Daily Archives: May 7, 2014

Africa: Secretary Kerry To Host Twitter Chat With the Young African Leaders Initiative Network

Secretary Kerry To Host Twitter Chat With the Young African Leaders Initiative Network

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC
May 7, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry will host a Twitter chat at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 9, to engage with members of the Young African Leaders Initiative Network and answer questions about his recent trip to Africa and U.S. policy in the region.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is President Obama’s signature effort to invest in an emerging generation of African entrepreneurs, public leaders, activists, and innovators.

Through YALI, the United States provides training, tools, and technology to support young African leaders, connecting them to each other, the United States, and opportunities to develop themselves and their communities.

While in Africa last week, Secretary Kerry met with both YALI graduates and 2014 finalists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Luanda, Angola. In Addis Ababa, the YALI participants were invited to attend the Secretary’s speech on U.S. commitment to Africa, and in Kinshasa, the Secretary participated in a microfinance event highlighting how one dedicated alumna chose to give back to her own community after returning from her fellowship program. In Luanda, Secretary Kerry met participants in the 2014 YALI Washington Fellowship and discussed what they hope to accomplish.

This summer, 500 young African leaders will come to the United States as Washington Fellows. They will attend academic institutions at 20 U.S. universities, and gather for a summit with President Obama.

More than 60,000 young African leaders are already engaging with the U.S. Government and connecting with each other as part of the YALI Network.

Follow Secretary Kerry’s Twitter chat using the hashtag #YALICHAT on Twitter during the event or view highlights of the event on the YALI Network Facebook page. Questions can be submitted in advance via Twitter using #YALICHAT and @YALINetwork on Twitter.

To get the inside track on the foreign policy issues of the day, follow Secretary Kerry on Twitter at @JohnKerry and the State Department at @StateDept.

Africa: South African General Elections

South African General Elections

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Washington, DC
May 7, 2014

The United States congratulates the Republic of South Africa on its national and provincial elections today.

It is not lost on us that this is the fifth round of inclusive elections since the end of apartheid in 1994 and the first since the passing of Nelson Mandela. Madiba knew that the future demanded that people of good faith summon the courage and conviction to move beyond the past. With each democratic election in South Africa, we see the power and purpose of that vision.

The United States looks forward to working with the new Government of South Africa, as it continues to build strong, democratic institutions and a prosperous future for its citizens.

With conflict raging in South Sudan, recruitment of children into armed groups is on the rise

UNICEF has received credible reports an estimated 9,000 children have been recruited into armed forces and groups by both sides in the conflict in South Sudan.

These reports are based on observations of children with armed groups, children wearing military uniforms and carrying weapons, and children undergoing military training. Under both international and South Sudanese law, the forcible or voluntary recruitment of persons under the age of 18, whether as a member of a regular army or of an informal militia, is prohibited.

Immediate and long-term damage – physical and psychological – is done to children and communities when children are recruited. Children have fought in armed groups in southern Sudan over the past few decades; as a result, they have missed out on their education and grown up in a culture of conflict.

The following story of a former child member of armed groups highlights the immediate dangers as well as the long-term consequences for children who are forced to fight in conflicts not of their making.

By Christopher Tidey

JUBA, South Sudan, 5 May 2014 – Ring Placido is a slight, soft-spoken 23-year-old who exudes warmth and a cheery calm. He is a renowned singer and bandleader in Juba’s burgeoning reggae music scene. His gigs around town draw sell-out crowds, and he has been invited to perform in the UK and Asia. Ring is a budding star.

He is also a former child combatant.

Ring was born in military barracks to a Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) colonel and his wife. In 1994, when Ring was 6 years old, a rebel group attacked the barracks and abducted him along with a number of other children. He was taken to a village far from his home and made a member of the rebel’s so-called children’s battalion or ‘Nyony’.

“I was very frightened and upset to be taken from my mother,” Ring recalls. “But I could not show fear or sadness, because they would have beaten me. I had no choice but to become one of them.”

Anger and resentment

Over the next four years, Ring was forced to fight for the rebels, who liked to make the children run ahead as the advance front line to draw out enemy fire. By the time Ring was 10, he had fought in three major battles. Ring says, “I had such anger and resentment inside because they made me fight.”

In 1998, Ring escaped and eventually found his way home to his mother and father. Not two years later, however, Ring was again forcibly recruited – this time to the ranks of the SPLA, where he was used as a radio operator until the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC) secured his release in 2009.

Ring had essentially spent 11 of his 18 years as a member of an armed group.

New fighting, new recruitment

Part of South Sudan’s 30-year legacy of conflict has been the recruitment of children into armed groups – both those forced to fight among the ranks and those made to fulfil support functions like porters, cooks or radio operators. Until the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended the fighting between the SPLA and the Government of Sudan, children were actively enlisted, either by choice or force, into the SPLA and other armed groups.

South Sudan’s independence from the North in 2011 was heralded as the dawning of a new era of peace, hope and opportunity. In the nearly 10 years following the CPA, the number of recruited children steadily declined, largely through the efforts of the NDDRC, with support from UNICEF. By late 2012, some 4,000 children had been released, returning to their families and communities.

Now, nearly three years on from its emergence as the world’s newest state, South Sudan has once again been plunged into violent conflict, mass displacement and human suffering. In the fighting between Government forces and various opposition groups, the recruitment of children is again on the rise, with an estimated 9,000 children who have been recruited into armed forces and groups by both sides in the.

Ring knows all too well what these children are going through. “What’s happening now is wrong,” he says. “Children should be in school learning to think, not in military uniforms learning to fight. Because of my time fighting, I didn’t go to school, and this has made it hard for me and others like me to find a good job as an adult. We were left behind. Still, I was lucky to get out when I did, because I would probably be dead by now if I hadn’t.”

Complex issue

Andrew Holt of the NDDRC agrees with Ring’s assessment. “South Sudan has known violence and war for more than twenty years,” he says. “Children born during this era are as apt to know how to handle a gun as they are to read and write.”

Child recruitment in South Sudan is a complex issue, because much of it is rooted in the country’s devastating poverty. “Children are generally recruited for one of two reasons,” explains Holt. “Either they have been abducted from communities and forced into service; or they are encouraged to join by their families. Children falling under the latter category tend to come from extremely poor households without the means to properly care for them. Parents may see recruitment as an opportunity to ensure their child is fed and sheltered.”

Whatever the cause, the recruitment of children into armed groups is a grave violation of children’s rights, including their fundamental rights to wellbeing, safety and education. Recruitment further threatens their chance for a successful future. That is why UNICEF and the NDDRC are working not only to disarm and demobilize children recruited into armed groups, but also to ensure they have access to education and training upon their release. Demobilized children in South Sudan generally have little to no formal education and are in need of remedial courses or vocational training.

“We owe it to these children to make every effort to find and demobilize them and provide them with opportunities for education and training,” says Ring. “Those of us who have been child soldiers, we can only transform through knowledge. Take us out, but give us school.”

SOURCE: African Renewal

MINUSCA reiterates its commitment to support peace and reconciliation efforts of the transitional authorities

BANGUI, Central African Republic, May 7, 2014 – The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, Mr. Babacar Gaye, congratulates the Head of State and the Transitional Government, on the occasion of one hundred day anniversary of the inauguration of Catherine Samba-Panza as President of the Central African Republic and the appointment of the Transitional Government led by Prime Minister André Nzapayéké.

“We commend the efforts of the Government to implement the Constitutional Charter of the Transition under very difficult circumstances, and we urge the transitional authorities to engage in the building of a nation which appreciates principles and values of coexistence and lasting peace,” said Mr. Gaye.

The Central African Republic is facing considerable challenges, including insecurity and a humanitarian crisis linked to inter-community conflicts.

Nevertheless, Mr. Gaye added, “I am confident that the resilience of its population and the wisdom of its leaders will enable the Central African Republic to overcome all obstacles and become a prosperous nation, respectful of human rights.”

He also encourages all Central Africans to support the national reconciliation process and the consolidation of Rule of Law, so that every person shall be equal before the law and communities shall live in harmony.

The Central African Republic must derive strength from its diversity and build institutions which represent the broad spectrum of the country’s diverse communities.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reiterates its commitment and willingness to support efforts to stabilize the country and restore state authority in all its institutions and over the entire national territory.


IMF Mission and Madagascar Reach Staff-level Agreement on Financial Assistance Under the Rapid Credit Facility

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, May 7, 2014 – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, headed by Mr. George Tsibouris, visited Antananarivo, Madagascar, from April 23 to May 6, 2014 and reached agreement with the Malagasy authorities on a program that could be supported by the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). Subject to IMF management approval, the staff-level agreement is expected to be submitted to the IMF Executive Board for its consideration in June 2014. Under the arrangement, Madagascar would be able to access up to SDR 30.55 million (about US$47.4 million).

The mission met with His Excellency President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Minister of Finance and Budget Jean Razafindravonona, Minister of Economy and Planning Herilanto Raveloharison, and Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Madagascar Vonimanitra Razafimbelo, as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Tsibouris issued the following statement:

“The Malagasy authorities have been able to maintain macroeconomic and financial stability during a difficult period of economic disruption over the past five years. However, low economic growth has interrupted the trend of improving social indicators. As a result of weak tax revenue performance and declining support from Madagascar’s development partners, the government has compressed fiscal spending and accumulated domestic arrears. In addition, budgetary subsidies for fuel and energy more generally have become very costly and have been crowding out the room for other priority fiscal spending. Cuts in public infrastructure and social spending have been considerable. About 90 percent of the population now lives below US$2 a day (adjusted for purchasing-power parity), making poverty a critical issue for Madagascar.

“The government’s immediate objective for 2014 is to create a solid foundation for faster growth and poverty reduction. In this context, it will be crucial to pursue policies that address pressing social and development needs while maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability. The International Monetary Fund stands ready to support the government’s goals.

“Madagascar has urgent balance of payments and budgetary needs that, if not addressed, could result in further economic disruption. Accordingly, the Malagasy authorities and the mission agreed on a combination of measures aiming to: (i) improve tax and customs revenue collections; (ii) increase funding of priority public investment programs and social spending; (iii) stop the accumulation of new domestic arrears and clear existing arrears in a phased manner; and (iv) address the issue of fuel price subsidies over time, while identifying efficient mechanisms for supporting vulnerable groups.

“There is also a need for a medium-term strategy to bring the Malagasy economy back on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. In particular, reforms advancing governance and the rule of law, creating a level playing field for the private sector, and encouraging investment inflows are critical. The strategy should also maintain debt at a sustainable level and give priority to concessional sources of financing. In this context, the Fund stands ready to provide assistance in its core areas of expertise.

“The mission takes this opportunity to thank the Malagasy authorities for their exemplary cooperation and the constructive discussions that took place.”

SOURCE: International Monetary Fund (IMF)