Nov 112014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and Minister for Armed Forces Mark Francois, will visit Sierra Leone on the 12 November to demonstrate the UK’s continued support and commitment to defeating Ebola and to see the challenges first hand.

Mr Hammond will visit Port Loko to see the construction of one of the additional five 100-bed Ebola treatment centres being built and supported by the UK. The first UK-funded centre opened in Kerry Town last week. He will also meet President Koroma to demonstrate his support and encourage continued momentum in the fight against Ebola.

Mr Hammond and Mr Francois will both meet members of the British Armed Forces who are training Ebola workers in how to use personal protective equipment at the Ebola Training Academy. They will also visit the Western Area District Command and Control Centre located at the British Council, where they will meet UK and Sierra Leonean government staff working together alongside other members of the international community to respond to Ebola in the district.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois will also visit members of 22 Field Hospital, military medics who are staffing the UK-built facility within the Kerry Town Treatment Centre, dedicated to treatment of HMG personnel and International Healthcare Workers. He will also meet with Royal Engineers who are designing and supervising construction of all the Ebola treatment units.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said:

“The UK is leading the international effort to defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone. I shall be getting an update on our intervention and seeing how our support is making a difference when I meet members of our Armed Forces and health workers who have joined the fight to end Ebola.”

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Violence by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast continues to send thousands of refugees across the border into neighbouring Cameroon. According to Cameroonian authorities, some 13,000 Nigerian refugees crossed from Adamawa state after insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October. The refugees fled to the towns of Guider and Gashiga in the North region of Cameroon and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North.

According to local authorities in Cameroon, the vast majority of these 13,000 Nigerians have now returned to Nigeria, saying that their final destination was Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, about 200 kilometres south of Mubi.

In the days immediately following the attack on Mubi, it was reported that refugees arrived in Cameroon in over 300 vehicles – including many personal vehicles, as well as some trucks and rented cars. The Cameroonian authorities reported that they facilitated onward transit movements and provided escorts to ensure the safety of those transiting through Cameroonian territory.

On the Nigeria side, a UNHCR team confirmed that thousands of Nigerians are now being hosted at Girei (Gombe State) and at the National Youth Service Centre in Yola (one of five sites in Adamawa State hosting internally displaced persons). The newcomers are receiving assistance from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the National Red Cross Society and the International Rescue Committee.

In Yola, UNHCR has interviewed some of the people who transited through Cameroon before re-entering Nigeria. The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon. We are also examining claims that some of these refugees may have been forced to return to Nigeria. We are seeking assurances from both Nigeria and Cameroon that the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis. Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. We encourage Cameroon to continue with its policy of welcoming refugees.

In other areas in the Far North region that border Nigeria’s Borno state, Cameroonian authorities continue to report regular attempts by insurgents to carry out incursions into Cameroonian territory, frequently launching attacks from their strongholds on the Nigerian side of the border. Before the latest attacks in Mubi, Cameroonian authorities had confirmed that over 43,000 Nigerians had sought refuge in Cameroon, of whom close to 17,000 are currently living at Minawao refugee camp managed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile in Niger, at least 1,000 people have arrived in the Bosso area, in the south of the country, following the capture by insurgents last week of the garrison town of Malam Fatori. The Nigerian town is located only a few kilometres from the border with Niger. The new arrivals in Bosso say that Malam Fatori is now almost empty, as most inhabitants have fled without taking any belongings with them. Children show signs of trauma. At this point, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have arrived in the past few days.

The crisis in the northeast of Nigeria has led to the flight of over 100,000 people to Niger since May 2013 (this includes both Nigerian refugees and citizens of Niger) according to the local authorities, as well as 2,700 refugees to Chad. At the same time, over 650,000 people are internally displaced in Nigeria’s six north-eastern States.

UNHCR recently updated its return advisory regarding people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) and surrounding region – Update I *). We are urging States to keep their borders open for Nigerians fleeing the country and who may be in need of international protection. The Advisory seeks to ensure that humanitarian and asylum principles are upheld in light of the ongoing insecure situation in north-eastern Nigeria.

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Violence by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast continues to send thousands of refugees across the border into neighbouring Cameroon. According to Cameroonian authorities, some 13,000 Nigerian refugees crossed from Adamawa state after insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October. The refugees fled to the towns of Guider and Gashiga in the North region of Cameroon and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North.

According to local authorities in Cameroon, the vast majority of these 13,000 Nigerians have now returned to Nigeria, saying that their final destination was Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, about 200 kilometres south of Mubi.

In the days immediately following the attack on Mubi, it was reported that refugees arrived in Cameroon in over 300 vehicles – including many personal vehicles, as well as some trucks and rented cars. The Cameroonian authorities reported that they facilitated onward transit movements and provided escorts to ensure the safety of those transiting through Cameroonian territory.

On the Nigeria side, a UNHCR team confirmed that thousands of Nigerians are now being hosted at Girei (Gombe State) and at the National Youth Service Centre in Yola (one of five sites in Adamawa State hosting internally displaced persons). The newcomers are receiving assistance from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the National Red Cross Society and the International Rescue Committee.

In Yola, UNHCR has interviewed some of the people who transited through Cameroon before re-entering Nigeria. The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon. We are also examining claims that some of these refugees may have been forced to return to Nigeria. We are seeking assurances from both Nigeria and Cameroon that the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis. Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. We encourage Cameroon to continue with its policy of welcoming refugees.

In other areas in the Far North region that border Nigeria’s Borno state, Cameroonian authorities continue to report regular attempts by insurgents to carry out incursions into Cameroonian territory, frequently launching attacks from their strongholds on the Nigerian side of the border. Before the latest attacks in Mubi, Cameroonian authorities had confirmed that over 43,000 Nigerians had sought refuge in Cameroon, of whom close to 17,000 are currently living at Minawao refugee camp managed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile in Niger, at least 1,000 people have arrived in the Bosso area, in the south of the country, following the capture by insurgents last week of the garrison town of Malam Fatori. The Nigerian town is located only a few kilometres from the border with Niger. The new arrivals in Bosso say that Malam Fatori is now almost empty, as most inhabitants have fled without taking any belongings with them. Children show signs of trauma. At this point, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have arrived in the past few days.

The crisis in the northeast of Nigeria has led to the flight of over 100,000 people to Niger since May 2013 (this includes both Nigerian refugees and citizens of Niger) according to the local authorities, as well as 2,700 refugees to Chad. At the same time, over 650,000 people are internally displaced in Nigeria’s six north-eastern States.

UNHCR recently updated its return advisory regarding people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing northeastern Nigeria (the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa) and surrounding region – Update I *). We are urging States to keep their borders open for Nigerians fleeing the country and who may be in need of international protection. The Advisory seeks to ensure that humanitarian and asylum principles are upheld in light of the ongoing insecure situation in north-eastern Nigeria.

Nov 112014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Three members of the Irish Defence Forces are to deploy to Sierra Leone to reinforce Ireland’s capacity in Sierra Leone as the international relief effort ramps up, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister for Defence today announced.

The three personnel, all of whom have vast collective experience in West Africa, will be deployed to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown under the Emergency Civilian Assistance Team initiative, established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to international crises.

As one of a small number of countries with an embassy in Freetown, Ireland has been very active in working with our local and international partners to fight the ebola epidemic and the Defence Forces’ deployment will bring key technical skills which will enhance the mission’s ability to respond.

Their role will include reviewing and enhancing the embassy’s contingency plans for security-related events and providing advice and support in logistics and emergency planning. They will not be working directly on the frontline of the ebola response.

The Minister for Defence also advised the Government that consideration is being given to the deployment of members of the Permanent Defence Force to be embedded as part of a UK Armed Forces Treatment Unit in Kerrytown, Sierra Leone. The facility provides UK standard Ebola Virus Disease treatment to International Healthcare Workers who are providing care to the Sierra Leone population.

Discussions are continuing between the Irish and UK authorities in order to determine the roles that may be assigned to the Irish personnel and to establish if the appropriate clinical competencies are available within the Defence Forces.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“The deployment of Defence Forces’ personnel to the embassy in Sierra Leone is a clear example of the whole of government approach required to fight this dreadful disease. By bringing field experience in areas such as emergency planning and response, logistics and risk mitigation, those deployed will add a significant new dimension to the Ireland’s contribution.”

Minister Coveney said:

“Irish Defence Forces personnel have a sterling record of service in support of humanitarian crisis across the globe. Working in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the ECAT initiative, and possibly with the UK Armed Forces, these soldiers will bring a wealth of experience that enhances Ireland’s support to the people of Sierra Leone.”

It is expected that the Defence Forces personnel assigned to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown, will depart for Sierra Leone in the coming days. In partnership with our Embassy, the HSE and other Irish staff working for international and Irish NGOs, they again demonstrate clearly the long standing commitment of the Irish people to assisting the most vulnerable communities overseas.

Minister Coveney also said that: “the request received from Irish Aid Agencies, to consider sending volunteers to assist their teams in West Africa, is currently under consideration in the Department of Defence”.

Since the first cases in March 2014, the current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976 with more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined.

So far this year, Ireland has contributed over €17 million to the affected countries in West Africa including €4 million for Ebola treatment facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the worst affected countries.

Nov 112014
 

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Three members of the Irish Defence Forces are to deploy to Sierra Leone to reinforce Ireland’s capacity in Sierra Leone as the international relief effort ramps up, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister for Defence today announced.

The three personnel, all of whom have vast collective experience in West Africa, will be deployed to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown under the Emergency Civilian Assistance Team initiative, established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to international crises.

As one of a small number of countries with an embassy in Freetown, Ireland has been very active in working with our local and international partners to fight the ebola epidemic and the Defence Forces’ deployment will bring key technical skills which will enhance the mission’s ability to respond.

Their role will include reviewing and enhancing the embassy’s contingency plans for security-related events and providing advice and support in logistics and emergency planning. They will not be working directly on the frontline of the ebola response.

The Minister for Defence also advised the Government that consideration is being given to the deployment of members of the Permanent Defence Force to be embedded as part of a UK Armed Forces Treatment Unit in Kerrytown, Sierra Leone. The facility provides UK standard Ebola Virus Disease treatment to International Healthcare Workers who are providing care to the Sierra Leone population.

Discussions are continuing between the Irish and UK authorities in order to determine the roles that may be assigned to the Irish personnel and to establish if the appropriate clinical competencies are available within the Defence Forces.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“The deployment of Defence Forces’ personnel to the embassy in Sierra Leone is a clear example of the whole of government approach required to fight this dreadful disease. By bringing field experience in areas such as emergency planning and response, logistics and risk mitigation, those deployed will add a significant new dimension to the Ireland’s contribution.”

Minister Coveney said:

“Irish Defence Forces personnel have a sterling record of service in support of humanitarian crisis across the globe. Working in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the ECAT initiative, and possibly with the UK Armed Forces, these soldiers will bring a wealth of experience that enhances Ireland’s support to the people of Sierra Leone.”

It is expected that the Defence Forces personnel assigned to the Embassy of Ireland in Freetown, will depart for Sierra Leone in the coming days. In partnership with our Embassy, the HSE and other Irish staff working for international and Irish NGOs, they again demonstrate clearly the long standing commitment of the Irish people to assisting the most vulnerable communities overseas.

Minister Coveney also said that: “the request received from Irish Aid Agencies, to consider sending volunteers to assist their teams in West Africa, is currently under consideration in the Department of Defence”.

Since the first cases in March 2014, the current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976 with more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined.

So far this year, Ireland has contributed over €17 million to the affected countries in West Africa including €4 million for Ebola treatment facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the worst affected countries.

Nov 112014
 

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Bookmarks Digital Awards (http://iabsa.net/summit/bookmarks) celebrates its 7th year and now forms part of the first annual IAB Digital Summit taking place on the 19th of February at the Turbine Hall in Jozi, promising to be a highlight on the #SADigital calendar.

The Bookmarks Awards are the local digital industry’s highest-calibre awards aimed at identifying and rewarding excellence in digital creative work and execution, benchmarked against international standards and measurable results as judged by our host of local and international judges.

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

Bookmarks entries (http://goo.gl/qqMS4q) close on the 21st of November! There are more than 50 categories (http://goo.gl/dqEQa5) which include: mobile, ecommerce, applications, websites, email, social media, integrated media, marketer, advertising, design, search amongst others which also include a host of team and individual awards which are free. To enter, simply register (http://goo.gl/pMEIGI) (it takes less than a minute). You don’t need a fancy video or microsite to enter. However, we do look for well-crafted entries in terms of providing proof that your entry meets all the criteria. This is what you need to focus on and substantiate in the entry fields. Screenshots and pdf files are welcome! Remember anyone can enter – entries from Africa welcome!

Look forward to receiving your entries!

Remember Bookmarks entries close next Friday, more info at http://iabsa.net/summit/bookmarks

To learn more about the IAB global network, please visit http://iab.net/global.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) South Africa.

About the IAB

The IAB South Africa (http://iabsa.net) is a member-driven organisation that promotes digital growth.

We are an independent, voluntary, non-profit association focused on growing and sustaining a vibrant and profitable digital industry within South Africa. The IAB SA currently represents more than 200 members including online publishers, brands and educational institutions, as well as creative, media and digital agencies. Our aim is to provide our members with a platform where they can engage and interact with each other and address digital issues of common interest, thereby stimulating learning and growth within the South African digital space.

The IAB SA represents the South African digital industry to all sectors, including the marketing community, the media, the South African government and the public.

Nov 112014
 

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Bookmarks Digital Awards (http://iabsa.net/summit/bookmarks) celebrates its 7th year and now forms part of the first annual IAB Digital Summit taking place on the 19th of February at the Turbine Hall in Jozi, promising to be a highlight on the #SADigital calendar.

The Bookmarks Awards are the local digital industry’s highest-calibre awards aimed at identifying and rewarding excellence in digital creative work and execution, benchmarked against international standards and measurable results as judged by our host of local and international judges.

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

Bookmarks entries (http://goo.gl/qqMS4q) close on the 21st of November! There are more than 50 categories (http://goo.gl/dqEQa5) which include: mobile, ecommerce, applications, websites, email, social media, integrated media, marketer, advertising, design, search amongst others which also include a host of team and individual awards which are free. To enter, simply register (http://goo.gl/pMEIGI) (it takes less than a minute). You don’t need a fancy video or microsite to enter. However, we do look for well-crafted entries in terms of providing proof that your entry meets all the criteria. This is what you need to focus on and substantiate in the entry fields. Screenshots and pdf files are welcome! Remember anyone can enter – entries from Africa welcome!

Look forward to receiving your entries!

Remember Bookmarks entries close next Friday, more info at http://iabsa.net/summit/bookmarks

To learn more about the IAB global network, please visit http://iab.net/global.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) South Africa.

About the IAB

The IAB South Africa (http://iabsa.net) is a member-driven organisation that promotes digital growth.

We are an independent, voluntary, non-profit association focused on growing and sustaining a vibrant and profitable digital industry within South Africa. The IAB SA currently represents more than 200 members including online publishers, brands and educational institutions, as well as creative, media and digital agencies. Our aim is to provide our members with a platform where they can engage and interact with each other and address digital issues of common interest, thereby stimulating learning and growth within the South African digital space.

The IAB SA represents the South African digital industry to all sectors, including the marketing community, the media, the South African government and the public.

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As Ebola continues to ravage West Africa, leaving more than 4000 people dead, the region is now on the brink of a major food crisis, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, has warned today.

“While the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis struggle to contain the devastating virus, they now face a new challenge with experts predicting that over a million people in the region need food aid to allay shortages,” Ms. Elver said.

“Farmers in West Africa have been severely affected by this crisis, with fear and panic resulting in many having abandoned their farms, this in turn has led to a disruption in food production and a soaring rise in food prices,” she noted. “Staple crops such as rice and maize will reportedly be scaled back due to shortages in farm labour with potential catastrophic effect on food security.”

Agriculture is the main economic activity in West Africa with two thirds of the population dependent on farming. “The closure of border and sea crossings, a reduction in regional trade, along with a decline in foreign investment, and diminished purchasing power of tens of thousands of already vulnerable households, leaves these countries in a precarious situation in relation to food security and access to an adequate and nutritional diet,” the expert explained.

Ms. Elver also expressed her deep concern at reports suggesting that, in some cases, communities are facing food shortages due to poor road accessibility, while others have been threatening to evade quarantine because of lack of food supplies.

“In situations where Governments have imposed quarantine on communities or requested for self-quarantine, access to food should be strictly ensured,” urged the human rights expert.

The Special Rapporteur called on the international community to do everything in its power to ensure that the already existing food shortages in these countries, are mitigated, adding that measures must be taken, with immediate effect, to restore infrastructure and ensure food security to stricken communities.

Nov 112014
 

PARIS, France, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 7 November, a transport truck with medical supplies and clearly identified as operating for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was stopped and held captive by an armed group on the route linking Paoua in the North to the capital Bangui, between the towns of Yaloké and Bossembélé. A sum of money was demanded for the vehicle and its crew to be freed. Twenty four hours later, on the same road, a second MSF truck was held up by the same armed group. The team leader was taken away and forced to negotiate a payment.

“These two events are extremely serious. On each occasion, the attackers proved to be highly aggressive, insulting, threatening, pointing their guns at our staff members and shooting in the air. What proved to be actual confinement of teams in both cases resulted in the extortion of substantial amounts of cash. Fortunately, no one was injured, but these types of attacks and threats against humanitarian aid workers are unacceptable,” stated Delphine Chedorge, MSF’s head of mission in CAR. These events are indeed proof that, despite the optimistic ambient discourse dispensed primarily by international forces, the situation in CAR is far from peaceful. Insecurity still represents a major roadblock to the provision of aid in this crisis-rocked country, where the humanitarian needs are enormous.

”Difficulties in supplying the approximately fifteen projects MSF runs in the provinces, coupled with the intense danger that its teams are exposed to, could force MSF to cut back assistance, upon which hundreds of thousands of persons depend—assistance which is vital to those living in areas where MSF is the only medical player.

These recent events are part of a regular increase in the number of attacks and attempts at extortion carried out against humanitarian aid workers and vehicles over the past several months and especially since October. Despite repeated contacts with the authorities, international forces and local armed groups, the guarantees of security given by them are not actually being followed up by actions.

“The current government is completely absent and silent. Impunity is widespread. MINUSCA is a failure when it comes to protecting ordinary citizens. Sangaris and Eufor are unable to secure the country or the main highways. Like the populations of CAR, the NGOs, victims of this security void, are easy targets for the violence and greed carried out by armed groups that no one claims to control,” said Laurent SURY, who manages MSF’s programs in CAR, from Paris.

MSF’s involvement in CAR began in 1997, and in 2013, we doubled the number of projects we run in order to respond to the crisis in the country.

Nov 112014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM, Uganda’s Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and the Uganda AIDS Commission last week organized a national consultative meeting on HIV/AIDS response in the country’s fishing communities.

Among the 7.3 per cent of Ugandans between 15 and 49 who are HIV positive, fishing communities have the highest HIV rates at three to five times above the national average. HIV rates among fishermen, 90 per cent of whom are migrants, according to a 2013 IOM study, range from 22 to 40 per cent.

The IOM study interviewed nearly 2,000 respondents in 42 inland fishing communities in six districts, including six different lakes. High risk behaviours identified included multiple sexual partners, low uptake of condom use and low rates of health service care.

The Kampala meeting aimed to identify the special challenges faced by fishing communities and to prioritize HIV prevention, treatment and mitigation programmes. These include a lack of health services facilities in remote areas and inconsistent HIV outreach services.

Participants agreed to improve service delivery, to adopt a national roadmap and to establish a task force including IOM, UN and government agencies. The roadmap highlights the gaps, provides goals, objectives, strategies and guidance to policymakers and stakeholders responsible for ensuring access to the HIV response in fishing communities.

“HIV has affected our production in Uganda. We are dealing with fishing communities whose behaviour needs our attention,” said Uganda’s Minister of State for Animal Industries, Bright K. Rwamirama, highlighting the need for the government to move forward, integrate and expand HIV programming in fishing communities.

“As the fishing communities are mainly composed of migrants, we need to provide services on HIV/AIDS that move with this extremely mobile population,” said IOM Migration and Health specialist Michaela Martini.

Since the first AIDS cases were identified in a Lake Victoria fishing community in 1982, there have been increasing efforts to provide accessible HIV services. But the mobility of the fishermen and the remoteness of the areas in which they work represent serious obstacles.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on fishing communities goes beyond public health. It has a deep negative impact on the communities, on the fisheries sector, on the rural economy and on the overall development of the country. The labour force is depleted, production decreases, the level of poverty increases and individuals and families face difficulties coping with economic shocks.

Uganda’s fisheries sector employs some 2.5 million people, contributes over 2.8 per cent of GDP and represents 8 per cent of export earnings.