Nov 242014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement commending Tunisians on their country’s peaceful and credible presidential election:

“Today, the people of Tunisia participated in a well-organized, credible and peaceful election, and for the first time in their history exercised their democratic right to freely choose the country’s next president.

“A contingent of Canadians participated in international observation missions during Tunisia’s parliamentary election and today’s presidential election, and Canada was pleased to contribute to local observation efforts during both elections.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I applaud the tremendous progress that has been achieved in the pursuit of a free and democratic Tunisia and reiterate Canada’s support for Tunisia’s continued efforts to strengthen its democracy and build a prosperous and secure future for all Tunisians.”

For updates on Tunisia’s election, please visit Embassy of Canada to Tunisia on Facebook.

Nov 242014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and the Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today announced new funding of over €220,000 to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Today’s funding, to the NGO Plan, will support families in Sierra Leone who have been quarantined as a result of Ebola by providing food packages, fuel and other vital supplies.

The funding announced today is in addition to more than €4 million of Irish Government money being released this week to strengthen health services and tackle Ebola in West Africa.

This €4 million will help strengthen the health system in Liberia, one of the three countries in West Africa most affected by the Ebola outbreak. It is part of Ireland’s long term commitment to strengthening the fragile Liberian health system. It will support a programme which provides free basic healthcare to the most vulnerable people in Liberia, estimated at one quarter of the total population.

In 2014, Ireland will provide over €17 million to affected countries in West Africa, directly and through NGOs.

Announcing the support, Minister Flanagan said:

“I am pleased to announce, together with my colleague Minister Sherlock, that we have approved additional funding to tackle the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

“At last week’s meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, Ebola was again high on the agenda and the importance of enhancing the support for health workers and building health systems on the groups in affected countries was highlighted in the Council’s Conclusions.”

“Health is the main focus of Ireland’s development programme in Liberia and the Ebola outbreak has clearly shown the need for continued support investment in fragile health systems.

“The funding of €4 million will support health workers and provide for drug procurement and distribution; providing vital, life-saving care to some of the most vulnerable people.

“Supporting the motivation and retention of professional health workers within the Liberian health system is a crucial element of tackling the Ebola outbreak in the country.”

Minister Sherlock, who recently was the first European Minister to visit Sierra Leone since the crisis began, said:

“The levels of transmission of Ebola continue to be a cause of grave concern, with suspected cases now topping 15,000.

“Ebola will only be halted at its source in West Africa and the international community must continue to do all it can to contain this deadly virus.

“In addition to strengthening the health systems of affected countries, tackling Ebola effectively involves supporting families who have been quarantined because of a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola.”

Speaking about the funding for Plan in Sierra Leone, Minister Sherlock added:

“The new funding announced today for the Ebola response will help to reduce transmission of the disease by encouraging communities to work with the authorities to isolate potential cases.

“These communities must receive the essential assistance they need when quarantined. We cannot expect people to remain in their homes without basic food and other provisions. I have seen at first hand the fragility of the systems combating this disease and this funding will aid in that fight.

“Bringing the Ebola outbreak under control will be impossible without the full engagement of local communities in the response.”

Nov 242014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and the Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today announced new funding of over €220,000 to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Today’s funding, to the NGO Plan, will support families in Sierra Leone who have been quarantined as a result of Ebola by providing food packages, fuel and other vital supplies.

The funding announced today is in addition to more than €4 million of Irish Government money being released this week to strengthen health services and tackle Ebola in West Africa.

This €4 million will help strengthen the health system in Liberia, one of the three countries in West Africa most affected by the Ebola outbreak. It is part of Ireland’s long term commitment to strengthening the fragile Liberian health system. It will support a programme which provides free basic healthcare to the most vulnerable people in Liberia, estimated at one quarter of the total population.

In 2014, Ireland will provide over €17 million to affected countries in West Africa, directly and through NGOs.

Announcing the support, Minister Flanagan said:

“I am pleased to announce, together with my colleague Minister Sherlock, that we have approved additional funding to tackle the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

“At last week’s meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, Ebola was again high on the agenda and the importance of enhancing the support for health workers and building health systems on the groups in affected countries was highlighted in the Council’s Conclusions.”

“Health is the main focus of Ireland’s development programme in Liberia and the Ebola outbreak has clearly shown the need for continued support investment in fragile health systems.

“The funding of €4 million will support health workers and provide for drug procurement and distribution; providing vital, life-saving care to some of the most vulnerable people.

“Supporting the motivation and retention of professional health workers within the Liberian health system is a crucial element of tackling the Ebola outbreak in the country.”

Minister Sherlock, who recently was the first European Minister to visit Sierra Leone since the crisis began, said:

“The levels of transmission of Ebola continue to be a cause of grave concern, with suspected cases now topping 15,000.

“Ebola will only be halted at its source in West Africa and the international community must continue to do all it can to contain this deadly virus.

“In addition to strengthening the health systems of affected countries, tackling Ebola effectively involves supporting families who have been quarantined because of a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola.”

Speaking about the funding for Plan in Sierra Leone, Minister Sherlock added:

“The new funding announced today for the Ebola response will help to reduce transmission of the disease by encouraging communities to work with the authorities to isolate potential cases.

“These communities must receive the essential assistance they need when quarantined. We cannot expect people to remain in their homes without basic food and other provisions. I have seen at first hand the fragility of the systems combating this disease and this funding will aid in that fight.

“Bringing the Ebola outbreak under control will be impossible without the full engagement of local communities in the response.”

Nov 242014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:

“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attack against a bus in Northern Kenya that took the lives of 28 innocent civilians.

“The deliberate targeting of civilians is despicable and demonstrates the inhumanity of those who perpetrated this attack.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to all Kenyans.

“Canada stands in solidarity with the Government of Kenya and will continue to support the fight against al-Shabaab.

“The Government of Canada continues to advise Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya and to avoid all travel within 150 km of the Kenya-Somalia border due to the risk of kidnapping and attacks. Canadians are advised to be particularly vigilant in crowded places, and to monitor local media as well as the Travel Advice and Advisories for Kenya.”

Nov 242014
 

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders is delighted about the the end of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo…

Nov 242014
 

COTONOU, Benin, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Steering Committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Technical Assistance Center for West Africa (West AFRITAC) highlighted the growing role of the Center in supporting members’ needs and reforms in the region. Members of the Steering Committee met in Cotonou, Benin on November 17, 2014, with Benin chairing, to review implementation of the work program at mid-year.

The Committee noted that during the first half of the 2015 financial year1, the Center provided 219 weeks of technical assistance and capacity building to the financial and statistical agencies of its member countries as well as to regional institutions, representing an increase from the level of activity in the same period of the year before. The Committee welcomed the recent disbursement of financial contributions, which would help to fund additional activities to better meet members’ needs and support reforms in the region through April 2017. The meeting was attended by representatives of nine member countries, regional institutions and donors, including the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, German cooperation agency, and the European Union, as well as IMF staff.

At the start of the meeting, Mr. Komi Koutché, Minister of Economy, Finance and Denationalization Programs of Benin, highlighted the quality of AFRITAC West technical assistance and its relevance to meeting the country’s strategic capacity building needs. He particularly stressed the contribution of the Center to the ongoing modernization of the customs environment in Benin and the development of a more efficient taxpayer system in the country. The technical support has also contributed to a budget orientation document for a parliamentary debate in June 2014. In the area of statistics, the Center’s assistance was instrumental in the production and publication of national accounts from 1999−2011.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Thomas Azandossessi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Denationalization Programs of Benin and Chairperson of the West AFRITAC Steering Committee, and Jean Le Dem, Director of West AFRITAC, made the following joint statement:

“The Steering Committee noted with satisfaction the results achieved in several member countries during the first half of fiscal year 2015 with the assistance of the Center, notably the establishment of a final system for automated risk analysis management and selectivity of customs control in Côte d’Ivoire; the increased number of taxpayers under the Directorate of medium-size enterprises in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger; the updated national accounts in many countries of the region; as well as progress in regional projects aiming at better compliance with banking supervision international standards as well as development of public security markets. Following the disbursement of a financial contribution from the European Union, the Steering Committee endorsed a scaled-up work program for the second half of fiscal year 2015, notably in the area of macroeconomic analysis and forecasting, and the extension of the Center’s financing cycle through April 2017.”

Background

The Center is a member of the AFRITAC Initiative, bringing together five regional technical assistance centers in sub-Saharan Africa. That Initiative came into being in 2002, following the request made by African policy makers meeting within NEPAD to the IMF to help strengthen the institutional and human capacities of their states for the design and implementation of economic policies that can help to accelerate economic growth and stem poverty. Launched in 2003, West AFRITAC has been based in Abidjan since 2012. It operates in areas of IMF competence, namely, customs and tax administrations, expenditure management, macroeconomic and financial statistics, public debt management, and banking supervision and control. The activities of West AFRITAC are carried out essentially in the form of technical assistance missions, national workshops, and regional seminars for the benefit of the member countries and regional organizations.

Nov 242014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire condemns terrorist attack in Kenya and pledges continued UK support in the fight against Al Shabab

Mr Swire said:

“I strongly condemn the attack that took place in Mandera county, Kenya, today, killing 28 people. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died.

“There can be no place for such senseless acts of violence in our societies. The UK stands by the Kenyan government in its fight against terrorism and in its efforts to bring those responsible for this barbaric act to justice.”

Nov 242014
 

OTTAWA, Canada, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued the following statement on a resolution led by Canada and Zambia on child, early and forced marriage at the United Nations that was adopted by the Third Committee this morning:

“The overwhelming support of the international community for this resolution is a clear signal that there is a global movement toward eradicating a practice that threatens the lives and futures of 15 million girls who are forced into marriage each year.

“To the 700 million girls and women around the world who were forced to marry as children, Canada stands with you and will continue to work with partners around the world to ensure that your daughters and granddaughters will not suffer the same fate.

“Child, early and forced marriage is one of the most pressing development challenges of our time. Our country will always act according to its founding values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law so that they can be enjoyed by all.”

Nov 212014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 21, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Disease outbreak news

On 4 November 2014, WHO was notified by the Ministry of Health of Madagascar of an outbreak of plague. The first case, a male from Soamahatamana village in the district of Tsiroanomandidy, was identified on 31 August. The patient died on 3 September.

As of 16 November, a total of 119 cases of plague have been confirmed, including 40 deaths. Only 2% of reported cases are of the pneumonic form.

Cases have been reported in 16 districts of seven regions. Antananarivo, the capital and largest city in Madagascar, has also been affected with 2 recorded cases of plague, including 1 death. There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system. The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide used to control fleas) that has been observed in the country.

Public health response

The national task force has been activated to manage the outbreak. With support from partners – including WHO, the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar, the “Commune urbaine d’Antananarivo” and the Red Cross – the government of Madagascar has put in place effective strategies to control the outbreak. Thanks to financial assistance from the African Development Bank, a 200,000 US dollars response project has been developed. WHO is providing technical expertise and human resources support. Measures for the control and prevention of plague are being thoroughly implemented in the affected districts. Personal protective equipment, insecticides, spray materials and antibiotics have been made available in those areas.

Background

Plague is a bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis, which primarily affects wild rodents. It is spread from one rodent to another by fleas. Humans bitten by an infected flea usually develop a bubonic form of plague, which produces the characteristic plague bubo (a swelling of the lymph node). If the bacteria reach the lungs, the patient develops pneumonia (pneumonic plague), which is then transmissible from person to person through infected droplets spread by coughing. If diagnosed early, bubonic plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Pneumonic plague, on the other hand, is one of the most deadly infectious diseases; patients can die 24 hours after infection. The mortality rate depends on how soon treatment is started, but is always very high.

WHO recommendations

WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available. In urban areas, such as Antananarivo, the surveillance of epidemic risk indicators is highly recommended for the implementation of preventive vector control activities.

Nov 212014
 

ACCRA, Ghana, November 21, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Mr. Joël Toujas-Bernaté, visited Accra from November 6 to 20, 2014, to discuss the authorities’ economic and financial program and its possible financial support by the IMF. The mission met with President Mahama; Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur; Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission; Finance Minister Seth Terkper; Bank of Ghana Governor Kofi Wampah; the Finance Committee of the Parliament, other senior officials, and representatives of the private sector, the donor community and civil society.

Mr. Toujas-Bernaté made the following statement at the end of the visit:

“Following discussions held in Washington last month, the authorities continued to work on their economic and financial program to address domestic and external vulnerabilities. The authorities and the mission made significant progress towards reaching understandings on strengthened macroeconomic policies, including on a medium-term fiscal path consistent with ensuring debt sustainability and reducing the external current account deficit.

“The mission in particular welcomes the government’s 2015 budget, presented to Parliament on November 19, 2014, which targets a reduction of the fiscal deficit by 3.5 percentage points of GDP (on a commitment basis). With projected arrears repayments of 1.2 percent of GDP next year, the cash deficit will be equivalent to 6.5 percent of GDP in 2015, down from 9.5 percent in 2014. The budget includes some important measures to increase revenues, to eliminate distortive and inefficient energy subsidies, and to contain growth in Ghana’s comparatively high public wage bill. At the same time, the budget allows for maintaining public investment above 5 percent of GDP as well as increasing social protection spending targeted at the most vulnerable.

“The mission also welcomes the government’s aim to implement structural reforms to underpin a sustained consolidation towards a fiscal deficit objective of 3.5 percent of GDP by 2017. Reforms will include strengthening public finance management, reducing tax exemptions, enhancing tax administration and reviewing the earmarking of revenues for statutory funds. Efforts to clean up the payroll and enhance its management have been initiated and should be pursued swiftly. These efforts, together with the implementation of appropriate pay and hiring policies, will help further control the wage bill, which has been a significant source of fiscal risk.

“Taken together, these fiscal measures, combined with sound debt management and actions to further boost the effectiveness of the Bank of Ghana’s inflation targeting framework should help restore macroeconomic stability.

“The IMF team will continue to support the authorities as they work in the coming weeks in several areas, including to take concrete steps in cleaning up the payroll, finalize the remaining details of their medium-term reforms and to seek external financing assurances from bilateral donors and international institutions. Once this work is completed, a financial arrangement to support Ghana’s economic program would be agreed at staff level before being proposed for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration.”

Nov 212014
 

JUBA, South Sudan, November 21, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang, concluded her three-day mission to South Sudan today, calling on all parties to the conflict to respect their ceasefire commitments and urging the international community to continue providing support to enable humanitarians to scale up and expand critical aid operations.

The year-long conflict has been brutal. Civilians have been killed, raped and beaten; homes torched; lives ruined. Fighting has destroyed communities and separated families. More than 1.9 million people have fled their homes. Over 100,000 people have sought refuge in UN bases. Millions more fled into the bush and remain too fearful to return home or settle elsewhere.

“The level of violence experienced by civilians in South Sudan has been devastating,” said ASG Kang. “I was here a year ago and I am heartbroken to see that the promising young country that I saw is suffering so greatly. The scale of the needs is great. However much we scale up our operations, we will never be able to do enough if the conflict continues to destroy lives and livelihoods. All parties to the conflict must show leadership and bring peace to this country.”

Despite the extremely difficult situation for aid workers, who face active hostilities, access and logistical challenges, as well as threats to their own lives, the United Nations humanitarian agencies and partners have reached more than 3.5 million people with assistance this year, helped avert famine, and brought under control a deadly cholera outbreak. However, the situation remains bleak and the number of people who are severely food insecure is projected to increase to 2.5 million people in early 2015.

Aid agencies are planning for next year, and are urgently calling for US$600 million by February to kick-start next year’s operations. “In the dry season, we need to pre-position life-saving and livelihood supplies to reach all people in need, and carry out key repairs to roads and airstrips so that we can scale up and expand the aid operation,” noted ASG Kang.

Kyung-wha Kang visited communities affected by the crisis in Juba and Jonglei State. She met with Government representatives and humanitarian partners to discuss ways of improving access and strengthening protection of civilians. She urged parties to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws that clearly call for the protection of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need.