AUC / ACBF roundtable discussion calls for economic resilience and strategic investment priorities for Africa’s Development

H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) chaired a roundtable discussion on the theme: “Addressing the Impact of Drought, Floods and Declining Commodity Prices in Africa: What Coping Strategies and Capacities are required?, on 3rd April 2016, jointly organized by the African Union Commission and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

The event at the Conference Center of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was intended totackle the issues of the drastic decline in demand for, and a sharp drop in the prices of, a wide range of commodities produced and exported by most African countries in recent months, causing adverse financial and economic effects on the continent. According to the organizers, this situation is worrisome in that most African economies are still heavily dependent on commodity exports. Rising United States interest rates have resulted in currencies depreciation and risen external indebtedness as well as mounting inflationary pressures.

The situation has been exacerbated by widespread and prolonged drought that has adversely affected agricultural production especially given that rain-fed agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies. Low river flows and drying reservoirs have rendered irrigation schemes inactive and led to increased hydro – power deficit. In a number of countries, floods have also been prevalent and have destroyed infrastructure, caused displacement of people and are leaving water borne diseases on their path. As a consequence most African economies are navigating through stormy and rocky economic situations. Humanitarian, financial and macro-economic management as well as capacity challenges are immediate. Therefore the AUC –ACBF provided a platform for the participants to exchange views on effective mitigation measures and stimulus packages to urgently address these issues.

H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in her opening remarks applauded the efforts of Africastating thatsince 2000, the continent has recorded an impressive turn around for the average growth compared to the 80’s and 90’s and for the transformative process to continue, it has to be brought with industrialization and agricultural development as well as enhance African market. Among the lessons of the Millennium Development Goals , Africa’s growth is not stable if not inclusive, “Africa’s economies cannot be resilient if not diversified, our products are not competitive if not processed …there are many more factors to consider,“underlined the AUC Chairperson.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma explained that, given thatAfrica isaffected by the fluctuation of commodity prices, it is imperative that the African economy be analyzed to understand why it is still vulnerable to weather fluctuations, and what needs to be done to build resilience in Africa’s agricultural products so as to make them more competitive in the world market. She also noted however the negative effect of climate change such as the el nino phenomenal on the African economy leading to recurring droughts and floods in some part of the continent,which she said calls for emergency action each time they arise including many other challenges Africa is facing.“Africa must defend and expand investments in education, skills and science technology to further boost the economic growth of the continent. AUC Chairperson emphasized.

Prof. Emmanuel NNadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), on his part noted the great significance of the ministerial round table discussionto the African Economy given that droughts, floods, and other hazards do have negative impacts on agriculture, food availability, infrastructure, assets, and productive capacity. Though studies over the past 20 years showed that Africa is the second fastest growing economy in the world, it is however witnessing a lot of issues related to Climate Change which also is the cause of droughts, floods and decline in commodity prices in Africa. Professor Nnadozie highlighted that relatively low economic growth in the continent can partly be explained by the external environment, which is now becoming less supportive. He further explained that the impact of climate change is felt at all levels ranging from droughts and floods which also causes a decline in crops production which are an important source of revenue to many African countries, thereby worsening a situation that is already bad.

Meanwhile, the commodity index prices has declined from 210 in April 2011 to 90.73 in December 2015 signifying that more primarily commodities have to be produced for the same amount of revenue, reiteratedProfessor Nndozie He added that, the key challenge had been the lack of capacity to anticipate, prevent and mitigate these kinds of challenges facing the continent. He said Africa’s vulnerability to sudden changes in commodity prices and external shocks is as a result of their heavy dependence on primary commodity export which also explains why in 2012/2013, out of 94 commodity dependent developing countries, 45 came from Africa with more than 60% of their exported merchandise made of primary commodities. It is important to mention that a decline in commodity price generally affects the pace of growth in household income, company profits and revenue for government. “The issue of droughts, floods and decline in commodity prices can be addressed if Africa pays particular attention to the right policies and necessary capacities”.Professor Nnadozie concluded.

The event was attended by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Economist and Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Beavogui, UN assistant Secretary General and Director of the African Risk Capacity, AUC Commissioners, Ministers and Representative from Member States as well as high level officials from various continental and international organisations.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Categories: AFRICA

Japan-Zimbabwe Summit Meeting

On Monday March 28, 2016, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a summit meeting for approximately 75 minutes starting at around 18:20 with H.E. Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who was paying an Official Working Visit to Japan.

After the summit meeting, the two leaders signed a joint statement (PDF) [Open a New Window] and with the presence of the two leaders, the Exchange of Notes between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe concerning Japanese grant assistance on the Economic and Social Development Programme on infrastructure development was signed. Following this, a joint press conference by the two leaders was held. Subsequently, Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe hosted a dinner, where the two leaders had a conversation on a broad range of topics related to the bilateral relationship, including activities of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and Japanese companies in Zimbabwe.
The overview of the summit meeting is as follows:

1. Opening remarks

(1) Prime Minister Abe welcomed the visit of President Mugabe as a senior African leader and longstanding friend of Japan and mentioned that Japan would like to make successful this year’s TICAD to be held in Africa for the first time with the attendance of President Mugabe and that he would like to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries taking the opportunity of this visit.

(2) In response, President Mugabe thanked Japan for the invitation to this visit, and mentioned that he would like to build on this visit to further enhance bilateral relations with Japan and that he is looking forward to participating in the coming TICAD in Africa, and to learning ethics and knowhow from Japan since he respects Japan’s experiences of development despite its lack of natural resources. He also mentioned that he expected Japan’s support to this end.

2. Bilateral relationship

(1) Prime Minister Abe announced his willingness to continue providing assistance to Zimbabwe following last year’s grant aid (approximately 1.8 billion yen). Specifically, he announced 1) a grant aid for infrastructure development amounting 600 million yen, 2) a implementation of a preparatory study for Zimbabwe-Zambia road improvement, and 3) a start of considerations on assistance to respond to the food shortages caused by drought. Prime Minister Abe requested President Mugabe to improve the business environment in Zimbabwe to promote trade and investment and expressed his willingness to expand people-to-people exchanges with Zimbabwe.

(2) In response, President Mugabe expressed appreciation to Japan for the above-mentioned support and past assistance from Japan such as human resource development and humanitarian aid. In addition President Mugabe explained Zimbabwe’s Indigenization Act in regard to the business environment.

3. The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI)

(1) Prime Minister Abe once again mentioned TICAD VI to be held in Kenya in August, and explained his intention to promote Africa’s development agenda, Agenda 2063, through the TICAD process, and to demonstrate Japan’s contribution that is distinctive to Japan, such as quality infrastructure investment and human resource development and strengthening Public-Private Partnership.

(2) In response, President Mugabe stated that he would provide whatever assistance needed for the success of TICAD VI and he hoped to discuss Agenda 2063 as Africa’s own development plan at TICAD VI expecting Japan’s supports to realize the Agenda.

4. Strengthening cooperation in the international fora

The two sides shared the view to cooperate on various issues that the international community faces, including the early realization of the United Nations Security Council reform.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

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Categories: AFRICA

African Ministers of Energy to discuss opportunities for power sector investment this June

Over 130 speakers to date have confirmed to attend the 18th annual Africa Energy Forum (AEF) (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com), taking place in London this year from 22-24th June. Widely considered the meeting place for Africa’s power sector professionals to discuss opportunities for investment into the power sector, 56% of the African continent was represented at the Forum in 2015.

Recent decision-makers confirmed include Honourable John Abdulai Jinapor, Acting Minister of Power, Republic of Ghana, H.E. Honourable Spéro Mensah, Minister of Energy, Petroleum and Mining Research, Water and Renewable Energy Development, Republic of Bénin, H.E. Honourable Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water, Republic of Mali, Nick Hurd, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, Government of the United Kingdom, Brigadier General Emeldah Chola, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia and Karén Breytenbach, Head of IPP Projects, IPP Office, South Africa.

The agenda includes government keynote addresses, targeted industry seminars and plenary sessions, discussing topics such as how to accelerate renewable energy uptake, increase the bankability of projects, and encourage partnerships between the public and private sector. An exhibition of 80 solution providers enables attendees to network throughout the three days of the conference.

New for 2016, North and East Africa regional panel discussions will bring together the regions’ governments to discuss how they can collaborate to support cross-border power developments and energy infrastructure. More specific country-focused sessions will also explore the investment landscapes in countries such as Mozambique, Nigeria and Ghana.

Sponsor of the Forum Access Power will host the ACF competition for local clean power entrepreneurs in Africa, allowing developers to pitch their projects to a panel of specialists for the opportunity to win US$7million in prize funding.

Organisers EnergyNet will host a ‘Festival of Energy’ evening concert on the evening of 23rd June to bring together high profile bands in the UK with African musicians from across the continent. The Festival will highlight the role of commercial trade in delivering energy access to millions living beyond the grid.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd..

For more information about the Africa Energy Forum:

Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager
Event dates: 22-24 June
Event location: London InterContinental O2
Organisers: EnergyNet Ltd
Email: AEF@energynet.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8068
Visit: www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com

Source:: African Ministers of Energy to discuss opportunities for power sector investment this June

Categories: AFRICA

UN Committee on Migrant Workers to review Mauritania, Lesotho, Senegal, Turkey

The UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (CMW) is meeting in Geneva from 11 to 22 April to review: Mauritania (11-12 Apr); Lesotho (12-13 Apr); Senegal (13-14 Apr) and Turkey (14-15 Apr).

The above are among the 48 States Parties to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. They are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 14 international independent human rights experts.

The Committee will discuss a range of issues relating to the implementation of the Convention with the respective government delegations. The sessions, held in Room XII at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, begin at 15:00 to 18:00 Geneva time and resume the following day from 10:00 to 13:00.

Members will also hear from NGO representatives, national human rights institutions, UN bodies and specialised agencies. More information can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1044&Lang=en. The Committee will publish its concluding reports here on Monday 25 April.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: UN Committee on Migrant Workers to review Mauritania, Lesotho, Senegal, Turkey

Categories: AFRICA

Call for proposals in Ethiopia : Bilateral Programme Budget

The British Embassy’s Bilateral Programme Budget is opening a call for proposals for 2016/17.

The Bilateral Programme Budget is one of the channels through which the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) supports projects that strengthen ties with the Ethiopian government and contribute to creating lasting peace, security and democracy in Ethiopia.

Bilateral Programme Budget is designed to support implementation of small and quick impact projects that Promote democratic values, good governance and culture of open debate in Ethiopia.

The deadline for submission of applications is 10 April 2016. Early submission of proposals is highly encouraged.

Project proposals that are best fit to our strategic objective and have a potential to achieve the programme’s desired outcomes will be shortlisted and submitted to the Programme board for approval.

Only organisations whose proposals have been shortlisted will be contacted.

1. Project Period

This is a one year project proposal call. The financial year of the BPB is 01 April 2016 – 31 March 2017. All projects must be completed within this financial year. Funding of projects in the next financial year is not guaranteed.

2. Budget

The budget to be allocated to one project can fall under the following ranges.

• £10,000 – £15,000

• £15,000 – £20,00

3. Capital Goods and Administrative Costs

The Bilateral Programme Budget fund does not authorise the purchase of capital goods. Minimal percentage of administrative costs may be allowed on case by case basis.

4. Pre-payment

Pre-payment is not permissible under the UK government procurement guidelines.

Who Can Apply?

• Government Institutions

• Legally Constituted Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

• Civil Society Organisations

• Community-based Organisations

• Universities and Research Centers

How to Submit Bids and Selection Criteria

The concept bid submitted should establish a clear and identifiable link between the activities planned and the BPB strategic objective of Promoting democratic values, good governance and culture of open debate in Ethiopia.

Proposals should be submitted on the Project form and sent to AddisAbaba.Projects@fco.gov.uk for the attention of the BPB Officer by Sunday 10 April 2016.

Bids will be assessed against the following criteria

• Potential implementers will need to comply with FCO(British Embassy) reporting requirements

• Must demonstrate sound management of risk and finances

• Project must strongly align with the BPB strategic objective indicated above

• Demonstrate the evidence of local need/demand

• Projects must present Value for Money

• Project viability, including capacity of implementing organisation(s)

• Project design, including clear, achievable outcomes

• Sustainability of the project

Successful Non-governmental organisations will be asked to submit their valid registration certificate by the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Agency at this stage.

Implementation of project will commence if/once both parties sign the FCO Grant /Commercial contract.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Categories: AFRICA

Galvanising African Agriculture Through Efficient Farm Mechanisation

Massey Ferguson (www.MasseyFerguson.com), a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE:AGCO) (http://www.AGCOcorp.com), is inviting farmers and agricultural dealers from across Africa to attend its exciting ‘Vision of the Future’ farm mechanisation event at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka, Zambia (8 April 2016).

“This major event is a catalyst for ideas focused on farm mechanisation as key a driver for growth in African agriculture,” says Thierry Lhotte, Massey Ferguson Vice President Marketing, Europe/Africa/Middle East (EAME). “With up to 100 machines on show, this will be the biggest spectacle of MF farm machinery and agricultural services staged in Africa for many years. Our emphasis is firmly on the new generation of farmers, farm workers and agribusinesses and their vital role in advancing the future of African farming. We have planned a really dynamic and thought-provoking experience with plenty to inform, inspire and entertain our guests.”

Reflecting Massey Ferguson’s mission to supply a comprehensive and progressive system of farm mechanisation for all types of farm enterprise, machines from its full-line catalogue will be showing their paces. A number of products will see their African debut at the event. MF tractors, harvesting machinery, implements, hay & forage tools, seeding & tillage and materials handling equipment plus some of the latest farming techniques to support African agriculture will be on demonstration and display. Alongside this will run a programme of workshop sessions and seminars.

This first-of-its-kind showcase event takes place at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka. The occasion will also see the official opening ceremony of AGCO’s state-of-the-art training facilities at the farm attended by Given Lubinda, Zambia’s Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Dr Rob Smith, AGCO Senior Vice President & General Manager EAME and Nuradin Osman, AGCO Director of Operations Africa and Middle East. “As AGCO’s global brand, Massey Ferguson is spearheading the Company’s strategy to transform African agriculture through inclusive and sustainable mechanisation,” says Dr Rob Smith. “Vision of the Future will have broad appeal and plenty to interest farmers across the spectrum of agri-enterprises – from progressive emerging and smallholder operations through to established farmers and larger agricultural business including contractors and fleet owners.”

Visitors to Vision of the Future will be able to drive the latest range of Massey Ferguson machines, gain an insight into product engineering and connected technological services, spend time with field service teams and technicians on how to get the best from machinery and have conversations with key players who are shaping the future of the agricultural sector. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to interact personally with Massey Ferguson design engineers and share their own vision and ideas for future tractors through a Virtual Reality engineering experience.

Like-minded companies from the agricultural sector are supporting Massey Ferguson at the event. For example, Michelin will be presenting a practical demonstration of tyre performance. Also participating are partners from the AGCO family of brands including GSI (grain storage solutions) Fuse Technologies (precision agriculture) and AGCO Parts (distribution of MF genuine parts).

“This is a unique opportunity for visitors to see MF’s credentials as an innovator, encouraging positive change within the agricultural industry and providing mechanisation solutions for farms big and small,” says, Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson, Director Marketing Services. “Massey Ferguson is an integral part of the African agricultural landscape and our machines have been contributing to farm output here for over 130 years. We have shipped over half a million tractors to Africa, and today we are active in every country on the continent. Our experience is second to none.”

“The principal tenets of our design philosophy that machines should be tough, straightforward and dependable are particularly applicable to African conditions,” he continues. “Furthermore, Massey Ferguson supplies a full mechanisation programme which covers all bases, embracing top-performing equipment, technology, expertise, knowledge, back-up and customer support. Our comprehensive range of products satisfies the needs of the complete farming season – from planting to harvest. Our fully-trained and extensive network of distributors and dealers takes care of sales, service and parts supply.”

A major exhibit is a new Mechanisation Package aimed at farmers making their first move into mechanised farming. Based on a Massey Ferguson tractor and a line of accompanying implements, this is aimed specifically at giving emerging farmers access to modern farm equipment at an affordable price. The package provides the opportunity for a vital step-up on the ladder of mechanisation for the millions of smallholder farmer families who are crucial to improving food security in Africa.

The very latest MF sub-130hp tractors have been designed with Africa in mind. The 100-110hp MF 5700 from this range will be making its first appearance on African soil at Vision of the Future, while the 112-132hp MF 6700 will see its first public showing in Africa at the event. These join the 75-95hp MF 4700 which had its world premiere in Africa in 2014. Among the tractors flying the flag for Massey Ferguson’s high-specification, high-horsepower machines will be the award-wining 140-255hp MF 7600 and 270-370hp MF 8600 Series.

A brand-new combine for the Africa Middle East region headlines the harvesting machinery exhibits at Vision of the Future. The versatile 200hp MF 32 Advanced features a straw-walker design, 5,500 litre grain tank and is capable of harvesting cereal grains, maize, rice, beans. Other highlights include a 175hp MF 7240 combine, 88hp MF 2168 rice harvester and MF 1840 small square baler. A wide range of seeding and tillage implements on show will include planters, drills, rippers and land finishers. From Massey Ferguson’s new hay & forage tool line-up, visitors will be able to see a selection of mowers, rakes and tedders.

“This is truly a festival of MF farm machinery and services, demonstrating just what can be achieved to boost efficiency and productivity with the right equipment, technology and know-how,” explains Thierry Lhotte. “We are looking forward to working with our customers to help meet the challenges ahead and maximise the opportunities for a new generation of farmers. Vision of the Future from Massey Ferguson is the perfect forum to exchange ideas, learn from each other and think ahead for the development of sustainable and prosperous agriculture.”

Attendance at Vision of the Future is by invitation only from a Massey Ferguson Dealer. Contact your local Dealer direct to find out more.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of AGCO Corporation.

CONTACT:
Paul Lay
Manager, Marketing Communications
and Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0)2476 851209
Email: Paul.Lay@agcocorp.com

Louisa Parker
Manager External Affairs –
Africa & Middle East
Tel : +44 (0)7789746268
Zambia Tel : +260 (0)971398169
Email: Louisa.Parker@agcocorp.com

Download pictures from http://assets.agcocorp.com
Searchword: VOFHighlights-04042016

About AGCO
AGCO (NYSE: AGCO) (http://www.AGCOcorp.com) is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural solutions and supports more productive farming through its full line of equipment and related services. AGCO products are sold through five core brands, Challenger®, Fendt®, GSI®, Massey Ferguson® and Valtra®, supported by Fuse® precision technologies and farm optimization services, and are distributed globally through a combination of approximately 3,000 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries. Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, GA, USA. In 2015, AGCO had net sales of $7.5 billion. For more information, visit http://www.AGCOcorp.com. For company news, information and events, please follow us on Twitter: @AGCOCorp. For financial news on Twitter, please follow the hashtag #AGCOIR

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Categories: AFRICA

Explanation of Vote at the Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2279 on Burundi

Ambassador David Pressman

Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City

April 1, 2016

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin by congratulating you and the Chinese delegation on assuming the presidency of the Security Council. Thank you for convening us this evening.

The situation in Burundi is beyond fragile. The ongoing repression, harassment, and violence against the legitimate political opposition, the closure of free and impartial media, and widespread impunity for human rights violations and abuses – including those involving killings and alleged sexual violence by security services against political opponents, members of civil society and others – continue. Almost a quarter of a million have fled. Again, over a quarter of a million Burundians have already fled the country since April 2015 out of fear for their lives, and countless more have been internally displaced. People do not flee in the hundreds of *millions unless there is a very, very serious problem.

Against this backdrop, let’s be clear: progress will be measured by peace, and peace will come from genuine political dialogue that is inclusive. To date, while there have been opening ceremonies, the real discussions have not commenced. We strongly support former President Mpkapa in his efforts to move this process forward and urge a date be scheduled for discussions to begin. Each day that this crisis continues makes it that much harder for Burundi to regain the progress it has achieved over the past decade, risking a much longer-term and much deadlier crisis.

While in our discussions, some have pointed to the release of a “significant number of prisoners.” This resolution does not do that. This resolution instead welcomes “the steps made by the Government of Burundi” towards that end and urges them to fulfill their commitments. The progress made by the Government of Burundi to date is woefully insufficient. There have been plenty of press releases, but not enough political prisoner releases. We acknowledge the government’s acts of clemency for prisoners who are old, under-aged, or infirm – but that is not the same as releasing political prisoners, and they must begin to deliver on those important promises.

We have been promised that free media would be allowed to operate, but today only 2 out of 5 banned outlets are today operating.

It was agreed that 200 African Union human rights and military observers would be deployed, but today there are currently 32 human rights observers and 15 military observers on the ground in Burundi, and they do not have a Memorandum of Understanding with the government.

Recognizing the enormity of these problems, today’s action by the Security Council is indeed important.

With this resolution, the Security Council expresses its support for the African Union’s efforts in Burundi, including the deployment of the 200 AU human rights observers and military observers. We call on the Government of Burundi to cooperate fully to facilitate the implementation of the mandate of these human rights observers and military experts. With this resolution, the Security Council endorses the EAC-led, regionally-mediated dialogue. Only such an inclusive and regionally-mediated dialogue can resolve this crisis and restore stability to Burundi. We urge all stakeholders to expedite the resumption of this dialogue in pursuit of a peaceful and consensual path forward for Burundi.

With this resolution, the Security Council urges the Government of Burundi to deliver in reality what it has committed to in the press. With this resolution, the Security Council has sent a strong message to the Government of Burundi and the opposition to cease all violence, refrain from provocation, and to commit to peacefully resolving this crisis through dialogue – a dialogue based on respect for the Arusha Agreement.

And with this resolution, we are today sending a more robust, larger international civilian presence into Burundi to advance political dialogue, security, and rule of law. We are also asking for options for the deployment of a police mission, which should include options on the deployment of formed police units, to Burundi to advance rule of law.

The United State appreciates the efforts the Security Council members and our colleagues have made to find consensus on this important resolution.

Thank you.

*thousands

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Explanation of Vote at the Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2279 on Burundi

Categories: AFRICA

DR Congo: Children Held in Remote Military Prison

The Congolese military is unlawfully detaining at least 29 children in dire conditions in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities allege that the boys, ages 15 to 17, were members of a rebel armed group, and have held them in a military prison in Angenga since apprehending them in eastern Congo in the first half of 2015.

Human Rights Watch found during a visit to Angenga prison in December 2015, that neither the boys nor the adult men detained with them have been charged with crimes, or had access to lawyers or their families. Detainees who did not commit any criminal offense should be promptly released. Under international law, countries are obligated to recognize the special situation of children who have been recruited or used in armed conflict. Former child soldiers should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

“Congolese authorities should immediately release the children and adults held at Angenga prison who have committed no crime and fairly charge the rest,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Children who were rebel fighters should be rehabilitated, not thrown into prison and held there indefinitely.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 52 detainees, including 29 children, and several prison officials at Angenga, as well as more than 40 Congolese military and government officials, United Nations officials, humanitarian workers, and others, between December 2015 and March 2016.

Detention conditions at Angenga are dismal, with inadequate food, clean water, and medical care. Children and adults remain together on the prison grounds during the day. The children had been detained in the same cells as the adults until prison officials transferred them to a separate block for sleeping at night in late February 2016.

“To get medicine, you have to wait for a response from God,” one prisoner said.

Between February and June 2015, Congolese security forces apprehended 262 men and boys of Congolese, Rwandan and Burundian nationality in North Kivu and South Kivu, and in the former Katanga province of eastern Congo. Those captured were accused of being members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a largely Rwandan Hutu armed group, some of whose leaders are believed to have taken part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The majority of FDLR fighters today are unlikely to have played any role in the genocide because they were too young. A considerable number of FDLR fighters are Congolese recruits.

The military transferred the suspected fighters to the city of Goma and flew them to the Angenga military prison, in northwestern Congo’s former Equateur province (currently Mongala province), between May and August 2015. Since December, more than 60 additional suspected FDLR fighters have been transferred to Angenga. At least four of the prisoners have died from illnesses since arriving at Angenga. Two others were shot dead on February 26, 2016 outside the prison grounds. Prison authorities allege that the two men had attempted to escape.

Most of those interviewed, including 17 of the children, said they were civilians and had no affiliation with the FDLR. Others said they were former FDLR fighters who had demobilized months or years ago and had reintegrated into civilian life. Several Rwandan Hutu refugees said the authorities arrested them on the pretext that they had to register with national and international refugee agencies in Congo. Some said they were told that they needed to leave a military operational zone for their own safety, but when they arrived at the so-called “safe” village with their families, they were arrested and accused of belonging to the FDLR. Human Rights Watch could not verify individual claims.

“The local authorities came to tell us that we needed to register with the CNR [National Commission for Refugees],” a 16-year-old Rwandan Hutu boy who lived in Fizi, South Kivu province, told Human Rights Watch. “But instead they led us to their military camp. The same day, eight others fell into the same trap, thinking they needed to register.”

Another 16-year-old detainee who had been a child soldier with the FDLR said he had surrendered to the Congolese army so he could return to civilian life through the country’s demobilization program. Instead, he was arrested and sent to Angenga.

Eight other children who had been child soldiers with the FDLR said they surrendered to the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) in North Kivu’s Rutshuru and Masisi territories. The children said the peacekeepers later handed them over to the Congolese army. MONUSCO asserts that seven of them had originally declared themselves to be adults and that the eighth boy did not pass through MONUSCO. MONUSCO also said that peacekeepers handed two other FDLR child soldiers – who originally declared themselves to be adults – over to the Congolese army, which then sent them to Angenga. MONUSCO said they wrongly assumed that the army would be sending former combatants to a reintegration camp instead of to prison.

Different divisions of MONUSCO, as well as nongovernmental organizations, the Congolese army, and prison authorities, gave purported children significantly disparate ages, warranting a thorough review of existing policies, Human Rights Watch said.

A senior MONUSCO official was informed of the transfers to Angenga prison, which included children, at least by October 2015 in a meeting with a humanitarian organization. The UN Group of Experts on Congo also reported on the detainees in Angenga in October.

Five months after learning about the possible detention of children, MONUSCO sent a mission to investigate. During the three-day joint mission in March 2016, MONUSCO and Congolese army officials together conducted cursory interviews with 94 alleged children, based on lists they had received from prison authorities and a humanitarian organization. The officials concluded that 22 detainees were children.

Human Rights Watch believes that the number of children is most likely much higher and that the conditions under which the interviews were conducted and the limited time spent with each child hampered a thorough inquiry.

On March 28, a senior MONUSCO official said the mission was working with the Congolese government to transfer the children out of the prison but that no date had been set for the transfer.

Some of the FDLR fighters detained at Angenga may have been involved in war crimes or other offenses. But they, like the others, have not been charged or brought to trial. They include an FDLR officer, Séraphin Nzitonda, who faces a Congolese warrant for his alleged role in a mass rape.

“UN officials have been aware that children were being held at Angenga but waited for months before acting on this information,” Sawyer said. “Congolese authorities need to work closely with MONUSCO to get the children out of the prison. Children shouldn’t be there, and given the dire conditions of the place, it seems no one should.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Source:: DR Congo: Children Held in Remote Military Prison

Categories: AFRICA

UNAMID Joint Special Representative to hold press conference in Khartoum

The Joint Special Representative (JSR) of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Martin Uhomoibhi, will be holding his first press conference on Monday, 04 April 2016, at 11:00 hours in the main conference room at UNDP Headquarters, on Gama’a Street in Khartoum.

JSR Uhomoibhi will brief the press on the current developments in relation to UNAMID’s activities and the Darfur peace process.

All media are invited to attend.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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Source:: UNAMID Joint Special Representative to hold press conference in Khartoum

Categories: AFRICA

H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Mr. Carlos Lopes co-chair the Seventeenth Session of the RCM for Africa calling on a transformative path on Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063

The seventeenth (17th) Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) for Africa kicks off on 2nd April 2016 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, amidst reiterated calls for coordination in the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030). RCM-Africa – a platform for the UN system to support the African Union and its member countries to implement global, and continental development goals in Africa – will play a key role in making this a reality.

The meeting was highly attended by high officials from the African Union Commission (AUC) led by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Mr. Carlos Lopes; the Representative of the UN Deputy Secretary General, Under Secretary General and UN Special Adviser on Africa, Maged Abdelaziz; high officials from UN agencies and Systems ; the African Development Bank; the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency; the World Bank and the IMF; and AU Member States.

The deliberations called for strengthen of partnership, accountability, progressive monitoring and evaluation system, transformative path to the economic development of Africa through syncing the Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Officially opening the meeting H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, stated that one important lesson from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa is that initial conditions invariably influenced the pace of progress on global development agendas. However, each region has to consider both what it has and it’s aspirations in order to meet obligations to its citizens as well as global obligations.

She indicated that, it comes as no surprise in the technical analysis of the goals of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals that there is over 90% convergent. The implementation of the Agenda 2063 priorities will help in meeting the sustainable development goals. “The RCM in 2015 agreed on the need for joint implementation, and this 17th RCM must therefore focus on the practicalities of this at continental level with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)”, noted the AUC Chairperson. She further acknowledged the recommendations on the reconfigured RCM clusters based on the agenda 2063 10 year Implementation Plan, on the concrete joined programs for implementation at continental as well as regional level with the sub regional mechanisms.

“The implementation of Agenda 2063 will really help us meet the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty, zero hunger or quality education, water, sanitation, protecting the planet, gender equality, reducing inequalities and ensuring prosperity for all, added Dr. Dlamini Zuma, “An integrated, peaceful, prosperous Africa that is driven by its own citizens is in the interest of the whole humanity.

Mr. Carlos in his remark said the timing of the seventeenth session of the RCM is auspicious because it is occurring in the aftermath of the adoption of the Agenda 2063 which aims to support the vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens representing a dynamic force in international arena. He highlighted that both Agenda 2063 and 2030 contain global and regional specific interventions that if effectively implemented, can propel the continent on a transformative path for sustainable development. Mr. Lopes noted that, though African countries also have their own development plans and strategies, the greatest challenge policy makers’ face is how to implement these frameworks in a coherent and integrated manner. Dr. Carlos further added that in order for support to be truly effective, UN bodies have outlined works for the priority of the AU in a coordinated and coherent manner which is a fundamental role of the RCM for Africa. He emphasized on the need to strengthen engagement with the science community which may be a necessary solution to seek answers to some of the vexing challenges posed by climate change among others, underlining the need for global partnership which can also be a solution to tackle some of the key socio-economic development challenges facing the African continent. “There is no doubt that global partnerships can provide the impetus for tackling the key socio economic challenges currently facing Africa. Global partnerships can work for Africa if they are aligned with the strategic objectives of the continent and buttressed by a unified continental voice…We have the opportunity to model what such a partnership could be”, said ECA Executive Secretary. He added that global partnership can therefore work for Africa if they are aligned with the strategic vision of the continent and backed by a unified voice from the continent.

Speaking on behalf of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Mr. Abdelaziz, UN Special Adviser on Africa said: “What is critical for us today is what the implementation of the UN-AU partnership and the implementation of Agenda 2063 and 2030 agenda for sustainable development entail: both agendas are wide and comprehensive, together they will be therefore addressing a range of political, economic, social, and environmental challenges for Africa”.

Mr Abdelaziz recommended that RCM Africa prioritize multi stakeholder and public-private partnerships, facilitate joint work to support national efforts to domesticate and implement both Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030, help address the perennial problem of lack of resources.

He lauded the joint commitment and efforts of the AU and UN in achieving milestones with the RCM with the view of harnessing cooperation between both institutions the United Nations and the African Union through the cluster system. Enabling joint planning and programming of a range of issues including social, economic, agriculture, peace and security, governance, Human Rights and gender free values. “Furthermore, the RCM has improve synergy and coordination, avoiding duplication, enabling a better use of resources and facilitating joint advocacy in communication and outreach” he noted.

Holding under the theme: “toward and integrated and coherent approach to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Agenda 2063 and the sustainable development goals”, the 17th Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa deliberate on the UN-African Union partnership for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs); the African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women; Movement, Migration, Youth and Gender Empowerment; Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade; and Strengthening the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa for an effective Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.

The RCM meeting ends on Sunday 3rd April 2016.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Mr. Carlos Lopes co-chair the Seventeenth Session of the RCM for Africa calling on a transformative path on Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063

Categories: AFRICA

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Egypt

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is pleased to welcome a United States Congressional delegation to Egypt for meetings April 2 – 3. Led by Senator Lindsey Graham, delegation members plan to meet with President Sisi and Minister of Defense Sedky Sobhy to discuss shared interests related to security, stability, and the fight against terrorism.

The delegation is also visiting projects, implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which are designed to protect Egypt’s cultural heritage and support its economic development.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Embassy – Cairo.

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Source:: U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Egypt

Categories: AFRICA

Dismantling of trading zone outside pedestrian gate of Juba POC 3

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), at the request of the Inspector General of the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), today extended logistical support to an operation to clear an area adjacent to the pedestrian gate of Juba protection of civilians (POC) site 3, which had become an illegal trading zone and a threat to the safety of the occupants of the POC site.

This operation was carried out by local authorities in response to concerns raised by community leaders in the POC and surrounding communities that the activities in the area posed a clear security threat to IDPs and increased criminal activity outside the POC sites and nearby vicinity. These community leaders subsequently issued a formal request that local authorities have the section cleared.

During the SSNPS clearing operation, UNMISS ensured the heightened safety and security of the IDPs residing in POCs 3 and 1 by augmenting its already reinforced security personnel presence providing protection to the IDPs and POC site.

The main POC gates were closed during the exercise to prevent any interference during the operation, and to protect those in the POC site.

The removal and relocation of shops was a Government-led operation carried out by the Governor, SSNPS, and SPLA, with UNMISS and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) providing logistical and security support to the adjacent POC sites.

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

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Source:: Dismantling of trading zone outside pedestrian gate of Juba POC 3

Categories: AFRICA