Humanitarian Border Management Between Burundi, Tanzania Bolstered by Technology

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Organization for Migration (IOM)

This week (20-21/03) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) donated information technology equipment to the Government of Burundi to improve humanitarian border management (HBM) involving significant migratory flows between Burundi and Tanzania. IOM also rehabilitated electrical systems at Mugina and Gisuru border posts, in Makamba and Ruyigi provinces respectively,

The donated equipment includes two complete solar power systems, computers, printers, uninterruptible power supplies to provide battery backup in case of power failure, and a one-year license for antivirus software. The donation is part of a project jointly implemented by IOM, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to promote concrete cross-border, human rights-based, and multi-agency approaches to peacebuilding in border areas between Burundi and Tanzania. It is supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

The donation of this equipment follows technical field assessments conducted in January this year by IOM’s Immigration and Border Management team, along with experts from the General Commissariat of Migration in Burundi, at the targeted entry points. The assessments included an appraisal of existing infrastructures and equipment to ascertain needs, an evaluation of existing national procedures and cooperation mechanisms related to HBM, and identification of training needs, concerns and challenges faced by police and border officers.

Launched in January 2018, this border management project will help mitigate displacement-related instability for both Burundi and Tanzania. One of IOM’s responsibilities is to enhance HBM between Burundi and Tanzania by strengthening the two governments’ capacity in managing and monitoring migration flows at the points of entry.

Activities carried out in both countries include joint trainings and coordination meetings for immigration and border police officers, as well as the development of Standard Operational Procedures for HBM. These initiatives are expected to strengthen international collaboration and coordination for improved crisis management between the two immigration services at the border.

Thanks to the new information technology equipment and uninterrupted supply of electricity, it is expected that officials manning these points of entry will provide improved services to migrants and have increased capacity to manage population flows at the border, even in situations of mass displacement.

Two handover ceremonies were attended by the relevant government officials from Makamba and Ruyigi and a representative from IOM.

“This donation will help improve the working conditions for our colleagues while at the same time benefit the central administration because reports will be sent in real time,” said Romualde Bahomvya, Deputy Migration Police Commissioner.

He added: “The other advantage is that the registration of passengers on the two borders will now be faster. The registration of passengers will lead to the conservation of data that guarantees security and traceability of what we do, even for future use.”

IOM’s Sébastien Reclaru said: “We are glad that the equipment donated, and the rehabilitated electric system will benefit the communities around the borders as well as users of the supported border posts.”

Prior to the donation, IOM Burundi trained 66 officials from the department of immigration, border police, local authorities, civil protection as well as health and customs from both Burundi and Tanzania, on HBM best practices. The training was designed to improve their preparedness, effectiveness and protection of vulnerable migrants in the context of a humanitarian crisis. 

In Burundi, IOM is partnering with the government to carry out capacity-building activities related to migration management and strives to improve collaboration and coordination with neighbouring countries.

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

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African Policymakers Highlight Opportunities of National Climate Plans

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Africa Climate Week formally closed today, concluding a five-day programme of events in Accra – all of which have been hosted by the Government of the Republic of Ghana in the city’s International Conference Center.

At the summary event, speakers presented key takeaways to Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for this year’s Climate Action Summit, who will carry them as input into the September gathering. These takeaways were organized around three themes, which have provided the focus of discussions at the Climate Week – Cities & Local Action, Energy Transition, and Nature-Based Solutions – and which correspond directly to three of the ‘Transformational Areas’ that the United Nations Secretary-General has specially selected to guide the Summit in New York City later in the year.

The Special Envoy reminded delegates attending the summary event, which was called ‘Pathway from Accra to the UN Climate Action Summit’, that the September Summit must deliver not a declaration, but a concrete list of actions: “The commitment of the UN Secretary-General is to urgently follow-up with actors that have pledged commitments during the Summit on the progress and implementation of those commitments. We have been looking at this meeting here in Accra to identify actions that are relevant from across the region, such as those on resilience and adaptation.”

The rapporteurs presenting these takeaways – Mr. Manuel de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique; H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma, Chair of the H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma Foundation; and Ms. Djatougbe R. Aziaka, President of Togo Welfare and Journalist-Director of EcoConscience TV –addressed the Special Envoy to synthesize the discussions.

But before addressing these takeaways, the Mayor of Quelimane Mr. Manuel de Araújo spoke of how his region is presently suffering the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Alluding to Cyclone Idai, which has hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, affecting more than 2 million people, he said: “I think I am well positioned to talk about climate change as my people are experiencing its consequences right now.”

One trend that was highlighted multiple times during the Summary event – and which formed a central part of Monday and Tuesday’s NDC Regional Dialogue – is that African policymakers are now concertedly focusing on the opportunities of their countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Nationally Determined Contributions are national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement.

However, as was also evident during Wednesday’s high-level segment, the barrier to securing this level of progress remains adequate investment, which needs to be facilitated with proper enabling environments and regionally-tailored financial instruments, such as green and climate-themed bonds, special-purpose bonds, and crowdfunding.

There are many signs of progress.  According to the “Bonds and Climate Change State of the Market 2018” report, an estimated 1.45 trillion green and climate-allied bonds were issued in 2018 alone. Meanwhile, the African Development Bank will double its climate finance commitments for the period 2020-2025. And at the Inaugural regional One Planet Summit in Nairobi last week, the African Development Bank committed at least USD 25 billion towards climate finance, pledging that it will allocate 40% of its annual approvals to climate finance by 2020.

Africa Climate Week is the first of three annual regional climate events this year – the latter two being the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week and the Asia Pacific Climate Week – information around each of these events will be released shortly. The Africa Climate Week is being organized by a number of core partners, including UN Climate Change, Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, the World Bank Group, African Development Bank, West African Development Bank, CTCN, UNEP, UNEP DTU Partnership, UNDP and IETA.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Access to safe water for all is key to sustainable development

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

With climate change and population growth putting increasing pressure on finite water resources, FAO is urging countries to step up efforts to increase water efficiency and provide access to safe water for all. Ensuring global water security is fundamental to achieve Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN agency said on the occasion of World Water Day.  

“Water is universal, it crosses borders and nourishes all life-water is a human right,” said FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo, speaking at the closing ceremony of the first International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG), co-organized by FAO in Praia, Cabo Verde (19-22 March). “Just like water, we need to flow forward-to leave no one behind, like this year's theme, which reflects the aspiration of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”

Billions still living without safe water

In her remarks, Semedo warned about numerous water-related challenges that are hampering global development efforts especially in water-scarce countries where “billions of people are still living without safe water, struggling to survive”.

According to the recently published World Water Development Report, a joint effort by UN agencies and partners under UN-Water, there are more than two billion people living in countries with high water stress.

“As the availability of freshwater decreases due to population growth, urbanization and changing living standards-we see an increase in agricultural, industrial and energy requirements. This struggle for balance is our greatest challenge,” Semedo said, noting that by 2050, global water demand will rise by 20 to 30 percent, while supply will dwindle alarmingly.

Adverse impacts of climate change on food and water security

In her speech, Semedo highlighted that the adverse impacts of climate change continue to undermine food and water security.

“Dry areas tend to become drier; droughts tend to become more frequent and severe; and coastal areas more affected by, among other things, seawater intrusion due to rising sea level. Agriculture is by far the most affected sector in periods of drought leading to crop losses and reduced production,” she said. “Such losses hit farmers and the rural population hardest, especially for smallholders who run over 80 percent of the world's farms on areas smaller than two hectares.”

She argued that, according to recent studies, droughts affected more than a billion people worldwide in a ten-year period, underlining that water scarcity and droughts, sea level rises, desertification, and ecosystem loss are strong social stressors that also contribute to forced migration.

How to tackle water scarcity

Semedo pointed to the need to find innovative sources of water, including recycling wastewater and rainwater harvesting, and increasing water efficiency, especially in agricultural sectors.

“In FAO, we promote measures like selection of drought and salinity resistant species, sustainable soil management and water harvesting. These innovations can go a long way to support farmers, especially smallholders, to guarantee food production in periods of water scarcity,” Semedo said.  

Agriculture accounts for 69 percent of global water withdrawals, she said, noting that about 80 percent of the world's cropland is rain fed, producing 60 percent of food.   

Cabo Verde sets a good example

Semedo referred to Cabo Verde's experience as a positive example other countries can draw on when dealing with water scarcity.  “Cabo Verde is a Small Island Developing State with a dry and unpredictable climate. This exposes us to significant risks for the primary sector, especially agriculture.”

She praised the country's determination to ensure the sustainable management of water by implementing multiple adaptation strategies related to water security, including the integrated management of water resources, food production, ecosystems and tourism; developing agro-silvo-pastoral production systems; and protecting coastal zones.

“Despite the country's arid climate, by adopting innovative technologies such as desalination, solar power energy, reuse of wastewater for agriculture and even fog harvesting, 90 percent of the population has access to potable water. That is a highly commendable figure,” Semedo added.

She concluded by saying that FAO will continue to support governments with coping strategies in drought-resistant crops, water harvesting, saline agriculture and other techniques.

“There is an African proverb – When all the water has gone, only the largest stones will remain on the riverbed. We do not want to see the water gone, so let us think of these large stones as the bedrock of our collaboration,” she said.

At the conclusion of the WASAG Forum, delegates from 47 countries adopted today the Praia Commitments, which aim to promote sustainable water management as a driver of development, maximizing synergies across the 2030 Agenda, and support farmers with improved access to financing, innovative technologies and sound water management practices.

A special event to celebrate the World Water Day was also organised at FAO headquarters in Rome with representatives from Senegal, Spain and the Vatican to raise awareness about the importance of water in the context of rural poverty.

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

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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).
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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.

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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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Source: Apo-Opa

‘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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Source: Apo-Opa

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