Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, will carry out his third official visit to Mali from 8 – 17 October 2014. This visit takes place against the backdrop of the fragile security situation in the north of the country and the re-launch of the Algiers Peace Process, which intends to find a peaceful and lasting settlement to the Malian crisis.

“In view of the recent wave of releases of detainees who were involved in the armed conflict, including some who are suspected or accused of international crimes, my visit will afford me the opportunity to hear more of the victim’s perspective to this crisis,” Mr. Baldo said.

“Let me recall an African proverb which says that, when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In the case of Mali, the grass symbolises the victims of this crisis, who paid a heavy price, and feel excluded from the political and judicial process, which seems more favourable to the political actors who were the source of mayhem,” he added.

At the presentation of his last report to the Human Rights Council on 25 March 2014, Mr. Suliman Baldo affirmed that “ … since independence, impunity constitutes one the main causes of the recurring crisis in northern Mali.”

“This vicious cycle has to be broken as we will not be able to achieve durable peace without justice. Previous peace accords responded more to the demands and needs of the principal protagonists to the conflict than to the requirement for justice, for reparations and for guarantees of a non-repetition,” the human rights expert concluded.

During his ten-day mission, Mr. Baldo would meet members of the Malian government, the judiciary, the security services, the Presidency of the Malian National Commission on Human Rights as well as the Secretary General of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. He will also meet with representatives of non-governmental organisations, religious leaders, the diplomatic community and the United Nations Country Team in Mali.

The Independent Expert is scheduled to make unannounced calls to places of detention across Mali and also visit northern Mali.

At the end of his visit, the press will have an opportunity to interact with the Independent Expert to discuss his preliminary observations, findings and recommendations. Further information on this meeting with the media will be released in the coming days.

The Independent Expert is expected to present the findings of his third mission to the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council in March 2015.

Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Killings and acts of physical violence committed against civilians, the destruction of homes and businesses, attacks against rescue workers: the list of violations of international humanitarian law taking place on an almost daily basis is long. Just as it is imperative that emergency action be taken to save lives, it is essential that weapon bearers be convinced that they must obey the rules that protect civilians.

“Spreading knowledge of the basic rules of international humanitarian law, such as those that prohibit attacks on people who have been injured or on medical vehicles, is one of the ICRC’s priorities in the Central African Republic,” said Jean-François Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui. “The actions of the parties to the conflict have a direct impact on the victims. The parties therefore need to know the rules. They need to respect them and enforce respect for them.”

The challenge is enormous. How is it possible to preserve even a little humanity when hatred is so strong, when the desire for vengeance is so great that it seemingly justifies anything? How can armed groups or civilians taking up arms be taught the basic rules of international humanitarian law when the country is rife with chaos and danger, and plagued by impunity? It is difficulties such as these that the ICRC strives to cope with every day in the Central African Republic by means of neutral and impartial humanitarian work and regular dialogue with the parties to the conflict and everyone taking part in the armed violence. The aim is twofold: to bring about greater respect for the rules of international humanitarian law and the rules applicable in law enforcement operations, and to give the ICRC, the Central African Red Cross Society and other components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement safe access to detainees and other people needing help. The meetings between the ICRC and weapon bearers (armed groups, international forces, gendarmerie, police, and armed civilians taking part in the fighting), whether organized as training courses or as information sessions customized to suit each audience, are intended to bring about greater respect and improved protection for the wounded, the sick, detainees and the population in general.

Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of personnel from the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka armed groups have attended sessions in Bangui and elsewhere on the basic principles of international humanitarian law, such as the protection of the civilian population, and respect for human dignity and for medical services. In Bambari, Kaga Bandoro, Kabo, Dekoa and Boda, the same message was repeated for these parties to the conflict.

“This is a long-term effort,” said Mr Sangsue. “Contact has to be constantly maintained, and we have to tirelessly explain and inform, and promote respect for the basic rules of international humanitarian law. Better knowledge of the law can help prevent people from breaking it.”

The ICRC is also in contact with all foreign, regional and multinational forces in the Central African Republic. Both at the time of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) and ahead of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), some military and police contingents from troop-contributing countries attended information sessions on international humanitarian law and human rights. In some countries, the ICRC provides training for troops set to leave on a UN mission prior to their departure, as was the case for Rwandan, Senegalese, Cambodian and Tunisian contingents. Two days after the UN mission in the Central African Republic officially began, the ICRC met in Bangui with the commanders of the contingents and with senior staff of MINUSCA to discuss certain humanitarian problems and the cooperation expected between the military branch of MINUSCA and the ICRC, just as it had done previously with MISCA. The ICRC is also in regular contact with the European Union Force (EUFOR) and with the French Sangaris force, a party to the conflict.

“Since the beginning of September, the country’s security forces have been undergoing training and rebuilding,” said Anand Appadoo, an ICRC delegate in charge of training police units. “We are involved in the training of more than 300 Central African police and gendarmerie personnel. The focus is on learning how to behave in accordance with international human rights law.”

Because civilians have also taken part in the violence, the ICRC endeavours to raise awareness of humanitarian rules in neighbourhoods and villages. In Bangui, Ndélé, Kaga Bandoro and Bambari, meetings have occasionally been organized with community and religious leaders and with youth organizations where humanitarian problems and the most basic rules of humanity – those that everyone must obey – have been discussed.

In close cooperation with the Central African Red Cross Society, the ICRC is sharing its knowledge of rescue techniques and emergency medical assistance with community representatives and members of armed groups. Because most of the latter have never received training in first aid, they are unable to provide proper care for combat casualties. For fighters and civilians alike, life-saving skills are all the more important as the small number of health-care facilities in the country that have not lost all their personnel or been destroyed are often situated far from combat zones.

Between 21 August and 25 September 2014, in cooperation with the Central African Red Cross, the ICRC:

● saw more than 11,000 patients, covered the cost of hospitalizing more than 350 sick patients, and performed over 90 operations and over 90 deliveries in hospitals and other facilities in Bangui, Kaga Bandoro and nearby;

● reunited eight children with their families after they had been separated by the conflict, including one child who had been in an armed group, and restored contact between 25 individuals and other members of their families;

● provided the detention centre in Bangui with enough basic medical supplies to treat up to 1,000 people;

● built a 70,000-litre water reservoir to boost storage capacity at a site at the airport where displaced people have gathered;

● raised awareness among more than 21,000 people of proper hygiene and sanitation practices;

● provided drinking water every day for 10,000 people in the hospital of Ndélé and elsewhere in the city;

● provided food aid for nearly 17,000 displaced people at seven sites in Bangui;

● vaccinated 3,000 head of cattle in the Kaga Bandoro area against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia.

During the same period, ICRC staff also visited more than 400 detainees to assess the treatment they were receiving.

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Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As of today, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has provided food assistance to more than 430,000 people affected by the Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In support of a unified response under the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), WFP is ramping up services to the whole humanitarian effort.

“This is human suffering at its most complicated. I said to our health partners, ‘Tell us what more we can do, how we can do better to help you.’ At WFP, we are shifting our gears to keep up with this huge challenge. We’re delivering food, logistic support, planes, helicopters, ships and building treatment centres,” said Denise Brown, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa.

WFP’s response to the Ebola outbreak includes:

• WFP’s food assistance is provided to patients in Ebola treatment centres, survivors of Ebola discharged from treatment centres and communities with widespread and intense transmission – including the families of people infected with Ebola who are in treatment, deceased, or recovering. This helps to stabilize affected communities by enabling them to limit unnecessary movement.

• Food distributions are ongoing in all three countries, in both urban and rural areas, often house-to-house, one family at a time — and more food is on the way. WFP has contracted a ship that is currently in Cotonou, Benin, loading 7,000 metric tons of rice to be transported to Monrovia and Freetown.

• The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by WFP, has opened a new air corridor between Dakar, Accra, Freetown, Monrovia and Conakry to facilitate the rapid deployment of humanitarian staff to the field. UNHAS was already operating between the affected countries and has transported 497 passengers and 6.6 metric tons of light cargo for 25 organizations (NGO, UN, donors, government partners and media), using two fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter.

• WFP is providing unprecedented logistics support to help medical services to treat and prevent the spread of the virus. In Liberia’s capital Monrovia, WFP field engineers are setting up four Ebola Treatment Units with a capacity of 400 beds.

• WFP is helping to quantify the impact of the health crisis on household food security through an innovative technique called “mVAM,” using mobile phones for surveys that are normally done in person. In Sierra Leone, data collection via SMS has been completed for a sample of 800 households. In Guinea and Liberia, WFP is preparing data collection through interactive voice response.

• The UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), managed by WFP, continues to support the response efforts of the World Health Organization, WFP, Irish Aid and Japan International Cooperation Agency. UNHRD depots in Dubai (UAE), Accra (Ghana), and Las Palmas (Spain) have so far dispatched 224 metric tons, worth US$ 1.9 million, of protective gear, emergency health kits and equipment to the region. Weekly dispatches are ongoing.

Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Every year, South Africa marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Week in an effort to increase awareness of trafficking in persons across the country. This year the week will run from today through next Friday (3-10 October).

The crime of human trafficking is being committed in South Africa, but due to its hidden nature, is very difficult to quantify. The number of victims assisted by IOM since 2004 shows that South Africans are being trafficked to other countries; that traffickers use the country as a transit destination; and that people are trafficked to the country from other parts of the world including Eastern Europe and Asia.

There is also evidence of internal trafficking taking place. Victims are recruited from informal settlements and rural areas by traffickers who take advantage of the desire of people for a better life, according to IOM’s 2008 report: “No Experience Necessary: The Internal Trafficking of Persons in South Africa.”

Victims often end up in the country’s major cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, and mining regions like Rustenburg.

“No country in the world is immune to the crime of human trafficking. It is a global phenomenon and the third largest profitable illegal trade after drugs and weapons. South Africa is a place of origin, transit and destination for victims,” says Richard Ots, IOM South Africa Chief of Mission.

To support the government of South Africa in the fight against human trafficking, IOM is launching a series of activities during this special awareness week.

Today and on Saturday (3-4 October), IOM will organize outreach campaigns in Pretoria and Johannesburg, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). These activities will aim at educating the public about trafficking – the process, forms of exploitation and how they can report suspected cases.

Earlier this year, IOM partnered with the UJ, Department of Strategic Communications to develop an awareness raising campaign. The concepts of campaigns were developed by UJ students as part of their Strategic Communication curriculum and student assessment this year.

The key message of the campaigns is “#TRAPPED”. This is intended to ignite curiosity about the campaign whilst highlighting the bondage and trauma experienced by trafficking victims. Once recruited and transported to their destinations, victims are usually trapped in helpless and exploitative situations.

On Monday (6 October), IOM will participate in a media briefing with senior officials from the Department of Justice, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the headquarters of the NPA in Pretoria. The media briefing will provide an update on the human trafficking situation in South Africa, the national response, and share data on global and regional trafficking trends.

On the last day of the special week (10 October), IOM will partner with the Department of Justice, NPA, South African Police Service (The HAWKS) and the Dutch Embassy to host a public debate on Trafficking in Persons and Liberalization of Legislation on Commercial Sex Work in South Africa.

The debate aims to promote dialogue on legislation in combating trafficking in persons. Panellists will debate whether liberalization of legislation on prostitution in South Africa would lead to an increase or decrease in cases of trafficking in persons.

Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — One year after 368 migrants, mainly Eritreans, lost their lives in the Mediterranean trying to reach Italy, survivors of the tragedy and relatives of the victims will return to the island of Lampedusa today for the first time to commemorate the event.

IOM Director General Ambassador William Lacy Swing, who met last year with the survivors of the shipwreck and heard their stories, will take part in the commemoration.

“Last year the world watched in horror when these migrants lost their lives trying to swim to the shores of Lampedusa. A few days later, on October 11th, hundreds more people, many of them families from Syria, lost their lives in another sinking. And last month, less than a year later, another 500 migrants, including Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians and Sudanese, met their death at sea off Malta. These tragedies appear endless,” said Ambassador Swing.

The IOM report “Fatal Journeys” presented earlier this week showed that over 3,000 migrants have died this year in the Mediterranean – now the deadliest region in the world for irregular migration.

“Without (the Italian navy’s) Mare Nostrum operation, launched following the October 2013 tragedy, the number of deaths at sea would have been far higher. The top priority must be to continue patrols of this kind to save lives at sea,” added Swing.

Ambassador Swing will attend a conference this morning on “Humanitarian Channels for the Prevention of New Casualties”. At the event he will stress the need to provide safer and legal entry opportunities to migrants entitled to international protection. In IOM’s view, this is the best way to combat criminal organizations, smugglers and traffickers.

Other speakers at the conference will include President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz; President of the Italian Law Chamber Laura Boldrini; President of the Portuguese Parliament Maria De Assuncao Esteves; Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini; and Mayor of Lampedusa Giusy Nicolini. A representative of the families of the victims will also speak.

At midday, flowers will be placed at the spot where the boat sank. The Italian navy and coastguard, with others who participated in the rescue operation, will also place a gravestone on the seabed next to the wreck, which is about 130 feet below the surface. The commemoration will end at 7.00 pm, when 368 thin paper lanterns donated by IOM will be released into the night sky.

 Uncategorized
Oct 032014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On Sunday, 5 October, a community in the U.S. State of Ohio will put out the red carpet for a very special visitor. His name is Never. He was trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana and later rescued and rehabilitated by IOM.

Never’s heart-wrenching, yet uplifting story will be part of a “Save a Child” event in which IOM and U.S.-based partners will take part to raise awareness among residents of the City of Columbus, Ohio about the plight of trafficked children in Ghana.

Proceeds from the event will support the efforts of IOM and its U.S.-based non-profit partner, the U.S. Association for International Migration (USAIM), and GlobalGrandparenting, a charity founded by two community members, Rosanne and Mark Rosen, who were inspired to support this cause.

The three organizations have been working together to raise USD 100,000 to fund a 2015 rescue of 20 trafficked children exploited by fishing “masters” in the remote Lake Volta region of Ghana.

“We hope this event will bring greater awareness to our community about the incredible challenges children are facing all over the world,” says Rosanne Rosen. “This is all about Never and the kids in Ghana; they keep us motivated to do more.”

Children, as young as four years of age, are sold into slavery and still forced to work from dusk to dawn under dangerous conditions on Lake Volta.

Never was one of those children. When he was ten years old when he was removed from school and sent to work for a fisherman. Once in the fishing community, Never worked 14-hour days, starting at 5 a.m.

Most children are not able to attend school, lack adequate nutrition, face detrimental health consequences, and sometimes become entangled in fishing nets and drown.

Never was exploited for two years before the IOM team rescued him. Never hopes his story will bring relief to children who remain trafficked.

IOM has rescued 731 children, but unfortunately hundreds of children remain trapped in trafficking situations.

The Ghana project began attracting the attention of the U.S. public after the plight of these children was showcased on the Oprah Show in 2007. Since then, USAIM has raised over USD 500,000 for IOM Ghana’s counter-trafficking efforts.

“Beyond the financial resources mobilized, one of the greatest satisfactions for us is to see two communities, otherwise separated by thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean, united behind a common cause. This is invaluable and shows the important role USAIM plays connecting globally conscious U.S. private donors and IOM,” said IOM Ghana Chief of Mission Sylvia Lopez-Ekra.

“In a country as large as the United States we try to target bigger cities,” added Luca Dall’Oglio, USAIM CEO and President. “Holding this event in a prominent community in the American Midwest is the perfect example of how effectively targeted messaging can reach the right people who will spread the word.”

The “Save a Child” event will highlight the 2015 goal to rescue 20 children and support them for at least 2 and a half years through IOM’s comprehensive approach to rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The event will include music by the Urban Youth String Orchestra and performances by the Thiossane Institute Dancers. The “Save a Child” event will also provide an opportunity to recognize Children Saving Children, a Columbus community youth organization that has hosted fundraising events ranging from walkathons to benefit concerts to support this cause.

Oct 032014
 

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ —

⁻ Partnership aimed at addressing the high rates of preventable infant mortality across Africa

⁻ Philips unveils power-independent wind-up fetal Doppler; a clinical innovation that addresses local needs; enables healthcare workers to detect fetal distress during labour

Royal Philips (AEX: PHIA, NYSE: PHG) (http://www.philips.com), today announced a partnership with South Africa based not-for-profit organization, PET (PowerFree Education Technology) (http://www.pet.org.za), to further develop, test and commercialize a Wind-up Doppler Ultrasound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor (in short: Wind-up Fetal Doppler), a unique power-independent clinical innovation aimed at addressing the high rates of preventable infant mortality across Africa.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/philips-1.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1412 (The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is a device to easily and accurately count the fetal heart rate while the mother is in labor)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1411 (from left to right: JJ van Dongen, Senior Vice President and CEO, Philips Africa; Maarten van Herpen, Head of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub; Dr Francois Bonnici, Director of PET and Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town)

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is a device to easily and accurately count the fetal heart rate while the mother is in labor. A slowing of this fetal heart rate towards the end of a uterine contraction is an important indicator that a fetus is not receiving enough oxygen and may suffer brain damage or die. If this is detected early enough, a midwife or delivering nurse can take the necessary actions to save the child.

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler will be commercialized by the Philips Africa Innovation Hub (http://goo.gl/M1xVBI), which is the center for developing innovations “in Africa-for Africa” in the areas of healthcare, lighting and healthy living. The Philips Africa Innovation Hub has unveiled the first Philips prototype of the Wind-up Fetal Doppler, underpinning their commitment to the partnership. The prototype is subject to clinical testing and regulatory approval, before release for general usage.

Measuring fetal heart rate – an important indicator of fetal health

Women and infants in semi-urban and rural areas across Africa often die due to preventable complications during child birth. Many infants, especially in under-resourced settings die during labor or suffer brain injury due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the baby during the hours that the mother is in labor. Many of these deaths could be prevented and cases of brain injury avoided, using a Doppler ultrasound monitor that helps midwives and delivering nurses to monitor the baby’s wellbeing during labor(1).

Current methods to measure the fetal heart rate are either too expensive, too inaccurate or rely on replaceable batteries or electricity to run; the Wind-up Fetal Doppler is especially designed to empower midwives and delivering nurses to give better care.

“It is very hard to do an accurate measurement with a Pinard-stethoscope, because you need to be able to hear the fetal heart well and count the rate correctly. It is often also uncomfortable for the mother. A Doppler ultrasound fetal heart rate monitor is a good solution, but the current monitors on the market require mains or battery power, and are not robust enough.” states, Anneke Jagau (http://pet.org.za/about.php?view=3), a midwife working for PET.

PET has been working on the development of the hand cranked, Wind-up Fetal Doppler for many years, and they verified the positive impact of the device in tests in Uganda (http://www.pet.org.za/media.php?node=11), where 60% more cases of abnormal fetal heart rate were detected in labor, compared to the standard Pinard-stethoscope.

Maarten van Herpen, Head of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub, states: “Philips is open to collaborations with key stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, to create impactful innovations that matter to people and address the key challenges that confront society. PET has invested many years in the development of this important idea. I am honored that PET has chosen Philips as the company that is best positioned to commercialize it and make it available across Africa”.

“We are very excited about the collaboration with Philips”, said Dr Francois Bonnici, Director of PET and Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town, “We chose to work with Philips because of a strong alignment on the mission to improve people’s lives with meaningful innovation. As a market leader in healthcare, Philips will be able to make our innovation available and affordable for frontline health care workers across the African continent.”

Philips remains consistently committed to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, linked to the current UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (MDGs) (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals); the company has also made a pledge (http://goo.gl/6kymNh) to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s initiative Every Woman Every Child (http://www.everywomaneverychild.org) and committed to improving the lives of 100 million women and children by 2025 targeting sub-Saharan Africa where high maternal and infant mortality can be addressed through early diagnosis and preventative care.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Royal Philips.

For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey

Philips Group Communications – Africa

Tel: +31 62525 9000

E-mail: radhika.choksey@philips.com

(1) Woods D. Appropriate technology and education for improved intrapartum care in under-resourced countries (http://goo.gl/xvBaL2). S Afr J Obstet Gynaecol 2009; 15: 78-79.

Mangesi L, Hofmyr GJ, Woods DL. Assessing the preference of women for different methods of monitoring the fetal heart in labour (http://goo.gl/W6YDkt). S Afr J Obstet Gynaecol 2009; 15: 58-59

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at http://www.philips.com/newscenter.

About PowerFree Education Technology (PET)

PET based in South Africa, was established as a not-for-profit organization by key experts in newborn and child health. PET advocates and stimulates the development of appropriate, low-cost, robust, and power-independent medical devices, together with learning materials, to aid life-saving decisions and help frontline healthcare workers meet the challenges of health care in under-resourced settings. More information on PET is located at

http://www.pet.org.za/index.php

Oct 032014
 

NEW YORK, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Academic Impact will host another of its “Music for Peace” conversations on 9 October in Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. Speakers will include members of South African a cappella group, The Soil, and singer and song writer, Simphiwe Dana.

The event takes place in observance of International Day of Non-Violence (2 October), Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and in tribute to the Mahatma’s formative years in South Africa. It will be co-hosted with two well-known cultural icons of New York City, the World Music Institute and the Apollo Theatre, who will kick off their “Africa Now! South Africa Festival” with this event at the United Nations Headquarters.

The United Nations Academic Impact, launched by the Secretary-General in November 2010, is committed to the “unlearning of intolerance” and peace and conflict resolution, both expressed through the power of music.

The “Music for Peace” event will be webcast and made available at http://webtv.un.org/. Online viewers are encouraged to submit their questions and comments to academicimpact@un.org.

Oct 032014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi visited Somalia to reaffirm the support of the United Nations to youth development in Somalia. During the mission, Mr. Alhendawi met with high level government officials and youth organizations to reiterate the support of the UN in developing the National Youth Policy to ensure that young people are empowered, consulted and able to participate in the development process.

“Young people in Somalia have paid the highest price of conflict and instability,” said Mr. Alhendawi. “I am here because I believe that youth are the country’s biggest assets. I reiterate the United Nations unwavering commitment to youth development through a new National Youth Policy.”

In meetings with the Somali Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister, and Ministers of Higher Education, Youth and Sports, Education and Health, Mr. Alhendawi announced the support of the United Nations for the development of a National Youth Policy. The National Youth Policy, being developed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will guide youth-focused interventions that will respond to the aspirations of youth and help young men and women play their role in bringing peace and stability to Somalia.

“The Youth are one of the critical resources of our nation considering their potential, numbers, vitality, and capabilities as change agents for national transformation,” said His Excellency Dr. Khalid Omar Ali, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Federal Government of Somalia.

Young people under 30 years old represent more than two thirds of the population today in Somalia, one of the largest demographic youth bulges in the world. Somalia has one of the lowest school enrolment rates in the world with only four out of ten children in school. Two thirds of youth are unemployed and lack of access to opportunities. As a result of over 25 years of conflict, two generations have been denied education, employment and knowing what a stable life is. Due to social and economic marginalization, young people are increasingly turning to crime and radicalization and are at risk of being recruited by armed groups. Particular emphasis is required to help girls and women to access education and employment as they face additional barriers compared to their male counterparts. Improving the lives of the youth is crucial for building peace and stability in the country.

“Through my meetings with government officials and young people in Somalia, I have felt the determination of this generation to open a new chapter. I have witnessed the challenges first hand, but I am confident that the determination of youth and right investment in them will transform the country. Young people have the potential to become drivers for peace and stability,” stressed Mr. Alhendawi.

In a visit to the Centre for Peace and Democracy to meet with youth from across different regions of Somalia, Mr. Alhendawi expressed that his visit was an opportunity to raise global awareness about the challenges and opportunities that Somali youth face.

“I would like to show the world who the real shabab are of Somalia,” said Mr. Alhendawi. “The real shabab of Somalia are the ones who are working hard to support the positive development and peace. Let’s restore the term ‘shabab’ to its true meaning—youth in Arabic. Somalia’s youth are the key to its future.”

In order for the Federal Government to reach its Vision 2016 and implement the New Deal Compact, the Youth Envoy stressed the importance of increasing the engagement with Somali youth. In partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and civil society, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) has already started to hold consultations with youth to ensure that they fully participate in and lend their voices to the ongoing peace- and state-building process their country is undertaking.

After the two-day mission to Somalia, the Youth Envoy stopped in Nairobi, Kenya to meet international donors and key stakeholders urging them to scale up investment into programming and support for Somali Youth.

In a meeting with the UN Country Team for Somalia, Mr. Alhendawi discussed the UN support to the Somali Federal Government through two initiatives that are currently under way: a comprehensive strategy on youth that aims at increasing youth participation in governance processes, prevent violence and promote reintegration, stimulate employment and economic empowerment of youth as well as further youth-friendly service provision; and a joint programme for youth employment that will provide direct employment opportunities, employment skills to the youth, and stimulate key sectors of the economy to create demand for skilled employment.

The visit was sponsored in part by United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).