Stop massacres in eastern Congo and bring perpetrators to justice, urge MEPs

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MEPs urge all parties fighting in north-eastern Congo to put an “end to the violence, lay down their arms, release all children from their ranks and promote dialogue” towards a peaceful solution, in a resolution voted on Thursday, after a debate on Wednesday. “There can be no impunity for perpetrators”, they add.

Concerned at the “escalation of violence and the alarming and deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where “dozens of armed groups remain active, recruiting and using children, with numerous reports of massacres”, MEPs call on all parties to the conflict to end it. They also denounce the “indifference from the international community and the media silence”, in a resolution passed by show of hands.

“Impunity needs to be fought” and “perpetrators brought to justice”, MEPs urged in the plenary debate. The international community should launch “as a matter of urgency a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the massacres” and organise “an emergency meeting of the Team of International Envoys and Representatives for the Great Lakes region of Africa on elections in the DRC” to progress in this direction, they add.

MEPs also urge the EU to “translate the recently agreed European understanding concerning mandatory due diligence checks on suppliers of conflict minerals into ambitious legislation to be adopted swiftly” and to ensure “coherence between its policies, including in arms trade and raw materials trade”.

At the 31st ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly session on 13-15 June, MEPs and MPs from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries unanimously approved a resolution which condemns all acts of political violence and calls for a “successful and timely holding of elections, which will be crucial to the long-term stability and development of the country and the entire region”.

In both texts, MEPs highlighted that President Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, is required to step down on 20 December 2016 as the mandate of the President of the DRC is limited under the Congolese Constitution to only two terms. By not yet having declared that he will do so, he is exacerbating political tensions in the country.

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

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Second Session of 2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture, Sports

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The five day meeting of the 2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture, Sports continued today with the second session of the ministers meeting at the African Union Commission (AUC) under the theme “African Year of Human Rights: “Promoting Ethics and Cultural Diversity as an Essential Right for the people of Africa” The theme of the STC-YCS2 is in line with the overall theme of the Union for 2016 which is: “African Year of Human Rights, with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.”

In his opening remarks H.E. Dr. Martial De Paul Ikounga commissioner of Human Resources Sciences and Technology (HRST) of the African Union Commission stated that this meeting coincides with day of African child and is a reminder of sad memories of atrocities and crimes committed against young people, who claimed for their rights in Soweto. He added that the June 17th 1974 massacre in Soweto, South Africa lost men and women committed by the Apartheid regime, such crimes should never happen again and youth must be protected. The recruitment of children in covert armies such as Boko Haram, abductions, early marriages prove that very much is left to be done.

H.E. Dr. Martial added that when children have their destinies stolen, they live in misery, starve and live in illiteracy and it is the worst barbarism of the era and against the vision of a prosperous Africa. He further stated that in African countries the majority of the population is made of children and young people and this is an opportunity and challenge because of lack of education and good quality training to promote necessary skills.

He further spoke of the development and professionalization of sports in Africa and stated that it is being made at a relatively slow base due to lack of infrastructure. He stressed that sports should be perceived as a professional career in its diverse disciplines. Furthermore, he added that sports has the ability of transformation in order to include the participation of girls and women to reduce gender inequality as well as improve physical, mental health and welfare. Moreover, growth of the sports industry has given a rise to a number of ethical considerations and this flourishing industry should not be destroyed. He added that member States should put together a framework for sustainable development in Africa as the Architecture of sports is designed in order to promote synergy and harmonization of programs of development of sports over the continent.

He further added that it is important to adopt culture and African tradition to modern technology in order to promote economic, social and political development. An individual and collective potential is based on common compensation and understanding of historical origins that give a feeling of existence. The enforcement of culture will enable the sector to hold its place and contribute significantly through its heritage and creative industries. He stressed that it is urgent to recognize the unique nature of culture and African potential and pull them in an attractive manner of using them to influence positively the life modes of other people. This will lead to better recognition and implications of the continent.

He elaborated that the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Youth, Culture, and Sports is a platform to enable the implementation of the decision in previous STC discussions on the theme of the conference as well as specific issues related to the sectors and stated that the creation of synergies should be favored amongst sectors of youth, culture and sport. This is the only way to achieve Agenda 2063 and accordingly the SDG’s.

In her opening remarks H.E. Desiree Doukaga chairperson of the Bureau of the 2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture and Sport asked for a moment of silence for the day of the African child and Soweto crimes. She stated that this year 2016, calls to mind the importaince given that ethics and cultural diversity are being brought out as a solution to the challenges of the development Africa is facing.

She added that bringing together the three sectors youth culture and sport should encourage bringing initiatives to have a concrete translation of a common vision. This approach will bring Africa together, whereby Africans should find solutions towards prosperity in the continent.

She reinstated that in the past much progress has been accomplished in the three sectors and it should be carried on without hesitation and concerning the development of youth, several instruments are a disposal to meet the challenges to consolidate the assets and future. She further eluded the African youth charter and other mechanisms such as the inter-generational dialogue in decision making processes and stressed that it is time to urge all the member states to take full advantage and work for youth integration, into policies and strategies for development that have to do with youth culture, sport and aiming in demographic dividends.

She further added that aspiration 5 of Agenda 2063 commits the continent to carry on the construction of an Africa that has strong cultural identity, values, ethics and common heritage. For adopting the charter for the African culture renaissance, Africa has the means to attain its ambitions and it is up to member States to accelerate the implementation of this culture renaissance. She concluded that there is faith and hope that the member states will enable these aspirations to come to solutions. Let us work together for implementation of decisions that are to be made. The determination will help to build a vision and common destiny, on this note of hope opening the second session. She said

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

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“Seeds for the Future” – AUC Deputy Chairperson meets Huawei Senior Vice-President in Beijing

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An AUC delegation led by the Deputy Chairperson H.E. Erastus Mwencha met with Huawei’s Senior Vice-President Dr. Gong Yuanxing in Beijing to exchange views on methodologies that would further strengthen Africa’s ICT development and industrialization strategy whilst concretising Huawei’s investment within the Continent. In line with the “Seeds for the Future” programme initiated in January 2015, the two parties also met the second batch of AU ICT trainees currently in China, assessed outcomes and exchanged views on how to improve the programme.

Welcoming the delegation, Vice President Dong highlighted the undeniable fact that “ICT has become a driving force that can significantly boost the socio-economic growth of the African Continent. Huawei is poised to further expand its support towards Africa’s ICT development plans and drive its ICT industrialization process forward. We are also committed to cultivating ICT talent within the Continent through programmes such as Seeds for the Future”.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha thanked Huawei for their continued commitment to capacity building within the Continent and expressed his appreciation towards the effective collaboration witnessed since the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding in January 2015. Acknowledging the continuous investments undertaken within AU Member States, the Deputy Chairperson appreciated Huawei’s confidence in the African Continent. He further expressed the need to increase research and development cooperation as well as the need to develop concrete industrialization opportunities that would involve Africa’s youth and allow Africa to take its rightful place in the ICT industry chain in line with Agenda 2063.

With 24 offices throughout Africa and presence in all 54 Member States, Huawei Africa employs 7000 people of which 70% are locally recruited. The Vice President assured the delegation of Huawei’s intentions to drastically boost investment in the Continent in the coming years and highlighted the need to actively involve local partners to ensure sustainability and achieve a win-win situation.

The second batch of ICT trainees selected from various Departments of the AUC to take part in the ongoing two weeks capacity building programme shared their experiences with the delegation. The meeting discussed ways to maximize on this opportunity and ensure effective collaboration between the AU and Huawei in future capacity building activities.

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

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Queen’s Birthday celebrated in Gaborone

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On 16 June, the High Commission in Botswana hosted a garden party, in honour of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

The UK High Commissioner to Botswana, Ms Katy Ransome, welcomed the guests, among them Hon. Deputy Minister Presidential Affairs & Public Affairs, Dikgang Makgalemele, members of the Diplomatic Corps and senior Government officials.

Ransome, who has been Botswana just under 4 months having arrived on February 24, mentioned “Having arrived earlier this year, it would be strange for me to stand before you and tell you about the depth and breadth of the relationship between the UK and Botswana, when many of you here today have been part of building and nurturing the relationship for many years – in some cases for generations of your families.

This is of course an exciting year for Botswana as we prepare to celebrate together 50 years of Independence. Anniversaries are a great time both for looking back and looking forward, and I am very much looking forward to the celebrations in September.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Gaborone.

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Queen’s Birthday celebrated in Gaborone

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On 16 June, the High Commission in Botswana hosted a garden party, in honour of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

The UK High Commissioner to Botswana, Ms Katy Ransome, welcomed the guests, among them Hon. Deputy Minister Presidential Affairs & Public Affairs, Dikgang Makgalemele, members of the Diplomatic Corps and senior Government officials.

Ransome, who has been Botswana just under 4 months having arrived on February 24, mentioned “Having arrived earlier this year, it would be strange for me to stand before you and tell you about the depth and breadth of the relationship between the UK and Botswana, when many of you here today have been part of building and nurturing the relationship for many years – in some cases for generations of your families.

This is of course an exciting year for Botswana as we prepare to celebrate together 50 years of Independence. Anniversaries are a great time both for looking back and looking forward, and I am very much looking forward to the celebrations in September.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Gaborone.

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Queen’s Birthday celebrated in Gaborone

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On 16 June, the High Commission in Botswana hosted a garden party, in honour of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

The UK High Commissioner to Botswana, Ms Katy Ransome, welcomed the guests, among them Hon. Deputy Minister Presidential Affairs & Public Affairs, Dikgang Makgalemele, members of the Diplomatic Corps and senior Government officials.

Ransome, who has been Botswana just under 4 months having arrived on February 24, mentioned “Having arrived earlier this year, it would be strange for me to stand before you and tell you about the depth and breadth of the relationship between the UK and Botswana, when many of you here today have been part of building and nurturing the relationship for many years – in some cases for generations of your families.

This is of course an exciting year for Botswana as we prepare to celebrate together 50 years of Independence. Anniversaries are a great time both for looking back and looking forward, and I am very much looking forward to the celebrations in September.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission Gaborone.

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UK and US support Malawi with pharmacy storage units

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The UK and US Governments, through the Department for International Development (DFID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are working together with Ministry of Health to reduce the problem of lack of appropriate medical supplies storage in Malawi’s health facilities.

The UK Government has provided £3.8 million and the US Government $2.5 million to purchase and install 115 pre-assembled pharmacy storage units in 106 health facilities across Malawi.

The pharmacy storage units, which take only two to four days to install, will help reduce deterioration of medical supplies, and the potential pilferage of pharmaceuticals . The new storage facilities will also create additional space for other clinical use.

Head of DFID in Malawi, Philip Smith said:

“As one of the leading partners in advancing the health sector in Malawi, the UK is committed to supporting more efficient use of clinical resources. These new storage facilities will address the very serious constraint to the availability of quality medicines for the people of Malawi, which puts the lives of millions of poor children and adults at risk.”

USAID Mission Director, Doug Arbuckle, said:

“Malawi is now under a great deal of scrutiny. It needs to demonstrate greater accountability for managing life-saving medicines. Without a strong commitment to do so, support from our two governments, as well as those of other donors, could be very well shifted elsewhere.”

The first unit was commissioned today at Chitedze Health Centre in Lilongwe and the project of installing all units is expected to take four months.

A 2014 USAID Assessment found that 77% (559 of 732) of Malawi health facilities have less than half of the pharmacy storage space required to meet current demands. The situation will only get worse as the population grows

Each of the prefabricated units comes with 100mm panels with Chromadek roof sheeting; a roof of galvanized and IBR sheeting; 2 air conditioners; double door with security gates; shelving and pallets; and a desk, cabinet and chair.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission – Lilongwe.

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UK and US support Malawi with pharmacy storage units

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The UK and US Governments, through the Department for International Development (DFID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are working together with Ministry of Health to reduce the problem of lack of appropriate medical supplies storage in Malawi’s health facilities.

The UK Government has provided £3.8 million and the US Government $2.5 million to purchase and install 115 pre-assembled pharmacy storage units in 106 health facilities across Malawi.

The pharmacy storage units, which take only two to four days to install, will help reduce deterioration of medical supplies, and the potential pilferage of pharmaceuticals . The new storage facilities will also create additional space for other clinical use.

Head of DFID in Malawi, Philip Smith said:

“As one of the leading partners in advancing the health sector in Malawi, the UK is committed to supporting more efficient use of clinical resources. These new storage facilities will address the very serious constraint to the availability of quality medicines for the people of Malawi, which puts the lives of millions of poor children and adults at risk.”

USAID Mission Director, Doug Arbuckle, said:

“Malawi is now under a great deal of scrutiny. It needs to demonstrate greater accountability for managing life-saving medicines. Without a strong commitment to do so, support from our two governments, as well as those of other donors, could be very well shifted elsewhere.”

The first unit was commissioned today at Chitedze Health Centre in Lilongwe and the project of installing all units is expected to take four months.

A 2014 USAID Assessment found that 77% (559 of 732) of Malawi health facilities have less than half of the pharmacy storage space required to meet current demands. The situation will only get worse as the population grows

Each of the prefabricated units comes with 100mm panels with Chromadek roof sheeting; a roof of galvanized and IBR sheeting; 2 air conditioners; double door with security gates; shelving and pallets; and a desk, cabinet and chair.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of British High Commission – Lilongwe.

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Sweden responds to El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia

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The Government of Sweden contributes US$ 5.7 million to UNICEF to save children’s lives and protect children affected by El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia. This is the single largest crisis contribution of Sweden to UNICEF globally this year. In addition to the grant provided through UNICEF Ethiopia, Sweden has provided US$25 million to the drought response in Ethiopia since September 2015.

The Swedish support comes at a critical time when Ethiopia is currently facing the worst drought in decades leaving 10.2 million people, including 6 million children, in need of emergency assistance. It also created critical water shortages in Somali, Afar, parts of SNNP, eastern Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions. Poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, resulting from water shortage, are also contributing to an increase in disease outbreaks.

In addition, the number of severely malnourished children who need therapeutic feeding treatment continues to increase. UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners, is stepping up efforts to address the needs of 458,000 children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition and 2.5 million children, pregnant and lactating women with Moderate Acute Malnutrition.[1]

“Sweden has been a strong humanitarian and development partner to Ethiopia over the years. We are very committed to support the country in the struggle to combat and prevent the effects of the worst drought Ethiopia has seen in over 50 years,” said H.E. Jan Sadek, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia. “Sweden is determined to continue to work for a deeper integration between humanitarian relief and long term development objectives. The partners in Ethiopia have come quite far in this integration but more needs to be done. We believe that in this regard, UNICEF, which has a mandate in both ‘spheres’, is playing a key role.”

Together with other donors, Sweden’s support enabled UNICEF to make the largest global purchase of Therapeutic Food for children in drought-stricken Ethiopia. With this new funding, UNICEF will work towards improving the capacity of health extension workers on Severe Acute Malnutrition management.

In addition, new stabilization centres will be established in existing health centres to cater to the increasing number of children with severe acute malnutrition. The contribution will also strengthen Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams which provide lifesaving primary health care, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation promotion services in hard hit drought areas of the Afar and Somali regions. Furthermore, water will be provided to primary schools for drinking as well as for routine handwashing in the Oromia Region.

“UNICEF appreciates the Government of Sweden’s generous contribution of life saving interventions for children and their families whose lives have been affected by the El-Niño driven drought emergency,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and partners, continues to play an important role in scaling up its interventions in terms of nutrition, health, water sanitation and hygiene, child protection and education to mitigate the worst impact of this crisis.”

[1] http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/ECO_ElNino_Emergency_Fast_Facts_June_2016.pdf

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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3rd Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation: Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha underscores the importance of Media in shaping the narrative and promoting the rich socio-cultural diversity and economic growth of Africa and China

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H.E Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), led an AU delegation to attend the Third Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation on 21 – 22 June 2016, in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Holding under the theme: “Win-win cooperation, common development”, the forum which brought together close to 350 high level media professionals and Government Members in Charge of Communication from some 45 African countries, was aimed to deepen cooperation in the media sector and boost the development of Africa- China ties. Participants also exchanged views on expanding new areas of media cooperation, promoting bilateral friendship and common development among others. According to the organisers, the China-Africa Media Cooperation forum is the implementation of one of the outcomes reached during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Media Forum was held under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, supported by the China Radio and TV Co. for International Techno-Economic Cooperation, the Star Times Group and Hixua Film Distribution and Co. It was co-hosted by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China (SAPPRFT) and the African [DSCN5344] Union of Broadcasting (AUB).

Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, Mr. Mwencha highlighted three areas of focus which he said was of critical importance for the media to play its rightful role in bridging the gaps between the people of Africa and China. They are: building the capacity of the media through training programs, infrastructure development and institution building; enhance industrialization through transfer technology; and cooperation in cyber security and digitalization. He stressed that in other “to tell our stories and in fostering the development agenda in our continents, there is need to strengthen the skills and capacity of the media through media networking and media development”, among others. He invited the media representatives as well as the Ministers of Information and Communication to fully contribute in the implementation of the Africa Agenda 2063 and its Ten Year Implementation Plan.

[DSCN5340] With regards to digitalization of broadcasting and new media development, Mr. Mwencha explained that “we need to strategize on how we can use different multimedia channels including the social media to customize the information for our different categories of audience”. He noted that “Information and Communication Technologies have transformed the way we relay information by diversifying the communication landscape and media is critical in reinforcing the relationship between Africa and China “as there is so much potential between our two peoples.”

Deputy Chairperson Mwencha expressed appreciation to the Government of China for organizing such a forum which he said comes at a right time when the African continent is highly attracting international investment and its rapidly increasing population constitutes a large market for the world economic growth. Therefore the media has an important role to play in publicizing and promoting the investment opportunities in both China and Africa.

“We need to build the understanding and confidence among our people and to see the opportunities and capacity of all the stakeholders and actors- that is, the government, the private sector and the citizenry to develop our continents” stressed the AUC Deputy Chairperson. (See complete speech of H.E Mwencha on the AU website: www.au.int )

On his part, H.E Cai Fuchao, Minister of China SAPPRFT said “China will hold firm and adhere to the “genuine, frank, close, and sincere” principle so as to develop media cooperation with Africa in an all-round way. He indicated that the Chinese media will work with their African counterparts to consolidate the basis for their cooperation, expand space for cooperation, and broaden areas of cooperation to promote China-Africa media ties to a new level and make new contributions to the development of the comprehensive China-Africa strategic partnership. The Minister noted that China and African countries have showed the willingness to further enhance exchanges in radio, film and television.

The following thematic issues were discussed during the panel sessions with the Communication Ministers and broadcasters: Policies exchanges on broadcasting and film between China and Africa; Media cooperation and capacity building; Digitalization and development of new media, among other.

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

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Sudan’s declaration of cessation of hostilities in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states

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The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by the Government of Sudan of a four-month unilateral cessation of hostilities, beginning on 18 June 2016, in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. He also welcomes the six-month unilateral cessation of hostilities declared by the Sudan Revolutionary Forces in the Two Areas and Darfur on 28 April 2016. These commitments should ease the suffering of the people living in the affected areas. The Secretary-General urges the parties to allow and facilitate urgently needed humanitarian access to these areas.

The Secretary General reiterates his call for the Parties which have not signed the Road-map proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to do so, and to continue talks with the Government of Sudan and other parties engaged in dialogue inside Sudan to reach agreement on a process for final peace through inclusive national dialogue.

New York, 22 June 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Nigeria / Borno State: at least 24,000 displaced people in dire health situation in Bama

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A catastrophic humanitarian emergency is currently unfolding in a camp for internally displaced people in Borno State, Nigeria, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Wednesday.

For several hours on June 21, an MSF medical team was able to access the town of Bama in northeastern Nigeria, where 24,000 people, including 15,000 children, among them 4,500 are under 5, are sheltered in a camp located on a hospital compound. During those few hours, the MSF medical team discovered a health crisis, referring 16 severely malnourished children at immediate risk of death to the MSF in-patient therapeutic feeding center in Maiduguri. . A rapid nutritional screening of more than 800 children found that 19 percent were suffering from severe acute malnutrition—the deadliest form of malnutrition.

“This is the first time MSF has been able to access Bama, but we already know the needs of the people there are beyond critical,” said Ghada Hatim, MSF head of mission in Nigeria. “We are treating malnourished children in medical facilities in Maiduguri and see the trauma on the faces of our patients who have witnessed and survived many horrors.”

During its assessment, the MSF team counted 1233 cemetery graves located near the camp which had been dug in the past year. Many of those graves—480—were of children

“Bama is largely closed off,” said Hatim. “We have been told that people including children there half starved to death. According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told more than 30 people are dying a day due to hunger and illness.”

Since May 23, at least 188 people have died in the camp—almost six people per day—mainly from diarrhea and malnutrition.

Between June 13 and 15, Nigerian authorities and a local NGO organized the evacuation of 1,192 people requiring medical care from the Bama area to the city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. This group of mostly women and children, was placed in the “Camp Nursing ‘ internally displaced camp. Of the 466 children screened by MSF medical teams at Camp Nursing, 66 percent were emaciated, and 39 percent of these children had a severe form of malnutrition. Upon assessment, 78 children had to be immediately hospitalized in the MSF feeding center which has inpatient capacity of 86 beds.

MSF has been present in Borno State, Maiduguri, since May 2014. It supports two hospitals, two clinics, two clinics in the camps where displaced people can come see for free. Over the past few months, MSF has developed significant activities to provide water and acceptable hygiene conditions in some camps Maiduguri, where it operates and continues to conduct epidemiological surveillance in these populations. In 2015, MSf has provided more than 116,300 medical consultations, conducted 1,330 deliveries and supported 6,000 malnourished children

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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