MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 1, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has expressed his deep concern at the recent outbreak of violence in the northern region of Sool.
“Violence cannot and will not resolve political issues. All those with a stake in the area must show calm and pursue reconciliation,” said SRSG Kay.
SRSG Kay deplored the loss of life and offered his condolences to the families of those killed in recent clashes.
“Political differences and competing claims should be solved by dialogue. Peace and stability are also critical to the Puntland election process”, he added.
SRSG Kay and UNSOM colleagues are in touch with regional leaders to urge restraint and offer support for dialogue and reconciliation.
GENEVA, Switzerland, November 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Working Group* of Experts on People of African Descent will undertake its first visit Brazil from 3 to 13 December 2013 to examine a wide range of issues concerning the human rights of people of African descent in the country.
“In recent years, Brazil has attained many achievements in promoting equality. However, like many Latin American countries, it still faces challenges connected with the consequences of slavery, slave trade, and colonialism,” noted human rights expert Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, a member of the Group’s visiting delegation.
“This mission will provide us with a valuable opportunity to find out how Brazil is meeting those challenges and to assist the Government to meet its obligations with respect to the rights of people of African descent,” Ms. Fanon-Mendes-France said.
Ms. Maya Sahli, another member of the Working Group who will be part of the mission, added that “the visit will allow us to evaluate the progress accomplished in the implementation of recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur against Racism during its last visit to Brazil in 2005”. She also felt it would be an opportunity “to identify good practices that could be replicated elsewhere.”
The Working Group, is visiting Brazil at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Brasilia, Recife, Salvador de Bahia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, all with large populations of people of African descent.
The experts will meet with national and state level authorities, representatives of the Government’s Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), NGOs, academics, and African descent communities including religious groups of African ancestry. The Working Group will also visit Quilombos, terreiros and favelas.
The UN expert group will pay special attention to issues of poverty, stigmatization, inequality, access to health, education and justice, participation in the political process and land rights for people of African descent. They will be talking to various representatives about contemporary manifestations of racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Brazil, with a particular focus on multiple discrimination that women and young men of African descent face. The UN expert group will meet with several State police departments and visit a detention facility during the mission to learn about the experiences of people of African descent in conflict with the law.
At the end of their mission, on Friday 13 December, the Working Group’s representatives will share with the media their preliminary findings during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro at the United Nations Information Centre in Rio de Janeiro (UNIC Rio), Palacio Itamaraty, Av. Marechal Floriano 196 – Centro – Rio de Janeiro. The press conference will start at 11:00 am
Following its visit, the Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.
(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica), Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Monorama BISWAS (Bangladesh); Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Ms. Mirjana NAJCEVSKA (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Ms. Maya SAHLI (Algeria).
TUNIS, Tunisia, November 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Africa has made significant progress in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In the past seven years, AIDS-related deaths declined by 32%.The number of people contracting the HIV infection declined by 25% in the past 10 years. The rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has also declined from 35% in 2001 to 26% in 2010. Ten years ago, we had fewer than 50,000 people on ARV treatment; today we have over 6 million receiving treatment. A few years ago, Senegal and Uganda were the only success stories for their outstanding results and containment of HIV; now we have 25 countries that lowered HIV infections by more than 50%. A lot has been achieved; however, the risks are far from over. Indeed, new infections are a threat. It is time to raise, not to lower our vigilance.
Photo Donald Kaberuka: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/donald-kaberuka-afdb-president.jpg
Recall, 30 years ago, when the first HIV-positive case was reported; 24 million Africans have lost their lives. Africa still bears the heaviest burden of the disease globally and accounts for 91% of the world’s children with HIV, 89% of HIV orphans and 69% of people living with HIV. Each day, 3,500 Africans die of AIDS and millions of others and their families and communities go through economic, psychological and social traumas. HIV-related stigma still hurts people, in society, in their workplaces and homes. Women in Africa are more severely affected than men. In 2012, 58% of people living with HIV were women.
HIV/AIDS continues to have a huge detrimental impact on the most important resource of our continent: our people. It robs the continent of vitally needed skilled workers and deprives families of their incomes. It has hampered our ability to educate and build our human capital. Kenya lost an estimated 1.7% of its teachers between 2000 and 2010 due to HIV/AIDS.
For the African Development Bank, in partnership with governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector, the future of HIV/AIDS agenda is about ‘getting to zero’. Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Getting there is not easy and the Bank aims to support African countries to, first, take ownership of the AIDS response. It is time for Africa to take bold steps to reduce dependence on external donors and work towards more sustainable domestic solutions. According to UNAIDS, Africa will require between US $11 billion and $12 billion for its AIDS response by 2015. Yet international funding to HIV is dwindling, putting our progress at risk.
Second, the Bank supports African countries in increasingly applying ‘value for money’ and ‘solidarity’ principles to strengthen social systems. The way HIV resources are mobilized and spent needs to change. The vertical approach may no longer be appropriate and cost-effective in many contexts. There is a need to mainstream AIDS-related services into the general healthcare delivery systems and to support the local production of ARVs.
Third, the Bank supports the building of inclusive health systems to fight stigma and discrimination. Let us all tackle stigma and discrimination by building a supportive and caring culture both in their communities and workplaces. We cannot leave the victims of HIV/AIDS and their families behind.
Finally, the Bank, through its inclusive growth agenda, aims to support the reduction of women’s increased vulnerability and prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Addressing the gender dimension is an important priority in the response to the epidemic. Recent progress suggests that the solutions are in our hands. We can reduce gender inequalities by empowering women with information and services to prevent and treat HIV. Strategies to counter and manage gender-based violence can be effectively included in HIV-prevention programs. Effective treatment to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission now needs to be scaled up and made accessible to those who need them, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Training health workers to provide gender-friendly counseling and services must also be prioritized. Most importantly, we need to sensitize men and elicit their involvement to create a supportive environment for reducing women’s vulnerabilities to the epidemic.
Getting to zero starts with us. It is time for Bank staff to take care of themselves and their families by taking advantage of HIV/AIDS services the Bank’s Medical Centre provides. These include Anonymous Voluntary Confidential Counseling and testing available to all Bank staff and their families.
I also want to stress that the African Development Bank is a workplace of zero discrimination and that we must support each other in our communities and workplace. Our fight to get to zero is producing results. Let’s continue in order to give the next generation of Africans – our children, our sons and daughters — an AIDS-free life ahead. Zero has a value!
Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
KHARTOUM, Sudan, November 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari, strongly condemns the killing of two Sudanese Ministry of Health staff, a vaccinator and a driver, who were part of a team vaccinating vulnerable children against measles in West Darfur.
“My deepest condolences go to the family and friends of those killed,” said Mr Al-Za’tari. “I call on all parties to ensure the protection of all personnel working to deliver assistance to populations in need throughout Sudan,” he said.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization are helping to ensure that every child in Sudan is getting vaccinated, whoever they are and wherever they live.
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, November 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Combating terrorism and illicit trafficking were the focus of an international audience who gathered recently in Cameroon.
The U.S. Africa Center for Stratetic Studies (ACSS) co-hosted a symposium on regional counter-terrorism cooperation and the fight against illicit trafficking in Yaoundé on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, in partnership with the ACSS Community Chapter in Cameroon and the U.S. Embassy.
The event took place at the Yaoundé International War College (Ecole supérieure internationale de guerre de Yaoundé [ESIG]). The more than 100 participants included Africa Center community members from the Cameroon Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the University of Yaoundé.
Also in the attendance was a diverse international group of 42 ESIG students representing nearly 20 nationalities, including the United States, who are currently in the midst of a 10-month study program at ESIG. Another group of 12 students from the National School of Security Forces (Ecole nationale de forces de sécurité [ENFS]) attended as well.
Presentations focused on defining and improving regional cooperation in countering terrorism and the threats associated with illicit trafficking.
In his opening remarks, ESIG Commandant Major General Esaïe Ngambou expressed his satisfaction with the selection of topics. “The Africa Center chose two challenging issues that are at the heart of our current preoccupations: regional cooperation against terrorism and illicit trafficking.” He also mentioned that this year’s annual ESIG colloquium will focus on border security, making the symposium a fitting beginning to the colloquium’s preparations.
Colonel Gabriel Metogo Atangana, the ACSS Chapter President, explained the pertinence of the topics discussed, at a time when Cameroon faces the challenges of Boko Haram’s spillover in the northern part of the country.
“ACSS has maintained for nearly 10 years now a close cooperation with the armed forces and law enforcement forces of Cameroon,” he said. “The choice of today’s topics is explained by the magnitude and damaging effects, as well as the consequences in the communities which are affected by these threats,” he noted.
Mr. John Harney, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Project Manager at the J5 Counter-narcotics and Law Enforcement Division, provided an overview of illicit trafficking and laid out how AFRICOM deals with the issue. He also pointed out interagency efforts to harmonize the U.S. government effort in building West African capacities to combat transnational organized crime, particularly narcotic trafficking.
“It takes a network to defeat a network,” Mr. Harney noted, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in defeating international illicit trafficking networks.
The consensus following the symposium was that Cameroonians’ challenges are global challenges. As a result, it will take an all-inclusive effort—for the U.S. and African partners—to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development. Participants also agreed that deeper regional cooperation and international cooperation are keys to success.