ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Commission of the African Union (AU), convened a two day consultative workshop from 3-4 December 2013, to review the AU DDR operational guidance documents on issues of Detention, Women and Children in armed conflict, Reintegration and developing frameworks for National DDR initiatives, which will assist the AU’s engagement in DDR related activities.
The meeting was opened by Dr. Tarek A. Sharif, Head, Defense and Security Division (DSD), and brought together DDR experts from selected Member States, representatives from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), representatives from Center of Excellence (Kofi Annan Centre), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the World Bank, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and staff from the AU Commission.
The workshop was held as part of the Commission’s efforts to assist its Member States, RECS/RMs in building their capacity to respond effectively and in a timely manner to DDR challenges in Africa, in a manner that reflects the wealth of African experiences across the continent whilst also presenting an opportunity for technical input to the AU DDR capacity program. The operational guidance documents are aimed at strengthening the continental peace and security architecture and provide a platform for the AU to provide practical and political support to AU Member States and regional mechanisms in addressing DDR related challenges as they arise.
These operational guidance documents are intended to help standardize critical elements in any peace support operation on the continent based on experience to date by member states, from RECs and other partners to dates and are an important step towards improving and harmonize DDR modalities.
The AU DDR capacity program enjoys the support of the World Bank and UN as well as other key partners working towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness on how the AU addresses key issues pertaining to DDR on across the African continent.
DUBLIN, Ireland, December 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD began an eight day visit to Kenya and Uganda today to promote increased trade with East Africa and see the impact of Ireland’s aid programme.
The Minister’s visit comes a month after he led a successful Trade Mission to Nigeria and South Africa, in which almost 40 companies participated. This mission secured new contracts worth more than €7m in the financial services, telecommunications and education sectors. The Minister will explore opportunities for Irish companies in the Kenyan market in sectors including oil and gas and construction. He will announce plans to develop stronger trade links between the two countries.
Minister Costello said:
”This visit to Kenya is an opportunity to further develop opportunities for the Irish private sector in East Africa. Kenya is an important gateway for Irish companies to the wider East African region where economies are growing at more than 6 % per year.
“The visit is part of the Government’s Africa Strategy, which stresses the need to think beyond aid and to develop stronger political and economic links with African nations. Kenya was identified as a priority country in East Africa, given its potential for growth and its position as a gateway to the East Africa region.”
In Uganda, in addition to exploring trade opportunities, the Minister will see the impact of Ireland’s aid programme. This is the first ministerial visit to Uganda since the Irish Government suspended over €16 million of assistance in October 2012 following the discovery of fraud in the Office of the Prime Minister.
During the visit, Minister Costello will meet with the the Auditor General of Uganda, who has been conducting follow-on audits, with the support of Irish Aid. The Minister will also meet with the Ugandan Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Minister for Industry and Cooperatives. He said:
“Ireland has no tolerance for corruption. The Government of Uganda has now refunded in full the €4 million of Irish Aid funds which was misappropriated. Ireland has pressed for concerted action following the fraud. To date, the Ugandan Director of Public Prosecutions has opened 99 case files and Irish Aid will be following these cases very closely.
“Ireland will not return to funding through the Ugandan Government until we are fully confident that the Government has strengthened its internal financial controls and acted against all officials who were implicated in this fraud. Our programme of support to Uganda in 2013 is being delivered through trusted non-governmental partners.
The Minister said Ireland continues to work to support the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Uganda:
“Today, with the support of donors including Ireland, Uganda is making real progress. Our programmes support the poorest families to improve their livelihoods, enabling them to send their children to school and invest in their futures. I am particularly looking forward to visiting the Karamoja region where I will launch the Irish Aid funded school building programme in a region where poor facilities has contributed to low attendance, low retention and decreasing pupil performance.”
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 407th meeting held on 4 December 2013, devoted an open session to the theme: “Women, children and other vulnerable groups in conflict situations in Africa”. The meeting was held in pursuance of the decision adopted by Council at its 223rd meeting held on 30 March 2010, to convene such a session once every year.
Council took note of the statements made by the Commission, the Representatives of Namibia, in its capacity as the country that championed the adoption of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the statements made by fifteen (15) other delegations.
Council noted the progress made by AU Member States in the ratification and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women (2003) and other pertinent international instruments. Council further noted the progress made by Member States in submitting their reports on implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004) and the African Charter on the Protection and Welfare of the Child (1999), as well as the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (2009).
Council welcomed the progress made in the development and adoption of the AU Gender Training Manual for AU Peace Support Operations (AUPSOs), including the elaboration of a Policy Brief and a Draft Code of Conduct.
Council emphasized the importance of the AU Gender Training Manual in contributing towards engendering the African Peace and Security Architecture. Council commended AU Member States for their plans to include their Centers of Excellence in gender mainstreaming process.
Council commended the African Peace Support Trainers’ Association (APSTA) for availing its personnel for training on the AU Gender Training Manual for AU PSOs.
Council recognized that the Training of Trainers (Tots) on the AU Gender Training Manual for AU PSOs represent a pool and platform to both understand and address gender-based-violence in conflict situations in Africa.
Council, whilst deploring the increasing use of sexual violence as a weapon of war on the continent, underscored the need to develop an African capacity, including appointment of a Special Rapporteur on violence against women and children in conflict situations in Africa, to prevent and respond to the scourge of sexual violence. In this respect, Council applauded the efforts of the Commission to mitigate women’s and children’s vulnerability.
Council welcomed the efforts of the Chairperson of the Commission to continue to ensure the mainstreaming of gender aspects into all AU activities.
Council supported the proposal of the Republic of Namibia to institutionalize the annual celebration of the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1325 in AU Member States and at the African Union Commission level.
Council agreed to convene the next open session on women, children and other vulnerable groups in conflict situations in Africa in 2014.
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assisted in the transfer of five Sudanese Armed Forces personnel released today by the Sudan Liberation Army – Ali Karbino (SLA-AK), an armed opposition group in Darfur. The soldiers were handed over to the Sudanese authorities in Al Fashir, North Darfur.
“So far in 2013, ICRC staff in Sudan have facilitated the handover of 78 persons: 37 Sudanese armed forces personnel and 36 civilians released by armed opposition groups, and five South Sudanese prisoners of war released by the Sudanese government,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan.
Three ICRC delegates accompanied the five soldiers released this afternoon as they were taken by helicopter to Al Fashir. Prior to the journey, they spoke privately with each of the soldiers to make sure they were being transferred of their own free will. The ICRC’s regular dialogue with the government authorities and various armed opposition groups enables the organization to play its unique role as a neutral intermediary.
The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978. In 2003 it extended its operations to Darfur, where it helps people suffering the effects of armed conflict and other violence.
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, December 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — MEP Mariya Gabriel (EPP Group) and the European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
Have the honor to invite you to the Conference
“DRC two years after the elections: state of play and perspectives”
European Parliament – 5 December 2013 13h30-15h30
Koen Vervaeke EU Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes region
Flavien Misoni Congolese National Electoral Commission
Marcel Wetsh’okonda Koso 11.11.11.
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