Zimbabwe: Police must be held accountable for appalling assault on protesters

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Amnesty International
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In response to the brutal assault on peaceful protesters who gathered in the Harare CBD earlier today in anticipation of the “16 August” national protests, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

“The scenes in Harare today demonstrate just how far the authorities will go to repress dissent. Baton-wielding police unleashed a brutal assault on protesters, who had gathered to protest the socio-economic conditions which are causing suffering to so many in Zimbabwe.

“The Zimbabwean authorities should know that the world is watching. The authorities must end the escalating crackdown on dissent and respect, protect, and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. There must be full accountability for these attacks, which left scores of people injured and shows the government’s contempt for human rights.

“We are calling on the authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into today’s attacks. They must also allow opposition protests to go ahead, and stop using violence as a tool of harassment and intimidation and to silence critical voices. The repression of peaceful dissent will not solve the economic problems which brought protestors to the streets in the first place.”

Background

Zimbabwean police on Thursday announced the ban of today’s protests through a press statement, saying that “demonstrations will turn out to be violent”. Earlier today, the High Court dismissed an application by the opposition Movement for Democratic to overturn that ban.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.
Source: Apo-Opa

Joint Military Exercise Justified Accord 2019 strengthens Partner Networks and Peacekeeping Operations

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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The U.S. military and the Ethiopian National Defence Force, in cooperation with other partner nations, successfully concluded exercise Justified Accord 2019 (JA19) on July 30, with a closing ceremony held at the Peace Support Training Center in Addis Ababa.

Justified Accord is a U.S. Army Africa-led exercise designed to enhance the capacity and capability of participating staff and forces in peacekeeping operations in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor said, “Events like this exercise have positive global impact.  They support the United Nations and African Union as they carry out their mandates to support security in the region.  And they bring us closer to our common goal: a more peaceful and prosperous Africa and world.”

Over 1,000 military and government personnel from Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Somalia, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in Justified Accord, which took place between July 15 and July 30.

The exercise took place in two locations in Ethiopia: Addis Ababa, where the command post exercise took place, and the Hurso Training Center, near Dire Dawa, where the field training exercise occurred.

The command post exercise in Addis Ababa started with a series of academic classes and ended with a cumulative exercise that was designed to test the interoperability of the troop contributing nations to AMISOM.

During the field level exercise, U.S. soldiers from infantry, military police, explosive ordnance disposal and engineering units worked with the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) through different situational training exercises to better enhance field capabilities and strengthen relationships with the ENDF.

Brigadier General Habtamu Tilahun, Commander of the Ethiopian National Defence Force Peacekeeping Center and exercise co-director, stated at the closing ceremony, “Ethiopia and the United States have longstanding peacekeeping experience, and the skills and knowledge gained in this training arm them with high level military and tactical knowledge and skill to overcome current complex peacekeeping problems.”

Brigadier General Lapthe C. Flora, the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general and JA19 co-director, highlighted, “I cannot overemphasize the importance of exercises like Justified Accord. They not only contribute to the readiness of African nations and peacekeeping operations, but they also provide valuable opportunities to work together and create professional relationships and friendships.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Source: Apo-Opa

South Sudan conducts a full scale simulation exercise

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

WHO Regional Office for Africa

The Ministry of Health of South Sudan, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, International Medical Corps (IMC) Consortium (Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Concern and GOAL International) and other partners, conducted a one day full scale simulation exercise (SIMEX) on 14 August 2019 in Juba, Nimule and Yei.

South Sudan has not reported any Ebola case. The simulation exercise was part of South Sudan’s preparedness efforts to prevent, as well as to manage any possible suspected cases of Ebola in the country.

The objective of the full scale simulation exercise was to test and validate capabilities for early detection, rapid response, and effective coordination at national, state and community levels, in view of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

The SIMIX has given us a lot of information including our strengths and gaps in the preparedness and response activities. Accordingly we will recitfy gaps early on, said Dr Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health in South Sudan.

The SIMEX involved over 190 participants from Ministry of Health, WHO, and partners and was designed to test the implementation level of the International Health Regulations (2005) protocols for the designated two points of entry (Juba and Nimule).

“The simulation exercise is vital to evaluate and enhance operational capacities in emergency management”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. “Several drills and functional exercises have been conducted in South Sudan leading up to this full-scale simulation.”

The trainers observed participants who were confronted with a hypothetical scenario of multiple suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD).

Throughout the SIMEX, trainers tested the administered preparedness and operational readiness including donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE); preparation of chlorine solution; collection and handling of blood samples (pre-analytic phase); terminal disinfection and waste management at healthcare centre; patient referral, vehicle disinfection; safe and dignified burials; data management, analysis and interpretation; reporting; contact identification, contact listing; contact investigation, contact follow-up; ring vaccination, screening of travellers at a designated PoE and testing the linkages and communication with the EVD hotline and the patient transfer using EVD ambulances to the Isolation Facilities to respond to the scenario of a potential EVD outbreak in South Sudan.

Following the conclusion of the SIMEX, trainers and participants reviewed and evaluated the performance of all involved actors in order to maximize timely, effective, and coordinated responses to an EVD outbreak.

The functions tested in the full scale exercise included overall coordination and communication at national and sub-national levels and the linkages between the two levels; surveillance, and reporting of a public health event; public health emergency operations centre (PHEOC) activation, contact tracing; rapid response team capacity; ambulance services; case management at healthcare centres; case management at Ebola treatment centre (ETC); infection prevention and control; disinfection and waste management; risk communications; engagement of communities; finance and administration; operations support and logistics; movement of emergency supplies and equipment, exit screening, PHEOC ability to coordinate the multiple entities, collaboration of the various institutions among others.

The findings of the exercise will be used to validate the existing response mechanisms and identify areas within the preparedness plans and standard operating procedures that may require strengthening.

The Ministry of Health, the United Nations and partners have been working collectively on Ebola prevention and preparedness since the onset of the outbreak in DRC and will continue to strengthen measures.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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Two months on, fear and squalor prevail in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Ituri Province

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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Two months on since violence forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern province of Ituri, severe underfunding and growing insecurity mean rising numbers are in need of humanitarian assistance and are unable to return home.

In the last three weeks of June alone, more than 145,000 newly displaced people sought safety and assistance in displacement sites across Ituri, while 215,000 more are estimated to have fled to neighbouring areas. Difficulties with access in some places, and the large area from which people have fled, means the real figure is difficult to verify. Thousands have continued to flee since, although at lower rates.

Ongoing violence between militia groups means many fear to return home. During a recent trip to the town of Djugu to provide assistance, staff of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, found empty village after empty village and countless torched and abandoned houses.

People have been forced to find shelter wherever they can. Some have been taken in by other families. Many are forced to sleep in the open. Drodro, a relatively small town, has seen its population triple in just a few weeks, as local schools and churches have transformed into large, squalid dormitories.

Our staff have heard numerous testimonies from people who had lost family members. Some who had tried to return home to collect food and possessions were killed by armed groups as a warning to others not to return. There is prevailing fear for what the future holds.

The most urgent needs are for shelter, water, sanitation, healthcare and food. Overcrowded conditions are putting women and girls at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Poor hygiene conditions caused by the lack of clean water and latrines is increasing the risk of diseases spreading.

UNHCR is providing assistance at the displacement sites, where we are building collective emergency hangars for those sleeping in the open, and individual shelters for the most vulnerable families. However, new shelters are urgently needed to allow people to vacate schools before the new school term begins in early September. Basic household items are being provided but needs are far outweighing UNHCR’s current stocks.

Funding for this humanitarian crisis remains critically low. UNHCR is appealing to the international community to come forward with further funding and allow humanitarian organizations to provide basic, life-saving assistance. So far this year, UNHCR has received just 32% of the US$150 million needed for our operations.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Source: Apo-Opa

Rugby – Ghana: Former Ghana Journalists Association President lauds Ghana Rugby President Herbert Mensah for contribution

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ghana Rugby Football Union

Former President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Kabral Blay-Amihere has praised Ghanaian businessman and philanthropist Herbert Mensah for his foresight and contribution to the growth and development of journalism in Ghana.

Mr. Kabral Blay Amihere who also served as Ghana’s High Commissioner to Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone between 2001-2009 said it was sponsorship from private business men in Ghana like Herbert Mensah in the early ’90s which helped propel independent journalism in Ghana through its best journalist award scheme.

He was speaking during the Ghana Journalists Association’s commemoration of its 70th anniversary on Thursday, August 15, 2019, at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.  

”The GJA has come a long way. When I joined the GJA in the 80’s it was dangerous to be a journalist in Ghana. Before I became President of the GJA in 1993, the government had completely hijacked the GJA and its best journalist award scheme” the former GJA President revealed.

”The government at the time selected their favourite journalists for awards. We had no offices and no private support”.

Kabral Blay-Amihere recollected the timely intervention of private individuals who came along to sponsor the GJA and help it to grow independently.

”I have to acknowledge and thank Herbert Mensah without whose support and sponsorship we couldn’t have freed ourselves from government control in those days. We also had support from Sam Jonah and Amakye Dede in those early days. We thank them for their support when we needed it most to develop and grow journalism in Ghana.”

He also praised President J.A Kufuor for providing the International Press Centre to the GJA.

The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the GJA also involved the cutting of anniversary cake and reflections on the history and relevance of the GJA by some distinguished personalities including Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh, head of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), as Guest Speaker.

Other key speakers at the event also included Dr G.T. Anim, the first Ghanaian General Manager of the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

Read More Here: GBC Ghana Online. (2019). Former GJA President lauds Herbert Mensah, others for contribution. [online] Available at: http://bit.ly/2MlnbW1 [Accessed 16 Aug. 2019].

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ghana Rugby Football Union.

Media Contact:
Rugby@APO-opa.org

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Press Release Regarding the Visit of H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Sudan

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will visit Khartoum on 17 August 2019 to participate in the signing ceremony of the Constitutional Declaration, which covers arrangements concerning the Transitional Civilian Authority, between the Forces of Freedom and Change and the Transitional Military Council.

In the margins of the meeting, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will meet with Sudanese officials and have bilateral meetings with representatives from some other countries participating in the signing ceremony. H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will also meet with Turkish nationals living in Sudan.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Source: Apo-Opa

Felicitation Ceremony on the occasion of the Birthday Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother 12 August 2019

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Royal Thai Embassy in Cairo, Egypt

On 12 August 2019, Royal Thai Embassy in Cairo organized a felicitation ceremony in honour of the Occasion of the Birthday Anniversary Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother at the Ambassador’s Residence which around 50 Thai citizens participated. On this occasion, the participants lit up the candles to express well wishing to Her Majesty and signed congratulatory book on Her Majesty’s Birthday Anniversary. The ceremony was well proceeded and participants were delighted to present their royalty on this occasion.

Besides the above ceremony, the Embassy and Thai Student Association in Cairo under the Royal Patronage jointly organized the Mother’s Day 2019 under the theme “My Mom My Queen” on 9 August 2019 at Saleh Kamel Center for Islamic Economics in Al Azhar University. The event drew great attention from over 400 Thai Muslim students to participate in the activity which they paid a visit to the exhibition of Her Majesty’s royal duties and student’s activity on the said occasion.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Royal Thai Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

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Royal Thai Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
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Sudan: Former president Omar al-Bashir must not escape international trial

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Amnesty International
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Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir must face justice for crimes under international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, that he allegedly committed in Darfur while in power, Amnesty International said ahead of the start of his trial on corruption charges on 18 August in Khartoum.

Al-Bashir, who was deposed from power four months ago following sustained protests against his 30-year rule, will be charged with possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally. On May 13, Al-Bashir was also charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

“While this trial is a positive step towards accountability for some of his alleged crimes, he remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people,” said Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki.

“The Sudanese authorities must hand al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court to answer charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Omar al-Bashir has evaded justice for far too long as the victims of horrific crimes still wait for justice and reparations more than a decade since the ICC issued the first warrant for his arrest.”

“As military leaders edge closer to inking a long-awaited political agreement with the opposition coalition, the country’s new leadership must urgently ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which the country signed in 2000, and cooperate fully with the court.”

Background:

The Sudanese military overthrew and detained Omar al-Bashir on 11 April 2019, after 16 weeks of street protests against his rule.

Al-Bashir, who had ruled Sudan for 30 years, is one of the ICC longest-running indictee. The Court has issued two arrest warrants for the former Sudanese leader – the first on 4 March 2009 and the second on 12 July 2010. He stands accused of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide following the killing, maiming, and torture of hundreds of thousands of people in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

In 2016, an Amnesty International investigation gathered evidence of the repeated use of what were believed to be chemical weapons used against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in Jebel Marra region of Darfur. The scale of these attacks, which may also amount to war crimes, rivals those previously investigated by the ICC Prosecutor.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.
Source: Apo-Opa

Irish Aid support to Young Scientists Kenya

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland

The competition is closely modelled on the Irish BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition and was introduced to Kenya by the Embassy of Ireland in partnership with the Government of Kenya.

This year some 460 students produced 220 innovative science projects to compete for the top prize, which includes a trip to Ireland to participate in the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in January 2020 and full scholarships, courtesy of Strathmore University.

The overall winners — Iyad Anwar Tahlar and Tanvi Vijay Hirani from SCLP Samaja School in Nairobi County — developed computer software entitled Universal Health Care System; a key Government priority. The system uses biometrics to identify patients and also supports patient appointment management, hospital hygiene standards and record-keeping for public health facilities in Kenya.

President Kenyatta, who is the Patron of Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) met with the bright young scientists showcasing their innovative projects during the opening ceremony. Some intriguing projects included a motorbike helmet that prevents drunk driving, water recycling prototypes, a high-tech traffic control system, a study on gender stereotyping as a predictor of poor performance in science, and development of technology for unbreakable dams.

After seeing a selection of projects, President Kenyatta directed state agencies to secure intellectual property rights for the young innovators and instructed the Kenya Intellectual Property Rights Office to offer free patents to viable innovations generated during the YSK exhibition.

A striking aspect of this year’s awards was the large number of girls winning prizes across the categories; particularly in the Chemistry, Physics and Maths category which saw girls win the first, second and third prizes.

The overall runners up were Sophia Ndunge and Brenda Nkatta from Daraja Academy in Laikipia County, an arid part of Kenya, who had never before travelled to Nairobi. Their project – a Home Made Lift Pump – was motivated by the risks faced by women and girls when going to fetch water in their local rivers which are populated by crocodiles and hippos. The pump is made from wood, flip flops and waste pipe materials that are readily available and affordable in rural areas and much less expensive to repair than the government-provided water pumps which frequently break down.

The exhibition was the culmination of efforts by the Ministry of Education and the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya to roll out the Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) programme to schools in all 47 counties of Kenya in 2019. In total over the past year, some 47,000 secondary school students were introduced to YSK and took part in experiments and mentoring to boost interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The best science projects from across the country were selected to compete in the exhibition.

Over the last three years, Irish Aid, via the Irish Embassy in Kenya, has been financially and technically supporting this public private partnership with the Government of Kenya, the private sector and academia to drive interest in STEM subjects so that Kenyan students develop capabilities to be able to compete in a new information-based and highly technological global society. Additional financial support has come from Safaricom, Concern Worldwide, Trócaire, Self Help Africa and the Institute of Physics for Ireland and the UK.

A panel of experts from diverse backgrounds including Google, the Institute of Physics, local universities and professional bodies were selected to judge all submissions and noted the very high quality of projects on display. Some of the competing students had to overcome lack of resources and facilities that would be considered basic in Irish schools and come from a diverse range of schools including the arid regions of Kenya, urban settlements and from special needs schools.

Winners across a number of categories received prizes for their innovations and were celebrated by hundreds of invited guests and dignitaries representing the Government, industry, civil society and academia. In her address at the Awards Ceremony, Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan commended the hard work, brilliance and compassion of the young scientists and thanked the teachers for supporting their students and the judges for their difficult task in selecting winners.

The Embassy will now work closely with the YSK team and Government to support all of the winners to advance their projects either through further research or links to industry for all commercially viable ideas. This includes a YSK Business Bootcamp which will take place in December for all of the 2019 winners through which they will receive dedicated mentorship and training.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland
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Malawi: Human rights defender survives petrol-bomb attack, car burned to ashes

16.August.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Amnesty International
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In response to a petrol bomb attack targeting the home and car of Malawian human rights defender and activist Timothy Mtambo, which took place in the early hours of this morning, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

“This cowardly and malicious attack on Timothy Mtambo’s property is a clear act of intimidation, designed to deter him from carrying out his human rights work. Timothy and his family narrowly escaped harm after three petrol bombs were thrown into his compound. One hit and torched his car while the second was thrown at the gate and the last narrowly missed his house.

“There must be no stone left unturned in pursuit of those who are behind this attack. The authorities must launch a prompt, impartial and effective investigation and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials.

“The incident comes weeks after Timothy received threats for organizing demonstrations over allegations of mismanagement of the May 21 elections. The Malawian authorities must stop singling out critical voices for attack, and instead commit to respecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Background

Timothy Mtambo is the Chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), a local Non-Governmental Organisation working to defend human rights. He is also the executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) as well as the vice chairperson of Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network.

Mtambo has been instrumental in leading post-election protests following the 21 May election, calling for the Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign from her position over allegations of mismanaging the election.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.
Source: Apo-Opa