United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees calls for calm and restraint after Rwanda refugee camp protests

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for calm and restraint after worrying reports of a refugee protest turning violent in Rwanda’s Kiziba refugee camp.

Rwanda’s Kiziba refugee camps is located in the Karongi District, in Western Rwanda and hosts over 17,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, around 77 per cent of which are women and children.

Protesting refugees were reportedly angry about reduction in food assistance.

Humanitarian operations in Rwanda remain severely underfunded, forcing the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by 10 per cent in November 2017 and by 25 per cent in January 2018.

“Refugee protection and safety is our top priority,” said Ahmed Baba Fall, UNHCR Representative in Rwanda.

UNHCR urges the refugees to respect local laws and express grievances through dialogue, while calling on authorities to handle the situation with calm and restraint.

Some refugees have also indicated their desire to return to the DRC, out of desperation.

“Refugees have the right to return to their country whenever they wish. But we urge refugees to make an informed decision and not to listen to misinformation or rumours,” added UNHCR’s Country Representative.

UNHCR is advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and urgent needs of refugees. To date, UNHCR’s 2018 appeal for US$ 98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only is 2 per cent funded.

WFP warns about potential larger ration cuts if monthly requirements of US$2.5 million are not met. Prolonged ration cuts put at serious risk food security and nutritional needs of refugees, who are dependent on assistance.

Rwanda hosts over 173,000 refugees in six camps, including Kiziba, where Congolese refugees have lived for over 20 years.

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

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Africa’s prosperity also lies in creating decent and attractive jobs for rural youth

Agriculture will continue to generate employment in Africa over the coming decades, but opportunities should be explored beyond agriculture throughout the food chain in order to create enough jobs for young people, especially those in rural areas, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Countries need to promote a rural and structural transformation that fosters synergies between farm and non-farm activities and that reinforces” the linkages between rural areas and cities, he added. This includes processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing and service provision, especially financial and business services.

Graziano da Silva made the remarks at FAO’s Regional Conference for Africa which is primarily dedicated to the theme of creating decent and attractive employment in the continent, the world’s “youngest” in terms of the average age of its population.

Estimates suggest that up to 12 million new jobs will have to be created every year to absorb new labour market entrants over the next 20 years. Today some 54 percent of Africa’s working force relies on the agricultural sector for livelihoods, income and employment, especially in family farming.

With more people moving to cities, demand on urban food markets will grow, which in turn can generate job opportunities in all agriculture-related activities. But FAO believes that more must be done to create non-agricultural employment in rural areas, including agro-tourism and other services.

Graziano da Silva pointed to FAO’s regional programme, “Youth Employment: enabling decent agriculture and agri-business jobs”, which goes beyond farm jobs and seeks to develop capacity and scale up successful approaches through programme formulation and partnerships.

“More than ever, strategic partnerships are needed to bring together the African Union, the African Development Bank and the UN system and other development partners,” the FAO Director-General said.

He warned however that more profitable urban markets can lead to a concentration of food production in large commercial farms, and also the creation of value chains dominated by large processors and retailers.

“In this contest, smallholders and family farmers need specific policies and regulations. This includes providing access to inputs, credit and technology and improving land tenure,” Graziano da Silva added, stressing how social protection programmes, including cash transfers can link public food purchase to family farmer’s production.

Hunger, overweight and obesity

Achieving Zero Hunger remains FAO’s highest priority, one that it shares with African leaders who through the Malabo Declaration have committed to eradicating chronic undernourishment in their continent by 2025 – in sub-Saharan Africa almost one person in four currently suffers from undernourishment.

In his address, Graziano da Silva underscored that in line with Sustainable Development Goal 2, achieving Zero Hunger needs to go together with ending all forms of malnutrition, a consequence of which is the current global overweight and obesity epidemic.

“The situation is also worrisome here in Africa,” Graziano da Silva said, citing a World Health Organization estimate that obesity-related diseases may become the biggest killer in Africa by 2030.

Rapid urbanization and consumption of highly processed foods are the major drivers behind the increase in overweight and obesity. Yet many people in Africa are unaware that certain foods are unhealthy, or that being overweight presents a health risk, the FAO Director-General said.

He urged for the need to “act on two fronts” focusing on both the production and consumption of healthy food, and called for ensuring more responsible advertising and information campaigns on food products. “People must be aware about the pros and cons of what they are eating, and also be encouraged to eat healthy food.”

FAO assists countries on climate change

Graziano da Silva also referred to climate change and other pressing issues in Africa and how FAO, together with its partners, is addressing them.

FAO is working closely with a wide range of countries around the world that have formally requested the Organization’s assistance to tap into financing from the Green Climate Fund. In Africa to date, FAO is currently supporting the development of six full project proposals – in Benin, Gambia, Kenya, Republic of Congo and Tanzania – several other “readiness” proposals.

More funds needed to tackle Fall Armyworm

Africa is particularly affected and vulnerable to climate change, which is contributing to increasing outbreaks of pests and diseases, with Fall Armyworm – which was first reported on the continent in 2016 and has now spread rapidly to almost all Sub-Saharan countries – being a case in point, the FAO Director-General said. Fall Armyworm – whose moths can fly up to 100 km per night – primarily affects maize, but also rice and sorghum as well as cotton and some vegetables.

FAO has been on the front line in responding to the Fall Armyworm threat and recently launched a step-by-step guide for farmers on how to deal with this transboundary pest.

FAO has also developed a mobile app called FAMEWS which allows farmers to detect, monitor and track the spread of Fall Armyworm directly in their fields. FAMEWS has already being used in Madagascar, South Africa and Zambia, before it is deployed in the rest of Africa by the end of February.

Endorsed by the African Union, the FAO Programme for Action on Fall Armyworm, aims to leverage much-needed funding, Graziano da Silva said. “So far we have raised $13 million. FAO has contributed to $10 million from its own budget. But we need much more.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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Security Council Press Statement on the situation in Guinea-Bissau

Security Council Press Statement on the situation in Guinea-Bissau:

The members of the Security Council were briefed on 14 February 2018 by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Modibo Ibrahim Touré, and by Ambassador Mauro Vieira, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, in his capacity as Chair of the Guinea Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, on the Situation in Guinea-Bissau.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern over the ongoing political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau, due to the lack of willingness of political actors to reach a consensual and sustainable solution. They urged the stakeholders of Guinea Bissau to fully implement the Conakry Agreement without delay. They denounced the actions taken by those who seek to prevent and obstruct the resolution of the crisis. They called for the holding of the legislative and presidential elections, respectively in 2018 and 2019, that are free, fair, credible, and transparent, including through the full participation of women.

The members of the Security Council supported the efforts of ECOWAS to ensure a swift resolution of the crisis and took note of its decision of 4 February 2018 to impose sanctions against those obstructing the implementation of the Conakry Agreement, the only consensual framework to find a lasting solution to this crisis, whose prerequisite remains the appointment of a consensus Prime Minister and an inclusive Government. They expressed their intention to continue to monitor the current political crisis and expressed their readiness to take necessary measures to respond to further worsening of the situation in Guinea-Bissau.

The members of the Security Council commended the work of the ECOWAS security mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) in enhancing stability in Guinea-Bissau and took note of the decision of the ECOWAS Authority to extend their mandate until 31 March 2018 at their extraordinary session on 27 January 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The members of the Security Council commended the Defense and Security Institutions of Guinea-Bissau for their position of non-interference in the Political Process while ensuring their constitutional role. They believe that the reform of the defense and security institutions remains a key priority.

The members of the Security Council deplored the reported lack of respect for the right of peaceful assembly recognized by the Constitution of Guinea Bissau, as well as the legal instruments of the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union. They urged the Authorities of Guinea Bissau to ensure strict respect for its obligations under international human rights law.

The members of the Security Council encouraged continued efforts of regional organizations, in particular ECOWAS, the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and the European Union, in mediation and promoting direct dialogue of the political stakeholders of Guinea Bissau in view of the implementation of the Conakry Agreement and the Bissau 6 points Roadmap.

The members of the Security Council stressed the need for continued support and engagement from the international community in supporting the regional efforts, in particular ECOWAS, but also the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and the European Union, with the view to resolve the political impasse.

The members of the Security Council welcomed continued engagement of the African Union in promoting a peaceful solution to the current political impasse in Guinea Bissau and the Communique of the 752nd meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union number PCS/Pr/COMM. (DCCLII) issued on 13 February 2018 in this regard.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to enhance his efforts to promote inclusive political dialogue, including the full and effective participation of women such as demonstrated by the Women’s Facilitation Group, and to support the national reconciliation process in close coordination with international partners present on the ground, especially the ECOWAS and the African Union for their continued commitment and their considerable efforts in mediation and facilitation, with the view to resolve political and institutional crisis prevailing in Guinea Bissau.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Adesina Urges America to Support African Agriculture as a Business

The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has made a strong case for increased American and global investments to help unlock Africa’s agriculture potential.

He made the remarks as the Distinguished Guest Speaker, at the USDA’s 94th Agriculture Outlook Forum (www.USDA.gov/oce/forum) in Virginia on Thursday, on the theme The Roots of Prosperity.

According to Adesina, “For too long, Agriculture has been associated with what I call the three Ps – pain, penury, and poverty. The fact though is that agriculture is a huge wealth-creating sector that is primed to unleash new economic opportunities that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Participants at the Forum included the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue; Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky; President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Kenneth Quinn; Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Robert Johansson; Deputy Chief Economist, Warren Preston; and several top level government officials and private sector operators.

Adesina appealed to the US private sector to fundamentally change the way it views African agriculture.

“Think about it, the size of the food and agriculture market in Africa will rise to US $ 1 trillion by 2030. This is the time for US agri-businesses to invest in Africa,” he said. ‘’And for good reason: Think of a continent where McKinsey projects household consumption is expected to reach nearly $2.1 trillion and business-to-business expenditure will reach $3.5 trillion by 2025. Think of a continent brimming with 840 million youth, the youngest population in the world, by 2050.”

The U.S. government was urged to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage fertilizer and seed companies, manufacturers of tractors and equipment, irrigation and ICT farm analytics to ramp up their investments on the continent.

“As the nation that first inspired me and then welcomed me with open arms, permit me to say that I am here to seek a partnership with America: a genuine partnership to help transform agriculture in Africa, and by so doing unlock the full potential of agriculture in Africa, unleash the creation of wealth that will lift millions out of poverty in Africa, while creating wealth and jobs back home right here in America,” the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate (https://goo.gl/t1Xbno) told the Forum.”

Adesina told more than 2,000 delegates that the African Development Bank is spearheading a number of transformative business and agricultural initiatives (https://goo.gl/5cB67n).

“We are launching the Africa Investment Forum, as a 100% transactional platform, to leverage global pension funds and other institutional investors to invest in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 7-9.”

The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, are partnering with the African Investment Forum to de-risk private sector investments.

The African Development Bank is also pioneering the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones (https://goo.gl/P8FvaY) in 10 African countries, that are expected to transform rural economies into zones of economic prosperity and save African economies billions of dollars in much needed foreign reserves.

“We must now turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires a total transformation of the agriculture sector. At the core of this must be rapid agricultural industrialization. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of agricultural value chains,” Adesina added. “That way, Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.”

In his keynote address U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said:

“The U.S. Administration has removed more restrictive regulations to agriculture than any other administration. Our goal is to dismantle restrictions that have eroded agricultural business opportunities.”

“Agriculture feeds prosperity and accounts for 20 cents of every dollar. As global prosperity grows, it in turn fuels the demand for more nutritious food and business opportunities,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, Adesina informed participants about a new $ 1 billion initiative, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) (https://goo.gl/ZtJzsc) to unlock Africa’s huge potential in the savannahs.

Expressing strong optimism that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, Adesina said:

“Together, let our roots of prosperity grow downwards and bear fruit upwards. As we do, rural Africa and rural America will brim with new life, much like I witnessed in Indiana, during my time as a graduate student in America. Then, we will have changed the 3 ‘Ps’ to – Prosperity, Prosperity and Prosperity!”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

Contacts:
Victor Oladokun, Director, T. +225 20 26 20 24 / C.Chahed@AfDB.org

About the African Development Bank Group
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.
For more information: http://j.mp/AfDB_Media

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