Crisis–stricken farmers need urgent help to plant in the Central African Republic / Critical livelihood saving interventions crucial to avoid further deterioration in food security

ROME, Italy, March 23, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Farmers in the Central African Republic are in urgent need of seeds and tools for the upcoming planting season in April to prevent further deterioration of the livelihoods of vulnerable populations in the conflict-stricken country, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

Some 1.5 million people are currently food insecure in the country and this figure is likely to rise should immediate support not be provided. In addition, the significant food shortages across the country could worsen, population movements could result in increased tension, the return of displaced persons and refugees to their villages could be delayed and the costs of the overall emergency response could increase.

“The smooth implementation of the agriculture campaign activities is key to contribute to the decrease of political tensions, of which the main cause is extreme poverty. Agriculture remains the most important source of income for the majority of the population in the country”, said Jean-Alexandre Scaglia, FAO Representative in the Central African Republic. “Ensuring planting during the upcoming season, along with longer-term resilience activities is an opportunity to contribute to peace efforts in the Central African Republic that should not be missed.”

Overall agricultural production is currently still nearly 60 percent below the pre-crisis average and the lean season is expected to begin four months earlier than usual this year.

$6.2 million urgently needed

FAO and its Food Security Cluster partners have identified 150 000 crisis-affected households – farmers, returnees and host families – that had not received support and require immediate assistance.

FAO has already secured funding to assist 86 400 households, but it needs an additional $6.2 million to support the remaining 63 600 households for the upcoming main planting season starting in April. Each family will receive critically needed agricultural inputs such as seeds and farming tools to cultivate 0.5 ha of land, which will cover food needs for up to five months, reduce dependence on humanitarian assistance and stabilize their income.

Thanks to funding received in 2014, FAO and partners assisted over 140 000 households and managed to contain a major food crisis in the Central African Republic.

The 2015 agricultural campaign has been planned within the framework of the Food Security Cluster. FAO’s distributions of agricultural inputs are carried out in close collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development and partner NGOs as well as the World Food Programme for the distribution of food rations to avoid seed consumption. The Food Security Cluster, co-led by FAO and WFP, brings together around 70 organizations jointly working on food security strategy, information management, coordination of interventions and identification of priorities.

In 2015, FAO is implementing a $42 million programme in the Central African Republic to respond to the immediate needs of the population, building the resilience of 90 000 rural households through an integrated community-centred approach.

Source:: Crisis–stricken farmers need urgent help to plant in the Central African Republic / Critical livelihood saving interventions crucial to avoid further deterioration in food security

Categories: African Press Organization

Disappearance of Zimbabwe Civil Society Activist Itai Dzamara

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jeff Rathke

Director, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Press Relations

Washington, DC

March 20, 2015

We remain deeply concerned by the disappearance of Zimbabwean civil society activist Itai Dzamara. Mr. Dzamara disappeared on March 9, 2015. His whereabouts and well-being remain unknown. The United States urges the Zimbabwean authorities to mobilize their full resources to locate Mr. Dzamara and investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Dzamara’s disappearance as well as to ensure the protection of his human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United States stands with Mr. Dzamara and the people of Zimbabwe in defending the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and joins calls for Mr. Dzamara’s immediate and safe return to his family and friends.

Source:: Disappearance of Zimbabwe Civil Society Activist Itai Dzamara

Categories: African Press Organization

Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield Travels to the Central African Republic

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

March 20, 2015

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited the Central African Republic March 17-19, 2015, her third visit there since December 2013. In Bangui, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield had useful meetings on the evolution of the crisis in the Central African Republic with Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza, as well as with members of the Transitional Government, the Transitional National Council, the Preparatory Committee for the Bangui Forum, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and members of civil society. Several of her interlocutors described on-going preparations for the Bangui Forum (National Dialogue) expected to be held in late April, as well as for national elections to be held at a later date.

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Source:: Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield Travels to the Central African Republic

Categories: African Press Organization

IMF Executive Board Approves US$7.63 Million Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility for the Central African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic, March 23, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On March 18, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved financial assistance under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF)1 in the amount equivalent to SDR 5.57 million (about US$7.63 million) for the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) in support of the Transitional Authorities’ emergency economic recovery program.

The C.A.R. authorities’ overall fiscal response in 2014 to a very difficult situation was broadly adequate. With revenue below target, due to several factors, including a stagnant economy, the authorities rightly tightened non-priority spending to avoid further disruptions to macroeconomic stability and the creation of additional financing needs. Even though the recovery was held back by a difficult security environment, the prospects for 2015 remain favorable on condition that there is a successful and timely completion of the political transition, improved security and increased support from the international community in revitalizing the country’s economy.

Building upon the success of the policies implemented with the support of the previous RCF disbursement approved by the IMF Executive Board in May 2014 (See Press Release No. 14/226), the new financial assistance will help the C.A.R. to continue with the implementation of a set of economic and structural policies and measures aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability, achieving fiscal consolidation and strengthening the capacity of the C.A.R. government. The disbursement should act as a catalyst for further financial support and technical assistance from C.A.R.’s development partners.

The Executive Board’s approval enables the immediate disbursement of the full amount, which is equivalent to 10 percent of C.A.R.’s quota in the IMF.

At the conclusion of the Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director issued the following statement:

“The Central African Republic remains in the midst of a crisis that is hindering an economic recovery and basic government functions. Against this background, the transitional government in place since August 2014 is stepping up efforts to boost social reconciliation, improve security, and implement the authorities’ emergency program. In addition to financial support and targeted technical assistance, international stakeholders are actively working to facilitate the domestic political dialogue.

“The transitional government is making progress in implementing its economic program supported by the Fund under the Rapid Credit Facility. The program objectives include rebuilding government functions, restoring macroeconomic stability, improving governance and institutions, and clearing domestic payments arrears.

“With the anticipated normalization of the security and political situation, the economic outlook is favorable. Economic activity is expected to recover and inflation should be brought under control. The fiscal position will improve as the authorities continue their efforts to strengthen treasury management, boost revenue collection, implement normal budget procedures, and enhance coordination with the donor community. A steadfast implementation of the economic program will help minimize risks to the outlook.

“The Fund will continue to play a key role in coordinating international efforts in the provision of policy advice, emergency financial support, and technical assistance to accelerate the shift to policies in support of sustainable and inclusive growth.”

1 The RCF provides rapid financial support in a single, up-front payout for low-income countries facing urgent financing needs. Financial assistance under the RCF is provided as an outright disbursement to Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT)-eligible members that face an urgent balance of payments need, and where a full-fledged economic program is either not necessary or not feasible.

Source:: IMF Executive Board Approves US$7.63 Million Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility for the Central African Republic

Categories: African Press Organization

Merck Supports Schistosomiasis Education in Mozambique

NAMAACHA, Mozambique, March 21, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Merck (, a leading company for innovative, top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials, is fighting schistosomiasis in Mozambique. Today in Namaacha, together with German Bundesrat President Volker Bouffier, Merck Executive Board member Kai Beckmann presented 20,000 brochures aimed at educating children on the causes of the tropical worm disease to Mozambique’s Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saíde. The contribution is part of the Merck Praziquantel Donation program: Merck is partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight schistosomiasis in Africa. The partnership is a central initiative of Merck, within the scope of its responsible corporate governance, to improve access to health for underserved populations in low- and middle-income countries.



“We want to eliminate schistosomiasis in Africa. Thus we are not just donating tablets, but also taking a holistic approach,” said Beckmann. Since 2007, Merck has supplied WHO with more than 200 million praziquantel tablets free of charge. So far, this has enabled the treatment of around 54 million patients. “Millions of children suffer from this insidious disease – here in Mozambique as well. The disease prevents them from learning and weakens the country’s development potential. With our education program, we want to ensure that less children contract the disease. We want to give children new opportunities, while at the same time promoting economic growth and making a brighter future possible,” continued Beckmann. After Malawi and Senegal, Mozambique is the third African country to benefit from the education program. So far, Merck has provided schools with a total of one million brochures and 75,000 posters. The material is available in English, French and Portuguese.

The donation was presented in Namaacha in the south of Mozambique during German Bundesrat President Bouffier’s trip to South Africa and Mozambique from March 13 to March 23. Beckmann is part of a delegation of representatives from the worlds of science and business that is accompanying Bouffier. Bouffier welcomed Merck’s commitment: “Merck is engaged in various initiatives in Africa in order to improve the quality of local health care. In doing so, the company, headquartered in Hesse, is not just taking responsibility in its home market, but also everywhere it operates.”

Deputy Health Minister Saíde thanked Merck for the donation, “In terms of disease burden and economic impact, schistosomiasis is considered one of the most devastating neglected tropical diseases. Merck’s commitment not only helps infected children, but also supports our public health care system.”

Schistosomiasis is widespread in Mozambique: According to WHO estimates, more than 18 million people – around 80% of the total population – require treatment. In 2009 and 2010, Merck supplied WHO with more than 8.7 million praziquantel tablets for Mozambique. Since 2011, in agreement with WHO, the country in southern Africa has been receiving tablets from the British Department for International Development (DFID). The distribution of the tablets is jointly coordinated by the British Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and the Mozambican Ministry of Health. As members of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, Merck and SCI are currently developing a joint concept to fight schistosomiasis in Mozambique in the future.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Merck KGaA.

Media contact

Friederike Segeberg

+49 6151 72-4081

Notes for editors:

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Merck ( is a leading company for innovative, top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials. The company has six businesses – Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Allergopharma, Biosimilars, Merck Millipore and Performance Materials – and generated sales of around € 11.3 billion in 2014. Around 39,000 employees work for Merck in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers, and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.

Source:: Merck Supports Schistosomiasis Education in Mozambique

Categories: African Press Organization

Ethiopian Obelisk Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ethiopian Airlines (, the largest and fastest growing airline in Africa, is pleased to be part of the annual Global Greening initiative of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2015.


To commemorate the holiday and as part of the “Greenification of the World” campaign, launched by the Irish Tourism Board six years ago, the Axum Obelisks were turned green.

This year for the first time ever, the ancient Stele in Axum along with the Coliseum in Rome and Nelson’s Column in London as well as 147 other world’s most famous landmarks turned green as part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Axum Obelisks are the symbol of the wealth and civilization of the ancient Axumite Kingdom that lasted from the 1st to the 8th AD. The Kingdom was at the crossroads of Africa, Arabia and the Greco-Roman World, and was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia, and in parts of South Arabia.

The ruins of the ancient Axumite Civilization currently cover a wide area in the Tigray regional state of Ethiopia. The Steles are one of the country’s major tourist attractions and are registered UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The largest standing obelisk has a height of over 23 meters and is intricately carved to replicate a nine-story building. But the largest stele overall, is 33 meters long and lies where it fell, perhaps during the process of erection.

2000 years ago Axum was among the four great powers of its time along with Persia, Rome and China. Currently, Ethiopia is making a comeback and is showing considerable promise to return to its days of glory and prosperity. Strong economic growth of around 10.5% over the past few years and extraordinary progress on infrastructural development are putting Ethiopia back on the map for all the right reasons. Ethiopia has now become among the top 10 countries to be visited.

Ethiopian will be launching a promotional flight to Dublin, Ireland using its ultra-modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner on March 20, 2015. This flight is in anticipation of Ethiopian direct service to Dublin and Los Angeles starting from June 19, 2015. The commencement of this new service will play a critical role in the expansion of trade, tourism and investment ties between Africa and Ireland. The flights will be the first and only direct air route linking Africa with Ireland.

Ethiopian offers four daily flights to the historical city of Axum. Our in-house tour operations, Ethiopian Holidays, awaits with attractive leisure, historical, cultural and other comprehensive packages which can be accessed through multiple sales outlets, including our worldwide sales offices, website, and travel agencies.

Ethiopian is a global Pan-African carrier currently serving 84 international destinations across 5 continents with over 200 daily flights using the latest technology aircraft such as the B777s and B787s Dreamliner.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ethiopian Airlines.

About Ethiopian

Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) is the fastest growing Airline in Africa. In its operations in the past close to seven decades, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success.

Ethiopian commands the lion share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 76 international destinations across five continents. Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200LR Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 with double cabin. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircraft.

Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading aviation group in Africa with seven business centers: Ethiopian Domestic and Regional Airline; Ethiopian International Passenger Airline; Ethiopian Cargo; Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; Ethiopian In-flight Catering Services; and Ethiopian Ground Service. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline registering an average growth of 25% in the past seven years.

Media Contact:

Manager PR & Publications

Ethiopian Airlines

Tel: (251-1) 517-84-07

Source:: Ethiopian Obelisk Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Categories: African Press Organization