Facebook highlights its commitment to online safety in South Africa and Zimbabwe

This week, an expert team from Facebook (www.Facebook.com) will meet with leading South African and Zimbabwean representatives, civil society and experts to learn from, as well as provide practical advice in helping people to stay safe online. As part of its mission in giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, the trainings and workshop sessions will be centered around creating an open dialogue in online safety, whilst highlighting the tools available to ensure people feel welcome, empowered and safe when using the platform.

As part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in understanding and positively contributing to the African internet eco-system, the team will be working with a number of organizations including local governments, policy makers and civil society to co-host selected events in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“We want everyone to feel safe when using Facebook”, says Emilar Gandhi, Public Policy Manager for South Africa, Facebook. “As an open platform for ideas, and a place where self-expression, connection and sharing is encouraged, safety is at the centre of how we build our products. Protecting the privacy and safety of the people who use Facebook is at the heart of everything we do and that is why this Safety Tour is so important to us – not only to educate on the tools that we have in place, but to create open conversations.”

The Africa Safety Tour includes the following events:

  • Safety Symposium, Johannesburg, South Africa, 14 September – Local stakeholders will gather to discuss online safety concerns as well as Facebook tools and resources to keep people, especially teens and adults, safe online
  • Safety Roundtable, Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 September – Meeting with Zimbabwean policymakers this session will discuss how to drive awareness of online safety amongst the young in Zimbabwe
  • Facebook Safety for Journalists, Zimbabwe, 15 September – Co-organised with a media NGO, this discussion and training session on safety for journalists in Harare will explore issues relevant to journalists in the country, with a special focus as part of the day on women journalists
  • Safety Open House, Cape Town, South Africa, 20 September 2017 – Co-hosted with a local crime prevention policy group, this specialist event aims to create on open forum discussing online safety
  • Women’s Luncheon, Cape Town, South Africa, 20 September 2017 – this luncheon will bring together influential women to explore issues relating to women’s online safety as well as to learn from the community

For more information about online safety visit the recently updated Safety Center (www.Facebook.com/safety) which walks users through the tools Facebook offers to help control experiences on the platform. Also available are numerous tips and resources for safe and secure sharing.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Facebook.

Media contacts:
Idea Engineers – PR agency for Facebook

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Nigeria: Famine averted but millions still at risk, stresses top UN relief official

Noting important progress in delivering life-saving aid to millions in north-east Nigeria, the top United Nations humanitarian official underscored that international assistance to people suffering amid the crisis must not dwindle.

We have averted famine, but millions of people are still at risk if more international help is not forthcoming,” said Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, at the end of a two-day mission to the country.

“At next week’s General Assembly in New York, I will urge world leaders to maintain their financial and political support for the Lake Chad Basin crisis, and to work with the Nigerian authorities to bring stability to the north-east,” he added.

In particular, Mr. Lowcock, also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, noted the Nigerian Government’s leadership and coordination of relief efforts and welcomed the Vice President’s assurance to extend the Government’s own food aid programme.

He also highlighted that the international system has also rapidly scaled up and saved millions of lives, reaching two million people with food assistance every month as well as providing life-saving nutritional support to hundreds of thousands of children.

However, the humanitarian situation remains precarious.

Since the beginning of the Boko Haram conflict, more than 20,000 people have been killed, thousands of women and children abducted, many forced into displacement, and subjected to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In north-east Nigeria, at least 8.5 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Recalling his visit to Gwoza – a town which the Boko Haram declared capital of its territory in 2015 before Government forces took it back the same year – and meeting Fatima, a nine-year-old girl who fled with her family to the town four years ago, Mr. Lowcock said that though many towns in the region are relatively safe, more needed to be done to bring safety to the rural areas.

“In the meantime, Fatima and millions of others like her will rely on humanitarian assistance,” he noted.

Mr. Lowcock travelled to Niger and Nigeria from 9-12 September, shortly after beginning his roles as the top UN relief official on 1 September.

While in the two countries, he also held meetings senior government officials, UN humanitarian agencies, international non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic community.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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EIB conference in Egypt calls for private sector to lead new push for investments in the Mediterranean region

The drive for jobs and growth in the Mediterranean region should be led by the private sector. This was the call today, as the European Investment Bank (EIB) held an international conference in Cairo dedicated to “Boosting investments in the Mediterranean region”, in partnership with the Ministry of International Cooperation and Investment, the European Union Delegation to Egypt and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The conference participants discussed regional challenges and opportunities in the context of the Bank’s recent efforts to mobilise finance to build economic resilience in the Mediterranean countries and offer new opportunities, particularly for young people and women under its new Economic Resilience Initiative.

The EU bank provided finance of EUR 1070.6 million in 2016 to support private sector development in the southern Mediterranean region. The finance targeted micro, small, medium-sized and large enterprises.

Government officials, investors, bankers, and researchers from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia discussed the current economic context and potential drivers of economic growth in the region, ways to help SMEs and micro entrepreneurs to access finance, and the critical investment needs to promote innovation and the international competitiveness of local firms.

“We believe the role that the private sector plays in boosting economic activity and creating jobs for the unemployed and new entrants to the labour market is absolutely key. This is why the EIB is stepping up its support to the private sector under its Economic Resilience Initiative. We recently approved EUR 600 million for SME finance in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco under the new initiative. Now we are looking at more good projects to support”, said Dario Scannapieco, Vice-President of the EIB.

Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt said, “Economic development is a critically important challenge, and to bring benefits it has to be sustainable, inclusive and guarantee decent job opportunities for all, especially young people and women.”

“In this process, the private sector plays a crucial role. Supporting SMEs and the private sector in Egypt and the Mediterranean region will continue to be at the heart of the EU’s cooperation,” he added.

Ambassador Surkoš pointed out that the EU is expected to mobilise more than EUR 1.2 billion in new financing for MSMEs in the region through the “EU Initiative for Financial Inclusion” during the period 2016-2020. He indicated that this will be done by pooling resources between the European Commission Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) and European Finance Institutions.

Furthermore, the Head of the EU Delegation announced the new initiative called the European External Investment Plan (EIP), which will cover the MENA region, aimed at leveraging public and private funds from the EU and its Member States. The initiative will also reinforce the efforts to improve the business and investment climate. About EUR 44 billion is expected to be mobilised from 2017 until 2020.

The EIB conference comes as the EU bank rolls out its new Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI), which is fully complementary with the European External Investment Plan. The Economic Resilience Initiative for the Southern Neighbourhood and Western Balkans involves a step change in EIB support for these regions, helping economies to absorb and respond to crises and shocks, such as the Syrian refugee crisis, while maintaining growth. By stimulating investment in the private sector and vital infrastructure, it aims to create opportunities for employment and improve both daily living conditions and the business environment by increasing the provision of services like energy, transport, water, sanitation and education. Alongside increased financing, the EIB is set to offer additional concessional finance, enhanced support to the private sector and technical assistance during the 2016-2020 period.

This initiative is progressing – so far 13 projects representing financing of some EUR 1 billion have been approved since its launch in late 2016 until mid-2017. Private sector development accounts for well over half of approved financing. Lending via partner banks alone is set to benefit over 600 smaller businesses and midcaps, helping to sustain more than 40 000 jobs.

In 2016, the EIB provided EUR 1.6 billion in the Mediterranean region, of which 60% went to private sector finance.

Distributed by APO on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB).

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Wau could provide “model” for return home of South Sudan’s displaced people

The return of displaced people to their homes in Wau in north-western South Sudan could provide a “model” for other parts of the country, the Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has said.

David Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, was speaking on a visit to Wau town.

The number of displaced people living in the UNMISS Protection of Civilians (POC) site has fallen from 38,000 to 32,500 over the last two months. Many of those people have returned home to cultivate their land.

“The security situation has improved in recent weeks,” Mr Shearer said. “I am pleased to see that the local authorities, the police and National Security have worked to improve the security environment.”

David Shearer met with the Wau Governor and security officials about cooperation with the UN, humanitarian agencies and importantly the displaced people themselves, to create the enabling conditions to assist people to leave the camps and go home.

“This collaboration could represent a new model for the return of displaced people,” he said.

“It is important that people return to their homes voluntarily,” Mr Shearer added, “and for that to happen they need to feel safe and confident about their future.”

UNMISS has recommended launching night peacekeeping patrols to residential neighbourhoods to provide additional security and boost confidence, a proposal that the State authorities are considering.

“UNMISS and our humanitarian partners both have a role to play in the eventual return of displaced people,” added Mr Shearer. “UNMISS can help by providing a greater sense of security and humanitarian agencies can offer more services outside the protection camps so those people will have more incentives to leave and restart their lives at home.”

In April this year the alleged ambush and killing of a government SPLA General in Wau led to clashes in the town resulting in the deaths of around 30 civilians.

The Special Representative visited the neighbourhood of Lokoloko on the outskirts of Wau where some residents have returned to their houses and started growing food on a small scale.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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