Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Sudan

18.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Africa Regional Media Hub
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Thank you, Mr. President. And welcome, it’s great to have you join us in the Council today.

Mr. President, over the past days, we have seen a dramatic and significant series of events unfold in Sudan. However, the demands of the Sudanese for a representative government have not yet been met, and the situation remains tense. Protesters and opposition groups are calling for a quick transition to civilian authority, and the African Union said on April 15 that it will withdraw Sudan’s membership if the transition is not made within 15 days.

We agree with the Sudanese people that the first step is forging a new transitional body that includes leadership and participation by civilians representing the diversity and breadth of Sudanese society.

Mr. President, we are concerned by the impact of the events in Khartoum on the security and stability of Darfur. Including last Saturday’s deadly attack on an IDP camp that other speakers have cited. And we continue to receive reports of violence resulting from protests in Darfur. In addition, the United States is deeply concerned that violence between Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid faction increased during the reporting period. We are also troubled that crimes against displaced persons and vulnerable civilians increased, and with them a rise in fatalities.

Such violence worsens the possibilities for humanitarian response in an already severe situation, and has prevented humanitarian actors from accessing the most vulnerable to provide life-saving services and assistance.

Violence has also prevented UN peacekeepers from carrying out important prevention and response patrols. Despite these challenges, the United States strongly encourages UNAMID to re-double its efforts to address the spike in violence and to prioritize the safety and security of civilians.

Mr. President, the joint UN-AU report on UNAMID’s future, due in May, is an opportunity to provide a set of prioritized benchmarks while also recommending possible trajectories for the mission. The United States expects the strategic report to also consider the events of the last several months and weeks and their impact on the stability and security of Darfur.

Even with the significant events, the government and parties should show measurable and sustainable progress on prioritized benchmarks. In particular, demonstrating the government’s ability and capacity to protect and provide for the Darfur people and addressing root causes of the conflict. Absent such evidence of progress, the United States is supportive of this Council considering all options as we seek to bring long-term peace and stability to Darfur.

The United States commends the people of Sudan for their resilience and commitment to non-violence as they express their legitimate demand for inclusive and representative government that respects and protects human rights.

The United States urges all parties to continue the process toward an inclusive, civilian transition, amid an atmosphere of restraint and calm. Mr. President, we stand ready to work with partners in this Council and the region to support those efforts.

I thank you.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.
Source: Apo-Opa

International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for action from Europe and US as conflict in Tripoli, Libya worsens

18.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Rescue Committee
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The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is concerned by increasing fighting around Tripoli, Libya, which last night claimed the lives of 11 civilians and injured 22, including an IRC staff member. Global leaders have been unable to present a united front in the face of the violence. The IRC is calling on European leaders to come up with a unified response to the crisis and insist on an immediate ceasefire, and for the US to re-energize its diplomatic muscle and steer the country away from civil war and further humanitarian crisis.

Daily clashes continue to claim the lives of civilians, while more than 20,000 people have been displaced so far. Last night’s attack demonstrates that the fighting shows no signs of stopping, which could define Libya’s future for years to come.

Thomas Garofalo, International Rescue Committee’s Libya Director, said:

“This offensive could set Libya back years. The people of Tripoli are being terrorized by shells and rockets, with homes destroyed and civilians scrambling to get away from the fighting, including our own medical personnel. Those who attack civilians, neighborhoods, and hospitals must face justice, or surely this conflict will get much worse.

Libya’s latest turmoil illustrates the precarious situation the country is in. The impact on refugees and migrants is far worse, with 2,700 still caught in detention centers amid active conflict. As they remain trapped, we must be reminded that the only solution to the crisis is a political one. Only by concerted and diplomatic efforts will a further escalation be prevented and it is vital that European countries and the United States step up their efforts to avoid large-scale civilian harm and a deepening of the humanitarian crisis.”

The injury of an IRC staff member serves to highlight the great dangers aid workers put themselves in, and as a reminder of the insecurity on the ground as people fear for their lives. The International Rescue Committee is working tirelessly in affected areas to provide urgent medical care to Libyans and non-Libyans who have been caught in the midst of the violence.

As people have been forced to flee their homes, the IRC mobile medical team continues to treat patients at health centers close to the areas where people are gathering. Since the outburst of violence, the IRC has deployed trauma staff to primary health centers and shelters across the region to provide emergency medical care, equipment and essential medical supplies.

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

Readout of World Bank's First Regional Summit for the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative

18.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

U.S. Department of State

Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump gave the keynote speech during the first ever West Africa Regional Summit of the World Bank Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), meeting with and hearing from local government officials, business leaders, and women entrepreneurs from the region. The United States was a founding member of We-Fi in 2017. In its first year, the We-Fi allocated $120 million toward project proposals helping women entrepreneurs around the world, which will help mobilize $1.6 billion in additional funds from commercial and other sources.

During the Summit, Ms. Trump discussed the U.S. government's work, in partnership with international organizations and the private sector, to empower 50 million women economically by 2025 through the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. The event also featured remarks from U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Christopher Coons, highlighting the importance of this bipartisan policy priority. The event concluded with a call to action by U.S. and African leaders, as well as leadership from Multilateral Development Banks, to enhance and target efforts to ensure equal and legal access to land, finance, and markets for African women.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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The future of Rugby in Africa discussed at a meeting of Presidents in London

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Rugby Africa

The President of Rugby Africa (www.RugbyAfrique.com), Mr Khaled Babbou, attended meetings in London on the 16th of April, with his counterpart from Rugby Europe, Mr Octavian Morariu, and members of World Rugby to discuss the  project of a World Rugby Nations Championship and its implications for Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries.

Mr Babbou, accompanied by the President of Ghana Rugby and Member of the Rugby Africa EXCO, Mr Herbert Mensah, met with the President of World Rugby, Mr Bill Beaumont and the CEO of World Rugby, Mr Brett Gosper, David Carrigy and other World Rugby Executives ahead of the meeting on the World Rugby Nations Championship.

The discussions touched on the future of Rugby in Africa, its immense potential and the strategies to keep growing the Game in Africa and improving performance at the same time.

According to Mr Babbou the encounter was a good platform to give his vision for the growth and development of Rugby in Africa as well as the challenges to Mr Beaumont and Mr Gosper and to touch base on the shared mission and vision of both rugby bodies to grow the global rugby family and to make it a sport for all, true to its values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect.

“As one of the fastest growing Regional Associations of World Rugby the meeting served to confirm Rugby Africa’s commitment to grow and develop rugby on the African continent with its huge untapped potential despite the challenges it is facing,” Babbou said.

Mr Herbert Mensah was invited to join the Rugby Africa EXCO in Marrakesh, Morocco, at its 13th General Assembly to contribute his experience in building commercial value for Rugby Africa.

“Both the formal and informal discussions laid the platform for Rugby Africa to work closely with its governing body, World Rugby, in chasing shared objectives and to open the doors for further discussions on support for a continent that has enormous scope for growth,” Babbou said

Both Babbou and Mensah believe the major challenge is and will be to establish sustainable funding for the development and tournament programmes of Rugby Africa as well as funding that will go beyond that to support its high-performance Unions to excel once it enters the global stage of Rugby.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.

About Rugby Africa:
Created in 1986, Rugby Africa (www.RugbyAfrique.com), previously the African Confederation of Rugby (Confédération Africaine de Rugby – CAR), is one of the six regional associations composing World Rugby (www.WorldRugby.org), the international organisation responsible for the governing of Rugby Union and Rugby Sevens. Rugby Africa unites all of the African countries which play rugby union, rugby sevens, and women’s rugby. Rugby Africa organises the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup 2019, and Africa 7, the qualifying competition for the Olympic Games 2020. Rugby Africa has 39 members, including 18 members and associated members of World Rugby, 14 members and associated members of Rugby Africa and 7 new countries collaborating with Rugby Africa.

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IMF Reaches Staff Level Agreement on the Fifth Review of Tunisia’s Reform Program Supported by the Extended Fund Facility Arrangement

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Monetary Fund (IMF)
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A staff-level agreement was reached between IMF staff and the Tunisian authorities on the Fifth review of Tunisia’s economic reform program supported by the Extended Fund Facility arrangement; The authorities and IMF staff agreed on policy and reform steps to ensure that the budget deficit target of 3.9 percent of GDP (before grants) for 2019 can be met to contain the high debt and elevated financing needs.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Björn Rother met with the Tunisian authorities in Washington, DC on the sidelines of the IMF Meetings on April 11-16 to discuss the authorities’ economic reform program and their policy plans for the Fifth Review of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. At the end of these discussions, Mr. Rother made the following statement:

“The IMF team and the Tunisian authorities have reached a staff-level agreement on the Fifth Review of the country’s economic reform program supported by the IMF’s EFF arrangement. Completion of the Review is subject to the approval by the IMF’s Executive Board. Tunisia will benefit from a sixth disbursement of SDR 177 million (around US$247 million) following the Executive Board’s review that is expected to take place by early June 2019. This will bring total disbursements under the EFF to about US$1.6 billion and will help unlock additional financing from Tunisia’s other external partners.

“We had fruitful discussions with the authorities on their economic policy agenda aimed at stabilizing and reforming the economy in the months ahead, taking into account the difficult socio-economic situation and the challenging regional environment. The authorities and staff agreed on policy and reform measures to ensure that the budget deficit target of 3.9 percent of GDP (before grants) for 2019 can be met to contain the high debt and elevated financing needs. In parallel, the authorities are working on strengthening the social safety net for lower-income families to help protect them from the potential impact of the reforms, supported by the new databank of vulnerable households . Monetary and exchange rate policies will remain geared towards reducing inflation that threatens the standards of living of all Tunisians and on supporting an improvement in the large current account deficit through better price competitiveness.

“The IMF team thanks Minister of Finance Chalghoum, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation Laâdhari, Minister of Major Reforms Rajhi, and Central Bank Governor El Abassi, as well as their staff for constructive discussions.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Source: Apo-Opa

Declaration by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the European Union on Sudan

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Council of the European Union
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The people of Sudan have shown extraordinary courage and determination in their quest for peaceful change. The Transitional Military Council has exhibited its willingness to engage in negotiation with all political forces. The real architects of this change are the Sudanese people and they expect their legitimate demands to be addressed by all sides and in good faith.

A swift and orderly handover to a civilian transitional body with full decision-making authority is the only way to enable a peaceful, credible and inclusive political process that can meet the aspirations of Sudanese society and lead to much-needed political and economic reforms. The position taken by the African Union's Peace and Security Council is welcome and important in this context.

In the current situation, we expect that all parties in Sudan exercise utmost restraint, prevent further violence and ensure the respect of fundamental freedoms. Perpetrators of violence and abuse, now and in the past, must be held to account. In this regard, the EU recalls that the Rome Statute and the UNSC Resolution 1593 create an obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

Beyond the lifting of the curfew, further confidence-building measures by the Transitional Military Council would ensure a conducive environment for the political negotiation ahead, to turn once and for all the page in Sudan, as the people are asking:  the liberation of all remaining political detainees including Darfuri students; a full, timely and unhindered humanitarian access across the territory, in particular in Darfur and the Two Areas; the immediate reform of the security forces.

The EU is ready to engage with an inclusive civilian transitional body, once in place, to design together our future relationship beginning with immediate support measures to the Sudanese people who continue to face a dire economic and humanitarian situation.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Council of the European Union.
Source: Apo-Opa

21 teams compete in Egypt’s 2030 Hackathon to achieve Zero Hunger and Gender Equality

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Information Centre - Cairo
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The United Nations Egypt in partnership with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, RiseUp, and PepsiCo are organizing a three-day Hackathon where 21 teams of youth aged between 18-29 will compete to offer innovative digital solutions designed to tackle two of Egypt’s national development priorities and Sustainable Development Goals, Zero Hunger and Gender Equality.

The United Nations, represented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Women, and the World Food Programme (WFP), will support the competing youth throughout the Hackathon with mentorship programs and technical sessions on achieving the two goals. Participants will be introduced to information, opportunities and challenges as well as programs targeting Zero Hunger and Gender Equality.

Teams will present their digital solutions to expert panels and on the final day, a panel of judges including the United Nations Resident Coordinator Richard Dictus, Her Excellency Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly and CEO of Pepsico Mohamed Shelbaya will select a winner from three finalists.

“Egypt’s youth are a creative, solution-oriented force,” said Richard Dictus, “it is essential to continue forming these kinds of partnerships that include youth, the private sector, the Egyptian government and the United Nations in order to succeed in achieving the development agenda.”

Pepsico will award the winners a sum of EGP 500,000 to support the implementation of their project.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Information Centre – Cairo.
Source: Apo-Opa

SRSG Ghassan Salame: Heavy shelling of residential neighbourhood, killing innocent people is as blatant violation of international laws

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)
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Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salame condemns in the strongest terms the overnight heavy rocket shelling on the high-density residential neighbourhood of Abu Slim in Tripoli which resulted in scores of civilian deaths and injuries. According to initial medical sources, civilian casualties include injured women and children and one family that lost a mother, daughter, and grand-daughter.

“With great sadness, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and I wish a speedy recovery for those injured. The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” The Special Representative said.

As of yesterday, the total confirmed civilian casualties is 54, including 14 dead and 40 wounded. Of these, four are health workers in the line of duty. The catastrophic impact upon the civilian population is expected to continue to rise as long as the hostilities continue.

International humanitarian and human rights laws must be fully respected and all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure must be taken.  

The Special Representative stresses that, “Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Source: Apo-Opa

Ethiopia: MSF launches an emergency response in Gedeo as displacement crisis leads to alarming malnutrition rates

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Médecins sans frontières (MSF)

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has launched an emergency response in the Gedeo area of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), and is calling on humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia to urgently scale up their support for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the numerous camps in the area.

MSF is concerned for the welfare of tens of thousands of vulnerable people displaced in southern Ethiopia, following an assessment that revealed alarming findings about their nutritional status, poor living conditions and limited availability of safe drinking water.

After screening children aged under five at eight IDP sites in the Gedeb woreda [1] of Gedeo at the end of March, MSF teams found rates of severe acute and global acute malnutrition to be well above the emergency threshold. While they were not part of the assessment, MSF also saw a high number of malnourished pregnant women.

“We saw an immediate need to scale up the response for the treatment of malnourished children, as the few facilities in the area were completely overwhelmed and could not offer the specialised care needed for children with complications. One of the biggest problems is that malnourished children are arriving too late to be treated, which shows there are gaps in the community outreach component of the current response,” said Markus Boening, MSF field coordinator in Gedeo.

MSF teams are now supporting the Regional Health Bureau with a focus on nutrition. Over the past two weeks they have treated 205 children aged under five for severe acute malnutrition in two stabilisation centres.

Local health authorities have also reported several thousand cases of watery diarrhoea in recent weeks. MSF’s response will expand in the coming days to include improving the water and sanitation conditions in some of the IDP camps and informal settlements, including increasing the access to clean water supplies and latrines.

“The camps are overcrowded and in extremely poor conditions. The people living there are at risk of outbreaks of disease. Their health is very vulnerable after being forced to move so many times,” said Boening.

MSF has returned to Gedeo only three months after closing one of its largest emergency interventions of 2018, which was launched after a massive number of people were displaced by ethnic violence. At the peak of the displacement crisis last July, Ethiopian authorities reported that close to one million people had been forced from their homes.

By December, health indicators had improved, hospital admissions had decreased and many people had either returned to their homes or left the collective sites. Yet, the situation has dramatically deteriorated since then, as reports of insecurity, threats of violence and a lack of support led many people to return to Gedeo.

“Those IDPs that did not move back were absorbed into host communities. However, resources in these communities are depleted and staying there means the IDPs cannot access humanitarian aid. As a result, many are now going to the new IDP sites in search of assistance,” said MSF’s head of mission in Ethiopia, Mohamed Morchid.

Assessments are on-going to identify further gaps in the provision of nutritional support and healthcare, but medical services alone cannot solve the multiple needs of this distressed population.

“It is crucial to continue mobilising efforts – at the local, regional and federal level – and to scale up the delivery of aid to ensure that people’s pressing needs for healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation and food are covered. It is also important that people can move freely and safely to reach humanitarian aid, not only in Gedeo but also in other regions of Ethiopia with internally displaced people.” says Morchid.

[1] A local administrative area in Ethiopia equivalent to a district

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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Rockets fired on Tripoli: Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) calls for end to fighting in Libya and for universal support for the political process

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

The Federal Council, Switzerland
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The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is gravely concerned about the military escalation following the attack launched by the Libyan National Army on 4 April and the subsequent fighting around Tripoli. More than 100 people have lost their lives and thousands more have been forced to flee.

The centre of the Libyan capital came under rocket fire last night. At least six civilians died as a result of the attack.

Switzerland calls on all parties to the conflict to put an end to military operations and guarantee a truce to allow humanitarian operations to proceed. It also calls on all parties to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure the protection of the civilian population. It condemns the use of heavy artillery by all parties and, in particular, the bombardments that have hit medical and educational facilities in recent days, and reiterates that targeting civilian facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Switzerland is also particularly concerned about the situation of the migrants held in detention centres near to combat zones and calls for every effort to be made on all sides to ensure their safety and protection.

A peaceful transition in Libya can only be achieved through dialogue and an inclusive political solution. The FDFA therefore calls on all parties to support the efforts of the United Nations and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé, to seek a political solution. It reiterates its support for these efforts, which are the only way to find a solution that is acceptable to all sections of Libyan society and that guarantees equitable distribution of the country's resources. 

Switzerland also calls on all members of the international community to join in unified, consistent support for the political process and to reject a military solution.

Switzerland remains active in Libya through peacebuilding and humanitarian aid efforts, in addition to migration-related projects. Its humanitarian commitments support the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross and organisations active around the country. Switzerland is also involved in conflict transformation and the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law. Furthermore, it supports the work of the United Nations to back inclusive processes under way in parallel to the National Conference, which had been scheduled to take place in recent days. It also supports local mediation processes in order for all actors to be associated more closely in political action.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Federal Council, Switzerland.
Source: Apo-Opa