Dec 112014
 

PARIS, France, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been notified that four individuals, including three former MSF patients, have filed suit against five health organisations, including MSF, in Kenya. In particular, the former patients allege that they were either sterilised without their consent at third-party Kenyan health structures or felt pressured by staff at MSF’s former Mathare HIV care project to undergo surgical sterilisation to avoid losing access to medical treatment or nutritional support.

“MSF takes these allegations extremely seriously and is reviewing them carefully,” said Dr. Alexandra Vandenbulcke, MSF’s current Medical Coordinator in Nairobi. “As a medical humanitarian aid organisation, MSF is committed to ensuring that all of our patients are fully informed about their medical options and that all of our patients provide full and informed consent prior to any medical treatment they receive.”

From 2008 to 2013, MSF’s health promotion activities in Mathare involved providing HIV-positive patients with family planning information. In accordance with MSF’s policies, patients were informed of a full range of contraception methods and the benefits, risks and consequences of each method. MSF has never encouraged surgical sterilization as a preferred contraceptive method. Surgical sterilisation (bilateral tube ligation) was one contraceptive measure described to patients. In accordance with Kenyan Ministry of Health policies, women who chose surgical sterilisation as their preferred family planning option were referred by MSF to third-party Kenyan health structures. MSF has never performed surgical sterilisations in Kenya.

According to an internal MSF audit conducted in 2012, out of more than 1,100 patients who received family planning information from MSF, only twenty-one women were referred by MSF to Kenyan health structures for surgical sterilisation procedures. On three occasions, women told MSF’s internal auditor that they felt they needed to choose sterilization to maintain the relationships they had with their healthcare providers. None of the other patients interviewed by MSF’s auditor said that they felt under any pressure to select a particular family planning methodology.

Nonetheless, following the completion of its internal audit, MSF reinforced its internal procedures with respect to providing information about surgical sterilisation. MSF’s practices now go beyond Kenyan national recommendations and ensure that all patients are provided with multiple opportunities to discuss their family planning choices, including with at least two different healthcare providers. Patients are now also required to take a minimum of three weeks to consider any non-reversible family planning option.

“It is never easy to investigate the confidential and private exchanges between a healthcare practitioner and a patient,” said William Hennequin, MSF’s current Head of Mission in Kenya. “MSF once again reaffirms that we will collaborate fully with Kenyan authorities with respect to these serious allegations.”

Dec 112014
 

PARIS, France, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In the report “Ivory Coast: choosing between justice and impunity”[in French] released today, FIDH, MIDH and LIDHO, its member organisations in Ivory Coast, point out that despite the renewal of the Special Investigation and Examination Unit (CSEI), judicial advances against those responsible for human rights violations during the 2010/2011 post-electoral crisis that left more than 3000 dead, remain insufficient.

Among the concerns expressed in the report are : the instigation of a trial specifically targeting pro-Gbagbo supporters that does not address human rights violations; obstacles to investigations currently in process against the FRCI, notably with individuals presumed responsible who have not responded to the summons issued by judicial authorities; and finally, procedures concerning the crimes committed in the West subsequent to the post-electoral crisis now blocked.

One year from the presidential election and as the national reconciliation process does not meet expectations, FIDH, MIDH, and LIDHO call upon the Ivorian authorities to remove all obstacles to impartial and fair judicial proceedings for all those responsible for the post-electoral crisis, including FRCI members.

Three years after legal procedures by the Ivorian judiciary began against the alleged authors of crimes committed during the post-electoral crisis, our organisations provide an updated report on the state of commitments made by Ivorian authorities in the fight against impunity and for national reconciliation. By participating as civil parties alongside 75 victims from all sides in judicial proceedings since 2012, FIDH, LIDHO, and MIDH had decided to support the national justice, which the victims of the crisis have given priority to.

“The progress made by the Ivorian justice in the fight against impunity over the last year remains largely insufficient, and, one year from the presidential election, the only trial of the post-electoral crisis currently scheduled will not deal with human rights violations and appears to be very political in nature,” said Yacouba Doumbia, MIDH President and a lawyer defending the victims. “The Ivorian authorities must ensure more equitable legal proceedings, including forcing those FRCI summoned to appear in order to respond to the victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparation,” he added.

The report notably addresses the status of the legal procedures established by the Ivorian judiciary concerning the post-electoral crisis. Cases relating to “crimes against state security” have been exclusively aimed at pro-Gbagbo supporters. On 20 October 2014, the trial of 91 of his supporters, including Simone Gbagbo, was supposed to begin. Despite the fact that it has been indefinitely postponed, our organisations have criticised it for the highly political nature of the offences, and the fact that it does not address the human rights violations, therefore excluding the victims. The second case concerns the proceedings for “blood crimes”, namely the serious violations of human rights committed during the crisis. This again is aimed almost exclusively against pro-Gbagbo supporters, and has not advanced enough to even foresee a trial. The third legal proceeding was initiated following the report of the National Commission of Inquiry (CNE), and is the only judicial proceeding aimed at those FRCI suspected of committing serious crimes during the crisis. In this case, a suspect arrested in 2013 identified senior FRCI leaders of the Western region as alleged perpetrators of crimes committed when taking Duékoué at end of March 2011, who have not yet been heard by the court.

“Several officials, including ComZone Losséni Fofana, known as “Loss”, have been implicated in judicial proceedings and should account before the court for their actions during the crisis. The authorities must ensure that FRCI members suspected of such crimes are questioned, respond to judicial summons, and possibly be charged,” said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and head of its Litigation Action Group representing the victims. “The commitment to the fight against impunity is true for all, at the risk of validating a two-tier justice system, or a victor’s justice,” he added.

These weak advances of justice are echoed those of the national reconciliation process which, despite hearing from 65,000 people, has so far been unable to meet the expectations of the people concerning the causes of the crisis, nor has it offered a comprehensive account of the crimes committed during the post-electoral crisis.

According to Pierre Adjoumani Kouamé, LIDHO President, “the failures of national reconciliation resulting from the poor start of the process, and a lack of willingness of leaders to highlight all those responsible for the crisis, is a missed opportunity for all Ivorians to face their history.”

Today, Ivorian authorities are facing an important choice: allow impunity for the most serious crimes to persist, or achieve the political will to deliver an impartial justice to shed light on past crimes and meet victims’ expectations for justice, which is the only means to guarantee the establishment of a genuine peaceful and democratic political system in Ivory Coast, one year from the presidential election.

Dec 112014
 

WASHINGTON, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) (http://www.usaid.gov) and global telecommunications operator Orange (http://www.orange.com) announced a new alliance to develop innovations in mobile health (mHealth) at the Global mHealth Forum (http://www.mhealthsummit.org/globalmhealthforum) in Washington, DC. These mHealth innovations will help treat and care for individuals in developing countries across Africa.

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

“With the increasing use and decreasing cost of mobile phones, leveraging mobile phone technology to accelerate acces to health information and services is a game changer,” said Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health. “USAID’s partnerships with private companies, such as Orange, enable us to have a larger impact in a cost-effective manner.”

The first phase of these health system-strengthening programs will leverage the expertise, technology and local resources of both organizations to improve quality of care and ensure that health services are readily accessible to the public at large. Niger and other countries are currently under exploration.

Future services will use integrated mHealth platforms and Orange mobile networks to communicate alerts and share resources around family planning and maternal health. Healthcare workers will be able to use the technology to share medical expertise, collaborate with specialists regardless of location, and improve patient care. In addition, the public will be able to access health information via the mHealth platforms. Orange’s global fooprint, with mobile and fixed networks in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, will provide seamless and reliable access to these services.

A maternal mHealth solution will provide medical practitioners access to the latest tools and medical information allowing them to monitor a mother’s pregnancy from a distance. This is particularly useful in some parts of Africa where much of the population lives in rural areas without easy access to healthcare or readily available means of transport. By using mHealth solutions, medical professionals would be able to flag potential problems early and provide the necessary care that reduces risks to mother and child.

“There is a tremendous amount of good that mobile technology and digital innovations can bring to improve the quality of healthcare to those less fortunate,” said Thierry Zylberberg, Director, Orange Healthcare. “Together with USAID, we are creating innovative mHealth platforms that open up the opportunities for remote patient monitoring or healthcare workers to make better-informed decisions and facilitate quality care for all citizens.”

The goal of the USAID/Orange alliance is to create a framework for easily replicating these important mobile services in a number of African countries throughout the region. In West Africa, USAID and Orange are starting to develop a regional platform with a menu of mobile applications that ministries of health, donors and NGOs could use for consumer education, health worker tools, mobile money, and data collection.

Orange’s expertise in interoperability and scalability will ensure that such platforms adhere to local regulatory and structural organizations. Orange has been at the forefront of realizing Africa’s digital transformation, connecting people, entrepreneurs, towns and cities, and delivering innovative services such as mobile payment.

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

Press Contacts:

USAID Press Office – +1.202.712.4320, USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov

Orange – Tom Wright: +33 1 44 44 93 93, tom.wright@orange.com

Orange Business Services – Elizabeth Mayeri: +1. 212.251.2086, elizabeth.mayeri@orange.com

about U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

The U.S. Agency for International Development is leading the US government’s efforts to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. For more information about USAID and its programs, please visit www.usaid.gov. Twitter: @USAIDPress

about Orange

Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 41 billion euros in 2013 and has 159,000 employees worldwide at September 30, 2014, including 99,800 employees in France. Present in 30 countries, the Group served 240 million customers worldwide as of 30 September 2014, including 182 million mobile customers and 16 million broadband internet customers. Under the Orange Business Services brand, Orange is also one of the world leaders in providing telecommunication services to multinational companies.

Orange is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris (ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (ORAN).

For more information (on the web and on your mobile): www.orange.com, www.orange-business.com, www.livetv.orange.com or to follow us on Twitter: @presseorange.

Orange and any other Orange product or service cited in this press release are trademarks held by Orange or Orange Brand Services Limited.

Dec 112014
 

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — During the 2015-2018 period, the FPS Foreign Affairs will transfer its African archives to the Belgian State Archives. On 11 December, a memorandum was signed between the President of the Board of Directors of the FPS Foreign Affairs, Dirk Achten, and the Director-General of the Belgian State Archives, Karel Velle.

The archive pieces, originating from the closed African archives, date from the 1885 – 1962 period and come from the former Ministry of Colonies and the Governor-General of the Congo. The transfer to the State Archives takes place in accordance with the legal obligation for the FPS Foreign Affairs to transfer to the State Archives its archives dating more than 50 years. Moreover, in times of budgetary restrictions, the FPS Foreign Affairs should concentrate on activities adding more value to its mission. In that regard, the State Archives are a worthy successor, more suited to meet the requirements on the preservation and retrieval of archive records.

The department possesses three archives, of which the African archives is the largest part. The two remaining parts, the diplomatic archives and those of the Belgian Development Cooperation, will be ready for transfer to the State Archives only after having been subject to further inventory.

The relocation of the archives will take three years, but the inaccessibility of the documents will only be limited to a maximum of 2 weeks for each archival part that will be packed. The State Archives will ensure that researchers are received in the best conditions, similar to those at the FPS Foreign Affairs. In time, the accessibility of the archives will even be improved, as currently existing research instruments available in paper format only will be digitalized and published online on the website of the State Archives.

Dec 112014
 

ROME, Italy, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Los datos más recientes confirman que la producción mundial de cereales alcanzará un récord histórico en 2014, con más de 2 500 millones de toneladas.

Impulsada por las condiciones favorables en Europa y una cosecha récord de maíz en Estados Unidos, la producción de cereales de este año debe llegar a 2 532 millones de toneladas -incluyendo el arroz elaborado-, lo que supone un 0,3% más que en 2013, según el último Informe de la FAO Perspectivas de cosechas y situación alimentaria

La cosecha mundial récord de cereales en 2014 superará la utilización prevista en 2014/15, permitiendo que las existencias alcancen su nivel más alto desde el año 2000 y empujando el ratio mundial entre existencias y utilización -una medida representativa de las condiciones de oferta- hasta el 25,2 por ciento, su nivel más alto en 13 años, según la FAO.

Sin embargo, el informe advierte también que la inseguridad alimentaria está empeorando en diversos países debido a los conflictos civiles, la meteorología adversa y el brote de la enfermedad del virus del Ébola. Unos 38 países se encuentran en riesgo de inseguridad alimentaria, incluyendo 29 en África, 3 más países que los señalados en octubre.

El Ébola ha tenido un enorme impacto en los sectores agrícola y alimentario en África occidental, ya que comenzó a propagarse en el momento de la siembra y se extendió a lo largo del ciclo de cultivo, sobre todo en Guinea, Liberia y Sierra Leona. La FAO alertó que los precios locales del arroz y de la yuca -el segundo alimento básico de la región-, experimentaron aumentos notables en Freetown y otras ciudades en septiembre.

La meteorología adversa en la región del Sahel se espera que de lugar también a una fuerte reducción de las cosechas: hasta en un 38 por ciento por debajo de la media en Senegal.

Los conflictos afectan gravemente a la inseguridad alimentaria

La situación en Siria es especialmente urgente, ya que una cosecha escasa está agravando la tensión debida al empeoramiento del conflicto civil. Se estima que unos 6,8 millones de personas -en parte refugiados en países vecinos- se enfrentan a una grave inseguridad alimentaria. La FAO señala una disminución notable de la producción de la cosecha de 2014, debido al abandono de las tierras, la escasez de mano de obra, los daños en centrales de energía y conducciones para el riego, así como las condiciones de sequía.

La situación en Irak también es sumamente grave, ya que el número de personas desplazadas debido al conflicto civil se ha triplicado desde el año pasado y alcanza ya los 2,8 millones.

Un tercio de la población de la República Centroafricana (RCA) necesita ayuda alimentaria urgente, ya que se estima que la producción de alimentos de este año estará un 58 por ciento por debajo del promedio, a pesar de la mejora en 2013, según la FAO, que señala un aumento en la violencia desde principios de octubre en un país donde uno de cada cuatro hogares ha recurrido a estrategias de supervivencia negativas, incluyendo la venta de los activos productivos y el sacrificio del ganado.

Los precios de los productos básicos agrícolas se dispararon hasta en un 70 por ciento este año en la RCA. La FAO señala que la disminución de la producción de cereales fue parcialmente mitigada por un fuerte aumento del 45 por ciento en la producción de yuca, que aunque menos nutritiva, necesita menos mano de obra y otros insumos.

La llegada de refugiados -en especial de la región de Darfur, en Sudán, el norte de Nigeria, la República Centroafricana y Malí- ha supuesto mayor presión sobre los suministros locales de alimentos, especialmente en el Chad, donde más de 550 000 personas necesitan ayuda alimentaria y para los medios de subsistencia, según el informe.

Si bien la reciente cosecha y la entrega de ayuda humanitaria ha supuesto un alivio, se considera que más de 6 millones de personas en Sudán del Sur, Sudán y Somalia necesitan ayuda alimentaria y para los medios de subsistencia. Los precios en estos países se mantienen en niveles altos, con los del sorgo que se han incluso cuadriplicado en algunas de las zonas más afectadas por los conflictos, deteriorando aún más el acceso de las personas vulnerables a los alimentos.

Suministro de maíz estable en África austral y oriental

En otras partes de África las condiciones son mejores, sobre todo en África austral, donde los precios estables del maíz disminuyeron debido a la abundante oferta tras la producción excelente de este año que impulsó la seguridad alimentaria. Este abundante suministro de maíz condujo también a un descenso del 78 por ciento en el número de personas que padecen inseguridad alimentaria en Zimbabwe.

Las últimas cosechas y las perspectivas favorables para los cultivos de la segunda temporada ayudaron al descenso de los precios del maíz en algunos países de África oriental.

Mientras tanto, la producción de cereales 2014 fue ligeramente inferior a la media en África del Norte, donde Marruecos sufrió un fuerte descenso debido a las lluvias irregulares, mientras que la producción de Túnez se recuperó después de la mala cosecha de 2013.

Las condiciones secas llevan a una cosecha reducida en Centroamérica

México está disfrutando de una excelente cosecha de maíz y se espera que su producción de cereales aumente en un 7 por ciento en relación a la cosecha récord del año pasado, según la FAO.

Eso puede aliviar el déficit de producción esperada en América Central, donde una sequía a principios de año redujo la producción de maíz en alrededor del 9 por ciento, con el resultado de 400 000 familias en Honduras, El Salvador y Guatemala necesitadas de ayuda alimentaria.

La producción total de cereales en Europa este año se estima en un 5,6 por ciento por encima respecto a 2013, mientras que se espera una producción récord de maíz en Estados Unidos, a pesar del descenso de la superficie sembrada.