UK aid Cyclone Idai response – additional flight to leave for Mozambique

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Department for International Development (DFID)
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The UK is due to send forklift trucks and other equipment to help quickly unload aid from planes and cut the time it takes to get relief items to those in need, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced today (22 March).

The flight, which is scheduled to leave from Doncaster-Sheffield airport for Maputo on Sunday (24 March), is in addition to a flight containing over 7,500 shelter kits and 100 family tents which arrived into Mozambique earlier this week.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“We are only just beginning to see the true impact of this devastating cyclone. Sadly, much of the infrastructure at airports and other buildings has either been destroyed or washed away.

“UK aid is now in the region worst hit by the cyclone. A plane is due to leave from the UK over the weekend to support the relief operation. It will contain forklifts, lifting platforms and other airfield equipment to help aid workers move supplies from the airport to the worst hit towns and villages.

“It is right that the UK, the biggest global donor and one of the first to respond to the crisis, does all it can to provide life-saving assistance to those desperately in need. Other countries must now step up to relieve the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and without food.”

The flight is expected to contain:

  • forklifts, flood lights, lifting platforms and other airfield equipment; and
  • other relief items for those in need, including water purifiers and shelter kits.

A flight, containing 80 family tents which can each accommodate a family of five, arrived into Beira last night (21 March). The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will distribute these to affected communities.

Following the British public’s generosity to the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal, which has now raised £8 million for Cyclone Idai victims, the UK will match pound-for-pound a further £2 million of donations. This new support, in addition the previous £2 million the UK agreed to aid match, will double the impact of the public’s own donations. This takes the UK’s support for the DEC appeal to £4 million, and total response to the crisis to £22 million.

DFID has also sent additional humanitarian experts from the UK to support the UK’s response on the ground. They will help the teams in the region to assess needs and coordinate relief efforts.

UK aid has supported the World Food Programme to deliver airdrops of high-energy biscuits to isolated pockets of people stranded by floodwaters in Beira. UK support is also delivering easy-to-prepare fortified food to displaced families sheltering in schools and other public buildings in the town of Dondo.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department for International Development (DFID).
Source: Apo-Opa

Private Sector Joins IOM to Enhance Skills of Gambian Returnees

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Abba Wollow left The Gambia in 2016 with hopes of reaching Europe. “I left The Gambia because the small garage I was working on was not enough to support my family,” he explained. “I left to find something better for them.”

Instead his journey ended in Libya, where he stayed for two years, in and out of prison. “When I came back, I was still finding ways to support my family,” he said of the struggles he faced after voluntarily returning home in February 2018.

In June 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed an agreement with the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to provide Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) to 200 Gambian returned migrants. Through this agreement, NYSS taps into the expertise of four private sector enterprises and two government training centres to deliver training in various skill areas to returnees like Abba.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to undergo a three-month training in mechanics,” said Abba, who is now one of 101 young Gambians to complete the programme. On Tuesday 19 March 2019, the trainees formally graduated from their three-month training in construction, carpentry, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, tailoring, welding and many other sectors. Each of them will receive a start-up kit consisting of the basic materials and tools necessary to set-up and operate a workshop in their chosen sector.

The graduation, the second one in four months, marks IOM’s commitment to the sustainable reintegration of more than 3,600 Gambians who voluntarily returned from Libya and Niger since 2017.

“We recognized the massive potential and willingness of returnees to ‘make it in The Gambia’, needing just a final push to gain meaningful, employable skills,” said Fumiko Nagano, IOM Chief of Mission in the Gambia. “This would not be possible without our partners in the private sector, who have lent their expertise to equipping returnees with the tools they need to succeed.”

“We, as the private sector, are able to provide returnees with skills or facilitate their job placement. This will give them a livelihood they can depend on,” said Jean Abel Thomas of the Fajara Skills Development Centre. “We teach our trainees that, if you have the skills, you can turn them into something profitable,” she added, highlighting the growing role of the private sector in assisting vulnerable migrants.

Last November, 13 Gambians formed the first cohort of trainees to graduate from a poultry farming and business start-up programme. “I have been able to sell nearly all my chickens. My customer base has increased significantly,” said Lamin, one of the graduates, three months into his poultry business. Like Lamin, others in the cohort hope to see their farms grow bigger to create employment opportunities in their communities.

“The start-up kits you receive will go a long way towards facilitating your reintegration, with the hope that you will be self-employed or even job creators in The Gambia,” echoed Stephane Meert, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation, in his remarks to the TVET graduates.

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training programme is implemented in the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Since January 2017, IOM has assisted in the voluntary return of over 3,600 Gambians stranded in Libya and Niger. As of March 2019, almost two-thirds of them have received reintegration support. Ensuring the sustainability of reintegration of returned migrants requires a strong collaborative approach with partners from the government, civil society and the private sector.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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Policy, Trade and the Private Sector in the Digital Era to dominate debate as Conference of African Ministers kicks off in Marrakesh

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

The annual Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development – COM2019 (www.UNECA.org/CFM2019) – kicked off in Marrakesh on Wednesday, with emphasis on the importance of digitalisation in enhancing African economies as the continent celebrates the first anniversary of the highly hailed and historic signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area – (CFTA).

The weeklong event, which has also drawn various seasoned experts and policy-makers from inside and outside Africa, will weigh and evaluate this year’s theme – Fiscal Policy, Trade and the Private Sector in the Digital Era: A strategy for Africa – against the backdrop of recent economic and social development on the continent. With the value of the global digital economy estimated at over $11.5 trillion and set to rise to over $23 trillion by 2025, according Vera Songwe – ECA Executive Secretary (www.UNECA.org) – the effects of digital trade and economy in Africa are points of key debate.
 
“The potential of Africa is, and has always been, promising… the continent has all the pre-requisites for rapid economic transformation in the next decade…[but] the importance of digitalization and the digital economy in driving growth and structural transformation, as well as optimizing fiscal performance in Africa cannot be overstated,” she said adding:
 
“It is currently estimated to represent 15.5 per cent of global GDP and is expected to reach 25 per cent of global GDP in less than a decade [and] there has been a rise in the digital innovation hubs on the continent, such as the Silicon Savannah in Nairobi and the Kumasi Hive in Ghana, not to mention more solution-oriented technologies such as Flutterwave which has enabled global payment processing in Nigeria through a single, seamless platform. In 2018, this application was reported to have processed $1 billion worth of transactions.”
 
“Such digital developments can have a transformative effect across the economy by reducing barriers to entry and expanding market reach for businesses, creating jobs, and boosting both domestic and foreign trade in goods and services,” she emphasised.
 
Zouhair Chorfi, secretary general at Morocco’s Ministry of Finance Morocco and incoming chair of the Committee of Experts of the CoM, adds further “Digitalisation is a great opportunity for Africa. It can transform Africa by increasing competitiveness, promoting strong integration, reducing the cost of doing business. Morocco is ready to play its part.” His predecessor, lsadig Bakheit llfaki Abdalla also proffered on the issue: “With the advent of digital age, Africa can leapfrog and use new technologies to push the continent’s drive for sustainable development. 
 
The conference commenced with the official opening of 38th Meeting of the Committee of Experts deliberating on the 2019 theme itself amongst other statutory issues. This set the tone for the week’s discussions, which will center on leveraging digital technologies to mobilize Africa’s domestic resources, strengthen competitiveness and speed up growth in all developmental sectors.
 
The conference will also provide a platform for delegates to review fiscal policies for the implementation of the CFTA. Adopted on 21 March 2018, the agreement is now 2 ratifications away from 22 member countries needed to enforce the trade bloc that envisages, among much more, a gross domestic product of more than $3trn and the creation of 300,000 direct and more than 2 million indirect jobs. Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria and the host country Morocco are among those yet to ratify.
 
The week will also see a broad array of sessions and side events. Some highlights will include the launch of the ECA 2019 Economic Report on Africa – which assesses performance of fiscal policy and analyses both challenges and opportunities in Africa. There will also be the launch of the African Fintech Network and a roundtable on trade and private sector development in the digital era.
 
Gender, youth, and climate change are also among other key issues in the spotlight as well as a special focus on the United Nations’ support to the African Union’s Year of Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons. Another highlight will be the annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture, named after ECA’s longest serving Executive Secretary, the late Professor Adebayo Adedeji.  The Lecture will pay tribute to the late thinker’s contribution to the discourse on development of the African continent.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

About Economic Commission for Africa (ECA):
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s (www.UNECA.org) mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA also provides technical advisory services to African governments, intergovernmental organizations and institutions. In addition, it formulates and promotes development assistance programs and acts as the executing agency for relevant operational projects. Made up of 54 member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the continent’s developmental challenges. The ECA is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with offices in Rabat, Lusaka, Kigali, Niamey, Yaoundé and Dakar.
Website: www.UNECA.org/CFM2019
 
About the Conference of Ministers:
The 52nd session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (www.UNECA.org/CFM2019) is taking place the Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. The Committee of Experts will commence on Wednesday, 20 March and end on Friday, 22 March 2019. The ministerial segment of the Conference of Ministers will take place on Monday, 25 and Tuesday, 26 March 2019. The twentieth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa) and side events will take place on Saturday, 23 and Sunday, 24 March 2019 at the same venue.

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Marriott Hotels brings TED Fellows Salon to the mother city inspiring “Vibrant Innovation”

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Marriott International, Inc.

Marriott Hotels (www.MarriottHotels.com) in partnership with TED, hosted its first TED Fellows Salon in Cape Town, South Africa, sparking conversations around Africa’s beauty, rich heritage and innovative spirit. Held at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers, renowned TED Fellows, Kenyan musician Bill Sellanga and South African conservation biologist Steve Boyes, led the innovative and thought-provoking discussion providing guests the opportunity to engage and be inspired.

“At Marriott Hotels, everything we do is guided by our belief that travel expands the mind and triggers new and creative ways of thinking,” said Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, Vice President Premium & Select Brands, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Our partnership with TED brings together creative energy and distinct aesthetic. In recent years, Cape Town has shifted its focus to making the city more sustainable, encouraging citizens to innovate while maintaining its rich heritage. Hosting our first TED Fellows Salon at Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers is an opportunity for us to spark intellectual conversations and inspire new perspectives for our guests.”

The speakers at this Marriott Hotels TED Salon represent some of the brightest thinkers of their generation who are working towards making positive, meaningful and lasting change in their communities. Steve Boyes explores, protects and restores some of the most remote wildernesses in Africa, including the threatened Okavango Delta, one of our last remaining fresh watersheds. Working with the Angolan government, Boyes recently established two of the largest protected areas in Sub-Saharan Africa amounting to twice the size of England. A trained ornithologist, he is the Executive Director of the Wild Bird Trust and a Fellow at the National Geographic Society.

Sharing the spotlight with Boyes was TED fellow Bill “Blinky” Sellanga. A prolific Kenyan producer and musician, Sellanga is the frontman of musical collective Just A Band, which mixes genres like hip-hop, electronica and funk to make music for popular radio and to give voice to the Kenyan youth. He recently released his first solo album, Everyone’s Just Winging It and Other Fly Tales, weaving African rhythms together with electronic cuts, hip-hop and funk for a unique-brand of “African cool.”

Held at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers, the event was attended by thought leaders, innovators, members of the recently launched travel platform, Marriott Bonvoy and media. Overlooking the Grand Canal in Century City, Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers formed the perfect backdrop for the Cape Town edition of the TED Fellows Salon. Whether you admire the view of Table Mountain from the exquisite outdoor swimming pool or settle down after a busy day in a guest room with sleek furnishings and ultra-soft, plush bedding, a stay at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers promises to be a journey that inspires brilliance.

The ongoing global partnership between Marriott Hotels and TED is now in its third year, following its launch in 2016, and has been expanded to include more exciting and innovative programming at Marriott Hotels in key destinations worldwide. Marriott Hotels is a brand that’s geared towards a new generation of travelers, who continuously seek fresh inspirations and creative ideas during their own life-changing journeys around the world.

The Cape Town edition is the third TED Fellows Salon to be held within Middle East and Africa with two previous ones being held at Cairo and Abu Dhabi. TED Salons have been hosted in several Marriott Hotels globally, including Bengaluru, Bangkok, London, and Athens. Marriott Hotels also has an Instagram story series, #MarriottHotelsxTEDFellows, which offers viewers original, inspiring content and an inside look at their favorite idea engine. To watch the series, follow @marriotthotels on Instagram and stay tuned for content throughout the year.

For more information, please visit tedtalksmarriott.com.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Marriott International, Inc..

Media Contact:
Anjali Mehra
+971565396555
Anjali.mehra@marriott.com

About Marriott Hotels:
With over 500 hotels and resorts in 65 countries and territories around the world, Marriott Hotels (www.MarriottHotels.com) is evolving travel through every aspect of the guest's stay, enabling the next generation to Travel Brilliantly. Boldly transforming itself for mobile and global travelers who blend work and play, Marriott leads the industry with innovations, including the Greatroom lobby and Mobile Guest Services that elevates style & design and technology. To learn more, visit www.MarriottHotels.com. Stay connected to Marriott Hotels on Facebook (https://bit.ly/2ELyItb), @marriott on Twitter (https://bit.ly/1wivW13) and @marriotthotels on Instagram (https://bit.ly/2TqCk8M). Marriott Hotels is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, the new name of Marriott’s travel program replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz- Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG). The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including earning points toward free hotel stays and nights toward Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.marriott.com.

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Merck Foundation meets the President and the First Lady of Burundi to launch their programs in the country

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Merck Foundation

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com) launched their programs in partnership with Burundi’s First Lady together with Ministry of Health and Government of Burundi; Merck Foundation awarded the First Lady of Burundi to acknowledge her efforts as “Merck More Than a Mother” Ambassador.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany underscored their commitment to build healthcare capacity in Burundi during their high level meeting with The President of Burundi, H.E. PIERRE NKURUNZIZA and The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA. The discussion was led by Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg HaverkampChairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation to explain their health capacity building programs which were launched in partnership with The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communication and media.

The President of Burundi, H.E. PIERRE NKURUNZIZA emphasized, “Burundi welcomes the programs of Merck Foundation. These programs are going to be very critical and beneficial for our people and their social and economic well-being. I wholeheartedly support Merck Foundation in our country, to enable the success of all their programs with the aim to build healthcare capacity and break the stigma of infertility.”

During the launch event, Merck Foundation awarded Her Excellency to acknowledge her efforts as “Merck More Than a Mother” Ambassador in the country.

H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi, President of Buntu Foundation and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized “We are very happy to partner with Merck Foundation and launch their programs in our country. These programs will create a very significant impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development.”

“Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people of the continent at large. Through Merck Foundation, we commit to build healthcare capacity in the country to be able to provide access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions to the people of the country” Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp explained.

“We are very happy to award Her Excellency First Lady of Burundi, MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA for her great efforts to empower infertile women as the ambassador of Merck More than a Mother. We have also underscored our long-term partnership her and her foundation, “Buntu” together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communication and media to build healthcare capacity and train doctors in the fields of Cancer Care, Fertility, and Diabetes care. We are going to make history by training the first oncology team, first fertility specialist and first diabetologist in the country. We ate really proud of this plan”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother.

The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA composed and sang a theme song for Merck More than a Mother, as a personal contribution to empower infertile women in Burundi.

Also, a special competition was held between ten local choir groups from Burundi. They all composed and performed songs that addressed the same issue to sensitize the community about stigma attached to infertility and to empower infertile women. Also, to educate our communities that ‘Fertility is not a stigma but it is a Shared Responsibility’, and not only women are responsible for it.

The top three performing choir groups were selected and awarded by H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi and Merck Foundation.

Merck Foundation also called for application for ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Media Recognition Award to recognize and appreciate professional journalists who have produced accurate, informative and compelling stories about infertility, infertile women or couples.

Additionally, Merck Foundation conducted the first Health Media Training in the country in partnership with The First Lady of Burundi, Ministry of Health together with Ministry of Communications and media. It was attended by over 50 journalists and was organized to train journalists on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa. This training will benefit the journalists in understanding the infertility issues in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover it with the aim to break its stigma and sensitize our communities through all media outlets.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

Join the conversation on our social media platforms below and let your voice be heard:
Facebook: bit.ly/2MBzsDj
Twitter: bit.ly/2NDqHLR
YouTube: bit.ly/2K3ACZp
Website: www.Merck-Foundation.com

Join Merck Foundation online community to exchange experience and information with other healthcare providers, researchers, students, policy makers and community members in Africa and beyond. www.Merck-Foundation.com free registration.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;
“Merck More Than a Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. 

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are: H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa Republic; H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. DJÈNÈ CONDÈ, The First Lady of Guinea-Conakry; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH BARROW, The First Lady of Gambia; H.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAÏGA, The First Lady of Mali, H.E. AISSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia.

Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course in partnership with IRSI, Indonesia, IIRRH, India and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Manipal University), India to establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and developing countries. Merck Foundation provided for more than 84 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 29 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire , Ghana, Ethiopia , Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Zambia , Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Fuso, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameron, Rwanda, Botswana,  DR Congo , Congo Brazzaville, Gambia , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda. 

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother such as;

• Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training 
• Merck More than a Mother fashion award 
• Merck More than a Mother film award 
• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it

About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training. The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.

Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre – India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya – Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi – Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical, Surgical, Pediatric and Radiation Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, over 43 candidates from more than 21 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com  to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

About Merck:
Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.

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‘Massive and protracted’ humanitarian crisis in DR Congo can be ‘beaten back’ if donors step up

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations (UN)

“Urgent and sustained funding” for a Government-led response to what is now a “massive and protracted” humanitarian crisis across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is required, said the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN relief chief on Thursday.

Following on from a fact-finding mission to DRC this week, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and the UN’s top Humanitarian Affairs official (OCHA), Mark Lowcock, said the funds were urgently needed to meet the needs of children, families and vulnerable communities, including people with disabilities.

“The relatively peaceful political transition taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an opportunity that we must seize on,” the top officials said in a statement, referring to the first peaceful transfer of power following elections on 30 December.

“We can beat back the massive and protracted humanitarian crisis. But we urgently need donors to provide further generous funding as needs continue to outpace resources,” said Mr. Lowcock, adding that the DRC needs sustained international engagement to create the conditions for peace, security and long-term development.

While the country has made progress in recent years in some areas, including a drop in the number of children dying before they reach the age of five, the overall humanitarian situation remains alarming. Around 13 million went hungry last year, compared with 7.7 million in 2017. At least 4 million children are malnourished, while cholera, measles and Ebola “continue to blight many lives”.

“Severe acute malnutrition is expected to hit 1.4 million children under the age of five this year and put them at imminent risk of death,” said Ms. Fore. “In conflict-affected areas of the country, children and young people have been recruited as fighters, sexually assaulted and denied education, health and protection services. Together, the international community and the new government can – and should – do better for children.”

Constructive talks

In Kinshasa, the two officials held constructive talks with newly-elected President Félix Tshisekedi who reiterated the Government’s commitment to leading the humanitarian response across the country.

In Goma, in the eastern province of North Kivu, they visited a centre delivering care and assistance to women, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. They also met rape survivors who were receiving medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, with support from UNICEF and partners.

In Bunia, Ituri province, the pair visited a site for those internally-displaced, where they met mother-of-four, Janette Dusi Lasi, who was wounded and lost her husband when their village was attacked.

'Work with local people' to beat Ebola

Ms. Fore also traveled to Beni and Butembo where she visited Ebola treatment facilities, as the outbreak continues, with concerns that the fight against the disease is stalled, due to recent attacks on medical facilities. She then went to day care centres where Ebola survivors, now immune to the virus, look after small children whose mothers are undergoing treatment and who themselves are at risk of developing the disease.

Children account for one third of all Ebola cases – more than in any previous outbreak. Over 1,000 children have been separated from their parents or have been orphaned due to Ebola.

The two officials agreed that successful elimination of the current Ebola outbreak required above all greater and more effective community engagement.  “Only if local people are fully involved and consulted can the outbreak be defeated,” said Mr. Lowcock. “That means engaging them actively in the response, as well as doing better to meet their wider needs, on the basis of priorities local people themselves express. Insecurity and the activities of armed groups are a real problem – but what is needed above all is to listen to and work with local people.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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Belgian Emergency Aid for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe after passage of cyclone Idai

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Kingdom of Belgium - Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
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The passage of the tropical cyclone Idai and the floods that accompanied it caused an enormous havoc in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. It is one of the most devastating storms affecting Southern Africa in recent history, with probably more than a thousand victims.

The Belgian government expresses its sympathy to the affected populations of the three countries. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo also announces that Belgium provides assistance through the following four humanitarian aid funds, which were created specifically to provide a fast and efficient response to this type of emergency:

  • The Central Emergency Respond Fund (CERF), managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), immediately mobilized $20 million for aid to the three affected countries;
  • The Immediate Response Account (IRA) of the World Food Program (WFP) allocated $5.9 million;
  • The Special Fund for Emergency Rehabilitation (SFERA) from the FAO will use $200,000 of the Belgian contribution to the fund;
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross will also employ $250.000 of the Belgian contribution to the ‘Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF)’.

Because of global warming, the frequency of extreme natural phenomena has increased in recent years. Alexander De Croo: “Thanks to our flexibly deployable Belgian humanitarian assistance, aid organizations can intervene faster and more efficiently in the event of extreme natural disasters. The consequences of global warming are more and more visible in the South in the form of storms, floods or long periods of drought. In these moments, it is important to show that we support the people affected. “

The flexibly deployable contribution of Belgium to the funds (CERF, IRA, SFERA,DREF) and organizations mentioned above amounts to a total of more than €40 million in 2019.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kingdom of Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.
Source: Apo-Opa

Churches call for support amid devastation caused by Cyclone Idai

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

World Council of Churches (WCC)

More than 100,000 people are still stranded from massive flooding caused by a devastating cyclone and heavy rainfall in Mozambique and neighboring southeastern African countries. As the numbers of victims and people displaced are still unfolding, churches in the region are calling everyone to join in prayers for the wellbeing and protection of those affected.

With winds of more than 177 km/h, the cyclone has moved inland across Zimbabwe and Malawi. Leaving a trail of devastation which is still to be apprehended, Cyclone Idai may become the worst disaster in the southern hemisphere.

According to the Mozambique Ministry of Land and Environment, 3,000 people have already been rescued, but 15,000 are still trapped by the flooding and need to be rescued. The death toll has risen to 300 people in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that a total of 1.6 million people have been affected in three countries. With shortages of food and clean drinking water, the threat of disease spreading is growing.

In Malawi, a national disaster was declared already on 8 March as a result of the heavy rainfall and devastating floods which affected many parts in the southern region of the country. The disaster has left 23,000 households affected leaving about 115,000 people displaced and homeless and more than 60 people dead.

“We call upon you to join in prayers and sympathising with all the people who are trapped in this catastrophic incident and the support for these thousands of people that are displaced and rendered homeless, missing and injured”, says Rev. Alex Benson Maulana, general secretary of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Blantyre Synod from Malawi.

The people affected urgently need food, clothing, utensils, shelter and many other things. “We appeal to our partners and all people of goodwill to spare some resources and whatever you can to support our fellow brothers and sisters who are now struggling with life”, says Maulana.

The synod is collecting relief items from its members in order to reach out to some of those that are not noticed by other humanitarian organisations. Many synod members have been affected too.

“We feel saddened by the news of so many people who have lost their lives in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe through this cyclone, and many more people have been displaced”, said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, who was born in Malawi.

According to Phiri, the impact of this disaster is much worse because of high levels of poverty in the region mean that the majority of poor people are badly hit without governmental systems in place to assist them in their time of greatest need.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and our member churches who have lost their loved ones and who have been displaced as a result of this disaster”, said Phiri. “We pray also for the long term plans to protect people and the environment from similar disasters.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Council of Churches (WCC).

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World Council of Churches (WCC)
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Source: Apo-Opa

Idai disaster: Stranded victims still need rescue from heavy rains as UN scales up response

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations (UN)
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Dire conditions persist in vast areas of southern Africa affected by Cyclone Idai as heavy rain continues to cause “massive destruction”, the UN said on Thursday, while aid teams scale up efforts to reach those most in need.

Warning that the situation is likely to deteriorate, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that people are still stranded on rooftops after the storm began its sweep through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe six days ago.

In Mozambique alone, the agency is seeking more than $121 million to help 1.7 million people affected through the next three months, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said, after the Government declared a state of national emergency.

Sofala and Manica provinces were worst-hit, and extensive damage has been caused to major roads and bridges which are now impassable.

Power networks have also been severed and are unlikely to be restored for several weeks, while thousands have lost their homes, Mr. Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva, noting that WFP drones are being used to help locate stranded populations.

Thousands isolated, entire villages ‘wiped out’

According to Mozambique’s National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), more than 100,000 people are still “isolated” and without assistance in Chimoio, Dombe and other locations in Manica province.

The situation “is likely to deteriorate even more and the numbers of people affected is expected to increase as it is raining there as we speak”, Mr. Verhoosel added. 

To date, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 20,000 people in Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia; it aims to reach 600,000 people in the next four weeks.

But with aerial assessments over Mozambique’s Buzi valley showing “entire villages wiped out”, Mr. Verhoosel stressed that needs are likely to far outstrip initial estimates.

“It is clear that the number of 600,000 will definitely go up in the coming days,” Mr. Verhoosel said. “That has of course (an) implication on cost. If we help 600,000 people for three months, that is a cost of $42 million. If we need to help up to 1.7 million people for three months, that will be a cost of $121.5 million. Obviously, we don’t have that money today.”

Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district hardest-hit

In Zimbabwe, 200,000 people urgently need food assistance in the coming three months, according to WFP.

Conditions in the hardest-hit district, Chimanimani, are severe, Mr Verhoosel explained, with 90 per cent of property significantly damaged.

Chimanimani is located in Manicaland province in eastern Zimbabwe, where heavy rains in both Manicaland and neighbouring Masvingo province to the south “continue to cause massive destruction”, according to WFP.

To respond to urgent needs, the agency is seeking more than $5 million to provide food, air and logistical support for the flood response.

More than $10 million required for Malawi flood response

In Malawi, where Cyclone Idai had a limited impact, 920,000 have been affected by flooding that began on 5 March, according to the Government.

People are beginning to return home and WFP has started food distributions to the worst-hit districts of Nsanje, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Zomba.

In the next two months, the agency plans to reach 650,000 people, an operation that will cost $10.3 million.

Underscoring the huge logistical challenges of the aid operation, Mr. Verhoosel explained that a WFP airplane reached the Mozambican port of Beira soon after the disaster happened, in extremely difficult conditions.

Aid has to be unloaded by hand, ‘box by box’

“That was probably the first cargo (plane) to land,” he said. “The food from that cargo is not yet fully distributed. The problem that we have is more the access…because most of the people are on rooftops or in a place that we cannot access by road.”

Mr. Verhoosel also highlighted ongoing challenges in Beira, where 90 per cent of the port city was damaged by Idai.

“In the port for the moment, you have no infrastructure,” he said, adding that the situation was the same at the airport, where people had to unload food by hand, “box by box”.

“In Beira, the level of water is not the same as in the countryside… inland, the problem is that you have basically water all around,” Mr Verhoosel said.

UNFPA protecting health and well-being of women

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is providing humanitarian assistance to Mozambique in the aftermath of Idai, to protect the health and well-being of women, through services for sexual and reproductive health and prevention of and response to gender-based violence (GBV).

Given the urgent needs, UNFPA said it was providing the following relief:

  • Supporting 19 mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Providing 2,000 dignity kits to the most vulnerable women and girls.
  • Providing 19 tents for mobile SRH services.
  • Providing 240 emergency reproductive kits to cover the needs of more than 300,000 affected people, including delivery kits for communities and hospitals, post-rape treatment kits, and kits for prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Supporting GBV case management and psychosocial services for GBV survivors.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations (UN).
Source: Apo-Opa

Secretary-General appoints Ms. Denise Brown of Canada as Deputy Special Representative in Central African Republic

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations - Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Denise Brown of Canada as his new Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), where she will also serve as United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. 

Ms. Brown succeeds Najat Rochdi of Morocco, who completed her assignment in February 2019. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Rochdi’s leadership and dedicated commitment during her tenure to supporting recovery, peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic. 

Ms. Brown brings to the position over two decades of professional experience and an extensive knowledge in humanitarian affairs and recovery programmes with a particular focus on contexts of complex emergencies, and a thematic focus on operations, programme development, coordination and interagency relations. She has been serving at World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters in Rome since 2017, first as Director of the Emergency Preparedness and Support Response Division then, since 2018, as Director of Policy and Programmes. From 2013 to 2016, she was the WFP Director for West and Central Africa based in Dakar, Senegal and covering 20 countries. Ms. Brown has spent most of her career based in the field, with WFP, covering a range of situations in Niger, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Iraq. She has also worked in Haiti and Cambodia with non-governmental organizations.

Ms. Brown holds a Master of Science degree in Children’s Development from Purdue University, United States.

Born in 1963, Ms. Brown is married and has three children.

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