Surging violence in Central African Republic forces 88,000 to flee

More funds are urgently needed to aid more than 88,000 people who have been forced to flee an upsurge in violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Since fighting flared in May between rebels more than 68,000 people have fled their homes within CAR, while nearly 20,000 have sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

To assist those who have been recently forcibly displaced, UNHCR is calling for urgent support to its funding appeal of US$209.2 million for the CAR situation which is only 6 per cent funded.

Significant rebel activity on towns along the DRC border as well as rumours of possible attacks are pushing people to flee in the Haute Kotto and Mbomou prefectures inside CAR.

Over the last weeks, attacks of armed groups resulted in displacement within the three prefectures of Bria, Bangassou and Basse-Kotto. In Bria only, more than 41,000 people have been displaced. In addition, hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed. Most of the displaced sleep in the open or in makeshift shelters.

Humanitarian access in many of these areas remains severely restricted due to the security situation. UNHCR was however able to provide, through an inter-agency response, relief items for the newly displaced in Bria. We intend to distribute further relief, including family tents, mats, and blankets among the vulnerable families.

With available stocks in Bria, UNHCR will also be sending further relief from Bangui as our team assess the extent of the displacement in Bria and identify needs.

The recent upsurge in violence is also pushing people to cross the border into the DRC’s Bas Uele and Ubangi provinces. Some 20,575 Central Africans have fled over the past two weeks, according to estimates. UNHCR teams have met some of the arrivals while others were reported by local authorities.

Central Africans continue to arrive in the DRC, citing fear of new violence. Most of the new arrivals are staying close to the rivers — Mbomou and Ubangi — constituting the border between the two countries, hoping to quickly cross the border again once the situation stabilizes.

UNHCR is particularly worried about the situation of the asylum seekers in the area near the small town of Ndu, just across the Mbomou River. People there arrived with hardly any belongings and some were wounded and require treatment. However, the area is so remote that UNHCR could not bring assistance by road and we are now assessing alternative options to reach Ndu.

Other areas, notably in DRC’s North Ubangi province, are easier to reach. The new arrivals are settled along the banks of the river, and most of them have found shelter with local families. UNHCR is working with humanitarian partners to provide further assistance and relief.

There are 503,600 internally displaced persons in the CAR. Prior to the latest influx, there were 102,600 Central African refugees registered in the DRC.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Top Real Estate Developments to be recognised at the Africa Property Investment Awards

Africa’s premier real estate competition, the African Property Investment Awards (API Awards) will be launched at this year’s API Summit & Expo 2017 (www.APIsummit.co.za), taking place on the 24th August 2017, at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. The awards will recognise innovation and outstanding achievement across the entire property industry whilst providing distinguished developers, suppliers and owners working in Sub-Saharan Africa (Excl South Africa) with a platform to showcase their best projects and services.

API Events have proven their commitment to the African property industry, hosting successful and insightful summits for the last 8 years. As an independent organisation offering broad coverage of the African real estate sector, API Events have a reputation for fostering education, discussion and knowledge sharing throughout the industry, making them the ideal hosts for these prestigious awards.

Looking back on the last decade, there have been notable achievements in the development of real estate on the continent. Growth in the sector has highlighted the important role both local and regional investors and developers play in the industry. With this in mind, API Events has moved to introduce an awards platform that is both reputable and widely respected in order to recognize these achievements, as well as the distinction and quality of these contributions.

“With these awards, API Events hopes to not only encourage industry players to continue to achieve these same levels in regard to both industry standards and expectations, but also to raise the development standards across the industry in future. As the market evolves we want to ensure that all stakeholders strive to achieve excellence, and at the same time recognise those who are delivering on pioneering developments in Africa’s often tough development environments,” says Kfir Rusin, API Events Managing Director.

“As the continent’s pre-eminent property investment summit, it is fitting that API Summit & Expo should recognise excellence by giving awards to the best of the best. The prestige of an API Award will undoubtedly bring an increase in quality in all fields in the property industry in Africa,” adds jury panellist and owner of the W Hospitality Group, Trevor Ward.

The panel of judges will bring together a number of distinguished industry leaders from across the continent, each member boasting a variety of expertise and experience.

Joining Trevor Ward on the jury panel will be Gerhard Zeelie, Head Real Estate Finance: Rest of Africa at Standard Bank, (RSA), Joao Terlica, Managing Director at Sagaci Research (Nigeria), David Kinyua, Director at Esham Park Group (Kenya), Elizabeth Wangeci Chege, Chief Executive Officer at WEB Limited & Chairperson of the Kenya Green Building Society (Kenya), Godfrey Tapela, Director at IFC (Kenya), Wafula Nabutola, Regional Director of RICS (East Africa), Jenny Luesby, Managing Director of African Laughter (Kenya), Kaisi Kalambo, President for the Architects Association of Tanzania (Tanzania) and Malcolm Horne, Group CEO of The Broll Property Group.

The judging panel will critically assess all entries in these categories:

  1. Best Retail Development
  2. Best Mixed-Use Development
  3. Best Commercial High-rise Development
  4. Best Architectural Design
  5. Best Green Building in Sub Saharan Africa
  6. Best Hotel Development
  7. Best Housing Development

Within these categories, jury members will base their final decision on a wide range of criteria with specific focus on project location; infrastructure and transport access; integration into the environment; originality of the concept; technical and architectural quality; services offered; sensitivity to the local community; innovation; sustainability; corporate staff involvement; response to market demands; financial performance; occupancy; and the impact of the project on economic convergence.

“There hasn’t been a greater opportunity in Africa to transform the construction industry than now. Sharing of information and best practice across the continent is prevalent therefore, the API Awards will provide a platform to honour projects that seek to lead on development standards. Ultimately, what we build today will form the Africa of tomorrow,” says jury member, Elizabeth Wangeci Chege.

Entries for the API Awards will open on the 30th May 2017 and will close on 15th July 2017.

For more information on the competition, and how to enter, please visit www.APIsummit.co.za/api-awards.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Africa Property Investment (API) Summit & Expo.

Media Contact:
For any further enquiries, please contact Elizabeth Haskins on Elizabeth@APIevents.com.

About API Events:
API Events’ conferences provide an essential networking venue for the African real estate investment and development industry and have achieved a reputation for attracting large property investors, major developers, leading financiers, and C-level real estate focused executives. We offer engaging content and outstanding speakers, the API Events portfolio also includes real estate financial modeling training programmes, reputable African Property Investment awards as well editorial content in the form of our Africa Property Skyline Magazine allowing for an invaluable opportunity to interact with and learn from the best real estate minds in the business across multiple platforms.The API Events team comprises of passionate property professionals with on the-ground African real estate expertise. Our singular mission is to provide a platform that drives growth in African real estate investment whilst assisting the continent in realizing its full potential. Please visit our website for more information: www.APIevents.com.

Source:: Top Real Estate Developments to be recognised at the Africa Property Investment Awards

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Tens of thousands of women and children are fleeing from South Sudan to Sudan

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese women and children have crossed the border into Sudan since the beginning of the year, fleeing violence and the looming threat of famine.

This represents a dramatic spike in the movement of people across the border. Nearly 137,000 South Sudanese have crossed into Sudan since 1 January – already more than the 131,000 that arrived during 2016, according to UNHCR. Aid workers on the ground report that the vast majority of new arrivals are women and children.

The people who are arriving are in a desperate state,” said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Regional Director for Africa for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Most are in poor health, exhausted from their journeys, and traumatized by what they have seen and experienced.”

In all, about 417,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered Sudan since December 2013. More than half are in camps in East and South Darfur and West and South Kordofan. The Sudanese Red Crescent Society is present in these areas and has, in partnership with the UN, been supporting more than 300,000 with food aid, and about 90,000 refugees with clean water, sanitation and health services.

However, with the increased arrival of refuges, IFRC and SSRC are warning of an elevated risk of diseases such as malaria, as existing healthcare and water and sanitation services come under ever greater strain.

In response to the growing needs of refugee communities, IFRC and SSRC have launched an international emergency appeal for just under 4.2 million Swiss francs. Through this appeal, Red Crescent volunteers and staff will provide assistance to more than 63,000 people, with a range of life-saving and life-sustaining health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and emergency shelter services.

The regional consequences of the humanitarian emergency in South Sudan are rapidly worsening,” said Dr Nafo-Traoré. “There is every indication that the number of people crossing into Sudan will continue to climb.

“These people are the most vulnerable – children and women who are arriving with absolutely nothing, having already endured so much.”

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

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Kenya: Threats to Media Ahead of August Polls

Authorities in Kenya have committed a range of abuses against journalists reporting on sensitive issues, threatening freedom of expression ahead of elections slated for August 8, 2017, Human Rights Watch and ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa said in a report released today. Journalists and bloggers reporting on corruption, disputed land acquisition, counterterrorism operations, and the 2007-2008 post-electoral violence, among other sensitive issues, have faced intimidation, beatings, and job loss.

The 53-page report, “‘Not Worth The Risk’: Threats To Free Expression Ahead of Kenya’s 2017 Elections,” documents abuses by government officials, police, county governors, and other government officials against the media. Human Rights Watch and ARTICLE 19 examined government attempts to obstruct critical journalists and bloggers with legal, administrative, and informal measures, including threats, intimidation, harassment, online and phone surveillance, and in some cases, physical assaults.

“We must stem the tide of increased violence and impunity against journalists in Kenya,” said Henry Maina, regional director at ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa. “No policy to address the situation can be successful if measures to prevent aggression against and to protect at-risk journalists are not accompanied with thorough and timely prosecutions of all crimes committed against them.”

Despite receiving formal complaints from journalists, police have rarely investigated the attacks or threats. Since President Uhuru Kenyatta took office in 2013, there is no evidence that any security officer or public official has been held accountable for threatening, intimidating, or physically attacking a member of the media in Kenya.

Human Rights Watch and ARTICLE 19 interviewed 92 journalists, human rights activists, bloggers, and government officials throughout Kenya and documented 17 incidents in which 23 journalists and bloggers were physically assaulted between 2013 and 2017 by government officials or individuals believed to be aligned with government officials.

At least two died under circumstances that may have been related to their work. The groups also documented 16 incidents of direct death threats against journalists and bloggers across the country in recent years, and cases in which police arbitrarily arrested, detained, and later released without charge at least 14 journalists and bloggers.

For example, on September 7, 2016, unidentified assailants forced themselves into the house of a photojournalist, Denis Otieno, in the town of Kitale, Rift Valley, and demanded photos on his camera, then shot him dead. Otieno had photographed police officers shooting to death a motorcycle taxi rider at a Kitale bus station a few days earlier. A family member said that before his murder, Otieno had expressed alarm about death threats. No one has been arrested in relation to his killing.

One Nairobi-based editor told the two groups: “Whenever we write articles critical of security agencies or exposing corruption in the government, our reporters receive death threats from security and other government officials. This is usually followed up with withdrawal of government advertising or withholding of revenue from advertising. We now have to assess carefully whether such stories are worth the cost.”

With the general election set for August, state security agencies have heightened threats and appear to be using ambiguous legal provisions to carry out increased surveillance, without warrants, on journalists reporting on sensitive issues. As one reporter said, “If you have written about security agencies or corruption-related stories, you have to know that you are being followed or your phone is being listened into.”

“For Kenya’s August elections to be credible and fair, the media needs to be able to report on pressing issues of national interest without fear of reprisals,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “President Kenyatta should publicly underscore the importance of free expression and condemn threats and attacks on journalists and bloggers.

While Kenyan journalists have borne the brunt of government abuse, the foreign media have also faced reprisals for critical reporting. In 2015, Kenyan authorities threatened to ban two foreign journalists for an international media outlet for reporting on alleged police death squads implicated in extrajudicial killings.

Despite receiving formal complaints from journalists, police have very rarely investigated attacks or threats to the media, Human Rights Watch and ARTICLE 19 found. In 2015, an unidentified assailant believed to be a government security officer physically assaulted a human rights and anti-corruption blogger, Florence Wanjeri Nderu, and warned her against continuing with her blog posts on corruption. Despite her detailed report to the police about the attack and the suspect, police have failed to investigate her case. “Police never bothered to visit the scene of my attack or even followed up with me to see how I was doing,” she said. “The matter ended with the report I made.”

Timely and thorough investigations and prosecutions for these attacks and threats is crucial in ensuring that the media and bloggers report freely on issues ahead of the 2017 elections, Human Rights Watch and ARTICLE 19 said.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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