World Food Programme expands emergency operation in Zimbabwe as drought and economic hardship plunge millions into hunger

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

World Food Programme (WFP)
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The World Food Programme (WFP) is rapidly expanding an already sizeable emergency operation in Zimbabwe where drought, flooding and macro-economic meltdown have plunged 7.7 million people – half the population – into severe hunger.

Funds are required immediately if WFP is to meet the growing needs of the hardest-hit Zimbabweans.  It plans to more than double the number of people it is helping by January to 4.1 million, providing life-saving rations of cereal, pulses and vegetable oil and a protective nutrition ration for children under 5 years of age.

“We’re deep into a vicious cycle of sky-rocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest and will be tough to break,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “With poor rains forecast yet again in the run-up to the main harvest in April, the scale of hunger in the country is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Zimbabwe’s hunger crisis – the worst for more than a decade – is part of an unprecedented climate-driven disaster gripping southern Africa. Temperatures in the region are rising at more than twice the average global rate and ever more erratic rainy seasons are hitting the country’s subsistence farmers hard.

The crisis is being exacerbated by a dire shortage of foreign currency, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment, lack of fuel, prolonged power outages and large-scale livestock losses, afflicting urban residents and rural villagers alike.  

WFP’s planned scale-up is a huge logistical undertaking, with the limited availability of Zimbabwean dollars and surging prices for basics presaging a near wholesale switch from cash assistance to food distributions.

It envisages the sourcing, purchase and delivery to the land-locked country of more than 240,000 metric tons of commodities through June, a challenge all the more daunting because drought and flooding have eroded food supplies across much of Africa.

An estimated US$293 million is required for WFP’s emergency response with less than 30 percent of that sum secured.

“We must not let our immediate focus on emergency aid distract us from investing in the resilience programs that will help chronically hungry people cope with the ever-more severe impacts of erratic weather,” Beasley said. “We urge the international community to step up funding to address the root causes of long-term hunger in Zimbabwe.” 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).
Source: Apo-Opa

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) preparing for major expansion of sports programs for people with disabilities

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
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With the goal of increasing sports opportunities and societal acceptance for people with disabilities, the International Committee of the Red Cross is in the midst of a major expansion of its sports programs for people with disabilities.

Next year the ICRC will expand its programs into nine new countries*, bringing the number of countries to 27 where the ICRC is helping to support those with disabilities through sports. That represents a 50 percent increase in ICRC’s programs.

The long-term goal is big: To break down the stigma associated with physical disability and create structures in societies that allow people with disabilities to reach their full potential.

“Let’s make sure people with disabilities are not held back by misconceptions of what they are capable of,” said Jess Markt, ICRC’s Disabilities, Sport and Inclusion Advisor. “Let’s promote pathways to employment and education, and let’s counter the assumption that someone who had childhood polio or was hit by a landmine cannot function as a parent or productive employee. They can.”

Tuesday, 3 December is the International Day of Disabled Persons, which can serve as a reminder and a conversation starter about people who live with disabilities year-round. Markt — once a university-level athlete in the high jump at the University of Oregon in the United States before a car accident put him in a wheelchair – leads ICRC’s sports programs for the disabled worldwide.

“December 3 has become a day that we can focus on issues like inclusion. It’s an important day to call out disability rights and awareness worldwide. The challenge is the need to remember and include this community year-round,” said Markt, who is currently attending a major wheelchair basketball tournament in Pataya, Thailand, where six ICRC-supported teams are competing as part of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics qualifier.

One country where the ICRC works with disabled athletes is South Sudan. Eighty wheelchair basketball players, including 15 women, are now gathering in Juba for three weeks of training that will culminate in a tournament Dec. 12-13.

“When I’m playing, I forget about my disability. I put all my heart in it because it’s an opportunity to learn,” said one player, Mary Hezekiah. “Nothing would be impossible for people with disabilities if we were given the right means, but we are seen as nobodies.”

There are few services available in South Sudan for people living with disabilities and only three orthopedic centres—all supported by the ICRC—where people can receive physical therapy and mobility devices like prosthetics and wheelchairs.

“We see new patients every day at the orthocenters, many of whom suffered amputations following gunshot wounds,” said James Reynolds, the ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan. “It is a stark reminder of how this conflict has irreversibly altered the lives of so many. We hope that this tournament helps to break the stigma and exclusion around disabilities.”

* Nine new countries: Guinea Bissau, Laos, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Togo, Ukraine, Vietnam.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Source: Apo-Opa

UNHCR outraged at senseless attacks on humanitarians in South Sudan

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for increased protection for aid workers in South Sudan after this weekend’s targeting of an international relief agency by armed men.

The devastating attack happened during the early morning of Sunday December 01, when armed men broke into an NGO compound in Bunj town in Upper Nile’s Maban County, severely assaulted staff and took their belongings.

UNHCR strongly condemns this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable South Sudanese nationals.

The past few months have seen an increase in attacks on aid workers in the country. Sunday’s violence happened only a month after three United Nations staff working in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria Region were killed.

The world’s youngest country has remained among the world’s most violent places to deliver aid. Ensuring the safety and security of aid workers in South Sudan has now become a major challenge. This continuously hampers humanitarian action for some of the world’s most desperate people.

UNHCR calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and humanitarian workers from violence and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice immediately.

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

Canon reaffirms its commitment to Ghana and Africa at Innovation Summit

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA)
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The Innovation Africa 2019 Summit opens today in Accra, Ghana. The event is an important platform for African decision-makers in education and ICT. The Summit is a key opportunity for Canon to continue to increase its presence on the continent

Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) (www.Canon-ME.com), a division of Canon Middle East created in 2015 and a subsidiary of Canon Europe, is proud to be a first-time partner of the Innovation Africa Summit, an African ministerial forum bringing together leaders and senior officials from more than 40 countries around the themes of education, innovation and information technologies.

Somesh Adukia, managing director of CCNA, will open the Africa Innovation Summit today at 12.30 with a speech to exhibitors and government representatives present. Mr Adukia will present Canon’s strategy in Africa for 2020 and will talk about the importance of achieving balanced economic and social development on the African continent.

Canon has been providing imaging solutions to businesses and individuals directly in Africa for some 15 years. With training as one of its key commitments in the region, Canon launched the Miraisha Programme in 2014 in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda to support employability initiatives for young Africans.

This exhibition is also an opportunity to discover and exchange with Canon's teams on the various topics related to education and ICT. Canon has the pleasure of welcoming you to their stand.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA).

Media enquiries to:
Canon Middle East
Mai Youssef
Mai.youssef@canon-me.com

About Canon Middle East:
Canon Middle East (www.Canon-ME.com), a subsidiary of Canon Europe, is the operational headquarters of Canon in the Middle East and North Africa, based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

Founded in 1937 with the specific objective of making high quality cameras available to the general public and driven by its tireless passion for the power of image, Canon has successfully transferred its technology to other markets and risen to the rank of world leader in the provision of imaging solutions to businesses and individuals. Our solutions range from digital compact and Reflex cameras to multifunction and production printers and from lenses for television broadcasting to portable radiography systems, all supported by a range of added value services.

Canon invests massively in R&D to offer the widest and most innovative range of products and meet the creative needs of our customers. From amateur photographers to professional printing companies, Canon enables each customer to bring their passion for images to life.  For more detailed information about Canon Middle East, please visit: www.Canon-ME.com

About Innovation Africa 2019:
The official ministerial summit in Africa — from 3 to 5 December — Accra, Ghana
Innovation Africa 2019 (Innovation-Africa.com) has soundly positioned itself as the continent’s number 1 high-level ministerial forum, where industry partners can schedule meetings and engage directly with ministers and senior officials from more than 40 countries. It is Africa’s go-to event for the education, innovation and ICT sectors. Leading industry partners agree that, of all the events on offer, Innovation Africa offers the most productive and agreeable experience, with its emphasis on the quality of attendees and the high level of participating decision-makers.

For more information, please visit: https://innovation-africa.com/2019/

Source: Apo-Opa

Ambassador of Belarus S.Terentyev presents Credentials to the President of Egypt

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus
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On December 2, 2019 the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Arab Republic of Egypt, Sergei Terentiev, presented his Credentials to the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

During the ceremony, the Ambassador of Belarus and the President of Egypt exchanged views on the state and prospects of developing bilateral relations. The parties noted the friendly nature of the Belarusian-Egyptian interaction, as well as mutual readiness to contribute to its further strengthening.

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

Press Release on the Road Disaster in Tunisia

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Portugal
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It is with sorrow that the Portuguese Government takes note of the road disaster that occurred near Ain Snoussi, in the northwest of Tunisia, which caused 24 fatalities and 19 injured, some in serious condition.

The Portuguese Government expresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the victims – all young Tunisians between the ages of 20 and 30. It further expresses its solidarity towards the People and Government of the Tunisian Republic.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Portugal.
Source: Apo-Opa

‘Continuing Deterioration’ Leaves Mali Facing Critical Security Level: UN Expert

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

UN News

“I am gravely concerned at the continuing deterioration of the overall security situation, which has now reached a critical threshold”, said Alioune Tine, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali.

“It is time to recognize the inadequacy of the current security responses so Mali can move to more appropriate alternatives as soon as possible”.

He maintained that along with the dire political, economic and social climate, a lack of State institutions, or their prolonged failure, are causing “more and more frustration and resentment among the population”.

And civilians in many areas, particularly in central Mopti, are being denied basic human rights, including the right to life.

Roots of violence

The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a failed military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. 

In the face of increasingly violent and deadly attacks on the Malian Army by terrorist groups seeking to destabilize democracy and undermine the morale of the troops, the State is becoming progressively weakened.

“If this trend continues, it will become the most serious threat to regional and international peace”, Mr. Tine stated.

The expert also highlighted worsening levels of violence, robbery, rape and kidnapping in Timbuktu, and said that an unpunished resurgence of transnational crime could pull the whole society apart.

Between August 2017 and September 2019, there were 101 security incidents, which resulted in 94 deaths. This was in addition to seven kidnappings and 21 carjackings.

Moreover, sexual violence is running high, with 956 cases reported between January and October 2019 – nearly half allegedly carried out by armed groups – according to UN figures.

“The victims’ organizations I met expressed fears about an explosion of community tensions, which is the consequence of difficulties encountered in accessing basic social services and humanitarian aid”, lamented Mr. Tine.

‘Worrying frequency’

“In central Mali, the worrying frequency of terrorist attacks against the army threatens the foundations of State security”, the independent UN expert said.

And “equally deplorable” is that terrorist attacks are being directed against schools, with property destroyed and teachers threatened in Timbuktu – the ancient city temporarily overrun by militants in 2012. A third of the schools in Mopti and 60 per cent in Gao have been closed.

Mr. Tine flagged that the security situation was also gradually worsening in the central and southern regions of Ségou, Kayes and Koulikoro, but he had been told of a marked improvement in Kidal in recent months.

“Everyone we met deplored the slow pace at which the peace agreement was being implemented,” Mr. Tine relayed.

The Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali was signed in June 2015 by the Coordination des Mouvements de l'Azawad armed group, following its signature in May 2015 by the Government and a third party, the Plateforme coalition of armed groups.

According to Mr. Tine, it is “urgent” to create the conditions for the agreement’s success, including that mechanisms are in place and working correctly, promoting transparency, ensuring that the State is functioning across the whole country and finding concrete ways to combat terrorism.

“Political, religious and traditional leadership must also demonstrate a high sense of responsibility and work together to maintain national cohesion and to better address the security challenges that threaten the unity of the country”, the independent expert detailed.

Mr. Tine will present a full report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.

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Source: Apo-Opa

Launch of Humanitarian Action for Children

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

UNICEF South Sudan
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Who: UNICEF South Sudan Representative, Mohamed Ag Ayoya; UNICEF Chief of field operations, Mads Oyen; UNICEF field workers

What:  UNICEF is launching the Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for 2020. The HAC outlines the most immediate needs for children for the coming year and how UNICEF will respond to them if adequate funding is secured. 4.1 million children in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance in 2020.

When: Thursday, 5 December 2019, 10:00 – 11:00 (local time; GMT+3) 

Where: UNICEF Office, Toto Chan Compound

Why: The situation for children in South Sudan deteriorated in 2019 because of a prolonged humanitarian situation and new emerging crises. UNICEF is committed to realizing children’s rights by ensuring access to adequate basic services, not only ensuring children are surviving, but also thriving.

Please see highlights of the agenda for the event:

 *The agenda is subject to change

10:00-10:10

Welcome and introduction

10:10-10:25

Presentation of the Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for South Sudan  

10:25-10:35

UNICEF workers presenting personal experiences from the field

10:35-10:45

Remarks by the UNICEF South Sudan Representative.

10:45-11:00

Media Q&A

11:00

END

The media is therefore invited to cover this event. Do please confirm your presence.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF South Sudan.
Source: Apo-Opa

UNMISS acts to deter further violence between communities in Maper

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
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Seventy-five United Nations peacekeepers have been temporarily re-deployed from Rumbek to Maper to deter further violence between communities in the northern Lakes region of South Sudan.

The fresh deployment of Nepalese troops serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan follows reports from local authorities that as many as 79 people have been killed and a further 101 injured in a series of communal clashes and revenge attacks between the Gak and Manuer communities, about 100 kilometres north of Rumbek.

While political violence has largely subsided in South Sudan since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018, intercommunal clashes continue to result in the killing and injuring of civilians, cattle raiding and the looting of property.

“This fighting must stop,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer. “We are urging the communities involved and their leaders to put an end to the violence and to come together in reconciliation and peace for the good of their people.” 

An attempt was initially made by UNMISS to deploy its troops to Maper by road. However, damage caused by heavy rains left the main route impassable. Instead, the Mission transported the peacekeepers into the area via helicopters. It is also flying in heavy equipment, including vehicles, to enable the peacekeepers to travel more easily between the remote communities. The troops will continue to patrol the area in the coming weeks to provide a protective presence.

The UNMISS Force Commander and the Head of the Mission’s Field Office in Rumbek along with human rights and civil affairs staff also travelled to Maper yesterday to assess the security situation. They were welcomed by local authorities and community members who indicated a willingness to take part in mediation and peace-building activities supported by UNMISS.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Source: Apo-Opa

Neighborhood advocacy forum strengthens civil-military relationship in Kapoeta (By Okello James)

03.December.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

Trust and confidence has been reinforced between the civilian population and military forces of the Sudan People Liberation Army-in Opposition and the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) in Kapoeta, located in Eastern Equatoria.

“It used to be very difficult for civilians to interact with the opposition forces. It was always a problem to be seen even talking with them,” said Stella Lorika, the state advisor on economic affairs about relations prior to the neighbourhood advocacy forum she participated in.

The gathering, which was also attended by government representatives, military personnel, chiefs, women, youth and village leaders, was organized in collaboration with the ministry of information and the national non-governmental organization Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO). Its focus was on explaining the content of the revitalized peace agreement to all stakeholders, but local issues were also addressed.

“There are criminal activities happening along the roads and within our communities. These acts are being committed by citizens with arms, so there is a need for us as military personnel to protect civilians,” said Major General Yousif Lotipe, leader of the opposition forces in Kapoeta. “When we moved to the Lowareng cantonment site, the security situation was appalling. We have now contained it.”

Caroline Waudo, head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s field office in Torit, urged all parties to make good use of the time remaining till the establishment of a transitional government of national unity is due.

“The extension of the pre-transitional period by 100 days is a platform for leaders at all levels to live up to their commitments on the implementation of pending provisions in the revitalized agreement,” she said.

Events like this neighborhood advocacy forum for peace will be held in several other locations throughout the country as part of the peacekeeping mission’s mandate to spread the word about the peace deal signed in September 2018.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
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Source: Apo-Opa