29th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa

1. At the invitation of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Heads of the United Nations Missions in West Africa and their representatives held their Twenty-ninth High-level Meeting on 20 May 2016 in Dakar.

2. In attendance were the Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General and Heads of UN Missions in Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Mr. Modibo Touré; in Liberia (UNMIL), Mr. Farid Zarif; and in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, as well as the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General of UN Missions in Mali (MINUSMA), Mr. Koen Davidse; and the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Ms. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie.

3. The objective of this bi-annual meeting is to provide insights and exchange views on peace and security dynamics in the areas of operation of the respective missions and in the West African region as a whole, and to strengthen coordination in order to address common challenges in such areas as elections, cross-border security, transnational trafficking, violent extremism, security sector and constitutional reform processes, and democratic transitions in the West Africa region.

4. The meeting welcomed the peaceful and credible electoral processes in Benin, Cabo Verde and Niger. Participants noted that the region was making progress in terms of democratic transition. In this regards, the Heads of missions expressed the hope that the upcoming elections in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali will achieve similar successes and consolidate democratic processes in countries emerging from crisis situations. In addition, participants noted the need to further promote the increased representation of women in the political sphere.

5. The meeting welcomed the ongoing constitutional reforms in a number of countries, which all preserve limitations of presidential mandates, and strengthen institutions, thus consolidating democracy. The meeting called for enhanced national and regional programs of collection and management of small arms and light weapons.

6. The Heads of missions strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in the region and highlighted the importance of support to countries in the region and regional organizations in countering this threat. Participants emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach, which combines security-based counter-terrorism measures and intelligence-sharing, with preventive measures to address root causes of violent extremism, in accordance with the Secretary-General Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism.

7. The Heads of missions strongly condemned the killing of five peacekeepers of the Chadian contingent of MINUSMA in Northern Mali on 18 May 2016.

8. Participants noted the impact of climate change affecting countries in West Africa and the Sahel. Regarding migration movements in the region, the Heads of missions called for a regional approach taking into account root causes of migration as well as developmental issues, with a particular focus on providing opportunities for youth.

9. Participants welcomed the progress made in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease and called on governments and international partners to remain engaged throughout the Ebola-recovery process.

10. The Heads of missions called for the comprehensive implementation of the Malian peace agreement. The meeting welcomed the engagement of various actors and initiatives in the Sahel, highlighting the importance of coordination in order to create synergies and to increase benefits for the populations of the region.

11. The Heads of missions discussed the situation in Guinea Bissau following the dismissal of the Government of Prime Minister Carlos Correia. They took note of ongoing consultations among all parties. They urged all national stakeholders to promote dialogue, inclusiveness and the rule of law, and to protect and defend the interest of the population as they continue to search for a sustainable solution to the political crisis.

12. Regarding the situation in Liberia, participants welcomed national efforts towards assuming security responsibilities from UNMIL and efforts in preparing the 2017 presidential and legislative elections. The Heads of missions expressed hope for greater progress in constitutional reform to strengthen national unity, and the fight against armed robbery, and sexual and gender-based violence and called for sufficient funding for the ongoing security transition to the Government of Liberia from UNMIL.

13. Participants agreed to continue to cooperate closely and to share information and experiences on key issues affecting the region.

14. The Heads of missions thanked SRSG Chambas of UNOWAS for the organization of the meeting.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).

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Source:: 29th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa

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Council conclusions on South Sudan

The Council adopted conclusions on South Sudan, following the formation of a transitional government of national unity in South Sudan on 29 April 2016. The EU notably encourages the transitional government to take swift and decisive steps to restore peace and stability in the country and to move forward promptly with implementation of the 2015 agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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The Project for the Expansion of Dormitory: Kakamega County

The Government of Japan has been providing funds to local non-profit organizations through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) since 1989.

The Ground Breaking Ceremony of “The Project for the Expansion of Dormitory for St. Anne’s Girls Primary School” was held in Mumias central Division, Mumias District, Kakamega County on 20th May, 2016.

With the objective of improving the environment of dormitory life and academic performance of girls, the project received a grant amount of USD 85,321 (approx. Kshs 8.2 Million) which was used for the construction of 2 dormitories to accommodate 200 girls at St. Anne’s Girls Primary School.

During the Grand Breaking Ceremony, Mr. Mikio Mori, Charge d’ Affairs ad interim of Japanese Embassy in the Republic of Kenya, congratulated St. Anne’s Girls Primary School for initiating the project and encouraged the community to work together in order to successfully complete the project.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Embassy of Japan in Kenya.

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Turkey is bracing up ahead of the first World Humanitarian Summit: H.E Erastus Mwencha will lead the African Union delegation to Istanbul

Turkey, the host of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit will on 23 and 24 May 2016 be the center of attraction where most organisations dealing with humanitarian issues will converge to address global humanitarian crises including conflicts, pandemics, exodus of refugees among others. The African Union (AU) delegation to this important historical event will be led by H.E Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission. H.E. Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union and other high level officials of the AU Commission will be part of the AU delegation at the World Humanitarian Summit.

The AU’s theme for this event is “One Africa, One Voice, One Message at the World Humanitarian Summit”.

The city of Istanbul has been branded with posters and banners carrying messages announcing the global event. Today, Saturday 21 May 2016, many Journalists and delegates from all over the world gathered at the venue of the Summit for the registration formalities in view to participate at the upcoming event.

The African Union has set up an exhibition corner at the Summit venue to showcase the different activities undertaken by the Union to address the humanitarian situation and concerns of the African people. An African Union High Level Panel on the theme: “Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa’ has also been scheduled for 24 May 2016 to unveil Africa’s proposed reforms to its humanitarian architecture. The panelists will exchange views on how to achieve effective humanitarian response and durable solutions to the humanitarian crises in the continent.

According to the organisers, the current international humanitarian system can no longer adequately address today’s humanitarian crises. Yet, today, we observe three basic facts:

Growing complexity of contemporary humanitarian crises, the great majority of which are conflict related;
Growing financing gap between ever-increasing needs and limited resources; and
Growing suffering of affected peoples and communities, as a consequence.

Today, 80% of humanitarian needs are caused by conflict, with most being recurrent or protracted crises lasting years long. Moreover, such crises are transcending borders as the recent tragic exodus of refugees and effects of pandemics are constantly reoccurring.

The World Humanitarian Summit will therefore address the extraordinary challenges to the current international humanitarian system.

The Summit, co-hosted by Turkey and the UN Secretary General, would gather the world leaders with the affected communities and would seek answers for the urgent challenges to the future of the system together with NGOs, private sector and representatives of other stakeholders.

The World Humanitarian Summit will hold against a backdrop of a rapidly changing humanitarian landscape, with Africa facing growing impact of disasters. To that effect, the African Union will present its own commitments to the continent and its people including the need for redefining the international humanitarian system…as formulated in the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness.

In spite of the gravity of these crises, humanitarian response in Africa still relies heavily on a global system, whose character is complex and need to be reformed. This is because of the fact that the humanitarian system founded by UN Resolution 46/182, 20 years ago is overstretched and requires fundamental reforms.

The Africa Union will seize the moment at Istanbul to reaffirm its future priorities and unequivocally call for an inclusive, transparent and fairer humanitarian system. Recalling its fundamental Ideals, the Africa Union will renew its call for mutually beneficial partnerships that seek to put humanity at the fore by enhancing collective ownership of the proposed Agenda for humanity.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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UN Weekly Press Briefing – Guest Speaker Mr Okafor Christian UN Habitat

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) cordially invites you to attend its weekly press briefings brought to you by the Spokesperson and Media Relations Unit.

The briefing will cover a number of issues, and serve to inform and bring you up to date on the activities of the United Nations on a weekly basis. Occasionally the Spokesperson will be joined by guest speakers from the UN Family who will brief on other areas of the United Nation’s work in South Sudan.

Our special guest this week will be Mr. Okafor Christian, Project Manager, UN-Habitat- South Sudan

Date: Wednesday, 25 May, at UN House.

Venue: Yei Conference Room – UN House

Time: 10:10am

PLEASE NOTE:

UNMISS will provide transportation for the invited journalists to the press briefing and back to town after the event as follows:

Bus 1: departing from Custom Dire Petroleum – Customs Market area –departure time: 09:20am

Bus 2: departing from Juba University – 09:20am

Journalists who wish to arrive to UN House by their own means are invited to present themselves at the gates with a valid press card/ID not later than 09:50am.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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Source:: UN Weekly Press Briefing – Guest Speaker Mr Okafor Christian UN Habitat

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Human rights protection must gain new momentum at World Humanitarian Summit – UN experts

Humanitarian action that places human rights at its center is key to ensure protection for all victims, today said a group of rights specialists from the largest body of independent experts* in the United Nations Human Rights system.

In a statement addressed to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, 44 Special Procedures’ experts urged all participants gathering next week in Istanbul (23-24 May) to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of the conference, including national commitments to improve the protection of all those affected by conflict, disaster and displacement – some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Many conflicts could be avoided through greater attention to human rights by national and international actors before violence breaks out, saving countless lives and avoiding the need for costly humanitarian action, they noted referring to recent conflicts in which widespread violations of human rights have been witnessedThe experts also expressed deep concern about the downgrading of attention to human rights in some emergency settings and conflicts: “It is in crisis and conflict that individuals and communities are most at risk and in need of protection. Yet it is often at these times that we see human rights violations taking place with impunity and attention to human rights weakened or neglected.”

“The objective to ‘leave no-one behind’ requires special attention to those who may be in particular situations of vulnerability they noted, including children, youth, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, internally displaced persons, refugees, stateless persons, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTI community, older persons, and women and girls exposed to multiple threats,” the experts said.

“Those whose lives and homes have been shattered must have their immediate needs met, but they are given hope for the future in their own countries through the knowledge that their rights and dignity will be fully respected during and in the aftermath of crisis,” they stressed.

The Summit offers a unique opportunity to give greater attention to human rights by all actors at every phase – from prevention measures to emergency assistance and recovery, the UN experts noted. They called for “better enforcement of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and standards as a high priority for all States and the international community.”

“Understanding and addressing the adverse impact of both domestic policies and external international action are effective ways to address the root-causes of humanitarian crises,” the human rights experts said.

(*) See the full statement by the Special Procedures’ human rights experts: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19997&LangID=E

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Acting Assistant Secretary Garber Travels to Switzerland and Kenya

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

May 20, 2016

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith Garber will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, May 22–23, and Nairobi, Kenya, May 24–27. In Geneva, she will be the lead State Department representative in the U.S. delegation to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual World Health Assembly. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell will lead the delegation, which will discuss with other WHO Members solutions to the globe’s most pressing health challenges. In Nairobi, Acting Assistant Secretary Garber will lead the U.S. delegation to the second session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2). In addition to attending UNEA-2 sessions, she will conduct bilateral meetings with counterparts from a range of countries to advance U.S. objectives related to wildlife trafficking, ocean conservation, and other urgent issues.

Follow the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on Twitter @StateDeptOES for updates on Acting Assistant Secretary Garber’s trip. For further information, contact Sara Ferchichi (FerchichiSM@state.gov).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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United States Concern Over Delays in Somalia’s Electoral Process

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

May 20, 2016

The United States is increasingly concerned about delays in the 2016 Somali electoral process. The Federal Government of Somalia, Somali parliament, and regional leaders have repeatedly voiced their commitment to hold an electoral process on schedule, in accordance with the Somali constitution and resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

The continuing legitimacy of Somali federal institutions depends on Somalia’s leaders following through with a transparent political transition prior to the expiration of the current government’s mandate. We call on the federal parliament to act swiftly to enact and implement the National Leaders Forum-endorsed electoral model. The United States stands ready to assist the Somali people and government in this step on their path towards stable democratic governance.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Diminishing Political Space in the D.R.C.

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

May 20, 2016

The United States is concerned about a growing pattern of intimidation, harassment, and detention of members of the opposition and civil society leaders across the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.). A government cannot call for dialogue among all stakeholders while simultaneously harassing, arresting, and jailing those individuals expected to participate.

The United States calls for an end to violence, and for all sides to participate in a credible dialogue. The D.R.C. government has an affirmative obligation to protect all its citizens’ human rights to take part in the conduct of public affairs, and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The United States is reviewing the possibility of imposing sanctions in response to this growing pattern of repression in the D.R.C.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Foreign Secretary statement on Somali elections

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said;

The British Government welcomes the decision of the President of the Federal Government of Somalia, with support of Somalia’s National Leadership Forum, to issue a decree enabling plans to be put in place for Somalia’s August 2016 elections.

This decision will allow Somalia to fulfil the commitment made by the Federal Government and Parliament that there should be no extension of the constitutionally mandated terms of Somalia’s executive and legislative bodies.

I urge all Somalis to now work with purpose and goodwill to implement a successful electoral process in August, that will showcase to the world Somalia’s commitment to build a stable future for all its citizens.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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High-level representatives from UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC to visit DRC on the neutralization of armed groups in the country’s east

“Guarantors” of a peace framework for the Great Lakes region of Africa, comprising the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will dispatch a high-level delegation to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 23 to 27 May 2016 for consultations on aspects of the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the Region. While in eastern DRC, the “Guarantors” will assess the process to neutralize other active rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The five-day field visit will take the delegation to Goma and Beni, in eastern DRC, a region that has been rocked by series of attacks by various armed groups.

The visit is a follow-up to earlier consultations in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC in an attempt to intensify efforts to neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC and expedite the repatriation of the ex-M23 combatants from these countries to the DRC.

Following the last report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the implementation of the PSC Framework, the Security Council in a new resolution 2277 (2016) stressed “the importance of neutralizing all armed groups operating in the eastern DRC, particularly the FDLR, the ADF, and other groups.”

Participating in the mission to the DRC are the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit; the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for the Great Lakes Region and Head of the Liaison Office in Bujumbura, Ibrahima Fall; the Executive Secretary of the ICGLR, Ntumba Luaba; the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), David Gressly; and SADC officials, including Lt Col Wilbert A. Ibuge and Lt Col Johannes P. Mkhabela.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region (OSESG-GL).

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Source:: High-level representatives from UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC to visit DRC on the neutralization of armed groups in the country’s east

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25th Anniversary of the Independence of Eritrea – 24 May 2016

Ahead of the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Independence of Eritrea on Tuesday 24 May, the United Nations expert Sheila B. Keetharuth, urges the Eritrean Government to implement the 1997 Constitution.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea also calls on all Eritreans to fully embrace democracy and the rule of law to achieve the vision established on 24 May 1991.

“The 25th Independence Anniversary celebration provides Eritreans with an opportunity to reflect on the aspirations and dreams of those who fought for independence.

The 1997 Constitution sets out the vision of what Eritrea wanted to be as a country and yet it remains unimplemented to date. As the country reaches 25 years, this constitutional vacuum provides room for arbitrariness in managing the affairs of the State and engaging with its citizens.

The independence of the country, that is, the national independence should match with individual independence and freedoms: freedom of conscience, thought, mind and expression; freedom to engage in employment and education of one’s own choice.

At 25, Eritrea needs to take decisive steps to embed democracy and the rule of law in the country. Such a move would advance respect for human rights, while further empowering the people and bridging the gaps between aspirations and reality. I call on the Government to do more to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and to establish the rule of law.

I salute the heroism and courage of all those women and men who struggled for their freedom and fought for their country’s independence. I also acknowledge the determination of those who are still engaged in preserving such hard-won freedom.”

Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea during the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012. She took her functions on 1 November 2012. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in human rights in Africa. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/ER/Pages/SREritrea.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: 25th Anniversary of the Independence of Eritrea – 24 May 2016

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