Reports of Mass Graves and Serious Human Rights Abuses in Burundi

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

January 19, 2016


The United States is deeply alarmed by reports, including those from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of serious human rights violations and abuses in Burundi, including eyewitness reports of mass graves, a sharp increase in alleged enforced disappearances and torture, and reports of sexual violence by security forces.

These and other reports further underscore the urgent need for the Government of Burundi to allow for the immediate full deployment and unimpeded access of African Union human rights observers to investigate these allegations. It is imperative that the Government of Burundi remove all bureaucratic and practical roadblocks it has used to prevent the AU human rights and military observers from fulfilling their mandate for the past six months to investigate reports of violence committed by any side in the conflict.

We call upon the Government of Burundi to permit an immediate, impartial investigation into these recent allegations and to hold accountable all those found responsible for crimes. The United States remains concerned about Burundi’s ongoing political and humanitarian crisis and the resulting suffering it has brought to the people of Burundi. We once again call on all parties to reject unlawful violence, and reiterate that the only way to resolve the crisis gripping the country is for all parties to agree promptly to engage in internationally-mediated, inclusive dialogue without preconditions.

British Minister Lord Ahmad visits Cairo, underlines UK commitment to working with Egypt on aviation security and working together on countering extremism

Lord Ahmad, who has dual responsibility for aviation security in the Department for Transport and for countering extremism in the Home Office, also met Ministers to discus ways to cooperate on countering extremism. Lord Ahmad met the Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister for the Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, Minister for Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal, the Minister of Awqaf Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa and Minister for Transport Saad el-Geyoushi.

During the visit, Lord Ahmad also visited the Al-Azhar English Training Centre where he met a group of English teachers. The English Training Centre was set up for Al-Azhar by the British Council in 2007 to provide English language and teacher training for 600 undergraduate and graduate students at Al-Azhar every year. The British Council subsequently expanded the project to support English language teaching at several of Al-Azhar’s secondary schools in different governorates across Egypt.

Lord Ahmad said:

Egypt is a friend and partner to the UK, and a country of vital strategic importance in the region. That’s why we will not leave Egypt to stand alone in facing the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism in the twenty-first century.

We are working side-by-side with Egypt on improving aviation security and we appreciate all the efforts made so far. I know that the tourist industry is of great importance to the Egyptian economy and I also know that British tourists love holidays in Sharm el-Sheikh and want to return. I told Prime Minister Ismail today that the whole of the British government and I are very grateful for Egyptian efforts to improve security in Sharm el-Sheikh airport and that I appreciate the continuing cooperation on this matter.

I have also had important conversations with Egyptian Ministers on countering extremism. As the home to Al-Azhar university and the centre of the Arab world, Egypt and Islamic leaders here have a key role to play in presenting the true, tolerant, and open face of Islam and countering extremists like Daesh who distort and abuse the name of Islam.

The UK recently boosted its cooperation with Al-Azhar, when Ambassador John Casson and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayyeb launched a new scholarship programme to send Al-Azhar PhD students to top British universities. Administered by the British Council in Egypt, the programme will identify exceptional Al-Azhar graduates and give them the opportunity to complete PhD studies in theology, comparative religion, and related disciplines. The aim of the programme is to raise up a new generation of religious leaders who promote a deeper understanding of Islam, cross-cultural understanding, and the values of peace, openness, and tolerance.

Dispatches: Prevent More Bloody Repression in DR Congo

One year ago today, demonstrations began in Kinshasa and other cities across the Democratic Republic of Congo to protest attempts by President Joseph Kabila to stay in power. When security forces cracked down on demonstrators, peaceful protests turned violent. Over several days the police and Republican Guard soldiersshot deadat least 43 people, wounded dozens, and forcibly disappeared five others.

Security forces hastilytook awaysome of the bodies, leaving families unable to bury loved ones.

This first anniversary is a stark reminder of what could lay ahead should the security forces respond the same way to future protests. Kabila’s constitutional term limit ends on December 19, 2016, but preparations for elections have been deliberately stalled and Kabila has not declared whether he will step down. Authorities loyal to the president have repressed and intimidated the growing coalition of voices calling for respect of the constitution and credible elections.

Just today, police blocked a series of peaceful meetings organized by opposition and civil society leaders throughout Kinshasa, the capital, to commemorate the victims of last year’s demonstrations. With more demonstrations planned in the coming weeks, the government should take urgent steps to ensure that all Congolese are able to peacefully express their views without fear of being arrested or killed by the security forces.

The authorities should arrest those responsible for past abuses and prosecute them in fair, credible trials. They should also curb all unlawful recruitment and mobilization of “youth leagues” to use violence during demonstrations — a tactic seen most recently during a politicalopposition meetingin Kinshasa on September 15.

Congo’s international partners and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, have a crucial role to play. MONUSCO’s police and military forces should be ready to deploy to strategic locations in Kinshasa and other cities to act as a deterrent to crackdowns and protect peaceful demonstrators when necessary. The European Union, the United States, and the UN should implement targeted sanctions, including travel bans and assets freezes, against those most responsible for the violent repression.

Congo’s donors and the UN have repeatedly called for credible presidential elections and emphasized the importance of a peaceful transition of power, in the interests of promoting democracy, human rights, and stability in Congo.

Now is the time to back up these words with action.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the nomination of the Government of National Accord of Libya

The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the announcement by the Presidency Council of the nomination of ministers for the Government of National Accord of Libya. This marks an important step towards the implementation of the Libya Political Agreement an…

Press statement of the 567th PSC meeting on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR)

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 567thmeeting, held on 14 January 2016, was briefed by the Commission on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and listened to the statements made by the representatives of …

Botswana to host Pan-Africa’s most celebrated innovation event of the year – Innovation Prize for Africa!

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) ( in a joint collaborative effort with the Government of Botswana (GoB) represented by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) today announced that the next Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) ( event will be held in Gaborone, Botswana in June 2016*. The decision to host IPA in Botswana received the highest endorsement from H.E. President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of Botswana.

IPA is a landmark program of the AIF, whose purpose is to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalyzing the innovation spirit in Africa. IPA celebrates its 5 year milestone in helping to shape the innovation landscape in Africa. To date, IPA has attracted more than 6 000 innovators from 50 African countries, making it a truly Pan-African initiative. This year’s event with its “Made in Africa” theme promises to be ground-breaking, extending beyond the Awards ceremony. AIF is offering several avenues of opportunity for local, national, regional and international growth and exposure to Africa’s next cadre of innovators. The event will provide an unprecedented platform for African innovators and innovation enablers to network, share knowledge, explore business opportunities and boost collaboration.

Botswana’s selection as host country for IPA 2016 is seen in its commitment towards building its national innovation ecosystem. This is demonstrated by the GoB’s catalytic role in capitalizing on and supporting the knowledge economy through the development of a 57-acre Science Park, dubbed the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH). The Icon Building in the BIH Park will be launched in September 2016, as Botswana celebrates yet another milestone – 50 years of Independence. “Hosting IPA 2016 and celebrating African ingenuity in Gaborone will afford Botswana an opportunity to showcase its commitment to putting innovation at the center of its development strategy,” says the Botswana Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Honorable Nonofo Molefhi. He added: “We aregreatly honored to have been selected to host IPA 2016 and look forward to showcasing the positive strides Botswana and indeed Africa is making in the innovation landscape.”

IPA is today recognized as Africa’s leading innovation initiative based on its track record since its inaugural launch with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the endorsement by Ministers attending the Africa Union (AU)/ECA conference in 2012. IPA recognizes, rewards and mobilizes for African innovators through promoting home-grown, market-driven solutions addressing intractable challenges in agriculture, health and well-being, manufacturing and service industry, ICTs and environment, energy and water. IPA has been successfully celebrated in African major capitals representing African regions: Addis Ababa (2011), Cape Town (2013), Abuja (2014), and more recently in Skhirat, Morocco (2015).

This year’s theme for IPA is “Made in Africa”, based on the belief that Africa can posit itself on the world map through self-innovation, carving its own success story of growth economies and creating incentives to commercialize and scale up home-grown innovations. Says Mr Walter Fust, AIF Chairman of the Board: “We are delighted to collaborate with the Government of Botswana in celebrating African ingenuity. With its many inspiring and success stories, Botswana is an excellent choice to host the 5th edition of IPA, helping us continue to catalyze the innovation spirit in Africa”. He added, “‘Made in Africa’ heralds a message of enterprise and prosperity for African innovators, and we encourage more Africans, especially young people and women to catalyze transformation through innovation – not only in their lives – but for the broader community and their respective economies.”

Besides a host of exciting side events and brand new initiatives for Africa by Africans, IPA 2016 will offer the following prizes and incentives to winners and applicants:

√ Grand prize of US$100 000

√ Second Prize of US$25 000

√ Special Prize for Social Impact US$25 000

√ A voucher for each IPA nominee of US$5 000

√ Business development support for top 10 young innovators selected post Awards event

√ Business development support for top 10 women innovators selected post Awards event.

The IPA Call for Applications ran from August to October 2015 and attracted more than 3 600 respondents from 50 African countries, clearly demonstrating the creative potential that exists in Africa. Proposed innovations showcased African ingenuity in diverse fields, from agriculture and technologies to green energy initiatives. The expert panel of judges will carefully select Africa’s new crop of ingenuity this year from 985 successful submissions spanning 46 African countries through a rigorous, transparent process of critique, validation, interview and consensus.

Next step: Who inspired the judges? Look out for the announcement of the 10 IPA 2016 nominees. For more information, check out

*Exact date to be confirmed

For the Botswana Innovation Hub
Tigele Mokobi
PR and Communications Manager
Tel: +267 391 3328

For the African Innovation Foundation
Aulora Stally
Communications Manager
Mobile: +41 79 834 9163

About the African Innovation Foundation (AIF)
AIF ( works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa.

About the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA)
IPA ( is a landmark initiative of the AIF with the purpose of strengthening the African innovation ecosystems and spur the growth of market-driven African solutions to African challenges

Find us on:
The Internet:;
Twitter @AfrinnovFdn; @IPAPrize

Communique of the 567th PSC meeting on the Boko Haram terrorist group

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 567th meeting held on 14 January 2015, adopted the following decision on regional and international efforts to combat the Boko Haram terrorist group and on the way forward:Council:ArrayA…

Invitation to a press briefing on UN Mine Action in Sudan and the support by the Government of Italy for humanitarian mine action work

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the Italian Development Cooperation Agency cordially invite you to attend and cover the press briefing on the re-engagement of UNMAS in Sudan and the support by the Government of Italy for humanitaria…

The Chairperson of the AU Commission Welcomes the Formation of a Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, welcomes the announcement made by the Libya Presidency Council, from Tunis, on the establishment of a Government of National Accord (GNA) aimed at uniting the various Libyan factions under the UN-negotiated Libya Political Agreement.

It is to be recalled that the majority of the Libyan delegates who participated in the UN-facilitated political dialogue, as well as a wide range of representatives of Libyan civil society, municipal leaders, and heads of political parties, signed the Libya Political Agreement. The Agreement provides, among others, the formation of a GNA, a Presidency Council for the Council of Ministers, as well as for the establishment of a State Council as a supreme consultative body. It also includes detailed measures on confidence building and security arrangements.

The Chairperson hails this development as an important milestone in Libya’s political transition and calls upon all other Libyan stakeholders to endorse the proposed GNA, and its designated Ministers. She further urges all peace-loving Libyans to unite and provide their full support to the GNA in order to fight against the scourge of terrorism in their country. ‘Only a united Libya can consolidate its democratic transition and start the task of state building in the country.’ she said.

The Chairperson reiterates AU’s commitment to continue to contribute to the ongoing efforts, including through the role of the International Contact Group on Libya, which will hold its 5th meeting in Addis Ababa on 28 January 2016, on the margins of the AU Summit. The Chairperson appeals to all Libyan stakeholders to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to stabilize the political and security situation in their country.

– See more at:

The NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival launches call for submissions for 2016 Edition

The organisers of the NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival ( have today launched the call for submissions for the 4th edition of one of Europe’s leading film festivals and the biggest celebration of Nollywood in France each year.

The 4th edition which will be held at the Cinema l’Arlequin in Paris, France from June 2-5,2016, will feature a more diverse film selection, more events and more audience surprises. “We are excited about this year’s edition of NollywoodWeek which is growing into a global model and promises to be even bigger and better” says co-founder Serge Noukoue.

In just three years this unique film festival has already made its mark with some noteworthy achievements:

The co-founders Serge Noukoue and Nadira Shakur are now looking forward to accommodating the growing audience size especially as the festival gains attention from surrounding European countries. “Every year we receive festival goers from various countries outside of France and we want this to continue. This festival has become THE festival to watch the best of Nollywood in Europe and this year will not disappoint!” stated Shakur.

NollywoodWeek Paris has also raised the profile of an industry that was stigmatized by enforcing a very strict film selection process which only allows top quality works to be in the official selection. “We want the terms “NollywoodWeek” and “Quality” to be synonymous in people’s minds,” said Executive Director, Serge Noukoue. “The festival also helps the directors get a real feel for their audience and through the Public Choice Award, we can really measure the audience’s preferences.”

More than ever, NollywoodWeek Paris remains committed to providing Nigerian filmmakers a platform to showcase their work. Film submissions have opened allowing any Nigerian film-maker to submit their short or feature film to the festival for a chance to be screened in Paris. The deadline for submission is February 12, 2016. The official selection will be announced in March 2016.

Media contact:

About NollywoodWeek Paris
Launched in May 2013, NollywoodWeek Paris ( is the leading film festival showcasing Nigerian cinema in Europe. The NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival promotes quality Nigerian films, fosters partnerships within the industry and contributes to the overall development and growth of one of Nigeria’s biggest cultural exports. The NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival is organized and hosted by the French association Okada Media. Information concerning the festival and film submission can be found on the festival’s website: