Daily Archives: January 17, 2018

SOUTH AFRICA’S MINING SECTOR EMERGING FROM DOLDRUMS

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa’s mining sector is slowly but surely emerging from the doldrums with the latest available statistics showing that mining output increased by 6.5 per cent year on year in November 2017.

The largest positive contributor was the iron ore sector whose production rose by 20.7 per cent and contributed 2.5 percentage points to the overall increase. Coal production increased by 8.5 per cent, while the production of platinum group metals increased by 12.3 per cent.

Economists here are optimistic that this will contribute positively to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Ian Cruickshanks, chief economist at the South African Institute of Race Relations, said Tuesday: It means that worldwide, there is demand for the mining commodities which we produce, it’s also going to help us with our exports they will have higher values.

However, a significant negative contributor was gold whose production fell by 8.3 percent. Cruickshanks said this was caused by a reduction in gold demand globally.

Perhaps what that shows is that there is less demand for gold as a hedge against inflation, and as we know, worldwide, inflation is relatively low, especially in developed market economies.

With the world economy continuing to grow, it is expected that this will help boost the demand for South African mining export commodities.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Somalia to Probe Evictions of Thousands of Displaced Families

NAIROBI The Somali government responded to widespread criticism by aid agencies on Wednesday, promising to investigate reports that thousands of families fleeing drought and conflict were forcefully evicted from more than 20 informal camps.

The United Nations and groups such as the Somalia NGO Consortium say more than 4,000 families, or about 20,000 people, had their homes bulldozed last month inside settlements on the outskirts of the capital of Mogadishu.

The demolitions on private land were unannounced, they said, and pleas by the community largely women and children for time to collect their belongings and go safely were not granted.

Some aid workers who witnessed the evictions said uniformed government soldiers were involved in the demolitions.

“Regarding the forced evictions, we are really deeply concerned. We are investigating the number of evictions,” Gamal Hassan, Somalia’s minister for planning, investment and economic development, told participants at a U.N. event.

“We have to make sure we investigate and have to make sure we know exactly what happened. And then we will issue a report and you can take a look at it and see what happened and how it happened,” he said by video conference from Mogadishu.

The impoverished east African nation of more than 12 million people has been witnessing an unprecedented drought, with poor rains for four consecutive seasons.

It has also been mired in conflict since 1991 and its Western-backed government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group al Shabab.

The U.N. says drought and violence have forced more than 2 million people to seek refuge elsewhere in the country, often in informal settlements located around small towns and cities.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Wednesday condemned the demolitions, and said the fate of those evicted did not fit with the progress Somalia has made.

“Not only did these people lose their homes, but the basic infrastructure that was provided by humanitarian partners and donors, such as latrines, schools, community centers has been destroyed,” said Peter De Clercq, head of OCHA in Somalia, at the same event.

“I reiterate my condemnation of this very serious protection violation and call on the national and regional authorities to take necessary steps to protect and assist these people who have suffered so much.”

Source: Voice of America

Minister Bathabile Dlamini acknowledges academic performance of social grant beneficiaries, 18 Jan

The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, will on Thursday, January 18, acknowledge the academic performance of social grant beneficiaries who wrote their matric in 2017.

She will also recognise the overall performance of all social grant beneficiaries living in child-headed households and in the Isibindi Programme who are in tertiary institutions around the country.

Isibindi is a community-based programme that deploys trained community-based child and youth care workers in communities in an innovative team outreach programme providing care, protection and developmental support to vulnerable children and families.

Last year, a total of 417 239 learners who are beneficiaries of social grants wrote their matric and 1 813 of these learners were under the Isibindi Programme.

Source: Government of South Africa

Government launches Operation Fiela II in Pretoria, 19 Jan

South African Government led by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) will launch Operation Fiela II in January 2018. Members of the media are invited to a workshop that will outline the plans around this Intergrated operation that seeks to combat crime and corruption.

Picking up from the successes of Operation Fiela I, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) will continue to implement the adopted a multi-disciplinary, integrated approach which includes all law enforcement agencies and departments, in enforcing their respective legislative mandates. Operation Fiela II will focus on the prevention and combating of various crime types and addressing the safety concerns of the citizens of the country.

Operation Fiela II will continue to implement the Integrated National Action Plan to Re-asset the Authority of the state to mitigate the increased levels of lawlessness, impunity, intolerance and disregard for the rule of law that was developed in 2015.

The workshop will focus on engaging members of the media on priorities and the strategic thrust of Operation Fiela II.

Source: Government of South Africa

News in Brief 17 January 2018

Humanitarian situation in DRC deteriorates due to enormous funding gap: IOM

The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is spiralling out of control due to a “massive escalation” of conflict and insecurity, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) said on Wednesday.

Some 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the DRC, 1.7 million of whom were violently forced to flee their homes last year.

IOM representative, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, said that the “recent spike of displacement has made the DRC the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa”.

And he added that the situation is “not only a humanitarian crisis but it’s a protection crisis, as human rights violations are happening every day”.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) one out of seven Congolese will be in need of assistance in 2018, while the number of those relying on aid for their survival is set to double compared to last year, to 10.5 million people.

This massive deterioration in conditions requires considerably more funding: $1.68 billion.

Mr. Chauzy stressed the consequences of failing to increase aid:

“If we don’t get that level of funding then people will die. I have to be clear with this. They will die. I mean, the severe acute malnutrition rates in the Kasai, have increased by 750 per cent. The reason for that is not because of drought or anything, it’s just because people have been displaced so often in the Kasai, they have missed now three planting seasons, and if you don’t provide that kind of food assistance now, to kind of bridge that gap, people who have been living off foraging in the forest, they will suffer, and the most vulnerable will die first. Children will die first. And that’s a fact.

Funding cut creates “dramatic financial crisis” for Palestine refugee agency

Major funding cuts on the part of the United States for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have created the most “dramatic financial crisis” in its history.

That’s according to Pierre KrA�henbuhl, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, who said the revised US contribution of $60 million, was down from more than $350 million last year.

Mr. KrA�henbuhl noted that the US has consistently been UNRWA’s largest single donor, something he sincerely thanked the American people for.

But he added that the severe cut “threatens one of the most successful and innovative” human development programmes in the Middle East, and would impact the stability of the region.

More details on the UNRWA chief’s statement, from UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“He called on the Agency’s partners to rally in support and join UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives to ensure Palestine Refugee students continue to access education in its schools and the dignity of Palestine refugee children and their families is preserved through all its services. Mr. KrA�henbuhl will launch in the next few days a global fundraising campaign to capture the large-scale commitment to keeping UNRWA schools and clinics open throughout 2018 and beyond.”

Syria’s warring parties invited to Geneva next week for peace talks

The UN Special Envoy for Syria has invited government and opposition leaders to attend a special meeting next week, under the auspices of the stalled UN-backed Geneva peace process.

Separate invitations have been sent to attend the talks, which will be taking place in Austria, on 25 and 26 January.

Veteran envoy Staffan de Mistura said he was looking forward to both delegations taking part and expected they would come “prepared for substantive engagement” with a specific focus on constitutional reform towards a lasting peace settlement.

Here’s Stephane Dujarric again.

“As he prepares for the session in Vienna, the Special Envoy reiterates the view of the United Nations that any political initiative by international actors should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-facilitated Geneva political process and the full implementation of resolution 2254The UN in Syria has issued a statement today urging all parties, inside and outside of the country, to prevent further violence and enable humanitarian organizations to access and assist people in need.”

Source: United Nations Radio