Statement by the UN Special Representative for Somalia on the state-building conferences in Baidoa

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, is closely monitoring developments in Baidoa, including the outcome of today’s conference, and has taken note of the Federal Government’s response.

“I urge all parties to observe maximum restraint and refrain from any action that could pose a threat to security,” said SRSG Kay. “This year is critical for consolidating a united and stable federal Somalia. The country has overcome many recent challenges through compromise and dialogue.”

“I encourage traditional leaders, politicians and stakeholders in Baidoa to commit to serious, inclusive and continued political dialogue guided by respect for the Provisional Federal Constitution and existing agreements,” he added. “The UN will continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to lead a reconciliation process.”

“The situation in Baidoa highlights the need for the Federal Government to accelerate its work on the state-building process in Somalia in an inclusive manner, including the development of a detailed plan and timetable for the formation of Federal States, a final Constitution and democratisation by 2016,” SRSG Kay noted.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) secures First International Credit Rating Moody’s assigns A3/P-2

LAGOS, Nigeria, March 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC or the Corporation) (http://www.africafc.org), a multilateral development financial institution headquartered in Lagos, has today secured its first International credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s). Moody’s has assigned the Corporation an A3 (long term) /P2 (short term) foreign currency debt rating, making the AFC the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution on the African continent. Moody’s rationale for this investment grade rating is based on a sound capital adequacy position, high asset quality and strong prudential framework that supports a high degree of liquidity, supported by an excellent profit margin and profit retention. Additionally, the Corporation’s strong liquidity framework and position which is in excess of the requirements of Basel III Capital Accord on liquidity risk management, will mitigate against external economic shocks, and help support planned growth. The outlook on the rating is stable.

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

AFC was established in 2007 as a private sector-led Pan African multilateral development finance institution, with an initial capital base of USD1.1 billion, to be a catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa. AFC was established to help fill a critical void in providing project structuring expertise and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs. AFC not only provides access to finance, deal structuring and sector technical expertise, but also advisory services, project development capacity, and funding to bridge the infrastructure investment and access deficits, in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport and telecommunications, all critical pillars for economic growth across Africa.

Commenting on the International rating, Andrew Alli, President & Chief Executive Officer, AFC said “attaining an investment grade International credit rating, only six years after inception, is a tremendous achievement. It is a major milestone in the Corporation’s history. This rating, together with AFC’s strong capital position and the quality of its portfolio, will enable AFC to grow its balance sheet, broaden its asset base and expand its geographical footprint. It is a further endorsement of the Corporation’s rigorous investment process, innovative approach to infrastructure investment on the continent, world-class corporate governance and solid shareholder support. The Corporation is poised to assist in further driving economic growth and industrial development in Africa. We are extremely pleased with the rating.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).

About AFC – http://www.africafc.org

For more information, contact:

Dr Adesola Adeduntan, FCA

Director & Chief Financial Officer

Africa Finance Corporation, 3a Osborne Road

Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: + 234 1 279 9600

Email: adesola.adeduntan@africafc.org

Banji Fehintola, CFA

Senior Vice President & Treasurer

Africa Finance Corporation, 3a Osborne Road

Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: + 234 1 279 9600

Email: banji.fehintola@africafc.org

Ayotunde Anjorin

Vice President & Controller

Africa Finance Corporation, 3a Osborne Road

Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: + 234 1 279 9600

Email: Ayotunde.anjorin@africafc.org

Lucy Savage

Vice President, Communications

Africa Finance Corporation, 3a Osborne Road

Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: + 234 1 279 9600

Email: lucy.savage@africafc.org

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

EVERYDAY EMERGENCY: SILENT SUFFERING IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO / MSF REPORT SUMMARY

PARIS, France, March 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For years, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been in the grip of an emergency. Persistent conflict in its eastern provinces and instability in other regions have led to recurrent humanitarian crises and outbreaks of disease.

In areas affected by conflict, members of numerous militias and armed groups do not appear to distinguish between civilians and combatants – and neither do the soldiers of the Congolese national army (FARDC).

There is little respect for the neutrality of medical facilities, for humanitarian principles or for medical ethics. In the country’s eastern provinces, MSF has seen armed men enter hospitals and harass patients; clinics abandoned as medical staff flee violence; health facilities looted and health workers threatened; patient records confiscated in violation of patient confidentiality.

Meanwhile, a heavily armed United Nations intervention brigade (MONUSCO, formerly known as MONUC) has been authorised by the UN Security Council to neutralise armed groups that oppose the authority of the state. This seriously compromises the perception of humanitarian and medical aid as a neutral activity, as these offensive operations by the UN are being carried out in transports that resemble those of humanitarian organisations.

Millions of people living in conflict areas have been forced from their homes by the fighting. As of December 2013, the UN estimates that 2.96 million people in the country are displaced, with the vast majority (around 90 percent) residing in North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale and Katanga provinces. Large numbers of displaced people are beyond the reach of humanitarian organisations, living with host families or hiding in forests or in scrubland. They struggle to obtain food and drinking water and receive little or no medical care and humanitarian assistance.

Aid to displaced people in eastern DR Congo goes largely to the small proportion of people who have managed to reach camps near urban centres. Even then, distributions of food and essential goods in these camps are often carried out in an irregular manner and are generally insufficient to cover the actual needs.

Aid organisations operate within an inflexible humanitarian system that does not allow a rapid and effective response to critical needs. They are heavily concentrated in urban centres, and are conspicuously absent in the remote, rural areas where the majority of the population lives.

Outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, cholera and measles occur year after year in eastern DR Congo. In most cases, however, the health system is unable to prevent them or to respond.

Patients are expected to pay for every aspect of medical care, with the national healthcare system and many health programmes run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based on a cost recovery system. At the same time, the vast majority of people lives on less than US$2 per day, and only one in four lives within five kilometres of a health facility.

Although the national health system theoretically guarantees free healthcare in the case of emergency, the authorities in eastern DR Congo have proven unable to assure this. As a result, a woman in obstructed labour can be expected to pay a minimum of US$50 for a lifesaving caesarean section, despite living in a conflict zone.

In this report, MSF seeks to expose, through its medical data and the testimonies of patients and staff, the true extent of the medical and humanitarian emergency lived through every day by the people of DR Congo, in particular those who reside in the conflict-affected eastern provinces, one of the areas where we work.

Much of this human suffering could be prevented. There are a number of measures that, if taken, would have a real impact on reducing the number of unnecessary deaths and improving the daily lives of people in eastern DR Congo.

Respect for civilians, humanitarians and medical facilities

• Civilians must not be harmed

In MSF’s experience, armed groups and militias appear not to distinguish between civilians and combatants. MSF has seen the consequences and received first-hand accounts of abuse, harassment, targeted attacks, counter-attacks and massacres carried out by a variety of armed groups on civilians. MSF urges respect for civilians and for humanitarian and medical facilities from all armed groups, including MONUSCO and the Congolese army. The neutrality of humanitarian action must be respected by all parties to the conflict, including the UN, by clearly distinguishing all military assets from civilian functions.

• Medical facilities must be respected

The sick and the injured are not combatants. In order for medical staff to act impartially and prioritise the delivery of care solely on medical grounds, the places where they work – ambulances, mobile clinics, health posts and hospitals – must be safe, neutral spaces. The neutrality of medical facilities must be respected by all armed groups, including MONUSCO, the new UN intervention brigade and the Congolese army.

Better humanitarian aid provision

• Focus on needs

The provision of humanitarian assistance in DR Congo should be timely, flexible and appropriate, especially in emergencies. Aid should be provided based on people’s actual needs, rather than on their location or on any kind of political agenda such as stabilisation or enhancing the authority of the state.

• Reach out to the ‘hidden’ displaced

More efforts must be made to reach the large numbers of ‘hidden’ displaced people. Temporarily living with host families or hiding in forests and fields, they are a highly vulnerable group whose needs are being neglected by humanitarian organisations focused on providing services to people in camp settings and in urban areas.

Remove financial barriers to healthcare and improve response to disease epidemics

• Stop making vulnerable patients pay for healthcare

Making people pay even a small fee for healthcare in DR Congo is enough to prevent many of the most vulnerable from accessing health services, particularly in areas affected by conflict. Health providers in DR Congo – and particularly those with programmes in conflict-affected regions – must act to reduce financial barriers for patients.

• Do more to prevent and respond to epidemics

In addition to comprehensive routine immunisations and better healthcare infrastructure in DR Congo, there needs to be greater transparency and accountability when reporting coverage rates and better cooperation when faced with a disease outbreak.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

UNAMID concerned over violence in South Darfur, calls for unhindered access

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, March 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is deeply concerned over reports of an escalation in violence in South Darfur over the course of the past several days.

The violence has resulted in the reported burning of a number villages and the displacement of a large number of civilians in the vicinity of Um Gunya, located approximately 50 kilometers southeast of Nyala.

The Mission has received reports of looting, arson and civilian casualties, as well as the arrival of newly displaced populations into the Al Salam and Kalma camps for internally displaced persons.

Peacekeepers have attempted to access the affected areas on several occasions, but have been denied passage by the authorities.

UNAMID calls upon the authorities to allow the Mission unhindered and immediate access to these areas, so that it can carry out its core activity for the protection of civilians as mandated by the African Union and the United Nations and as consented to by the Government of Sudan.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Africa Aims to Boost Food Security Action on Occasion of Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai / Day Green Economy Transition Will Assist in Addressing Continent’s Environmental Challenges

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 3, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — African leaders, civil society and youth groups today mark Africa Environment Day, which seeks to accelerate action on the numerous pressing environmental challenges facing the continent.

Maseru, in the Kingdom of Lesotho, is the regional host of the 12th annual celebration, which is focused on the theme Combating Desertification in Africa: Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Food Security.

In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, over 200 young people and high-level experts will convene to review key environmental issues impacting Africa, including illegal wildlife crime, forest conservation and food security.

The event—which dovetails with Wangari Maathai Day, a celebration of the life and work of the Green Belt Movement founder—is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Kenya and the Green Belt Movement.

Professor Maathai was Africa’s first female Nobel laureate, a champion of grassroots environmental activism and a fervent defender of biodiversity. She was also the inspiration for the Billion Tree Campaign, which UNEP began in 2006. Eight years later, 13.8 billion trees have been planted under the campaign, which is now run by the Plant for the Planet Foundation.

“The Green Economy transition is already well underway in Africa,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “From plugging into solar power in Algeria and Tunisia to investing in green funds in South Africa, diverse pathways to greener and more-inclusive economies are being pursued across the continent.”

“This transition must be accelerated to stay ahead of the many challenges, from climate change to land degradation, that the continent is increasingly facing,” he added. “Professor Maathai showed the kind of visionary leadership that will be required to win this crucial race. I hope that, on this day commemorating her work, other leaders will be inspired to pick up the baton and ensure that Africa’s rich natural resources can be conserved, and thus serve as the foundation for a sustainable future and food security for all on the continent.”

The focus of Africa Environment Day echoes the theme of the January 2014 African Union Summit, and demonstrates a coordinated effort on the part of African leaders to emphasize the detrimental effects of land degradation to Africa’s food security aspirations. 2014 is the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.

Africa is currently undergoing strong economic growth. The World Bank’s Africa Pulse projects that economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to reach more than 5 per cent on average in 2013-2015 as a result of high commodity prices worldwide and strong consumer spending.

However, the continent still must overcome challenges related to climate change, desertification and land degradation, loss of biodiversity to the illegal trade in wildlife and timber, management of waste and chemicals, and marine pollution.

One of the most pressing challenges is ensuring food security. The UN Population Division estimates that Africa’s population will reach 2.4 billion by 2050, and to feed this population the ecosystems the prop up agriculture will have to be kept healthy.

Yet statistics from the International Fund for Agricultural Development show that Africa has lost 65 per cent of its agricultural land since 1950 due to land degradation. According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), 4 to 12 per cent of agricultural Gross Domestic Product in Africa is lost due to deteriorating environmental condition and 135 million people are at risk of having to move from their land due to desertification by 2020.

There have been some improvements in food security. The FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World Report notes that while sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of undernourishment, there has been some improvement over the last two decades, with the prevalence of undernourishment declining from 32.7 per cent to 24.8 per cent. However, climate change can undermine these gains without firm and rapid action.

While pan-African programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Sahel Green Wall Initiative are examples of concerted efforts to stem the tide of land degradation, Africa Environment Day aims to prompt a move to a more sustainable pathway, taking into consideration the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and Africa’s transformational Agenda 2063.

In this respect, African leaders are recommending that land degradation, desertification and drought be placed at the centre of the debate on the post-2015 development agenda and be recognized as one the sustainable development goals.

UNEP is already working with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to enhance cooperation in controlling land degradation and the resultant desertification in Africa.

Ecosystem-based approaches as part of a wider transition to a Green Economy can also assist in providing food security, and late last year the first African Food Security and Adaptation conference backed these tools.

The conference—including representatives from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, regional economic communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and others—adopted a declaration calling for ecosystem-based approaches to be funded and scaled up by governments and development partners in order to build resilient food systems and adaptation to climate change in Africa.

Wealth accounting and the valuation of ecosystem services are expected to be critical to Africa’s future growth: in low-income countries, natural capital makes up around 36 per cent of total wealth, according to recent World Bank estimates.

The Mau Forest complex in Kenya, for example, provides goods and services worth US$1.5 billion (UNEP Mau Report) a year through water for hydroelectricity, agriculture, tourism and urban and industrial use, as well as erosion control and carbon sequestration. Alternative accounting has helped spur the government of Kenya to invest in rehabilitating the area and its vital ecological services.

Taking the value of ecosystem services into account in national planning is a vital part of the Green Economy transition, which will slow down degradation, assist nations and communities to adapt to those changes that are inevitable, and ensure a healthy, wealthy and sustainable continent.

Notes to Editors

The 19th AU Assembly, on July 2012 in Addis Ababa, after recognizing the importance of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP), proclaimed 2014 the year of “Agriculture and Food security” to mark the 10th anniversary of CAADP. The AU will use this opportunity to launch the consultation on ownership of agricultural transformation through CAADP in the next decade. The last decade of CAADP has shaped and clarified Africa’s direction in agricultural transformation. Analyses of actions undertaken by CAADP in the last decade indicate phenomenal progress in redefining the critical path to attaining sustainable agriculture goals in the continent.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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