Daily Archives: May 12, 2014

Central African students pursue their studies in Chad exile News Stories, 12 May 2014

N’DJAMENA, Chad, May 12 (UNHCR) – When the latest round of conflict in Central African Republic erupted last December, 30-year-old Moussa was studying law at Bangui University.

“I wanted to defend people,” he recalls six months later in neighbouring Chad, adding that as the conflict worsened, “I realized how helpless I was.” Like thousands of others, including many students in higher education, he fled the country to escape the mounting intra-communal and religion-based violence.

Moussa ended up in Chad, which has received almost 100,000 people – mostly Chadians – fleeing from the Central African Republic, including close to 2,000 Central African refugees in eight transit centres set up in the capital, N’Djamena.

But despite the drastic upheaval in his life, Moussa was determined to find a way to continue his studies. “I really want to continue with my studies and I still plan to defend people, with words of course,” chuckles Moussa, whose determination and single-mindedness has been rewarded.

He has been granted one of 67 scholarships offered to students from the Central African Republic by the government-run Polytechnic Institute for Engineering, Commerce and Administration (EPICA) in N’Djamena. UNHCR helped arrange these scholarships through consultations with EPICA. The study courses started recently.

The refugee agency will help with lodging; arrange transport to the EPICA halls of residence and provide basics such as blankets, mosquito nets, and hygiene items.

Moussa says that although he is “very happy about the [three-year] scholarship,” he will need extra money for daily expenses. He thinks he has found a solution. “I used to support myself through tailoring in Bangui,” he said, adding that a staff member at the Chagoua Transit Centre had lent him a sewing machine. His engaging character and energy is also sure to attract customers.

“I am training other refugees in the centre to help with the cutting, sewing and finishing touches,” says Moussa, pointing to a woman ironing a colourful African garment. “Many of my trainees are also scholarship students. My plan is to set up a tailor’s shop,” he adds. “I like this work because I help my compatriots with their clothing needs and I train people to make a living.”

Other refugee students on scholarships are studying subjects such as information management, business administration, sociology, hotel management, electronics and commerce.

UNHCR holds regular meetings to help orient newly arrived refugee students and to ensure that they are fully aware of the scholarship requirements, including following university rules, attending classes, studying hard and achieving good grades. It is also helping other students to become self-sufficient and looking at livelihood opportunities.

“It is important for us to seize this opportunity to not only promote refugee education, but also to explore, more deeply, the capacities, skills and interests of individuals. In this way, we will be able to help refugees regain their stability, independence and, most importantly, their dignity,” says Aminata Gueye, UNHCR’s representative in Chad.

There are currently more than 100,000 Central African refugees in Chad, including about 13,000 people who have arrived this year. Most of the refugees have arrived in the country via various border points in the south.

SOURCE: AFRICAN RENEAL

Twenty-sixth High-Level Meeting of Heads of UN Peace Missions in West Africa

DAKAR, Senegal, May 12, 2014 – At the invitation of Mr. Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), the Heads of the United Nations Peace Missions in West Africa held their Twenty-sixth high-level consultation meeting on 9 May 2014 in Dakar.

The objective of this regular meeting is to review progress in the implementation of the respective UN mandates in the region, to strengthen coordination in order to address common challenges in the areas of governance, decentralization, organized crime, and to examine the prospects of democratic transitions in the West Africa region.

The Heads of peace missions noted the paramount importance of investing in youth, respect for human rights, and fostering a culture of tolerance, inclusion and confidence-building mechanisms for political reconciliation and dialogue, and reiterated the need for respect of constitutional arrangements and the conduct of free and fair elections.

The meeting also emphasized the necessary role of the UN in support of peacebuilding, including through effective security sector reforms. On reforms in Guinea-Bissau, as an example, partners support should focus on integrating aspects that would ensure national stakeholders buy-in, including through incentive packages for reformed military and a transversal reform aimed at state-building. With regard to Cote d’Ivoire, the participants appealed to the international community for financial support to the existing Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration plan.

The participants highlighted the continuous resource challenges faced in the region, exacerbated by the lack of fiscal policies, and the over-reliance on external support to maintain functioning administrations. The involvement of the international community, through donors, solidarity conferences or contact groups, remains critical in order to guarantee appropriate support and resources to fragile transitions such as in Guinea-Bissau. All speakers noted the threats posed by organized crime and corruption to State institutions in their respective areas of responsibility. How to mobilize international assistance in order to strengthen State institutions in the region has emerged as a central question.

The meeting assessed the situation in the three zones of instability identified in the region – the Sahel, the Mano River Union and the Gulf of Guinea. The difficulties to control borders and curb terrorist threats and the links between extremist groups operating in West Africa were evoked. The interregional dynamics underlying political and security challenges in West Africa were emphasized. The electoral cycle starting in 2014 presents various risks. The evolving situations in Mauritania, Guinea, Togo, Burkina Faso and Nigeria were brought to focus at the meeting, which also welcomed the commitment of the international community to help address the security threats in Nigeria. In this regard, the meeting noted the recent decision made by the Secretary General to designate an Envoy. The meeting observed that the complexity of the political situation in the pre-electoral cycle, with the multiplication of tensions within political parties, in the current context of security and terrorism, poses challenges to regional organizations and the United Nations alike.

The need to support peaceful transitions, paramount to the consolidation of democracy, and the effective role that can be played in this regard by regional organizations especially ECOWAS, was highlighted by the leadership of the UN missions in the region. In this connection, the participants insisted on the need for the international community to accompany the electoral processes scheduled for 2015, to ensure a peaceful environment, an inclusive participation, political dialogue, transparency, and timely completion of the technical aspects of the respective electoral calendars.

The meeting agreed that this period of democratic transitions also conditions the draw-down and exit strategies of UN peace missions in the region. In order to achieve sustainable success, the participants agreed on the need to ensure effective national ownership, and reinforce the national capacities to build resilient foundations for economic prosperity and political stability.

The Heads of UN Missions thanked SRSG Ramos-Horta, who will end his assignment in June 2014, for the work he has accomplished during his tenure and his deep commitment to the peaceful transition in Guinea-Bissau.

SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS

Foreign Minister Steinmeier: Ceasefire in South Sudan a sign of hope

BERLIN, Germany, May 12, 2014 – Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement in Berlin today (10 May):

“The news that a ceasefire has been agreed between the conflicting parties in South Sudan is an important first sign of hope for people in the conflict region.

The ceasefire, which was achieved thanks to the intelligent and persistent mediation efforts by Ethiopia and the African regional organisation IGAD, is a significant step towards finding a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan. However, the ceasefire is fragile. What is important now is that the weapons really do fall silent, the parties agree on a long-term and stable ceasefire and people in need in the conflict regions of South Sudan can be provided with humanitarian assistance again without restrictions.

The political leaders of the two conflicting parties in South Sudan are responsible for ensuring that this can be achieved and that further talks take place to develop a viable strategy for a peaceful future for their country. Germany, together with its partners in the EU, will continue to support the African mediation efforts in every way it can.”

SOURCE: Germany – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

African Union: Reject Immunity for Leaders / African Groups say Plan Would Harm Regional Court

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, May 12, 2014 – A proposal to give immunity to sitting government leaders before Africa’s regional court would be a major setback for justice for grave crimes, African organizations from 19 countries and international organizations with a presence in Africa said in a letter to African governments released today.

Justice ministers and attorney generals of African Union (AU) member countries are scheduled to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 15 and16, 2014, to consider a draft protocol to expand the authority of the African Court on Justice and Human Rights to include criminal jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. A proposal providing immunity for heads of state and senior government officials from prosecution for such crimes is being considered as part of the amended protocol.

“Exempting sitting heads of state and senior government officials from African Court jurisdiction on grave crimes would shield the powerful from the reach of the law,” said Sulemana Braimah, executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa. “This is fundamentally at odds with the AU Constitutive Act, which rejects impunity.”

The consideration of the draft protocol comes at a time of intense opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by some African leaders, particularly in the face of the ICC’s proceedings against Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who were later elected as Kenya’s president and vice president.

“Impunity remains one of the biggest threats to human rights protection in Africa,” said Thuso Ramabolu, human rights officer at Lesotho’s Transformation Resource Centre. “It’s crucial for people responsible for mass atrocities to face justice, irrespective of their official positions. Immunity poses grave alarm and would create an incentive to hold on to power indefinitely.”

International conventions, including the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 recognize the imperative of accountability for grave crimes irrespective of the title or position of those responsible. The irrelevance of official capacity before international criminal courts has become entrenched in international law since the post-World War II trials before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Immunity with respect to serious crimes is also barred before some domestic courts in Africa.

“Even domestic law in Kenya and South Africa bars immunity for sitting officials before domestic courts on grave crimes,” said Stella Ndirangu, program manager at the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists. “African governments should not roll back important progress in ensuring perpetrators can be held to account.”

The following groups endorsed the letter and are among the most active members of an informal network of African nongovernmental organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa that have been working on Africa and the International Criminal Court:

Amnesty International, Benin

Burundi Coalition on the International Criminal Court, Burundi

Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda, Democratic Republic of Congo

Ligue pour la Paix, les Droits de l’Homme et la Justice, Democratic Republic of Congo

Parliamentarians for Global Action, Democratic Republic of Congo

Synergie des ONGs Congolaise pour le Lutte contre les Violences Sexuelles, Democratic Republic of Congo

Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour les Victimes, Democratic Republic of Congo

Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l’Homme, Democratic Republic of Congo

Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice, Egypt and Uganda

Amnesty International, Ghana

Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana

La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Guinea and Senegal

Amnesty International, Kenya

International Commission of Jurists, Kenya

Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, Kenya

Transformation Resource Centre, Lesotho

Rights and Rice Foundation, Liberia

Civil Liberties Committee, Malawi

Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi

NamRights, Namibia

Civil Resource and Development Documentation Center, Nigeria

Coalition of Eastern NGOs, Nigeria

Gender and Constitution Reform Network, Nigeria

National Coalition on Affirmative Action, Nigeria

Nigerian Coalition on the International Criminal Court, Nigeria

Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Center, Nigeria

West African Bar Association, Nigeria

Amnesty International, Senegal

TrustAfrica, Senegal

Amnesty International, Sierra Leone

Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone

Coalition for Justice and Accountability, Sierra Leone

International Crime in Africa Programme, Institute for Security Studies, South Africa

Children’s Education Society, Tanzania

Amnesty International, Togo

Human Rights Network, Uganda

Uganda Coalition on the International Criminal Court, Uganda

Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Zambia

Coalition for the International Criminal Court, with offices in Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

International Federation for Human Rights, with offices in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, and Mali

Human Rights Watch, with offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa

To read the letter, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/05/joint-civil-society-letter-draft-protocol-amendments-protocol-statute-african-court-

To see other initiatives by these organizations, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/11/12/call-african-icc-states-parties-affirm-support-icc-assembly-states-parties-session

and:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/10/04/letter-foreign-ministers-support-icc-advance-extraordinary-au-summit

SOURCE: Human Right Watch (HRW)

Winner of APO Invitation to the 2014 AfDB Annual Meetings Revealed

Sudan Tribune Associate Editor won APO invitation to participate in the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

KIGALI, Rwanda, May 12, 2014 – APO (African Press Organization) today announced that Sudan Tribune Associate Editor Julius N. Uma won the APO invitation to participate in the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, on 19-23 May 2014.

“Transportation, accommodation and daily allowances for Julius N. Uma shall be paid in full by APO”, confirmed Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization).

Photo Julius N. Uma: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1062
(Sudan Tribune Associate Editor Julius N. Uma won APO invitation to participate in the 2014 AfDB Annual Meetings)

Logo APO: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/apo-african-press-organization-small.png

Uma will travel to Kigali to cover the entire event and will have the opportunity to interview experts and senior officers from the AfDB.

“We believe the media has an essential role to play in the development of the African continent. This falls coincidentally following the first face-to-face meeting between President Kiir and rebel leader Machar since the eruption in December 2013 of South Sudan’s civil war that claimed the lives of thousands of South Sudanese. APO works towards offering journalists the tools they need to do their job properly: more transparency, access to information in real-time and capacity building”, said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization)

“We are delighted for Julius and hope that this experience at the 2014 AfDB Annual Meetings, will help him strengthen his already strong journalistic skills. Just like the BBC, APO aims to increase the capacity of the Sudanese media to play a role on the continent by increasing opportunities for development at a Pan African level”, added Pompigne-Mognard.

A graduate of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, Julius N. Uma spent two years of his student life working as political editor for Masscom online, which was managed by the Mass

Communication department, before joining the Sudan Tribune as Associate Editor.

Julius N. Uma has also contributed articles and written features to a number of international publications, including Inter-Press Service (IPS) and Christianity Today, and Uganda’s leading publications such as Daily Monitor, The Observer and The New Vision newspapers.

Uma has received awards from organizations and institutions, including World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and South Sudan government’s recognition of Sudan Tribune’s exceptional coverage of the 2011 referendum vote.

Sudan Tribune (http://www.sudantribune.com) is an independent news portal, which was established in 2003, to disseminate accurate and up to date information and promote democratic and free debate on Sudan and South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune is now one of the most popular English-language news publication in the two countries.

The website is run by a team of independent local and international journalists and editors.

Contact:

Aïssatou Diallo

bdm@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

About APO

APO (African Press Organization) (http://www.apo-opa.com) is the sole press release newswire in Africa and is a global leader in media relations relating to Africa.

With offices in Senegal, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, and Seychelles, APO owns a media database of over 50,000 contacts and is the main online community for Africa-related news.

It offers a complete range of services, including press release distribution and monitoring, online press conferences, interactive webcasts, media interactions, strategic advice, public diplomacy, government relations and events promotion. To find out more, please visit http://www.apo-opa.com.

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SOURCE: APO (African Press Organization)