Amos. “It is vital that the political leaders in South Sudan put their people first. Aid organizations cannot solve this man-made crisis – we can only try and help people deal with the dire consequences.”

Humanitarian agencies are seeking to raise US$1.8 billion for South Sudan by the end of 2014 so that aid workers can deliver basic life-saving supplies and services. During the event the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Union pledged more than US$106 million in new funding for humanitarian action, and an additional CERF allocation of $60 million was announced.

In conclusion, USG Amos noted that the international community must ensure that the leadership of South Sudan recognizes the seriousness of the situation: “We have to put the people first.”

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Millions of people hit by conflict and severe food insecurity need urgent help in South Sudan. World leaders, aid chiefs and other senior representatives came together today at the United Nations to raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian situation and call for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes by violence since last December. Almost half a million people have crossed borders into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, while four million people – more than a third of the entire country – are facing alarming food insecurity.

Led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, keynote speakers at the meeting – including H.E. Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Norway, among others, – called for a sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis.

“I have told the parties there is no military solution to the conflict. I call today, once again, on the leadership of both sides to find an inclusive and mutually agreed power sharing arrangement to start a transitional phase of governance,” said the Secretary-General. “Those responsible for atrocities must face justice through a mechanism that meets international standards. The leaders must protect civilians, allow humanitarian access and guarantee the safety of aid operations.”

Nearly forty Member States and regional bodies took part, underscoring the high priority this crisis holds for the international community.

Senior representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Peacekeeping Chief and the SG’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict joined Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in highlighting the appalling situation faced by the most vulnerable South Sudanese, especially women and children.

“Working with our partners we may have managed to avert a famine situation in South Sudan this year. However, the real risk of famine remains for at least 2.5 million people in the coming months, while millions more fear renewed fighting,” warned USG Amos. “It is vital that the political leaders in South Sudan put their people first. Aid organizations cannot solve this man-made crisis – we can only try and help people deal with the dire consequences.”

Humanitarian agencies are seeking to raise US$1.8 billion for South Sudan by the end of 2014 so that aid workers can deliver basic life-saving supplies and services. During the event the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Union pledged more than US$106 million in new funding for humanitarian action, and an additional CERF allocation of $60 million was announced.

In conclusion, USG Amos noted that the international community must ensure that the leadership of South Sudan recognizes the seriousness of the situation: “We have to put the people first.”

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mr. Haysom will succeed Jan Kubiš of Slovakia to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and leadership of UNAMA.

Mr. Haysom is a lawyer with a long international career focused on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes, including most recently as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UNAMA since 2012.

He previously held several positions with the United Nations as well as with the Government of the Republic of South Africa, including Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Executive Office of the United-Nations Secretary-General (2007-2012), Head of the Office of Constitutional Support for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (2005-2007), and Chief Legal and Constitutional Adviser in the Office of the President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela (1994-1999). Most notably Mr. Haysom was involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as chair of the committee negotiating constitutional issues (1999-2002) and served as the principal adviser to the Mediator in the Sudanese Peace Process (2002-2005).

Mr. Haysom graduated in Law from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town, South Africa. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cape Town.

Born in 1952, he is married and has five children.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mr. Haysom will succeed Jan Kubiš of Slovakia to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and leadership of UNAMA.

Mr. Haysom is a lawyer with a long international career focused on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes, including most recently as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UNAMA since 2012.

He previously held several positions with the United Nations as well as with the Government of the Republic of South Africa, including Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Executive Office of the United-Nations Secretary-General (2007-2012), Head of the Office of Constitutional Support for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (2005-2007), and Chief Legal and Constitutional Adviser in the Office of the President of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela (1994-1999). Most notably Mr. Haysom was involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as chair of the committee negotiating constitutional issues (1999-2002) and served as the principal adviser to the Mediator in the Sudanese Peace Process (2002-2005).

Mr. Haysom graduated in Law from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town, South Africa. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cape Town.

Born in 1952, he is married and has five children.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

New York City

September 25, 2014

MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Could we close those doors?

Thank you for coming. We have a background briefing on Africa-related issues, and we have about 20 minutes, so we’ll get right into it. Again, background briefing, so no names or titles. We have a senior State Department official. Of course, for your – for clarity, this is [Senior State Department Official]. And I will turn it over to [Senior State Department Official] for some remarks, and then we’ll get to questions, so please.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good, thank you very much. I see one or two faces I recognize in the room. It’s really great to be here with you. As you know, we’ve been here in New York – it’ll be close to a week when I leave on Saturday, and we’ve had the opportunity, as UNGA normally gives us the opportunity, to engage across the board with our African partners. It was particularly interesting for us this year because it comes on the heels of the Africa Leaders Summit that took place in Washington in August, so we had the opportunity to follow up with our partners on the leaders summit, to get further impressions from them on this extraordinary event, and to talk to them about some of the initiatives and follow up on initiatives that were announced during the summit.

As you know, one of the most pressing issues that we are dealing with across the board globally is Ebola. It is in West Africa, but the response is global, requiring the attention of all of the countries in the Security Council. President Obama last Tuesday announced a major increase in our assistance to the effort, and we are also using our voice and pressure to encourage other countries to bring more to the table to address what is a very, very serious epidemic that is having a devastating impact on the countries in West Africa. But if it’s not contained, it could spread more widely.

One of the components of our assistance is a new joint force command that will coordinate the regional response on the ground. We will have an estimated 4,000 U.S. forces who will be involved in staging and transporting supplies, building additional treatment units, and they will be setting up a site to train approximately 500 health care providers per week. They will also be providing a health facility to provide treatment to the medical workers and other responders who are assisting in the Ebola outbreak.

A second large issue that we are all involved in is the issue of terrorism. Of course, all of you have been focused on ISIL. I have been focused on Boko Haram and al-Shabaab as the countries in Africa have experienced their own brand of terrorism. The impact of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has been tremendous, and it is an impact that is having an impact on Nigeria’s neighbors in Cameroon and Chad and Niger as well. As Boko Haram continues to make its name known in Nigeria, it’s having a devastating humanitarian impact on northern Nigeria, and we’re also concerned that it could have an impact on the upcoming election if the more than one million people who have been displaced because of Boko Haram’s terror are not able to participate in the electoral process. So we are encouraging Nigeria and Nigeria’s neighbors to work together along with us, the P3, to address this issue.

We also have met with the governments that are impacted by al-Shabaab – with Kenya, with Uganda, with Somalia – to talk about how we work with them to address al-Shabaab. There’ve been a number of meetings on the side that have attracted our attention. There was a meeting yesterday on Somalia, where Somalia’s partners expressed their commitment to continuing to work with the Somali Government. We see for the first time in 20 years that Somalia has an opportunity to actually move forward, and we want to continue to work with the government to build the institutions that they require to become a country that is back into the community of nations.

Today I attended a meeting on South Sudan that looked at the devastating impact of that war, the internal war in South Sudan – the humanitarian impact, but also the lack of progress on the political front in finding a solution to the political situation there. There was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir, who is here in New York, did not attend the meeting. He sent his minister of foreign affairs and some of his ministers, and several of the attendees at the meeting made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.

We will be hosting a meeting tomorrow – or attending a meeting tomorrow that the UN is hosting on CAR and the way forward in that country that is also devastated by war. The hope is that with the interim President Samba-Panza, we will be able to work with her to start to build a process for reconciliation, for the establishment of security in and around Bangui so that they too can start the process of planning for the country to have an election next year, and also start to provide goods and services to their citizens.

I think I will end there. There are a lot more topics related to the African continent, and I’d be pleased to accept your questions.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much. Who would like to lead off? Lesley Wroughton, Reuters.

QUESTION: I just want to come back to the South Sudan. And I interviewed Ambassador Booth earlier this morning and he was talking about expanding sanctions unless the process moved along quickly. Do you agree with that? And given that the President wasn’t even there, is that some kind of indication of the ways he’s generally feeling? I mean, what –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, we have already sanctioned several individuals both from the government side as well as the rebel side. We announced two new names just last week. And as efforts are being made to push for a political solution, efforts that are – have not yet succeeded, all of the parties who are involved in the negotiations have come to the conclusion that if the warring parties do not take this more seriously, then we have to levy more serious sanctions on them. And this is a view that has been expressed not just by the U.S. – and I do agree with Ambassador Booth – but it’s a view that’s been expressed by the negotiators under IGAD.

QUESTION: And you talk about moving – because right now they’ve got – mainly sanctions have been focused on the military side.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On individuals.

QUESTION: Right. How do you see them – I mean, you’re talking about political figures being targeted?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think we’re still – we’re still in the process of discussing how these sanctions will be carried out and who they will be against. The important point here is that the neighbors and the IGAD negotiators also have to be an active participant in the sanctions regime, and they have indicated that they actually are at a place where if these negotiations do not move forward that they’re willing also to impose sanctions on both sides.

MODERATOR: Okay.

QUESTION: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. Ebola response, what its relation is to these UN Mission UNMEER that they’ve announced that’s going to have, they said, 400 vehicles. They said a lot of things. Is the U.S. going to work directly with that mission?

And on South Sudan, one of the sanctioned – sanctionees, Peter Gadet, is accused of having shot down a UN helicopter. And I wanted to know, is that – the UN hasn’t really sort of confirmed that. Is the U.S. concerned about getting to the bottom of that? And who do you think did it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We know – let me start with that first. We know that the UN is investigating and we’re waiting for the results of that investigation. But Gadet has been put on our sanctions list even before that happened. But the shooting down of the UN helicopter is evidence of how difficult it is to work in Sudan, but how committed the UN and others are to provide humanitarian assistance.

One of the commitments that came out of the meeting today with South Sudan announced by the foreign minister was that they would not stand in the way of NGOs and the UN delivering humanitarian assistance. And we have to hold them to that commitment because people are suffering.

On the Ebola response for the UN, we are working very, very closely with the UN. We all have to coordinate to ensure that, one, we’re complementing each other’s efforts, so the UN will be putting its headquarters for UNMEER in Accra and USAID will have some people who will be working very, very closely with them, embedded with them in Accra to ensure, again, that we are coordinating closely. This is a huge, huge crisis and it requires 10 times the people we have currently working on it. So there is so much more need than there is response now, so we are very pleased that the UN has taken this initiative and we have used the opportunities that we’ve had to engage with governments here in New York to encourage more governments to participate. As you know, there was a meeting today in which the governments of the G-7 expressed their support for these efforts, and President Obama participated in that and very, very strongly pressed for additional efforts on the part of every country. There’s not a country that should not be involved in this, and no amount of assistance is too small.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MODERATOR: Yeah. Elliot Waldman.

QUESTION: Yeah, with TBS News. A lot of the countries that are getting involved are countries that may not have good working relationships with the U.S. on other issues and that the U.S. doesn’t cooperate with normally otherwise. China, for instance, has been sending a lot of assistance to the region. And sort of a lot of people talk about the need for coordination in a general way, but what kinds of sort of concrete proposals have been put forth to address this? Is there some kind of a, I don’t know, a proposal to establish, like, an overarching authority or a clearinghouse of some sort to get past the issue of coordinating all these countries, all these organizations, all these different sectors?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the UN will play a key role in coordinating all of the countries’ involvements. We’ve had a broad agreement that the U.S. will focus its attention in Liberia, although we do have a regional response; that the UK would focus on Sierra Leone; and that France would focus on Guinea. That being said, the needs are bigger than any one country can support, and we have encouraged the Chinese, for example, to be actively involved, and they have responded. We have communicated with them on what the needs are and we do think that they have a role to play. This is not a place for politics. It’s a place for ensuring that countries who have resources to contribute, that those countries contribute those resources.

I particularly want to note that in Africa, where you have countries that normally would not be expected, we’re seeing a tremendous response. The AU has created a task force that will be providing up to 200 medical workers to go out. African countries have contributed to that. The Government of Nigeria contributed $3.5 million to the ECOWAS effort and 500,000 to the countries that are affected. Nigeria itself was affected, and I have to say they did an extraordinary job of controlling the situation in Nigeria, and we think that it’s under control now. One index case that led to 19 infections, but almost all of the people were traced, they have been monitored, and so far another case has not been identified.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You’re a former ambassador to Liberia. What went wrong here? I mean, one is analyzing and looking at – people say that the international community has been too disease-specific focused and hasn’t really paid that much attention, specifically in these areas, for building the wider health systems.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think what went wrong with Liberia, and I would say even in the other countries, is a very, very weak health infrastructure. And knowing Liberia as well as I do, the health infrastructure there is barely existent, and once this disease took hold the health infrastructure collapsed. And I think what we all – the conclusion we’ve all drawn is that we have to focus more attention on building a health infrastructure that can withstand these kinds of stresses and respond very quickly. We thought the situation was under control for a period, and then it started getting worse again, and now we’re in the situation we’re in now. But I think the international community is galvanized to support these countries. This is not something that Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea should face alone. It is a disease that we all should be involved in, and I think every single country that we’ve engaged – and there are a lot of them – have responded positively to helping out to address this situation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on another issue, separate? The – as you know, there’s been a focus on the – on fighting ISIL, the coalition building and so on. Would that in any way impact Africa? I know this is far away, but how do you see that impacting (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, I – as I’ve always said, terrorism anywhere affects all of us everywhere. And as we look at the situation related to al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and AQIM and al-Qaida broadly, there is an extremist ideology there that feeds on each other, and there are foreign fighters that are already in Somalia who have been involved with al-Shabaab. There are foreign fighters involved with AQIM. We’ve not seen it yet with Boko Haram, but they could. And as these groups continue to have success or to terrorize communities, I think they feed on each other. So I do not think Africa is immune from the situation related to ISIL. I think Africa – countries in Africa have to be prepared to deal with issues of terrorism, and they have. The bombings at Westgate in Kenya, the Chinese workers who were taken hostage in Cameroon, the Nigerian girls who were taken hostage in Nigeria – these things impact all of us, so we have to continue to work together because this is not just a single event that impacts one country. It’s a global problem that we all have to address.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for one or two more, so yeah, Nicolas.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Boko Haram, are you aware of the claim by the Nigerian military that the leader of Boko Haram might be dead? And if you could give us an update on the operation supported by the U.S. to find the 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Nigerians have announced several times that the head of Boko Haram was dead, and every single time we’ve found out that it’s not true. What I’ve read recently is that the Shekau lookalike, or his – some Shekau impostor was killed, and then I read something later that maybe Shekau himself was killed. I don’t put a lot of weight on those stories until we see more evidence of that. I think we’re still seeing Boko Haram terrorize people in the north, and both in Cameroon and in Nigeria, and there was an attack even in Chad last week.

We’re continuing to work with the Nigerians to try to bring the Chibok girls home. This is a huge challenge. As we know, many of them – it’s been now months and we know that many of them were taken into the forest, and given the time that has passed, it’s possible that many of them have been taken to other locations. It is still our commitment to bring those girls home, as well as all the others that Boko Haram took as hostages. This didn’t just start with the Chibok girls. They were raiding villages and taking girls long before that. They were raiding villages and killing young boys before that, or taking boys and forcing them – young boys, and forcing them to fight. So this is much, much – a much, much bigger operation that we’re dealing with, and the ultimate goal is to stop Boko Haram. It’s to bring the girls home, it’s to stop the fighting, but it’s to actually stop Boko Haram’s terror in northern Nigeria.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks, everyone, for coming and thanks for your questions. Again, this is on background to Senior State Department Official. And we look forward to the next briefing, which we will have here at about 7 o’clock, which will be on the UNAIDS event and PEPFAR issues, so please stick around if you’re interested.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you.

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

New York City

September 25, 2014

MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Could we close those doors?

Thank you for coming. We have a background briefing on Africa-related issues, and we have about 20 minutes, so we’ll get right into it. Again, background briefing, so no names or titles. We have a senior State Department official. Of course, for your – for clarity, this is [Senior State Department Official]. And I will turn it over to [Senior State Department Official] for some remarks, and then we’ll get to questions, so please.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good, thank you very much. I see one or two faces I recognize in the room. It’s really great to be here with you. As you know, we’ve been here in New York – it’ll be close to a week when I leave on Saturday, and we’ve had the opportunity, as UNGA normally gives us the opportunity, to engage across the board with our African partners. It was particularly interesting for us this year because it comes on the heels of the Africa Leaders Summit that took place in Washington in August, so we had the opportunity to follow up with our partners on the leaders summit, to get further impressions from them on this extraordinary event, and to talk to them about some of the initiatives and follow up on initiatives that were announced during the summit.

As you know, one of the most pressing issues that we are dealing with across the board globally is Ebola. It is in West Africa, but the response is global, requiring the attention of all of the countries in the Security Council. President Obama last Tuesday announced a major increase in our assistance to the effort, and we are also using our voice and pressure to encourage other countries to bring more to the table to address what is a very, very serious epidemic that is having a devastating impact on the countries in West Africa. But if it’s not contained, it could spread more widely.

One of the components of our assistance is a new joint force command that will coordinate the regional response on the ground. We will have an estimated 4,000 U.S. forces who will be involved in staging and transporting supplies, building additional treatment units, and they will be setting up a site to train approximately 500 health care providers per week. They will also be providing a health facility to provide treatment to the medical workers and other responders who are assisting in the Ebola outbreak.

A second large issue that we are all involved in is the issue of terrorism. Of course, all of you have been focused on ISIL. I have been focused on Boko Haram and al-Shabaab as the countries in Africa have experienced their own brand of terrorism. The impact of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has been tremendous, and it is an impact that is having an impact on Nigeria’s neighbors in Cameroon and Chad and Niger as well. As Boko Haram continues to make its name known in Nigeria, it’s having a devastating humanitarian impact on northern Nigeria, and we’re also concerned that it could have an impact on the upcoming election if the more than one million people who have been displaced because of Boko Haram’s terror are not able to participate in the electoral process. So we are encouraging Nigeria and Nigeria’s neighbors to work together along with us, the P3, to address this issue.

We also have met with the governments that are impacted by al-Shabaab – with Kenya, with Uganda, with Somalia – to talk about how we work with them to address al-Shabaab. There’ve been a number of meetings on the side that have attracted our attention. There was a meeting yesterday on Somalia, where Somalia’s partners expressed their commitment to continuing to work with the Somali Government. We see for the first time in 20 years that Somalia has an opportunity to actually move forward, and we want to continue to work with the government to build the institutions that they require to become a country that is back into the community of nations.

Today I attended a meeting on South Sudan that looked at the devastating impact of that war, the internal war in South Sudan – the humanitarian impact, but also the lack of progress on the political front in finding a solution to the political situation there. There was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir, who is here in New York, did not attend the meeting. He sent his minister of foreign affairs and some of his ministers, and several of the attendees at the meeting made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.

We will be hosting a meeting tomorrow – or attending a meeting tomorrow that the UN is hosting on CAR and the way forward in that country that is also devastated by war. The hope is that with the interim President Samba-Panza, we will be able to work with her to start to build a process for reconciliation, for the establishment of security in and around Bangui so that they too can start the process of planning for the country to have an election next year, and also start to provide goods and services to their citizens.

I think I will end there. There are a lot more topics related to the African continent, and I’d be pleased to accept your questions.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much. Who would like to lead off? Lesley Wroughton, Reuters.

QUESTION: I just want to come back to the South Sudan. And I interviewed Ambassador Booth earlier this morning and he was talking about expanding sanctions unless the process moved along quickly. Do you agree with that? And given that the President wasn’t even there, is that some kind of indication of the ways he’s generally feeling? I mean, what –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, we have already sanctioned several individuals both from the government side as well as the rebel side. We announced two new names just last week. And as efforts are being made to push for a political solution, efforts that are – have not yet succeeded, all of the parties who are involved in the negotiations have come to the conclusion that if the warring parties do not take this more seriously, then we have to levy more serious sanctions on them. And this is a view that has been expressed not just by the U.S. – and I do agree with Ambassador Booth – but it’s a view that’s been expressed by the negotiators under IGAD.

QUESTION: And you talk about moving – because right now they’ve got – mainly sanctions have been focused on the military side.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On individuals.

QUESTION: Right. How do you see them – I mean, you’re talking about political figures being targeted?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think we’re still – we’re still in the process of discussing how these sanctions will be carried out and who they will be against. The important point here is that the neighbors and the IGAD negotiators also have to be an active participant in the sanctions regime, and they have indicated that they actually are at a place where if these negotiations do not move forward that they’re willing also to impose sanctions on both sides.

MODERATOR: Okay.

QUESTION: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. Ebola response, what its relation is to these UN Mission UNMEER that they’ve announced that’s going to have, they said, 400 vehicles. They said a lot of things. Is the U.S. going to work directly with that mission?

And on South Sudan, one of the sanctioned – sanctionees, Peter Gadet, is accused of having shot down a UN helicopter. And I wanted to know, is that – the UN hasn’t really sort of confirmed that. Is the U.S. concerned about getting to the bottom of that? And who do you think did it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We know – let me start with that first. We know that the UN is investigating and we’re waiting for the results of that investigation. But Gadet has been put on our sanctions list even before that happened. But the shooting down of the UN helicopter is evidence of how difficult it is to work in Sudan, but how committed the UN and others are to provide humanitarian assistance.

One of the commitments that came out of the meeting today with South Sudan announced by the foreign minister was that they would not stand in the way of NGOs and the UN delivering humanitarian assistance. And we have to hold them to that commitment because people are suffering.

On the Ebola response for the UN, we are working very, very closely with the UN. We all have to coordinate to ensure that, one, we’re complementing each other’s efforts, so the UN will be putting its headquarters for UNMEER in Accra and USAID will have some people who will be working very, very closely with them, embedded with them in Accra to ensure, again, that we are coordinating closely. This is a huge, huge crisis and it requires 10 times the people we have currently working on it. So there is so much more need than there is response now, so we are very pleased that the UN has taken this initiative and we have used the opportunities that we’ve had to engage with governments here in New York to encourage more governments to participate. As you know, there was a meeting today in which the governments of the G-7 expressed their support for these efforts, and President Obama participated in that and very, very strongly pressed for additional efforts on the part of every country. There’s not a country that should not be involved in this, and no amount of assistance is too small.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MODERATOR: Yeah. Elliot Waldman.

QUESTION: Yeah, with TBS News. A lot of the countries that are getting involved are countries that may not have good working relationships with the U.S. on other issues and that the U.S. doesn’t cooperate with normally otherwise. China, for instance, has been sending a lot of assistance to the region. And sort of a lot of people talk about the need for coordination in a general way, but what kinds of sort of concrete proposals have been put forth to address this? Is there some kind of a, I don’t know, a proposal to establish, like, an overarching authority or a clearinghouse of some sort to get past the issue of coordinating all these countries, all these organizations, all these different sectors?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the UN will play a key role in coordinating all of the countries’ involvements. We’ve had a broad agreement that the U.S. will focus its attention in Liberia, although we do have a regional response; that the UK would focus on Sierra Leone; and that France would focus on Guinea. That being said, the needs are bigger than any one country can support, and we have encouraged the Chinese, for example, to be actively involved, and they have responded. We have communicated with them on what the needs are and we do think that they have a role to play. This is not a place for politics. It’s a place for ensuring that countries who have resources to contribute, that those countries contribute those resources.

I particularly want to note that in Africa, where you have countries that normally would not be expected, we’re seeing a tremendous response. The AU has created a task force that will be providing up to 200 medical workers to go out. African countries have contributed to that. The Government of Nigeria contributed $3.5 million to the ECOWAS effort and 500,000 to the countries that are affected. Nigeria itself was affected, and I have to say they did an extraordinary job of controlling the situation in Nigeria, and we think that it’s under control now. One index case that led to 19 infections, but almost all of the people were traced, they have been monitored, and so far another case has not been identified.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You’re a former ambassador to Liberia. What went wrong here? I mean, one is analyzing and looking at – people say that the international community has been too disease-specific focused and hasn’t really paid that much attention, specifically in these areas, for building the wider health systems.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think what went wrong with Liberia, and I would say even in the other countries, is a very, very weak health infrastructure. And knowing Liberia as well as I do, the health infrastructure there is barely existent, and once this disease took hold the health infrastructure collapsed. And I think what we all – the conclusion we’ve all drawn is that we have to focus more attention on building a health infrastructure that can withstand these kinds of stresses and respond very quickly. We thought the situation was under control for a period, and then it started getting worse again, and now we’re in the situation we’re in now. But I think the international community is galvanized to support these countries. This is not something that Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea should face alone. It is a disease that we all should be involved in, and I think every single country that we’ve engaged – and there are a lot of them – have responded positively to helping out to address this situation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on another issue, separate? The – as you know, there’s been a focus on the – on fighting ISIL, the coalition building and so on. Would that in any way impact Africa? I know this is far away, but how do you see that impacting (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, I – as I’ve always said, terrorism anywhere affects all of us everywhere. And as we look at the situation related to al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and AQIM and al-Qaida broadly, there is an extremist ideology there that feeds on each other, and there are foreign fighters that are already in Somalia who have been involved with al-Shabaab. There are foreign fighters involved with AQIM. We’ve not seen it yet with Boko Haram, but they could. And as these groups continue to have success or to terrorize communities, I think they feed on each other. So I do not think Africa is immune from the situation related to ISIL. I think Africa – countries in Africa have to be prepared to deal with issues of terrorism, and they have. The bombings at Westgate in Kenya, the Chinese workers who were taken hostage in Cameroon, the Nigerian girls who were taken hostage in Nigeria – these things impact all of us, so we have to continue to work together because this is not just a single event that impacts one country. It’s a global problem that we all have to address.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for one or two more, so yeah, Nicolas.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Boko Haram, are you aware of the claim by the Nigerian military that the leader of Boko Haram might be dead? And if you could give us an update on the operation supported by the U.S. to find the 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Nigerians have announced several times that the head of Boko Haram was dead, and every single time we’ve found out that it’s not true. What I’ve read recently is that the Shekau lookalike, or his – some Shekau impostor was killed, and then I read something later that maybe Shekau himself was killed. I don’t put a lot of weight on those stories until we see more evidence of that. I think we’re still seeing Boko Haram terrorize people in the north, and both in Cameroon and in Nigeria, and there was an attack even in Chad last week.

We’re continuing to work with the Nigerians to try to bring the Chibok girls home. This is a huge challenge. As we know, many of them – it’s been now months and we know that many of them were taken into the forest, and given the time that has passed, it’s possible that many of them have been taken to other locations. It is still our commitment to bring those girls home, as well as all the others that Boko Haram took as hostages. This didn’t just start with the Chibok girls. They were raiding villages and taking girls long before that. They were raiding villages and killing young boys before that, or taking boys and forcing them – young boys, and forcing them to fight. So this is much, much – a much, much bigger operation that we’re dealing with, and the ultimate goal is to stop Boko Haram. It’s to bring the girls home, it’s to stop the fighting, but it’s to actually stop Boko Haram’s terror in northern Nigeria.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks, everyone, for coming and thanks for your questions. Again, this is on background to Senior State Department Official. And we look forward to the next briefing, which we will have here at about 7 o’clock, which will be on the UNAIDS event and PEPFAR issues, so please stick around if you’re interested.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you.

Sep 262014
 

BAMAKO, Mali, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christian Josz, visited Bamako from September 11 to 25 for discussions in preparation of the first and second review of the government’s economic program supported under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved in December 2013.

The mission met with Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President; Moussa Mara, Prime Minister; Ms. Bouaré Fily Sissoko, Minister of Economy and Finance; Konzo Traoré, National Director, Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO); Nouhoum Tapily, President of the Supreme Court; Kloussama Goita, President of the Accounting Chamber of the Supreme Court; Amadou Touré, the Auditor General; and representatives from the National Assembly, civil society, unions, the private sector, and Mali’s development partners.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Josz issued the following statement:

“In 2014 Mali’s economy is returning to its normal growth path, with an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 5.8 percent. This follows 2012 when growth was zero due to the security crisis, and 2013 when a poor harvest kept growth at only 1.7 percent. Inflation remains low, at 1 percent after -0.6 percent in 2013. For 2015, the projections are for real growth to continue at 5.5 percent and inflation to remain well below the central bank’s 3 percent target.

“The mission reached an agreement that will permit going forward with both the first and second reviews of the ECF arrangement. The reviews will be presented to the IMF Executive Board for approval in December 2014. A resolution was found for the issues raised by the extra-budgetary spending—on a presidential plane and a military contract—which delayed the first review, originally scheduled for June. It includes: publishing the two independent audit reports on these transactions; reporting on the sanctions process; redressing the overbilling in the military contracts; subjecting future military procurement to stringent controls; incorporating all extra-budgetary spending in the budget, and stopping such practices in the future.

“The government will submit soon a new supplementary budget to the National Assembly to regularize the about CFA 30 billion in extra-budgetary spending which occurred in 2014 to be financed in the regional financial market. This will bring the overall budget deficit to 5.8 percent of GDP, compared to 5.2 percent in the supplementary budget approved in August.

“The mission welcomes the budget the Government intends to present to the National Assembly in October. This budget, which will be the basis for the ECF program in 2015, targets a global deficit of 4.4 percent of GDP. Three quarters of the deficit is financed with donor support, and the rest in the regional financial market. The mission also welcomes the strengthening of structural reforms, notably those aimed at improving tax administration, expenditure control, and debt and treasury management.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities for the excellent organization, the provision of ample information, and the frank and fruitful discussions.”

Sep 262014
 

NEW YORK, September 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Ebola, New York, 25 September 2014

We, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the High Representative of the European Union, express our deepest concern about the unprecedented spread of Ebola in parts of West Africa. We are deeply saddened by the loss of thousands of lives and the suffering the disease is inflicting. We note with regret that there appears to be no standard cure against the Ebola virus yet. We recognize the courageous efforts undertaken by volunteers and health workers in the region. We urge the international community to bring high-quality medical care to Ebola patients including healthcare workers and accelerate development and testing of vaccines and therapies.

We underscore our willingness to provide relief to the countries ravaged by the virus and emphasize our common understanding that Ebola is a common global threat to peace and security. We recall that the G7 has played a leading role in combatting infectious diseases and we express our firm determination to support all necessary efforts to stop the Ebola virus from spreading further and prevent this humanitarian disaster from worsening.

We welcome the leading role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization and the decision to launch the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). We acknowledge also the response of countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. We underline that the current crisis has a humanitarian as well as a regional security dimension. To address the latter, we look forward to entering into a dialogue with the most affected countries, the neighbouring states and international partners.

We applaud the international assistance coming from the World Bank, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the European Union, non-governmental organizations and private companies, and we urge everyone in the international community – governments and non-state actors alike – to immediately increase its support.

We express our readiness to assist the affected countries in their fight against Ebola as well as their efforts to cope with Ebola-induced challenges such as shortages in the provision of non-Ebola basic healthcare, shortages in food and budgetary constraints.

We underline the necessity to enhance the ability of the countries concerned to fight the disease themselves – i.e. through the provision of medical care and equipment, training of medical personal, and secondment of medical experts as well as the need to assist them in rebuilding their health services.

In this context, we warn that although the spread of Ebola must be contained, affected countries must not be isolated. We underscore that the provision of assistance depends on unhindered access to the countries concerned, and underline that G7 countries with the UN will encourage and maintain air and maritime links with the countries concerned. The G7 call on other countries to follow this practice. In order to facilitate and streamline the transportation of essential goods and equipment, G7 countries support the establishment of regional transportation hubs.

We commend international health care workers working in affected countries for their selfless commitment and brave services, putting their own lives at risk. We agree to provide the best possible care for international health care workers in the event they contract the virus. To this end, G7 countries will coordinate capabilities and resources to help to ensure appropriate treatment locally as well as for airborne medical evacuation and hospitalization of infected international health care workers taking due account of the EU initiative in this field.

We underline the importance of the UN Mission in Liberia and call on all countries to maintain their level of support for the mission.

This crisis requires an urgent and prompt response to control the spread of the virus, but also a long term approach that extends beyond the immediate containment of the disease. Even while we are responding to the immediate Ebola epidemic, we must also act to establish capacity around the world to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to disease threats like Ebola. In order to do so, we support the implementation of the International Health Regulations and the Global Health Security Agenda.

G7 Africa Directors have already met in New York. They will continue to cooperate closely in all aspects of the Ebola crisis and will reach out to the countries affected.

Sep 252014
 

NEW YORK, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the leaders of the Regional Economic Communities for coming together today. It was a great delight for me to meet several of you once again. For those of you I am meeting for the first time, it is a true pleasure to meet you.

I express my heartfelt condolences for the precious lives that have been lost to the Ebola outbreak. The Government of Japan will put forth its greatest possible efforts in the fight against Ebola. From that perspective, Japan actively supported as a co-sponsor the recent adoption of the Security Council resolution concerning Ebola outbreak and supports the establishment of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). In order to fight against this detestable disease, we first of all extended emergency grant aid of US$520,000 to Guinea in April, and since that time, we have continued providing assistance to affected countries respectively. The assistance that Japan has extended thus far amounts to a scale of roughly US$5 million in total. Four times Japan has sent to Liberia and Sierra Leone doctors highly knowledgeable and experienced regarding international infectious diseases, as members of WHO medical teams. I wish to state that we will not ease up in our efforts. We will continue our assistance in a variety of forms, including the potential for additional contributions of personnel.

Excellencies, the RECs are the cornerstone for Africa’s regional integration. Japan will walk alongside you on the long road ahead. We will hold close policy dialogues with you while working intently to develop Africa’s infrastructure.

Today I would like for us each to present our frank views on what we should do to foster a win-win relationship and promote trade and investment between Japan and Africa further.

But before we begin our discussions, I would like you to remember something. In March 2015, Japan will hold the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in the city of Sendai, which suffered tremendous damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake. We expect that society’s “resilience” will be one of its major themes. I would be very pleased if you would all attend this Conference and see for yourselves the state of reconstruction and the challenges that lie ahead.

Next, with regard to TICAD, Japan intends to accommodate your request that the next TICAD summit be held in Africa. We hope that TICAD can be held on a rotating basis in Japan and Africa.

Today we are joined by representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A large suspension bridge straddles the magnificent Congo River, which also flows through the capital, Kinshasa. I understand that this bridge, called the Matadi Bridge, is striking in its appearance and often appears in the background as honeymooners take photographs.

It was 1983 when the bridge was completed using Japan’s loans and technologies. Last year, a ceremony was held to commemorate the passage of thirty years since that time, with the participation of people from Japan who had been involved in the construction of the bridge. These were engineers who had dubbed themselves “the Seven Samurai.”

They attended the ceremony paying their own expenses. I imagine that they were quite nostalgic about their experiences working together with the Congolese. I hear that engineers from both countries met again atop the bridge, whereupon tears flowed, so filled were they with emotion. The “samurai” were unanimous in saying, “There was a civil war after we completed this bridge. Even though the country must have been mired in confusion, this bridge looks so new that you can hardly believe 30 years have passed.”

If I were to cite the name of one Congolese among those who have worked so hard to maintain the bridge, it would be Mr. Ndele Buba Madiata, the manager in charge of operations and maintenance. Everyone familiar with the circumstances shares the opinion that without Mr. Madiata, who is also fond of Japanese songs, there would be no story to tell about how the bridge came to be so well-maintained.

When Japan builds infrastructure, we make it to last. Even more importantly, Japan leaves in the hearts of the local people the joy of working and the value to be found in working hard. We cultivate friendships in which reunions are welcomed with tears 30 years later.

The story of the Matadi Bridge reminds us of this very fact once more. Japan is now continuing its assistance to pass down to the next generation the technologies and techniques for maintaining and managing the bridge. The Matadi Bridge will forever serve as a symbol of the friendship linking the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Japan.

Together with you, we will compile a master plan for developing at a regional level corridor projects that bring together ports and roads as well as railways into a package, the development of electricity power grids, and geothermal power generation that makes use of Japanese technologies.

In eight locations, we have already begun consideration of “strategic master plans” that include Mombasa, Kenya; the Southern African regional electricity power network; Tanzania’s logistics system; and the West Africa growth ring.

Logistics is the greatest challenge for Africa’s economic growth. To overcome this, through close cooperation with the RECs, Japan has been advancing One Stop Border Posts, with which you are all very familiar. The Project has been implemented in 14 locations at present.

Japan intends to expand its assistance from a point to a line, and then from a line to a plane. We will make contributions by mobilizing all Japan’s available strengths and knowledge. In every respect, the aim of this is to promote regional partnership within the RECs.

Incidentally, in the Mombasa Port Development Project in Kenya, what was lacking at the project site was advanced welding techniques. However, Kenyan engineers are now able to handle this sufficiently, because the Japanese companies engaged in the construction transferred the welding techniques to them, starting from scratch.

I trust that this example again provides you with evidence of the approach that permeates Japan’s ODA, in that we leave in the local communities not only physical things, but also human resources, while fostering strong ownership within those communities.

At last year’s TICAD V, we set forth the ABE Initiative, through which we will invite to Japan one thousand promising young Africans, precisely for the purpose of fostering human resources. This month, the first group of 156 participants arrived in Japan, where they will apply themselves to such areas of study as civil engineering and engineering.

In addition, I stated that the Government of Japan would implement roughly US$6.5 billion of assistance for infrastructure development. Japan will always deliver its pledges. We are already implementing the equivalent of roughly US$2.3 billion in projects at present.

Going forward, Japan will continue to provide assistance that fosters from people’s hearts a robust, vibrant, and stable Africa, while transferring over skills that will last a lifetime, as well as assistance through which we share the joys of economic growth—exactly what we have done up until now.

There can be no question that a prosperous Africa is in the interest of not only Africans but also the entire world, and indeed, in the interest of Japan as well. Going forward, let us work together closely in our policy dialogues and cultivate strong bonds of friendship through which we can say that the dreams of Africa are the dreams of Japan, and the dreams of Japan are the dreams of Africa.

Thank you very much.

Sep 252014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, September 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Today, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced additional humanitarian assistance to help meet the immediate needs of the people affected by the Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and neighbouring countries in West Africa. The assistance is in response to recent appeals issued by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

“Canada is deeply concerned with the unprecedented rate at which the Ebola virus is spreading and the dire effect that this outbreak is having on the people of West Africa,” said Minister Paradis. “Canada is providing additional support to combat this terrible disease and address the urgent humanitarian needs of those affected.”

The support is being provided to experienced humanitarian partners within the United Nations system, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—including the Canadian Red Cross Society—as well as other Canadian and international non-governmental organizations on the ground.

Canada’s assistance to these partners will support three main areas:

• treatment of those affected by Ebola, including in community care locations for those without access to treatment;

• prevention efforts, including social mobilization and health education to prevent further spread of the disease; and

• support for the broader humanitarian implications of the crisis, including food and nutrition assistance and non-Ebola-related health services.

“Preventing further transmission of the Ebola virus is essential to controlling the current outbreak,” said the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health. “We continue to explore ways for Canada to make meaningful contributions to the global response, and work with the international community to contain and combat this outbreak.”

Canada is deeply concerned by the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, which risks undermining the foundations for economic prosperity, security and social stability in the region. The Government of Canada has therefore taken a number of actions to date to help bring the outbreak under control. These include financial contributions in support of humanitarian assistance by international and Canadian organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; financial contributions to the WHO to help address associated threats to health and security; the deployment of a mobile laboratory and a rotating team of Canadian scientists to Sierra Leone; the donation of hundreds of doses of the experimental vaccine VSV-EBOV to the WHO; and the issuing of travel advisories for Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

“Canada welcomes international efforts to strengthen the coordination of response efforts, including through the establishment of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response,” said Minister Paradis. “However, we remain concerned that coordination efforts are not yet adequate and need to be urgently strengthened to deal with the magnitude and complexity of the crisis.”

Quick Facts

• This EVD outbreak is the largest in history, eclipsing all other Ebola outbreaks combined since 1976, when the virus was discovered. It is also the first time that Ebola has become widely transmitted in urban areas.

• On September 16, 2014, the United Nations and the WHO released an appeal, which estimates that nearly US$1 billion in global resources will be required over the next six months for the health response to stop the outbreak, treat the infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability, and prevent outbreaks in countries currently unaffected.

• The humanitarian situation in affected countries continues to deteriorate. The United Nations estimates that more than 22 million people, of whom 2.5 million are children under the age of five, are living in areas where active EVD transmission has been reported, with more than 4 million people living in areas where 20 or more fatalities have been reported.

• According to the WHO as of September 24, 2014, more than 6,200 cases and 2,900 deaths have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

• As of September 24, 2014, 373 health care workers have been infected by Ebola, and 208 of them have died as a result of the disease.