WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti from March 6-8. In the UAE, she held highly productive bilateral discussions with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and other senior Emirati officials, including the Foreign Minister and Deputy Chief of National Security. They exchanged views on a wide range of regional issues, including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Middle East Peace, as well as U.S. partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Ambassador Rice visited the new campus of NYU Abu Dhabi, one of the three major U.S.-UAE long-term legacy partnership projects. She met with a diverse and talented group of American, Emirati and international students from NYU Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholarship Program and expressed support for the major investments the UAE has made in world class liberal arts and STEM higher education programs.
In Djibouti, Ambassador Rice met with senior leaders and U.S. troops from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonnier to discuss CJTF operations in the region. She thanked the troops for their extraordinary work to build counterpart capacity in the region, conduct crisis response, and execute vital counter-terror operations that help keep the American people safe. Ambassador Rice met with Djiboutian President Guelleh to renew our robust strategic partnership with the government and people of Djibouti. She thanked him for Djiboutian leadership on a range of issues, including countering terrorism and piracy, and responding to humanitarian emergencies. In her meeting with President Guelleh and with Foreign Minister Youssouf and a delegation of senior Djiboutian ministers and officials, she discussed ways to deepen and enhance our bilateral cooperation, including in ways that will tangibly benefit the economic well-being of the Djiboutian people and address shared security challenges. They discussed ways that Camp Lemonnier and the U.S. military presence in Djibouti can have a more direct and positive impact on the local economy, and ways that American assistance can lead to further sustainable development and improved regional security.
MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In renewed joint operations between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, five strategic towns in the Bay region of Somalia have been reclaimed from the control of the Al Shabaab terrorist group.
In the last couple of days, SNA and AMISOM forces have regained control of Rabdhure Ted, and Hudur towns in joint operations that saw the terrorists defeated and driven out of these towns. Today, the SNA and AMISOM forces continued their march and secured the town of Wajid and Buudhubow in the Gedo region.??
The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif thanked the Somali population of the newly recovered towns for their cooperation and seized the opportunity to once again appeal to the youth enrolled in Al Shabaab to lay down their arms and join their brothers and sisters in the Government controlled areas where they are welcomed.??
The SNA and AMISOM joint operations signal the beginning of the renewed efforts by the Somali government forces working more closely with AMISOM forces to dislodge Al Shabaab from many of its strongholds across the country.??
This will facilitate the extension of the Somali government’s control over its territory as well as enable the people of Somalia to live their lives free from Al Shabaab’s tyranny.??
These joint operations were carried out with due diligence and strict observance of International Human Rights standards in line with the trainings received by both SNA and AMISOM forces.
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery, Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, hailed as “an essential step forward in the fight against slavery” the formal adoption by the Mauritanian Government of the road map prepared in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“I see the 6th of March 2014, as a turning point in the fight against slavery in Mauritania,” Ms. Shahinian said. “The formal adoption of the road map for the implementation of my 2010 recommendations* is not only symbolic, but marks a new phase in Mauritania’s efforts to eradicate slavery and its remnants once and for all.”
“I trust that the Government will deploy all necessary efforts to fully implement the road map, in close cooperation with civil society, so that its commitment results in concrete changes in practice,” the human rights expert noted.
The official announcement comes just a week after the Special Rapporteur’s follow-up visit to the country to discuss the formal adoption of the road map and assess new developments and initiatives taken by the Mauritanian authorities in response to her previous recommendations.
Ms. Shahinian will present the findings and recommendations of her follow-up visit at a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2014.
(*) The ‘Road Map for the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences in the context of the eradication of slavery practices in Mauritania” is based on Ms. Shahinian’s 2010 report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/SRSlavery/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is profoundly shocked by the killing today of one of its staff members in northern Central African Republic.
The killing occurred in connection with violence in Ndele. Armed men entered the Catholic mission there, where four ICRC staff were quartered, and killed one of them. The other three are safe.
“We are outraged by this killing,” said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. “It is utterly unacceptable. We urgently call on all those bearing arms to respect and spare people working for the ICRC or for the broader International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and indeed all those who carry out humanitarian work.
The ICRC also appeals to all parties to the conflict to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law so that those striving to help the civilian population can do their life-saving work.
This killing comes at a time when the security situation in the Central African Republic is worsening. The widespread violence and rampant crime accompanying it are exacerbating the already disastrous situation in which hundreds of thousands of the country’s citizens are living.
EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is deeply concerned over an outbreak of inter-communal violence in Saraf Omra, North Darfur, which has led to a mass displacement of civilians and a number of casualties over the course of the past few days.
Thousands of displaced from the town of Saraf Omra, which is located approximately 90 kilometres east of El Geneina, are currently seeking refuge in the vicinity of UNAMID’s base in the locality. The Mission is providing protection and water to those affected, as well as medical treatment for more than 30 wounded individuals. The Mission is working with the humanitarian community in taking the necessary steps to provide further much needed assistance.
Patrols by the Mission have observed looting around the town and the destruction of the local marketplace. Reconciliation efforts among the tribes have been taking place, however the situation remains tense and those displaced are in need of critical of food and proper sanitary conditions. UNAMID calls on all parties involved to cease hostilities and to find a peaceful solution to their differences.
The incident in Saraf Omra comes in the wake of other recent episodes of violence in Darfur, most notably in Taweisha and El Lait areas in North Darfur and in South Darfur where thousands were displaced following the looting and destruction of villages in the areas of Um Gunya and Hajeer.
UNAMID continues to call upon the authorities to allow the Mission unhindered and immediate access to these areas, so that it can carry out its core activity for the protection of civilians as mandated by the African Union and the United Nations and as consented to by the Government of Sudan.