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Latest News May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

news From All Africa

  • UN report exposes human rights violations and abuses against civilians in and around Yei, South Sudan

    A United Nations report published today released the findings of an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in and around Yei town, Central Equatoria (150km southwest of the capital, Juba) between July 2016 and January 2017.

    The report by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office documents violations and abuses against civilians both sides of the conflict, based on ethnicity and/or their  presumed support for other side. This includes 114 killings by pro-Government forces. The extent of the abuses by armed opposition groups remains unclear due to lack of access to areas where these groups are active. The report finds that these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and that they warrant further investigation.

    The report exposes cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting.

    Until recently, Yei was largely a peaceful town, with between 200,000 and 300,000 residents of many different ethnicities. In July 2016, violence erupted between Government and Opposition forces, which led to the departure of Opposition leader Riek Machar together with a small group of followers across the Equatorias, into the Democratic Republic of Congo. As Government forces pursued him, fighting simultaneously broke out along the route, particularly in Yei. This violence fuelled strong divisions along ethnic lines and resulted in targeted killings, arrests, rapes and mass civilian displacement of more than half of the population of the town.

    Satellite imagery used to corroborate allegations shows that there was widespread burning of homes and businesses, resulting in the forcible displacement of tens of thousands of civilians. Even as people fled the violence, reports suggest that armed actors harassed, robbed and targeted them as they headed to Uganda to seek refuge.

    The report documents “the profound human suffering caused by the ongoing conflict and the exploitation of local and ethnic divisions for political ends.”

    “The conflict in Yei, in particular, highlights the startling level of impunity in South Sudan, which has fed successive cycles of violence across the country,” the report states.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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  • As Yemen conditions deteriorate, Somali refugees look to return home

    As the bitter conflict in Yemen grinds on and the humanitarian situation there continues to deteriorate, conditions facing the almost 280,000 refugees in-country are worsening and their needs and vulnerabilities are growing by the day.

    Yemen has remained both a destination and a transit hub for refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa and beyond, the overwhelming majority of refugees in Yemen, 91 per cent or some 255,000, are Somali refugees who have been coming to the country since the early nineties. 

    Though Yemen has traditionally been very generous in accepting those in need of international protection and is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula signatory to the Refugee Convention and the Protocol, the ongoing war has limited the capacities to provide adequate assistance and protection to refugees.

    After more than two years of war, many refugees face increased hardship; struggling to cover basic needs, losing livelihoods and lacking access to basic and essential services. 

    With conflict in Yemen affecting civilians and resulting in deaths and casualties, some 30,600 Somalis have reportedly already returned to Somalia from Yemen since the beginning of the current war. An increasing number are now approaching UNHCR for assistance to support their return, citing safety and security concerns and limited access to services in Yemen.

    UNHCR is now providing some support to those choosing to return on their own. In 2017, UNHCR is able to assist up to 10,000 Somali refugees who have made the choice to return, based on the information received at Return Help Desks on conditions in Somalia and the  assistance package that is being offered both in Yemen and Somalia. UNHCR’s humanitarian operations in Yemen will continue to provide support to those refugees who remain in Yemen. 

    Most Somali refugees registered in Yemen originate from Banadir, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Middle Shabelle and Woqooyi Galbeed regions in Somalia. In Yemen, most reside in Aden, Sana’a and Lahj governorates, the latter of which is where Yemen’s only refugee camp, the Kharaz refugee camp, is located.

    UNHCR assistance will include documentation, travel and transportation assistance and financial support in Yemen to facilitate the journey, as well as assistance upon arrival in Somalia. Special measures will be put in place for the travel of individuals with specific needs.  Most refugees opt to return to Mogadishu, in the anticipation that assistance and services will be more accessible and available.

    In Yemen, UNHCR has been providing protection and services for refugees and asylum seekers including by providing legal assistance, supporting education and livelihoods programs, and providing access to health and pyscho-social services, a cash programme for persons with specific needs amongst others.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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  • WCC delegation visits Zimbabwe

    World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe yesterday leading a delegation of church leaders from Europe, Africa and North America.

    The two-day visit in the capital is an ecumenical solidarity visit to manifest Christian churches’ support for the people of Zimbabwe.

    “We make this solidarity visit to Zimbabwe to express our commitment to work with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), including our member churches and all peace-seeking people of Zimbabwe, and to support their tireless efforts on the ground to secure justice and peace in the country, said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

    The delegation will meet with Zimbabwe government officials, including the vice president.

    Most Christian Churches in Zimbabwe are members of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches,  which is undergoing a revitalization under its new leader, Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata.

    “We see ourselves as a manifestation and extension of the global Christian family, and we are confident that we can play an important role for the people of our country. The solidarity visit puts us on the ecumenical map and shows the vitality of our Christian fellowship”, explained Mtata.

    In a country where 80 percent of the population is Christian, the ZCC’s mission is to facilitate the empowerment of and renewal of its member churches, so that they have a sustainable and transforming Christian presence in Zimbabwe.

    “We envision a strong Christian ecumenical fellowship for a united, peaceful, just and prosperous nation, where all citizens experience holistic salvation”, said Mtata.

    Press Conference Friday 19 May at 2pm (Local time)

    Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), will this afternoon (Friday 19 May 2017) address a Press Conference at the Holiday Inn, Harare, to brief the media on the WCC solidarity visit to Zimbabwe.

    The Press Conference  will start at 2pm. (Local time). 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Council of Churches (WCC).

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  • AGCO reaffirms further commitment to Challenger farm machinery brand in Africa

    AGCO (www.AGCOcorp.com), Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, is to further develop its Challenger farm machinery business in Africa as part of the Company’s global strategy for this leading brand.

    Challenger’s product offering includes high-performance tracked tractors and sprayers built by AGCO in North America for the African market. AGCO's Challenger Manufacturing Plant in Jackson, Minnesota has been the subject of multi-million dollar investments over the last five years including a 75,000 sq.ft (6967 m2) expansion to the tractor assembly line and the opening of a new visitors’ centre. In 2013, a US$42 million upgrade and expansion was announced for engineering and manufacturing facilities to improve quality and increase production capacity. This upgrade included new component manufacturing facilities, new robotic welders, end-of-line quality testing, and new engineering and collaboration capabilities using virtual reality modeling in 3-D.

    Challenger is a core brand for AGCO in Africa. The Company has plans to expand its product portfolio and utilise its established brand equity and Dealer network strength to propel further growth in the Africa region.

    In Europe and Middle East (EME), where Challenger product has more of a niche market position, AGCO has proposed to integrate Challenger into the organisation of its Fendt operation from January 2018. The proposed organisational change in EME is subject to formal consultation processes. As an evolution of AGCO’s Commercial and Market strategy, the proposed changes would be an important step in the Company’s approach to best serve its customers and Dealers across the widest range of farm enterprises and machinery applications.

    The proposed changes in EME do not affect the Challenger business in Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America where the brand is an important part of AGCO’s long-term go-to-market strategy and will continue to be one of AGCO’s core brands going forward.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of AGCO Corporation.

    Contacts:
    Louisa Parker
    Manager, External Affairs
    Zambia Mobile: +260 971398169
    UK Mobile +44(0) 7789746268
    Email: Louisa.Parker@AGCOcorp.com

    Paul Lay
    Manager, Marketing Communications
    Public Relations
    Tel: +44 (0) 2476 851209
    Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 805993
    Email: Paul.Lay@AGCOcorp.com 

    About AGCO:         
    AGCO (NYSE: AGCO) (www.AGCOcorp.com) is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural solutions and supports more productive farming through its full line of equipment and related services. AGCO products are sold through five core brands, Challenger®, Fendt®, GSI®, Massey Ferguson® and Valtra®, supported by Fuse® precision technologies and farm optimization services, and are distributed globally through a combination of approximately 3,000 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries. Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, GA, USA. In 2016, AGCO had net sales of $7.4 billion. For more information, visit www.AGCOcorp.com. For company news, information and events, please follow us on Twitter: @AGCOCorp. For financial news on Twitter, please follow the hashtag #AGCOIR.

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  • USTDA Connects U.S. Industry to Solar Project in South Africa

    Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Pele Green Energy (Pty) Ltd, a South African independent power developer based in Johannesburg. The grant funds a feasibility study to assess the viability of a 75 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in the Free State province of South Africa.

    South Africa has enjoyed one of the most robust markets for renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of the feasibility study is to provide Pele Green Energy with the necessary analyses required to prepare a competitive proposal for the next round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and to assess other options for the project to sell its output directly to interested public and private sector off-takers. Pele Green Energy selected Castalia LLC (Washington, D.C.), an independent economic and financial advisory firm, to conduct the feasibility study. The project presents opportunities for U.S. businesses to sell solar PV modules, inverters, mounting racks, as well as other equipment and services.

    “We are proud to connect Pele Green Energy with a leading U.S. company to develop this project that will add solar energy generation in South Africa,” said Lida Fitts, USTDA’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.

    “Pele Green Energy is excited to partner with USTDA,” said Obakeng Moloabi, Executive Director for On-Grid Project Development at Pele Green Energy. “Risk capital for renewable energy projects is often difficult to secure, so we appreciate USTDA’s contribution toward bringing this project to financial close.” 

    U.S. Consul General of Cape Town, Teddy B. Taylor, signed the grant on behalf of USTDA along with Obakeng Moloabi of Pele Green Energy at a Power Africa event in Cape Town, South Africa during Africa Utility Week.

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

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    U.S. Department of State
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  • U.S. Ambassador visits Kavango East to see how babies are protected from HIV

    U.S. Ambassador Thomas Daughton traveled to the Kavango East region to join mothers and their babies celebrating the achievement of preventing HIV transmission from mother-to-child thanks to the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Early Infant Diagnosis program (EID).

    The EID program implements early postnatal HIV testing of children as early as 48 hours after birth from HIV positive mothers. The Nyangana Catholic Hospital has introduced a standard operation procedure that has managed to track, test, and follow up 94.8 percent of HIV babies.

    This noble effort is supported by the United States Government with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

    Ambassador Daughton highlighted the successful implementation of the program by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and its implementing partner IntraHealth – a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health in developing countries. “This is a huge success. All of us here have one goal in common: we want to end the HIV epidemic. And to achieve that, new infections among children must be eliminated,” explained Ambassador Daughton to community members and health officials at the event at Nyangana Catholic Hospital.

    HIV can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, but when effective medication is taken, the risk of transmission is prevented. This ensures that children are born and remain HIV-negative, even when an HIV-positive mother is breastfeeding her HIV-negative baby.

    At the milestone event, Kavango East Governor Samuel Mbambo likened the fight against HIV/AIDS to Namibia’s struggle for independence. He described the disease as the enemy of all Namibians, calling it a killer that attacks without care whether its victims are mothers, fathers, or children. Governor Mbabmo expressed the need to integrate EID as part of a comprehensive HIV care package that should include immunization, growth monitoring, nutritional counselling, and prevention for infections to improve overall child survival. “Tracking these babies reduces the percentage of those lost to follow up treatment and also avoids development of new postpartum infections,” he stated.

    Since 2004, thanks to several programs addressing mother-to-child transmission in Namibia, including the USAID Technical Assistance Program (UTAP), the HIV infection rate in children born to HIV-positive mothers has dropped by over 90 percent, especially in the Nyangana area. Today, 19 out of 20 HIV-exposed babies are being tested and referred to treatment and care if needed.

    Ambassador Daughton, however, cautioned health care workers and policy makers from relaxing their efforts in closing the gap between diagnosis and linkage of treatment, as Nyangana mothers still face challenges presented by the disease. “It is no secret that HIV-positive infants are at their highest risk to die within the first three months of their life. Therefore, every effort must be made to ensure that children of HIV-positive mothers are diagnosed quickly in order to immediately put them on treatment,” he stated.

    Globally, an estimated 2.1 million children are living with HIV, 90 percent of whom are in the Sub-Saharan African countries, one of which is Namibia. An estimated 1,600 children are exposed to new HIV infections from their HIV positive mothers daily, according to USAID.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Namibia.

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    U.S. Embassy in Namibia
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  • Assistant Foreign Minister Qian Hongshan Meets with Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission Kwesi Quartey

    On May 15, 2017, Assistant Foreign Minister Qian Hongshan met with the delegation led by Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Kwesi Quartey, who was in China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Both sides exchanged views on China-Africa relations, China-AU relations, the enhancement of the “Belt and Road” cooperation between China and Africa and other topics.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

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    Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
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  • Experts race against clock to quell Ebola outbreak in remote DR Congo province – UN

    A race against the clock has begun to contain an outbreak of Ebola in a remote northern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

    Twenty cases of Ebola have been reported in the DRC's Bas Uele Province – near the vast country's border with the Central African Republic – two have been confirmed by laboratory tests and three people have died so far, the agency says.

    On 9 May, WHO noticed a cluster of unexplained illnesses and death, all with bleeding symptoms in the same area. WHO, the Congolese Government and the medical aid organization, Alima, immediately deployed a team to the field and lab tests confirmed it was Ebola. Two days later, the DRC Ministry of Health officially declared an outbreak of the virus.

    “It's important to note that Likati Health Zone is one of the most remote parts of the DRC. It is 1400 kilometres from Kinshasa and 350 kilometres from the nearest major town, Kisangani,” said Dr. Peter Salama, the WHO Executive Director for Health and Emergencies Programmes, speaking to the press in Geneva.

    He also said there are only 20 kilometres of paved roads in that area and virtually no functional telecommunications. It is also an area that has been subject to insecurity and displacement. “The Lord's Resistance Army is believed to be active in the area and their displaced populations from the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic,” he noted.

    With the help of the UN, the first search teams, led by the DRC's Ministry of Health, flew into Likati on yesterday. Their immediate priority is to follow the 400 plus contacts of the suspected Ebola cases.

    The focus is on surveillance, getting the best information on the suspected cases, diagnosing people who have come in contact with an infected person, case management, isolating those who are infected to prevent the spread of the disease and more importantly engaging with the community, explained Dr. Salama.

    Meanwhile, the first Ebola treatment centre has been established in the Likati General Hospital. Protective gear has been dispatched to health workers and a mobile lab is being constructed and then deployed to the area. Immediate repairs to air strips and telecommunications are also being carried out.

    The first six months of the operation are expected to cost $10 million.

    Risk assessment 'high' at national level; 'low risk' globally

    WHO has determined overall that the risk assessment for this event is “high” at the national level, medium at the regional level and low at the global level.

    An experimental vaccine for Ebola is being tested in Guinea, where the first outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was reported.

    The trials there have been “promising” and the vaccines has proven to be efficient and safe so far, Dr. Salama told reporters, while Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, added that she is encouraged by the rapid response to quell the outbreak.

    “We have not received an official request from the Government for this vaccine but they have been made aware that this possibility exists both to benefit from this new tool and also to add their support in the testing of this vaccine, she said, reiterating the experimental nature of the vaccine and expressed hope the authorities “will work with us to consider this and make a decision.”

    This is the eighth outbreak in the DRC since 1976. The most recent was in 2014, around the time more than 11,000 people died and some 28,000 cases were reported in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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    United Nations (UN)
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  • Ambassador of Belarus A.Molchan meets the Executive Director of NEPAD Agency

    On May 15, 2017 the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of South Africa, Andrei Molchan, met with the Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.

    During the meeting, the sides discussed prospects for Belarus' participation in programs implemented by NEPAD in Africa, particularly in the programs in the fields of agriculture, science and education, as well as development of the industrial sector. The parties expressed their interest in the establishment of fruitful cooperation. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.

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