Daily Archives: November 2, 2018

Remarks at the 18th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meeting

As Prepared for Delivery

Madam Minister, Secretary General, distinguished delegates and guests, I am honored to convey to you the greetings of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the United States’ appreciation to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting this meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

The United States is committed to cooperating with regional partners in pursuit of a free, open and prosperous Indian Ocean and broader Indo-Pacific region. Our vision for the Indo-Pacific is grounded in shared values, mutual cooperation, and a commitment to a rules-based order. That includes freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, transparency and accountability in infrastructure development and assistance, private sector led growth, and good governance for the benefit of the people in the region.

The United States is proud to have been an IORA Dialogue Partner since 2012, and our increased engagement in IORA in the past few years�especially on women’s economic empowerment, blue economy and maritime safety and security�is a testament to our commitment to IORA as an institution, and to our common vision for a region that is prosperous, safe, inclusive, and interconnected.

We have been proud to work as partners with many governments represented in IORA to foster women’s entrepreneurship, accelerate women’s workforce participation and reduce barriers to women in the economy � from access to health care to gender-based violence.

U.S. initiatives such as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), and last year’s Global Entrepreneur Summit in India focused on Women First, Prosperity for All advance economic opportunities for women in the Indian Ocean region and globally.

The United States agrees that women’s economic empowerment is a pre-requisite for sustainable economic development. The IORA Women’s Business Forum was the first of its kind, and a testament to the growth and potential that supporting women in the economy can do for the region as a whole. That is why, at the July Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington, the Secretary announced the first-ever U.S. funding to support IORA, which is specifically planned for women’s economic empowerment activities.

Second, U.S. blue economy interests complement IORA’s, which is why we are working with Seychelles and SAPound o Tome and Principe to apply satellite technology to detect and respond to IUU fishing. We are working with South Asian nations to strengthen Coast Guard maritime, legal and justice governance capabilities.

In addition, the U.S. initiative Caught Red Handed is establishing a Western Indian Ocean regional investigation cell and developing a set of best practices for evidence collection and prosecution of criminal cases in the Indian Ocean fishing industry from Comoros to Sri Lanka.

We look forward to the third IORA Ministerial Blue Economy Conference in Bangladesh next year, and the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference that Kenya will host in Nairobi later this month. We commend Australia’s successful Blue Carbon workshop last year, which should serve as a model for similar efforts going forward.

Third, the United States is deeply invested in IORA’s commitment to strengthening maritime security.

We work with partners across the entire Indian Ocean to develop and enhance maritime domain awareness and increase information sharing, from the Gulf of Aden, to our newly announced Bay of Bengal Initiative, all the way over to the Mekong River delta.

We support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises across the region, which build interoperability and the habits of cooperation necessary to respond together when disaster strikes.

We remain interested in supporting cooperation among the region’s Coast Guards and maritime law enforcement agencies, and invite the region’s recommendations on strengthening cooperation, information sharing, and interoperability to respond to common challenges. Please consider that an open invitation

Finally, to increase connectivity and foster economic growth, we are excited about the BUILD Act, which establishes a modern U.S. development finance institution that will facilitate greater U.S. private sector engagement and empower entrepreneurs, create jobs, and reduce poverty in partner countries.

U.S. Initiatives such as Power Africa and Asia EDGE spur energy investments in IORA countries, underscoring the importance of public-private partnerships, open markets and increasing women’s participation in the economy.

The United States has never been more committed to ensuring a free and open Indian Ocean region and we believe that IORA can play a central role in realizing this vision. We welcome the opportunity to work with all of our partners to create an Indo-Pacific region in which each nation is, to echo President Trump, strong, prosperous, and self-reliant.

Thank you very much.

Source: U.S. State Department

Cameroon Separatist Leaders Make Court Appearance

Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine other separatist leaders made their first public appearance Thursday since Nigeria extradited the men to Cameroon in January.

The men appeared tired as they were brought into a Court of Appeals in the capital under heavy military escort.

Nigerian authorities arrested Tabe and 46 of his followers in Abuja, where they were accused of remotely leading a rebellion in English-speaking parts of Cameroon.

The 36 others who did not appear in court have yet to be seen in public.

Separatist supporter Diana Awemo said she traveled from the English-speaking northwestern town of Bamenda to see the men.

“We are happy. We can now confirm that ten of them are alive. We want to see the others that were kidnapped with them in Nigeria and brought back into Cameroon.” Awemo said.

Defense counsel John Nsoh said the accused were deprived of their right to meet their lawyers. He said they have filed a motion for their immediate release.

“This is the first opportunity for them to tell their story to a court. These people were arrested illegally, they were abducted, they were not even arrested, taken from a foreign country and brought into Cameroon and detained incommunicado for more than 10 months,” Nsoh said.

Cameroon’s government calls the separatist leaders terrorists and says those arrested will go before a military tribunal. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

Tabe in October last year declared himself the president of what he called the English-speaking republic of Ambazonia in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest.

Since Tabe’s arrest, armed separatists have launched sporadic attacks in the region on the military, markets and public buildings. At least a hundred schools have been torched and 300,000 people have fled to safer, French-speaking towns and neighboring Nigeria.

The government says more than 400 civilians, police and troops have been killed in the fighting.

In spite of the tensions and violence, Emmanuel Ngaibe, a relative of one of the arrested separatist leaders, expressed hope they will receive a fair trial.

“I hope that the court will be very, very independent and exercise justice and that politicians will not intervene in the matter,” Ngaibe said.

Violence erupted in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in 2016 when teachers and lawyers protested alleged discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

The government responded with a crackdown that sparked a movement for an independent, English-speaking state.

Source: Voice of America

UN Urges Nigeria to Bolster Protection in Borno State IDP Camps

Nigeria must beef up protection for civilians at displaced persons’ camps following a deadly attack by Boko Haram militants, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Armed men attacked the camp at night, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more, OCHA reported. The camp, which houses 12,000 internally displaced people, is near Dalori village, a few kilometers from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

The militants kidnapped women, and burned and looted homes, shelters and food stocks, OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said. Hundreds of civilians have fled; their whereabouts are unknown.

Laerke told VOA that Borno is the worst affected of the three states which have been under attack by Boko Haram insurgents since 2009. He said it is the epicenter of displacement and the humanitarian crisis, and is particularly vulnerable to lethal attacks by armed groups.

The U.N. is urging the government to do more to increase security and protect civilians.

“The entire environment there is highly militarized,” Laerke said. “That goes both for the government forces and, of course, the armed groups which are there. It is highly insecure.”

The IDP camp that came under attack is one of nine in Dalori. The camps were set up in 2015 and are home to 47,500 civilians.

Laerke noted more than 20 organizations provide food, water, sanitation and other essential aid to the inhabitants. Given the dangers, however, aid agencies only operate during the day. Consequently, he said, none of the agencies was present at night when the attack occurred.

The Nigerian military has recaptured territory seized by the Islamist militants but has yet to stop the attacks.

Since the start of the conflict in 2009, the United Nations reports more than 27,000 people have been killed, thousands of women and girls have been abducted, and children have been used as suicide bombers.

Source: Voice of America

Gay Witch-Hunt Sparks Fear, Panic in Tanzania’s LGBT+ Community

Gay and transgender people in Tanzania have gone into hiding fearing for their lives after a senior government official called on the public to report suspected homosexuals so that they could be arrested beginning Monday.

Paul Makonda, regional commissioner for Tanzania’s main city of Dar es Salaam, announced the crackdown Monday. He said a team would be set up to identify and arrest the “many homosexuals,” who could face up to 30 years in jail.

Makonda’s announcement has sparked panic and fear among thousands of LGBT+ people in the east African nation. Some said they were too scared to go outside during the day, while others had left their homes fearing imminent arrest.

“Since Monday, I have left my place and have been moving here and there. I am always looking over my shoulder in case they coming for me,” Nathan, 24, told reporter by phone from Dar es Salaam.

“There’s so much tension within the gay community at the moment. Not just in Dar, but all over the country. We are really scared. We don’t know what to do and where to go.”

Gay sex is illegal in Tanzania, but the law is rarely enforced. Homophobia and attacks and arrests on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT+) have risen since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015, activists say.

Even though the clampdown is set to begin Monday, Nathan said homes were already being raided in the port city and gay people were arrested. The reporter could not immediately confirm this.

‘Even cows’ disapprove of homosexuality

African countries have some of the most prohibitive colonial-era laws against homosexuality in the world. Same-sex relationships are seen as taboo and are a crime across most of continent, with punishments ranging from imprisonment to death.

As a result, the persecution, discrimination and exploitation of Africa’s sexual minorities is rife, say campaigners.

They are routinely abused, blackmailed, assaulted by mobs, or raped by police or vigilantes. Many are unable to get jobs due to their sexual identity � forcing them to sell sex through social media sites.

Tanzania has had a reputation for being more tolerant than its neighbor Uganda but, since Magufuli came to power three years ago, campaigners say the little protection, representation and freedom LGBT+ people have is being slowly eroded.

Civil society organizations supporting gay people have been shut down and activists have been arrested. Authorities have also suspended HIV/AIDS prevention programs for gay men.

In June last year, Magufuli said that “even cows” disapprove of homosexuality.

‘Scared to death’

Makonda told a news conference Tuesday that he had already received over 5,700 messages from the public � with over 100 names of suspected gays.

A 17-member committee is also being set up, he said, which would be tasked with identifying gay people on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and arresting them.

Campaign group Equality Now said it was appalled and alarmed by the crackdown � which also targets sex workers. It called on the federal government to condemn Makonda’s statement and to enact laws and policies to protect the rights of all.

“People who are LGBT and in prostitution are already frequently ostracized and face multiple levels of violence and inequality,” said Equality Now’s Tsitsi Matekaire. “Arresting them perpetuates this inequality, resulting in further marginalization and damage to their well-being.”

LGBT+ people in Tanzania said foreign donors must pressure the government to abandon the anti-gay campaign.

A previous crackdown on the LGBT+ community in 2016 was abandoned by authorities, they said, as a result of widespread condemnation by the international community.

They also called on the United Nations to protect them by providing them with safety in another country.

“I haven’t left my house during the day for the last four days. I am scared to death,” said 19-year-old sex worker Michael by phone from the northeastern city of Arusha. “We have no one to protect us. We ask the United Nations and other countries to help us to go somewhere else where we do not have to hide in fear.”

Source: Voice of America

FAO and the New Development Bank plan to join forces in boost for efforts to achieve 2030 Agenda

Shanghai/Rome – In the first partnership of its kind, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the New Development Bank (NDB) are set to increase their joint efforts to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, with a special focus on safeguarding water and soil resources.

NDB President, K V Kamath, and FAO Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, today met in Shanghai to pave the way for a formal agreement which is expected to be finalized soon. It would mark the first such cooperation between the NDB and an UN agency.

Graziano da Silva noted that it will take incremental resources of up to an estimated $265 billion a year to end by poverty and hunger by 2030 – two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by the international community.

“In order to achieve SDGs on time – there are less than 12 years left – we need consistent, committed financing. Food and agriculture, water and sanitation, energy and transportation infrastructure can – and must – contribute enormously. This is why FAO is pleased today to join forces with the New Development Bank, so that together we can draw on our combined strengths and deliver tangible results for the countries we support,” the FAO Director-General said.

NDB President K V Kamath said: “Strengthening the collaboration between the NDB and FAO is an important step towards further aligning the activities of our institutions in support of our member countries’ development efforts. This partnership will leverage the development expertise of FAO as a custodian of 21 SDG indicators, within the NDB’s capacity and mandate to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging and developing economies”.

Through the partnership, FAO and the NBD would aim to develop and implement joint programmes and projects in food and agriculture and rural infrastructure, including in water and irrigation; sustainable land use; soil management; and, the fight against desertification.

Activities could include knowledge and experience sharing and the promotion of innovative solutions as well as joint research and technical cooperation.

The NDB, formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states – Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa – in July 2015 and fully operational since February 2016.

The Bank is mandated to mobilize resources for sustainable development and infrastructure projects in support of global growth and development. To date, the Bank has approved 26 projects, in all member countries, for a total amount of more than $6.5 billion in investments. The Bank’s operations focus on key areas including clean energy, transport infrastructure, water management, sanitation and sustainable urban development

FAO, a technical, a specialized UN agency leads international efforts to defeat hunger, has over 194 member states, and works in over 130 countries worldwide.

FAO has agreements with 30 International Financing Institutions (IFIs) and other partners that invest in agriculture. Since 1964, the total investment carried out with FAO support is valued at over $120 billion. In the last year only it amounted to USD 6.5 billion provided by the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other regional banks.

Source: Food and Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations