IOM Ethiopia Starts Boat Relocation of South Sudan Refugees from Akobo-Tergol to Pugnido

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Ethiopia last week safely relocated 425 South Sudanese refugees by boat and bus from Akobo-Tergol to Pugnido camp in Gambella region 430 km away.

The two-day journey for the ethnic Anuak refugees included a nine-hour, 130 km boat trip from Tergol to Burbeiy and an overnight stay en route.

IOM will organize similar movements using the same route for ethnic Nuer refugees also stranded in Akobo-Tergol. The Nuer will be moved to Lietchuor camp, to reduce the risk of conflict between the two groups.

UNHCR has currently registered 10,000 South Sudanese refugees at Akobo-Tergol, where the Akobo river marks the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia. This figure could rise to over 12,000, according to IOM staff on the ground.

Refugees at Akobo-Tergol told IOM that they face a desperate situation if they stay. “At first, we were given some food assistance, but that is finished now. We are now going to the woods to fetch wild fruit to feed our children. Some of us are fetching fire wood and selling it in exchange for food. But that is not enough. Most of us are just scraping by on one meal a day,” said one refugee.

Lietchuor and Pugnido camps can currently accommodate a total of 60,000 refugees. This will rise to 80,000 when Lietchuor camp’s capacity is expanded from 20,000 to 40,000.

Refugees fleeing to Ethiopia from South Sudan are mainly leaving Nasir and Malakal and using the Akobo Tergol and Pagak entry points into Ethiopia’s Gambella region.

IOM Ethiopia has now provided transportation for a total of 11,827 South Sudan refugees to date.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Tackling food losses and waste in the Near East and North Africa / Region loses up to a third of the food produced and imported – FAO Regional Conference proposes solutions

ROME, Italy, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Reducing high food losses and waste will be critical to improving food availability, achieving food security, and reducing stress on natural resources in the fast-growing Near East and North Africa (NENA) region, FAO said.

The region relies on imports to meet over 50 percent of its food needs, yet it loses up to a third of the food it produces and imports, including about 14-19 percent of its grains, 26 percent of all fish and seafood, 13 percent of its meat, and 45 percent of all fruits and vegetables.

FAO has proposed a Regional Strategic Framework for reducing food losses and waste, which was discussed at the agency’s 24-28 February Regional Conference for the Near East, taking place in Rome.

Governments have made the commitment to reduce food losses and waste in the region by 50 percent in 10 years. Resource and labor losses in their countries translate into lower economic returns for agri-business and farmers and higher food import bills.

Eleven percent of the region’s population suffers from chronic hunger, many of them vulnerable rural families who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Research suggests their livelihoods could benefit from support in reducing food losses and waste throughout the food value chain.

Broad collaboration needed

FAO’s research shows a lack of sufficient and accurate regional information on how food is lost and wasted and why, and the Strategic Framework recommends data-gathering as one of the priority areas for action. Still, information available on the Near East and North Africa region shows that roughly 44 percent of food losses and waste occur during handling, processing and distribution of food, while waste at the consumption stage is estimated to be 34 percent, most of it in urban areas.

The Regional Strategic Framework calls for the full participation and cooperation of a broad range of institutions and stakeholders to reduce food losses and waste all along the food chain in the 19 FAO member countries, as well as a heightened public awareness campaign to stem food waste by consumers.

The Strategic Framework also points to recent experiences and accomplishments in the region, including national and regional consultations; the adoption of national initiatives to reduce food losses and waste in Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and, significant measures that have also been taken in some countries of the region, such as Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Tunisia.

Information, training, infrastructure

Long before food reaches the consumer’s home, losses in quantity and quality occur due to poor farming techniques, a lack of cold storage and transport, high exposure to heat and sunlight at open-air markets; non-existent or inappropriate policies; and, regulations and gaps in institutions and coordination.

Regional Conference participants have endorsed the Regional Strategic Framework, recommending the following broad areas for action:

• improving data gathering, analysis and information;

• raising public awareness and promotion of good practices among farmers, consumers and those who handle food all along the supply chain;

• developing policies and regulations and strengthening collaboration and coordination among people, institutions and countries;

• promoting investment and engaging the private sector.

The proposal was drawn up in keeping with FAO’s Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction, or SAVE FOOD, but is tailored to socio-economic and other characteristics of the NENA region.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Canada Strongly Condemns Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act

OTTAWA, Canada, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement following Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s approval of the anti-homosexuality act:

“Canada is extremely disappointed that President Museveni has signed this piece of legislation, which will make homosexuality punishable with life imprisonment. We strongly urge the President to protect the human rights of all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation, in accordance with Uganda’s constitution.

“This act is a serious setback for human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms and deserves to be widely condemned. Regrettably, this discriminatory law will serve as an impediment in our relationship with the Ugandan government.

“Canada has repeatedly raised our concerns with the Government of Uganda, and we have done so again. Our engagement on human rights issues will only become more persistent. We will continue to support efforts to decriminalize homosexuality and combat violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Enactment of Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

WASHINGTON, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

February 24, 2014

This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law.

The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda’s Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution

Today’s signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda.

We are also deeply concerned about the law’s potential to set back public health efforts in Uganda, including those to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective.

As President Obama stated, this legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship. Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.

From Nigeria to Russia and Uganda, we are working globally to promote and protect the human rights of all persons. The United States will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize vulnerable persons in any society.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

African-led Exercise Flintlock Kicks off in Niger

NIAMEY, Niger, February 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Flintlock, the annual African-led military exercise for interoperability in security, counterterrorism and humanitarian aid, officially kicked off Feb. 19, 2014, with an opening ceremony celebrating the spirit of cooperation.

The exercise, which beyond U.S. participation includes Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, France, Germany, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, United Kingdom, and the host nation of Niger, focuses on building partner capacity to help strengthen stability across Africa. This year, there are 18 different African and Western country participants.

For the next three weeks, more than a 1,000 different soldiers from across these countries will practice military drills such as airdrops of personnel or equipment, live fire ranges, and delivering aid to remote areas with limited medical care.

While not focused on any particular operation or security situation, Flintlock 2014 focuses on the development of the mutual security capacity while strengthening bonds among exercise participants, according to officials.

“Your presence reflects your interests in our regional partnerships,” said Nigerian Col. Mahamane Laminou Sani, the Flintlock country coordinator. “By sharing their experiences, expertise, and camaraderie we share our interests in promoting stability in the region.”

Some of the major tactical components of Flintlock 2014 include small-unit combined training activities against counter-terrorism, along with humanitarian relief operations providing basic medical, dental, and veterinary access for select communities in Niger.

The host nation led the development of the exercises’ training objectives to help build relationships between participating nations.

U.S. leadership attended the ceremony along with their counterparts and they said they agree that security is necessary for growth and stability. Special Operations Command Africa Commanding General Brig. Gen. James Linder joined African nation partners for opening ceremony activities.

During the ceremony the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Trans Sahel Commander Col. Kenneth Sipperly, who is the Flintlock 2014 exercise coordinator, said, “Although Flintlock is considered an exercise, it is really an extension of ongoing training, engagement, and operations that help prepare our close Africa partners in the fight against extremism and the enemies that threaten peace, stability, and regional security.”

“Working together to guard against the effects of extremism will be realized by the future generations of all our countries,” he said.

The Nigerian Chief of Staff M. Karidio Mahamadou agreed, adding that, “This exercise is occurring at a time when our nations are faced with multiple obstacles within our region which requires strong resolve to confront extremism.”

Flintlock exercises have been conducted across north and western Africa since 2005 to improve the security capacity of regional military forces.

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Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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