United States Concerned by Burkina Faso Electoral Code Changes

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Marie Harf

Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 14, 2015

The United States is concerned by the National Transitional Council’s April 7 passage of certain changes to Burkina Faso’s electoral code that exclude candidates in the upcoming elections who had voiced support for a constitutional revision to amend presidential term limits in late 2014. The changes to the code would seem to be inconsistent with the democratic principles of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and free, fair, and peaceful elections. We urge the transitional government, civil society, and other actors who were instrumental in defending these democratic principles to use a coordinated, consensual, and inclusive approach in conducting the elections.

Source:: United States Concerned by Burkina Faso Electoral Code Changes

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UN Envoy to Somalia condemns terrorist attack on the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 15, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, condemns today’s terrorist attack on the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education in Mogadishu city that resulted in the death and injuries of civilians, members of the security forces and Government workers.

“I condemn today’s terrible terrorist attack in Mogadishu in the strongest terms and am appalled by the complete disregard for the lives of innocent people shown by the attackers. An attack on the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education is an assault on Somalis’ brave efforts to build a brighter future for the youth of their nation.

These are difficult days for peace-loving people in Somalia and the wider region. We must be united and resolute in the face of continuing terrorism. I extend my deepest condolences to the Federal Government and the families and loved ones of those killed in the attack, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

SRSG Nicholas Kay reiterates the UN’s unfaltering commitment to fighting the scourge of terrorism and supporting the people and the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure security and stability.

Source:: UN Envoy to Somalia condemns terrorist attack on the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education

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Central African Republic (CAR): MSF starts an emergency intervention in Kouango amid ‘a terrible mix of violence, displacement and lack of basic healthcare’

BANGUI, Central African Republic, April 15, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — By the end of 2014, thousands of people living in Kouango area, in southern Central African Republic (CAR), started to cross the Ubangi River looking for safety in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after months of armed clashes in the area between rival militias. More than 20,000 locals fled to DRC and thousands more went to the nearby towns of Bambari and Grimari, north of Kouango. They were all looking for protection after the incessant robberies, killings and burnt houses.

While MSF teams in DRC took charge of the incoming refugees, an emergency team in CAR has started an intervention focused on children, women and victims of violence in Kouango town and its surroundings. The local population’s access to healthcare was very limited or non-existent, and there were also huge needs in terms of food, housing and sanitation. Some of those who stayed in the area left their homes to seek refuge in the bush out of fear of militia exactions.

“There are still some armed clashes, but simple rumours are enough to keep people afraid and away from home,” said Jana Brandt, coordinator of MSF’s emergency team.

“We have seen some areas where all there is are burnt houses. People are hiding in the forest afraid of the presence of armed groups,” Brandt added. “There are no security forces or actors providing healthcare. People are living in very dire conditions that could get worse at any moment if the insecurity persists. On top of that, the rainy season is about to start and people living in forests are completely exposed to harsh weather. Villagers even risk their houses being destroyed if they cannot come home soon to prepare them for the heavy rains to come.”

“What we are seeing here is an example of the situation that hundreds of thousands of people suffer in CAR every day: a terrible mix of violence, displacement and a lack of access to even basic healthcare,” she stated.

In the first week of activity the mobile clinics performed more than 400 consultations, the majority of which were in relation to malaria.

Movements in the area are extremely difficult because of the lack of a decent road network. This same lack of connections is an added hurdle for trade and supply in the area, as are the checkpoints installed by the armed militias to ask traders for money, that even the river transports have to face.

An additional problem arises from the fact that the nomadic pastoralist populations that have traditionally come to the area to feed their herds now have to face the militias and their control of traditional routes, forcing them to go nearer to the villages where their cattle feed on the farming lands, which results in an even worse food scarcity.

“It’s very difficult for farmers to work in their lands and pastoralists have all kinds of hurdles themselves. With this scenario, a situation of food insecurity in the mid-term is foreseeable,” said Brandt.

MSF’s mobile clinics are providing primary healthcare with outpatient consultations in different spots of the area and special attention is be given to cases of malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections. A 24/7 emergency room will also be set up in Kouango, and surgery will be available for those urgent cases in which evacuation is not advisable for reasons of security or time.

Source:: Central African Republic (CAR): MSF starts an emergency intervention in Kouango amid ‘a terrible mix of violence, displacement and lack of basic healthcare’

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STATEMENT ON THE BAN ON PREGNANT GIRLS RETURNING TO SCHOOL AND TAKING EXAMS

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 15, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations in Sierra Leone notes the decision taken by the Government of Sierra Leone to disqualify pregnant schoolgirls from attending school and from sitting school examinations.

The United Nations wishes to remind the Government of Sierra Leone that education is a fundamental human right that Sierra Leone has committed itself to uphold.

Article 4.1 of Sierra Leone’s Education Act (2004) includes the principle of non-discrimination in accessing education.

As a state Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Sierra Leone has accepted its international obligation under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of human rights and freedoms, which includes Article 13 of the Covenant, the right to education. Furthermore, under Article 2.2 of the Covenant, Sierra Leone undertakes to guarantee the right to education without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of sex.

The United Nations would encourage the Sierra Leone authorities to adopt a policy whereby pregnant schoolgirls can enjoy an education that is available, accessible and acceptable:

• Available means that functioning educational institutions and programmes have to be available in sufficient quantity within Sierra Leone for the pregnant schoolgirls;

• Accessible means that the schools must be accessible without discrimination; that they are physically accessible (i.e. within safe physical reach); and that they are affordable;

• Acceptable means that the form and substance of education, including curricula and teaching methods, have to be acceptable.

The United Nations in Sierra Leone stands ready to assist the Government in fulfilling the right to education for all its children, irrespective of their temporary status as a pregnant teenager.

Freetown

14 April 2015

Source:: STATEMENT ON THE BAN ON PREGNANT GIRLS RETURNING TO SCHOOL AND TAKING EXAMS

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Statement by the Secretary-General on the One-Year Anniversary of the Abduction of Schoolgirls in Chibok, North-eastern Nigeria

NEW YORK, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — One year ago, over 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria. While some of the girls were fortunate to have escaped, the fate of many still remains unknown. We must never forget the kidnapped Chibok girls, and I will not stop calling for their immediate release and their safe return to their families.

Over the past 12 months, Boko Haram intensified its brutal attacks on boys and girls in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Hundreds of thousands of children have been displaced from their homes, and deprived of their rights to live and grow up in safety, dignity and peace. Boko Haram’s killing, abduction and recruitment of children, including the use of girls as “suicide bombers”, is abhorrent.

I also remain deeply concerned by the group’s repeated and cowardly attacks targeting schools, in grave violation of international humanitarian law. Going to school should not have to be an act of bravery. The children of north-eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries must be allowed to live in peace and enjoy their right to a safe education.

The legitimate response to Boko Haram’s attacks must be fully consistent with international law and not create additional risks for the protection of children. On this day, I reaffirm my support to the governments and peoples of the region in the fight against Boko Haram. I stand in solidarity with the families of all abductees, especially children, their communities and society at large.

Source:: Statement by the Secretary-General on the One-Year Anniversary of the Abduction of Schoolgirls in Chibok, North-eastern Nigeria

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South Sudan / Deputy SRSG Soumaré Visits Malakal

JUBA, South Sudan, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) for South Sudan (Political) Moustapha Soumaré visited Malakal today on his first trip to an UNMISS state office since he took up his duties with the Mission on 30 March.

Mr. Soumaré met with the Upper Nile State governor Simon Kun Puoch and visited a number of locations in Malakal Town including the city’s main market, the teaching hospital and the Mission’s recently established forward operating bases.

The DSRSG was briefed on the security and humanitarian situation in Upper Nile State by senior UNMISS officials, the head of the Malakal office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and staff members of other UN agencies operating in the state.

Mr. Soumaré also met with community leaders of the approximately 26,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are being sheltered by UNMISS and toured the Mission’s two protection sites as well as an extension site currently under construction to relieve overcrowding at the existing facilities for IDPs.

“I came to Malakal to get a first-hand look at our protection sites and introduce myself to the governor and our UNMISS colleagues based there,” he said. “The recent fighting between youths from the Dinka and Shilluk communities triggered an influx of over 4,000 new IDPs into our protection sites in Malakal two weeks ago, and I was impressed by the progress made in the building of the new extension that will host these recently arrived civilians as well as IDPs who have been under our protection for many months.”

The DSRSG hosted a town hall meeting with UNMISS staff to acquaint himself with the working and living conditions facing colleagues in Malakal and elsewhere in Upper Nile State.

Source:: South Sudan / Deputy SRSG Soumaré Visits Malakal

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