Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in Somalia

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — INTRODUCTION

1. At its 337th meeting, held on 11 October 2012, Council, following a briefing by the Commission on the lastest developments in Somalia, adopted a press statement, in which it noted with satisfaction the remarkable progress made in the quest for peace, security and reconciliation in the country. Council urged the Somali stakeholders to remain steadfast in their efforts. It also underlined the need for the international community to remain actively engaged and to extend greater support to Somalia on the basis of the priorities defined by the Somali Government.

2. The present report provides a brief update on the main political and security developments in Somalia during the period under review. It also covers the activities undertaken by the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in pursuit of its mandate, and concludes with observations on the way forward.

II. MAIN POLITICAL AND RELATED DEVELOPMENTS

3. As Council is aware, Somalia entered into a new political dispensation when, in September 2012, through a credible, but arduous democratic process, the new Federal Parliament elected a new President, thereby constitutionally ending the eight years of transitional arrangements that were established with the adoption of the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), in 2004, and the complimentary August 2008 Djibouti process. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was formally inaugurated in Mogadishu, on 16 September 2012. Thereafter, he outlined the six (6) immediate priorities of his Government, namely security, national reconciliation, social service delivery, public financial management, economic development, as well as justice. He also stressed that he would reach out to armed opposition groups, and continue dialogue with Somaliland. On 6 October 2012, he nominated Abdi Farah Shirdon “Saacid” as Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet were endorsed by the Parliament, on 13 November 2012. Since then, the Somali authorities have taken a number of steps in implementation of the priorities they have outlined.

4. In November 2012, the Federal Parliament completed and adopted a 4-year strategic plan, including its internal working regulations. It also established 15 parliamentary committees with elected chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and secretaries. The parliamentary committees, three of which are chaired by female parliamentarians, will go a long way in improving the effectiveness of the Parliament in discharging its legislative and oversight functions. Furthermore, the Parliament has identified eleven projects aimed at enhancing its capacity, including the establishment of a functional Secretariat. It has outlined its legislative agenda, which has been shared with the Government. This includes a number of priority legislations, together with their timelines, that the Federal Government has to table before the Parliament in accordance with the Provisional Federal Constitution. Furthermore, some articles in the Provisional Federal Constitution have been suspended, notably the establishment of an Upper House, a political development which is being contested by Puntland.

5. On 13 December 2012, the Prime Minister, in consultation with the President, Members of the Parliament and representatives of the Somalia civil society, appointed five Ministers of State and twenty Deputy Ministers. This was in response to concerns that the Cabinet was not inclusive.

6. The new Government is taking concrete steps to revitalize or establish governance institutions, and appoint the required leadership to administer them. Consequently, the leadership and management of financial institutions, such as the Central Bank, the Office of the Accountant-General and the Office of the Auditor-General, are being restructured in line with the six-pillar policy of the Government. A similar process is underway for other institutions. The Government is now tightening its oversight and control on public revenue generation and expenditure, in order to enhance transparency and accountability. Further reorganization is also expected in the civil service to bring on board the required Permanent Secretaries, Directors-General, Directors and Ambassadors in the Foreign Service.

7. The Government has started to work with the existing interim regional administrations in South Central Somalia. Specifically, it is facilitating a Reconciliation Conference that will bring together the elders, leaders and intellectuals from six regions, namely Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba, Bay, Bakool, Gedo and Lower Shabelle. The Conference is expected to agree on modalities for the establishment of local, regional and state administrations, using a bottom-up approach.

8. On 6 December 2012, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Joint Committee on Grand Stabilization of South Central Somalia met in Addis Ababa, to enhance coordination and review membership of the Committee. At the end of the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was adopted expanding the membership of the Committee (that initially comprised Jubbaland, Kenya and Ethiopia) to include the Federal Government of Somalia, which is now to serve as the Chair of the Committee. Following the adoption of that MoU, a high level delegation from the Government visited Kismayo in December 2012 for a meeting with the interim administration. The two sides agreed to form a new administration based on the country’s Constitution, and discussed the integration of Ras Kamboni brigade into the Somalia National Security Forces (SNSF).

9. Considerable efforts have been made to reach out to Somalia’s neighbours and strengthen the country’s bilateral and multilateral relations. In this respect, President Mohamud paid working visits to all the member states of IGAD. Outside the region, President Mohamud has also visited Turkey. On her part, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Fawzia Aden, visited London, where she was received by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and discussed the planned London Conference on Somalia to be held in May 2013.

III. SECURITY SITUATION

10. The security situation has continued to improve, thanks to the sustained efforts of the SNSF and AMISOM. During the reporting period, the SNSF and AMISOM further expanded their areas of control. However, a number of challenges remain, which require continued efforts and enhanced support to free the rest of the country from Al Shabaab control.

11. In Sector 1 (Banadir, Lower and Middle Shabelle), the SNSF and AMISOM forces secured the town of Jowhar, 90 kilometers north-west of Mogadishu, on 9 December 2012. The town, which is also the capital of Middle Shabelle, served as a major base for Al Shabaab since it was pushed out of other areas in South Central Somalia.

12. Significant progress has also been made in Sector 2 (Lower and Middle Juba) during the reporting period. The SNSF and AMISOM forces continued to consolidate security in and around Kismayo, where they have deprived Al Shabaab of revenue from seaport taxation, custom duties and smuggling of contraband, notably the charcoal and sugar import and export. In November 2012, the SNSF and AMISOM forces secured the town of Bulo Xaji, a critical supply route. Preparations are underway to expand the operations of the SNSF and AMISOM forces to Jilib and Jamame.

13. In Sector 3 (Gedo, Bay and Bakool), the existing AMISOM’s 1,050 troops will be joined by an additional 1,500 troops, who are now advancing from Afgoye to Baidoa, with the aim of connecting the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions to the Bay and Bakool regions. At the time of finalising this report, these forces had moved beyond Lego village, which is situated 104 kilometres from Baidoa.

14. In Sector 4 (Galgadud and Hiraan), Djiboutian troops have now fully deployed. AMISOM forces, with the support of the SNSF and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF), continue to consolidate security in key towns and villages. This is a critical area as it is being used by Al Shabaab as a transit route towards Puntland and other northern parts of the country.

15. The AMISOM Formed Police Units (FPUs), together with the Somalia Police Force (SPF), are now conducting 24 hour patrol in Mogadishu. The FPUs are also providing VIP escorts and protection to AMISOM personnel, as well as increasingly taking responsibility for security during major public functions. In addition to contributing to relieving the AMISOM forces from performing policing activities, such as escorts and public order duties, the FPUs are also helping to restore public confidence and security in Mogadishu. On their part, the Individual Police Officers (IPOs) are continuing to mentor and advise their SPF counterparts. Thanks to the escort and security provided by the FPUs, the IPOs are now able to reach out to more police stations, thus enhancing their mentoring and advisory functions to the SPF.

16. Although the combined SNSF and AMISOM operations have created tangible security gains and have significantly weakened Al Shabaab, the extremist group continues to pose a major threat and still retains the ability to strike, especially through Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), targeted assassinations and suicide attacks. Al Shabaab has melted into the local communities and relocated much of its manpower and equipment to areas such as Middle Jubba, Baraawe in Lower Shabelle, the northern parts of Middle Shabelle, parts of the Bakool region, Bulo-Burte in Hiraan, Galgadud regions and Golis Mountain (Puntland), where the SNSF and allied militia have a limited presence. They have also established a presence in some parts of Somaliland, and continue to access weapons and other logistics through the seaports of Baraawe, Ceel Dheer, Cadale and Haradhere.

17. Al Shabaab skilfully exploits clan differences in an effort to boost its ranks. It is also resorting to methods such as extortion of businesses, establishment of illegal checkpoints and increased linkages with criminal networks, to fund its operations. While there have been so far no clear linkages between pirates and Al Shabaab, there are concerns that this may change as Al Shabaab, moves into the piracy heartlands, such as Haradhere and the sea ports of Hobiyo, Ceel Dheer and Cadale, as it becomes more financially desperate.

18. Al Shabaab enjoys the support of a core group of around 400 foreign fighters that move around Somalia and provide mentorship to its fighters and extremist jihadist from the region and beyond. There are indications that Al Shabaab has intensified its outreach in the region, attempting to establish links with local extremists groups. It continues to recruit fighters in the neighbouring countries, train them and facilitate the return of those who want to wage war against their homeland as demonstrated by the recent spate of attacks in Kenya, the arrest, on 7 December 2012, in Sudan’s Al-Dandar Wildlife Park, in the central state of Sennar, of 25 Islamist extremists, who were training with a view to joining Al Shabaab, and Ethiopia’s arrest, on 1 January 2013, of 15 suspected militants trained by Al Shabaab, who were plotting attacks.

IV. AMISOM DEPLOYMENT

19. With the full deployment of the Djiboutian contingent in Sector 4 (Beltweyne), which was completed at the end of November 2012, the strength of AMISOM uniformed personnel stands now at 17,709. This comprises 5,432 troops from Burundi, 960 troops from Djibouti, 4,652 troops from Kenya, and 6,223 troops from Uganda. The Sierra Leone battalion of 850 is now due to deploy in February-March 2013, after which Kenya will reduce its contribution by one battalion. There are 81 Staff Officers from Burundi, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. There are also 81 IPOs from Burundi, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as 2 FPUs of 140 police elements each from Nigeria and Uganda.

20. On 1 November 2012, I appointed a new Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, in the person of Ambassador Mahamat Salah Annadif, from Chad. A former AU Representative to the European Union (EU), in Brussels, Ambassador Annadif has an extensive diplomatic and public service experience, having, in particular, served as his country’s Foreign Minister. He replaced my previous Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra. Ambassador Annadif assumed duty in Mogadishu on 12 December 2012.

21. In resolution 2073 (2012) adopted on 7 November 2012, the UN Security Council decided, on an exceptional basis and owing to the unique character of the Mission, to extend the UN logistical support package for AMISOM civilian personnel for a further 50 civilian personnel, on a temporary basis to be reviewed after the UN and AU strategic reviews. As a follow-up, the Commission has developed a Concept Paper for the deployment of 50 civilians who will be deployed in the 4 Sectors in support of the on-going AMISOM operations. These civilians will also work with local government officials and community groups in the recovered areas, to facilitate the extension of state authority, by ensuring effective linkage with the Government in Mogadishu, and the provision of basic services to the population, especially through the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs). They will also perform other key functions, including support to local reconciliation, promotion of human rights, and support initial steps regarding security sector reform, including the management of disengaged fighters.

22. The Commission has commenced the recruitment process for these posts. The Commission is also considering the possibility of utilizing available rosters to identify and facilitate speedy recruitment and deployment of the required personnel. At the same time, the Commission has requested UNSOA to put in place the required logistical arrangements to facilitate the deployment of civilian presence in all Sectors.

23. At its 337th meeting, Council requested the UN Security Council to authorize a four-month technical rollover of the UN support package, as provided for by resolution 2036 (2012) of 22 February 2012, with the inclusion of additional support regarding the civilian and maritime components of the mission, to take into account urgent needs arising from the realities on the ground. Such a technical rollover was to be granted pending the completion of the AMISOM Strategic Review, which is addressed below.

24. On 31 October 2012, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2072 (2012), through which it extended the mandate of AMISOM until 7 November 2012, noting the exceptional circumstances in New York City arising from Hurricane Sandy” and recognizing, in those exceptional circumstances the need for a short extension of the mandate of AMISOM. On 7 November 2012, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2073 (2012), authorizing the member states of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM until 7 March 2013. It also requested the UN Secretary-General to continue to provide logistical support package of AMISOM, as referred to in its relevant resolutions.

V. AMISOM SUPPORT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF SOMALIA

25. During the reporting period, AMISOM components (substantive civilian, police and military) undertook a number of activities in support of the Federal Government of Somalia. These cover stabilisation and governance in the liberated areas, gender issues, the management of disengaged fighters, support to the SNSF and capacity building for Somalia civil service.

Support to Stabilization and Governance in the Liberated Areas

26. Further to the IGAD efforts in support to the stabilization of areas recovered from Al Shabaab, the Government, in collaboration with AMISOM, organized a workshop on the theme “Getting the Stabilization Programme Forward”, from 12 to 13 December 2012, at the AMISOM Headquarters, in Mogadishu. The workshop was attended by senior government officials, including the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Internal Security.

27. The workshop resolved that the Government would set the priorities for the recently-liberated areas, which will include the consolidation of security, local reconciliation and the provision of basic services. On its part, AMISOM pledged to support the Government to extend its authority in all the newly-recovered areas, to provide peace dividends, through the implementation of QIPs, and to facilitate access to humanitarian assistance in coordination with the Government.

Support to the Female Caucus of the Federal Parliament

28. During the reporting period, the AMISOM Gender Unit undertook activities aimed at enhancing the role of women in the new political dispensation and to advance gender issues in the implementation of the mandate of AMISOM. In this respect, the Unit organized a televised and radio broadcast debate in Mogadishu, on 12 November 2012, on how to empower Somalia women across the country and how they can better engage elders and politicians. The event, which brought together elders, academicians, female activists and parliamentarians, as well as religious leaders, discussed the role of women in politics and in the post-conflict period. The meeting also discussed challenges such as the lack of education and the misuse of religion and radicalization.

29. In December 2012, the AMISOM Gender Unit also convened a Needs Assessment Workshop for female members of the Federal Parliament, in Kampala,. The workshop, attended by female parliamentarians, from countries of the region, was used to assess the needs of the female parliamentarians, while also providing a networking opportunity between them and their counterparts from the region. It also provided a platform for experience sharing and lessons learnt. On that basis, the workshop agreed on the formation of a Caucus to implement an Action Plan to promote women agenda, starting with gender mainstreaming of all future legislations, including those relating to governance and stabilization in Somalia.

30. The AMISOM Gender Unit is engaged with relevant partners, such as the UNAIDS and UNFPA. The objective is to explore the possibility of partnership and coordination on matters of priority relevant to their respective mandates and jurisdictions in Mogadishu and in the newly-recovered areas.

Support for the Management of Disengaged Fighters

31. Somalia and AMISOM continue to be confronted with several caseloads of disengaged fighters. AMISOM is currently holding 249 Voluntary Disengaged Fighters (VDF) in Mogadishu, while the Federal Government is holding an estimated 1,500 former fighters. Most of those held by the Government were either captured or arrested by the SNSF or by AMISOM. The VDF held by AMISOM are persons who have defected from Al Shabaab for various reasons. There are also a large number of defections that have not been recorded, because some of the fighters were previously members of clan militias and have now melted back into their clans. This group is of particular concern because, if given monetary incentives, they can be remobilized by Al Shabaab.

32. In an effort to build the capacity of the Government to manage the disengaged fighters, AMISOM, in collaboration with the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and other partners, organized a training session for AMISOM and SNSF commanders, in Nairobi, from 4 to 6 December 2012. The training focused on how to handle disengaging fighters, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), human rights and child rights, among others. The Government and AMISOM are also working together on appropriate programmes that would present more sustainable and durable solutions for managing those defectors who have returned to their clan militias.

Support to the Somalia National Security Forces

33. It is to be recalled that before the end of the Transition, the Commission organized a series of workshops on the Somalia Security Sector Empowerment that led to the development of a concept of operations for the mechanism to be put in place in order to facilitate the effective integration of the regional and allied forces into the SNSF and the establishment of a unified command and control architecture. The document has since been submitted to the new Somalia authorities for review, update and endorsement before it is submitted to Council and subsequently to the UN Security Council. It is my expectation that the international community will provide the required support, for this is critical to the achievement of sustainable peace and stability in Somalia.

34. Somalia’s Armed Forces currently consist of senior officers in need of refresher training, and a large number of new recruits with limited or no training at all in IHL. As part of its efforts aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the SNSF, AMISOM, working in close collaboration with the Government and supported by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), convened a workshop on IHL for 41 officers, in Djibouti, from 29 to 31 October 2012. The workshop provided an opportunity to demonstrate the importance and relevance of IHL and human rights; promoted understanding of IHL, in particular the essential rules of the law that are relevant to the Officers’ operational functions; and identified gaps and challenges to compliance with IHL in the context of the conflict in Somalia

35. At the end of the workshop, participants adopted a plan of action, which includes an implementation strategy to ensure compliance, by the SNSF, with IHL. Follow-up activities were also agreed upon, including the conduct of similar training at all appropriate command and staff levels; the conduct of Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops on IHL; the development of relevant policy and necessary law reforms; the establishment of an IHL commission; parliamentary ratification of the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Convention and the Convention of the Rights of the Child as committed in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report of 2012; and the strengthening of the rule of law institutions, including the military courts system.

36. Between December 2012 and January 2013, AMISOM trained 80 SPF Officers in criminal investigation. The training, which took place at the General Kahiye Police Academy, in Mogadishu, will be extended to an additional 80 police officers.

37. Furthermore, AMISOM Police, in collaboration with the Djibouti National Police and the Italian Carabinieri, will launch, starting from 17 January 2013, a training programme for 200 personnel from the SPF on public order management, at the Djibouti National Police Academy. The course will go a long way in building the capacity of the SPF in the maintenance of law and order. I pay tribute to the Djiboutian and Italian Governments for their support in facilitating the development and conduct of this training programme.

Capacity building for the Somalia civil service

38. In January 2013, AMISOM launched a series of training workshops for the Somalia civil service. The training involved 120 public servants, including Secretaries, protocol officers and senior level administrators. It is funded by the Government of Italy and facilitated by the University of South Africa (UNISA) Graduate School of Business Leadership. This activity is part of the implementation of the plan of action agreed upon between the Somalia Government and the AU following a needs assessment workshop held in Kampala, in March 2012. Since then, AMISOM has carried out a number of capacity building activities, including facilitating two-week of on-the-job training and mentorship in Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia, providing requisite working tools/equipment and renovating office spaces.

VI. AMISOM STRATEGIC REVIEW

39. At its 337th meeting, Council expressed full support to the decision of the Commission to undertake a strategic review of AMISOM and the implementation of its mandate, with a view to determining how best the Mission can further contribute to the stabilization of Somalia and the successful implementation of the priorities set by the Somali Government, in close coordination with an empowered and restructured Somali National Defense and Security Sector. The decision to undertake the review was made against the background of the significant political and security progress achieved in Somalia over the past months and the need accordingly to adjust the operations of AMISOM.

40. The review process was launched in December 2012 and is beingcarried out by a team of experienced civilian, military and police officers. The exercise has involved extensive consultations with the Somali authorities and other stakeholders. Consultations have also been carried out with the AMISOM Troop and Police Contributing Countries (TCCs and PCCs), other interested countries and IGAD, as well as with international partners. The process will be completed at the end of January 2013 and the outcome submitted to Council for its action as appropriate.

41. In undertaking the review, the Commission was mindful of the need to closely coordinate its efforts with the United Nations, as the latter is also carrying out a similar exercise regarding the future role of the UN in Somalia. It was against this background that the AU requested the UN to lead the review process. Unfortunately, due to its own constraints, the UN was not able to avail the Secretary-General’s Military Advisor, as requested by the AU. All the same, the team carrying out the AMISOM review has consulted regularly the UN. Furthermore, the AU Commission relevant officials, including the Commissioner for Peace and Security, have had extensive meetings with the team working on the United Nations review. It is important to ensure that, as much as possible, the two reviews converge to facilitate a coordinated approach to the challenges facing Somalia and a more effective international support.

VII. OBSERVATIONS

42. Somalia is continuing on the path of political progress since the advent of the new administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Within the framework of his Government’s six-pillar strategy, the President has provided clear direction on international community engagement with Somalia within the context of the new political dispensation in the country. I encourage the Somali stakeholders to remain steadfast and to continue to put the interest of their country above any other consideration, as the tasks ahead will be even more complex and demanding.

43. The efforts of the Somali Government to build strong institutions and embark on the path to recovery should be fully supported by the international community, in order to maintain the current momentum. Such support should be based on the priorities outlined by the Somalia authorities and be commensurate with the immense needs on the ground. I reiterate the call by Council on the UN Peace Building Commission to take steps to contribute actively to post-conflict reconstruction and development in Somalia. On its part, the AU Commission is planning to include Somalia in the list of pilot countries covered by the African Solidary Initiative (ASI), which was launched in July 2013, with a view to mobilizing, from within the continent, resources for African countries emerging from conflict. Furthermore, steps should be taken to support the restructuring and empowerment of the SNSF, including through the supply of stipends, equipment, weapons and ammunitions. As stressed by Council, this will require, within a transparent and orderly framework, the lifting of the arms embargo as it relates to the SNSF, while maintaining it against non-state actors.

44. I also note with satisfaction the gains that continue to be made by the Somali and AMISOM forces. I reiterate my appreciation to the AMISOM TCCs and PCCs, for their unwavering commitment and the sacrifices made. I applaud the courage and steadfastness of the Somali forces, as well as of the women and men serving under AMISOM, who are working under extreme difficulties to further the cause of peace and stability in Somalia. The on-going review of the Mission will enable the Commission to determine how best AMISOM can continue to support the stabilization process of Somalia. I also would like to express my appreciation to Ethiopia, Chair of IGAD, and the other members of the regional organisation, for their role and outstanding contribution to the quest for peace, stability and reconciliation in Somalia.

Comments Off on Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in Somalia

The Director-General of UNESCO urges military forces to protect cultural sites in Mali during air raids and ground interventions

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

PARIS, France, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova launched an appeal to all military forces in Mali: “I ask all armed forces to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country, which has already been severely damaged”.

Invoking the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict and its two Protocols, Irina Bokova sent a letter to Malian and French authorities urging them to respect the Convention, and in particular Article 4 that prohibits “exposing (cultural) property to destruction or damage (…)” and calls for “refraining from any act of hostility, directed against such property”.

“Mali’s cultural heritage is a jewel whose protection is important for the whole of humanity. This is our common heritage, nothing can justify damaging it. It carries the identity and values of a people. The destruction of World Heritage sites in Mali in 2012, especially the mausoleums in Timbuktu, sparked a wave of indignation across the world, helping to raise awareness of the critical situation facing the Malian people. The current military intervention must protect people and secure the cultural heritage of Mali”.

In anticipation of military operations, UNESCO has already provided the topographic features relative to the location of sites to the concerned General Staffs, as well as individual brochures and information for soldiers to prevent damage to cultural heritage. The information has been shared with police and aid workers.

The Director-General has mobilized also UNESCO’s Emergency Fund, the World Heritage Fund to protect the Cultural Property of Mali. “I thank especially Norway, Croatia and Mauritius for their contribution to developing preventive measures and the training of armed forces on the prevention of illicit trafficking, with the mobilization of neighboring countries,” she said.

These efforts come in support of the implementation of the three resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council on the situation in Mali in 2012, all of which condemned the destruction of cultural heritage and called for its protection, giving it a place of central importance.

“The protection of cultural heritage is an essential part of all sustainable efforts to build peace and respect for human rights,” declared the Director-General.

Mali has four sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This exceptional heritage reflects the achievements of human ingenuity in this region and remains a symbol of intercultural dialogue, and the tolerant and peaceful practice of religion. This cultural heritage, associated to the development of quality education, is a pillar of peace building and society in Mali.

“UNESCO stands ready to make its contribution, and we are monitoring the situation in real time. I call for the support of all Member States, in particular through the Special Fund established at the request of the World Heritage Committee, to fund future operations, especially regarding assessment, rehabilitation and reconstruction,” concluded the Director General.

World Heritage Sites in Mali

http://whc.unesco.org/en/etatsparties/ml/

Declarations by UNESCO Director-General on the situation in Mali

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/statement_from_unesco_director_general/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/unesco_director_general_appeals_for_concerted_action_to_prevent_loss_or_destruction_of_timbuktus_documentary_heritage/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/irina_bokova_concerned_about_growing_threats_to_cultural_heritage_in_mali/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/unesco_director_general_of_unesco_calls_for_a_halt_to_destruction_of_cultural_heritage_site_in_timbuktu/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/unesco_director_general_and_the_president_of_mauritania_call_for_the_protection_of_cultural_heritage_in_mali/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/unesco_director_general_deplores_new_destruction_of_timbuktu_mausoleums-1/

Comments Off on The Director-General of UNESCO urges military forces to protect cultural sites in Mali during air raids and ground interventions

South Africa helping to shape global development agenda beyond 2015 / Press Conference: 11:00hrs Wednesday 16 Jan 2013 at the Pan-African Parliament, Gallagher Estate, Midrand

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In 2015, the current global development agenda, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will come to an end. South Africa, Africa’s largest economy, is one of the countries appointed to lead the design of a new global development framework.

In February 2013, the Pan-African Parliament, with the support of the Government of South Africa, UNDP, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the German Government, will be hosting the Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Development framework. The consultative meeting will bring together Heads of States, Civil Society Representatives, Businesses, youth and other stakeholders to shape thinking on democracy, economic development, governance/accountability, peace and security in the new global development paradigm. The meeting will highlight progress being made by African countries towards building sustainable democracy and in the management of diversity among other pertinent issues. For more information, please visit http://www.worldwewant2015.org/governance.

Members of the Press are invited to this conference scheduled to take place in the media centre at PAP in Midrand.

What: Media Briefing on the Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015

Development framework

When: Wednesday 16 January 2013 at 11:00 A.M. (Johannesburg)

Where: Pan-African Parliament, Midrand

Who: Hon. Bethel Amadi, President, Pan-African Parliament

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Director, Democratic Governance, UNDP

Comments Off on South Africa helping to shape global development agenda beyond 2015 / Press Conference: 11:00hrs Wednesday 16 Jan 2013 at the Pan-African Parliament, Gallagher Estate, Midrand

Poor maintenance “threatens roads in Sub-Saharan Africa” – say EU Auditors

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The EU is one of the leading donors in the road sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. Road transport is a focal sector for EDF (European Development Fund) cooperation strategy with most Sub-Saharan African countries. Financially, it is by far the most important cooperation sector, with about € 7.4 billion in EDF commitments made in this region over the period from 1995 to 2011. Improper road maintenance and vehicle overloading is putting the sustainability of Sub-Saharan road network into danger.

Roads are essential for regional integration, economic growth, social development, effective public adminis-tration and security. In Sub-Saharan Africa, roads are the dominant mode of passenger and freight trans¬port, accounting for more than 80 % of total move¬ments of goods and services and transport needs are growing rapidly.

The aid-recipient countries visited by the Court do not do enough to ensure the sustainability of road infrastructure. In all partner countries visited by the Court, roads are affected to varying degrees by premature deterioration. Most of these countries have adopted institutional reforms, notably entailing the creation of road funds and road agencies, and made significant progress on road maintenance. However, many challenges remain to be addressed in all of them to ensure appropriate maintenance. Although spending on road maintenance has increased over time in all the partner countries visited by the Court, it remains insufficient to cover the needs.

“In Europe we are used to several options for our transport. In Sub-Saharan Africa, if it is a question of transport, that means roads. Unless the EU Commission and its partners in Sub-Saharan Africa start taking sustainability of the roads very seriously, they will be in danger of losing what we’ve built together”, said Szabolcs Fazakas, the ECA member responsible for the report, “They need to take responsibility for enforcing load limits and to maintain the roads properly.”

Comments Off on Poor maintenance “threatens roads in Sub-Saharan Africa” – say EU Auditors

Somali journalist arrested for interviewing reported rape victim

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

NEW YORK, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Somali authorities should immediately release a freelance journalist who has been in custody in Mogadishu since Thursday for interviewing a woman who claimed she was raped by government soldiers, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Abdiaziz Abdinuur, who is also known as “Koronto,” has reported for several local and international news outlets, including Dalsan Radio, Badri Media Productions, Radio Ergo, and the U.K.-based Daily Telegraph. He was summoned on Thursday to the Central Investigations Department (CID) in the capital for questioning in connection with his January 6 interview with an internally displaced woman who has claimed that she was raped by several soldiers last year, according to news reports and local journalists who spoke to Abdiaziz. No warrant was issued for the journalist’s arrest, and no charges have been filed against him, the sources said.

The woman has claimed that she was raped by Somali soldiers while living in a camp for internally displaced persons in Mogadishu in December, according to news reports. On January 6, Al-Jazeera English published a story of government soldiers raping internally displaced women in Mogadishu camps. It is unclear if the woman mentioned in the Al-Jazeera story is the woman whom Abdiaziz interviewed, but local journalists said the Al-Jazeera report is what led to police looking for the source of the allegations.

Police also summoned for questioning Omar Faruk, a correspondent for the Al-Jazeera Arabic Service in Somalia, but released him after he said he had no connection with the Al-Jazeera English report.

CID Chief Abdullahi Hassan interrogated the reported victim early Thursday, demanding that she give them contact information for any journalists who interviewed her, and then used her phone to contact Abdiaziz, according to news reports. Police also arrested the woman, but released her on Thursday on the condition that she return today for further questioning.

Abdiaziz told police that he had interviewed the reported victim, but had not published the story, according to local journalists and news reports. Police searched his home and confiscated his laptop, digital recorder, and cellphone, local journalists said.

Authorities did not immediately disclose their reason for detaining and interrogating a person who reported a crime and the individuals to whom she reported it. Repeated calls to the information minister and deputy information minister were not answered.

“It is shameful that Somali authorities have arrested a woman who has reported a rape, and a reporter who documented her story, instead of conducting an investigation into this reported crime,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “There is absolutely no reason Abdulaziz Abdinuur should be in custody. He should be released immediately and his personal property returned.”

Comments Off on Somali journalist arrested for interviewing reported rape victim

In Togo protests, journalists report being targeted by police

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

NEW YORK, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At least four journalists were reported injured by police while covering an anti-government protest in Togo’s capital, Lomé, on Thursday, according to news reports. Several of the journalists, along with local press freedom group SOS Journalistes en Danger, said police had targeted a group of reporters with tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to prevent them from covering the demonstrations, the reports said.

Several opposition and civil society organizations have staged protests over recent months, demanding government reforms before parliamentary elections scheduled for March, according to news reports. The organizations are also seeking the departure of the ruling party, which has led the country for more than four decades, news reports said.

“We are troubled by reports that Togolese police officers may have deliberately targeted journalists reporting on a public protest,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney from New York. “We call on Togolese authorities to investigate the accusations and bring any offending officers to account. It is important that the press be allowed to report freely in the run-up to the elections to ensure that voters are fully informed.”

Noel Kokou Tadegnon, a freelance journalist for Reuters TV, the London-based pan-African satellite broadcaster Vox Africa, and the German government-funded broadcaster Deutsche Welle, said police directly targeted him in a group of about 15 other journalists who were covering the protests. “We had our ‘Press’ vests on. I was targeted by the police, who fired on me twice” with tear gas, Tadegnon said. He said he sustained injuries to his right arm and wrist.

Marcelin Adangnonsi, a reporter with local radio station Légende FM, told CPJ his left arm was struck by a rubber bullet when police targeted the group. Jean-Claude Abalo, a correspondent for the Paris-based newsmagazine Jeune Afrique, fell and dislocated his hand as he and the other journalists fled from the attack, Tadegnon told CPJ.

Police also beat Pedro Amouzou, editor of local weekly Crocodile News and JED adviser, at the demonstration and briefly took him in to custody, news reports said.

Col. Yark Damehane, Togo’s minister of security and civil protection, denied the deliberate targeting of journalists. He said he was aware that Tadegnon had been hit by a tear gas canister, because the journalist had called him, but denied the journalist’s accusation that he had been shot by police.

Tadegnon has been targeted before. In April, police attacked Tadegnon and confiscated his camera while the journalist was covering protests on Togo’s 52nd Independence Day, but later returned his equipment. The journalist also told CPJ that Tony Sodji, a reporter for local station TV7, was hit in the face with a stone by protesters at the demonstration.

Comments Off on In Togo protests, journalists report being targeted by police

Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on the situation in Somalia.

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 350th meeting held on 14 January 2013, considered the situation in Somalia and adopted the following decision:

Council,

1. Takes note of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the situation in Somalia [PSC/PR/2.(CCCL)], the briefing provided by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, the update by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Head of the AU Review Team, on the progress made so far in the review of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the mandate of AMISOM, in line with the press statement adopted at its 337th meeting held on 11 October 2012, as well as the statements made by the representative of Somalia, the Commissioner for Political Affairs and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia. Council also takes note of the statements made by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia and the European Union;

2. Welcomes the continued progress being made in Somalia both at the political and military fronts. Council reiterates its support to the efforts of the Somali Government, as well as its appreciation to the Somalia forces and AMISOM for the achievements that continue to be registered on the ground;

3. Reiterates its call to the Member States and the international partners to provide the requisite support for stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction in Somalia and to be guided in their engagement by the priority framework elaborated by the Government of Somalia. Council calls on the Somalis to remain steadfast in their efforts;

4. Commends the Commission for the steps taken towards the review of AMISOM and its mandate. Council welcomes the wide ranging consultations undertaken by the Review Team, under the leadership of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as well as the emphasis placed on a Commission-wide strategy in support of Somalia;

5. Notes the preliminary findings of the Review Team, and stresses the need for this exercise to lead to the enhancement of the effectiveness of AMISOM and strengthened coordination. In this regard, Council underscores the imperative to address the issue of, and guarantee, assured, sustainable and predictable funding for the next phase of the Mission. Council further stresses that future international initiatives direct their main effort at enabling the Federal Government of Somalia in support of deliver on its ultimate objective of ensuring effective governance, security, rule of law and basic services to its citizens. Council underlines the need for convergence between the AU and the UN review processes and coordinated support by the international community. In this respect, Council encourages the Commission to closely interact with the United Nations and to make inputs as appropriate to the UN process on reconstruction and development in Somalia;

6. Looks forward to the early submission of the report of the Review Team to enable it take the required decisions;

7. Decides to renew the mandate of AMISOM as of 15 January 2013 for an additional period of six months pending the outcomes of the consultations between the AU Commission and the United Nations Secretariat on the future of AMISOM;

8. Urges greater synergy among relevant Departments within the Commission to facilitate comprehensive reconstruction efforts in Somalia.

9. Decides to remain actively seized of the situation and to review it regularly, at least once every three months.

Comments Off on Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on the situation in Somalia.

Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on the evolution of the situation in Mali.

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 350th meeting held on 14 January 2013, was briefed by the Commissioner for Peace and Security on the evolution of the situation in Mali.

Council strongly condemned the attacks carried out by armed terrorist and criminal groups against the town of Konna, in the Mopti area, on 10 January 2013. Council expressed AU’s full solidarity with Mali, and endorsed the statement issued by the Chairperson of the Commission on 11 January 2013.

Council called on all AU Member States, in line with its relevant decisions and United Nations Security Council resolutions, to extend the necessary logistical, financial, capacity building and intelligence support to the Malian Defense and Security Forces, to enable them to speedily and fully restore State authority over the northern part of the country. In this respect, Council commended the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its dynamism in dealing with the situation in Mali, as well as the current Chairman of ECOWAS and the President of the ECOWAS Commission for their sustained efforts and commitment. Council further commended the ECOWAS Member States that have swiftly deployed troops in Mali as part of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), and urged all those that have committed to contribute troops to the Mission to do so timeously.

Council also welcomed the steps taken by Mali’s neighbors to strengthen, to the extent possible, the monitoring of their borders to prevent any possible support to the armed terrorist and criminal groups, in line with its relevant communiqués. Council underlined the importance of close coordination with the core countries to facilitate the ongoing efforts.

Council recalled that it had repeatedly drawn attention to the seriousness of the situation in northern Mali and the need for sustained international support to the African-led efforts. In this respect, Council acknowledged the assistance provided by France, at the request of the Malian authorities and within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 2085 (2012). Council also expressed appreciation to all other AU partners extending support to Mali, in these difficult circumstances. Council encouraged them to pursue their efforts and support.

Council welcomed the steps taken by ECOWAS and the AU Commissions to expedite the implementation of the relevant provisions of resolution 2085 (2012), in particular the deployment of AFISMA and the convening of the envisaged donors’ conference. Council took note of the consultative meeting that the two organizations intend to convene in Addis Ababa, on 16 January 2013. In this regard, Council looks forward to the outcome of the consultative meeting.

Council called on all AU Member States and international partners to provide the support required for the effective deployment of AFISMA and the running of its operations. Council reiterated the call by both the AU and ECOWAS to the UN Security Council, for the establishment of a support package for AFISMA funded through UN assessed contributions.

Council reiterated AU’s support to the Malian transitional authorities, particularly President Dioncounda Traoré and Prime Minister Diango Cissoko, and called on all Malian stakeholders to rally behind them at this very difficult juncture and to place the fundamental interests of Mali above narrow political considerations.

Council noted with appreciation the steps taken by the Commission in close coordination with ECOWAS and the UN, and looks forward to the early convening of the next meeting of the Support and Follow-up Group on the Situation in Mali to further mobilize the international community in support of Mali and the African-led efforts. Council encouraged the Commission to finalize the preparations for the holding, on the margins of the forthcoming AU Summit, of the donors’ conference, as requested by Council in the communiqué adopted at its 341st meeting held on 13 November 2012, and subsequently supported by the UN Security Council in resolution 2085(2012).

Council welcomed the visits that the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, former President Pierre Buyoya, has recently undertaken to Mali and Niger, for consultations with the authorities of these countries, and requested the Commission to continue to monitor the situation closely and to report to it regularly.

Council encouraged the Commission to pursue the implementation of the Strategic Concept for the Resolution of the Crises in Mali, adopted by Council on 24 October 2012.

Council agreed to review the situation in Mali on the occasion of its meeting at the level of the Heads of State and Government, scheduled to take place on the margins of the forthcoming AU Summit, at the end of January 2013.

Comments Off on Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on the evolution of the situation in Mali.

Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on CAR

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 350th meeting held on 14 January 2013, was briefed by the Commissioner for Peace and Security on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Council also received a briefing from the Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, on behalf of the Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Council recalled its strong condemnation of the recourse to armed insurrection as a means of settling political differences, as well as of any attempt to seize power by force.

Council expressed AU’s deep appreciation to the leaders of ECCAS for the prompt and sustained efforts they have deployed to stabilize the situation in the CAR and ensure successful negotiations. Council thanked in particular Presidents Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad, Current Chairman of ECCAS, Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic, and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, for their role in the resolution of the crisis in CAR.

Council welcomed the political agreement to end the crisis, the cease-fire and the Declaration of Principles signed in Libreville, on 11 January 2013, by the CAR Government, the democratic opposition, the politico-military movements and the Seleka group, in order to put an end to the serious political and security crisis affecting the CAR since December 2012.

Council commended all the CAR parties for their sense of compromise, and stressed the need for them to scrupulously and in good faith implement the commitments they have entered into.

Council urged all Member States and international partners to extend full support to the implementation of the political agreement and the cease-fire.

Council requested the Chairperson of the Commission to submit to it, as soon as possible, a comprehensive report on the situation in CAR on the role of the AU in the implementation and follow-up of the agreements reached by the CAR parties.

Comments Off on Press Statement of the 350th Meeting of Peace and Security Council on CAR

MARLES TO VISIT UAE, SEYCHELLES AND AFRICA

15.January.2013 · Posted in APO-OPA

CANBERRA, Australia, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles will today begin a visit to United Arab Emirates, Seychelles and Africa.

In the Seychelles, Mr Marles will attend the 28th Session of the Council of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), representing Australia as the Vice-Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).

‘Australia supports the IOC’s role in enhancing sustainable development and security among the western Indian Ocean island states. My attendance at the meeting will also allow us to explore the possibility of stronger links between the IOC and IOR-ARC,’ said Mr Marles.

In Africa, Mr Marles will meet African ministers and leaders at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia and engage with senior Government members on bilateral visits to South Africa and Kenya.

Mr Marles’ visit will be the first to Africa since Australia’s election to the United Nations Security Council in October.

African peace and security issues account for around two thirds of the Council’s agenda.

‘I look forward to seeking African views and perspectives on major peace and security challenges currently before the Council, including the situation in Mali, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.’

Mr Marles will also reinforce Australia’s long-term commitment to Africa.

‘Australia recognises Africa’s considerable economic potential and growing strategic importance and wants to be a part of Africa’s future.

‘I will underline Australia’s increasing political, diplomatic and commercial engagement in Africa, as well as our expanded development and humanitarian assistance partnership to support Africa’s development.’

Mr Marles will visit humanitarian assistance programs supported by Australia in refugee camps.

‘This visit is an opportunity to see first-hand the way Australia’s humanitarian assistance is making a real difference to people’s lives in Africa,’ Mr Marles said.

Comments Off on MARLES TO VISIT UAE, SEYCHELLES AND AFRICA