Focal persons in Communication from the African Union Member States Embassies in Addis Ababa visit the 34 Military Hospital, one of the prominent Ebola Centers in Sierra Leone to discover the post Ebola realities on the ground

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The Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union Commission (AUC) was leading the team of Press Attaches and focal persons in Communication at AU Member State Embassies in Addis Ababa who gathered in Freetown, Sierra Leone within the framework of the annual pre-summit workshop to exchange views on the implementation of the AU Communication, Advocacy and Marketing Strategy 2014-2017, in view to popularize the 27th AU Summit and Agenda 2063 at national, regional and continental levels.

“The second phase of the workshop was to give a humanitarian touch by visiting some Ebola Centers after the continent has been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation (WHO)” underlined Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, Ag. Director of Information and Communication of the AUC. She informed the Senior Medical Officials during the visit that the delegation from the AU headquarters decided to undertake the visit to the Ebola centers because of the important role the African Union played to stand as one in support of the Ebola affected countries including the fact that the AU Commission at very short notice was able to mobilize its Member States who responded to the call of the AU Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to fight against the deadly disease. “We could not have come to this auspicious beautiful country without seeing for ourselves the tremendous work done by the African health workers in the Republic of Sierra Leone, with the support of partner organizations such as the African Union in the fight against Ebola”. Noted the DIC Ag. Director. She added that reaching out to the grassroots population and interacting with the people nation-wide is also a way of communicating the messages and vision of the AU Commission in line with Agenda 2063, for “The Africa We Want… a better place for all Africans”. Speaking on behalf of the AU delegation, Mrs. Esther Azaa reminded the hospital staff about the medical background of the AUC Chairperson and how she was very preoccupied by the devastating effect of the Ebola crisis in the continent. She said Dr. Dlamini Zuma was very touched by the resilience of the people in the affected countries in fighting against the epidemics and how she devoted herself to ensuring that all hands were put on deck to eradicate the Ebola completely in Africa. On behalf of the AUC Chairperson, Mrs. Esther Azaa commended the staff of the 34 Military Hospital for their relentless efforts and commitment in fighting the deadly disease. She said in line with aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063; a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, the AUC leadership is determine to strongly encourage the spirit of solidarity among the AU Member countries when faced with such calamities on the continent.

Worth noting the 34 Military Hospital in Free Town was one of the major centers to receive and treat Ebola patients therefore it played a pivotal role in the number of survival cases reported in the country.

The visit to the Ebola center did not only create impact but also enabled the Press Attaches to gather information about the post Ebola and investment opportunities in Sierra Leone so that the information is widely popularized to attract African businessmen and enhance intra-African trade.

Dr. Ali Wurie, the Case Management Head at the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitization (MHS) welcomed the AU delegation during the site visit and lauded the initiative to couple such an important workshop with a visit to the Ebola Center. He explained that, the Military hospital in close collaboration with the (Medecins san Frontiere) MHS had set up 25 treatment centers and 55 isolation units in the clinic and that due to the large number of treatment centers the virus was contained .

On the African involvement Dr. Wurie recognized the role of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). He said the experienced African Union Member States health workers quickly assimilated with the teams that were already on ground. According to Dr. Wurie a post Ebola research laboratory has been set up in Sierra Leone and is now equipped with a pool of experienced health workers to prevent future outbreaks. He announced that the Sierra Leonean Government is currently working on a vaccine and that four vaccine trials are ongoing in the country” he indicated.

Col. Dr. Foday Sahr commanding Officer of the Joint Medical Unit, said the military was involved in all aspects of the of the fight against the virus including treatments and quarantine, as such they witnessed the largest survival scaling at the hospital . “We are now looking at the post Ebola response and mechanisms by engaging into advance research and learning to ensure that we are better prepared in case of future outbreaks of any viral disease or epidemics” concluded the Colonel.

The team of AU Press Attaches also visited the doctor’s quarters, the isolation wards and the EVD survival clinic during the guided tour.

The Bureau of the AUC Chairperson was represented by Mrs. Christiane Matondo, Principal Communication Officer, who appreciated the positive impact of the visit of the AU delegation to the Ebola Centers in Sierra Leone as part of the agenda of the pre-summit workshop of Press Attaches at AU Embassies based in Addis Ababa.

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

The Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union Commission (AUC) was leading the team of Press Attaches and focal persons in Communication at AU Member State Embassies in Addis Ababa who gathered in Freetown, Sierra Leone within the framework of the annual pre-summit workshop to exchange views on the implementation of the AU Communication, Advocacy and Marketing Strategy 2014-2017, in view to popularize the 27th AU Summit and Agenda 2063 at national, regional and continental levels.

“The second phase of the workshop was to give a humanitarian touch by visiting some Ebola Centers after the continent has been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation (WHO)” underlined Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, Ag. Director of Information and Communication of the AUC. She informed the Senior Medical Officials during the visit that the delegation from the AU headquarters decided to undertake the visit to the Ebola centers because of the important role the African Union played to stand as one in support of the Ebola affected countries including the fact that the AU Commission at very short notice was able to mobilize its Member States who responded to the call of the AU Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to fight against the deadly disease. “We could not have come to this auspicious beautiful country without seeing for ourselves the tremendous work done by the African health workers in the Republic of Sierra Leone, with the support of partner organizations such as the African Union in the fight against Ebola”. Noted the DIC Ag. Director. She added that reaching out to the grassroots population and interacting with the people nation-wide is also a way of communicating the messages and vision of the AU Commission in line with Agenda 2063, for “The Africa We Want… a better place for all Africans”. Speaking on behalf of the AU delegation, Mrs. Esther Azaa reminded the hospital staff about the medical background of the AUC Chairperson and how she was very preoccupied by the devastating effect of the Ebola crisis in the continent. She said Dr. Dlamini Zuma was very touched by the resilience of the people in the affected countries in fighting against the epidemics and how she devoted herself to ensuring that all hands were put on deck to eradicate the Ebola completely in Africa. On behalf of the AUC Chairperson, Mrs. Esther Azaa commended the staff of the 34 Military Hospital for their relentless efforts and commitment in fighting the deadly disease. She said in line with aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063; a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, the AUC leadership is determine to strongly encourage the spirit of solidarity among the AU Member countries when faced with such calamities on the continent.

Worth noting the 34 Military Hospital in Free Town was one of the major centers to receive and treat Ebola patients therefore it played a pivotal role in the number of survival cases reported in the country.

The visit to the Ebola center did not only create impact but also enabled the Press Attaches to gather information about the post Ebola and investment opportunities in Sierra Leone so that the information is widely popularized to attract African businessmen and enhance intra-African trade.

Dr. Ali Wurie, the Case Management Head at the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitization (MHS) welcomed the AU delegation during the site visit and lauded the initiative to couple such an important workshop with a visit to the Ebola Center. He explained that, the Military hospital in close collaboration with the (Medecins san Frontiere) MHS had set up 25 treatment centers and 55 isolation units in the clinic and that due to the large number of treatment centers the virus was contained .

On the African involvement Dr. Wurie recognized the role of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). He said the experienced African Union Member States health workers quickly assimilated with the teams that were already on ground. According to Dr. Wurie a post Ebola research laboratory has been set up in Sierra Leone and is now equipped with a pool of experienced health workers to prevent future outbreaks. He announced that the Sierra Leonean Government is currently working on a vaccine and that four vaccine trials are ongoing in the country” he indicated.

Col. Dr. Foday Sahr commanding Officer of the Joint Medical Unit, said the military was involved in all aspects of the of the fight against the virus including treatments and quarantine, as such they witnessed the largest survival scaling at the hospital . “We are now looking at the post Ebola response and mechanisms by engaging into advance research and learning to ensure that we are better prepared in case of future outbreaks of any viral disease or epidemics” concluded the Colonel.

The team of AU Press Attaches also visited the doctor’s quarters, the isolation wards and the EVD survival clinic during the guided tour.

The Bureau of the AUC Chairperson was represented by Mrs. Christiane Matondo, Principal Communication Officer, who appreciated the positive impact of the visit of the AU delegation to the Ebola Centers in Sierra Leone as part of the agenda of the pre-summit workshop of Press Attaches at AU Embassies based in Addis Ababa.

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“Know your African Union Campaign” at the center of the Press Attaches meeting in Sierra Leone; Participants commit to popularize Agenda 2063

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The two-day workshop that brought together communication focal persons from the African Union Member States Embassies based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, concluded in Freetown, Sierra Leonne with a commitment to engage all AU Member States media representatives in a strategic manner to popularize the activities, vision and missions of the African Union, as part of the implementation of the AU Communication, Advocacy and Marketing Strategy. The Press Attaches recognized the important role they have to play in concretizing this goals and objectives of the Continental Organization via a robust sensitization strategy to raise awareness on the development Agenda 2063, among others.

Several presentation were made during the workshop including an overview of the AU Communication by the Ag. Directorate of Information and Communication, Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou; the Agenda 2063 and its Ten Years Implementation Plan, the Aspiration and flagship project of this development agenda, by Micheal Gonquoi from the Directorate

of Strategic Planning of the AUC (SPPERM); the involvement of Press Attaches of Embassies to the implementation of Agenda 2063, by H.E Amb Ismael Koroma, Deputy Head of Mission of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Addis Ababa; Post Ebola and investment opportunities for Sierra Leone, by Mr. Raymond Gbekie, Chief Executive Officer of Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency; packaging information about Agenda 2063 to make it attractive for public consumption and how to effectively use the Social Media to popularize Agenda 2063, by Mr. Abubakar Sheriff, Senior Editor, Concord Times jointly with Mr. RodMar Johnson, Senior Editor and Correspondent of the French News Agency (AFP). The AU flagship project on Panafrican University (PAU) was presented by Mr. Adiatou Fatty, PAU Communication Officer in the Department of Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST) of the AU Commission.

Organised by the Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union pre-summit workshop on popularization of Agenda 2063 also discussed how to make effective and efficient use of the focal persons in communication at embassies in the coverage of the upcoming Summit and reporting on the outcome of the 27th AU Summit scheduled to take place from 10-17 July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. The Summit’s Decisions and Declarations has to be disseminated in a way to impact the lives of the African citizens. Hence the need to reach out to Africans for a better understanding and of the policies by popularizing the Summit outcomes worldwide, with the view to enhance visibility about the work of the AU Commission and promote the image of the Organisation.

Various recommendations aimed at elaborating national campaign strategies to improve the visibility of the AUC in the respective countries through the national media were made during the workshop. The meeting took note that, Press attaches of embassies represent potential communication actors that can be good agents of relaying information from the AU headquarters through their respective Ministry of Communications and eventually directly to the local population through the different national media.

One of the recommendation was to create a social media group of the AU Press Attaches to ease interaction and quick exchange of information, such as WhatsApp and Viber groups etc..

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Allieu I. Kanu, Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (MIC), commended the Directorate of Information and Communication for a successful meeting. He noted that the presence of AU officials in Sierra Leone especially at a time soon after the country has been declared free from the Ebola scourge is proof of the AU’s continued support in the recuperation of a post Ebola Nation. Ambassador Kanu reiterated the important role of information dissemination with the view to reach out to all classes of the population and ensuring that the information gets to the targeted audience. “Everybody has the right to information and be enlightened about the happenings around them, particularly with the rapid developments around the world… Press Attaches have a big role to play, to educate the western world about the positive developments in Africa”. The Ambassador also underscored the need to introduce an African Union based curriculum in schools and colleges to teach Africans about the organs of the AU and its activities in line with the “Know Your African Union Campaign”. On the issue of investment he said African should take center stage of investment opportunities while communications experts should take advantage and spread the word worldwide of existing investment opportunities in Africa .

The Acting Director of the Directorate of Information and Communication Directorate of the AUC commended all participants for the insightful discussions held over the two days; noting that concrete ideas shall be incorporated into the African Union Communication strategy moving forward. Mrs. Esther called for more proactive group of communication Experts who should not only seat in their office to draft press releases but also reach out physically to the grassroots population to convey the AU message of a united and integrated Africa, by so doing, bringing the AU Headquarters closer to the people so that they can interact and feel more involved in the development process of the continent. She stressed that communication is also about interacting with all classes of people and showing concern about their needs by listening attentively to them and socializing as much as possible. “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has been emphasizing on the need for a people centered Organisation where everyone is expected to play a role and contribute to the “Africa We Want” as encapsulated in Agenda 2063”, concluded the DIC Ag. Director.

At the end of the two day Press Attaches workshop a social evening was organized to enable the AU delegation interact with the people and Government members of Sierra Leone and exchange views on recent happenings in the continent, among others. During the event, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay expressed his appreciation to the AUC leadership and to the Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for her vision of a people centered Union which “was clearly demonstrated by the fruitful meeting of a delegation from the AU headquarters to Sierra Leone”. He said the presence of the AU Embassies communication focal persons in Freetown has made news in the local media as well as the social media. “The event has been reported in the local languages in all the news channels and has greatly raised awareness about the African Union” he underlined while wishing that such positive actions will continue. He thanked the AU team for accepting to undertake the long journey to Freetown in solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone. “We are very touched by this kind gesture coming from the AU Commission” noted the Minister of State.

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

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The State of Eritrea Launches the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

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Through a concerted effort by the Ministries of Health, Labour and Human Welfare, Education, Justice, the National Union of Eritrean Women and a host of other partners, the State of Eritrea launched the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage on 11 June 2016 in Asmara. The launch was also attended by, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, representatives from UNICEF and UNFPA, members of the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and members of local communities including children and youth.

In her opening remarks, the Honorable Minister of Health, Her Excellency, Dr. Amina Nurhusen highlighted the role that the Government of Eritrea has been undertaking to protect women and children’s rights. She stated that Eritrea has been working towards ending child marriage through a multi-stakeholder approach (Government ministries, religious leaders, partners, local communities) in implementing a number of awareness raising and education programmes in both rural and urban areas on the negative effects of child marriage. There have been significant strides in the reduction maternal and child mortality as a result of preventing child marriages in the country.

The Honourable Minister of Labor and Human Welfare, Mr Kahsay G/Hiwet added that Eritrea has ratified and put into action the child protection legal instruments specifically, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Government has periodically reported on their activities to promote and protect the rights of the child in Eritrea. These rights have been mainstreamed in national policies and programs being implemented in Government Ministries such as- the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare, the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice; as well as within the National Union of Eritrean Women and the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students.

It was noted that even though child marriage rates have declined from 30% in 2005 to 26% in 2014, there is still much to be done for stakeholders according to the 2010 Eritrean Population Health Survey- among women aged 20-24-:13% were married by 15 years old and 41% by 18 years old. These grim statistics were made vivid through harrowing and ultimately inspiring stories of two young ladies affected by child marriage and who step by step overcame the harsh reality of this brutal practice to find hope in their lives through education and sheer determination.

The representatives of UNICEF and UNFPA stressed that through strengthened partnerships, more should be done to end child marriage by legislating stronger laws to protect children at risk of child marriage and prosecute the perpetrators of child marriage.

On behalf of the African Union Commission, the Commissioner of Social Affairs, His Excellency, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko congratulated the Government of the State of Eritrea on launching the AU Campaign and for making great efforts to end child marriage and giving girls a chance to be productive members of society. The Commissioner stated that through the Campaign, the Commission recognizes that child marriage is a cross-cutting issue and works on a practical level with a number of stakeholders (Member States, civil society, traditional & religious leaders, parliamentarians and development partners among others) in implementing a number of activities based on three components: advocacy, monitoring and evaluation and Facilitation of technical assistance and capacity building. He concluded that the Commission will not relent in the fight against child marriage and is committed to supporting countries, by strengthening of national strategies to end child marriage in order to reach communities most affected by this practice.

Eritrea is the 12th African Nation to launch the AU Campaign, following from the launches in Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sudan and Ghana.

About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa:

The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. The Campaign is aimed at ending child marriage by means of supporting and advocating legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights; mobilizing continental awareness of the adverse socio-economic impact of child marriage; fostering social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and amplifying the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation – amongst others.

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

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Uganda: Investigate Break-ins at Groups’ Offices

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The Uganda Police Force (UPF) should promptly, thoroughly, and transparently investigate a series of attacks on Ugandan non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders and hold suspects accountable, 31 Ugandan and international human rights groups said today in a letter to the police inspector general. The severity of one of the recent attacks, in which intruders beat a security guard to death, demonstrates the urgency of addressing these attacks, for which no-one has been held responsible.

Between April and May 2016, intruders broke into the offices of at least three groups in Kampala – the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), and the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda). The break-ins followed more than two dozen previous break-ins at the offices of non-governmental groups since 2012. Although the police inspector general formed a committee of eight officers to investigate the break-ins in July 2014, no one has yet been brought to justice.

“The lack of accountability for attacks on non-governmental organizations has apparently led to an atmosphere in which attackers felt free to kill a security guard, in order to accomplish their aims,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Uganda Police Force needs to live up to its obligation to actively investigate these cases and bring those responsible to justice.”

At HRAPF, the assailants beat to death security guard Emmanuel Arituha, ransacked the offices of the director and deputy director, and stole documents and a television screen. They did not, however, take computers, laptops, or other electronic equipment. Colleagues remembered Arituha as “always smiling and very committed to his work.” At the time he was killed, he had been helping to pay his two younger siblings’ school fees.

At FAWE, intruders stole a server, laptop and desktop computers, cameras, and projectors. At HRNJ-Uganda, camera footage shows a visitor apparently providing a dish of food containing sedatives to the security guards, allowing four intruders to search the premises after the guards fell asleep. More than two weeks after the most recent attack, police have not made any arrests.

Organizations whose offices were broken into in 2014 included Human Rights Network-Uganda; Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Uganda Land Alliance, Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, and Lira NGO Forum. The groups are all known for their work on sensitive subjects – including corruption, land rights, freedom of expression, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people – and for criticizing government policies.

In a further attack on the premises of Uganda Land Alliance in July 2015, another security guard, Richard Oketch, was beaten to death. No one has been arrested for his murder.

Each incident has been reported to the police in a timely fashion, but police efforts to investigate and collect evidence such as witness statements, DNA, and CCTV footage have been limited and lacked follow-up. In some cases, the police did not respond to the complaints or, more commonly, provided no substantive update on the status of investigations.

“Human rights defenders already work in a challenging and often repressive environment in Uganda,” said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF. “We’re determined to continue our work on behalf of the Ugandan people, but we need the police to stop disregarding these threats to our property, our physical security, and even our lives.”

As a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Ugandan government should ensure the right to life and the right to liberty and security for all persons, as well as the right to freedom of association, both of which are severely impeded when organizations cannot conduct their work in a safe and secure environment. As set out in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, countries have a duty to protect human rights defenders “against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure, or any other arbitrary action” as a consequence of their work to uphold human rights.

The organizations that sent the letter to the police inspector general called on him to clarify the steps the police have taken to investigate the most recent break-ins, as well as the previous wave of break-ins in 2014. The letter also asked the inspector general to outline how the police will protect human rights defenders, including HRAPF and others whose offices have been attacked, from further acts of violence.

“The lack of accountability and persistent impunity for attacks on human rights defenders and their offices sends a message that authorities condone and tolerate such attacks,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International. “Ending impunity is essential to protecting and ensuring a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.”

Signatories to the letter include:
Amnesty International, Kenya
Centre for Human Rights – University of Pretoria, South Africa
Chapter Four Uganda, Uganda
COC-Netherlands, Netherlands
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India
Community Development and Child Welfare Initiatives (CODI) Uganda, Uganda
EHAHRDP/Defend Defenders, Uganda
FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development, Norway
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Uganda
Freedom House, United States
FRI – The Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Norway
Health GAP, United States
Human Dignity Trust, United Kingdom
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, Uganda
Human Rights Network for Journalists, Uganda
Human Rights Network, Uganda
Human Rights Watch, United States
Icebreakers, Uganda
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Switzerland
Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda
Legal Aid Service Providers Network-Laspnet, Uganda
NGO Forum, Uganda
Pan Africa ILGA, South Africa
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, United States
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Uganda
The African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV), Uganda
The National Coalition on HRDs, Uganda
Uganda Land Alliance, Uganda
Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO), Uganda
UHAI-EASHRI, Kenya
Unwanted Witness, Uganda

The letter from 31 Ugandan and international human rights groups to the Ugandan Inspector General of Police is available at:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/10/letter-31-ugandan-and-international-organizations

For more reporting on threats to human rights defenders in Uganda, visit:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/21/uganda-growing-intimidation-threats-civil-society

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Head of UN peacekeeping operations visits South Sudan

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The Under-Secretary-General (USG) in charge of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Hervé Ladsous, will be visiting South Sudan from tomorrow, Friday 10 June until Monday 13 June 2016.

USG Ladous will be in South Sudan to assess the situation following the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity and to demonstrate the continued commitment of the United Nations and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to support South Sudan.

Hervé Ladsous will also be travelling to Bentiu and Malakal to visit the protection of civilians sites and interact with peacekeepers.

The visit will be concluded by a press stakeout which will take place in the UNMISS Conference Room in Tomping base. Journalists willing to attend are requested to be present at 12:30 Monday 13 June.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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“Strengthening Development, Planning and Management in Greater Cairo” project signature ceremony

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The General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) signed today the “Strengthening Development, Planning and Management in Greater Cairo” project document in a ceremony held at the GOPP premises.

The project aims to find and implement solutions for the key challenges facing Greater Cairo in terms of the burden on all public utilities, infrastructure, traffic, the environment and urbanization. The future vision and strategic trends for Greater Cairo were thoroughly analyzed in the preparation of this project to ensure it meets the needs of the 21st century.

This initiative is geared to support the development of Greater Cairo in achieving social justice, economic competitiveness, better provision of public services in an environment-friendly manner through the development of priority development projects, following participatory planning processes.

Restoring the value of important major historical and heritage sites is a key objective of the project to achieve economic development and improve the living and environmental conditions of the residents of these areas. In addition, the project will seek to narrow the gap between strategic and action plans, facilitating the implementation processes and achieving the strategic vision and urban development in Greater Cairo.

With regards to mobility, the project will strategize to develop the Bus Rapid Transit plan and promote non-Motorized Transport. In addition, the skills and capacities of the GOPP’s employees and local development partners will be developed in the fields of participatory planning, administration and implementation to ensure the project’s sustainability beyond its duration.

The project document has been signed by Chairman of GOPP Dr. Assem Abd El-Hamid El-Gazzar, Vice Chairman for Development & Cities Upgrading Sector Eng. Kamal El-Sayed Fahmy; Assistant Foreign Minister for International Cooperation for Development Ambassador Sherif Refaat, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Mr. El-Mostafa Benlamlih, and Mr. Alioune Badiane, UN-Habitat Director – Programme Division.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

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Press Statement

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

Washington, DC

June 10, 2016

The United States takes note of the recently issued report by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Eritrea, in particular its conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea. We have repeatedly expressed grave concern about the human rights situation in Eritrea, and that concern has been reinforced by the COI’s findings.

We strongly encourage the Government of Eritrea to engage fully with the international community and UN bodies to address the human rights situation. The Government’s willingness to work on several Universal Periodic Review recommendations is a step in the right direction. We also urge Eritrea to implement its constitution, hold national elections, honor its commitment to limit the duration of national service to 18 months, develop an independent and transparent judiciary, and release persons arbitrarily detained including political prisoners, journalists, and members of religious groups.

We continue to support international efforts to improve the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Eritrea and will work to promote these efforts within the context of the upcoming Human Rights Council session.

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

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia

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The Secretary-General condemns the attack on 9 June on Ethiopian troops at an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Halgan, Somalia. He expresses his condolences to the families of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery for the injured soldiers. He expresses his solidarity with and pays tribute to the AMISOM and the Somali National Army forces for their professional and brave response in repelling the attackers and their steadfast commitment to restoring durable security and stability in Somalia.

The Secretary-General calls on the people of Somalia and their government to remain resolute in the fight against Al Shabaab and extremism. He reiterates the United Nations’ unwavering support for their determined efforts to build a peaceful and stable Somalia.

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

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Source:: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia

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Oakbay Sets the Record Straight on Optimum Coal Mine and Eskom

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Oakbay Investments (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za) wishes to set the record straight on operations at the Optimum Coal Mine (owned by BEE company, Tegeta Exploration & Resources (“Tegeta”) in which Oakbay has a 29% shareholding) and its relationship with Eskom, the electricity public utility.

In the last few months, Oakbay has been appalled at the constant innuendo circulated and printed by media about the company, based on faceless sources and zero evidence. In recent days, Oakbay has received 21 questions from ‘Carte Blanche’, the M-Net television series, regarding Optimum, Eskom and the supply of coal to the Arnot power station.

We initially referred their questions to Eskom, but yesterday Oakbay offered Carte Blanche an interview with its CEO, Nazeem Howa, either live or pre-recorded, on the proviso that the interview would be aired, unedited. This offer was to guard against selective editing and yet more lies and baseless allegations being disseminated.

Both offers were rejected by Carte Blanche. Allegations have also appeared in today’s CityPress newspaper.

To ensure South African citizens hear the truth about the subjects above, Oakbay’s CEO has participated in a 40 minute interview addressing the key issues.

· This interview can be accessed on the Oakbay Investments website http://ioakbay.co.za/nazeemhowa.html

· Additionally, Oakbay’s answers to all 21 questions can be read on the Oakbay Investments website (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za)

Transaction overview

Optimum was acquired by Tegeta, from Glencore, in April 2016, whilst Optimum was in ‘business rescue’ status, in a transaction which received all regulatory approvals, and saved over 3000 jobs at Optimum.

The transaction was funded through a mixture of existing funds and debt and, as in any transaction, proof of funding was required ahead of deal signature. This proof was provided in December 2015. It was further stipulated in the sale agreement that bankers who had advanced loans totalling R2.5 billion to Optimum would have to agree to the transaction by 31 March 2016 before the deal could close. This approval was based on our ability to prove we could fund the deal.

Production

Since deal closure, Tegeta has increased coal production at Optimum from 400,000 tonnes a month (at the time of acquisition) to 800,000 tonnes per month and in the next month will hit the 1 million tonnes milestone. This coal is of the highest quality which meets Eskom’s stringent testing regimen.

Price and efficiency

Most importantly, Tegeta supplies coal to Arnot power station at an average price of R583 per ton. This compares with the previous supplier’s price of R980 per ton and the new rate it proposed of R1,360 a ton.

This huge saving for Eskom, generated by Tegeta, directly benefits South African taxpayers and citizens: cheaper energy.

Pre-payment

Eskom subsequently approached Tegeta’s management team to increase its supply of a high calorific value coal to Arnot for the winter months. As the company was in business rescue and therefore did not have any credit facilities, Tegeta initially declined as it was also facing closure of its banking arrangements. Following several rounds of negotiation the parties agreed to a pre-payment as Eskom needed the supply to guarantee security of power during the cold winter months. In addition, Eskom asked Tegeta to agree to a further discount on the pricing in exchange for the prepayment. It is our understanding that Eskom has made pre-payments to other clients when faced with similar circumstances, so it is a malicious lie to suggest that special treatment was given to Tegeta.

Industry context

Currently, Tegeta supplies less than 5% of Eskom’s total coal supply – in some instances at the lowest rates.

The supply of the remaining 80% comes from the same companies who have been supplying for decades, several on a ‘cost plus’ basis, which means Eskom funds both their operating costs and their capital costs – a gravy train all funded by South African taxpayers. Tegeta, on the other hand, has only been a coal supplier to Eskom for a mere 16 months.

Oakbay openly asks:

· Why doesn’t media scrutinise this 80%?

· Why is media not interested in the decades of exploitation of South African taxpayers by the same major mining companies, via the cost plus model?

Nazeem Howa, Chief Executive of Oakbay Investments, said:

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Carte Blanche could not agree to a live or unedited interview. There is a politically-driven agenda against Oakbay which many media houses give oxygen to by perpetuating allegations with zero evidence supporting them. Allowing an unedited interview doesn’t suit our detractors and the media they have captured.

“Oakbay is happy to receive scrutiny on any of its transactions as each deal has been done in a transparent, arm’s length manner with pricing negotiated by a willing buyer and willing seller.

“We are competitive in everything we do, including price. By also operating efficiently, we are shining a light on decades of exploitation of South African taxpayers by the major mining companies and they don’t like it.

“South Africans have heard the word ‘capture’ many times in recent months. We are happy to face any scrutiny within the context of the entire mining industry and know that on a like-for-like basis, it is very easy to see where the preferential treatment and capture is.”

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

Contact: [email protected]

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Source:: Oakbay Sets the Record Straight on Optimum Coal Mine and Eskom

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Smears, Faceless Sources and Zero Evidence Continues – With the Help of Media Capture

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Today’s story in the Sunday Times continues the traditional tactics of Oakbay’s detractors which generally involve some, if not all, of the following:

  • Leaks;
  • Smears;
  • Faceless ‘sources’;
  • Zero evidence;
  • Lies; and
  • Repeating the lies until they get accepted as truth

These tactics are used in collusion with the many media houses the business establishment has captured.

Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za), said:

“We are very happy to work directly with the Reserve Bank to resolve any questions around ourselves. We are very clear that we have done nothing wrong. To date, we have had no contact from the Reserve Bank or any other institution around these unfounded allegations and we would expect any respected journalist to ensure on the record confirmation rather than rely on faceless sources.

“It is of great concern to us that nameless government sources collaborate with the Sunday Times in the ongoing campaign to isolate and threaten any party who come close to working with us.

“This is another step in the ongoing campaign to further prevent us from working with any bank, so we can’t pay our thousands of workers, who are ordinary South African citizens.

“It is clear that the biggest problem in this country – jobs – and the lack of them – doesn’t matter to some elements of the business establishment.”

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

Contact: [email protected]

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Source:: Smears, Faceless Sources and Zero Evidence Continues – With the Help of Media Capture

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Didier Reynders meets with opposition representatives from DR Congo

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders this afternoon received representatives of the opposition from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who met in recent days in Genval. Belgium welcomes the common efforts displayed this week by the opposition to reach common positions.

Minister Reynders hopes that this will result in a real exchange between the majority and the opposition, in a setting as desired by the African Union. It should be conducted within the framework of Resolution 2277 (2016) of the United Nations Security Council in view of a start of the electoral process.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Kingdom of Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

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Source:: Didier Reynders meets with opposition representatives from DR Congo

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Press conference of the Republic of Mali foreign minister

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Within the framework of the 27th Africa-France Summit, H.E. Abdoulaye DIOP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Mali, will on Monday 13th June 2016, at 15:00 hold a press conference on the following issue:

The Peace process in Mali

The briefing will be held in Briefing Room 1, at the new AU Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Journalists are invited to take part in the press conference

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

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Source:: Press conference of the Republic of Mali foreign minister

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