Scale-up in effective malaria control dramatically reduces deaths

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases are also steadily declining, according to the World Malaria Report 2014. Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region – where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.

New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43% population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013.

“We can win the fight against malaria,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO. “We have the right tools and our defences are working. But we still need to get those tools to a lot more people if we are to make these gains sustainable.”

Between 2000 and 2013, access to insecticide-treated bed nets increased substantially. In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from just 3% in 2004. And this trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.

Access to accurate malaria diagnostic testing and effective treatment has significantly improved worldwide. In 2013, the number of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) procured globally increased to 319 million, up from 46 million in 2008. Meanwhile, in 2013, 392 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), a key intervention to treat malaria, were procured, up from 11 million in 2005.

Moving towards elimination

Globally, an increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination, and many regional groups are setting ambitious elimination targets, the most recent being a declaration at the East Asia Summit to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.

In 2013, two countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time (Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka), and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Another four countries reported fewer than 10 local cases annually (Algeria, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica and El Salvador).

Fragile gains

But significant challenges remain: “The next few years are going to be critical to show that we can maintain momentum and build on the gains,” notes Dr Pedro L Alonso, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

In 2013, one third of households in areas with malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa did not have a single insecticide treated net. Indoor residual spraying, another key vector control intervention, has decreased in recent years, and insecticide resistance has been reported in 49 countries around the world.

Even though diagnostic testing and treatment have been strengthened, millions of people continue to lack access to these interventions. Progress has also been slow in scaling up preventive therapies for pregnant women, and in adopting recommended preventive therapies for children under five years of age and infants.

In addition, resistance to artemisinin has been detected in five countries of the Greater Mekong subregion and insufficient data on malaria transmission continues to hamper efforts to reduce the disease burden.

Dr Alonso believes, however, that with sufficient funding and commitment huge strides forward can still be made. “There are biological and technical challenges, but we are working with partners to be proactive in developing the right responses to these. There is a strong pipeline of innovative new products that will soon transform malaria control and elimination. We can go a lot further,” he says.

While funding to combat malaria has increased threefold since 2005, it is still only around half of the USD 5.1 billion that is needed if global targets are to be achieved.

“Against a backdrop of continued insufficient funding the fight against malaria needs a renewed focus to ensure maximum value for money,” says Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “We must work together to strengthen country ownership, empower communities, increase efficiencies, and engage multiple sectors outside health. We need to explore ways to do things better at all levels.”

Ray Chambers, who has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria since 2007, highlights the remarkable progress made in recent years. “While staying focused on the work ahead, we should note that the number of children dying from malaria today is markedly less than 8 years ago. The world can expect even greater reductions in malaria cases and mortality by the end of 2015, but any death from malaria remains simply unacceptable,” he says.

Gains at risk in Ebola-affected countries

At particular risk is progress on malaria in countries affected by the Ebola virus. The outbreak in West Africa has had a devastating impact on malaria treatment and the roll-out of malaria interventions. In Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three countries most severely affected by the epidemic, the majority of inpatient health facilities remain closed, while attendance at outpatient facilities is down to a small fraction of rates seen prior to the outbreak.

Given the intense malaria transmission in these three countries, which together saw an estimated 6.6 million malaria cases and 20 000 malaria deaths in 2013, WHO has issued new guidance on temporary measures to control the disease during the Ebola outbreak: to provide ACTs to all fever patients, even when they have not been tested for malaria, and to carry out mass anti-malaria drug administration with ACTs in areas that are heavily affected by the Ebola virus and where malaria transmission is high. In addition, international donor financing is being stepped up to meet the further recommendation that bednets be distributed to all affected areas.

Note to editors

Globally, 3.2 billion people in 97 countries and territories are at risk of being infected with malaria. In 2013, there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases worldwide (range 124-283 million), 82% of which were in the WHO African region. Malaria was responsible for an estimated 584 000 deaths worldwide in 2013 (range: 367 000 – 755 000), killing an estimated 453 000 children under five years of age.

Based on an assessment of trends in reported malaria cases, a total of 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria. Of these, 55 are on track to meet Roll Back Malaria and World Health Assembly targets of reducing malaria case incidence rates by 75% by 2015.

The World Malaria Report 2014 will be launched on 9 December 2014 in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament. The event will be co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG) and Malaria No More UK.

Categories: AFRICA

Management Changes at BancABC

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ABC Holdings Limited (“BancABC”) (http://www.bancabc.com) announces that Doug T. Munatsi, Group CEO, Beki Moyo, Group CFO, and Francis M. Dzanya, Group COO, will be stepping down from their roles at BancABC at the end of the year. This follows Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd’s (“Atlas Mara”) successful completion of its acquisition of BancABC in August 2014.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/abc.png

Since the completion of the transaction, the executive management of Atlas Mara and BancABC have been collaborating on identifying opportunities for enhancing BancABC’s operations and executing its strategy. As the group embarks on the next phase of its development, it was determined, together with the Board of Directors of BancABC, that now is the right time for Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya to stand down.

Atlas Mara, in consultation with the Board of Directors of BancABC, has identified a highly-qualified team led by Simbarashe Ronald Pfende, as CEO, who, following appropriate vetting and approvals by relevant regulators, will, together with the Atlas Mara team, be focused on leading BancABC’s future growth and development. Ronald will be supported by Makhosi Boyede and Amelia Reynecke, who have been appointed as Co-COOs, and Christine Bronkhorst, who has been appointed as CFO. Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya are working closely with Atlas Mara and the new management team to ensure a carefully managed transition.

Additionally, Howard Buttery has stepped down from his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of BancABC and will be leaving the Board at year-end, as will fellow director, Ngoni Kudenga. John Vitalo, CEO of Atlas Mara, has been appointed as Interim Chairman, subject to regulatory approval, and Bradford Gibbs, a member of the Atlas Mara Executive Committee, has also joined the Board of BancABC.

Doug Munatsi, Group CEO of BancABC, said: “Beki, Francis and I have decided that, following the completion of Atlas Mara’s acquisition and the recent closing of Atlas Mara’s mandatory offer, it is an opportune time to leave the group. We are particularly confident in BancABC’s future knowing that the majority shareholder has the access to capital, expertise and experience to continue to grow the institution. I am tremendously proud of what we have accomplished during the past two decades and would like to thank BancABC’s employees, customers and our Board, particularly two of our long-standing directors, Howard Buttery and Ngoni Kudenga, for their support during the past several years.”

John Vitalo, CEO of Atlas Mara, said: “I want to thank Doug, Beki and Francis for their significant contributions in establishing and growing BancABC and assisting Atlas Mara since the acquisition. Were it not for their dedication and hard work, BancABC would not be in the position it is today. I look forward to continuing to work with them as we effect a smooth management transition. I also wish them all the best for the future. Furthermore, I am delighted that Ronald, Makhosi, Amelia and Christine are joining BancABC. They represent an exceptional leadership team with deep experience in African banking. The Board of Atlas Mara is confident that they will continue the hard work already started at BancABC.”

Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya received a total of 1,743,888 Atlas Mara shares in consideration for the transfer of their shares in ABC Holdings at the time of the completion of the BancABC acquisition. In connection with their separation, Atlas Mara has agreed to purchase these shares at a price of $10 per share. The repurchased shares will be held in treasury. In addition, the departing management team has been granted options over a total of 1,521,838 ordinary shares. The options have a strike price of $12 per share and are also subject to certain repurchase obligations. These options were previously agreed with the management team at the time of the initial acquisition of BancABC. In connection with the management team’s departure, BancABC expects to incur a one-time net charge to income of approximately $5.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ABC Holdings Limited (“BancABC”).

Contact details

ABC Holdings Limited

Leah Banda, Group Head of Marketing and Communications +27 (0)11 722 5346

lbanda@bancabc.com

Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Limited

Anthony Silverman – StockWell Communications, +44 (0)20 7240 2486

Notes to editors

Simbarashe Ronald Pfende joins from Standard Bank Group where he was most recently Head: Finance Transformation. He also held a number of other senior roles at the bank, including as CFO of Stanbic IBTC Bank in Nigeria and CFO of Stanbic Bank Uganda. Prior to Standard Bank, he was Financial Controller of BP Tanzania Ltd. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has an MBA from the University of South Africa.

Makhosi Boyede joins from uBank where she was the Executive: Corporate Strategy, Programme Office and Business Development, a position she had held since October 2013. Most of her career has been in banking, particularly at Absa Group, which she left in 2012. During her time at Absa, she held roles across the group including Chief Administrative Officer; Executive Head of Corporate Affairs; Executive Head of Corporate Social Investment and Executive Head for Human Capital & Sustainability in the CIBWM cluster. She has an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria.

Amelia Reynecke was previously at Barclays Africa where she was Head of Operations and Technology (Wholesale and Wealth) and Group Payments, a position she held from 2008. Prior to that she held a number of senior roles at Nedbank, which she had joined in 1998, culminating as Head of Operations and Strategic Projects. She has over 30 years’ experience in leading operations and IT in the banking industry.

Christine Bronkhorst joins from the Management Consulting Business Unit of KPMG Services. She has specialized in business development in the financial services industry in Africa. She was with KPMG for nine years, with experience gained in audit and client engagement. She is a Chartered Accountant.

Categories: AFRICA

Management Changes at BancABC

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ABC Holdings Limited (“BancABC”) (http://www.bancabc.com) announces that Doug T. Munatsi, Group CEO, Beki Moyo, Group CFO, and Francis M. Dzanya, Group COO, will be stepping down from their roles at BancABC at the end of the year. This follows Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd’s (“Atlas Mara”) successful completion of its acquisition of BancABC in August 2014.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/abc.png

Since the completion of the transaction, the executive management of Atlas Mara and BancABC have been collaborating on identifying opportunities for enhancing BancABC’s operations and executing its strategy. As the group embarks on the next phase of its development, it was determined, together with the Board of Directors of BancABC, that now is the right time for Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya to stand down.

Atlas Mara, in consultation with the Board of Directors of BancABC, has identified a highly-qualified team led by Simbarashe Ronald Pfende, as CEO, who, following appropriate vetting and approvals by relevant regulators, will, together with the Atlas Mara team, be focused on leading BancABC’s future growth and development. Ronald will be supported by Makhosi Boyede and Amelia Reynecke, who have been appointed as Co-COOs, and Christine Bronkhorst, who has been appointed as CFO. Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya are working closely with Atlas Mara and the new management team to ensure a carefully managed transition.

Additionally, Howard Buttery has stepped down from his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of BancABC and will be leaving the Board at year-end, as will fellow director, Ngoni Kudenga. John Vitalo, CEO of Atlas Mara, has been appointed as Interim Chairman, subject to regulatory approval, and Bradford Gibbs, a member of the Atlas Mara Executive Committee, has also joined the Board of BancABC.

Doug Munatsi, Group CEO of BancABC, said: “Beki, Francis and I have decided that, following the completion of Atlas Mara’s acquisition and the recent closing of Atlas Mara’s mandatory offer, it is an opportune time to leave the group. We are particularly confident in BancABC’s future knowing that the majority shareholder has the access to capital, expertise and experience to continue to grow the institution. I am tremendously proud of what we have accomplished during the past two decades and would like to thank BancABC’s employees, customers and our Board, particularly two of our long-standing directors, Howard Buttery and Ngoni Kudenga, for their support during the past several years.”

John Vitalo, CEO of Atlas Mara, said: “I want to thank Doug, Beki and Francis for their significant contributions in establishing and growing BancABC and assisting Atlas Mara since the acquisition. Were it not for their dedication and hard work, BancABC would not be in the position it is today. I look forward to continuing to work with them as we effect a smooth management transition. I also wish them all the best for the future. Furthermore, I am delighted that Ronald, Makhosi, Amelia and Christine are joining BancABC. They represent an exceptional leadership team with deep experience in African banking. The Board of Atlas Mara is confident that they will continue the hard work already started at BancABC.”

Mr. Munatsi, Mr. Moyo and Mr. Dzanya received a total of 1,743,888 Atlas Mara shares in consideration for the transfer of their shares in ABC Holdings at the time of the completion of the BancABC acquisition. In connection with their separation, Atlas Mara has agreed to purchase these shares at a price of $10 per share. The repurchased shares will be held in treasury. In addition, the departing management team has been granted options over a total of 1,521,838 ordinary shares. The options have a strike price of $12 per share and are also subject to certain repurchase obligations. These options were previously agreed with the management team at the time of the initial acquisition of BancABC. In connection with the management team’s departure, BancABC expects to incur a one-time net charge to income of approximately $5.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ABC Holdings Limited (“BancABC”).

Contact details

ABC Holdings Limited

Leah Banda, Group Head of Marketing and Communications +27 (0)11 722 5346

lbanda@bancabc.com

Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Limited

Anthony Silverman – StockWell Communications, +44 (0)20 7240 2486

Notes to editors

Simbarashe Ronald Pfende joins from Standard Bank Group where he was most recently Head: Finance Transformation. He also held a number of other senior roles at the bank, including as CFO of Stanbic IBTC Bank in Nigeria and CFO of Stanbic Bank Uganda. Prior to Standard Bank, he was Financial Controller of BP Tanzania Ltd. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has an MBA from the University of South Africa.

Makhosi Boyede joins from uBank where she was the Executive: Corporate Strategy, Programme Office and Business Development, a position she had held since October 2013. Most of her career has been in banking, particularly at Absa Group, which she left in 2012. During her time at Absa, she held roles across the group including Chief Administrative Officer; Executive Head of Corporate Affairs; Executive Head of Corporate Social Investment and Executive Head for Human Capital & Sustainability in the CIBWM cluster. She has an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria.

Amelia Reynecke was previously at Barclays Africa where she was Head of Operations and Technology (Wholesale and Wealth) and Group Payments, a position she held from 2008. Prior to that she held a number of senior roles at Nedbank, which she had joined in 1998, culminating as Head of Operations and Strategic Projects. She has over 30 years’ experience in leading operations and IT in the banking industry.

Christine Bronkhorst joins from the Management Consulting Business Unit of KPMG Services. She has specialized in business development in the financial services industry in Africa. She was with KPMG for nine years, with experience gained in audit and client engagement. She is a Chartered Accountant.

Categories: AFRICA

Assistance by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security to the Project in Liberia

TOKYO, Japan, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated below denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.

Japanese

1. On 19th, August, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, which was established through the initiative of the Government of Japan in 1999, decided to extend assistance totaling 2,499,900 US dollars to a project entitled “Human Security Initiative in the Most Neglected Communities with the Integration of Efforts by the UN Country Team in Liberia”.

2. The project is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to promote the human security by protecting those those vulnerable people and empowering fragile border counties through addressing issues such as land dispute, food insecurity, lack of social services including public health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), low income, and weak social cohesion. The activities will include the following:

(a) Fostering social cohesion, reconciliation, and peacebuilding in the target counties through establishing local leadership.

(b) Strengthening agriculture based livelihoods of vulnerable population through market and roads accessibility, skills training, and employment creation.

(c) Ensuring comprehensive prevention, management and response to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and harmful cultural practices including child marriage.

(d) Strengthening health security of target communities, especially adolescents and young people, through HIV/AIDS prevention and enhancing sustainability of WASH services.

3. This project is expected to promote human security of the vulnerable population in Liberia.

Categories: AFRICA

ReVision project aims at a ‘coherent’ ICC Registry

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ReVision project is also looking into areas such as assistance and support to the defence, field operations and field presence, outreach, state co-operation and external relations, information management, and internal communication.

The Registrar of the International Criminal Court, Herman Von Hebel spoke to Rosemary Tollo about proposed change for the better.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/eastafrican.png

Q: You are undertaking a major reorganisation of the ICC Registry. Explain the need for change.

A: Change is desperately needed in order to make a more effective and efficient Registry, especially in dealing with victims.

Over the past 12 years of the court’s existence, we have learned many lessons and we need to ask ourselves whether the current organisational design, policies and practices of the Registry meet the needs of those that we serve.

And the feedback from Registry staff, clients and partners indicates that things could be organised in a better way. There is just too much fragmentation and overlaps in some areas while we need to reinforce the Registry’s operations in others.

One of the main things we are looking at is the assistance and support to victims and their representatives. Victims are often confused and frustrated by the numerous actors from different parts of the court who contact them or seek to represent them — VPRS, OPCV, CSS, PIDS (Outreach), TFV.

Even as ICC Registrar, I am sometimes completely lost as to who does what, when and where. How can we then expect the victims to understand this complex system? Clearly, we must create a more coherent, consolidated and effective structure to support victims and facilitate their legal representation.

The ReVision project is also looking into areas such as assistance and support to the defence, field operations and field presence, outreach, state co-operation and external relations, information management, and internal communication. The goal is to make the Registry more dynamic, effective and efficient in order to service our clients to the best of our ability.

Q: How will the changes you are contemplating affect the victims?

A: The changes will strengthen the support that the Registry provides to victims and provide a better support structure for their participation in the proceedings.

As a first step, I am proposing to consolidate functions performed in several Registry offices into a Victims Office. There are just too many different parts of the court that often work independently in their contact with the victims.

This has to change, and we have received support from a number of parties, including common legal representatives who have direct substantive experience in representing victims before the court. Victims are confused and frustrated with the multiple actors. We need to organise these actors. A single Victims Office is the best way to achieve that.

This office will handle the entire victim participation — from the collection of applications to the provision of information and updates on the cases in the field to the actual representation in court.

There will be a pool of independent lawyers within the office available for assignment to groups of victims at all times, much like a Public Defender’s Office.

There will also be a second counsel assigned to every case for the duration of that case. That counsel would typically be based in the situation country to ensure closer ties and communication with the victims but will be an integral part of the team.

We also foresee a reinforcement of our field offices, which will play a central role in the provision of assistance and support to victims and their legal representatives.

We are addressing reorganisation from a number of important angles. I am convinced that this system, if adopted, would enable a more robust and better support structure for the participation of victims.

Q: Concerns are being raised about the proposed changes, including the possibility that they could leave defendants and victims insufficiently represented given the budget cuts. Are the concerns valid?

A: The proposal to establish a single Victims Office is not intended to save money.

Indeed, victims are the primary beneficiary of the proposed changes. The consolidation of functions will simply enable us to pool existing resources in support of victims, thereby rendering their participation in proceedings more effective and meaningful.

It is my responsibility to ensure the Registry supports victim participation, as well as the defence and other functions, in the best possible way.

If we do not create such an office, the problems being created now will only accumulate and make this an even more pressing issue.

Q: What can be done to increase field autonomy for the common legal representatives, given the budget cuts challenges? For instance, a legal representative’s complaints point to micromanagement by the Registry.

A: The structure that I am proposing will address this.

The perception of micromanagement is due to the fact that common legal representatives are often assigned under the court’s legal aid scheme. This means all their fees and expenses are vetted by the Registry to ensure that they are reasonable and necessary, including the approval of field missions and other activities. This is rather frustrating to counsel.

Counsel would become more independent operationally as they would no longer be remunerated under the legal aid scheme, which requires an hourly accounting of work. The pool of in-house counsel, functioning as a Public Defender’s Office, will be joined by “external” counsel for each new case.

The external counsel would be retained either as a temporary staff member or a consultant for the duration of the case. That way, counsel’s remuneration would not depend on the approval by the Registry of counsel’s activities. Counsel would be fully independent and their performance subject only to the Code of Professional Conduct.

All the support that counsel requires in the performance of their representation duties will be available within the Registry. There will be a coherent support structure — including legal assistants, case managers, field assistants and other support staff — who will be at the disposal of counsel, including field staff to support counsel’s activities on the ground.

Q: When will the proposed changes come into effect and what effect are they likely to have on the ongoing cases?

A: We have started implementing some of the structural changes. However, the changes in the areas of victims and defence, in particular the creation of a Victims Office and a Defence Office, require an amendment of the Regulations of the Court and, therefore, the approval of the court’s judges. This, inevitably, takes some time.

I have already briefed the judges on the proposals and I am preparing a proposal for amendments to the regulations of the court.

Q: How does the Registry respond to the political onslaught against the Kenyan cases that might affect the victims?

A: The ICC is a court of law and cannot get involved in politics.

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

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ReVision-project-aims-at-a–coherent–ICC-Registry-/-/2558/2547086/-/54wapn/-/index.html

@The_EastAfrican

Categories: AFRICA

South Sudan / Destruction of weapons seized by UNMISS

JUBA, South Sudan, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) cordially invites members of the media to witness the destruction of weapons collected by UNMISS in Juba since December 15, 2013 from internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have sought refuge in UNMISS IDP protection sites. The event in Juba will be the first in a series of weapon and ammunition destruction exercises, with others scheduled to take place later this month in Malakal, Nasser, Bentiu, Wau and Bor.

Juba deactivation phase will take place on:

Date: 9 December 2014

Time: 10:00am

Venue: UNMISS Compound Tomping, Plan B area (next to basketball court)

Categories: AFRICA

Sweden: UN experts urge intensifying efforts to end discrimination against people of African descent

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Afro-Swedes and Africans are subjected to racist acts and hate speech in Sweden despite efforts from the Government to combat such acts, the United Nations Working Group of experts on people of African descent has warned today.

“Afro-Swedes and Africans with whom we met expressed their experiences of multiple forms of discrimination based on their skin colour, race, religion and sex,” the human rights experts said following a five-day official visit* to Sweden.

In that regard, they stressed, “we welcome plans of the Government to develop a Human Rights Strategy and other measures that would address racial discrimination against Afro-Swedes and Africans.”

The Working Group’s commended in particular the Government’s policy to accord priority to addressing Afrophobia and awareness raising programmes on combating xenophobia and racism and various institutional mechanisms at local levels designed to prevent and combat racial discrimination.

However, they expressed its concerns “about the invisibility and lack of recognition of people of African descent as a specific vulnerable group in the country.” During their mission, the experts also heard from civil society, researchers and victims about racial discrimination in access to health, housing, employment and other essential services.

The Working Group was also informed that there is a heightened xenophobic and racist attitude against migrants and refugee communities including many people of African descent.

“Racial discrimination is also manifested in lack of equal access to justice, racial profiling and the failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and deter Afrophobic hate crimes,” they noted. “We are concerned that this creates feelings of mistrust in law enforcement bodies among communities and discourages them from accessing help when they themselves are victims of crime or rights abuses.”

“For a country that has been perceived as having a long tradition of tolerance and openness, the relative silence around racism and racial discrimination is surprising and worrying,” the Working Group pointed out.

During its mission 1-5 December, the human rights experts visited Stockholm, Malmö and Lund.

The Working group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

(*) Check the Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15388&LangID=E

Categories: AFRICA

Legacy of Rwanda genocide includes media restrictions, self-censorship / Twenty years after massacres, Rwanda stable but its media restricted

NEW YORK, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Rwandan government has taken great strides in bringing stability to the country since the 1994 genocide that claimed 800,000 lives, but moves to allow greater press freedom have been slow, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a report released today.

While government control of the media has loosened, many journalists remain fearful that regulations put in place to protect the media are not enough to stop the harassment and threats, and that a lack of investment is damaging their professional reputation.

“An independent, critical press has a vital role to play in promoting development in Rwanda,” said Sue Valentine, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator. “While we are acutely aware of the role of certain media during the horrors of 1994, Rwanda’s remarkable progress in rebuilding itself must include nurturing a culture of freedom of expression. Journalists must be free to ask critical questions, tell uncomfortable truths, and facilitate an exchange of views in order to deepen democracy and ensure durable development.”

The report, written by Anton Harber, chairman of the Freedom of Expression Institute in South Africa and former co-editor of a leading anti-apartheid newspaper, examines the effect of the genocide on media regulation, the ensuing legal reforms, and the rising trend of self-censorship in the Rwandan media. The report also highlights off-limits topics, such as criticism of President Paul Kagame or Rwanda’s military activity in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, and identifies the importance of investing in media and investigative journalism.

In the report’s recommendations, CPJ presses the Rwandan government to investigate and prosecute attacks on journalists, and calls on the European Union to make press freedom a pillar of human rights, and the international community to continue to support professional media development in Rwanda.

Categories: AFRICA

Sudan: Arrest of the President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM)

PARIS, France, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Sudanese authorities must release immediately Dr. Amin Mekki Medani, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, and the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) said today. The health and physical integrity of the human rights defender must be guaranteed by those who detain him.

On the evening of December 6, 2014, the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Dr. Amin Mekki Medani , a renowned human rights activist, President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) from his house in Khartoum.

The Observatory and ACJPS strongly denounce the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Medani and considers it as a reprisal to sanction his legitimate human rights activities. On December 3, 2014 Dr. Medani signed the “Sudan Call”, on behalf of civil society organisations. The “Sudan Call” is a Declaration on the “Establishment of a State of Citizenship and Democracy”, under which co-signatories committed to work towards the end of the conflicts raging in different regions of Sudan and towards legal, institutional and economic reforms. The Declaration, which commits signatories to end wars and conflicts as a priority, was co-signed in Addis Ababa by representatives from political and armed opposition parties, including the National Umma Party, the National Consensus Forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Dr. Medani co-signed the Sudan Call on behalf of the Civil Society Initiative.

Dr Medani was arrested shortly after he returned from Addis Ababa. There are serious concerns for the safety of Dr. Medani who is 76 years of age and suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes for which he has prescribed medication. According to the information received, the NISS refused to allow him to take his medications with him when he was arrested.

The Observatory and ACJPS more generally urge the Sudanese authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders and to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, in particular the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and regional and international human rights instruments ratified by Sudan.

Categories: AFRICA

AMISOM Lauds Parliamentary Resolution of the Political Crisis and calls for the urgent Appointment of a New Prime Minister

MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Maman S. Sidikou welcomes the manner in which the Federal Parliament conducted its session to debate a motion for a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister of the Federal Government. The members of parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed effectively ending his tenure. Ambassador Sidikou notes with satisfaction that members of parliament conducted themselves in a manner dignifying of the revered institution of parliament.

Ambassador Sidikou also welcomes the statements by the President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed accepting the decision of the House of the People.

The outcome of the parliament vote as well as the statements by the President and the Prime

Minister demonstrate that the nascent state institutions are continuing to grow and that they can be supported to find solutions to their problems.

Ambassador Sidikou would like to reiterate the African Union’s commitment to supporting the government and people of Somalia to realize the Vision 2016 agenda and the new deal compact for Somalia. He therefore encourages the President to heed the call of Parliament to appoint, within 30 days, and in close consultations with all concerned, a new Prime Minister so that the political process, including the federal states formation, the review and adoption of the Constitution and the successful delivery of credible national elections in 2016 can continue.

Categories: AFRICA

Red Cross Red Crescent calls for immediate help to people of Central African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following months of tensions in Central African Republic (CAR), the humanitarian challenges in the country are immense and growing every day. However, the efforts put in place to tackle them are far from being enough. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Central African Red Cross Society are calling for greater global support to help the vulnerable people of CAR before it is too late.

The situation in Central African Republic is dramatic. Because of the ongoing insecurity and lack of support, aid workers are not able to provide and deliver services in many areas of the country in a systematic way. Many health centres in the country have been out of essential drugs for months, disrupting health services and access to care for the most vulnerable. The economy has also not been spared, with prices having increased more than 40 per cent over the last year for some basic necessities, making it even more difficult for communities to cope.

“We are aiming at working in the whole country,” says Jean-Moise Modessi Mogedo, head of the disaster management unit of the Central African Red Cross Society. “We need to work on making sure people understand who we are and what our objectives are so we can work in a safer environment and reach the most vulnerable.”

Coming from the communities themselves, Red Cross volunteers have been at the forefront of the response since the early hours, reaching places only they could access. But even they cannot escape the violence. In August, a volunteer of the Central African Red Cross Society was killed while helping people in need. Another volunteer was gunned down in March.

“Before the civil unrest, the situation in our country was already very precarious in many aspects. Now, we are in front of a major silent disaster. The humanitarian needs are enormous and require a very important scale-up of resources to be able to respond adequately. It is a matter of life and death for the hundreds of thousands of people who have now been suffering for too long,” says Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the Central African Red Cross Society.

The humanitarian situation in CAR is growing more complex every day as the number of people who have had to flee their homes continues to increase, with no signs of being able to return in the near future. The country counts more than 410,000 people who have sought refuge with host families or in camps. In Bangui alone, there are 40 of these sites hosting a population of more than 60,000 people. But this silent disaster does not stop at the border. With almost the same number of people fleeing CAR as those displaced internally, all neighbouring countries are also coping with a massive influx of refugees. This is no longer a country disaster. It is a regional one.

“While it is crucial to sustain and even scale-up our efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we also have a collective responsibility to provide the appropriate response to other major crises which have become silent over the last months. We cannot continue to let down the people of Central African Republic,” adds Alasan Senghore, director of Africa zone, IFRC.

IFRC has revised its emergency appeal to 10.5 million Swiss francs to support the response activities of the Central African Red Cross Society. To date, the appeal is only 12 per cent funded, posing a real threat to being able to implement the life-saving activities desperately needed in the country.

Categories: AFRICA

Red Cross Red Crescent calls for immediate help to people of Central African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following months of tensions in Central African Republic (CAR), the humanitarian challenges in the country are immense and growing every day. However, the efforts put in place to tackle them are far from being enough. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Central African Red Cross Society are calling for greater global support to help the vulnerable people of CAR before it is too late.

The situation in Central African Republic is dramatic. Because of the ongoing insecurity and lack of support, aid workers are not able to provide and deliver services in many areas of the country in a systematic way. Many health centres in the country have been out of essential drugs for months, disrupting health services and access to care for the most vulnerable. The economy has also not been spared, with prices having increased more than 40 per cent over the last year for some basic necessities, making it even more difficult for communities to cope.

“We are aiming at working in the whole country,” says Jean-Moise Modessi Mogedo, head of the disaster management unit of the Central African Red Cross Society. “We need to work on making sure people understand who we are and what our objectives are so we can work in a safer environment and reach the most vulnerable.”

Coming from the communities themselves, Red Cross volunteers have been at the forefront of the response since the early hours, reaching places only they could access. But even they cannot escape the violence. In August, a volunteer of the Central African Red Cross Society was killed while helping people in need. Another volunteer was gunned down in March.

“Before the civil unrest, the situation in our country was already very precarious in many aspects. Now, we are in front of a major silent disaster. The humanitarian needs are enormous and require a very important scale-up of resources to be able to respond adequately. It is a matter of life and death for the hundreds of thousands of people who have now been suffering for too long,” says Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the Central African Red Cross Society.

The humanitarian situation in CAR is growing more complex every day as the number of people who have had to flee their homes continues to increase, with no signs of being able to return in the near future. The country counts more than 410,000 people who have sought refuge with host families or in camps. In Bangui alone, there are 40 of these sites hosting a population of more than 60,000 people. But this silent disaster does not stop at the border. With almost the same number of people fleeing CAR as those displaced internally, all neighbouring countries are also coping with a massive influx of refugees. This is no longer a country disaster. It is a regional one.

“While it is crucial to sustain and even scale-up our efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we also have a collective responsibility to provide the appropriate response to other major crises which have become silent over the last months. We cannot continue to let down the people of Central African Republic,” adds Alasan Senghore, director of Africa zone, IFRC.

IFRC has revised its emergency appeal to 10.5 million Swiss francs to support the response activities of the Central African Red Cross Society. To date, the appeal is only 12 per cent funded, posing a real threat to being able to implement the life-saving activities desperately needed in the country.

Categories: AFRICA