Dec 112014
 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, December 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Racing to fact check an ominous spike in Ebola cases from the remote diamond district of Kono in eastern Sierra Leone, bordering Guinea, a World Health Organization rapid response team found a worse-than-expected scene. WHO and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) joined forces with the Sierra Leone National Ebola Response Center (NERC) and Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) to sound the alarm and are now rallying all-comers in a massive build up to contain this burgeoning Ebola outbreak which ran the risk of continuing to grow and remaining hidden as world attention focuses on urban centers.

“Our team met heroic doctors and nurses at their wits end, exhausted burial teams and lab techs, all doing the best they could but they simply ran out of resources and were overrun with gravely ill people,” explains Dr Olu Olushayo, WHO National Coordinator, Ebola Epidemic Response. “In districts like Kono, with moderate transmission confined to limited villages and chiefdoms, the best chance of eliminating transmission is through aggressive and comprehensive case investigation and contact tracing,” he said. Scattered villages in 8 of the 15 chiefdoms are affected.

Reacting on intel from the Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone, WHO sent a seasoned field epidemiologist to Kono 10 days ago to tease out whether reported Ebola cases told the whole story. Cases go unreported for a variety of reasons and are exacerbated when overwhelmed and under-resourced frontline workers are unable to reach remote areas to get the truth from reluctant villagers. The surveillance officers had no vehicles. WHO and CDC quickly sent more investigators and rugged trucks.

They uncovered a grim scene. In 11 days, 2 teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up at the only area hospital, ill-equipped to deal with the dangerous pathogen. In the 5 days before the team arrived, 25 people died in the hastily cordoned off section of the main hospital serving as a makeshift Ebola holding center.

As of 9 December 2014, this district of over 350 000 people officially has 119 reported cases. Upon hearing the WHO findings, Dr. Amara Jambai, MoHS Director of Disease Prevention and Control harkened a local saying to describe what remains yet to be discovered, “we are only seeing the ears of the hippo.”

Help is arriving daily. The NERC and MoHS for the Government of Sierra Leone and UNMEER with WHO support are connecting ready-to-help partners with an all-out multi-agency response to critical needs on the ground. WHO field staff are sharing their expertise with surveillance investigators, community mobilizers, infection controllers, and coordinators. The doctors from Partners in Health and Wellbody Alliance who supported the overwhelmed holding center, are willing to stay on board to support care at the source in outlying health posts. The International Federation of the Red Cross will build a new Ebola Treatment Center on a tight timetable, while they disinfect the hospital with MoHS and create a temporary safe holding unit. The IFRC Kenema Ebola Treatment Center will take Kono patients until these solutions are in place. CDC has staff on the ground. UNMEER has lent it’s helicopters to the effort in support of the UN family (WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, and others) engaged in building up capacity for staff and volunteers through training, materials and logistical support. International Rescue Committee is supporting infection prevention activities in the district. Funders such as DIFD and USAID are making much of the fast response possible. The race is on in this frontier fight against the virus, as Ebola responders dash to get ahead of the epidemic rather than chasing its tail.

Dec 102014
 

TOKYO, Japan, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — 1. On December 9, the Government of Japan, with a view to preventing further spread of the Ebola virus disease in West African countries, decided to newly extend emergency grant aid …

Dec 102014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A group of independent experts* of the largest fact-finding and monitoring mechanism of the United Nations human rights system today called upon UN Member States and all stakeholders to increase their efforts to address the challenge of racism and racial discrimination.

On the occasion of the official launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent on 10 December, also the International Human Rights Day, the UN experts welcomed the takeoff of the International Decade as a significant political commitment in the fight against racial discrimination:

“People of African descent of all ages often face institutional racism and multiple forms of discrimination and, as a result, their fundamental human rights and dignity are violated.

Racial discrimination leads to marginalization and marginalization exacerbates the inability of individuals whose rights are more likely to be violated to effectively exercise their fundamental rights. States should take affirmative action measures to ensure that all individuals, without distinction of any kind, have the ability to exercise effectively their rights, including the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Economic, social and cultural rights and their implementation are fundamental to the elimination of discrimination and inequality of people of African descent around the world. The socio-economic disadvantages suffered by people of African descent are intimately related to historic and contemporary discrimination in access to health, education and housing.

Sadly, the historical prevalence of racial discrimination has been reinforced in present times by increasing socio-economic inequalities, exclusion and violence against people of African descent in many societies.

The International Decade is therefore an important opportunity to eradicate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, afrophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent around the world.

The International Decade will focus on recognition, justice and development for people of African descent, and we urge Member States, civil society, National Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations to combine efforts and implement practical programmes at the national, regional and international levels on the focus areas to eradicate racism and racial discrimination during the Decade.

We, as human rights experts of the United Nations System, fully support the International Decade for People of African Descent and will actively contribute to its success.”

(*) The experts: The UN Working Groups of Experts on people of African descent, on arbitrary detention, and on the use of mercenaries; the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief, on the situation of human rights defenders, on minority issues, on the right to food, on the right to health, on the right adequate housing, on violence against women, on counter terrorism and human rights, on freedom of expression, on freedom of association, on the sale of children, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on toxic waste; and the Independent Experts on the situation of human rights in Haiti, on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, on environment and human rights, and on the human rights of older persons.

Dec 102014
 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As part of its ongoing emergency response to Ebola in West Africa, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has carried out the largest-ever distribution of antimalarials in Sierra Leone, alongside the Ministry of Health. Teams distributed 1.5 million antimalarial treatments to residents of Freetown and five districts in the surrounding Western Area over four days, with the aim of protecting people from malaria during the disease’s peak season.

“In the context of Ebola, malaria is a major concern, because people who are sick with malaria have the same symptoms as people sick with Ebola,” said Patrick Robataille, MSF field coordinator in Freetown. “As a result, most people turn up at Ebola treatment centres thinking that they have Ebola, when actually they have malaria. It’s a huge load on the system, as well as being a huge stress on patients and their families.”

Sierra Leone has the fifth highest prevalence of malaria globally, and the disease is the biggest killer of children under five in the country. Malaria symptoms include high fever, dizziness, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue, many of which are similar to the symptoms of early stage Ebola.

The antimalarial drug artesunate amodiaquine can be used both to prevent and to treat malaria. Its widescale use is recommended in the context of an Ebola outbreak by the World Health Organization (WHO).

At 1.5 million treatments, this is the largest-ever distribution of antimalarials in an Ebola outbreak, as well as the largest ever conducted in Sierra Leone. “The size of this campaign is in proportion to the scale of the Ebola epidemic – it’s massive,” said Robataille.

MSF recruited and trained more than 6,000 volunteers to distribute the drugs. Supervised by MSF, the volunteers collected the antimalarials from local health centres before going house-to-house along assigned routes, explaining the purpose of the distribution and how to use the medicines to prevent malaria. Each household received age-appropriate malaria treatments for every family member. The volunteers then marked each visited home with chalk.

“All of my family are going to take the medicines – half of us have malaria in Sierra Leone,” said Humu Rahman Bangura, a nurse from Kroo Bay community who received drugs for her family from one of the volunteers. During peak season, 43-46 per cent of children in Sierra Leone’s Western Area were febrile in the previous two weeks.

Kumba Umu Koroma, a nurse and distribution volunteer, also from Kroo Bay, said that local people welcomed being provided with antimalarials. “Some people are not able to afford the common malaria drug. If we go from house to house to distribute it to them, they are very happy to receive it because they say they don’t have money to buy it.”

The mass distribution of antimalarials is part of MSF’s broader objective to fight the Ebola outbreak where it is expanding most rapidly, in the densely populated Western Area of Sierra Leone, as well as addressing the wider healthcare crisis. “We hope to reduce malaria while also reducing the burden on Ebola treatment centres,” said Marcus Bachmann, MSF’s head of mission in Sierra Leone.

A second mass distribution of antimalarials is planned by MSF for early January in Freetown and the Western Area.

Dec 102014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 reveals that 475 000 people were murdered in 2012, and homicide is the third leading cause of death globally for males aged 15-44 years, highlighting the urgent need for more decisive action to prevent violence.

Logo WHO: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/world-health-organization.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1612

Despite indications that homicide rates decreased by 16% globally between 2000 and 2012, violence remains widespread. Non-fatal acts of violence take a particular toll on women and children. One in four children has been physically abused; one in five girls has been sexually abused; and one in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point in her lifetime.

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 and related materials may be found here: www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/status_report/2014.

Jointly published today by the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int), the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the report indicates that:

• only one third of the 133 countries surveyed are implementing large-scale initiatives to prevent violence, such as bullying prevention programmes, visits by nurses to families at risk, and support to those who care for older people;

• just over half the countries are fully enforcing a set of 12 laws generally acknowledged to prevent violence, although 80% countries have enacted them;

• only half of all countries have services in place to protect and support victims of violence.

The consequences of violence on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health often last a lifetime. Violence also contributes to leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, because victims are at an increased risk of adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, and unsafe sex.

“The consequences of violence on families and communities are profound, and can result in lifelong ill health for those affected,” states Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Yet we know what works to prevent violence in our homes, schools and workplaces and on our streets and playgrounds. We should take inspiration from governments which have demonstrated success in reducing violence by taking the steps needed. They have shown us that indeed violence is preventable.”

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse. Individual country profiles reflect the extent to which key violence prevention programmes and laws and selected services for victims of violence are being implemented.

The report assessed the scale of implementation of 18 “best buy” violence prevention programmes. It shows, for example, that:

• one half of countries are implementing school-based programmes to teach children and adolescents “life-skills” such as non-violent conflict resolution;

• one half of countries are promoting efforts to change gender norms supportive of violence against women;

• one third of countries are putting in place programmes to improve parenting in families at risk of violence

• less than one quarter of countries are developing public information campaigns to prevent elder abuse.

“High levels of family and community violence cripple both people’s ability to sustain their individual livelihoods, as well as a nation’s options for political, social, and economic development”, said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “This report takes stock of the measures countries are taking to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence, but the report also reveals gaps in global violence prevention which must be filled, such as the quality and reach of prevention programmes, the access to services for victims, particularly for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by violence, and the enforcement of existing laws.”

The report also reviewed 12 laws which are relevant for violence prevention. It shows, for example, that:

• 98% of countries have laws against rape;

• 87% of countries have laws against domestic violence;

• 84% of countries have laws against carrying weapons in schools;

• 40% of countries have laws against abuse in institutions for older people.

On average 80% of countries have enacted each of these 12 laws relevant for violence prevention. However, only just over half of countries report that these laws are fully enforced.

“Laws protecting citizens against violent crime send a clear message to society about what is acceptable,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “With this Global status report on violence prevention 2014, we have a useful tool for identifying the gaps in legislation and enforcement in countries, which can help to indicate what further action is needed to ensure reductions in violent crime.”

Providing care and support to victims of violence is important for reducing psychological trauma, helping victims heal, and preventing further involvement in violence. Despite strong evidence linking experiences of violence to mental health problems, under half of countries have mental health services to address victim needs, with only 15% of countries in Africa offering such services. Over two thirds of countries make available child protection services and medico-legal services for victims of sexual violence.

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 calls for a scaling up of violence prevention programmes in all countries; stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant for violence prevention; strengthened justice and security institutions to uphold the rule of law; and enhanced services for victims of violence. It also advocates for better and more effective use of data to inform violence prevention programming and to measure progress. The report is intended for use by governments to help identify gaps and encourage and guide actions, and by nongovernmental organizations and experts to assist governments in their efforts.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Note to Editors:

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 and related materials may be found here: www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/status_report/2014.

To have access to an advance copy of the report, and for more information, please contact:

Laura Sminkey

Communications Officer

Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention

World Health Organization, Telephone: +41 22 791 4547; Mobile: +41 79 249 3520; E-mail: sminkeyl@who.int

Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist Media & Advocacy

BERA / Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

United Nations Development Programme

Telephone: +1 212 906 5043; Mobile: +1 917 530 8980; Email: sangita.khadka@undp.org

Preeta Bannerjee

Public Information Officer

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Telephone: +43 1 26060 5764; Mobile: +43 699 1459 5764; Email: preeta.bannerjee@unodc.org

Dec 102014
 

LUANDA, Angola, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — averda (http://www.averda.com), the largest, and one of the fastest growing, waste management companies in the Middle East and Africa, is delivering city cleaning services in Ingombota, a major urban district within Angola’s capital city of Luanda. The five-year contract, awarded recently, sees averda operate in joint venture agreement, under the name Ecoverde.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/averda.png

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1610

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1611

Ingombota covers 10 sq km on the North Eastern coast of the country. It is the political and economic hub of the capital, with more than 160,000 residents. The population almost doubles during the day as it is home to the country’s Parliament, major banks, hotels, the presidential palace, three European embassies, the central bank, three towers and the headquarters of a multinational company. averda cleans 6,000km of streets in the district per month.

MohamedAli Hodeib, Chief Operating Officer for the Levant & Africa, averda said: “We are happy to be serving the people of Luanda. The stabilisation phase of the operation, debuted in April, is now complete. averda is fully deployed through Ecoverde, having achieved the initial target of bringing the city streets to the desired level of cleanliness, in par with our international standards. We are proud to be partners in Luanda’s waste management, its economic growth and with the main stakeholders in the city, its residents and visitors. We are looking forward to inspire a change in practices and to raise awareness of sound waste management.”

The contract was averda’s inaugural in Angola and its second in the region, having entered the market in Morocco in 2012. averda started with a mobilisation phase in Angola in August 2013 during which experienced teams conducted on the ground surveys to design specific and durable waste solutions. Equipment has been brought in later that year, better and newer vehicles and containers, mechanical bin washers, small vehicles to get into the narrow city streets. In September this year the scope of work widened from waste collection to include sweeping. averda introduced a new efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle for mechanical sweeping and automatic bin washing for the first time in Angola.

averda employs 350 Angolan personnel including laborers, supervisors and drivers. averda provided its Angolan workforce with safety and environmental awareness training as well as technical training on equipment.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of averda International.

Averda Public Relations:

London, UK

Tel : +44 207 5817163

Email: comms@averda.com

About averda:

averda International (http://www.averda.com) is the largest environmental solutions provider in the MENA region, specializing in integrated resources management. averda is at the forefront of innovation in the regional market, providing sustainable solutions and more than 35 years of experience in the effective management of waste for both private and public sector clients across pedestrian, residential, commercial and industrial areas.

averda’s extensive portfolio of services ranges from street cleaning through to waste collection, treatment, disposal and recycling. The company’s capabilities also include the development of solutions for water, wastewater and solid waste of public, residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, all within a sustainable framework that respects the natural environment. averda also designs and implements full-scale solutions to recover valuable and recyclable resources like paper, metals, and water.

With 10,000 employees serving millions of people every day, averda operates in full compliance with international standards for quality control throughout Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Morocco and Jordan. averda is supported by GrowthGate Capital Corporation since 2008.

To download the averda App, please visit the App Store.: http://store.apple.com/

Dec 102014
 

HARGEISA, Somaliland, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Dubai-based flydubai (http://www.flydubai.com) announced the addition of three new routes to its growing network. Flights to Hargeisa (Somaliland), Chennai (India), and Nejran (Saudi Arabia) will commence in the first quarter of 2015, further expanding the carrier’s footprint to 89 destinations in 46 countries.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/flydubai.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1389 (Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President Commercial (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141210f3.jpg

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141210f2.jpg

From 05 March 2015, flydubai will become the first carrier to operate to Hargeisa, Somaliland from Dubai with four weekly flights. flydubai has expanded its network in Africa in 2014 to 13 points served by 60 weekly flights.

Commenting on the new announcements, Hamad Obaidalla, Chief Commercial Officer at flydubai, said: “2014 continues to be a very busy year for flydubai. We have announced 26 new routes since January and took delivery of eight new aircraft to support the phenomenal growth plans. We are very excited about the untapped opportunities in the emerging African markets, the progress the UAE has made on the bilateral front in India and the ongoing strong ties with Saudi.”

The new announced routes underline flydubai’s commitment to connecting the UAE to previously underserved markets. The carrier has linked Dubai to 56 underserved destinations since it started its operations in 2009.

Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President Commercial (GCC, Subcontinent, Africa) for flydubai, said: “We are committed to bringing flydubai’s high quality and reliable services to underserved markets like Hargeisa and giving passengers more options to travel to the UAE and beyond through Dubai’s aviation hub. We are sure that both our Economy Class and Business Class will exceed the passengers’ expectations and live up to the Dubai brand we proudly carry in our name.”

flydubai has a brand new fleet of 43 new Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft and operates more than 1,200 flights a week across the Middle East, GCC, Africa, Caucasus, Central Asia, Europe and the Indian Subcontinent.

Flight Details

Hargeisa Flight Details:

flydubai will operate four flights a week between Hargeisa and Dubai starting from 05 March 2015.

Round trip fares

Economy Class return fares from Hargeisa will start at USD575 including 20kg checked baggage, while Business Class return fares will start at USD1,900 and are inclusive of all taxes and 40kg checked baggage.

flydubai is offering a USD549 round trip inaugural fare in Economy Class valid for bookings done between 10 December 2015 and 10 January 2015.

Download the flight schedules: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141210f.png

Flights can be purchased starting today from flydubai’s website (flydubai.com), its Call Centre (+971 600 54 44 45), flydubai travel shops or through travel partners. Further information and details of the carrier’s car rental and travel insurance services can also be found on flydubai.com.

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

Media contact:

Houda Al Kaissi

Senior Press Officer

t. +971 4 603 3073

m. +971 56 683 0336

houda.alkaissi@flydubai.com

About flydubai:

Dubai-based flydubai (http://www.flydubai.com) strives to remove barriers to travel and enhance connectivity between different cultures across its ever-expanding network. Since launching its operations in 2009, flydubai has:

• Created a network of 89 destinations, with 26 new routes announced so far in 2014.

• Opened up 56 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai or were not served by a UAE national carrier from Dubai.

• Built up a fleet of 43 new Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft and will take delivery of more than 100 Boeing aircraft by the end of 2023.

In addition, flydubai’s agility and flexibility as a young airline has enhanced Dubai’s economic development, in line with the Government of Dubai’s vision, by creating trade and tourism flows in previously underserved markets.

For more information about flydubai services, please visit http://www.flydubai.com.

Dec 102014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul called* on the Tunisian authorities to adopt the legislation needed to implement the provisions of the 2014 Constitution guaranteeing the independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers, in full consultation with representatives of the judiciary and other relevant parties.

Ms. Knaul’s appeal comes at the end of her first information-gathering visit to Tunisia as the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers worldwide.

“The achievements of the Tunisian Constitution related to the justice sector need to be translated into reality,” Ms. Knaul said. “This should be done within the timeframe stipulated in the Constitution, which means that the Supreme Judicial Council should be set up by April and the Constitutional Court by October 2015.”

“The judicial system must enjoy real administrative and financial independence, as well as be provided with appropriate human and material resources to ensure improved conditions and methods of work that are conducive to the exercise of the courts’ fundamental functions,” the expert stressed.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the law should clearly specify the number of members of the Supreme Judicial Council, their appointment procedure and the term of their mandates. “The law should also set out fair, transparent and objective criteria and procedures for the selection, appointment, and promotion of judges and prosecutors,” she said.

On the issue of accountability of the judiciary, Ms. Knaul was concerned about the “chilling effect” on the judiciary as a whole of the unilateral decision by the Ministry of Justice in May 2012 to summarily dismiss en masse more than 80 judges and prosecutors.

“A code of conduct or ethics for judges should be put in place that clearly sets out reprehensible behaviour and respective sanctions, to tackle the issues of accountability, and corruption in the judiciary,” she highlighted.

The human rights expert encouraged the Parliament to continue improving the legal framework which should be reformed in accordance with international human rights law and principles.

In that regard, she recalled that a person placed under arrest should be immediately informed of his or her rights and have access to a lawyer to represent him/her, as enshrined in the Constitution. “However,” she pointed out, “in the Code of Criminal Procedure a person is allowed to consult a lawyer only after being brought before an investigative judge and not during the crucial period of pre-trial detention.”

During her nine-day visit, the UN independent expert travelled to Tunis, Nabeul and Grombalia, where she met with representatives from the Government and members of the National Constitutive Assembly, as well as judges, prosecutors, and lawyers. She also met with representatives from civil society, academia, UN agencies and other inter-governmental organizations.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15387&LangID=E

Dec 092014
 

LIMA, Peru, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The economic and social benefits of mangroves – which are estimated to run into the hundreds of billions worldwide – remain largely untapped due to a lack of carbon finance mechanisms, appropriate policy interventions, and rapid mangrove deforestation, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report launched today at the 20th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change.

The Guiding Principles for Delivering Coastal Wetland Carbon Projects finds that the potential economic, social and environmental gains from conserving mangroves – 90 per cent of which are found in developing countries and many of which are under threat – including from mangrove inclusion in Reducing Emissions from Deforestations and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies and protecting and enhancing mangrove stores of carbon, still remain largely under-exploited.

UNEP estimates the economic cost of the destruction of carbon-rich mangroves, which are being cleared 3 – 5 times faster than terrestrial forests, at $42 billion in economic damages annually.

The report argues that while policymakers and financial markets are beginning to take action, more needs to be done to develop new methodologies for carbon accounting for mangroves and other coastal wetland ecosystems, to conserve mangroves, and to increase the profile of mangroves in REDD+ and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “As the latest Emissions Gap Report makes clear, countries are increasingly aware of how much progress they need to make to limit a global temperature rise to 2°C. Developing countries have a major climate change mitigation and adaptation asset in the form of mangroves because they hold several times more carbon than terrestrial forests.”

“What is needed now are the right carbon finance mechanisms, and policy interventions, in order to reap the true economic, climate and social gains from this critical ecosystem, which we cannot afford to lose.” he said.

“Part of the answer lies in ensuring, both nationally and internationally, that mangroves have a place in REDD+ strategies and other low carbon development strategies such as National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs),” he concluded.

The report makes clear that the management of coastal wetlands is a no-regrets approach, with many additional ecosystem service benefits such as fisheries production and shoreline protection, which promote adaptation in coastal communities.

A number of coastal wetlands carbon project initiatives – which include mangroves – in their infancy in many parts of the world, including Kenya, Senegal, West Bengal, and Sumatra are already showing indications of success.

The Gazi Bay community-led carbon finance project in Kenya for the conservation, management and restoration of 117 hectares of mangroves has so far sold certificates of 3000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02), with funds being allocated to community projects and additional mangrove activities overseen by village leaders.

One of the many successes of the project has been a dramatic reduction in illegal harvesting of mangroves, and it is hoped that the success of the community based initiatives in these countries will pave the way for other developing countries to start establishing new carbon projects to ensure sustainable ecosystem services to local communities.

However, according to a new report from UNEP, Carbon Pools and Multiple Benefits of Mangroves in Central Africa Assessment for REDD+, many countries will be unable to access carbon incentives, improved governance, jobs, and a range of other benefits under the global REDD+ programme unless they include mangroves in their national definition of forests.

The report finds that the mangroves of Central Africa which are found in Cameroon, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola, could be amongst the most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world, with an estimated release of 1,299 tonnes of C02 per hectare of cleared pristine mangrove.

Unfortunately between 2000 and 2010 it is estimated that over 100 million tonnes of C02 was released into the atmosphere with the clearing and degrading of 771.07km2 of mangroves in Central Africa, which not only represents a potentially significant economic loss in terms of uncapitalized carbon values, but has many other direct economic and social costs.

The economic costs at the time of the research include US$ 11,286 per hectare in seawall replacement, and US$ 7,142 per hectare in benefits for protection of rural infrastructure against shoreline erosion (US$151,948 per hectare for urban mangroves).

The social costs moreover are even greater for the region. As calculated by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, for the year 2015, the lower end estimate of the social cost of carbon is likely to be US$ 15,588 per hectare, with the higher estimates coming in at US$ 151,983 per hectare.

This means that with 437,300 hectares of mangroves, the climate benefits from Central African mangroves could reach US$ 66 billion at upper estimates.

While these are not values that can be capitalized upon in a marketplace, they are values that are relevant to the global economy, and especially for local communities.

Fortunately, as efforts to conserve and restore mangroves receive greater attention worldwide, new satellite technology has been tested and proven effective in the monitoring of mangrove restoration. In a study conducted by UNEP, Monitoring the Restoration of Mangrove Ecosystems from Space, around 70 per cent of project sites assessed showed positive restoration results, preventing the release of significant emissions of C02 into the atmosphere.

Combined with on the ground surveys, the satellite remote sensing technology could help policy makers monitor, evaluate, and where necessary take corrective action to ensure the restoration and conservation of mangroves worldwide.

Key Report Takeaways

Guiding Principles for Delivering Coastal Wetland Carbon Projects

•    Coastal wetlands policy and management interventions can be deployed in all coastal

settings to improve reductions in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and removals.

•    Mangroves and temperate tidal forests can be the focus of REDD+ actions, depending upon national definition of forest.

•    The consequences of sea-level rise need to be recognized and accounted for when planning and enacting coastal wetlands carbon interventions.

•    Conservation of existing intact coastal wetlands carbon ecosystems is technically the simplest and most effective mechanism to manage carbon stocks, and provides the greatest ecosystem benefits.

•    There are only limited examples of coastal wetlands carbon ecosystem restoration interventions that account fully for GHG and access carbon markets for finance.

•    The technical ability to successfully restore coastal wetland ecosystems today is available

on a global level, even if it is not always applied.

•    To achieve a successful intervention, coastal wetland conservation or restoration should

be planned with a landscape response to climate change in mind.

•    Project success is greatly increased if local community engagement and capacity building predates or accompanies the intervention. Examples of good practice exist.

Key Report Takeaways

Carbon Pools and Multiple Benefits of Mangroves in Central Africa – Assessment for REDD+

•    Explore the potential for including mangroves in the national definition of forests for each of the countries in the region, in order for this ecosystem to be eligible for inclusion in national REDD+ strategies.

•    Include mangrove regions and pilot projects in national REDD+ strategies.

•    Understand and analyze mangrove-specific drivers of deforestation.

•    Develop national priorities for mangrove action in the region through a stakeholder engagementprocess with governments, private sector, civil society, and local communities.

•    National priorities can provide the basis for decisions on activities to support through REDD+ strategies.

•    Implement the newly-developed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change GHG Inventory guidelines on wetlands in order to include mangroves in national Greenhouse Gas Inventories and National Communications to the UNFCCC.

Dec 092014
 

JUBA, South Sudan, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan destroyed 25 firearms and hundreds of knives, machetes, and similar weapons confiscated from internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in its protection-of-civilians sites in Juba at a public event held today in its Tomping compound.

In the presence of foreign diplomats and members of the news media, staff members of the United Nations Mine Action Service fed pistols, AK-47 assault rifles, iron bars and other arms into a weapons shearing machine that sliced the items into small, unusable pieces.

Over 1,500 rounds of ammunition recovered from IDPs will be detonated near the community of Nyolo south of Juba tomorrow. Similar weapons and ammunition destruction events will be held later this month at UNMISS bases in Malakal, Nassir, Wau, Bentiu and Bor.

“In order to reassure all concerned parties that the weapons and ammunition will never be used to commit any acts of violence including human rights violations, UNMISS has decided to destroy these items in full public view,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan, Ellen Margrethe Loej. “These measures will maintain the civilian character of UNMISS protection sites.”

SRSG Loej noted that since the crisis in South Sudan began nearly a year ago, all civilians and ex-combatants seeking shelter at the Mission’s compounds have undergone thorough security checks and surrendered all weapons in their possession before being admitted into UNMISS protection sites.

All weapons have been carefully inventoried and securely stored from the time they came into the possession of the Mission. Periodic searches of the protection sites conducted by UNMISS police and military personnel have also been carried out in order to protect the civilian character of the sites.

“These arms and ammunition have been recovered from civilians and ex-combatants regardless of their political loyalties or ethnic backgrounds,” said the SRSG.

“We hope that the destruction of all confiscated and ammunition in the Mission’s custody will help foster an environment that is conducive to the silencing of the guns and the restoration of peace to the world’s youngest nation-state,” concluded SRSG Loej.