Sep 042014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Facing massive displacement that has resulted from the fighting, health services in South Sudan are working under enormous pressure. Since the outbreak of violence in December, the ICRC has worked together with the South Sudan Red Cross to save lives and perform more than 2,600 operations.

“Recent fighting in South Sudan has resulted in large numbers of people being wounded,” said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. “ICRC medical staff have been sent to several places and are now working around the clock to treat the injured.”

Since last December, health services in the country have been overstretched. “The lack of security has caused many health workers to flee. There have also been reports of health workers being attacked or killed,” said Kerry Page, an ICRC health programme coordinator in South Sudan. “In addition, several care facilities have been damaged or looted, and since it’s extremely difficult to bring in medical supplies to the places that need them most, the basic health needs of many people simply cannot be met.”

From the very beginning of the current armed conflict, the ICRC has been sending in specialized medical personnel to perform life-saving operations. Four surgical teams, each consisting of an anaesthetist and three nurses as well as a surgeon, have performed more than 2,600 surgical procedures on weapon-wounded patients in 13 health facilities across the country. In parallel with these efforts, South Sudan Red Cross volunteers have delivered medical supplies, dressed wounds, served as interpreters for the surgical teams, moved patients and performed many other essential tasks relating to patient care.

Because well-equipped medical facilities are either unavailable or damaged, ICRC surgical teams are working in basic care facilities or in vacant buildings with simple rooms converted into operating theatres. “The medical teams are rapidly flown in, even to remote locations, when we have confirmed reports of large numbers of casualties,” said Ms Page. “It’s rather difficult, but there’s no other way to provide care in most instances. The surgical programme in South Sudan is one of the largest run by the ICRC in the world, and it is most likely the most difficult one in terms of work and living conditions. During the rainy season, the staff have an additional burden to contend with.”

Displacement adds to the strain

The health-care system is having to cope not only with large numbers of casualties, but also with the displacement of the local population. Fleeing danger, many people, including women and children, travel long distances in search of the closest safe haven. Their health needs are considerable, and local services are usually not able to meet them on their own. In many places affected by violence, small towns and villages have turned into new population centres overnight.

“The pressure that this influx of people has put on already weak health-care infrastructure has been enormous,” said Ms Page. “In Upper Nile state, the population in and around Kodok tripled in a matter of days. Some 100,000 civilians have taken refuge there, and because the situation remains unpredictable, they are not likely to leave soon.”

Currently, a four-member ICRC surgical team are working together with a paediatrician and a nurse in Kodok’s primary health-care centre, where they see more than 600 patients every week. The ICRC is also improving the facility’s water system, repairing its electrical system and building a new waiting area.

These efforts are aimed at minimizing the disruption to health services for displaced people and local residents alike. The ICRC has also started to scale up support to some primary health-care facilities in conflict-stricken areas, with a focus on resuming routine immunizations and ante-natal care, and on making sure that an adequate supply of medicines and other medical items is available.

Since December, in addition to the surgical work and paediatric care it has provided in Kodok’s health-care centre, the ICRC has:

• assisted nearly 900 people with disabilities in three physical rehabilitation centres that it runs or supports;

• delivered first-aid and surgical supplies to 34 first-aid and other health-care facilities.

In addition, South Sudan Red Cross personnel have dressed wounds for patients over 7,000 times.

Since the outbreak of the armed conflict in December 2013, the ICRC and the South Sudan Red Cross have been working in partnership. Their efforts have been complemented by the activities of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and a number of national Red Cross societies.

Sep 042014
 

JUBA, South Sudan, September 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A significant decline in the number of new cholera cases in South Sudan in recent weeks has prompted the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to scale down its cholera operations. Instead it will redirect resources towards other unmet health needs in the country, where more than 1.7 million people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Since the cholera outbreak was declared on 15 May, MSF teams have provided treatment to 3,300 patients in the capital Juba, in Torit in Eastern Equatoria state and in Wau Shiluk in Upper Nile state. This is more than half of the 5,561 total cholera cases officially recorded countrywide in the current outbreak.

“Deteriorating living conditions for hundreds of thousands of people, combined with the lack of functioning health facilities, created a perfect storm for the spread of the disease earlier this year,” says Brian Moller, MSF’s head of mission in South Sudan.

“While MSF will remain vigilant, it looks like the efforts of the Ministry of Health and other organisations, including MSF, have helped bring the epidemic under control,” Moller continues.

As part of its cholera response, MSF teams carried out the first mass cholera vaccination campaigns ever done in South Sudan, immunising a total of 200,000 displaced people and host families in Malakal, Minkamen and Juba against the disease. MSF teams also vaccinated a further 150,000 South Sudanese refugees in Gambella camp, Ethiopia, to prevent the outbreak spreading beyond South Sudan’s borders.

Cholera vaccinations provide vulnerable communities with a better chance of avoiding an outbreak. While the vaccination itself only provides an estimated 65 percent chance of protection, it is one of a number of measures that can help reduce the spread of the disease, alongside improving people’s living conditions, and ensuring they have proper sanitation and clean drinking water.

MSF teams also responded by rapidly constructing treatment centres in Juba and setting up oral rehydration points across the city and in other affected locations. At the same time, MSF worked closely with the South Sudanese authorities and other partners to improve people’s access to safe drinking water and to train health staff in dealing with the outbreak.

While MSF is reducing its cholera response in South Sudan, ongoing health promotion and community awareness activities will be essential to prevent a recurrence of the disease.

After fighting broke out in Juba on 15 December 2013, and subsequently in several other states, MSF increased its capacity to rapidly respond to emergency medical needs in the country. More than 3,800 MSF staff are now running 26 medical and non-medical programmes, as well as outreach activities, in nine of South Sudan’s ten states, providing basic healthcare, nutritional support, surgery, vaccinations and clean drinking water to people who have fled their homes.

MSF is committed to providing lifesaving medical care in South Sudan, offering aid to people affected by the current crisis as well as to many others who are vulnerable due to lack of access to healthcare in the country and within the region. In Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, MSF has set up emergency projects to provide assistance to thousands of South Sudanese who have taken refuge across the borders.

Sep 042014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Situation assessment – 3 September 2014
The Minister of Health of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, has now reported 3 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt, the count…

Sep 042014
 

LUANDA, Angola, September 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On August, 29, 2014, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation1 with Angola.

After a strong growth in 2013 estimated at 6.8 percent, economic growth in 2014 is projected at 3.9 percent despite a decline in oil output. Robust growth in the nonoil economy, mainly driven by a very good performance in the agricultural sector, is expected to offset a temporary but considerable drop in oil production.2 Ongoing investments in agriculture are expected to pay off with an increase in agriculture production by about 11½ percent in 2014. Other sectors such as manufacturing, electricity and services, are also expected to contribute. Inflation projected to reach 7½ percent by end-2014 is well within the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA)’s objective. The overall fiscal balance, which was in surplus in the last four years, is expected to deteriorate substantially in 2014, reaching a deficit of around 4 percent of GDP. Oil revenue fell by 14 percent during January-May 2014, mainly due to a 10 percent decline in oil production related to unscheduled maintenance and repair work in some oil fields. International reserves at the BNA remain adequate at an equivalent of 7¾ months of imports.

Notwithstanding strong economic growth over the past decade, poverty and income inequality remain a challenge. The 2009 household expenditure survey, released in 2011, shows that Angola’s income distribution is among the most unequal in sub-Saharan Africa, with the top 10 percent of income earners concentrating one-third of total income, and puts the relative poverty headcount ratio in Angola at 37 percent (60 percent in rural areas).

Progress in structural reforms has been strong. The long-awaited non-oil tax reform was approved by the National Assembly on July 4, 2014, which is a crucial step toward reducing the budget’s heavy reliance on oil revenue. Public financial management (PFM) reforms also made headways with the introduction of two critical measures to control the proliferation of domestic expenditure arrears: (i) the budget framework law now includes a clear definition of arrears consistent with international best practice; and (ii) a new control procedure requires the confirmation by the Finance Ministry of all contracts above US$1.5 million. The Economy Ministry has also continued with the implementation of a number of measures aimed at improving the business environment, including the Angola Invest program.

The medium-term economic growth prospects remain favorable. The oil sector is expected to recover and grow by 2¼ percent on average over the next five years, as the decline in production in some oil fields is more than compensated by the commissioning of seven new fields, including a first phase of a pre-salt oil field expected to start operating in 2017. Large investments in the nonoil sector are expected to generate much needed diversification and job creation, mainly in the agricultural sector, but also in electricity, manufacturing, and services. The projected strong growth in the nonoil sector of about 7¾ percent on average over the next five years is also expected to increase domestic competition, thus contributing to reducing inflation further. Growth prospects over the longer term, however, are uncertain but should be firmed up during 2015, as ongoing pre-salt prospection should help to determine the amount of commercially viable oil reserves.

Executive Board Assessment3

Executive Directors agreed with the thrust of the staff appraisal and commended the authorities for the progress made toward macroeconomic stability, having reached a historically low level of inflation and an adequate level of international reserves. Directors welcomed the improved economic outlook, but noted that risks require additional efforts to strengthen policies. In the long run, reducing the dependence on oil is key to containing external vulnerabilities and achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

Directors concurred on the need to preserve space for rebuilding infrastructure and reducing poverty and inequality, while saving part of the oil wealth for future generations. This requires addressing emerging fiscal deficits and returning to fiscal surpluses over the medium term, including by strengthening nonoil revenue administration, modernizing public sector wage policy, and gradually eliminating costly and regressive fuel subsidies while expanding well targeted social safety nets. Taking note of the recent partial tax amnesty, Directors encouraged the authorities to strictly enforce tax liabilities going forward to avoid any negative impact on tax collection.

Directors emphasized the need for a coherent asset liability management framework, including a fiscal stabilization fund that could improve the management of Angola’s natural resource wealth and protect annual budgets against volatile oil revenue. They noted the very low efficiency of public investment and saw merit in developing a system of public investment management that would help meet Angola’s infrastructure needs at a lower cost. They welcomed the recent measures to strengthen public financial management and end domestic payment arrears, and looked forward to their steadfast implementation.

Directors supported the authorities’ efforts to de dollarize the economy and strengthen financial stability, and underscored that effective and evenhanded implementation of prudential norms is necessary to foster trust in the banking system. In this regard, they welcomed the extraordinary measures taken to address the problems at Banco Espírito Santo Angola and the new legislation clarifying procedures for the granting of public guarantees, and encouraged actions to address the outstanding weaknesses in the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism framework.

Directors saw the current conditions of relative stability and low inflation as an opportunity to introduce some exchange rate flexibility, which would help reduce dollarization and develop more effective monetary instruments. They noted that reserve levels are currently adequate and should be maintained to provide an appropriate buffer against external shocks.

Directors stressed that a sustainable reduction in poverty is best achieved through the development of small and medium size enterprises in the private, nonoil sector. They were encouraged by the authorities’ efforts to diversify the economy and improve the business environment and competiveness. They were concerned, however, by the increasing use of trade protection, and recommended a periodic review of the recently introduced import tariff schedule with a view to lowering tariffs within a specific timeframe.

Directors welcomed progress on the compilation and dissemination of economic statistics, and encouraged the authorities to address the remaining gaps in the production of more detailed and timely fiscal accounts and in the coverage of the balance of payments.

Sep 042014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Two weeks after my visit to Guinea and Sierra Leone, the situation continues to get worse, and there is no end in sight. To make an impact on this crisis, we need an urgent, sustained response from all sectors – governments, the international community, aid organizations, media and corporate partners. We need this response now.

Our National Red Cross Societies and volunteers have been on the front line of the response since the epidemic emerged six months ago, and they are witness to the slow, steady deterioration of the situation. More than 1,900 people have died so far; hope and optimism are being eroded.

In recent months, more than 1,700 Red Cross volunteers have been working hard, assisting with body management, tracing those who had been in contact with patients, providing psychological support and conducting preventive education at community level. Their capacity is stretched to the limit, and they are literally exhausted.

Fear, misconceptions and stigmatization fuel a vicious cycle that hampers an effective response at community level. This cycle can only be broken with a sustained mobilization from us all in close collaboration with affected communities.

An effective response requires two elements.

Firstly, this battle is unwinnable if we fail to dispel the myths about Ebola in communities and at national and international levels. We must be more robust in our promotion of precautions and behaviours that will keep people safe and stop the spread of the disease. Ignorance leads to panic or paralysis; we cannot have either.

And secondly we must encourage, inspire and enable the national and international response to the epidemic to ensure it car rise to this unprecedented challenge. No one single actor can make a decisive difference in this operation, but together we can turn the tide.

Red Cross volunteers themselves come from the villages at the heart of the crisis, they are confronting Ebola every day. A solid bond of trust allows them to work within the community. They have the local knowledge to dispel the fears, rumours and myths surrounding this disease. They can go into communities where previously roads were blocked and medical interventions refused; communities are now allowing volunteers to bury their dead safely and with dignity, despite the lack of customary ceremonial rites.

The IFRC fully supports – and echoes – the call from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders for the international community to urgently deploy bio-disaster facilities to the region to respond effectively to the epidemic.

There is also an urgent need to intensify and sustain our efforts to improve risk communication and mass sensitization at community level.

We – together – must match our response to the gravity of the epidemic in affected countries, and to expand preventive measures and preparedness in neighbouring countries. We need more people, more funds, more resources. And we need them now.

In two weeks, the crisis has only grown more pressing. Time is of the essence if we want to control and contain Ebola.

Sep 032014
 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 455th meeting, held on 2 September 2014, at the level of Heads of State and Government, adopted the following decision on the prevention and combating of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa:

Council,

1. Takes note of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa [PSC/AHG/2(CDLV)] and the briefing made by the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), as well as the statements made by the members of Council. Council further takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Djibouti and Somalia, the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), members of the UN Security Council and other partners;

2. Recalls its earlier pronouncements on the issue of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, notably communiqués PSC/PR/COMM.(CCXLVIX), PSC/PR/COMM.2(CCCIII) and PSC/PR/COMM.1 (CCCXLI) adopted at its 249th, 303rd and 341st meetings held on 22 November 2010, 8 December 2011 and 13 November 2012, respectively, in pursuance of articles 3 (d) and 7 (i) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council on the role of Council in the coordination and harmonization of continental efforts to prevent and combat terrorism in all its aspects;

3. Further recalls resolution AHG/Res.213(XXVIII) on the Strengthening of Cooperation and Coordination among African States, adopted by the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), held in Dakar, Senegal, from 29 June to 1 July 1992, in which the Assembly called upon Member States to enhance cooperation and coordination in order to fight the phenomena of extremism and terrorism, as well as Declaration AHG/Del.2(XXX) on the Code of Conduct for Inter-African Relations, adopted by the 30th Ordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Tunis, Tunisia, from 13 to 15 June 1994, in which the Assembly rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism, including those based on sectarianism, tribalism, ethnicity and religion;

4. Also recalls Decisions Assembly/AU/Dec.256(XIII) on combating the payment of ransom to terrorist groups and Assembly/AU/Dec.311(XV) on the prevention and combatting of terrorism, adopted by the Assembly of the Union at its 13th and 14th Ordinary Sessions held in Sirte, Libya, and Kampala, Uganda, from 1 to 3 July 2009 and from 25 to 27 July 2010, respectively, as well as paragraph 22 of Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.536(XXIII) on the Report of the Peace and Security Council on its Activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa, adopted by the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 26 to 27 June 2014 ;

5. Reiterates the AU’s deep concern over the worsening scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, particularly in Northern Africa, the Sahelo-Saharan region, Central and Eastern Africa, and the growing linkages between terrorism and violent extremism, on the one hand, and transnational organized crime, on the other, notably drug and human trafficking, money laundering, illicit trafficking in firearms and mercenarism, and the threat this situation poses to peace, security, stability and development in Africa. Council also expresses concern over the relations between negative forces and terrorist groups;

6. Reiterate its strong condemnation of all acts of terrorism committed on the continent by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, notably by Al Shabaab, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), Ansar Eddin, Al-Murabitoun, the Ansar al-Sharia groups, Boko Haram, Ansaru and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Council reiterates the AU’s determination to rid Africa of the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances, noting that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or group. Council expresses the AU’s full solidarity with the affected countries and the victims of terrorism;

7. Reaffirms the relevant provisions of the Common African Defense and Security Policy (CADSP), adopted by the 2nd Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union held in Sirte, Libya, on 28 February 2004, as well as those of the AU Non-Aggression and Common Defense Pact, adopted by the 4th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 30 to 31 January 2005, in particular the indivisibility of the security of the African States, as spelt out in paragraph 12 (i) of the CADSP. In this respect, Council stresses that any terrorist attack on one African State shall be considered as an attack on the continent as a whole, which will result in the provision of necessary assistance and support to the affected Member State(s), in line with the relevant AU instruments. In this context, Council welcomes the Abuja Statement adopted by the International Conference on Human Security, Peace and Development – Agenda for 21st Century Africa, held on 27 February 2014;

8. Reiterates the continued relevance of the instruments adopted by the OAU/AU over the past years to address the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, notably the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, adopted by the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, held in Algiers, Algeria, from 12 to 14 July 1999, and the Supplementary Protocol adopted by the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Addis Ababa, from 6 to 8 July 2004, as well as the 2002 AU Plan of Action, adopted by the 1st AU High-Level Inter-Governmental Meeting on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, held in Algiers, from 11 to 14 September 2002;

9. Welcomes the efforts made by the Member States to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism, through enhanced legislation, operational capability and coordination among relevant national structures, and commends the cooperative mechanisms established to address country- and region-specific issues, most notably the Sahel Fusion and Liaison Unit (UFL), the Nouakchott Process on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation and the Operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelo-Saharan Region, the AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA), which strengthened the operational capability of the countries affected by the atrocities of the LRA, and the Fusion and Liaison Unit of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which subsequently evolved into a Joint Operations Coordination Centre (JOCC), in order to strengthen the capacity of the Somali security agencies in intelligence gathering and analysis. Council further commends AMISOM for the gains it has made recently in the course of its ongoing Operation Indian Ocean, which has resulted in the capture of several strategic towns from Al-Shabaab;

10. Commends the Commission for its efforts, including through the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) and the Chairperson’s Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation, in support of measures taken by Member States to counter terrorism. In this respect, Council notes with appreciation the support provided to Member States in undertaking national threat assessments, the steps taken to build and enhance the capacity of their security institutions through training in relevant areas and promote the exchange of intelligence through the ACSRT national Focal Points, and the elaboration of an African anti-terrorism Model Law to facilitate the updating, as necessary, of their national legislation, in fulfilment of their international obligations;

11. Further commends the RECs/RMs, for the important role they are playing, particularly in developing regional strategies and common action in the prevention and combating of terrorism and violent extremism;

12. Acknowledges the contribution of CISSA, in particular the provision of counter-terrorism early warning, and welcomes the recommendations of the 11th Ordinary Session of the CISSA Conference on the theme: Enhancing Intelligence Cooperation and Coordination to Address Radicalization and Extremism in Africa, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 28 August 2014;

13. Notes with satisfaction the establishment of the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), as endorsed in decision EX.CL/Dec.820(XXV) adopted by the 25th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, held in Malabo, from 20 to 24 June 2014, and the convening of the 1st meeting of AFRIPOL ad hoc Committee, which took place in Addis Ababa, on 2 July 2014. Council recognizes the important role that AFRIPOL is expected to play in enhancing inter-state police cooperation towards addressing the various challenges related to transnational crimes;

14. Welcomes the partnerships developed with key international stakeholders, notably the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the UN Security Council Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1540 (2004), as well as the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), the EU and bilateral partners. In this respect, Council acknowledges the invaluable contribution of these bodies in promoting best practices and guidelines and in providing technical expertise to Member States, as well as the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the Strategies developed by the AU and the EU. Council expresses appreciation to those partners which have extended financial and technical support to Member States, the Commission and the ACSRT;

15. Further welcomes the generous contribution of the sum of 10 million US dollars made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in support of the AU’s efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism and to strengthen the AU-OIC partnership in this field, as announced by the Secretary-General of the OIC, Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani, in his declaration to Council;

16. Expresses concern that, despite the progress made in developing a comprehensive normative and operational counter-terrorism framework, serious gaps continue to exist in terms of implementation and follow-up, thus undermining the effectiveness of Africa’s response to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. Accordingly, Council stresses the urgency for an action-oriented approach to give concrete expression to the commitment made by the Member States to combat terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations. In this respect, Council:

(i) reiterates its call to the Member States that have not yet done so to urgently take the necessary steps to become party to the 1999 Convention and the 2004 Supplementary Protocol, as well as to the relevant international instruments adopted under the auspices of the United Nations. Council encourages all Member States concerned to become party to the 1999 Convention and its 2004 Protocol before the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, in January 2015. Council also stresses the need for the urgent signature and ratification of the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention), adopted by the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, which contains provisions on cooperation in the area of security, including combating terrorism and transnational organized crime;

(ii) stresses the imperative for all states party to the relevant African and international instruments to implement in full all the provisions contained therein, particularly with respect to legislative and judicial measures, border control, suppressing the financing of terrorism and anti-money laundering, denying safe havens to terrorist and criminal groups, exchange of information, coordination at regional, continental and international levels, as well as strengthening the capacity of their law enforcement organs and armed forces;

(iii) urges Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure that their territories are not used as recruitment grounds and to prevent their nationals from participating in terrorist activities elsewhere on the continent and beyond and, in this respect, to take measures to counter the recruitment methods and propaganda being used by the terrorist groups;

(iv) urges Member States to take the measures required to combat effectively transnational organized crime, in line with the relevant African and international instruments, and to ensure that terrorist groups do not benefit from the proceeds of such criminal activities, including drug trafficking, to finance their activities;

(v) further urges Member States to ensure that their nationals or other persons and entities within their territories who willfully provide or collect funds for the benefit of persons or entities who commit, or attempt to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts, are punished by penalties commensurate with the grave nature of such acts;

(vi) requests Member States to submit, in line with the provision of the 2004 Protocol, annual reports to Council on measures taken to combat and prevent terrorism, notably those listed in paragraph 11 (ii & iii) above, and to notify it of all terrorist activities in their territories as soon as they occur;

(vii) further requests Member States that have not yet done so to appoint, by the end of 2014, national Focal Points for liaison and coordination with the ACSRT, bearing in mind the need to designate in such positions suitable individuals with the required clearance level to access information and decision-makers in the intelligence and security services;

(viii) encourages Member States to develop comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategies covering prevention, response and reconstruction;

(ix) further encourages the establishment, where required, of flexible and action-oriented processes for intelligence sharing and security cooperation at regional levels, building on the successes of, and lessons learned from, the Sahel UFL, the Nouakchott Process and the RCI-LRA; and

(x) calls upon Member States to make financial contributions to facilitate the implementation of the AU counter-terrorism framework and to second, upon request by the Commission and at their own expenses, technical expertise to the ACSRT;

17. Expresses its determination to ensure the effective functioning of its Committee on Counter-Terrorism, established in pursuance of communiqué PSC/PR/COMM.(CCXLVIX), and requests all Member States to extend full cooperation to the Committee in the discharge of its mandate;

18. Calls upon the Member States participating in the Nouakchott Process to expedite the implementation of the various steps agreed upon during the meetings of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and in particular: (i) the convening of meetings of the Chiefs of Defense Staff and Ministers of Defense to consider generic Concepts of Operations for joint patrols and mixed units, as well as the modalities for strengthening the existing cooperation structures; (ii) the convening of a Summit, to mobilize further political support for the Process; and (iii) the establishment of a lean Secretariat in Niamey, Niger, to better coordinate the implementation of the Nouakchott Process;

19. Urges the countries concerned to take the necessary steps towards operationalizing the mechanism agreed upon to address more effectively the threat posed by Boko Haram and notes with appreciation the plan by the Commission, in line with the relevant AU decisions, to dispatch a team to consider ways to support these efforts, including through support to existing regional structures, such as the Lake Chad Basin Commission Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the newly-inaugurated Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) for the countries affected by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group. Council looks forward to the conclusions of the meeting of the concerned countries scheduled to take place in Niamey, in November 2014. Council requests the Commission to contribute effectively to greater international engagement for the rehabilitation and development of the Lake Chad Basin, as part of the efforts to address comprehensively the threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group;

20. Reaffirms the need for sustained efforts to deal in a holistic, collective and coordinated manner with the multidimensional challenges confronting the Sahel region, underscores the important role of the Ministerial Platform set up in November 2013 and tasked, with the support of the AU/UN Technical Secretariat, to coordinate international efforts for the Sahel, and looks forward to the effective and coordinated implementation of the UN, AU and EU Strategies for the Sahel;

21. Tasks the Commission to pursue and intensify its efforts in support of Member States, with particular attention to:

(i) the elaboration of an African arrest warrant for persons charged with or convicted of terrorist acts, including the convening of a meeting of governmental experts on the matter by the first quarter of 2015;

(ii) the holding of regional sensitization workshops on the African and international instruments, in collaboration with the RECs/RMs and relevant partners, between now and the first half of 2015;

(iii) supporting and facilitating regional cooperation initiatives and mechanisms, to address specific transnational threats, building on the experiences of the RCI-LRA and the Nouakchott Process, including making specific recommendations on the possible establishment of specialized joint counter-terrorism units at sub-regional and regional levels and within the framework of the African Standby Force (ASF) and, pending the achievement of the ASF full operational capability, in the context of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC);

(iv) assessing the implementation status of the 2002 Plan of Action and the identification of the steps required to address the challenges encountered, the results of which will be submitted to a high-level inter-governmental meeting on the prevention and combating of terrorism, building on the two previous meetings held in Algiers in 2002 and in 2004;

(v) the holding of a high-level meeting of Member States on the issue of financing of terrorism, with a view to identifying practical measures to address this problem more effectively;

(vi) supporting the full and early operationalization of AFRIPOL, in line with decision EX.CL/Dec.820(XXV), and the implementation of the conclusions of the 1st meeting of the AFRIPOL ad hoc Committee, including the convening of the next meeting of this Committee, scheduled to take place in Kampala, in October 2014; and

(vii) developing a concept note on the possible establishment of a special fund dedicated to supporting counter-terrorism efforts on the continent;

22. Urges CISSA to ensure the effective implementation of all the recommendations adopted at its 11th Ordinary Session, as well as to put in place expeditiously the planned secure communication system among the African intelligence and security services, in order to facilitate coordination and the timely exchange of intelligence;

23. Further urges the RECs/RMs to take all the steps called for by Article 6 of the 2004 Protocol, in order to enhance regional efforts against terrorism and violent extremism, including, where appropriate, designating Focal Points, promoting cooperation at regional level in the implementation of all aspects of the Protocol, assisting Member States in the implementation of regional, continental and international instruments, and reporting regularly to Council, through the Commission, on measures taken at regional levels;

24. Reiterates the AU’s strong rejection and condemnation of the payment of ransom to terrorist groups and, in this respect, recalls decisions Assembly/AU/Dec.256(XIII) and Assembly/AU/Dec. 311(XV). Council, while welcoming the adoption by the United Nations Security Council, on 27 January 2014, of resolution 2133(2014), which, inter alia, calls upon all Member States to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payment or political concessions, reiterates its call to the UN General Assembly to include this issue on its agenda and to initiate negotiations, with a view to elaborating a supplementary Protocol to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 9 December 1999 or to the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages of 3 June 1983. In the meantime, Council urges Member States to incorporate the prohibition of the payment of ransom to terrorist groups into their national legislations, on the basis of the relevant provisions of the AU anti-terrorism Model Law;

25. Expresses deep concern at the reported financial flows emanating from outside the continent in support of terrorist and extremist groups, and requests the Committee on Counter-Terrorism to investigate this matter, with the aim of determining the extent of the problem and making recommendations on how to address it, calling for an immediate end to such practices. Council also expresses deep concern about external interferences that exacerbate African conflicts, thereby creating a conducive environment for the spread of terrorism;

26. Stresses the need for enhanced collaboration between the AU and the international partners in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, as this scourge is a global phenomenon which poses a serious threat to international peace and security. Council calls upon partner states to prevent the use of their territories for the planning of terrorist acts on the African continent. Council further calls upon international partners to minimize, as much as possible, the negative impact of the preventive measures they take against terrorism on the economies of the concerned African countries;

27. Requests the Commission to convene an annual consultative forum with the relevant international partners, to harmonize their respective strategies and facilitate and promote action-oriented collaboration and coordination, as well as to mobilize further support for the African-led counter-terrorism efforts, including facilitating the acquisition of the required technologies, such as communication systems, to enable law enforcement agencies effectively carry out their operations;

28. Emphasizes the imperative need, in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, to uphold the highest standards of human rights and International Humanitarian Law, bearing in mind the provisions of Article 3(1k) of the 2004 Protocol. In this respect, Council requests the Commission to work closely with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other stakeholders to further support Member States efforts to promote and ensure the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law while preventing and combating terrorism;

29. Further emphasizes the need to address all conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, including prolonged unresolved conflicts, lack of rule of law and violations of human rights, discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and poor governance, stressing however that none of these conditions can excuse or justify acts of terrorism. Council emphasizes the importance of comprehensive counter-terrorism strategies empowering civil society organizations, including religious leaders and women, as well as vulnerable groups, and covering not only security and law enforcement, but also poverty eradication, job creation and development. Council encourages Member States to ensure the successful implementation of their economic development and poverty alleviation policies and programmes, including through start-up ventures for the youth and promotion of vocational and technical training. In this respect, Council calls upon the Commission, the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, to continue providing the necessary technical support to Member States;

30. Stresses the urgency, in countering terrorism and violent extremism, of renewed efforts to address the prevailing conflict and crisis situations on the continent, particularly in Somalia, Libya and Northern Mali and other affected areas, and to promote a culture of tolerance and political dialogue, bearing in mind decision Assembly/AU/Dec.501(XXII) declaring 2014 – 2024 as the “Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa”, adopted by the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Addis Ababa from 30 to 31 January 2014, as well as the pledge made by the Heads of State and Government to silence the guns and bring a definite end to all conflicts on the continent, as contained in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, adopted by the Assembly of the Union, on 25 May 2013;

31. Supports the legitimate institutions in Libya, as represented by the provisional Government, the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Commission responsible for the drafting of the Libyan Constitution, and calls upon the AU to remain fully engaged in the political process in Libya by providing concrete assistance in the fields of institution-building, promotion of national dialogue and reconciliation, as well as disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion;

32. Expresses appreciation to the people and Government of the Republic of Kenya for hosting the present meeting of Council and for the arrangements made to ensure its smooth and successful holding;

33. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Sep 032014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, September 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — James Duddridge visits Abuja today to discuss regional coordination in the fight against terrorist group Boko Haram

Speaking this morning before the Ministerial meeting on security in Nigeria, the Minister for Africa said:

“I welcome the Government of Nigeria’s decision to host this important meeting on security in Nigeria. It is vital we continue the momentum generated at the 12 June Ministerial meeting in London.

“I look forward to speaking to regional and international partners on the progress made in implementing the decisions we made in London, including on regional intelligence sharing and regional coordinated border patrols. Boko Haram is a growing threat to peace and stability in the region, and regional coordination between Nigeria and its neighbours remains crucial to defeating the extremists and locating the missing Chibok girls.

“In London, the UK announced a substantial package of military, security and development assistance. I will be updating partners on the significant progress made on implementation of this package, whilst underlining that respect for human rights and safeguarding the civilian population remain the key pillars of our support.

“Most importantly, with our French, US and other international partners, we will today again reiterate our common stance that we cannot, and will not, tolerate Boko Haram’s brutal and inhumane crimes.”

Sep 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As the threat of food shortages and hunger loom over families in many areas in Kenya, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 8.5 million Swiss francs (9.25 million US dollars) to support Kenya Red Cross Society in providing immediate assistance to meet the critical needs of affected communities, and to take the necessary actions to mitigate the situation before it becomes catastrophic.

The poor rainfall between March and May – supposed to be the wettest months of the year – has affected the production of food and livestock for many households. The situation has also been worsened by increasing food prices, driven by the increase in fuel costs and general inflation, which continue to erode the purchasing power of individuals and families.

Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, said: “The Red Cross is in a position now to make a difference – as long as funds are available. As we learned in 2011, without the immediate action to address Kenya’s humanitarian needs and to respond to the warning signs of a crisis in already vulnerable communities, it will lead to tragedy, and we are already very late.”

The Kenya Red Cross will focus its response operations in six priority counties with funds from the appeal.

After the devastating 2011 drought in East Africa, the governments in the region had agreed to take a different approach to put a halt on drought related emergencies, by focusing and investing more in early actions and risk management to prevent these emergencies from becoming large-scale crises.

Three years later, the investments and gains that have been made towards this effort could very well be overturned if action is not taken now to address thee current food crisis in Kenya. If the situation becomes more severe, there is significant risk that people who are still in need might not be reached with assistance, and those who have already been engaged and supported, might fall back into a state of crisis.

The Red Cross’ intervention will focus on improving access to safe water – for both human consumption and for livestock – essential health and nutrition services, school feeding programmes, support to livelihood activities such as distribution of seeds in marginal agricultural areas, and the procurement of replanting kits for farmers in previously implemented integrated food security and livelihood projects. Livelihood efforts such as these will help to maximize the opportunity for early planting in the next rainy season.

Since the 2011 drought, the Kenya Red Cross Society and IFRC have been working together closely to steer forward the ‘working differently’ agenda by driving both operational research and advocacy at national and regional levels to invest in early actions.

“The IFRC, Kenya Red Cross Society and its partners are committed to focusing on early actions and to managing risks through a long-term strengthening community resilience strategy. Responding to a disaster once it occurs is no longer good enough,” said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the IFRC, during his visit to East Africa to discuss the food security crisis in the region. “Early action means ‘different’ and not just ‘earlier’. Risks and threats don’t always have to become disasters, there are ways to prevent and mitigate issues so that they don’t become catastrophic.”

Governments, regional and international actors must work together to ensure that the next drought does not turn into another humanitarian crisis. It is now time for all involved to demonstrate concrete action, and it is critical for the Red Cross to gather the support it requires to respond to the needs on the ground and scale up its activities now.

Sep 032014
 

ACCRA, Ghana, September 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — SkyVision Global Networks Ltd. (http://www.skyvision.net), a leadingglobal communications provider, today announced the recent donation of its satellite connectivity solutions to further support students at Ghana’s Crossover International Academy. SkyVision’s donation included upgrading the academy’s communications equipment with the support of VT iDirect, and providing Internet connectivity for an additional year, enabling students to access online educational programs and related e-learning tools.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/skyvision.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/140903-1.jpg

In 2013, the first phase of this charitable project was initiated jointly by SkyVision and iDirect, a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology. SkyVision’sSkyDirect VSAT service based on iDirect’s platform was installed and deployed throughout the academy, delivering reliable Internet access to all students.

Located in the remote village of Tongor-Attokrokpo, Ghana, all of Crossover’s students are orphans, supported by charitable donations from around the globe. SkyVision’s extension project will provide quality satellite communications throughout the school, considered by the faculty, as a ‘lifeline’ for continued learning. Internet provides the students with access to streaming video, social media, and email, and offers online programs such as the Khan Academy for mathematics, and PRO for reading and comprehension. The extended Internet service will enable over 250 students to enjoy the benefits of global connectivity, enjoying online programming in the classroom and the opportunity to communicate with the outside world, far removed from their remote villages.

“Without SkyVision stepping up and once again, donating a second year of Internet service, we would have been forced to shut down our e-learning programs, comments James Conti, Co-Founder and CEO, Wings for Crossover. “Seeing the joy in the students’ faces every morning reminds us how much they appreciate this truly generous gift.”

Chad Cooper, Co-Founder, Wings for Crossover, adds, “SkyVision has enabled our students to be educated and to rise above their often difficult circumstances. As a result of SkyVision’s generosity, these children will have the chance to break the cycle of poverty through education, make better lives for themselves, and for the generations to follow.”

“We are both proud and honored to support Crossover and the many students in need of education. It has been a pleasure to follow and be part of this important and life-changing project”, stated Tzvika Zaiffer, Director of Product Management & Marketing.

Ori Watermann, SkyVision CEO, comments, “We are committed to giving back to the global communities in which we work and education is a fundamental stepping stone towards these children’s growth and success. This project is proof of the significance and importance of satellite communications in education. SkyVision is proud to support the future in this developing nation, starting with its children, it’s most vital resource.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of SkyVision Global Networks Ltd.

For more information, contact:

Iris Tovim

Marketing Communications Director

SkyVision Global Networks

+44 20 8387 1750

irist@skyvision.net

About Crossover International Academy

Crossover International Academy was founded by David Yayravi. It is a school dedicated to helping children who are former slaves from the nearby fishing industry or children who have otherwise been orphaned. Crossover serves as a home, a school, and a family for children in the Lake Volta region of Ghana. Over the last couple of years, Crossover has established itself as the leading educational institutional in the region. Wings for Crossover, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2013 by Jim Conti and Chad Cooper, to assist the Academy with much-needed services and support. Since its founding, the organization has grown and it has successfully begun to meet the stated objectives. For more information, visit the website at: www.wingsforcrossover.org.

About SkyVision

SkyVision is (http://www.skyvision.net) a global communications service provider, offering comprehensive, integrated solutions to meet all corporate, government and telco market requirements. With an emphasis on its customers’ local or regional requirements, SkyVision offers superior network connectivity solutions. Known for its innovative approach, the company offers an extensive suite of both customized solutions and industry-standard services for end-to-end IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/enterprise-solutions), managed from its international gateways and selected local hubs. SkyVision’s global-reaching network connects its customers to the Internet backbone with more than ten satellite platforms and a network of high-capacity fiber optic cables, via its gateways in Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East as well as multiple points of presence (POPs) in Africa. SkyVision currently commands a satellite and fiber network IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/service/fiber-solutions) spanning 100 countries. The company’s C-Band and Ku-Band VSAT network solutions (http://www.skyvision.net/services/lobby2/Internet%20Connectivity) draw on SkyVision’s extensive space segment inventory from leading satellite providers and its capacity is carefully tailored to customers’ individual needs for optimal cost-effectiveness. Visit http://www.skyvision.net.

Sep 032014
 

DAKAR, Senegal, September 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — APO (African Press Organization) (http://www.apo-opa.com), the only press release newswire in Africa and the global leader in media relations relating to Africa, today released a calendar of non-working days in Africa (http://www.apo-opa.com/calendar.php) to assist professionals with pan-African responsibility in scheduling their activities.

APO logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/apo-african-press-organization-small.png

Photo : http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=782 (Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization)

There were over 57 days of holidays in Africa during July 2014 mainly due to public holidays in different countries.

To save time and unnecessary headaches, checking the list of holidays in Africa becomes a must for any professional working across the continent or even within different regions.

“As a company providing services on a pan-African scale, we understand how non-working days can affect successful activities and objectives in Africa. Many working professionals and organizations operating in several African countries will benefit from this free tool as much as we do,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, APO founder and CEO.

The calendar of non-working days in Africa is available here: http://www.apo-opa.com/calendar.php

Contact:

Aïssatou Diallo

bdm@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

About APO

APO (African Press Organization) (http://www.apo-opa.com) is the sole press release newswire in Africa and is a global leader in media relations relating to Africa.

With offices in Senegal, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, and Seychelles, APO owns a media database of over 100,000 contacts and is the main online community for Africa-related news.

It offers a complete range of services, including press release distribution and monitoring, online press conferences, interactive webcasts, media interactions, strategic advice, public diplomacy, government relations and events promotion. To find out more, please visit http://www.apo-opa.com.

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