UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to review Sudan

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 28, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Sudan’s record on tackling racial discrimination will face scrutiny by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on Monday 4 May and Tuesday 5 May in meetings that will be webcast live.

Sudan is one of the 177 States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and so is required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 18 international independent experts.

The Committee will engage in a dialogue with the Sudanese Government delegation on 4 May from 15:00 to 18:00 (16:00 to 19:00 in Sudan) and on 5 May from 10:00 to 13:00 (11:00-12:00).

Venue: Palais Wilson, Geneva

Live webcast: www.treatybodywebcast.org.

The Committee will also hear from other UN entities and NGOs.

Among the possible issues to be discussed: Vulnerability of ethnic minorities to police harassment; preservation of ethnic and cultural diversity of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and customs and traditions of Nuba peoples; situation of ethnic and tribal groups in Red Sea and Kassala states; situation of internally displaced people; political representation of ethnic minorities; impact of 2011 amendment to nationality law on South Sudanese people in Sudan, including risk of statelessness.

More information, including Sudan’s written report, here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=977&Lang=en

A news conference is scheduled for 14:30 on Friday 15 May at Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the Committee’s concluding observations on Sudan and the other countries being reviewed – France, Guatemala, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Denmark. The concluding observations will be published here on 15 May: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=977&Lang=en

Source:: UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to review Sudan

Categories: African Press Organization

Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on Darfur

NEW YORK, April 28, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent increase in attacks on peacekeepers serving in the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the limited cooperation provided by the Government of Sudan in addressing these incidents. The Secretary-General condemns the two successive attacks by unidentified armed groups that occurred in Kass, South Darfur, on 23 and 24 April. Six peacekeepers were wounded and four attackers killed when UNAMID troops returned fire in self-defence. The Secretary-General wishes the injured a speedy recovery.

The Secretary-General urges the Government of Sudan to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice and take all necessary action to avoid further attacks on or threats against peacekeepers in Darfur. UNAMID has launched its own investigation into the incidents.

The Secretary-General also deeply regrets that, on 26 April, the Government of Sudan denied a flight request for the emergency medical evacuation of an Ethiopian peacekeeper injured while forming his duties in Mujkar in West Darfur. The peacekeeper died hours later. The Secretary-General conveys his condolences to the Government of Ethiopia and to the family of the deceased. He calls on the Government of Sudan to respect the Status of Forces Agreement signed with the United Nations and lift all restrictions placed on the Mission.

The Secretary-General underscores the need for the Government of Sudan and the United Nations to work in full cooperation, especially in the context of the ongoing discussion on the UNAMID exit strategy.

The Secretary-General expresses his appreciation and support to UNAMID and its troops for their tireless efforts to implement their mandate.

Source:: Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on Darfur

Categories: African Press Organization

Chad — IMF Executive Board Completes First Review Under the ECF Arrangement, Approves Augmentation and US$27.7 Million Disbursement

NDJAMENA, Chad, April 28, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the first review of Chad’s economic performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.1 It also approved the authorities’ request for an augmentation of access by SDR 26.64 million (40 percent of the country’s quota).

Completion of the review enables the immediate disbursement of SDR 19.97 million (about US$27.7 million), including SDR 6.66 million (about US$9.2 million) from the augmentation. This brings total disbursements under the arrangement so far to SDR 33.28 million (about US$46.2 million).

The Board granted waivers for the nonobservance of the performance criteria on net domestic government financing and on poverty-reducing social spending.

In addition, the Board also agreed that Chad has taken the steps necessary to reach the completion point under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. This decision on the HIPC completion point is contingent upon the Executive Board of the World Bank concluding that Chad has reached the completion point under the Enhanced HIPC Initiative, after which a joint press release will be issued.

Chad’s three-year ECF arrangement in the amount equivalent to SDR 79.92 million (about US$110.9 million), was approved by the Board on August 1, 2014 (see Press Release No. 14/381).

Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Chad, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, said:

“Despite the collapse in oil prices, the deterioration of regional security, and the attendant influx of refugees, performance under the Fund-supported economic program has been broadly satisfactory in 2014. In particular, the non-oil primary deficit target, the main fiscal anchor of the program, was achieved and progress on the structural agenda was in line with program objectives, with a continued focus on strengthening public financial management.

“The macroeconomic outlook for 2015 and the medium term is significantly affected by the prospects of lower oil revenues. The authorities have responded decisively, including by undertaking a sizable fiscal adjustment under the revised 2015 budget awaiting parliamentary approval, while protecting poverty-reducing spending. The revised budget is to be financed by domestic financing sources, the rescheduling of oil sale advances, and budget support from international partners as well as an augmentation of access under the current arrangement under the Fund’s Extended Credit Facility.

“Chad has made commendable progress in increasing the transparency of oil revenue flows and achieved full compliance with the standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Further efforts, however, are needed to keep pace with structural changes in the oil sector. The structural reform agenda remains focused on improving public financial management and removing obstacles to private sector development, economic diversification, and inclusive growth.

“The external debt burden will fall significantly after reaching the HIPC completion point, releasing resources for investment and poverty reduction. However, Chad remains at high risk of debt distress and prudent fiscal and borrowing policies remain essential.”

1 The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems.

Source:: Chad — IMF Executive Board Completes First Review Under the ECF Arrangement, Approves Augmentation and US$27.7 Million Disbursement

Categories: African Press Organization

Humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic: lack of funding threatens the free-access to healthcare

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A drastic shortage in funding is jeopardizing free access to health care services being provided by the World Health Organization and partners in the Central African Republic for horehounds of thousands people.

The WHO Representative to the Central African Republic, Dr Michel Yao, says the humanitarian crisis wracking the country has displaced approximately 200 000 people and put around 1.5 million people at risk. Increased effort and funding, he says, is needed to prevent the crisis in the Central African Republic being “forgotten crisis.”

“This year we are really suffering in terms of funding the WHO operations in the Central African Republic” Dr Yao says. “WHO has a gap of more than US$14million and have received only US$500 000 this year. The needs for the whole humanitarian health sector are even greater, with another almost US$40 million needed by Health Cluster partners, with less than US$1.5 million provided. The health sector is very challenging. The Central African Republic, for example, has among the world’s highest child and maternal mortality rates.”

Only 55% of the health facilities in Central African Republic are functioning, and they mostly rely on the support of non-governmental organizations and UN agencies like the WHO, who are collaborating has part of the Health Cluster response. In 2014, Health Cluster partners delivered medical supplies for the treatment of 800 000 patients and provided care for more than 615 000 people in the Central African Republic.

“WHO supports the people in the Central African Republic by providing free access to health care,” Dr Yao explains. “Outside the capital, Bangui, there is a real challenge to provide this care if we don’t have funding. If some of the public health facilities do not open, it will make it difficult for people who have moved to Bangui for security and economic reasons to return home. This will mean the overall crisis will not be solved.”

WHO is also filling gaps in disease surveillance, responding to outbreaks and planning health services in coordination with health humanitarian partners.

“One past donor, for example, is not providing funds for the Central African Republic this year as its funding is going towards other crises, like Syria and Yemen,” Dr Yao adds. “I am afraid that we are still a forgotten crisis and this year is even worse than before.”

Dr Yao says the reduced violence in the country means that fewer people are suffering from conflict-related injuries now than one year ago. “But today we have a large displaced population that will soon have no access to healthcare because they cannot pay for it,” Dr Yao says. “Any displacement increases the risk of communicable diseases because people are living in very poor conditions.”

Without a major injection of funding, humanitarian health services will stop delivering conflict-related injuries and they will only be delivering routine care, such as maternal and child health services and treatment for non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Source:: Humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic: lack of funding threatens the free-access to healthcare

Categories: African Press Organization

The Pope praises the dynamism of the Church in Benin

VATICAN, Holy See, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The vitality of the Church, the pastoral ministry of the family, attention to priests and persons religious, and relations with the civil authorities are the central themes of the written discourse that the Pope handed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Benin this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit.

The Holy Father begins by praising the dynamism of parish life, the extensive participation of the faithful in ceremonies and the increase of vocations to the priesthood, but he also echoed the prelates’ reports that it is at times superficial and lacking in solidity and strength. “Therefore, it is important that the desire for a profound knowledge of the Christian mystery not be the prerogative of an elite, but instead must inspire all faithful, as everyone is called to holiness. It is imperative that the Church in Benin resists and defeats the winds to the contrary that are rising throughout the world and do not fail to blow upon you too. I know that you are vigilant in the face of numerous ideological and media attacks. The spirit of secularisation is at work in your country too, although it is not yet very visible. Only a faith profoundly rooted in the heart of the faithful, and lived in a concrete way, will enable you to face this”.

One of the challenges to the Church in Benin is family pastoral ministry, to which the upcoming Synod will seek to respond. The Pope thanks the prelates of Benin for their prayers for this assembly, and for their mobilisation of the dioceses to participate in such important event. “I can only encourage you to continue with determination in the efforts you have undertaken to support families, both in their faith and in their daily life. I know that the pastoral ministry of marriage remains difficult, considering the real social and cultural situation of the people. However, do not be discouraged, but persevere tirelessly as the family in defence of the Catholic Church is a reality willed by God; it is a gift of God that brings joy, stability and happiness to people and to societies. It is an important challenge since the family, as the basic unit of both society and of the Church, is the place where authentic human and Gospel values are transmitted”.

The bishop of Rome then turns to the theme of the education of the younger generations, who must bring solidarity, justice and mutual respect to the society of the future. “It is necessary to promote in your country – without of course renouncing any of the Truth as revealed by the Lord – the encounter between cultures and dialogue between religions, especially with Islam. It is well known that Benin offers an example of harmony between the religions present in her territory. It is however wise to be vigilant, considering the current world climate, in order to conserve this fragile heritage. I am particularly pleased that an international colloquium on interreligious dialogue has been held, under the presidency of Cardinal Tauran, which was widely appreciated”.

“Your local Churches have a key role in promoting harmony and justice in the progress of the country”, Pope Francis observes. “But it is a role they also play in healthcare and human development. How much work is carried out in the name of the Gospel in your dioceses! While the global crisis is affecting many countries, it is necessary to go against the grain with courage, fighting against the throwaway culture that reaches everywhere and spreading the Gospel values of hospitality and encounter. The service of charity is a constitutive dimension of the mission of the Church, and it is an expression of her essence. However, it should be borne in mind that the spirit of the works accomplished by the Church has a specific nature that must be clearly identified: she never acts as a form of simple social aid, but rather as the manifestation of the tenderness and mercy of Jesus Himself, who tends to the wounds and weaknesses of His brothers. The joy of the Gospel is thus announced to humanity in the most effective way”.

The Pope thanks the priests of Benin for their generous service into the Gospel and mentions again the great number of vocations, a blessing from the Lord, and encourages the Church in Benin to share her resources with the Churches of other regions which are lacking. However, he writes, “when you send your priests to study or on missions elsewhere, do so with judgement, without forgetting the needs of your own Churches”.

The final paragraphs of the text are dedicated to the good relationship between the Church and the civil authorities in the country. “The voice of the Church is listened to and her action is appreciated. I invite you to continue to take your place fully in the public life of the country, especially in these times. I know you are engaged in constant work to encourage relations between the different components of society. I invite you to continue along this path, taking care not to enter directly into the political arena or party disputes. The conduct of public affairs remains the duty of the laity, whom you have the important duty of ceaselessly educating and encouraging”.

Source:: The Pope praises the dynamism of the Church in Benin

Categories: African Press Organization

African leaders to develop common plan for stopping wildlife crime

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — African Heads of State, government representatives and experts are gathering at the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa where they will develop a common roadmap to end wildlife trafficking on the continent.

The Conference will seek to advance the first-ever Africa-wide strategy and action plan to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, to be further considered at the next African Union Heads of State Summit later this year.

The four-day event is organised under the leadership of the Republic of Congo, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), and with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the African Development Bank, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), among others.

“Forests and wildlife are part of our common African heritage but are disappearing at an alarming pace,” said His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, the President of the Republic of Congo. “We have a duty to work together, as a continent, to safeguard our unique biodiversity for present and future generations and to craft strong collective solutions to address this calamity.”

The value of wildlife crime, comprising fauna and flora, and including logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, amounts to many hundreds of billions of US dollars a year, according to estimates of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNEP and INTERPOL.

Wildlife trafficking destroys biodiversity and ecosystems, undermining development and eroding livelihoods for millions of African citizens. It also creates insecurity, fuelling conflicts and corruption, depriving countries of their assets, compromising the rule of law and dividing societies.

“By the end of this event, we envisage to have a clear roadmap toward a strategy that is strong, Africa-owned and Africa-led,” noted Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. “The document will aim to galvanize collective action across borders and it will offer practical, home-grown solutions towards decisively eliminating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.”

Following the Brazzaville conference, the draft strategy and associated action plan will be further developed in consultation with all African Member States, and progress on the strategy will be reviewed when the continent’s leaders gather at their bi-annual meeting, this June, in South Africa.

“An African strategy developed by the African Union and its Member States, and focused on the needs of the continent is an extremely important step forward,” said Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP.

“Its development will require full engagement of Member States, and its implementation will require enhanced and sustained international support, strong information networks, better public advocacy and accountability, as well as adequate laws and mechanisms to fully address the problem.”

The International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa builds on the momentum and outcomes of the 2014 London and 2015 Kasane High Level Conferences on Illegal Wildlife Trade, and comes on the heels of the 23rd African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which urged African nations to apply zero tolerance approaches, to take action to strengthen laws and policies, and to engage communities to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and related criminal activities.

“Trafficking in wildlife and forest products poses serious security, environmental, and development challenges”, said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “Addressing rural poverty, strengthening governance and the rule of law, and eradicating illicit trade in wildlife are key to addressing these threats and are essential for achieving Africa’s vision for sustainable development.”

Source:: African leaders to develop common plan for stopping wildlife crime

Categories: African Press Organization