UK / Foreign Secretary meets President Kikwete of Tanzania

LONDON, United-Kingdom, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UK/Tanzania High Level Prosperity Partnership yields results as British businesses help develop Tanzania’s energy sector

The Foreign Secretary yesterday met President Kikwete of Tanzania and commended the growing partnership between the UK and Tanzania on trade and investment, defence and security and governance and human rights.

The Foreign Secretary noted the significant opportunities for British businesses in developing Tanzania’s energy sector, amongst others. He welcomed progress made on two major projects:

• the signing of a memorandum of understanding between BG Group, Ophir Energy, their joint venture partners and the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation, on the potential development of a multi-billion pound onshore liquefied natural gas plant; and

• an agreement between UK company Aldwych International and the Tanzanian authorities on development of a £175 million wind farm, which the government has now identified as a priority under the Big Results Now initiative, and which would make a significant contribution to Tanzania’s renewable energy goals

The Foreign Secretary underlined the importance of good governance in the development of Tanzania’s extractives sector. As part of this he encouraged Tanzania to sign up to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. The Foreign Secretary also thanked President Kikwete for his role as a global champion of the UK initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence, and urged a continued commitment to tackling illegal trade in wildlife.

Other agreements reached during the visit include:

• Signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Tanzania to strengthen cooperation between the British armed forces and the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force, which will enable training of Tanzanian troops for peace support operations as well as creating opportunities for UK troops to train in Tanzania.

• a major new £18.25 million Tax Modernisation Programme funded by DFID, to enable Tanzania to increase tax revenue and progressively reduce aid dependence.

Speaking after the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said:

“I am delighted at the growing partnership between the UK and Tanzania on a number of fronts. Tanzania offers significant opportunities for British businesses in the energy and other sectors and is set to become a major new global gas supplier. I am pleased President Kikwete had the opportunity to witness UK expertise in oil and gas by visiting Aberdeen. I hope that Tanzania will apply to join the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, an important tool for ensuring good governance in the extractives sector, during the UK’s chairmanship.”

Source: APO

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Minister Paradis announces increased humanitarian assistance, and food security and livelihood support to South Sudan / Canada actively involved in supporting the crisis-afflicted people of South Suda

OTTAWA, Canada, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today, Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced additional support to the people of South Sudan in response to the escalation of violence in several regions of the country since December 2013.

The security situation in South Sudan remains deeply concerning, with reports of continued fighting, attacks on civilians and ethnic violence. Those affected by the crisis are in dire need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services.

“Canada continues to respond to the increasing needs in South Sudan,” said Minister Paradis. “People who have been forced to flee their homes urgently need support. Canada’s assistance will enable experienced humanitarian partners to deliver essential, lifesaving services on the ground, including increasing food production to stave off famine. Canada is particularly troubled by the impact of this crisis on women and children, and we are responding with specific protection measures for displaced people who have suffered from sexual and gender-based violence.”

To address the needs of the displaced and in response to appeals from the United Nations, the International Red Cross Movement and Canadian non-governmental organizations, Canada is providing $24.85 million to experienced humanitarian partners already operating on the ground. In addition to emergency assistance, Canada is providing $51.5 million to help the people of South Sudan address longer-term food security and livelihoods needs, which will help to avert potential famine this year and reduce pressure on emergency food assistance requirements.

Canada calls on all parties to the conflict to provide immediate unhindered humanitarian access and allow for the safe delivery of emergency relief to those in need. We will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation.

Quick Facts

• The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that since December 2013, the conflict has forced more than 925,000 people from their homes, including more than 700,000 within South Sudan.

• More than 250,000 South Sudanese have sought protection in neighbouring countries: Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia.

• To date in 2014, Canada has committed more than $24.8 million in humanitarian assistance to South Sudan through United Nations humanitarian partners, the International Red Cross Movement, and Canadian non-governmental organizations.

Source: APO

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Funding shortfall jeopardizes aid operation to help 3.2 million people in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Aid agencies in South Sudan warn of even more dire humanitarian consequences if urgently needed funds are not raised in the coming weeks.

The South Sudan Crisis Response Plan, which covers January to June 2014, is only 30 per cent funded. Of the US$887 million shortfall in funding, $232 million is the bare minimum required for the next three months to avoid the humanitarian situation deteriorating sharply.

The funding needed will enable rapid response teams to provide lifesaving aid including food, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, to communities in hard-to-reach areas affected by the conflict. It will also enable agencies to preposition relief in these areas ahead of the imminent rainy season so that life-saving aid continues to be available to people during the second half of this year, when two thirds of the country becomes inaccessible by road.

One million people have been displaced by conflict in just 100 days – over 803,000 people are displaced within South Sudan and another quarter of a million people have fled to neighbouring countries. More than 90 per cent of those displaced in the country are in open or rural settings, often seeking refuge in hard-to-access locations without food, clean water or shelter. Without enough food to eat, malnutrition is on the rise. Resources raised now will focus on these extremely vulnerable communities.

“If donor funding is not made available now, we will be unable to meet the most basic needs to keep people alive or prevent a catastrophic decline in food security for millions of people at risk later in the year,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer.

“The situation is tough, but aid agencies are doing everything they can to reach people in need, not only with relief that will keep them alive today but also with vital inputs for the planting season which is upon us,” said aid chief Lanzer.

“I call on the negotiators in Addis to ensure that a cessation of hostilities is in place and respected by all parties to the conflict. At the same time, I invite donors to come forward with the money needed now so that aid agencies have the means to help prevent an even greater tragedy from unfolding in early 2015.”

Source: APO

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Switzerland-Nigeria: a migration partnership that has evolved in three years

BERN, Switzerland, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Over three years after Switzerland and Nigeria signed their migration partnership agreement, the delegations of these two countries met today in Abuja for the 5th technical committee meeting. One of the main points of discussion was Switzerland’s recently launched regional migration and development programme in West Africa, for which Nigeria is one of the main beneficiaries. The meeting also enabled follow-up of the June 2013 joint action plan to counter irregular migration, improve police cooperation and assess progress made in various projects.

Launched in August 2013 by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the regional migration and development programme in West Africa follows the same partnership logic whereby migration is viewed in its entirety and the interests of all stakeholders (Switzerland, the partner country and migrants) are taken into account. With a total budget of CHF 7.5 million for the period running from October 2013 to the end of 2016, the programme seeks in particular to reinforce regional dialogue on migration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and to support implementation of coherent migration policies in Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso. The programme also supports the West Africa Network for the Protection of Children, which is coordinated by the Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service.

This 5th meeting of the technical committee for the Swiss-Nigerian migration partnership also enabled partners to take stock of progress made towards implementation of the joint action plan on asylum and return, which was adopted by Switzerland and Nigeria in June 2013. Among other things, this action plan is intended to help find ways to reduce irregular migration towards Switzerland. Last year, the number of asylum applications filed by Nigerian nationals fell considerably. Since 2013, a fast-track procedure has been used to accelerate processing of asylum applications from Nigerian nationals. The two delegations agreed to intensify cooperation in the area of identification of presumed Nigerian nationals as well as in the area of return.

Programme for the exchange of personnel

As far as police cooperation is concerned, two Swiss cantonal police officers were sent to Lagos for two weeks of work with the Nigerian anti-drug agency. Other projects for the exchange of personnel are planned in 2014. These projects will help to intensify police cooperation.

A new project has also been launched to encourage members of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe to become involved in development programmes in Nigeria. Two volunteers from the Nigerian Diaspora are currently in Lagos to help provide vocational education and training to young Nigerians.

Multilateral cooperation

In addition, Switzerland and Nigeria work together on migration issues within multilateral institutions. At the second High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development held in New York in October 2013, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and Nigerian Minister of Interior Patrick Abba Moro co-chaired an official roundtable discussion on coherence and partnerships in the area of international migration. This gave them the opportunity to present a concrete example of implementation to illustrate the migration partnership concept to representatives of the international community, numerous international organisations and civil society organisations.

The Swiss delegation in Abuja was jointly led by FOM Director, Mario Gattiker, and the head of the FDFA’s Human Security Division, Ambassador Claude Wild. The Nigerian delegation was led by Ambassador Abdulaziz Dankano, Under Secretary Economic and Consular, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next meeting of the technical committee will take place in Bern.

Nigeria was the third main country of origin for asylum seekers in 2013

A total of 1,764 aslyum applications were filed in 2013, making Nigeria the third main country of origin for asylum seekers in Switzerland. The number of aslyum applications from Nigerian nationals fell by 35.8% in 2013 compared to the previous year. Also in 2013, the Swiss authorities accompanied 544 Nigerian nationals to the departure gate for return flights to their country of origin. This was 103 more than the 441 supervised departures reported for 2012.

Source: APO

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Egypt’s Foreign Minister: “not a verdict yet” in trial against 529 Muslim Brothers

STASBOURG, France, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — There is “not a verdict” yet, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi told Foreign Affairs MEPs on Tuesday in response to their concerns over the recent sentencing to death of 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. While acknowledging the difficulties of the Egyptian government in the current transition and the strategic importance of Egypt for the region and Europe, MEPs also raised concerns over the role of the military, the separation of powers and inclusiveness of the Egyptian democratic transition.

Mr Fahmi indicated that the Egyptian court has only submitted the case against the Muslim Brothers to the mufti (interpreter of the Muslim law) “to see if the death sentence should be applied” and ensured that “three levels of appeal” would apply to those sentenced “through the legal system”.

“You imagine how deceived, worried, shocked we are by the news” about the trials, said Mário David (EPP, PT), joined by other members concerns. The minister admitted that the case against the members of the Brotherhood was a “serious one”.

The current Egyptian government is working on “defining our political identity in the 21st century”, which “includes everyone who wants to be Egyptian and wants to take part in building this new country in a peaceful fashion,” Mr Fahmi said. Egypt “started incorrectly in 2011. Rather than developing the constitution first and defining our identity and then going into elections, we jumped into the election process” instead, he added.

Building a tolerant society

Reflecting on the minister’s pledge to build a “new” and “tolerant” Egypt, Ana Gomes (S&D, PT) said: “I don’t understand how you can move towards democracy if you put into the ghetto of clandestinely the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The minister defended banning the Muslim Brotherhood by arguing: “Their ideology is exclusive because it does not include those who are not members of the brotherhood” and pledged his government wanted to build an inclusive society instead.

Media freedom

Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) called on the minister to “lobby the authorities to drop the charges” against Al-Jazeera English staff and other journalists, arguing that they were not involved in propaganda.

“We are in a process of evolution. We need to determine what is allowed and what is not,” the minister replied, arguing that the press was “opening up” and asking for “more time.”

No moratorium on death penalty before legislative elections

“Mass death penalty does not work (…) Could a moratorium on the death penalty not help the Egyptians to get more together?” Johannes Cornelis Van Baalen (ALDE, NL) asked.

“We need to go through election process and see if the parliament wants to do that. Presently the death penalty is part of the law although I understand your concerns over the numbers”, the minister replied.

He also indicated that the date of the legislative elections must be announced by 16 July and the elections could be held at the end of the summer, between the end of August and beginning of October.

Role of military and separation of powers

On MEPs’ concerns over the role of the military, which has to approve the nominee for the post of the minister of defence and whose budget was qualified by MEPs as “opaque”, the minister replied that the constitutional provisions on the military were for “two election cycles”. “We do not want to politicise the military,” he stated.

As to criticism of appointments of up to one fifth of members of the parliament by the President, which according to MEPs does not respect the separation of powers, Mr Fahmi said that this constitutional provision was meant to ensure “better representation” of women and minorities in the parliament.

Egypt’s relations with Ethiopia and Sudan, namely over the use of water from Nile, were among the other subjects discussed during the debate.

Source: APO

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