Human rights / Mercenaries: UN expert group launches first official visit to Côte d’Ivoire

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will carry out an official visit to Côte d’Ivoire from 7 to 10 October 2014 to examine and assess the impacts of mercenarism on human rights in the country.

“Cote d’Ivoire has faced tremendous challenges at the turn of the century, experiencing civil conflicts which were reported to involve mercenary activities,” said human rights expert Patricia Arias who currently heads the expert group. Ms. Arias will be accompanied by Anton Katz, fellow member of the Working Group.

The Working Group, as part of its mandate given by the Human Rights Council, will also examine the situation of private military and security companies (PMSCs) and how they operate in the country.

Côte d’Ivoire was one of the countries covered in the Working Group’s report* to the Human Rights Council this year which focused on the national legislation concerning PMSCs in several countries in Asia and Francophone Africa.

During the visit, which is being conducted at the invitation of the Ivorian authorities, the experts will hold meetings in Abidjan with members of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the State, the army, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society organizations.

A press conference on the preliminary observations of the Working Group will be held at 2:45 p.m. in the Press Room of the UNOCI office, Ancien Hôtel Sebroko, Attécoubé, Abidjan.

The final report on the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2015.

(*) Check the Working Group’s report (A/HRC/27/50): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

Categories: AFRICA

Locust plague in Madagascar halted, but at great risk of resurgence / Achievements of FAO and Government of Madagascar threatened by funding gap

ROME, Italy, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A locust plague that spread across Madagascar threatening the main staple food crops and pasture in the country has been successfully contained, however, progress is under threat due to a gap in funding, FAO said today.

At the beginning of the plague in April 2012 the highly destructive Malagasy Migratory Locust ravaged crops and pastures on its way from the southwest of the country toward the North. By April 2014, it had spread towards the country’s largest rice crop areas in the northwest and threatened the livelihoods of 13 million people.

Potential for further damage was contained by the first locust control campaign, which is part of a three-year programme jointly executed by FAO and the Government of Madagascar, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“The effects of this plague could have been devastating, but thanks to strong efforts by the Government of Madagascar, supported by FAO, we have succeeded in preventing these locusts from migrating even further,” said David Phiri, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa.

Protected crops

Since locust control actions began in September 2013, large-scale areal operations allowed to survey over 30 million hectares of land and control locust populations on over 1.2 million hectares.

A total of $28 million has been donated so far by the Governments of Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Madagascar through a World Bank loan, Norway and the United States of America as well the European Union and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund. Donors also include Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco, which donated pesticides.

Preliminary results of an FAO/WFP assessment mission, conducted between mid-June and mid-July 2014 in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, indicate that the first anti-locust campaign prevented larger damage to crops and pastures and protected the large rice producing regions of the country located in the centre and north.

This first campaign also provided the opportunity to further strengthen national capacities in locust management.

“Despite great support and achievements, however, we now face a new challenge due to a gap in funding,” says Phiri.

More funds needed

Funds available so far are only sufficient to implement the first part of the second locust control campaign, which started in September 2014. With the onset of the rainy season, from October 2014 onwards, the locust situation will deteriorate as seasonal temperatures and humidity at this time are ideal breeding conditions for the locust. The second and third campaigns are imperative to respectively support the decline of the plague and the return to a situation of recession.

Additional support of $14.7 million is urgently needed for aerial surveys, control operations, equipment, pesticides, as well as the recruitment of key staff to carry out the second and third campaigns.

“Each day is a fight to feed our children and send them to school,” says Hantanirina Florentine, who lives in a village near Sakaraha in central Madagascar. “Our main source of income is our 100 square metre plot of land and my husband’s odd jobs. The locust plague affected our livelihood and made our daily life even harder. The locust plague needs to be put to an end, so we can have crops and protect our livelihoods.”

Without added funding, efforts made during the first campaign will be largely lost and the locust plague will expand again. The context was similar in 2010/11 and 2011/12 when the funding for two anti-locust campaigns was not made available and as a result, the current plague developed.

“An immediate food crisis has been avoided,” says Phiri, “but an economical and humanitarian crisis could still threaten Madagascar if the two next campaigns are not implemented in time.”

“We are in a position to help – we just need one last push to stop this disaster and prevent future plagues.”

According to, Roland Ravatomanga, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development of Madagascar, “The first locust phase was successful thanks to the support of technical and financial partners, but much remains to be done for the second phase in 2014 and 2015. I solemnly appeal to the International Community on behalf of the Government and the Malagasy people for financial and material support to Madagascar. The food and nutrition security of Madagascar depends on it.”

Categories: AFRICA

DESPITE IMPRESSIVE GROWTH ACROSS AFRICA, MORE JOBS NEEDED FOR YOUTH, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS REGIONAL ECONOMIC COMMUNITIES

NEW YORK, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks at the high-level briefing by the African Regional Economic Communities to Member States of the United Nations, in New York today:

First of all, I want to welcome all the high-level representatives of the African Regional Economic Communities present here today. I am honoured to speak to you.

We meet at a turbulent and, at the same time, [a] dynamic time at the United Nations.

This past week has been full of activity — with a strong focus on Africa, ranging from peacekeeping and humanitarian crisis to the serious Ebola epidemic.

I am pleased that today’s gathering will discuss development and the long-term future of the continent in the light of the African Union’s visionary “Agenda 2063”.

Africa has for long and consistently been a top priority for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the entire United Nations System.

We applaud Africa’s remarkable progress. Economic growth is impressive. More African children go to school than ever before. There are great advances on women’s empowerment and gender equality. Participatory governance and institutions are on the rise.

All this has been possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of African Governments, the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities and many other partners. The United Nations is one such partner, not least through the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). We always stand with Africa.

Regional Economic Communities have shown their unwavering resolve to promote interregional trade, as well as social and economic cooperation. You have also demonstrated an increasing capacity to deal with the root causes of conflict in your respective regions.

There are many examples of progress.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) helped to consolidate peace in Mali and the Sahel region. The Economic Community of Central African States is playing a mediating role in the ongoing crisis in Central African Republic.

I also welcome efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to resolve the situation in South Sudan. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is working with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to implement the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes Region.

The Secretary-General has convened a number of high-level meetings over the past week relating to Africa. We have seen progress towards some of our common goals. But crises on the continent still threaten lives and undermine development.

The Ebola virus disease presents new and very serious challenges in West Africa.

I commend the efforts of ECOWAS and the African Union in quickly mobilizing resources and awareness to reduce the impact of Ebola. The United Nations has mobilized to a degree rarely seen.

Our Special Envoy and the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) are working hard to stop the outbreak, treat the infected, provide essential services, preserve stability and prevent the spread of the disease.

The affected nations and the international community have a joint responsibility to contain and stop the epidemic urgently. The affected countries have a right to expect concrete and immediate acts of solidarity.

The humanitarian and security situations in the Central African Republic and South Sudan remain dire. Northern Nigeria and Somalia continue to face rising terrorist threats from Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. The political situation in Libya is growing more complex and dangerous. Lesotho is facing a risky political stalemate. All these situations have potential spillover effects on subregions and the continent.

Let us remember that development is both a cause and consequence of peace.

There has been great social and economic progress across Africa. But, as in the rest of the world, its economies have not kept pace with legitimate demands. Above all, we need more jobs, especially for Africa’s young people. Unemployment is not only an economic challenge. It is also a social, psychological and political problem.

Trade among African countries remains limited, mainly because they do not have adequate railways, roads and other infrastructure. Many African economies also lack sufficient economic diversification, productivity and well-functioning institutions. As a result, even though African countries have impressive growth, Africa is still off track to meeting many of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals).

We are here today to consider how we can do more to reduce poverty and inequalities, improve food and water security, and enable more African mothers and children to live healthy lives. Women’s empowerment is especially important to advancing progress for all. We can unleash enormous energy and gains across Africa if we end discrimination and violence against women and girls — and invest in their future as leaders in all areas of society.

Agenda 2063 offers a way forward for Africa with key regional objectives. The Regional Economic Communities can make the difference between failure and success. Agenda 2063 has a global dimension that must be harmonized with international development trends, particularly the post-2015 agenda.

I congratulate Africa on the Common African Position on the post-2015 development agenda. As the negotiations continue, we will work to ensure that the continent’s concerns are appropriately reflected in the next global development agenda.

The transformative changes envisaged in Agenda 2063 will need to be forged around stronger regional integration. There is tremendous power and potential in intensified regional and interregional cooperation, not least for landlocked countries.

Stronger integration will require increased competitiveness in African economies. The process should also be underpinned by major investments in human development, science, technology and infrastructure.

All this will to a great deal depend on effective governance, and durable peace and security in all parts of the continent.

This meeting provides an opportunity for you as Regional Economic Communities to tell us how you are contributing to Agenda 2063 and how the United Nations can better support your efforts. I also look forward to hearing from our Special Envoys and Special Representatives on how the United Nations System can enhance its cooperation with the Regional Economic Communities and the Member States.

Working together, we can demonstrate that the international community accepts its shared responsibility for Africa. Working hand in hand with Africa will also benefit the world at large, advancing common global goals for peace, development, human rights and human dignity.

Thank you.

Categories: AFRICA

Ebola virus disease – United States of America

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Disease Outbreak News

1 October 2014

On 30 September 2014, the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) was informed of the first confirmed imported case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the United States.

The case is an adult with recent travel history to West Africa who developed symptoms compatible with Ebola on 24 September 2014, approximately four days after arriving in the United States on 20 September 2014. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa. The case sought medical care on 26 September 2014 and was admitted into isolation on 28 September 2014 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Samples were sent for testing to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia and at the Texas state laboratory. Results were positive for Ebola virus.

Identification of close contacts for further daily monitoring for 21 days after exposure is under way. Given that the case did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa, contact tracing of people on the same commercial airline flights is not indicated.

Future WHO updates on EVD in the United States will not be posted on the Disease Outbreak News. Further information will be available in WHO’s Ebola Situation Reports which provide regular updates on the WHO response: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/situation-reports/en/

More information on this case is available at:

• Texas Department of State Health Services news release: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/20140930.aspx

• CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/s930-ebola-confirmed-case.html

WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied by countries except in cases where individuals have been confirmed or are suspected of being infected with EVD or where individuals have had contact with cases of EVD. Contacts do not include properly-protected health-care workers and laboratory staff.

Temporary recommendations from the Emergency Committee with regard to actions to be taken by countries can be found at IHR Emergency Committee on Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Categories: AFRICA

Guinea’s National Day

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

October 1, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Guinea as you commemorate 56 years of independence on October 2.

The United States shares a long and productive relationship with Guinea and recognizes the progress that the people of Guinea have made promoting democracy and shared economic prosperity. We look forward to continuing our close partnership in the areas of health, women’s rights, agricultural development, good governance, transparency in the mining sector, and regional stability.

On this joyous holiday, I send best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous future.

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Concludes 2014 Article IV Mission to Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria, October 2, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Mr. Zeine Zeidane, visited Algeria September 17-October 1, 2014, for the annual Article IV discussions. The consultation will conclude with the preparation of a report that, subject to management approval, could be discussed by the IMF Executive Board in December 2014.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Zeidane issued the following statement:

“Economic activity has picked up in 2014, with real GDP growth projected to reach 4.0 percent following 2.8 percent growth in 2013. The hydrocarbon sector is expected to expand for the first time in eight years, while nonhydrocarbon growth remains supportive—particularly the construction and services sectors. Inflation has decelerated sharply to below 2.0 percent, thanks in part to tighter monetary policy, but bears watching closely given the potential for new inflationary pressures to emerge.

“Algeria is in the enviable position of having built up substantial external and fiscal buffers over the years thanks to its hydrocarbon wealth, but threats to macroeconomic stability are growing. For the first time in nearly 15 years, the current account is expected to record a deficit. Slumping hydrocarbon production, strong domestic hydrocarbon consumption, and lower oil prices are weighing on exports, while imports continue to grow. Reversing these trends will require more investment in the hydrocarbon sector, higher domestic energy prices, a more competitive exchange rate, and a significant increase and diversification of nonhydrocarbon exports.

“The fiscal deficit is expected to widen to over 6 percent due to lower hydrocarbon revenue, a sharp increase in capital expenditure, and continued high current spending. The oil savings fund remains large but is expected to decline for the second consecutive year. Ambitious and sustained fiscal consolidation is necessary to place fiscal policy on a sustainable path and ensure that hydrocarbon wealth is saved for future generations. Fiscal consolidation should entail mobilizing more nonhydrocarbon revenue and containing current spending—particularly wages. The mission reiterated its recommendation that the authorities adopt a fiscal rule to help manage hydrocarbon revenue and impose spending discipline.

“The financial sector is generally healthy but underdeveloped. Reforms are needed to improve access to finance, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises and households. In addition, listing well-performing public companies would help to develop the stock exchange. The mission welcomed the steps taken by the authorities to begin implementing the recommendations of the 2013 Financial Sector Assessment Program mission.

“Although Algeria has enjoyed macroeconomic stability, faster and more inclusive growth is necessary to provide enough jobs for the country’s youthful population. Meeting this challenge will require a comprehensive set of structural reforms that will allow the private sector to thrive. Reforms are needed to improve the business climate, remove constraints to foreign investment, promote international trade integration, and reduce labor market rigidities.

“The team met with Finance Minister Mohamed Djellab; Industry and Mines Minister Abdessalem Bouchouareb; Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Abdelwahab Nouri; Trade Minister Amara Benyounes; Housing, Urban Development, and Cities Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune; Labor, Employment, and Social Security Minister Mohamed El Ghazi; and the Governor of the Bank of Algeria, Mohammed Laksaci. The mission also held discussions with other senior government and central bank officials as well as with representatives of the economic and financial sectors and civil society.

“The IMF team expresses appreciation for the authorities’ cooperation and candid discussions.”

Categories: AFRICA