Oct 062014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 6, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, extended his heartfelt greetings to all Somali people as they celebrate Eid-ul-Adha.

“As Somalia celebrates Eid-ul-Adha I wish all Somalis and their families Eid Mubarak. Today is an opportunity to reflect on the universal values of peace, harmony and unity. I hope this spirit of reconciliation and co-operation can contribute to peace across Somalia. Ciid Wanaagsan!” SRSG Kay said.

Oct 062014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, October 6, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:

“Canada strongly condemns the killing of nine peacekeeping officers in an ambush earlier today in Mali.

“The victims, who came from Niger, were part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, which has sought to bring peace and stability to a country that has been torn apart by despicable acts of terrorism.

“On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the innocent victims of this cowardly attack.

“Canada continues to support the ongoing negotiations in Algiers, which aim to reach a peace agreement between the Malian government and northern rebel groups.”

Oct 032014
 

NEW YORK, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General is shocked and outraged by today’s attack in Mali that killed nine Nigerien peacekeepers on 3 October.

In the deadliest attack committed against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to date, a MINUSMA convoy travelling from Ménaka to Ansongo (Gao region) was ambushed this morning. This attack brings the total number of casualties from hostile acts since the beginning of the mission on 1 July 2013 to 30 peacekeepers killed and 90 peacekeepers wounded.

The Secretary-General underscores that attacks on UN peacekeepers constitute a serious violation of international law. He reminds the armed groups operating in Northern Mali of their commitment to cooperate with the United Nations to prevent attacks against peacekeepers in line with their declaration of 16 September in Algiers. At a time when peace negotiations are underway, he insists that all parties must demonstrate good faith and commitment to a political solution and that the perpetrators of these appalling actions are brought to justice.

The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who were killed as well as to the Government and people of Niger. He assures the people of Mali of the United Nations steadfast support to their search for peace.

Oct 032014
 

NEW YORK, October 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General is shocked and outraged by today’s attack in Mali that killed nine Nigerien peacekeepers on 3 October.

In the deadliest attack committed against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to date, a MINUSMA convoy travelling from Ménaka to Ansongo (Gao region) was ambushed this morning. This attack brings the total number of casualties from hostile acts since the beginning of the mission on 1 July 2013 to 30 peacekeepers killed and 90 peacekeepers wounded.

The Secretary-General underscores that attacks on UN peacekeepers constitute a serious violation of international law. He reminds the armed groups operating in Northern Mali of their commitment to cooperate with the United Nations to prevent attacks against peacekeepers in line with their declaration of 16 September in Algiers. At a time when peace negotiations are underway, he insists that all parties must demonstrate good faith and commitment to a political solution and that the perpetrators of these appalling actions are brought to justice.

The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who were killed as well as to the Government and people of Niger. He assures the people of Mali of the United Nations steadfast support to their search for peace.

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