Dec 052014
 

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Official delegates from Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique have concluded their annual review and planning meeting for the reaffirmation of their international boundaries. The annual meeting, which took place from 1 to 5 December 2014, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania also witnessed a successful exchange of best practices between the participants from Great Lakes and West Africa.

The three countries, which have been engaged with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) since 2008, were each represented by five members from relevant ministries dedicated to border issues.

Speaking during the Opening Session, the Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania’s Ministry of Lands, Alphayo Kidata emphasised the importance of implementing the Border Programme effectively in order to secure sustainable peace and development. “To ensure the safety and security of future generations and in order to shift our focus more towards the development agenda, it is incumbent upon us to resolve our border disputes through greater cooperation and dialogue, “ said Mr Kidata.

The meeting reflected on the advancements achieved by Southern African Member States, in border delimitation and demarcation throughout the year. Beyond review and planning, the meeting provided a platform for the participating Member States to exchange experiences and lessons learnt arising from their joint border management activities.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the official handover of data from an aerial survey (LiDAR survey), which was carried out along the western Malawi-Mozambique boundary to the respective Heads of Delegations. The 420,000 USD survey to determine the watershed line between the two countries, was financed by the German Federal Foreign Office via GIZ. The line forms the basis of delimitation and demarcation of the border between the two countries and will enable them to proceed with demarcation in 2015.

Representatives from neighbouring Burundi, DRC and Uganda participated as observers and explored opportunities for future cooperation. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the AUBP and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

-Note to the Editors-

About the AU Border Programme (AUBP): The AUBP was launched by the first Conference of African Ministers in charge of Border Issues, held in Addis Ababa, on 7 June 2007. The AUBP aims to: facilitate the delimitation and demarcation of African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place; promote cross-border cooperation; strengthen African capacity for border management; and develop partnerships and mobilize resources in support of the efforts of the African States. Two other Conferences of African Ministers in charge of Border Issues were organized subsequently: in Addis Ababa, on 25 March 2009; and in Niamey, Niger, on 17 May 2012. The fourth Ministerial Conference on the AUBP is scheduled to take place in 2015.

The AUBP was launched as part of the efforts of African States to meet the challenges related to the management of the borders inherited from colonial times, driven as they were by the conviction that the achievement of greater unity and solidarity among African countries and people requires the attenuation of the burden of the borders separating them. Transcending borders as barriers and promoting them as bridges linking one State to another will enable Africa to boost the ongoing efforts to integrate the continent, strengthen its unity and promote peace, security and stability. It is in this context that the OAU/AU has adopted a number of political and legal instruments to guide the efforts of the Member States in the management of border issues, including the principle of the respect of borders existing on achievement of independence, agreed to in Cairo in July 1964; the principle of negotiated settlement of border disputes, affirmed by the 44th Ordinary Session of the OAU Council of Ministers, held in Addis Ababa in July 1986; and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA), adopted by the OAU Summit held in Durban, in July 2002, which committed Member States to complete the delimitation and demarcation of all African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place by 2012.

About the progress made in the implementation of the AUBP:

(i) Delimitation and Demarcation

Since its launch, the AUBP has given particular attention to the delimitation and demarcation of African borders. Indeed, the lacking demarcation of borders can be a source of misunderstandings, while at the same time impeding the acceleration of the integration process (for example, it is impossible to put in place joint border customs posts to facilitate trade if the border line is not clearly known). The AU Summit held in Malabo, in July 2011, decided to extend the deadline for the completion of the delimitation and demarcation of African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place until 2017.

In this respect, the following initiatives have been taken:

- the launch, since 2008, of a Pan-African survey of the borders, through a questionnaire sent to all Member States on the status of their borders. To date, the Commission has received 31 answers, on the basis of which it is endeavoring to establish a Boundary Information System, which will make it possible to have a comprehensive and updated view of the status of African borders;

- support for the demarcation of the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, which was completed in 2010. The AUBP assisted in accelerating the completion of the demarcation of the remaining 413 kms. The 1,303 kms common land border is now fully demarcated;

- support for the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the Comoros, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Seychelles, which culminated in the signing of a Delimitation Treaty on 17 February 2012;

- support for the densification of boundary pillars along the 330 kms of border between Mozambique and Zambia in 2012, as well as along the border between Zambia and Malawi (804 kms). A similar process is underway for the land borders between Mozambique, on the one hand, Tanzania (671 kms) and Malawi (888 kms), on the other hand;

- support for the ongoing delimitation and demarcation exercises between Senegal and Mali (362 kms), Senegal and The Gambia (740 kms) and Senegal and Guinea (330 kms);

- support for the launch of delimitation and demarcation exercises between other countries, particularly between Rwanda and Uganda, as well as between Burkina Faso and Niger. Other requests for assistance are currently being considered; and

- assistance to the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan and South Sudan regarding the delimitation and demarcation of the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

On the basis of the responses to the questionnaire on the status of borders, approximately 35.8 per cent of the total length of the African borders (excluding maritime borders) can be regarded as having been delimitated, demarcated and reaffirmed. 13,000 km of borders are currently being reaffirmed. Once this exercise is completed, the cap of 50 % of the length of the continental borders will have been crossed.

In addition, the AUBP has received, from Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Italy and Portugal, the colonial archives relating to African borders. The availability of these archives will help expedite the delimitation and demarcation exercises on the continent.

(ii) Cross-border Cooperation

In addition to the adoption of the Niamey Convention, a number of initiatives have been taken with regard to the promotion of cross-border cooperation. After the demarcation of the last segment of the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, the AU, with the support of the GIZ, facilitated the construction of the Ouarokuy – Wanian Cross-Border Health Centre, which serves the rural communities of Madiakuy and Mafoune (Mali) and Djibasso (Burkina Faso).

Furthermore, technical support has been provided for the establishment of a women’s cross-border co-operative for harvesting, processing and marketing mangoes in the sector of Sikasso (Mali), Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) and Khorogho (Ivory Coast). Similarly, the AUBP has technically supported the establishment of community radios in West Africa to help in the promotion of cross-border cooperation.

(iii) Capacity-building

The AUBP has also recorded important achievements with regard to capacity-building. Assistance has been extended to some Member States, in particular, as regards the establishment of National Boundary Commissions.

Another fundamental achievement of AUBP relates to the publication, in 2013 and 2014, of five practical Guidebooks whose objective is to disseminate best practices in specific areas, for use by different actors concerned in order to accelerate the implementation of the Programme. These practical Guidebooks are accessible through the following link:

Http://www.aubis.peaceau.org/guide-books-and-documents-african-borders

(iv) Partnership and resource mobilization

In their successive statements on the AUBP, the Ministers responsible for border issues have particularly called on the Commission to initiate a campaign of mobilization of resources and to develop partnerships for the implementation of the Program.

As a follow-up, the Commission has developed a close partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, which provides a significant technical and financial support to the AUBP, through the GIZ. In addition, and in consultation with the Commission, the GIZ provides direct support to Member States in the areas of border delimitation and demarcation, cross-border cooperation and capacity-building. The support provided by Germany from 2008 to 2014 amounts to 23.7 million Euros. The United Kingdom and Denmark have also provided financial support to the AUBP.

The Commission has also developed partnerships with other countries and organizations. Cooperation has been developed with the European Union (EU), to take advantage of its experience in the field of cross-border cooperation, and the United Nations, through its Cartographic Section. Cooperation has also been developed with other institutions, including the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), in Nairobi, and the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE), as well as with the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).

(v) Outreach and Awareness-raising

In 2011 and 2014, the AUBP produced two documentary films on the results achieved so far. These documentaries are accessible to the public under the following link:

Http://www.aubis.peaceau.org/guide-books-and-documents-african-borders

In addition, in 2010, the Ministers in charge of Border Issues agreed to declare 7 June as the African Border Day. The AU Executive Council endorsed this recommendation, which aims at raising awareness, of all the actors concerned, on the importance of the AUBP. The AEBR has launched an initiative for 7 June to be proclaimed as “International Day of Integration Beyond National Borders” by the United Nations.

Dec 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations human rights expert Pablo de Greiff will visit Burundi from 8 to 16 December to assess the transitional justice efforts undertaken by the authorities thus far. Since gaining independence in 1962, Burundi has experienced several periods and incidents of grave violence and massive abuses, often ethnically motivated.

“This first visit comes at a particularly crucial moment,” the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence said, pointing to the ongoing process of the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The creation of the truth-seeking body in Burundi is one of the main steps contained in the Arusha Agreement of 2000 and a key recommendation of the national consultations of 2009.

“However, beyond truth-seeking, my mandate focuses on the areas of justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, which,” as the expert pointed out, “aim to redress the legacies of massive human rights violations, and to assist in providing recognition to victims, foster trust and reconciliation, and strengthen the rule of law.”

“I intend to assess objectively and impartially the work undertaken in all four areas of my mandate and offer my assistance to the Government and the entire Burundian society to adequately address past violations with the aim to continue to move forward,” the Special Rapporteur underlined.

Mr. de Greiff, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Burundi authorities, is scheduled to meet with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, law enforcement officials, a broad range of civil society actors, victims, the UN and diplomatic delegations. He is scheduled to visit the provinces of Bujumbura Rural, Bubanza and Gitega.

The expert will hold a press conference in Bujumbura at the end of the visit on 16 December at 10:30 at the Office of the United Nations in Burundi (BNUB), Chaussée d’Uvira, to present his preliminary findings and recommendations.

A final report on the visit will be presented by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

Dec 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 1 December, Central African Republic (CAR) Independence Day, IOM, in collaboration with the Frères Centrafricains pour la Paix, organized the first mixed community mass event for a year in the 3rd district of the capital, Bangui.

The peaceful gathering brought together over 5,000 people from various communities in Bangui for the first time since 5th December 2013, when fighting broke out, resulting in widespread violence and the mass displacement of over 500,000 people in city.

Before the event, former international CAR football players conducted a large-scale community sensitization campaign for community members of different ethnic and religious background for several weeks to share information and encourage Muslim community members living in the highly volatile area of PK5 to participate.

As a result, more than 2,000 people from PK5 gathered at the mayor’s office of the 3rd district on 1 December, which, following its renovation by IOM, has become one of the main gathering points for the community.

The group, escorted by organizers wearing IOM and donor visibility gear, walked through abandoned areas, the scene of previous atrocities and current IOM-organized cash-for-work activities, to the predominantly Christian Fatima neighbourhood, where the event took place on the Fatima school football field.

“This is the first time since September 2013 that I have left PK5,” said Ousman, 19. “Due to the insecurity, we always stay in our neighbourhood. It is very exciting to go back there. I used to go to school in Fatima. I hope I will be able to see many of my former classmates today, hopefully everyone will come.”

The arrival of the group was met with applause and cheering by a crowd of around 1,000 people from other neighbourhoods in the 3rd and 5th districts. There were many emotional encounters between long lost friends.

The main event was a football match between former CAR football stars, community members, IOM and other actors, who played in mixed teams. There were also other events, including traditional and modern dances, music acts performed by well-known Central African comedian and singer-songwriter Dr. Mandjike, the Association of Central African Artists and the National Comedians Association. A total of

over 5,000 people attended.

Participants included community leaders, mayors and representatives of the government, representatives of the Ex-Seleka and Anti-Balaka movements, and various community-based self-defense groups.

The event was part of IOM’s European Union (EU)-funded “Community Stabilization and Early Recovery for At-risk Communities in Bangui” project, which aims to contribute to stability in Bangui’s most volatile districts by increasing dialogue between different communities, revitalizing economic exchange, and rehabilitating community-based infrastructure. Over 20 events to increase social cohesion have taken place to date, with a total of over 100,000 participants.

Dec 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Migrants are the focus of the first East Africa International Authority on Development (IGAD) Scientific Conference on Health taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3-6 December.

IOM is presenting five abstracts related to migration health concerns at the conference, the theme of which is: “Innovative Approaches to Equitable Access to HIV, Reproductive Health and Related Services among Pastoralists and Mobile Populations”.

Many migrants and host communities, particularly at border crossing points, are affected by health issues such as HIV/AIDS, which is still a major challenge to most governments in the region.

Born and raised in a Kenyan border town, James Tafida was 14 years old when he started selling sex. James had no money. His parents were farmers and could only sustain themselves. He is now 25 and is still selling his body for between USD 5-10 a day. “Border towns are known for male sex workers. At the border, people mind their own business. No one cares what happens underneath the surface,” he says. “There was no money for us. My friend suddenly had all this money and eventually told me it was because he was ‘seeing men for an evening.’ I thought that if he was doing it, I could do it also.”

Most of his clients are migrant workers – mainly truck drivers – from neighbouring countries who come to the border town of Isebania while in transit to other countries. As a male sex worker, James relies on his network of clients to refer new clients. He knows his work carries risks. “Most of my clients use condoms to protect themselves against HIV. I have never gone for testing. I am afraid,” he says.

A study conducted in 2013 by IOM found that the health vulnerabilities of migrants, including migrant workers such as truck drivers at the different One Stop Border Posts (OSBP), are very high. OSBP are intended to facilitate transport and movement of people in East Africa by hosting both entry and exit procedures at one site.

Workers are away from home for long periods of time, separated from their families, have inadequate social protection and limited access to social services, health care and education.

The key objectives of the conference are to share knowledge and best practices on health among migrant populations and to map out new directions and policy orientations for accelerated and sustainable delivery of health services, as well as enhanced cooperation, with a wide range of partners.

Dec 052014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM, in close collaboration with the Malian government’s Emergency Operations Center and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), has set up a Flow Monitoring Point (FMP) in Kourémalé – the main point of entry between Mali and Guinea Conakry, to collect data on travelers and provide outreach to check the spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Mali.

Mali has been categorized by the WHO as a country at-risk, due to its long border and strong economic ties with Guinea, where the epidemic began. The first Ebola case in Mali was confirmed on October 23rd, when a two-year-old girl died after she traveled with her grandmother from Conakry to Kayes in eastern Mali, transiting through Kourémalé and Bamako. Since then, seven new cases have occurred from a separate chain of transmission, all related to an Imam from the Guinean side of Kourémalé, who died in Bamako.

The new FMP is located at the health checkpoint of Nougani – a village 10 km from Kourémalé. Six IOM staff trained by WHO on EVD response community awareness are supporting government health personnel to strengthen the surveillance mechanisms in place.

IOM staff are collecting data on a daily basis and sensitizing travelers on the risks of transmission and the EVD response structure in place in Mali.

A database has been created to facilitate the rapid identification of people who may have been in contact with EVD cases during their journey, and daily reports and maps of provenance and destination are produced.

From 21st to 30th November, 4,970 people (31 per cent women and 69 per cent men) were registered transiting through the FMP, with a daily average of 552 people. Up to 800 persons transit every day through the facility.

“The collection of data on travelers allows quick identification of any potential contact case who shared transportation with an EVD case,” said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Chief of Mission in Mali. “Outreach activities aim to improve the knowledge of hundreds of travelers each day, and inform them of the structures in place in Mali, in case they fall sick,” he added.

This 3-month pilot project is scheduled to continue through February 2015 and may be extended and expanded to other health checkpoints throughout the country.

Dec 052014
 

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United States is deeply concerned by continued reports of human rights abuses in The Gambia. Since October, the Government of The Gambia has denied access to UN Special Rapporteurs investigating reports of torture and extrajudicial execution, targeted individuals for arrest and detention because of their perceived sexual orientation or political position, and enacted legislation that imposes a possible sentence of life imprisonment for the so-called crime of “aggravated homosexuality.”

We remain concerned about ongoing reports of forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, including of journalists, human rights advocates, and civil servants, as well as continued calls by senior officials for the persecution of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. We remain deeply disappointed in the Gambian government’s failure to investigate the disappearance of two U.S. citizens missing since June 2013.

Protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, and we will be guided by these values as we respond to these negative developments in The Gambia. Such actions are inconsistent with international standards and deal a setback to the Gambian people and all people who value human rights. The United States calls on the Government of The Gambia to respect all human rights, repeal discriminatory legislation, and cease these harmful practices.