Humanitarian Coordinator demands immediate end to attacks on civilians, aid workers

Following a week which saw attacks against both aid workers and civilians, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, demanded that parties to the conflict uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.

“Over the past week, we have received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria,” said Mr. Owusu. “These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable. I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account.”

Two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile since 31 March. In Aburoc, humanitarians were harassed and beaten by members of armed opposition forces, while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before releasing them.

“I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms,” said Mr. Owusu. “I demand that the leadership on both sides investigates these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in the future. Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action.”

Elsewhere, in Pajok, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria, at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee to Uganda and reportedly several dozen have been killed, following an attack by government forces on the town. Thousands more are thought to be sheltering in the bushes in areas surrounding the town, which was estimated to be home to up to 50,000 people.

“I am appalled by the reports surfacing from people fleeing Pajok of their loved ones being killed and their homes being destroyed,” said Owusu. “I implore the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians.”

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. More than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. An average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are arriving into Uganda each day, over 62 per cent of whom are children.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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Italian investment coming to Zambia

Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr, Mario Giro with a team of NGOs and Investors are expected in Zambia in September, 2017 to come and explore investment opportunities in the country.

During a meeting between Community Development and Social Services Minister Hon. Emerine Kabanshi,and Hon. Giro at the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry on Thursday, 7th April, the Minister said Zambia was a peaceful nation with great potential for investment and that Italy wanted to strengthen and consolidate co-operation with the country by setting up various investments.

He emphasised that Zambia is a peaceful country and Italy would like to explore investment opportunities that will benefit both Zambia and Italy and in the long run cement relations.

“I will come to Zambia with a team of NGOs and do a survey and exchange ideas on how our two countries can work together. This visit will enable us to have Government to Government exchange meetings to consolidate the bilateral relations and also Government to Business Sector relations,” he said.

He said that, there was need to do more in order to help develop Zambia adding that Italy wanted to continue supporting Zambias’ development agenda by strengthening the relations of the two countries.

He said there was need for Italy and Zambia to start afresh and strengthen strong relations saying that Italy is ready to work and support the Zambian government in different areas that are aimed at uplifting lives of the underprivileged.

And Hon. Kabanshi stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between Zambia and Italy.

“The relations should be made stronger, Zambia is a very peaceful country and your investment in Zambia will not go to waste. We are inviting you to Zambia and bring investors who would like to invest in Zambia in different sectors of the economy such as Tourism, Mining, Agriculture, Education and Trade,” she said.

She told Hon. Giro that she was in Italy to lay a ground for Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Harry Kalaba who would elaborate more on Zambia s investment opportunities once the two countries meet for bilateral meetings in Lusaka in September.

Ms. Kabanshi also requested Hon. Giro to consider extending more scholarship opportunities to Zambians especially the less privileged and marginalised girls.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom.

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Red Cross Red Crescent Pan African Conference calls for more investment in community resilience and localization of humanitarian aid

Today (April 9), leaders of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) gather in Abidjan for the organization’s 9th Africa Regional Conference.

The conference, which takes place every four years, is an opportunity for Red Cross and Red Crescent members to discuss humanitarian challenges facing Africa, to exchange ideas and experiences, and to pave a way forward for the coming years.

“This year’s event will explore new and innovative ways of investing in community resilience, through increased localization of aid, as a result of more effective partnerships, as well as efforts to strengthen the auxiliary role of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,” said Souare Karidiata Koné, President of the Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire.

“One of our key focuses will be on the need to better support community-level response to emergencies,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, IFRC Vice President. “The fight against Ebola virus disease, for example, highlighted the absolutely critical role that local communities play in containing the health crises and responding to other challenges.”

The event takes place at the time when the continent is facing one of its worst humanitarian crises in recent history, with famine confirmed in parts of South Sudan and looming in Nigeria and Somalia, and severe hunger threatening communities in a number of other countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia

“Hunger is threatening the lives of millions of people in Africa. As we gather in Abidjan, one of the issues we explore will be how we can change the way we respond to the risks and consequences of hunger,” said Dr Gullet.

The Pan African Conference will explore a range of other issues as well, including how to strengthen the capacities of communities to better prepare for, and respond to disasters, as well as discussions on the root-causes of migration, health problems and the impact of climate change.

IFRC is calling on its partners in the region and globally to invest in its member National Societies, which are providing support to vulnerable communities throughout Africa. Red Cross and Red Crescent make up a vast network of first responders, anchored in local realities and communities, providing early warning, response and solutions to humanitarian emergencies and challenges.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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IMF Executive Board Approves US$ 151.03 Million under the ECF Arrangement for Benin

  • New program focuses on raising living standards and preserving macroeconomic stability
  • Agriculture and a significant increase in public investment are projected to lift growth in 2017
  • Improving the quality, coverage, and timeliness of economic statistics will help achieve better policy making

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF)[1] for Benin for an amount equivalent to SDR111.42 million (about US$ 151.03 million, or 90 percent of Benin’s quota) to support the country’s economic and financial reform program.

This new program aims to address Benin’s protracted balance of payments needs, and alleviate the impediments to inclusive growth, and poverty reduction by creating fiscal space for infrastructure investment and priority social spending. It is also aimed at helping to catalyze official and private financing and build resilience to future economic shocks. The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement of SDR 15.917 million (about US$ 21.58 million). The remaining amounts will be phased over the duration of the program, subject to semi-annual reviews.

At the conclusion of the Board meeting, Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, made the following statement:

“Despite negative spillovers from neighboring countries, Benin’s economy rebounded in 2016 and its outlook is favorable. Inflation remained subdued and the fiscal deficit narrowed, reflecting the authorities’ efforts to contain expenditure in the face of continued weak revenue performance. Nonetheless, reducing poverty and infrastructure gaps will take time. Against this backdrop, the authorities’ new economic program under the Extended Credit Facility focuses on raising living standards through a structural transformation of the economy while preserving macroeconomic stability. The program is expected to catalyze official and private financing and is consistent with achieving the West African Economic and Monetary Union convergence criteria by 2019.

“The authorities’ goal is to strengthen domestic revenue mobilization and improve the quality of spending to create fiscal space for infrastructure and priority social spending while preserving debt sustainability. To this end, implementing the reforms underway to modernize the Tax and Customs Administrations will be critical, including enhancing their efficiency and strengthening their coordination to ensure a durable improvement in revenue collection.

“The authorities’ measures to enhance financial intermediation—including operationalizing the credit bureau—and their efforts to promote financial inclusion will help sustain healthy credit expansion and support private sector-led economic growth. Implementing the new harmonized regional resolution framework and strengthening the supervisory body for microfinance institutions will be critical to strengthen financial sector supervision.

“Further improvements to the business environment are essential, particularly by removing bottlenecks to private-sector development and levelling the playing field for all investors. The authorities’ continued efforts to fight corruption and improve accountability in public administration and competitive procurement for government contracts will support private investment. In addition, improving the quality, coverage, and timeliness of economic statistics will help achieve better policy making.

[1] The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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