Afriwise launches first-of-its-kind consulting firm in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Two well-known lawyers on the African scene, Steven De Backer and Olivier Binyingo, recently launched Afriwise consult (http://www.afriwise.com) to offer clients a more holistic consulting approach and access to genuine on-the-ground expertise in Sub Saharan Africa, with procedures for quality assurance and a strong underlying ethical culture. Having worked together for a number of years, both as local and regional counsel on the African continent, they recognized the opportunity for a different kind of professional services firm.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/afriwize.png

Photo Olivier Binyingo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1315

Photo Steven De Backer: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1314

Press kit: http://storyboard.me/afriwise

Video: http://vimeo.com/103693352

Afriwise is launching a groundbreaking consulting model for Africa, designed to assist clients with advice that is genuinely tailored to situations and local environments in African countries, through collaboration between the best African experts.

Afriwise consult provides one point of contact for private and public organizations that need legal, tax, transaction, risk and management consulting services in Sub Saharan Africa and teams up with the right professionals to deliver solutions that work.

Africa’s rapid growth has captured the world’s attention, triggering unprecedented business interest and investment. Sub Saharan Africa is now perceived to be one of the world’s greatest opportunities for corporate expansion. At the same time not all the countries are moving at the same pace and Africa remains a diverse and complex continent, with different countries presenting different challenges and obstacles.

Afriwise consult is dedicated to helping organizations navigate through these increasingly complex legal, regulatory, tax and socio-economic environments in Sub Saharan Africa. For that purpose it has constituted a core team of experienced Sub Saharan Africa focused consultants with diverse skills and expertise across a broad range of industries. The team comprises business lawyers, tax advisers, risk advisers and management consultants.

“Traditional solutions often don’t work in African markets” says Olivier Binyingo. “There is a need for flexibility and creativity when tackling country specific challenges, which calls for an interdisciplinary approach. With Afriwise, we try to break free from silo thinking. Taking into account the different angles to a project or a transaction from the outset, in an integrated way, saves time and costs to clients.”

In addition to its own core team of consultants, Afriwise created the Afriwise community which brings together top in-country professionals with diverse skills and expertise throughout Sub Saharan Africa. The careful identification and selection of the right local experts and advisers as members of the Afriwise community is really at the core of Afriwise’s value proposition. The Afriwise community enables the firm to put together tailored teams on each of its clients’ projects and transactions to reflect the required skills and expertise, on-the-ground knowledge and local socio-cultural and language affinity.

As Steven De Backer explains, the idea behind adopting a collaborative consulting model for Africa was developed by the two founders over a long period of time: “Africa is not a country but a continent, home to 54 very different countries. Clients have come to realize that understanding local customs, sensibilities and having access to on-the-ground expertise in the markets in which they operate is key. Various advisory firms are adopting different models to try to cater for that need – from hub offices in key jurisdictions to alliances and networks with local firms – but we don’t believe these strategies will enable them to always include the right local professionals in their clients’ engagements. These traditional models are too rigorous for African markets; what you want is flexibility and the ability to partner with the right individuals for each assignment. We have been confronted with this throughout our careers and have thought long and hard about the most suitable model to advise clients properly, which lead us eventually to the concept of the Afriwise community.”

“We plan to be quite disruptive to the traditional consulting model”, adds Binyingo. “We are dramatically increasing access to local expertise for clients active in Sub Saharan Africa, in the most affordable and yet integrated way.”

Some of the services Afriwise consult offers include legal and tax advisory, risk advisory and management, transaction advisory, corporate governance consulting and specialist advisory services such as strategic advice around market entry, PPP structuring, stakeholder engagement and assistance with putting in place local partnerships and alliances.

The name Afriwise is a play on streetwise. Being ‘afriwise’ means having the experience, skills and knowledge but also the awareness and resourcefulness required for success in Africa. Afriwise is also based on core values such as integrity and sustainability. “We strive to deliver projects for our clients which generate value for all stakeholders, adhere to ethical principles and demonstrate innovativeness and creativity” notes De Backer. “We encourage everyone with a passion for the African continent to use the #afriwise hastag on social media to promote ‘afriwise’ solutions and concepts”.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the Internet Corporation for Afriwise consult.

To arrange a media interview with its founders or one of its experts, please contact:

Steven De Backer (+27 10 593 8516 – steven.debacker@afriwise.com); or

Olivier Binyingo (+27 10 593 85 17 – olivier.binyingo@afriwise.com)

An electronic press kit with extensive background information is available to the media on http://storyboard.me/afriwise.

A video containing more details about Afriwise, as explained by the founders is available on http://vimeo.com/103693352.

About Afriwise consult

Afriwise consult (http://www.afriwise.com) is a multi-disciplinary and Sub Saharan Africa focused consulting firm providing services to companies, governments, project developers and development organisations. Afriwise’s value proposition combines deep insight into the dynamics of local markets in Africa with a practical and solution-oriented mindset and a strong underlying ethical culture. To achieve this, Afriwise consult has hired a number of seasoned professionals with backgrounds in law, tax, risk advisory, banking and management consulting in Africa who team up, in a seamless way, with the right in-country professionals in Sub Saharan Africa when working for clients. These local professionals are generally members of the Afriwise community, a unique pool of like-minded experts who have formalized arrangements and collaborate with Afriwise consult to deliver value. Afriwise consult’s central management team is headquartered in the offices of Afriwise Consult (PTY) Limited in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ebola Epidemic confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo : MSF sends specialists and material to the epicentre

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched a response to the confirmed Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The medical organization, present in DRC for more than thirty years, is sending doctors, nurses, logistics experts and hygiene specialists to the epicenter of this outbreak.

“We received confirmation on Sunday that four of the samples our team took last week have tested positive for Ebola virus,” says Jeroen Beijnberger, MSF Medical Coordinator in DRC. “We are responding fast to try to isolate the suspect and confirmed patients and to start the work of contact tracing.”

Working with the Congolese Ministry of Health, MSF is setting up an Ebola management centre in Lokolia, the area most affected by the outbreak in the Boende health zone. “Our key objective for now is to do all we can to stop the outbreak spreading and to protect other people from catching the virus,” says Beijnberger.

No link with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been established, although that cannot be categorically discounted. “For now, we consider this outbreak as an unfortunate coincidence,” says Beijnberger. “We are trying to confirm the origin of the outbreak, but at this time nothing points to a direct link with the epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

In the first phase of response to a new hemorrhagic fever outbreak, protection of patients and health workers is the top priority. Good coordination is also required to ensure that all levels of leadership – from the highest government levels to the local community leaders and village chiefs – pass accurate and constructive information to the population, that burial teams are organised with proper infection control measures, and that contact tracing and epidemiological monitoring are done swiftly and efficiently to avoid the spread of the outbreak.

“Usually we would be able to mobilise specialist hemorrhagic fever teams, but we are currently responding to a massive epidemic in West Africa,” says Beijnberger. “This is limiting our capacity to respond to the epidemic in Equateur Province. We need other organisations to step up and joint the efforts to support the Ministry of Health: we will not be able to do this one alone.”

Ethiopia: Tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees receive cholera vaccine

PARIS, France, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A vaccine against cholera is being used on a large scale for the first time in Ethiopia by teams from the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The mass immunisation campaign will protect South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, as well as the host community, against the risk of cholera spreading across the border from neighbouring South Sudan, where an epidemic had been declared in June.

Cholera is endemic in the Gambella region, while overcrowding and poor sanitation in the area’s refugee camps could provide a perfect breeding ground for the Vibrio cholerae bacillus. More than 185,000 South Sudanese refugees have been registered in the Gambella region by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The cholera vaccine is given in two doses. MSF teams administered the first dose between 24 July and 2 August to refugees in Lietchuor, Kule and Tierkidi camps, and to newly arrived refugees in Pagak, Pamdong and Matar transit centres. Given the movement of people and trade between the camps and surrounding villages, protecting the host population against the disease is also crucial.

The cholera vaccine is relatively easy to administer, but the mass campaign presents some major logistical challenges. “The vaccine against cholera is taken orally, is easy to administer, and is more than 60% effective,” says Madi Foura Sassou, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Gambella. “However, the campaign requires a great deal of organisation, in terms of logistics and staff.”

The vaccine, which must be stored between 2° and 8°C, needs to be transported in refrigerated trucks from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the vaccination sites, and then kept in portable coolers. More than 300 MSF staff have been deployed in the refugee camps and surrounding villages, with medical teams administering the vaccine and community health workers raising awareness about the campaign amongst refugees and locals.

MSF teams are vaccinating children of one year and over and adults excluding pregnant women. Fixed vaccination sites are being staffed by teams of five, while mobile teams of two are travelling door-to-door to provide vaccinations within people’s houses and tents.

In the first round of the campaign, 151,723 people – or 85% of the target population in the refugee camps – were vaccinated against cholera. This is a good coverage rate despite the overestimated population. Each one received a vaccination card enabling them to receive the second dose of the vaccine. The second round of the campaign began on 15 August and will last for two weeks. All those vaccinated also receive a bar of soap, as one of a number of measures – which include vaccinations, good hygiene, and water and sanitation provision – to limit the risk of cholera breaking out.

The mass vaccination campaign is being supported by the Ethiopian authorities, and conducted under the supervision of a committee which includes health authorities and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), with technical support provided by UN agencies including the World Health Organization, UNHCR and UNICEF.

Heavy rains, which occur frequently at this time of year, have threatened to disrupt the campaign at times, but the teams have been well prepared for all eventualities, while both refugees and the host community understand the importance of the vaccinations to protect against a possible epidemic.

Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Multiply in Summer Sailing Season

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The series of tragedies last weekend in the Mediterranean marks one of the deadliest periods of 2014, with an estimated 230 migrants lost and presumed dead.

Witnesses described to IOM seeing the corpses of 18 African men in one craft that had to be abandoned Sunday 120 nautical miles from the Italian coastline, the same day after another 6 passengers drowned after a fishing boat capsized with some 370 migrants on board.

Earlier, on Saturday, about 200 migrants went missing during a shipwreck 32 nautical miles off the Libyan coasts.

“One more time, these tragic events show that something must be done to solve the problem of irregular immigration across the Mediterranean,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

“The obligation to save lives surpasses everything else. But rescue at sea is not the ultimate solution. Alternatives are needed: providing safe and legal entry into Europe; resettlement opportunities; family reunification; and voluntary return for economic migrants who do not need protection,” he added.

With this weekend’s deaths, IOM believes that as many as 1,500 migrants may have died trying to reach Italy from North Africa so far in 2014. That is compared to an estimated 700 during the whole of 2013.

The Italian Navy ship “Sirio” on Sunday rescued 73 migrants from a rubber dinghy and recovered the bodies of eighteen victims on the craft. Another eight migrants from that vessel reportedly remain missing.

“Migrants rescued from the dinghy—mainly sub-Saharan Africans—told IOM that they were forced onto the vessel. Some had been beaten by the smugglers,” said IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo.

Fourteen hours after their departure, their dinghy started to take on water and its engine suffered a fuel leak. “Those who were in good shape left the boat to swim. Those who were severely injured stayed on board and died,” says Di Giacomo.

An Italian Navy helicopter patrolling the area threw down lifesaving jackets and life rafts, part of a weekend-long rescue effort in which Italian authorities saved about 4,000 migrants and asylum seekers.

The 102,000 migrants arriving in Italy by sea so far this year nearly triples 2013’s seaborne inflow, when the number of migrants reaching Italy from North Africa was 42,925. By contrast, some 60,000 came in 2011 during and after the Arab Spring.

“Some say the Mare Nostrum rescue policy is a pull factor that encourages more migrants to cross the sea because they know that there will be someone to receive them. But the reality is that there are more significant factors, including violence and increased hardship in both origin and transit countries. People are fleeing war, persecution and totalitarian regimes. Recent arrivals in Italy have included 14 Yazidis from Iraq and 180 Gazans,” says IOM Rome official Simona Moscarelli.

Eritrea and Syria are the two largest countries of origin for irregular migrants arriving in Italy by sea. In the first seven months of 2014, over 25,200 Eritreans and 16,240 Syrians arrived by boat, according to the Italian authorities. Other nationalities included Malians, Nigerians, Gambians and Somalis.

The current unrest and instability in Libya is also stimulating the deadly passage. Organized smuggling gangs are taking advantage of the growing number of migrants seeking flight. Victims say smugglers are becoming increasingly reckless, putting migrants aboard unsafe vessels without sufficient fuel and without life jackets.

“If the basic human rights of these people are to be protected, the international community must act together to crack down on these brutal smuggling networks and provide alternatives for these desperate people,” said Ambassador Swing.

$75,000 Anzisha Prize for Young Entrepreneurs Announces 2014 Finalists

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For the first time ever, African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation are delighted to have Anzisha Prize finalists from Togo and Ivory Coast (http://www.anzishaprize.org), revealing strong growth in entrepreneurship activity amongst youth in West Africa. Five young women are among the 12 finalists in the running for the $75,000 prize money that will be awarded on 23 September 2014, and will fly to Johannesburg from DRC, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.

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

Photos (file name contain name of each country): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hoaswlejkdcy4zi/AABJBh2_HBFrL56von3XGGK3a

The Anzisha prize scours the continent seeking to find entrepreneurial youth between the ages of 15 and 22, who have identified opportunities to better their communities and done so inclusively. This year’s finalists have started ventures in a diverse range of economic sectors including energy, health care, tourism and hospitality.

Sam Kodo (Togo), 22, began designing robots at the age of eight and now runs an IT hardware company that assembles low cost computers that he sells to students. He has six employees and plans to expand the rest of Togo and neighbouring countries. Gabriel Kombassere (Ivory Coast), 17, runs a farming association geared to eradicated poverty in his community. Annually, he produces maize and cassava feeding the association’s 30 members and their families.

“2014 has been an exciting one for the Anzisha Prize search team. We brokered partnerships with key local organisations enabling them to play a primary role in evangelising the Anzisha Prize in their country. This has led to not only a stronger pool of applications but also more female applicants than ever before.” said Chi Achebe, Program Manager, Anzisha Prize.

“We are excited to see such a talented cohort of innovative and entrepreneurial young people join the Anzisha prize community,” said Deepali Khanna, Director of Youth Learning at The MasterCard Foundation. “This Pan-African prize has had tremendous success over the past four years and is inspiring other young entrepreneurs across Africa to develop their own businesses or social innovation ventures.”

Now in its fourth year, the Anzisha Prize received 339 applications this year from 32 countries for Africa’s premier youth entrepreneurship award.

The 2014 finalists are:

 Benedicte Mundele, 20, DRC. Founder of Surprise Tropical, an organic local produce canteen to promote a healthy lifestyle in her community.

 Gabriel Kombassere, 17, Ivory Coast. Founder of Rible Neda, a farming association that produces 20 bags of maize and 1 cargo of cassava per year feeding its members and their families.

 Noah Walakira, 21, Uganda. Founder of Namirembe Sweater Makers, a community based organization that provides school uniform sweaters to over 40 schools across the country.

 Nteff Alain, 22, Cameroon. Founder of the gifted Mom project, an e-content platform for pregnant women to combat the high mother and infancy deaths.

 Winifred Selby, 19, Ghana. Founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, a bamboo bike making technology to manufacture affordable multi-purpose bikes suitable for the Ghanaian terrain.

 Tom Osborn, 18, Kenya. Founder of Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces smokeless charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook stoves throughout Kenya.

 Martha Chumo, 19, Kenya. Founder of Nairobi Developer School, an institution that provides the youth with computer programming knowledge and skills to build sustainable solutions using technology.

 Chineye Okoro Onu, 19, Ghana. Founder of the Mosaicpiration Project, an initiative that uses recycled material to create art and impact entrepreneurial skills to young people through training and mentorship.

 Chukwuwezam Obanor, 22, Nigeria. Founder of Prepclass, an online platform that provides study content (past tests, answers etc.) for local Nigerian schools in preparation for national exams.

 Thato Kgatlhanye, 21, South Africa. Founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, an initiative that designs school bags made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags that integrate solar technology, charging up during the day and transforming into light for learners to study after dark.

 Jeffrey Mulaudzi, 22, South Africa. Founder of Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours, a lifestyle tour in Alexandra township that engages members of the community by telling their stories and enveloping them into the business, creating a socio-economic transformation.

 Sam Kodo, 22, Togo. Founder of LC-COM (Low cost-Computer) / Infinite Loop, a company that produces low cost personal computers for students.

The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation. Our 12 finalists will be flown to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2014 Anzisha Week taking place from 18 – 25 September where a panel of judges from across the entrepreneurial sphere will convene to select the grand prize winners. They will receive training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and engage with industry leaders, mentors as well as engage with change agents from across the continent.

The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can rally behind the young entrepreneurs and offer words of support and encouragement on their Anzisha journey. For more information on the Anzisha Prize and the campaign, go to:

➢ Website: http://www.anzishaprize.org

➢ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anzishaprize

➢ Twitter: @anzishaprize

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the Internet Corporation for the Anzisha Prize.

Media contact:

Lydia Byarugaba – lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org or +27 84 375 1222

Should you write an article using this press release, Anzisha Prize would like to link to the article on its website. Please email any articles to lbyarugaba@africanleadershipacademy.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Anzisha Prize

The Anzisha Prize is managed out of African Leadership Academy’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which was established through a multi-year partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent.

About African Leadership Academy

African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. For more information, visit http://africanleadershipacademy.org.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit http://www.mastercardfdn.org.

UN COMMITS TO SURGE EBOLA RESPONSE IN SIERRA LEONE / WARNS THAT REDUCTION OF FLIGHTS WILL HAMPER EBOLA RESPONSE

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, August 26, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — After two days of intense meetings with senior government leaders and Ebola-response partners to take stock of the current response to the Ebola outbreak, a high-level UN delegation is committing to surge up the resources of the entire UN operation in Sierra Leone especially with a reinvigorated commitment from the World Health Organization.

“This outbreak is still advancing in many parts of the country,” says Dr David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s Coordinator for the Ebola response and co-leader of the delegation. “Our partnership with Sierra Leone to end the Ebola outbreak means upgrading all the UN is doing to get the scale-up required.”

But while the UN is planning to ramp up its work, more airlines are announcing they are discontinuing flights into the country over fear of the disease.

“The reduction in airlines flying into Freetown places a huge impact on our ability to bring in staff and supplies for this Ebola response,” says David McLachlan-Karr, the UN Resident Coordinator for Sierra Leone. “We can suspend other programmes for several months to focus solely on Ebola; but we also need to bring in the surge. This is only possible if the flights return.”

As of 24 August, Sierra Leone has 904 confirmed cases of Ebola, 369 of those have died.

“The situation remains challenging here,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for global health security at the World Health Organization and co-leader of the delegation. “We will do all we can to get ahead of the outbreak, then we can stop it and help the country get back to normal.”

Responding to this outbreak demands a global partnership in which all society and nations take full responsibility. This means working together, being efficient and organized on all levels, and focusing on what is being achieved.

This outbreak demands global partnership and it is a social responsibility that will require everyone working together. Over the next few days, the delegation will continue working with the UN team and the government in Sierra Leone to develop the details of the upgraded response approach.

Head of UNAMID addresses launch of Doha Document security arrangements in El Fasher

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, August 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The security arrangements for integrating about 1,350 former combatants from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)– Sudan into the Government of Sudan military and police apparatus were launched today in a ceremony in El Fasher, North Darfur. The exercise is one of the main provisions stipulated in Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

In his speech at the ceremony, the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, highlighted the implementation of the security arrangement as one of the means of achieving peace in Darfur. “The launching of the DDPD security arrangements is a milestone in the implementation of the Doha Document,” he said.

“Let me take this opportunity therefore, to congratulate you all, particularly the signatories to the DDPD, for making it happen,” the Head of UNAMID said. “It is a clear testimony of your commitment and collective efforts towards bringing an end to the conflict in Darfur.”

Mr. Chambas stressed the Mission’s support to the all parties of the conflict. “UNAMID will continue to emphasize the need for cooperation and coordination among all concerned parties,” he mentioned.

The leader of JEM- Sudan, Brig. Gen. Bakheit Abdallah Dabajo, said that the security arrangements will help in ensuring security, stability and development in the country in general, and Darfur in particular. “JEM-Sudan combatants will be part of the troops to defend the country,” he explained.

“We call upon our brothers who are non-signatories to join the Doha Document, because peace is for all,” Dabajo said, and added that his movement did not sign for the sake of positions, but to build their country. “Enough is enough for war and bloodshed,” he concluded.

The ceremony, which took place at the Sixth Military Division square, was attended by the Wali (Governor) of North Darfur Osman Kibir, the Chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority Tigani Seisi, and other dignitaries from the Government of Sudan, JEM-Sudan and UNAMID.

Head of UNAMID addresses launch of Doha Document security arrangements in El Fasher

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, August 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The security arrangements for integrating about 1,350 former combatants from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)– Sudan into the Government of Sudan military and police apparatus were launched today in a ceremony in El Fasher, North Darfur. The exercise is one of the main provisions stipulated in Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

In his speech at the ceremony, the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, highlighted the implementation of the security arrangement as one of the means of achieving peace in Darfur. “The launching of the DDPD security arrangements is a milestone in the implementation of the Doha Document,” he said.

“Let me take this opportunity therefore, to congratulate you all, particularly the signatories to the DDPD, for making it happen,” the Head of UNAMID said. “It is a clear testimony of your commitment and collective efforts towards bringing an end to the conflict in Darfur.”

Mr. Chambas stressed the Mission’s support to the all parties of the conflict. “UNAMID will continue to emphasize the need for cooperation and coordination among all concerned parties,” he mentioned.

The leader of JEM- Sudan, Brig. Gen. Bakheit Abdallah Dabajo, said that the security arrangements will help in ensuring security, stability and development in the country in general, and Darfur in particular. “JEM-Sudan combatants will be part of the troops to defend the country,” he explained.

“We call upon our brothers who are non-signatories to join the Doha Document, because peace is for all,” Dabajo said, and added that his movement did not sign for the sake of positions, but to build their country. “Enough is enough for war and bloodshed,” he concluded.

The ceremony, which took place at the Sixth Military Division square, was attended by the Wali (Governor) of North Darfur Osman Kibir, the Chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority Tigani Seisi, and other dignitaries from the Government of Sudan, JEM-Sudan and UNAMID.

Ethiopia: South Sudanese refugees receive cholera vaccine

PARIS, France, August 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A vaccine against cholera is being used on a large scale for the first time in Ethiopia by teams from the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The mass immunisation campaign will protect South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, as well as the host community, against the risk of cholera spreading across the border from neighbouring South Sudan, where an epidemic had been declared in June.

Cholera is endemic in the Gambella region, while overcrowding and poor sanitation in the area’s refugee camps could provide a perfect breeding ground for the Vibrio cholerae bacillus. More than 185,000 South Sudanese refugees have been registered in the Gambella region by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The cholera vaccine is given in two doses. MSF teams administered the first dose between 24 July and 2 August to refugees in Lietchuor, Kule and Tierkidi camps, and to newly arrived refugees in Pagak, Pamdong and Matar transit centres. Given the movement of people and trade between the camps and surrounding villages, protecting the host population against the disease is also crucial.

The cholera vaccine is relatively easy to administer, but the mass campaign presents some major logistical challenges. “The vaccine against cholera is taken orally, is easy to administer, and is more than 60% effective,” says Madi Foura Sassou, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Gambella. “However, the campaign requires a great deal of organisation, in terms of logistics and staff.”

The vaccine, which must be stored between 2° and 8°C, needs to be transported in refrigerated trucks from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the vaccination sites, and then kept in portable coolers. More than 300 MSF staff have been deployed in the refugee camps and surrounding villages, with medical teams administering the vaccine and community health workers raising awareness about the campaign amongst refugees and locals.

MSF teams are vaccinating children of one year and over and adults excluding pregnant women. Fixed vaccination sites are being staffed by teams of five, while mobile teams of two are travelling door-to-door to provide vaccinations within people’s houses and tents.

In the first round of the campaign, 151,723 people – or 85% of the target population in the refugee camps – were vaccinated against cholera. This is a good coverage rate despite the overestimated population. Each one received a vaccination card enabling them to receive the second dose of the vaccine. The second round of the campaign began on 15 August and will last for two weeks. All those vaccinated also receive a bar of soap, as one of a number of measures – which include vaccinations, good hygiene, and water and sanitation provision – to limit the risk of cholera breaking out.

The mass vaccination campaign is being supported by the Ethiopian authorities, and conducted under the supervision of a committee which includes health authorities and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), with technical support provided by UN agencies including the World Health Organization, UNHCR and UNICEF.

Heavy rains, which occur frequently at this time of year, have threatened to disrupt the campaign at times, but the teams have been well prepared for all eventualities, while both refugees and the host community understand the importance of the vaccinations to protect against a possible epidemic.