Didier Reynders supports campaign and actions for elephants in Kenya

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders salutes the historic gesture by the Republic of Kenya today, as it is burning its stock of ivory and horns. No less than 105 tons of ivory will be set in flames, sending a strong message to the world that elephants are “worth more alive”, as the campaign rightly says.

Minister Reynders expresses his support to Kenya on this important day, recalling that Belgium also crushed its own stock of seized Ivory in April 2014. Belgium is at the side of Kenya in its fight against poaching and in favour of wildlife conservation.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Kingdom of Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

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Source:: Didier Reynders supports campaign and actions for elephants in Kenya

Categories: AFRICA

UNEP Deputy Executive Director Statement at Giants Club Summit and Kenya Ivory Burn

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw released the following statement on the occasion of the largest ivory burn in history, taking place in Kenya at the close of the Giants Club Summit.

“My own first encounter with an elephant was a carcass. I didn’t know then, but it was possibly one of the last elephants in Mauritania. It taught me that extinction is not about the dinosaurs of the past or the watch-lists for tomorrow: extinction is already happening, has already happened, in my own lifetime, before my eyes.

“What has been made eminently clear at the Giants Club Summit is that efforts to tackle this crisis are increasingly backed by a growing public, political and private sector force for change, and that we, as an international community, are prepared to face these challenges with an unprecedented level of commitment, dedication and passion. It will take nothing less to end this crisis.

“We must also remember that wildlife has more value alive than dead and that wildlife can generate sustainable revenues to fund the education, healthcare and infrastructure that will lift people out of poverty and drive economic growth. By reconciling social, economic and environmental interests, Africa can harness its natural heritage to help deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Later this month, a One UN Global Coalition campaign that aims to raise awareness and reduce demand for these illegal products will be launched. The Wild for Life Campaign, which will be launched next month at the United Nations Environment Assembly here in Kenya, unites a range of UN agencies, partners and UN Goodwill Ambassadors. I hope all of you will join me in making pledges of personal action in the lead up to World Environment Day on 5 June, which will be hosted in Angola.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Source:: UNEP Deputy Executive Director Statement at Giants Club Summit and Kenya Ivory Burn

Categories: AFRICA

On Ethiopia’s Charges of Terrorism Against Political Leaders

Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC

April 29, 2016

The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Ethiopia’s recent decision to file terrorism charges against Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) First Vice-Chairman Bekele Gerba and others in the Oromia region who were arrested in late 2015.

We again urge the Ethiopian government to discontinue its reliance on the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation law to prosecute journalists, political party members, and activists, as this practice silences independent voices that enhance, rather than hinder, Ethiopia’s democratic development.

We commend Ethiopian officials for pledging to address legitimate grievances from their citizens and acknowledging that security forces were responsible for some of the violence that took place during the protests in Oromia; however, the government continues to detain an unknown number of people for allegedly taking part in these protests and has not yet held accountable any security forces responsible for alleged abuses. This undermines the trust and confidence needed to produce lasting solutions.

We urge the Ethiopian government to respect due process of those detained by investigating allegations of mistreatment, by publicly presenting the evidence it possesses against them, and by distinguishing between political opposition to the government and the use or incitement of violence. We reaffirm our call on the government to protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of its citizens, including the right to participate in political parties, and we urge the Government to promptly release those imprisoned for exercising these rights.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Source:: On Ethiopia’s Charges of Terrorism Against Political Leaders

Categories: AFRICA

Minister for Africa statement on the Burundi dialogue

Minister for Africa James Duddridge said:

I am disappointed by the postponement of the Burundi dialogue that was due to take place in Arusha next week under the guidance of former-President Mkapa of Tanzania. I fully support the efforts of President Mkapa and his team and their goal of ensuring that this dialogue is for all Burundians.

I am extremely concerned at the recent increase in killings in Burundi, including the recent assassination of Brigadier General Athanase Kararuza and the attempted assassination of the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Martin Nivyabandi. I condemn all such attacks. I also condemn the ongoing human rights abuses, including torture and ill treatment by the security services. By refusing to engage in an inclusive dialogue the Government of Burundi is actively obstructing the national reconciliation process that will put an end to these crimes. I again call upon the Government of Burundi to engage in meaningful dialogue based upon respect for the Arusha Accords.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: Minister for Africa statement on the Burundi dialogue

Categories: AFRICA

Oakbay Investments responds to adverse decision of Independent Media (pty) Ltd not to run adverts

Oakbay (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za) wishes to express its disappointment and disgust at the decision made today by Independent Media (pty) not to run Oakbay adverts in its newspapers, Pretoria News, Daily News and the Argus. The adverts were intended as a direct plea to ABSA, Nedbank, Standard Bank and FNB to save 7,500 Oakbay jobs by restoring banking services to Oakbay.

This was not a branding campaign. Oakbay’s intended placing of the adverts in the South African media was to raise awareness of the issue and an attempt to save the jobs of its 7,500 employees‎ and the interests and security of their families who depend on them.

The adverts follow a march earlier this week on the Banks led by employees of Oakbay where a memorandum was handed to ABSA Bank who, disappointingly, are yet to respond to the desperate plea of our employees.

The decision of Independent Media today is further evidence of a sustained attack on the family and its business interests and we find it totally unacceptable that several thousand direct employees and tens of thousands of their dependents will have to suffer as a result of the campaign against Oakbay.

Further, editorial independence is internationally recognised as a hallmark of good quality journalism and independence of the editorial and advertising arms of newspapers must be maintained in any democracy.

Independent Media by name maybe, but clearly not in its nature, as Independent Media seem to feel they are the exception to the internationally recognised and unwritten rule of editorial independence.

We repeat our plea to the banks, please do the right thing and save 7,500 Oakbay jobs by restoring banking services to our businesses.

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

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact: corpcomm@oakbay.co.za

About Oakbay Investments

Oakbay Investments (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za) has invested more than R10 billion in South Africa. Oakbay Investments is 100% transparent – all numbers have been verified by one of the world’s most respected accountancy firms.

Oakbay has a 23-year history of strong business performance and turnaround skills. This strong performance has come almost entirely via successful activity in the private sector, with less than 1% of the Group’s revenue coming from government contracts.

Sector diversification has also enabled Oakbay companies to deliver consistent growth and job creation throughout times of both economic boom and bust.

For example, 47,000 jobs have been lost in South Africa’s mining sector between 2012 and 2015. In contrast, Oakbay’s mining companies have created 3500 of jobs in the sector.

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Source:: Oakbay Investments responds to adverse decision of Independent Media (pty) Ltd not to run adverts

Categories: AFRICA

UK-US-Norway joint statement on the formation of the transitional government in South Sudan

Together with my Troika colleagues, I welcome the long-awaited formation of South Sudan’s transitional government of national unity. We also welcome the April 26 statements by President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar calling for cooperation, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence. South Sudan’s leaders must now put political differences aside and start the difficult task of rebuilding their country. While formation of the transitional government is a step forward, with thousands dead, widespread atrocities committed and millions displaced from their homes this is no time for celebration, but for new commitment to seize this second chance to reclaim the promise of South Sudan. Today the international community stands united in urging the transitional government to start working for the people of South Sudan. The fighting must stop, decisive action must be taken to tackle the economic crisis and there must be full cooperation with the UN and humanitarian agencies to ensure aid reaches those in need; formal and informal impediments must be removed.

The Troika countries, UK, US and Norway, will remain long term partners and friends of South Sudan’s people. We stand ready to support the transitional government if it shows it is serious about working for the good of the country and implementing the peace agreement in full. In that regard, decisions undermining provisions the parties agreed to in negotiations, such as not fully meeting obligations for women’s participation in the council of ministers, sets a concerning precedent at the beginning of the transition. We expect the transitional government to honour its commitments. The people of South Sudan deserve nothing less.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Source:: UK-US-Norway joint statement on the formation of the transitional government in South Sudan

Categories: AFRICA

Joint Statement on South Sudan Peace Process

The text of the following statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

Begin Text:

The members of the Troika (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) welcome the long-awaited formation of South Sudan’s transitional government of national unity. We also welcome the April 26 statements by President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar calling for cooperation, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence. We call on South Sudan’s leaders to continue this spirit of cooperation and to start the difficult task of rebuilding their country. While formation of the transitional government is a step forward, with thousands dead, widespread atrocities committed and millions displaced from their homes during the conflict, this is no time for celebration. Today the international community stands united in urging the transitional government to start to work for the people of South Sudan. The fighting must stop, decisive action must be taken to tackle the economic crisis and there must be full cooperation with the UN and humanitarian agencies to ensure aid reaches those in need; formal and informal impediments must be removed.

The Troika countries will remain long term partners and friends of South Sudan’s people. We stand ready to support the transitional government if it shows it is serious about working for the good of the country and implementing the peace agreement in full. In that regard, decisions undermining provisions the parties agreed to in negotiations, such as not fully meeting obligations for women’s participation in the council of ministers, sets a concerning precedent at the beginning of the transition. We expect the transitional government to honor its commitments. The people of South Sudan deserve nothing less.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Source:: Joint Statement on South Sudan Peace Process

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Sudan: UN expert calls for a positive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, urged the Sudanese Government “to enable a conducive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue by respecting the basic fundamental rights of Sudanese people, including the rights to freedoms of expression and association, and of the press.”

“I remain concerned about a number of human rights issues in the country,” Mr. Nononsi said at the end of his second mission to the Sudan. “I continue to hear about cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and travel ban on human rights defenders and political activists by security forces, including the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).”

The Independent Expert raised concern with the relevant authorities about the arrest and detention without charges of four pastors in Khartoum since mid-December 2016 as well as those of five students from the University of Khartoum since 13 April 2016.

“I was informed that the first case was transferred to judicial authorities who have charged the four pastors with criminal offenses. I was also informed that the case of the students will be shortly handed over to the relevant judicial authorities for prosecutions,” he noted. “I call on Sudanese authorities to ensure that the right to a fair trial and due process is guaranteed to these individuals.”

Mr. Nononsi also drew attention to the ongoing censorship of newspapers, and increased restrictions on journalists from freely expressing their opinion. “I raised the suspension since mid-December 2015 of the Al-Tayar newspaper with the authorities, and I strongly recommended that the appeal of Al-Tayar newspaper against NISS’ decision to suspend its operations is guaranteed an independent judicial review along with provision of adequate compensation,” he added.

The Independent Expert recalled that, in recent weeks, the authorities prevented four Sudanese human rights defenders from attending the pre-briefing session of the Universal Periodic Review* in Geneva

“I would like to emphasize the important role played by human rights defenders and journalists, and stress the need for the Government of Sudan to allow them to carry out their activities in an open, safe and secure environment,” the human rights expert said.

(*) NOTE TO EDITORS: The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: Sudan: UN expert calls for a positive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue

Categories: AFRICA

Joint statement by HR/VP Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan

The people of South Sudan deserve a peaceful and secure future after many years of conflict.

The formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan on 29 April is therefore a welcome development.

It is long overdue and now the leadership must work to deliver peace and security, as well as humanitarian access for the people of South Sudan. The challenges are tremendous and the task of restoring normality and hope is the final goal of this transitional period.

The European Union, working in close co-operation with South Sudan’s neighbours and all international partners, will support the Transitional Government of National Unity so long as it demonstrates that it will act to overcome the divisions of the recent past. The initial priorities must be to end persistent conflict, abuse of civilians, violations of international humanitarian law and to contribute to the stability of its neighbours in the region. Bringing to an end mismanagement and corruption is a prerequisite to address the country’s economic crisis.

The worsening humanitarian situation and the suffering of the people of South Sudan have reached extreme proportions. Restrictions on access continue to impede humanitarian operations. The EU expects the Transitional Government to uphold its obligation to respect independent and unhindered humanitarian assistance.

The European Union supports the vital work of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC), and of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to South Sudan (UN SRSG) and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The EU expects the Transitional Government to provide unfettered co-operation to JMEC, the UN SRSG and UNMISS.

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

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Source:: Joint statement by HR/VP Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan

Categories: AFRICA

Urgent action needed to help Ethiopia’s farmers produce food in main cropping season

With just six weeks left before the start of the main cropping season in Ethiopia, FAO is calling for urgent funding to help farmers sow their fields and prevent drought-hit areas of the country from falling deeper into hunger and food insecurity. If seeds are not delivered in time, help will be too late to secure a decent harvest from the imminent meher season, which produces 85 percent of the nation’s food supply, the UN agency said today.

Yet while the food security situation is worsening, the overall funding response to the crisis has so far been disappointing, with just 15 percent of FAO’s 2016 appeal for Ethiopia covered.

“The meher season will be critical to improving families’ food security and self-sufficiency in 2016. Seed distributions allowing farmers to plant crops and produce food must be a humanitarian priority,” said the agency’s country representative Amadou Allahoury Diallo. Decreasing dependence on external humanitarian assistance, he continued, will diminish the costs of food aid.

Some $10 million is needed by FAO within the next two weeks to distribute seeds to Ethiopian families at risk of hunger and losing their livelihoods. About 10.2 million people in Ethiopia are food insecure following successive crop failures and widespread livestock deaths caused by the El Niño-induced drought since early 2015. With this year’s delayed and erratic spring rains, the situation may become worse in the most affected areas, particularly in the north.

Ethiopia’s government has already dedicated considerable resources to the El Niño response and is working closely with FAO to help ramp up joint efforts.

Underserved districts

Nearly a third of all districts in the country – some 224 – are now severely food insecure. That number is some 20 percent higher than just three months ago.

Recent estimates by Ethiopia’s Bureau of Agriculture indicate that some 1.7 million farming families are seed insecure, meaning they do not have the inputs required to plant in the meher season, which starts as early as mid-June for some crops, with planting ongoing until August for others.

More than 90 districts are currently not receiving any kind of emergency seed support or are insufficiently covered, according to FAO Surge Response Team Leader Pierre Vauthier. “It’s these forgotten districts that FAO is targeting — but without immediate funding support, some 150,000 households will miss their best chance of growing food to bring them through the year,” he said.

Depleted seed reserves

For many households, seed reserves are extremely depleted following unsuccessful planting and re-planting in 2015, while families in the most affected areas have been forced to consume their seeds as food.

As a result of the poor 2015 harvest, farmers’ income has been reduced and purchasing power constrained, further limiting their ability to buy the seeds and inputs they need to produce staple crops like maize, sorghum, teff, wheat, and root crops.

Because the spring rains were initially erratic and delayed, even those farmers who had seeds may not have planted enough to meet their household’s needs, especially in the north.

A good meher season will improve food availability nationwide and enhance access to food and reduce reliance on external humanitarian assistance in the medium term.

FAO’s response to El Niño

This year, FAO, together with the government and partners, has already distributed seed and planting materials for maize, sweet potato, Irish potato and vegetables in some of the most affected areas and continues to support livestock herders with distributions of survival animal feed. FAO is also helping farmers produce fodder and improve access to water for livestock. Herds across the country have also benefited from vaccination and treatment campaigns to address their increasing vulnerability to disease as a result of drought.

“A failure to deliver seed aid now will almost certainly mean a failure of the meher season for the most vulnerable, with dire consequences for food security. If we are to make a difference, the funds need to come in and they need to come in now,” said Allahoury Diallo.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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Source:: Urgent action needed to help Ethiopia’s farmers produce food in main cropping season

Categories: AFRICA

Ghana Immigration Service Training School Opens IT Laboratory

IOM Ghana and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) have opened an information technology laboratory at the GIS Training School and Academy (ISATS) at Assin Fosu, Central Region of Ghana.

The project, designed to build GIS information technology capacity, was funded by the European Union (EU) through the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project, implemented jointly by GIS and IOM.

The 70-computer lab, which was set up by IOM, is also equipped with a projector, network server and internet connection.

“In this digital age, IT skills are required in all areas of immigration duties. The lab will greatly enhance the capacity of immigration officers to perform their day-to-day migration management duties more professionally and effectively,” said GIMMA Project Manager Kazumi Nakamura.

Ghana experiences complex migration flows and the GIS has been increasingly called upon to respond to new challenges, resulting in more calls for training and skills development.

The three-year EUR 3 million GIMMA project, funded by the EU under the framework of 10th European Development Fund, is helping to build GIS’ operational capacity to secure and protect the country’s borders; empower migrants to make informed migratory decisions; and improve the country’s migration data management capacity.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Office of Migration (IOM).

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Source:: Ghana Immigration Service Training School Opens IT Laboratory

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IOM Organizes Cultural Festival on Safe Migration in Agadez, Niger

IOM Niger has organized a three-day “Festival on Safe and Informed Migration” in Agadez, Niger.

The objective was to raise awareness and increase access to information about migration for transiting and potential migrants, the host population and migrants living in the city’s migrant ghettos.

“We have never had a festival that brought together migrants like this, because we never could access the ghettos to talk to the migrants and involve them in cultural activities. In fact, we couldn’t have received a more enthusiastic reaction from them. This has been a great way to disseminate information about migration and integration. It has also broken down barriers between the local community and the migrants,” said the manager of the IOM Agadez transit center, Azaoua Mahaman.

The festival opened at the IOM transit center with a video screening exploring migration in Niger and in the region. It included documentaries from Odysseus 2.0, a project which produced photos and videos of the migration route to Europe.

Other activities on Day 1 included a football match in the town square between a migrant team and young people from Agadez and an evening of participatory theatre to encourage debate about informed decisions about migration and safer alternatives to irregular routes.

Day 2 focused on the host community and a public discussion was organized at the Sultanate of Aïr with the active participation of Agadez Association of Women. In the evening a mobile cinema caravan showed more videos and an educational movie on the economy of migration: “Ouaga Saga.”

On the Day 3 IOM staff took part in a radio talk show “Cercle des Migrants”, produced by IOM, to answer to listeners’ questions. The festival concluded with a video forum in an Agadez ghetto, followed by a Question and Answer session.

The festival was part of an IOM project: “Supporting Informed Migration in Niger,” co-funded by the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Interior.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Office of Migration (IOM).

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Source:: IOM Organizes Cultural Festival on Safe Migration in Agadez, Niger

Categories: AFRICA