IOM Condemns Xenophobic Violence Against Foreigners in Johannesburg Townships

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -6 IOM has condemned violence directed against foreign nationals and their businesses by Soweto residents, which has now spread to two other Johannesburg townships – Alexandra and Langlaagte.

The violence serves as a painful reminder of the continued vulnerability of migrants in South Africa. As the migration agency, IOM is calling on the government to take urgent measures to protect the safety, the property and the dignity of all South African residents, including foreign nationals.

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Migrants are disproportionally affected by violent crime, often because of the areas in which they live and work. Negative public perceptions of migrants can make them targets and if they are easily recognizable, criminals and mobs can single them out.

“Prejudices and stereotypes about migrants unfortunately fuel the sentiments of those who choose to loot and plunder the shops of hard-working entrepreneurs, simply because of their ethnic background. The misperception still exists that migrants come to South Africa to steal jobs and take advantage of the social system. In reality, many migrants create jobs and generate economic activity, which benefits all South Africans,” said Richard Ots, IOM’s Chief of Mission in South Africa.

IOM is inviting the government to engage in dialogue with migrants and civil society organizations to discuss the role, the position and the image of migrants in the country.

“We commend the government for publicly taking a stand against looting, intolerance and discrimination, and we offer our support to help find ways to further promote the inclusiveness and multiculturalism that South Africa is famous for,” said Ots.

Source:: IOM Condemns Xenophobic Violence Against Foreigners in Johannesburg Townships

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Malawi flooding: urgent assistance needed to confront massive and complex challenges, say UN experts

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the international community to rapidly provide all necessary funding and assistance to the Government of Malawi and humanitarian actors in response to some of the worst flooding in the country in living memory. Flooding has also affected Madagascar and Mozambique where international assistance is crucial to scale up responses.

 

“The flooding has displaced large numbers of people and presents massive and complex challenges for Governments and their humanitarian allies in the short, medium and longer-term,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani.

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“Evacuation of affected populations should be undertaken where necessary to save lives, and an effective humanitarian response is essential to address the needs of internally displaced people and others affected. Helping people to return and reconstruct devastated homes – when circumstances allow – will be just one challenge among many to rebuild lives and livelihoods and should be part of a broader recovery plan,” he said.

 

An estimated 638,000 people have been affected in 15 districts of Malawi since early January with 79 dead and hundreds more injured or missing. At least 174,000 people have been internally displaced in the three worst hit districts, with the total number likely to be far higher. In Madagascar and Mozambique, more than 240,000 people have been affected by flooding. Rainstorms and floods have ruined vast areas of crops.

 

A Preliminary Response Plan to the emergency developed by the Government in partnership with aid agencies, estimates that USD 81 million is urgently required to respond to essential shelter, food, healthcare, water and sanitation and other urgent needs. Only around a quarter of this amount has been received to date.

 

“The impact of flooding on food security poses immediate problems as well as potentially severe food shortages for months to come, as crops have been washed away and livestock lost,” said Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food. “Poor rural communities have lost everything and require early assistance to prevent hunger and malnutrition.”

 

“Safe water, sanitation and hygiene must be provided urgently for the survival of those affected, prioritizing the most vulnerable groups, but also for the prevention of water-related diseases such as cholera and malaria,” said Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation. An estimated USD 3.4 million is needed to respond to urgent healthcare needs and to prevent and control outbreaks of disease.

 

The experts praised the Government leadership for responding quickly to the crisis and welcomed the immediate response by several countries and humanitarian agencies in providing funding and aid. However they called on others within the international community to do everything possible to meet the current serious shortfall in funds and provision of essential aid.

Source:: Malawi flooding: urgent assistance needed to confront massive and complex challenges, say UN experts

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Welcoming the Start of Military Operations Against the FDLR

WASHINGTON, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

January 29, 2015

 

The United States welcomes the announcement by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of the start of military operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group that has inflicted immeasurable suffering on the civilian population of eastern DRC and Rwanda for over 20 years. The UN Security Council has mandated the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to protect civilians and, in support of the DRC authorities, to neutralize armed groups including the FDLR. Last July, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gave the FDLR, including its leadership, a clear deadline of January 2, 2015 to surrender fully and unconditionally or face military consequences. However, the FDLR failed to deliver on its promise to surrender and instead used this period to continue to commit human rights abuses, recruit new combatants, and pursue its illegitimate political agenda.

In October, the ICGLR and SADC heads of state reaffirmed that military action should take place in the absence of a full surrender of the FDLR, and on January 8, the UN Security Council reiterated the need to neutralize the FDLR through immediate military operations.

The United States fully supports DRC military operations with MONUSCO against those members of the FDLR who have failed to surrender. We encourage the DRC and MONUSCO to continue their coordination and joint planning and to take immediate steps to end the threat from the FDLR.

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We stress the importance of these military operations being conducted in a way that protects and minimizes the impact on civilians, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law, and in line with the UN’s human rights due diligence policy. The neutralization of the FDLR will contribute to long-term peace and stability for the people of the Great Lakes region.

Source:: Welcoming the Start of Military Operations Against the FDLR

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Zone 9 Bloggers Move to Trial on Amended ATP Charges in Ethiopia

WASHINGTON, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

January 29, 2015

 

The United States is concerned by the Ethiopian Federal High Court’s January 28, 2015, decision to proceed with the trial of six bloggers and three independent journalists on charges under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The decision undermines a free and open media environment—critical elements for credible and democratic elections, which Ethiopia will hold in May 2015.

We urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations. We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is free of political influence and continues to be open to public observation.

The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions about the implementation of the law and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elements of a democratic society. We call on the government of Ethiopia to support freedom of expression and freedom of the press to demonstrate its commitment to democracy as it approaches its May 2015 national elections.

Source:: Zone 9 Bloggers Move to Trial on Amended ATP Charges in Ethiopia

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Minister Reynders welcomes start of FARDC military operations against FDLR

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders welcomes the announcement, today, of the start of the military operations by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), with the support of MONUSCO, against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). These operations are necessary to neutralize this armed group, and to force it to disarm, as the FDLR refused to demobilize completely and unconditionally within the 6 month delay that was granted to it by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL) and the South African Development Community (SADC).

 

Didier Reynders fully supports the process of demobilization and reintegration of former FDLR fighters, but insists that FDLR leaders who committed serious human rights violations will be held accountable.

 

Minister Reynders reminds all parties that they must respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to protect the civilian population from violence at all times. He is grateful to all humanitarian workers and UN, international and national organizations that provide humanitarian assistance to all civilians in extremely difficult conditions.

Source:: Minister Reynders welcomes start of FARDC military operations against FDLR

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FAO Director-General attends African Union Summit

FAO Director-General attends African Union Summit / Graziano da Silva lends support to AU’s Malabo pledge to end hunger in Africa by 2025

 

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today attended an African Union (AU) summit which is set to focus on a continent-wide commitment by governments to end hunger by 2025, and also on efforts to boost the role of women in achieving prosperity in Africa.

 

Heads of state and of government meeting in the Ethiopian capital were expected to discuss the AU’s 2014 Malabo Declaration on ending hunger. A roadmap and implementation strategy to achieve this was launched earlier this week by the AU’s Commission together with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

 

“My presence at the AU summit, where the Malabo implementation strategy and road map have been presented and approved by heads of state, is crucial for FAO,” said Graziano da Silva. “We have accompanied the AU and NEPAD since the beginning of this journey, and will continue to do so until we get a hunger free Africa with the participation of key stakeholders governments, private sector, civil society, youth and women.”

 

FAO supported the formulation of the post-Malabo Implementation Strategy and Roadmap, including bringing together representatives from the public, private and civil society sectors to identify actions aimed at reducing post-harvest loss and food waste.

 

Over the past year the Organization also facilitated major advocacy events at a global and continental level, including an international conference on family farming in Angola and the 2014 African Union Commission’s Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security.

 

Empowering Africa’s women

 

The two-day AU summit in Addis Ababa’s agenda includes the theme 2015 – Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063. The initiative focuses on ways to enhance the potential women have to bring about change in Africa.

 

Graziano da Silva’s attendance at the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, comes at the invitation of the African Union Commission and is a continuation of the partnership between the AU and FAO that has developed into concrete programmes including the African Solidarity Trust Fund.

Source:: FAO Director-General attends African Union Summit / Graziano da Silva lends support to AU’s Malabo pledge to end hunger in Africa by 2025

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