Oct 012014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) are attending a course on international humanitarian law which is being given by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kidal today.

“This is one session in a series that began a few weeks ago. So far, we’ve raised awareness of international humanitarian law among more than 200 fighters of the MNLA, the HCUA and the Arab Movement of Azawad in Ménaka, Ber and Kidal,” said Christoph Luedi, head of the ICRC delegation in Mali. “The long-term goal is to make these armed groups aware of their responsibilities in terms of respect for international humanitarian law, and to help them to better understand the rules of behaviour applicable in conflict situations.”

The participants are made aware in particular of issues relating to the protection of civilians and people no longer taking part in hostilities, the treatment of people who have been captured, and respect for humanitarian principles. International humanitarian law is a set of rules designed to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.

“It’s because of the good relations we have had for many years with the leadership of these various armed groups that we are able to give this course,” said Mr Luedi. “In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC has dialogue with all parties to the conflict and provides them with the support they need in the area of international humanitarian law.”

The ICRC, in its capacity as a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization, has contacts with everyone involved in the conflict in Mali. For several years it has helped all armed forces achieve a better understanding of and show greater respect for international humanitarian law.

Oct 012014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Burundi’s human rights record will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee for the second time on Wednesday 8 October and Thursday 9 October in meetings in Geneva that will be webcast live.

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Burundi is required to undergo regular review by the Committee of 18 international independent experts on how it is implementing the ICCPR.

Burundi, which is one of the 168 states parties to the ICCPR, has submitted a report on implementation of its human rights obligations to the Committee and a number of non-governmental organisations have also sent reports for the Committee’s consideration. The Committee will engage in a dialogue with the delegation from Burundi on questions relating to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Time and date: 15:00-18:00 on 8 October; 10:00-13:00 on 9 October.

Venue: Palais Wilson, Geneva. Live webcasts of the public sessions can be viewed at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

A news conference is scheduled for Thursday 30 October at 13.30 at Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the Committee’s concluding observations on Burundi and the other countries being reviewed – Sri Lanka, Haiti, Malta, Montenegro, and Israel.

The country reports and full list of issues can be found here:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=811&Lang=en

The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee will be made available on Thursday 30 October at:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=811&Lang=en

Oct 012014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Burundi’s human rights record will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee for the second time on Wednesday 8 October and Thursday 9 October in meetings in Geneva that will be webcast live.

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Burundi is required to undergo regular review by the Committee of 18 international independent experts on how it is implementing the ICCPR.

Burundi, which is one of the 168 states parties to the ICCPR, has submitted a report on implementation of its human rights obligations to the Committee and a number of non-governmental organisations have also sent reports for the Committee’s consideration. The Committee will engage in a dialogue with the delegation from Burundi on questions relating to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Time and date: 15:00-18:00 on 8 October; 10:00-13:00 on 9 October.

Venue: Palais Wilson, Geneva. Live webcasts of the public sessions can be viewed at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

A news conference is scheduled for Thursday 30 October at 13.30 at Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the Committee’s concluding observations on Burundi and the other countries being reviewed – Sri Lanka, Haiti, Malta, Montenegro, and Israel.

The country reports and full list of issues can be found here:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=811&Lang=en

The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee will be made available on Thursday 30 October at:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=811&Lang=en

Oct 012014
 

ABUJA, Nigeria, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Congolese authorities’ decision to expel a Cameroonian journalist from the country. Elie Smith, who was attacked in his home in Septembe…

Oct 012014
 

VICTORIA, Mahé, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff mission led by Mr. Marshall Mills visited Victoria from September 17–30, 2014 to assess performance under the first review of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement with Seychelles.1

At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Mills issued the following statement:

“The Seychellois authorities continue to strengthen the fundamentals of the economy, as well as the conditions for its sustained growth. The authorities successfully met all their quantitative program targets for end-June. The sizeable fiscal primary surplus and increase in international reserves this year bolster the resilience of the economy, in line with the objectives of the IMF-supported program. The authorities remain on track to meet their key objective of reducing public debt below 50 percent of GDP by 2018. In addition, monetary policy has made significant strides, eliminating the structural excess liquidity in the economy and steering average inflation to a projected 2.3 percent this year.

“However, balance of payments developments have been less favorable than expected. Tourism revenues and tuna exports are weak, after exceptionally good results last year. Growth will also slow this year to a projected 2.8 percent, compared to 5.3 percent in 2013. At the same time, domestic demand and imports have grown strongly, following a 13-percent boost in earnings and 16-percent growth in credit to the private sector. The combination of weak export earnings and rising imports has led to pressure on the balance of payments.

“The authorities have the tools and determination to manage these short-term pressures. Monetary and fiscal policies are being tightened, with lower reserve money targets and higher primary surplus targets than envisaged in the program. Exchange rate flexibility is also a vital adjustment mechanism. Staff are confident that the authorities’ policy plans, including continuing exchange rate flexibility, are appropriate to address the current pressures and that the authorities stand ready to strengthen measures if necessary to maintain stability.

“With these policy adjustments and a gradual recovery in tourism and tuna exports, growth is expected to recover slightly in 2015 to 3.0 percent. Fiscal policy will remain on track to meet the debt reduction target, while monetary policy is expected to steer inflation back to low single digits by the end of 2015, despite pressures from depreciation. International reserves are expected to remain stable in 2015, with adequate import coverage, according to staff assessments. In addition, it is important that wage levels stay compatible with preserving the gains in macroeconomic stability and ensuring international competitiveness.

“The authorities’ structural reform agenda continues to advance. The authorities are on track to implement all structural measures planned for the first review in a timely manner. Staff highlighted the risks that public enterprises can pose to the public finances and development of the private sector and stressed the importance of pursuing plans to strengthen their oversight and governance, while enlarging the private sector’s role in the economy. The on-going review of the procurement policies of large state-owned enterprises could contribute importantly to enhancing their governance. The adoption of medium-term strategies for national development, financial sector development and the fiscal framework will also help lay the foundations for inclusive growth in the future. The on-going review of the air transport policy is particularly important given the sluggish performance of the tourism industry and the importance of flight connections.

“Subject to management’s approval, the IMF Executive Board is expected to discuss the completion of the review in December.

“The mission met with His Excellency President James Michel, Vice President Danny Faure, Minister of Finance, Trade, and Investment Pierre Laporte, and Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles Caroline Abel, as well other members of government, members of the National Assembly, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.

“The mission appreciates the high quality of the discussions and thanks the authorities for their warm hospitality, as well as the open and constructive dialogue.”

1 The Extended Fund Facility under the Extended Arrangement is an instrument of the IMF designed for countries facing serious medium-term balance of payments problems because of structural weaknesses that require time to address. Assistance under the extended facility features longer program engagement—to help countries implement medium-term structural reforms—and a longer repayment period. (See http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/eff.htm). Details on Seychelles’ current arrangement are available at www.imf.org/seychelles.

Oct 012014
 

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 30, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Nigeria as you celebrate your Independence Day on October 1.

Our peoples enjoy an enduring partnership founded on shared values of democracy, security, and respect for human rights and the rule of law. The United States and Nigeria must continue working together to thwart destabilizing forces that would use violence to undo gains achieved to date through so much effort.

I was honored to speak with President Goodluck Jonathan at the United Nations General Assembly last week, and to welcome him to Washington, DC, this summer for the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit. We discussed how our two countries can deepen our partnership through trade and collaboration.

And weeks before, I shook hands with Beatrice Jedy-Agba—a courageous Nigerian woman who has devoted her life’s work to combatting human trafficking and bringing a peaceful, secure future to all Nigerians.

I wish all Nigerians a prosperous future on the 54th anniversary of your independence.

Botswana National Day

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Oct 012014
 

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 30, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to the people of Botswana as you celebrate 48 years of independence on September 30.

The United States and Botswana are natural partners. Ours is a relationship built on the shared values of democracy, justice, equality, and the fundamental rights of all people. Together we are taking our partnership to the next level by investing in Botswana’s greatest natural resource of all—its people.

The Young African Leaders Initiative is lifting up Botswana’s youth. Our commitment to combatting HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR is healing the sick. And the listing of the Okavango Delta as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site is raising the global profile of environmental issues.

It is with an eye to a shared, bright future that we work together as Americans and Batswana to strengthen the relationship between our governments and between our people.

I send warm wishes to the people of Botswana for continued peace and prosperity.

Oct 012014
 

ACCRA, Ghana, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As the number of patients with Ebola in Guinea,

Liberia and Sierra Leone surpassed 6500 with more than 3000 deaths, the United Nations is

increasing the momentum to curb the spread of the disease. The Special Representative of

the Secretary General, Mr. Anthony Banbury, arrived in Accra Monday 29 September to

head the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), which will join

governments and international partners to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

“Ghana has never had a case of Ebola, yet the leadership of this country recognizes the

impact this outbreak is having on the region” says Banbury. “We are extremely grateful to

the Government of Ghana and the people living here for their willingness to support our

work. Our task now is to work with the international community and support the national

authorities of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to stop this outbreak from spreading any

further.”

Welcoming Mr. Banbury and the UNMEER team, Ghana’s Minister for Communications

expressed the Government of Ghana’s profound support to the United Nations. “Ebola is a

global problem that knows no boundaries. Ghana is happy to host the UNMEER as we work

together to contain and prevent further spread of the disease” says the Communications

Minister.

Acting UN Resident Coordinator Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi, who leads the UN Country

Team in Ghana, sees an important role for a number of UN agencies to support the

establishment and the operations of UNMEER Headquarters in Ghana. The UN Country

Team will also continue to support the Government of Ghana in its own Ebola preparedness.

This is the first time in history that the UN has created a mission for a public health

emergency.

“Our strategy is built around five pillars so we can move fast to stop the outbreak, treat the

infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent any further outbreaks,”

Banbury says.

UNMEER will be headquartered in Accra and have strong operational presences in Guinea,

Liberia and Sierra Leone. It will work with host governments and other partners to ensure all

components of the national plans to stop Ebola are rapidly put in place.

While most of the UNMEER team will remain in Accra this week to establish the

headquarters of the operation, Mr Banbury will visit the affected countries to see first hand

where the greatest needs are and discuss with the governments and other partners the

priorities for filling the gaps.

Oct 012014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — To respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which has taken more than 3,000 lives, the World Council of Churches (WCC) brought to the table representatives of Christian aid organizations and United Nations agencies to learn from each other and to escalate their efforts.

The WCC consultation, held 29 September in Geneva, Switzerland, affirmed a greater role for the churches and faith-based organizations in helping to stop the epidemic.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa is the largest of its kind since the 1976 outbreak. More than 6,200 people have been infected with the virus in severely affected countries such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organization (WHO) reports. It estimates that numbers of infected persons could top 1 million by January 2015.

A recent UN meeting in New York has strongly urged stepped-up efforts to stop Ebola, naming it a “public health crisis” and a “threat to peace and security.”

Dr Pierre Formenty, an epidemiologist and the coordinator of the WHO’s campaign against Ebola, while addressing the WCC consultation, explained how the Ebola virus appeared for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Even with a good response the number of affected people has increased on the statistical graph,” he said.

“This is a situation where everyone needs to work together: politicians, media, communities, faith organizations. We all have to do something. If one fails, everybody will fail,” said Formenty.

In this situation, he said, “Faith organizations in Africa have a huge role to play.”

Participants stressed that churches and other religious communities not only have a constant and influential reach to the grassroots populations to offer practical advice about hygiene and safe funeral practices but can also directly address the deeper cultural and religious roots of widespread stigma and discrimination that have accompanied the epidemic.

Dr Gisela Schneider from the German Institute for Medical Mission, who was in Liberia a few weeks ago, shared observations from her visit. “Christian hospitals are highly vulnerable,” she said. “This is why ‘keep safe, keep working’ is an important slogan we promote for the health workers serving Christian hospitals. She said that “people working on the ground need a great amount of encouragement, training, mentorship and support.”

Schneider added that while it is important to increase health facilities that reach the household level, it is “crucial to empower local communities to take care of themselves.”

Dr David Nabarro, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Ebola, joined the consultation via Skype from New York City. He shared details of the UN strategy and actions in addressing the Ebola crisis in collaboration with local governments and international bodies.

Nabarro also mentioned an increase in efforts from the Security Council and engagement from the African Union in dealing with the impact of Ebola.

Nabarro added that the “struggle is not just to prevent the virus, but to take into consideration the long-term effects risking stability of the economy and communities.” In many areas farming and agricultural activities have come to a halt due to the fear of Ebola.

Nabarro argued that to formulate an effective response it is important to empower women, traditional healers and health workers without putting them at a risk. He said churches and faith-based organizations have a massive role to play in dealing with emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of people’s lives, engaging them on questions of life and death.

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Oct 012014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, October 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today (1st October) travels to Sierra Leone to witness the impact of the Ebola crisis and assess the effect of the over €1 million in funding provided by Ireland to date.

Minister Sherlock will meet frontline aid workers from Goal, Concern, the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, in addition to key staff from the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.

He will also meet with the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, and Government representatives to discuss their response to the crisis and the support provided by the international community.

He is the first European Minister to visit Sierra Leone since the Ebola outbreak.

Minister Sherlock will visit an Ebola crisis response centre and a distribution centre for desperately-needed supplies, dispatched by Irish Aid.

Ahead of departing to Freetown, Minister Sherlock said:

“I remain extremely concerned about the situation in West Africa, in particular in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. I want to pay tribute to the Irish public who have responded generously to this crisis.

“My visit this week allows me to demonstrate solidarity with those who have been worst-affected and to assess the response to the crisis by the Government in Freetown and also the work of the international community.

“Irish Aid has provided over €1 million in funding since this crisis began to provide nutritional supplies to children and much-needed blankets, tents, mosquito nets, and water tanks. These are practical measures to try and stem the virus and treat victims.

“More than 5,800 people are reported to have been infected and the World Health Organisation has warned of an exponential increase in cases over the coming months. It is essential that the international community do everything it can to assist the health services in the affected countries as they fight this epidemic,” Minister Sherlock added.