IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mali

BAMAKO, Mali, April 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christian Josz, held discussions with the Malian authorities in Washington D.C. during March 25-April 7 and on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. Discussions were also held in Bamako in March and April 11, 23-24, in preparation of the third review of the government’s economic program supported under the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved in December 2013.

“The mission met with Modibo Keita, Prime Minister; Issaka Sidibe, President of the National Assembly; Mamadou Igor Diarra, Minister of Economy and Finance; Abdine Koumare, President of the Finance Commission of the National Assembly; Konzo Traoré, National Director, Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO); representatives from the National Assembly, civil society, unions, the private sector, and Mali’s development partners.

At the conclusion of the discussions, Mr. Josz issued the following statement:

“In 2014 Mali’s economy returned to strong growth, with an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 7.2 percent. This contrasted with 2012 when growth was zero due to the security crisis, and 2013 when a poor harvest reduced growth to 1.7 percent. Inflation remains low, at 0.9 percent after -0.6 percent in 2013. For 2015, real growth is projected to continue at 5.0 percent and inflation is expected to remain well below the region’s 3 percent target.

“The last quarter of 2014 was marked by important efforts to strengthen public financial management, including strict adherence to budget and procurement rules. However, the objectives for end-2014 relating to tax revenue, the basic fiscal balance and bank and market financing were not met. Tax revenue was lower than programmed (by 0.7 percent of GDP) in 2014 due to weaknesses in customs administration, and combined with higher spending and a delay in budget support, led to a wider basic fiscal deficit (by 0.6 percentage points of GDP) and higher bank and market financing (by 1.6 percent of GDP) than programmed. Since the beginning of 2015, the government has implemented measures to put in place results-based management in the tax and customs directorates, which have already succeeded to put the tax revenue back on track at the end of the first quarter.

“We reached an agreement with the authorities that will permit proposing the conclusion of the third review of the ECF arrangement to the IMF Board. We welcome the government’s commitment to submit a new supplementary budget to the National Assembly. This supplementary budget will be the basis for the ECF program in 2015. It targets an increase of tax revenue by 1.8 percent of GDP and an overall fiscal deficit (cash basis) of 5.0 percent of GDP, half of which will be financed by donor support and the balance in the regional financial market. This supplementary budget makes room for additional spending to implement the multi-year military programming law elaborated with the assistance of the European Training Mission of the Malian army (EUTM), the Algiers Peace Agreement, a long delayed agreement with the trade unions to raise wages in the civil service, and the payment of arrears owed to government suppliers.

“The mission also welcomes the steps that the government is taking to implement results-based management in the tax and customs administrations, to strictly adhere to budget and procurement rules, to tighten cash management, to strengthen debt management, and to consolidate financial sector stability.

“The IMF Executive Board is tentatively scheduled to discuss the review in June 2015.

“The mission thanks the authorities for the provision of ample information and the frank and fruitful exchanges.”

Source:: IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mali

Categories: African Press Organization

MSF South Sudan: As violence re-erupts in Malakal town, more than 25,000 people are sheltering in Protection of Civilians site

JUBA, South Sudan, April 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Fresh fighting took place overnight on 21 April in Malakal between armed groups, causing some 900 people to flee to the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal, bringing the number of displaced people in the compound to more than 25,000. Two people were killed in the violence and an unknown number were injured. With tensions in the area still high, MSF’s team in Malakal is preparing for a potential influx of wounded. Due to the extremely volatile situation, the team has been forced to suspend some of its mobile clinics in remote areas where displaced people are sheltering.

Some 4,600 people have fled to the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal since violence re-erupted at the start of April, putting further strain on the already limited resources within the site.

In Mellut, some 1,000 families, mostly of the Shilluk ethnic group, have fled their camp and sought refuge across the Nile in the Noon area, some 10 km from Mellut. MSF, one of few organisations working in Mellut, is running a mobile clinic to provide them with medical care and is preparing to do a supplementary food distribution.

MSF calls upon all parties to the conflict to respect and facilitate humanitarian assistance to people affected by the civil war in South Sudan.

Source:: MSF South Sudan: As violence re-erupts in Malakal town, more than 25,000 people are sheltering in Protection of Civilians site

Categories: African Press Organization

On the Occasion of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Union Day

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

April 24, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Tanzania as you celebrate the 51st anniversary of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

Deep bonds of friendship unite the people of the United States and the people of Tanzania. The first class of Peace Corps volunteers traveled to your country to build roads connecting your cities. And soon after, President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Julius Nyerere shook hands in Washington, where both men reaffirmed our commitment to equality and opportunity for all our citizens.

Today, Tanzania is a model in the region of good governance, democratic ideals, and individual freedoms. We remain committed to working with you to build on your achievements in health care, access to electricity, gender equality, and in safeguarding Tanzania’s rich natural heritage for generations to come.

As Tanzanians celebrate Union Day at home and abroad, I wish you peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

Source:: On the Occasion of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Union Day

Categories: African Press Organization

Continued detention of Ethiopian journalists unacceptable – UN human rights experts

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, today said the detention of the six so-called “Zone Nine” bloggers and three other journalists in Ethiopia over the past year has been “absolutely unacceptable”.

The bloggers, who used an online platform to report on social and political issues in Ethiopia, were arrested on April 25 and 26 last year and have remained in detention ever since. The Federal First Instance Court of Ethiopia reportedly charged them under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation for “working with foreign human rights organizations and inciting violence through social media to create instability in the country.” Their trial has been adjourned several times.

“The continued detention of these journalists is absolutely unacceptable and particularly worrying as the country prepares to hold parliamentary elections on May 24. The open public debate that should mark any democratic process is obviously undermined if journalists are silenced through harassment or detention,” Kaye said.

“Muzzling the media and limiting public debate is never a good response to the threats of violence and terrorism,” continued Kaye. “Prosecuting journalists who are legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression creates a system of self-censorship in which journalists must choose between limiting their speech, living in exile, or facing years in prison.”

“To comply with its obligations, Ethiopia must respect the rights to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including those of people expressing dissenting views,” added Kiai.

The Special Rapporteurs noted that the Ethiopian authorities had already publicly recognized the need to ensure freedom of the press.

“During the last Universal Periodic Review of Ethiopia’s record in the UN Human Rights Council, the Government accepted a number of recommendations relating to the promotion of freedom of expression and encouraging political debate ahead of elections. Fulfilling these commitments is essential for the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.”

Source:: Continued detention of Ethiopian journalists unacceptable – UN human rights experts

Categories: African Press Organization

IOM Assists Victims of Migrant Attacks in South Africa

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Responding to the recent spate of the violence against migrants in South Africa, largely in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and Gauteng provinces, IOM is assisting victims of the violence. Over 8,000 migrants have been displaced since the violence broke out three weeks ago and they are currently accommodated in various shelters operated by the government, churches, mosques and NGOs.

Governments from several neighbouring countries have sent buses to help their citizens to return home. IOM is supporting these returns by providing expertise on the eligibility of the travellers and ensuring that all returns are voluntary. In addition, IOM is facilitating the return of unaccompanied minors, medical cases and migrants in other vulnerable categories.

IOM is also helping the government with the organization of social cohesion events, in order to facilitate dialogue between migrant and host communities. It is also calling for stabilization of the affected areas, a return to the rule of law, protection of migrants, and the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators through national and local media.

In partnership with 18 media outlets, IOM is also broadcasting a campaign of tolerance and social cohesion, called: “I Am a Migrant Too”.

IOM, together with UN agencies, NGO and academic partners, is proposing to address the issue comprehensively by analysing the root causes of violence against migrants; improving the image of migration; coming up with government policy recommendations to address the issue; and involving civil society in promoting peaceful and productive cohabitation.

Source:: IOM Assists Victims of Migrant Attacks in South Africa

Categories: African Press Organization

Migrants Leaving Yemen for Horn of Africa Top 10,000

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM is continuing its humanitarian assistance to migrants, refugees and Third Country Nationals (TCNs) arriving in the Horn of Africa, fleeing the crisis in Yemen.

This week the total arrivals in the Horn of Africa, including Djibouti, Somaliland and Puntland, since the start of the conflict, are approximately 10,263.

Djibouti is receiving the bulk of the people, with arrivals increasing to 8,344 this week. Of these, over 60 per cent are TCNs in need of assistance to return home.

“Djibouti has the biggest burden with 5,104 TCNs, 2,151 Yemenis, and 1,089 Djibouti nationals having arrived in the country,” said Craig Murphy, IOM’s Mixed Migration Project Coordinator.

“Most of the people escape Yemen by boat, crossing the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea from Aden, and finally arriving in Djibouti at Obock Port or Djibouti Port.”

On April 23, one boat arrived at the Djibouti Port carrying some 145 people. Most of the passengers on the boat were Yemeni nationals, but there were also American and British citizens.

A 29-year-old Yemeni, who asked not to be named, said: “We decided to leave because the situation in Yemen got so hard. We saw people injured and dying in our neighborhood in Aden. There were many snipers on the buildings and it was too dangerous.”

Yesterday he decided to escape by boat with his mother and two siblings, and they endured a 14-hour boat crossing to Djibouti. He said: “Thank God, the sea was calm, so we didn’t have problems.”

At the time of their escape, his father was in a different city looking after other family members. They got separated and he was not able to join them due to road blocks.

He said: “I want to go to another country because I have many ideas, but my country [Yemen] cannot support me.”

Another 66-year-old Yemeni, who arrived on the same boat, also did not want his name to be used. He was working as a security guard at the port in Aden.

He said: “Snipers were shooting everywhere. They were shooting at us. They want to kick us out from our country, but they cannot!”

He arrived with only the clothes he was wearing. The price for the boat trip from Aden to Djibouti is usually about USD 50 per person. Now the price has gone up to USD 200 as more people continue to flee Yemen. However, since he had no money, the operators of the boat let him on board without payment and other passengers gave him food and water.

IOM Djibouti has so far assisted 156 TCNs with visa support, transfer, transit accommodation, booking and onward air and ground transportation. Some 98 Ethiopian migrants were transferred back to Ethiopia in an IOM operation on 23 April.

On the outskirts of Obock, IOM is running a Migration Response Center which provides temporary accommodation for migrants and TCNs. UNHCR is also constructing a refugee camp in Obock for Yemeni refugees.

In the rest of the region, Puntland, Somalia has so far received 1,132 people. Many of them arrive at Bossaso. In Berbera, Somaliland 787 people have so far arrived. There were no registered arrivals this week in Somalia.

Source:: Migrants Leaving Yemen for Horn of Africa Top 10,000

Categories: African Press Organization