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Latest News June 3, 2017

June 3, 2017

news From All Africa

  • Collector Spotlight: Sindika Dokolo, Angola

    What is the motivation behind the project to repatriate classic African art pieces?

    I think it’s first useful to understand the context—how all of this first started. As a child growing up in Paris, I was always surrounded by classic African art. Even though I wasn't consciously aware about African art, my parents taught me the importance of cultural identity, and how art was a vital part of that identity. My father had developed a taste for classic African art and I grew up with these pieces in our home. He was also friends with the collector, Jean Cambier. Aged 12, I made weekly visits to Jean’s home to see his collection. Much like a museum, his home was built around his art. We’d taste wine together and sat on medieval chairs, we’d both view his latest classic African art acquisitions—it was like a ceremony, like an initiation. Those weekly visits planted a seed in me, they made me discover the 'powerful art of exorcism'.

    My family left Paris for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) in 1994, after which I left for Angola in 2000. Angola and DR Congo share common cultures and people, and even though Luanda is only a 45 minute flight away from Kinshasa, I was surprised by how little I knew about the Angolan reality, the nation, its people, and its cultures. But they certainly moved me. The environment in Angola at the end of the war was galvanic. Angola knew who she was, her people didn’t care about perceptions—they are loud and proud. Angolans have control over their narrative, they are true to themselves and demand respect. The end of the war in Angola was also a special moment in history, when Angolans felt that nothing could defeat them.

    The other event that I remember having an impact on me was a visit I made to Paris. My family was looking to buy an apartment there. We viewed a very beautiful apartment that belonged to a music producer and his wife. The ground floor of the apartment had César sculptures on display, and walking up the stairs, hung on the wall was the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting

    'Pharynxs'. I was floored. It was a right hook to my stomach. The conversation with the homeowner very quickly turned from the apartment to his art collection.

    The question of bringing back classic African art is very recent, the project started in earnest in 2013. The thing I first realised when I was so impacted by the Basquiat painting, is how his powerful contemporary art found its roots in African heritage. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if today’s African artists can also be inspired by their heritage, by works created by their ancestors. Exposing today’s artists to classic African art could be an interesting key to unlocking the potential of new artistic themes. I wanted to be an engine, to grab as much of Angola’s energy as possible and spur on the next generation of artists.

    You’re also a collector of classic African art. Why did you make the transition from collecting contemporary art to classic?

    The thing I love about the African practice of art is that it's not about the artist or aesthetic impression. It's about a higher purpose. The ability to give shape to the invisible world, a spirit. That's not only what make it different, but also makes it superior to other art practices.

    I first started personally buying classic African art pieces at auctions—at Christie’s and Sotheby’s—where I’ve bought contemporary art in the past. I then became friends with dealers Tao Kerefoff and Didier Claes. Through them, I continued growing and curating my collection. I organised my collection by going for not only what I liked but also what I felt was the best in its class. I am working to have all the main streams of African classic art as well as the best possible quality of each object. Each piece I buy has to fulfil the historic and pedigree requirements—it’s been exhibited, has a strong provenance, and has been featured in important books and catalogues. I want masterpieces that belong in the pages of the best art books.

    A lot has been written about African art but primarily from an ethnographic or anthropological point of view. Very little has been written about the art itself or about the artists that created the pieces. So I made it my mission to gather as much information about the art as I could. I sourced the best books and tried to learn all that I could about classic African art.

    Collecting contemporary African art, and growing up around classic art has trained my eye and given me the taste and self-confidence to collect classic African art masterpieces. The objects in my collection have to be AAA.

    “I’m working to create the best collection of classic African art in the world.”

    What spurred you on to repatriate stolen works from the Dundo museum?

    One book I found while trying to expand my knowledge about classic African art was by the art historian Marie-Louise Bastin—'La Sculpture Tshokwe'. Leafing through the pages, I saw pictures of objects of the Dundo museum in Angola. One picture struck me, it was a huge closet full of mwana pwo masks. I thought “wow, this is so cool. Who knew that such a small museum held masterpieces worth many millions of dollars!” I told Didier that we had to visit the museum and see the pieces in person.

    We made an appointment with the museum’s director, rented a small jet, and made our way to the newly renovated but remote museum. The place was impeccable, the government had spent a sum of money rehabilitating the museum. It had an ethnographic feel to it—spears, wall paintings, thrones of chiefs, and everyday kitchen utensils were on display all to show how ancestors used to live. The museum also had a small library where everything was well documented. However what we didn’t see were the mwana pwomasks in the book. We didn’t see any treasures of Chokwe art. I asked the director if he had any of the masks from the MarieLouise Bastin book. He said that what they used to have had been looted during the war, sold into private hands, and that there was no way they could be found. This revolted me. First, how could the government have invested so much in a museum without understanding the value and relevance of the art itself? We were looking at our history with exotic eyes—'this is how the savages used to live'. And second, with a museum like Dundo, there is no excuse for masterpieces that belong to the museum to not be there.

    Didier told me that when he was a kid in DR Congo, in the late '80s, a number of pieces from the Dundo passed through Kinshasa. So based on that early memory, we formed a team— which included Tao, Agnes Lacaille (Africanist and museologist), a number of researchers, and lawyers—and we started looking for the looted pieces. We asked the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren for access to their archives concerning Angolan museums and began work to identify pieces that were once in the Dundo museum’s collection.

    “It’s important to use numbers and valuation to trigger public interest and debate on the value of culture.”

    I ensured that we followed a pragmatic approach. I’m a collector, I know how this market works, I know when a piece stinks, so I know that if I go after that piece I’m taking a risk. I understand that in collecting African classic art, there can be significant amounts of money involved but I also know that the market spun out of control about five years ago. I also know that many of the Chokwe pieces we were looking to return back to the Dundo museum were bought in the ’80s and ’90s. So I decided that I would personally buy back the pieces for the museum but that I would only pay the price the collector or dealer paid for it when it was first acquired. I would give them the money they spent on the piece but not a dollar more.

    The discussion to repatriate works of art back to their origin isn't new. Why is now different for African art?

    Let’s use the Greek as an example. 99% of Greek heritage is well documented, studied and accessible to its people. Everyone in Greece has a clear conscience about the fact that theirs is the birthplace of modern Europe. They understand who they are, where they come from and what they are worth—their art contributes to this understanding.

    These are fundamental things missing in parts of Africa today. We don’t have access to our heritage and we don’t understand how important that heritage is to our self-worth, confidence, knowledge, and understanding. Without that knowledge, it’s impossible for us to be valid and productive citizens with centres of our own thought. It’s impossible for us not to be puppets. We are missing roots and that’s why I feel it’s vital for us to reconnect with classic African art. To be proud of the treasures that have long been forgotten.

    I was watching a documentary last week in which the presenter was talking about the history of the Congo River. In it, the presenter described how Diogo Cão, the Portuguese explorer, discovered the river and erected a huge stone pillar to signify the discovery. Stood by the stone, she said, “This is where our history begins”. I found it so interesting that even today, after all the struggles countries like DR Congo and Angola have faced to date, we still believe that our history starts the first day a white guy laid eyes on us. It says so much about the distance we still have to cover in order to be the centre of gravity of ourselves. We still have a lot of work to do to take control of our history. We will never reach the level of economic development we desire if we don’t know who we truly are.

    Some may counter your efforts with this argument: “Should the Louvre return Italian art to Italy? That art was taken by force. Where does it stop?”

    Democracy is sensitive to public opinion but it can’t take the heat when its morals and ethics are called into question.

    Not only did Africa start the race late, we now unfortunately don't know in which direction to run. However the important thing is that the debate has been triggered. People are generally sympathetic to the cause because it is clearly defined. This is a debate about self-affirmation, a fight to demand respect and dignity. For me, I feel I am doing my part for my kids and grandkids. I have a responsibility as a father to clarify the struggle and put my own finger on the heat. It’s no longer enough to be the 'nice African', that’s counter-productive. I believe that to be fully realised Africans, we have to first have a sense of self-worth and understand what we stand for. We have to understand that we belong to a chain, a trajectory that started way before us and will go way beyond us. Our worth doesn’t begin when someone lays eyes on us. This has to be addressed seriously and I choose to do it through art and culture.

    The looting of classic African art is an ongoing problem. Do you worry repatriated works will again be stolen from the Dundo Museum?

    This won’t happen at the Dundo. The work we’ve done has been to raise the self-consciousness of Angolans. The looted works were returned to Angola on the official day the fight for her independence started. The pieces were presented to the Chokwe king and to the president of the republic. Important members of government and of parliament were also in attendance. It was an important political statement that said, this is the return of our history and identity. This is the return of a part of us. When you make it official, and not just a detail, it triggers a sort of consciousness and self-awareness in people. Everyone comes together around an area that is like a sort of truce in the nation.

    I strongly feel that because the pieces were returned in this political and cultural context, we won’t have looting problems in the future.

    What have been some of your successes with the project?

    Some objects we’ve found in private collections and others we’ve found with dealers. Everyone’s interested in sitting on something to watch its value grow, especially dealers. For example, there is an important statue of a Chokwe princess, now back at the Dundo, which a dealer owned. He didn't want to sell it for less than 1 million USD. I paid him 70 thousand USD. Now that’s still a lot of money but we had to get it back to the museum at a fair price.

    Another collector actually contacted us, unprompted, to give back a Chokwe chair that he believed was looted. He didn’t want any money for it, he just wanted to be introduced to the Chokwe king and to visit the museum. I will make a point of personally ensuring that that happens before the end of the year to much fanfare. It’s important to reward those that treat us like people and not like 'black people'.

    Right now, we’ve identified and located about 40 pieces all looted from the Dundo museum. We’re trying to stay focused. This isn’t a general question about all African treasures, that’s too broad. We have the law on our side with this cause—it’s illegal to own museum registered pieces. Of the 40 pieces identified, we have brought back five, some of which are really important art objects. We’ve so far found several mwana pwo masks out of the 30 in the photograph. That image is a constant reminder of what still needs to be achieved.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Sindika Dokolo.

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  • $1 billion Israeli solar commitment to ECOWAS

    Under the MOU signed today between the State of Israel and ECOWAS, Israel’s leading solar developer will invest $1 billion over the next four years to advance green energy power projects across the 15 member states of the West African economic community. 

    “In honor of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s two terms in office, and Liberia’s friendship with the State of Israel, Energiya Global and our international partners will finance and build a commercial-scale solar field at the Roberts International Airport, which will supply 25% of the country’s generation capacity,” says Yosef I. Abramowitz, CEO.  “We are prepared to finance and build the first National Demonstration Solar Projects in all ECOWAS-affiliated countries in order to promote political stability and social and economic development, as well as to advance knowledge transfer.” 

    Energiya Global and its associated companies developed the first commercial scale solar field in sub-Sahara Africa in Rwanda, which is supplying 6% of the country’s power, and the group broke ground on a similar power plant in Burundi, which will supply 15% of the country’s power by the end of the year.  The solar group has fields at various stages of development in ten African countries and expects to announce its full program at the Israel-Africa Summit in Togo at the end of October. 

    In an historic first, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled today to address the 15 West African heads of state of ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), as well as the head of the African Union.   “Israel is coming back to Africa,” the Prime Minister will announce, and will outline the technological innovations in agriculture, water, green energy and more that can support economic development in West Africa.  

    The $20 million investment comes as Israel and ECOWAS sign Sunday an historic Memorandum of Understanding to promote investments, technology and cooperation. 

    “With 600 million Africans without electricity, the State of Israel can literally help African heads of state bring power to the African people,” says Member of Knesset Avraham Neguise, chairman of the Israel-Africa Caucus of the Israeli Parliament, who accompanied the Prime Minister.   “Our humanitarian and diplomatic goals are supported by the private sector as well, which can work quickly and efficiently to improve the lives of millions of people.  I want to thank my friend Yosef Abramowitz for his investments in solar in Africa.  We look forward to working with ECOWAS to deploy $1 billion over the next four years, starting with this first investment of $20 million in Liberia by Energiya Global.”

    A working session between ECOWAS, representatives of the State of Israel and Abramowitz will take place Monday morning in Monrovia, to plan for the deployment of the green energy investments in fulfillment of the MOU signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President of ECOWAS.

    U.S. Power Africa Coordinator Andrew Herscowitz underlined the importance of Energiya Global’s work by saying, “As a founding Power Africa partner, Energiya Global continues to demonstrate its industry leadership with this important investment in Liberia.  Increasing access and power generation is the foundation for economic prosperity and human development.  We look forward to Energiya Global’s transformative impact on the lives of the Liberian people.” 

    “We are proud to be involved in the creation of cutting-edge, clean energy for Liberia,” says Remy Reinstein, Energiya Global’s country director. “We are honored to have the seal of approval from President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose initiatives have made the sustainable development of Liberia possible.”

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Energiya Global.

    Media contact:

    Remy Reinstein Friday, Saturday and Sunday:  +231 88 103 8049
    or
    Yosef Abramowitz Saturday night, Sunday and Monday: +972 54 692 2008

    About Energiya Global

    Energiya Global (www.EnergiyaGlobal.com) is an Israeli renewable energy company and impact platform bringing new sources of power and social development to Africa and other emerging markets.  Led by a team of seasoned project developers, financiers and solar energy experts, the Jerusalem-based company develops renewable energy installations (solar, wind and hydro) across the African continent, with international financing partners and governments from around the world.

    About Power Africa:

    The USAID Power Africa Initiative’s goal is to enable electricity access by adding 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 MW of new and cleaner power generation. Power Africa works to bring together technical and legal experts, the private sectors, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.

    About ECOWAS:

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a 15-member regional group with the goal of promoting economic integration in all participating countries. Member countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. Today, the economies of African countries continue to witness steady growth, with West Africa’s as one of the strongest on the continent, growing by as much as 6.3% in 2013 and this is largely due to the work of ECOWAS.

  • Statement regarding findings of joint investigation of 15 deaths of children in Nachodokopele village, Kapoeta East County in South Sudan

    An investigation into the cause of the death of 15 children in rural and remote Nachodokopele village, Kauto County in South Sudan by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Committee, supported by WHO and UNICEF Vaccine safety experts has concluded that severe sepsis / toxicity resulting from the administration of a contaminated vaccine caused the event. 

    Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF express our deep regret and sadness at the passing of the children. This tragic event could have been prevented by adhering to WHO immunization safety standards.

    The report presented to the Minister of Health by the AEFI committee stated that the team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified nor trained for the immunization campaign.

    Evidence gathered by the investigators indicates that the vaccination team did not adhere to the WHO-approved immunization safety standards. A single reconstitution syringe was used for multiple vaccine vials for the entire four days of the campaign instead of being discarded after single use. The reuse of the reconstitution syringe causes it to become contaminated which in turn contaminates the measles vaccine vials and infects the vaccinated children.

    The report also stated that the vaccination team did not follow the cold chain protocols as specified in the Measles Supplementary Immunization Activities guidelines. The vaccines were stored in a building with no cold chain facilities for four days. This means that the vaccines were not maintained at the recommended temperature ranges to preserve their quality. 

    About 300 people were vaccinated against Measles in Nachodokopele Village during the campaign. Thirty-two other children suffered similar symptoms of fever, vomiting and diarrhoea but recovered.  

    The Ministry of Health has commissioned a multiagency administrative committee to review the AEFI report and give appropriate recommendations for further actions to improve immunization service delivery. 

    Vaccination is one of the most basic and critical health needs in emergencies to protect populations from the risk of contracting deadly but preventable diseases.

    The risk of measles and other Vaccine Preventable Diseases in South Sudan remains extremely high because of the challenges being faced by the health system. The country has experienced significant measles outbreaks among unprotected population caused by a backlog of unvaccinated children in areas of insecurity.

    The measles vaccine has been used all over the world to protect more than 2 billion children against measles. When used according to WHO-approved immunization safety standards, the measles vaccine is safe and effective.  In South Sudan, this is the fifth follow up vaccination campaign. The past campaigns were successfully implemented and the safety of the vaccine was assured. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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  • UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya calls for protection of internally displaced persons

    The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Maria Ribeiro, calls for increased protection and support to humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Libya.

    The humanitarian community is following with concern recent developments in the Tawargha IDP camp in Janzour, Tripoli and the possible return of IDPs from Zintan to Tripoli.

    The Humanitarian Coordinator is alarmed by the allegations of abuse of IDPs and of humanitarian aid and calls for the protection of and freedom of movement of all IDPs.  

    The authorities have the primary responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to IDPs within their jurisdiction. Likewise, they are responsible to prevent and avoid conditions that may lead to displacement and for creating the conditions for IDPs to return or resettle safely and voluntarily.

    IDPs are often more vulnerable than other people because they may have lost their homes, livelihoods, documentation and often face difficulties in accessing basic services. However, they should enjoy the same rights and freedoms as all other citizens and residents without discrimination.

    Supporting IDPs and the host communities is one of the main priorities of the Humanitarian Community in Libya. Twenty-two UN agencies and national and international NGOs provide assistance to IDPs and host communities across Libya. This assistance includes health, water and sanitation, shelter, food and non-food items, psychosocial, legal and protection assistance, including specialized services for those with special needs.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

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  • South Sudan: Thousands at risk of cholera and malnutrition after fleeing attacks in Yuai and Waat

    Malnutrition and suspected cases of cholera are escalating amongst people sheltering in the bush near Pieri, South Sudan, putting the health of thousands of people at risk, according to international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

    More than 27,000 people have fled their homes in Yuai and Waat since mid-February after clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups. Those who escaped to Pieri have told MSF teams that civilians were shot at, raped and killed and their houses burned to the ground. Now desperately short of food, water and shelter, many of the displaced people are living under trees and eating leaves to survive.

    In response, MSF teams are providing basic healthcare and treatment for cholera and malnutrition. But unless people’s living conditions improve and they are provided with more and regular humanitarian assistance, the situation is likely to deteriorate further, warns MSF. 

    “I left running – there was no time to take anything,” says William, 41, a father of five who fled Yuai on 15 February. “They were firing their guns in the town. They killed the women, the girls, everybody in the town, and they also raped women. They burnt some of the tukuls [mud huts], they took the cattle and they even destroyed the boreholes.”

    William and his family fled the town of Yuai but, fearful that Pieri too might come under attack, they are living under a tree in a village two hours’ walk from Pieri, surviving on leaves and on the little food distributed by aid organisations. Last week, his five-year-old son died – most likely – of cholera.

    The first suspected cases of cholera were reported on 9 May after a general increase in patients with watery diarrhoea. MSF has opened a treatment unit in Pieri, where teams have treated more than 30 patients so far, and set up seven rehydration points and a number of chlorinated water points.

    MSF’s team of South Sudanese staff from Yuai hospital, who fled alongside the population of the town, are now running three primary healthcare clinics around Pieri.

    In mid-May, the team reported a rise in malnutrition levels amongst children under five, with 32 percent suffering from general acute malnutrition and 12 percent suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which is life-threatening. MSF has distributed food rations for the malnourished children, but there is an urgent need for more food to be provided, both to local people and to displaced people around Pieri.

    “We got some food two weeks ago,” says Elisabeth, 45, from Yuai, “but this is not enough, and we are also sharing with the people who are not registered for the food distribution. When there is no food, we eat the leaves on the trees.”   

    The insecurity in the area presents challenges for aid organisations to reach people, but the current lack of assistance makes the need for aid even more urgent.

    “This is happening in an area where there is limited assistance available, a very poor network of basic healthcare centres and where the humanitarian situation was already dire,” says Michael Keizer, MSF’s deputy head of mission in South Sudan. “Considering people’s living conditions and their limited access to water, we are very afraid that the situation will get worse. With the rainy season coming, providing humanitarian assistance will get even more complicated, but the needs of the people will only get higher.”

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

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  • South African Government Reacts to United States of America’s Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

    The international community regards climate change as the single biggest threat to wellbeing, health and socio-economic development facing humanity this century. Its impacts are widespread, unprecedented and disproportionately burdens to the poorest and most vulnerable. 

    South Africa therefore expresses its profound regret over the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which reflects the multilateral agreement to keep global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

    The adoption of the Paris Agreement, 15 years after the withdrawal of the United States from the Kyoto Protocol, is a victory for multilateral effort to curb climate change. The Agreement entered into force far earlier than expected due to the extraordinary speed of ratification by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the United States, and reflects the scientific consensus on severity of the crisis.

    The Paris Agreement, which will be fully operational by 2020, is premised on contributions determined by countries themselves, towards collectively agreed global goals. These nationally determined contributions are to represent countries' best effort, and to be progressively enhanced over time.

    It is further premised on a strong understanding that we all have a common responsibility to act, whilst noting that nations over time have contributed to the problem differently, and have varied capabilities to respond. The Paris Agreement represents the most flexible and dynamic approach to addressing climate change, and the withdrawal of the USA is not only an abdication of global responsibility we all have to humankind, but damaging to multilateralism, the rule of law and trust between nations.

    Historically, the US has contributed significantly to global emissions, and therefore has a moral obligation not only to lead in reducing emissions, but to support poorer economies in contributing to the global effort.

    South Africa has full confidence in and reiterates its unwavering commitment to the realization of the goals set out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement. The global effort to curb climate change and address its impacts cannot be postponed. There is an urgent need for action, and as such there is no space for renegotiation.

    South Africa has full confidence that the momentum of the collective effort to address climate change will only accelerate. We recognize the outstanding contribution made to the fight against climate change in the US by past Administrations, states, cities, scientific organizations, civil society, business and individual citizens. South Africa therefore calls on the United States to reconsider its position and to re-commit to the multilateral process.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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  • Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the situation of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria

    The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the plight of tens of thousands of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, who will have their food rations cut due to lack of funding.

    Humanitarian aid, including food aid, is a lifeline for these refugees from Western Sahara. A recent survey highlighted the precarious nutrition situation in the Sahrawi refugee camps and the refugees' limited access to markets or livelihoods.

    A lack of funding has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by almost one fifth this year, and to halt distributions of nutritional supplements to treat anaemia and malnutrition in pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children. Food rations will be further reduced to half in June, which could have a severe impact on the refugees' food security and nutritional status.

    The Secretary-General calls on donors to urgently increase their assistance to this often overlooked and vulnerable population. WFP requires US$7.9 million to continue providing vital food assistance over the next six months. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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  • Tragedy in remote north-eastern Niger highlights dangers migrants face when crossing the Sahara

    The death of 44 people in remote north-eastern Niger is a horrific reminder of the dangers migrants face at all points of their journeys from West and Central Africa to the shores of Europe.

    The migrants are believed to have died from thirst when the truck carrying them either broke down or was abandoned about 200 kms from the town of Dirkou, in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Temperatures in the region can climb as high as 43 degrees Celcius in May.

    “The desert is just as dangerous as the sea,” said Lawal Taher, the President of the Bilma Branch of the Niger Red Cross. “Both are full of people who perish and disappear. Tragedies like these happen all the time. It is heart-breaking, but people want to move. They want a better life.

    Red Cross volunteers support a transit centre for migrants in Dirkou which is on the main migration route that leads to Libya.

    According to Mr Taher, the Red Cross has seen a rise in the number of people making the journey in recent years, as well as a steady increase in the dangers that migrants face, including attacks from armed groups and bandits, and exploitation and abuse by traffickers.

    While the plight and deprivations that migrants face in Libya and crossing the Mediterranean are relatively well known, the challenges they face in the Sahara are less well recognized. However, they are no less deadly.

    A report released by the British Red Cross in late 2016 documented some of the dangers that migrants face as they journey from West Africa to the southern shores of the Mediterranean:

    Before they even reach the Mediterranean, however, many people have traversed vast deserts, forded rivers and crossed through territory controlled by militias, armed groups or subject to lawlessness” it said. “Survivors tell of people falling off trucks and being left to die, of sickness and wounds – including gunshot wounds – left untreated, and of loss of life from hunger and thirst.”

    Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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  • Namibia Start-Up Festival 9-10 June 2017 at the Warehouse Theatre
    The Financial Literacy Initiative, FabLab, Team Namibia and the Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII) will host the first Namibia Start-up Festival from 9-10 June 2017 at the Warehouse Theatre. The event is co-sponsored by the German Federal Government. 
    Start-ups are the seeds of a strong economy, with jobs for everyone. In Namibia, there are not enough start-ups, but a lot of tenderpreneurs. This needs to change. Start-ups create jobs, not only for our generation, but our children and grandchildren. They put competitive pressure on existing businesses, forcing them to modernise and innovate, which is very important for long-term sustainable economic growth. 
    The Namibia Start-up Festival aims to inspire Namibians to become true entrepreneurs and to celebrate the beauty of new ideas and the courageous business founders who realise them. At the festival, participants have the opportunity to learn all from how to start a business, to secure start-up funding, to finding an investor and to deal with tax issues. 
    Over two days from 9-10 June 2017, international speakers will share their experiences. Start-ups will learn from regional and local mentors; and investors will scout new ventures to invest in. It will be all about breakthroughs, making headlines and growing Namibian start-ups! The festival offers a spectacular programme full of inspiration and new opportunities. The opening keynote will be held by the First Lady and Founder of the 1Economy Foundation Madam Monica Geingos. There will be workshops, panel discussions and a lot of time to meet new business partners, sort out start-up finances and take businesses to the next level.  
    Start-ups who are actively working on a business idea can register as “Rockstars” (register on www.NamibiaStartUpFestival.com), and in case chosen to participate in the Namibia Start-up Festival will enter the festival for free. All selected start-up Rockstars will be invited to partake in the festival's ADDventure business idea pitching competition where the winner awaits a cash prize of N$ 75,000.  
    Future entrepreneurs who dream of starting their own business or members of the public who are curious what the Start-up Festival has to offer can buy a ticket for the Festival as a “Rising Star” for only N$ 200 only. Tickets are available at all Airtime Kiosks at Service Stations and Woerman & Brocks as well as online at www.NamibiaStartUpFestival.com. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany – Windhoek.

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