Daily Archives: April 14, 2018

Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcement regarding developments in Syria

Greece unequivocally condemns the use of chemical weapons and supports the efforts to eradicate them.

The international community must thoroughly investigate every relevant incident and perpetrators must be held accountable.

At the same time, the international community must remain focused on finding a political and sustainable solution in Syria; a solution that will end the war and restore peace in the country and the region, that will allow for the return of millions of refugees to their homes, and that will protect the whole population, including all religious and cultural communities.

In this direction, everyone must contribute directly toward the de-escalation of the situation and the strengthening of efforts to reach a ceasefire. What is more, access to humanitarian aid for battered populations must be assured.

Diplomacy must return to centre stage, and the efforts within the framework of the UN must be continued.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic

SOUTH AFRICA DETECTS THREE AVIAN FLU CASES

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa- South Africa’s Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ), confirmed three cases of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu, in the area.

They said, one case of bird flu was detected in the quails that are hatched, grown and slaughtered on the farm. The second one was identified in wild ducks that were kept domestically as pets, for recreational reasons. The two were identified within 10 km of each other. The third outbreak was detected in a semi commercial farm. The government has already sent experts to the infected areas, to prevent the disease from spreading.

“The farms and plots affected have been put under quarantine and the terms of the quarantine explained to the owners. The owners have been advised on bio-security measures that were to be taken, to prevent spreading of the virus to neighbouring houses by humans and also by faeces of affected birds. They have also been advised to secure bird enclosures with bird nets to prevent wild birds from entering them,” said READ.

The government has also deployed some officials to collect some information within three kilometres from the infected area, to assess the extent of the spread to neighbouring farms.

The government warned that since wild birds are often attracted to the domestic cages, by available leftover food, farmers were also advised to remove feed when it is not finished.

The agricultural department said, the primary source of infection in domesticated flock is contact with wild birds. READ said, it could be transmitted within a farm through carriers like utensils, workers and their clothes and contaminated litter. Even though bird flu affects both domestic and wild birds, the latter are more resistant to the disease.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

President Cyril Ramaphosa: Eulogy at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Eulogy by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Orlando Stadium, Soweto

Programme Directors, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Chairperson of the NCOP Thandi Modise,

Members of the Mandela and Madikizela families,

HE President Denis Sassou Nguesso,

HE President Hage Geingob,

Deputy President David Mabuza,

Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Baleka Mbete,

Vice Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Visiting Former Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Heads of Delegations from Sister Countries and Multilateral Organisations,

Your Majesties and all Traditional Leaders,

Distinguished International Leaders,

Leaders of South African Political Parties,

Members of Parliament,

Heads of Delegations from Fraternal Parties,

Friends, Comrades,

Fellow South Africans,

We gather here to bid farewell to Mam’ Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela � a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a sister, a great leader who we have come to refer to as the Mother of our Nation.

Just as we are burdened by the sorrow of her death, so too are we comforted by the richnessand profound meaning of her life.

The pain we carry in our hearts cannot be extinguished.

Nor should we be denied our joy in recalling the life of so wondrous a person.

We gather here not only to pay our final respects to a great African woman, but to affirm the common humanity that, through her life, she revealed in us.

Her life was dedicated to the unity of the daughters and sons of the African soil.

Her life was dedicated to the unity of the oppressed of all nations.

In death, she has brought us all together, from near and far, across many nations and continents, to mourn, to pay homage, to remember and to fondly reminisce.

In death, she has demonstrated that our many differences along political party and racial linesand the numerous disputes we may have areeclipsed by our shared desire to follow her lead in building a just, equitable and caring society.

Hers was a life of service.

It was a life of compassion.

She chose as her vocation the alleviation of the suffering of others.

She trained and worked as one who provides support and care and comfort to those most deeply affected by poverty, hunger and illness.

Yet, like many of the great leaders of her generation, she understood that the suffering she encountered did not happen on the edges of society.

Such suffering defined society.

She saw for herself the deliberate intent of the apartheid rulers to impoverish the people of this country.

Her conscience, her convictions, left her with no choice but to resist.

She felt compelled to join a struggle that was as noble in its purpose as it was perilous in its execution.

She felt compelled to speak when others were rendered silent.

She felt compelled to organise, to mobilise, to lead when those who led our people had beensent across the bay to the Island, whilst others were forced to flee beyond our borders or were martyred by a state that knew no mercy.

She felt compelled to pick up the spear where ithad fallen.

It was a spear that, throughout the darkest moments of our struggle, she wielded with great courage, unequivocal commitment and incredible skill.

Her formidable will was matched by a keen political sense and a presence that inspired both awe and admiration.

As a potent symbol of resistance, as the steadfast bearer of the name ‘Mandela’, she was seen by the enemy as a threat to the raciststate.

She was an African woman who � in her attitude, her words and her actions � defied the very premise of apartheid ideology and male superiority.

Proud, defiant, articulate, she exposed the lie of apartheid.

She laid bare the edifice of patriarchy.

She challenged the attitudes, norms, practices and social institutions that perpetuated � in ways both brutal and subtle � the inferior status of women.

Loudly and without apology, she spoke truth to power.

And it was those in power who, insecure and fearful, visited upon her the most vindictive and callous retribution.

Yet, through everything, she endured.

They could not break her.

They could not silence her.

After Nelson Mandela was jailed, she said:

They think, because they have put my husband on an island, that he will be forgotten. They are wrong. The harder they try to silence him, the louder I will become!.

And she became evermore so bold and loud.

They thought they could ‘banish’ her toBrandfort.

They miscalculated greatly because in truth,they sent her to live among her people � to share in their trials, tribulations and hardships, to share their hopes and aspirations, and to draw courage from their daily struggle againstthe tyranny of racial subjugation.

The enemy expected her to return from Brandfort diminished, broken and defeated.

They expected her to succumb to the excruciating pressure of years of solitary confinement, harassment and vilification.

Instead, she emerged from these tormentsemboldened, driven by a burning desire to give voice to the aspirations of her people.

To give them hope. To give them courage.

To lead them to freedom.

It was not long ago that we celebrated with Mama Winnie her 80th birthday.

On that occasion, we recited the poem by Maya Angelou, And still I rise.

It is only fitting that we should do so again today,for Maya Angelou could easily have written this poem to describe Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard?

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Like so many of our people she has lived with fear, pain, loss and disappointment.

And yet each day she rose with the nobleness of the human spirit.

They sought to denigrate her with bitter and twisted lies, but still she rose.

They wanted to see her broken, with bowed head and lowered eyes, and weakened by soulful cries, but still she rose.

As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone.

Too often, we were not there for her.

The day after she died, the ANC’s top six leaders went to her home to pay our condolences to her family.

Zenani Mandela, reflecting on her mother’s life and overcome by emotion, said: My mother suffered. She had a very difficult life.

Then she burst into tears.

That statement and those tears have stayed with me since that day.

Zenani’s tears revealed Mam’ Winnie’s wounds.

It brought to mind the moment when Jesus said to the apostle Thomas as recorded in the book of John 20:27:

Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.

In essence, Jesus was saying to the apostle: Touch my wounds.

During this period of mourning many South Africans have been touching Mam’ Winnie’s wounds.

It ought to have been done long ago. For she wore the gaping wounds of her people.

She had been left to tend her wounds on her own for most of her life.

Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain.

But she touched our wounds all the time.

When we lost our loved ones, when people were in pain, overcome with anger, prone to violence, she came to touch our wounds.

She bore witness to our suffering.

She bandaged our wounds.

We did not do the same for her.

In her book ‘Part of My Soul Went with Him’, she wrote:

I have ceased a long time ago to exist as an individual. The ideals, the political goals that I stand for, those are the ideals and goals of the people in this country. They cannot just forget their own ideas. My private self doesn’t exist. Whatever they do to me, they do to the people in the country. I am and will always be only a political barometer.

From every situation I have found myself in, you can read the political heat in the country at a particular time. When they send me into exile, it’s not me as an individual they are sending. They think that with me they can also ban the political ideas. But that is a historical impossibility. They will never succeed in doing that. I am of no importance to them as an individual. What I stand for is what they want to banish. I couldn’t think of a greater honour.

Her healing from the deep wounds inflicted on her was incomplete.

We must continue to touch Mama’s wounds, acknowledge her immense pain and torment, and pass on the stories of her suffering to future generations so that it may always be known that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a giant, a pathfinder, a soldier, a healer, a champion of people’s struggles and forever the Mother of the Nation.

We must also recognise our own wounds as a nation.

We must acknowledge that we are a society that is hurting, damaged by our past, numbed by our present and hesitant about our future.

This may explain why we are easily prone to anger and violence.

Many people saw Mam’ Winnie as their mother because her own wounds made her real and easy to relate to.

It is only when you experience real pain yourself that you can recognise it in others and offer comfort.

That is what Mam’ Winnie did for decades, particularly when she stood alone as a bulwark against the apartheid regime, when she wiped away people’s tears, carried their coffins and inspired violence-fatigued communities to carryon.

Mam’ Winnie was a witness to the truths andhorrors of our nation, not only because of her own hardships but because of her courage.

Like the women who went to Jesus’s tomb after the men ran away, she was perpetually in the trenches, never afraid that it would be too much for her to bear.

When it was safe to do so, the men took over again and the women were relegated to a supporting role.

Mam’ Winnie provided leadership at the most difficult periods and sought no reward.

Like women throughout our society do every day, she toiled and never claimed glory.

Mam’ Winnie was universal and timeless.

As we continue to touch her wounds, we must be brave enough to share her life and legacy across our society and with the people she loved.

Shortly before her death, we had a conversation about her concerns, her worries and her wishes.

She spoke of her deep desire for unity and the renewal not only of the movement that she loved dearly, but of the nation.

She wanted a South African nation that wouldheal the divisions of the past and eradicate the inequality and injustice of the present.

She wanted us to honour the commitment in the Freedom Charter that the people should share in the country’s wealth and that the land should be shared amongst those who work it and be returned.

She spoke of many thoughts she had about how the revolutionary ideals and morality of her movement should be restored and not be undermined by corruption and self-enrichment.

Just as Mam’ Winnie has united us in sorrow, let us honour her memory by uniting in common purpose.

Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will dedicate all our resources, all our efforts, all our energy to the empowerment of the poor and vulnerable.

Let us honour her memory by pledging here that we will not betray the trust of her people, we will not squander or steal their resources, and that we will serve them diligently and selflessly.

The Mother of the Nation has died, but she is not gone.

She lives on in the young girl who today still walks the dusty streets of Mbongweni, resolutethat her life will not be defined by the poverty into which she was born, nor constrained by the attitudes to women that seek to demean her existence.

She lives on in the domestic worker who is determined that the suffering and sacrifice of her many years of servitude will not be visited on her children.

She lives on in the prisoner who regrets his choices as much as he bemoans his circumstances, who dearly seeks another chance to make a better life for his family.

She lives on in the engineer, who has defied discrimination and prejudice to build a career for herself in a field so long reserved for a privileged few.

She lives on in the social worker who tends to those in society who are neglected and abused, asking nothing for himself but the opportunity to serve.

She lives on in the Palestinian teenager who refuses to stand by as he is stripped of hishome, his heritage and his prospects for a peaceful, content and dignified life.

She lives on in the African-American woman, who though she lives in a country of great prosperity and progress, is still weighed down by the accumulated prejudice of generations.

She lives on even in the conscience of the apartheid security policeman who has yet to atone for his murderous ways, but whose humanity she sought to salvage and whose dignity she fought to restore.

She lives on in the movement to which she dedicated her life, as it seeks its way back to the path along which she led it.

She lives on in the nation that called her ‘Mama’, as it strives each day to fulfil its destiny as a united, peaceful, prosperous and just society.

Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died, but she is not gone.

She lives on in all of us.

She inspires our actions.

She guides our struggles.

She remains our conscience.

May her soul rest in eternal peace.

May her spirit live forever.

Lala ngoxolo Nobantu, Ngutyana. Phapha. Makhalendlovu Msuthu. Msengetwa. Qhawe lama qhawe.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

Commission on Population and Development, Failing to Adopt Outcome Document for Third Consecutive Year, Approves 2 Decisions as Fifty-first Session Concludes

Failing to adopt a final outcome document at the end of its fifty first session, participants of the Commission on Population and Development expressed regret that consensus had eluded them for a third consecutive year.

Unable to reach consensus during negotiations, Commission Chair Ion Jinga (Romania) withdrew the text Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration from consideration. While it was far from perfect, the text struck a delicate balance and had accommodated as many different views and interests as possible within the Commission’s time frame. It reflected prior negotiations and contributed to the Commission’s theme, without prejudging the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

The representative of the United States said her delegation could not accept the unqualified references in that text to sexual and reproductive health. While the United States supported the principle of family planning and health care interventions for optimal maternal and child health, the terms included in the text were open to many interpretations, she said, also noting that calls for a sovereignty clause to be included in the draft had not been heeded.

The representative of Uganda, on behalf of the African Group, said while the theme of the Commission’s session was critical for his continent, it could not support the draft. In particular, the Group wished that it had included the usual sovereignty clause. Regarding immigration, the Group did not want to pre empt negotiations on the global compact for migration and did not accept paragraph 25, which undermined its common understanding on that issue.

Tunisia’s representative, speaking on behalf of a cross regional group of countries, voiced regret that for the third time, the Commission had been unable to reach consensus despite joint efforts and constructive engagement throughout the week. Calling on Member States to give young people their sexual and reproductive health and rights � which were linked to gender equality, economic empowerment, poverty reduction and sustainable development � he noted that such references were notably absent from the draft.

The representative of Brazil, aligning himself with Tunisia, said Member States’ failure to reach consensus had seriously jeopardized the work of the Commission. Regarding migration, he said States must respect human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status, and a positive narrative needed to be built to ensure migration worked for all.

The Observer of the Holy See, expressing disappointment, said the Commission’s failure to produce an outcome was the result of disregard for red lines articulated by delegates. There had been an inordinate focus on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, he said, emphasizing also the principle of State sovereignty. The Holy See looked forward to a return to authentic consensus and successful Commission outcomes, he said.

Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, said that, notwithstanding the Commission’s failure reach consensus on this year’s theme, delegations had reiterated their commitment to fulfil the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This week’s interventions had illuminated national progress, with an emphasis being put on the special situations of women, girls, adolescents and youth.

Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that given the lack of consensus, it would not be possible to fully advance the rights of the beneficiaries of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. Affirming the Fund’s commitment to support Member States in achieving the Programme of Action, she said when the Commission met next year, understanding and appreciation would be renewed and re energized in order to achieve consensus and ensure that no one was left behind.

Also today, the Commission approved two draft decisions without a vote. By the first, it decided that the special theme for its fifty third session in 2020 would be Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development.

By the second, it decided that future reports on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development would be based on official development assistance, tracking resource allocations by all donors, as recorded in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) creditor reporting system.

In other matters, the Commission approved the report on its fifty first session (document E/CN.9/2018/L.3), to be completed by the Rapporteur with the support of the Secretariat. It also approved the provisional agenda for its fifty second session (document E/CN.9/2018/L.2).

Upon closure of the fifty first session, the Commission immediately held a meeting to elect Yuliana Angelova (Bulgaria) as Vice Chair of its fifty second session.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, Algeria, South Africa, Cabo Verde, Philippines and Australia.

The Commission on Population and Development will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Source: United Nations

Key world reactions to USled strikes on Syria

The U.S., France and Britain unleashed air strikes on Syria early Saturday targeting the Damascus regime in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on civilians.

Western powers said the strikes were necessary to halt the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Here is a selection of the main responses from across the world:

Russia

Damascus’s ally Moscow reacted with fury to the strikes and said it was calling an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.

“Russia severely condemns the attack on Syria where Russian military are helping the lawful government in the fight with terrorism,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said “such actions will not be left without consequences”.

Syria

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the brutal American-British-French aggression against Syria, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law,” the foreign ministry said.

State news agency SANA said the attack was “doomed to fail.”

Iran

Iran, another key backer of Assad’s regime, warned the U.S. and its allies were “responsible for the regional consequences of this adventurist action,” the foreign ministry said, condemning a “clear violation of international rules and laws”.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced U.S. President Donald Trump, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Theresa May as “criminals” in remarks published on his Telegram channel.

NATO

“I support the actions taken by the United States, the United Kingdom and France… This will reduce the regime’s ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

“NATO considers the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security, and believes that it is essential to protect the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the statement added.

“This calls for a collective and effective response by the international community.”

United Nations

“I urge all member states to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement.

He urged the U.N. Security Council to agree on establishing an inquiry that would identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks.

Russia this week vetoed a U.S. proposal to set up such a panel on the suspected attack in Syria.

Turkey

“We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

It accused Damascus of carrying out “crimes against humanity and war crimes” during Syria’s seven-year civil war.

EU

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the European Union supported the strikes and “will stand with our allies on the side of justice”.

Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel backed what she called a “necessary and appropriate military intervention”.

Amnesty International

“All precautions must be taken to minimise harm to civilians in any military action,” Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at rights watchdog Amnesty International USA said in a statement.

Source: National News Agency