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Archive for March 31st, 2014

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard Travels to Switzerland and Chad

Posted by African Press International on March 31, 2014

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

March 29, 2014

Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard travelled to Geneva, Switzerland today Monday, March 31, 2014 for meetings with officials from United Nations and other international humanitarian organizations.€€

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Assistant Secretary Richard will travel to Ndjamena, Chad, where she will meet with Chadian government officials and representatives of both international and nongovernmental organizations. Assistant Secretary Richard will also travel to southern Chad with representatives from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to visit refugees from the Central African Republic living in camps as well as Chadians who had been living in the Central African Republic but have had to flee the violence there.€€

In FY 2013, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) obligated over $43 million for humanitarian activities in Chad. Chad is currently host to well over 500,000 refugees, vulnerable migrants, and other populations of concern from the crises in the Central African Republic and Sudan.

 

SOURCE

US Department of State

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MISCA Head of Mission appalled by Grenade attack on Civilians

Posted by African Press International on March 31, 2014

BANGUI, Central African Republic, March 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission and Head of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), Gen. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko is appalled by a grenade attack on innocent civilians, which took place last night at a funeral in a Bangui home, killing and injuring several persons. The attackers escaped from the crime scene and have not yet been identified or apprehended.

The Special Representative notes with profound dismay that an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of military-type assault weapons has been used in the recent spate of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), and reiterates that the use of such weapons on civilians is strictly prohibited under international law and constitutes a War Crime. He calls on the CAR Transitional Authorities to do all in their power to bring to justice the cowardly perpetrators of such atrocious acts.

Furthermore, he strongly urges Community Leaders, Opinion Leaders, Religious Leaders, Political Party Leaders and Leaders of Civil Society Organizations to speak-up and use their influence to help end the current violence in their country. He particularly urges the local and international media to demonstrate a high sense of responsibility in reporting events in the CAR and refrain from further fanning the flames of hatred and animosity among the population.

The Special Representative conveys to the bereaved families the sincere condolences and deepest sympathy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and wishes a prompt and complete recovery to the injured.

 

SOURCE

African Union Commission (AUC)

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Germany willing to provide air transport for the EU military operation in the Central African Republic

Posted by African Press International on March 31, 2014

BERLIN, Germany, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – To contribute to the success of today’s (28 March) force generation conference in Brussels for the European Union military bridging operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR CAR), Germany will additionally make available strategic air transport to the country’s capital, Bangui. This key enabler will help the European partners participating in the EU military operation to rapidly move personnel and materiel to the area of operations. Recently, the operation in this civil-war-torn country threatened to fail, due to a lack of such a capability for strategic deployment, that is, airlifting large and heavy cargo over long distances.

Federal Minister von der Leyen:

The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic is alarming. This makes it all the more important for the EU military operation to strengthen stability and security, so as to prevent violent conflict in the country from taking root and spreading. Rapid airlift of materiel and personnel is a key enabler. A lack thereof has so far prevented establishment of an EU military operation for the Central African Republic. I am very pleased that Germany can help solve this problem, without overstraining the Federal Armed Forces’ airlift capabilities in other operational areas, such as in connection with Afghanistan redeployment.

Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier:

We are prepared to support the planned EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic. France, among others, has requested temporary assistance from European partners, so as to prevent state structures in the Central African Republic from collapsing entirely, and to achieve initial stabilisation. It is our shared European responsibility to pool all of the capabilities that are required for this. That is why Germany will make available more air transport. This will not require any additional German personnel to be deployed to the area of operations.

For these transport flights to Bangui, the Federal Armed Forces will use Antonov An-124-100 aircraft leased from the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). Since 2006, Germany has been a party to the contract between the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) and RUSLAN SALIS GmbH, which is headquartered in Leipzig. This will put at the full disposal of the 14 participating nations two aircraft, each with a maximum payload of 150 tons. Germany is currently employing this capability intensively, primarily for follow-on supply to, and redeployment of, the German ISAF contingent in Afghanistan. This cooperation has proven its worth over a long period of time.

Germany remains willing to participate in the EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic by making available strategic MEDEVAC capabilities, and by providing personnel for the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Larissa, as well as for the Force Headquarters (FHQ) in Bangui.

Beyond the air transport that Germany is providing within the framework of the ISAF mission, Germany is already making such a capability available to the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, as well as, on a bilateral level, to France for its national SANGARIS operation in the Central African Republic.

On 10 February 2014, European Union Foreign Ministers decided to establish an EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR CAR). The aim, in coordination with international organisations (United Nations, African Union) and other actors, is to mitigate the threat posed by armed groups to the civilian population, and to ease civilian suffering, as well as to help the Central African Republic return to constitutional order. The EUFOR CAR operation plan and rules of engagement were approved on 17 March 2014.

 

SOURCE

Germany – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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TO THE BISHOPS OF MADAGASCAR: THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN EVANGELISATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Posted by African Press International on March 31, 2014

VATICAN, Holy See, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ The vitality of the Church in Madagascar despite the difficult circumstances in which this country finds itself and the commitment of the dioceses to human development were some of the central issues in the message Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.

The Pope thanks the prelates for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelisation” and acknowledged the serious socio-economic problems encountered in Madagascar, mentioning at the same time that the bishops have urged all of society to contribute to building a new future”. He encouraged them to take their rightful place in the “task of reconstruction, with respect for the rights and duties of each person”. He writes, “It is important to maintain constructive relationships with the authorities of your country. You must search for unity, justice and peace to better serve your people, refusing any involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good”.

“In this context, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable commitment of your dioceses in social work”, he continues. “Indeed, there is an intimate connection between evangelisation and human development. … I encourage you to persevere in your attention to the poor and materially and spiritually supporting those who devote themselves to them, especially religious congregations, whom I thank with all my heart for their dedication and for their authentic witness to Christ’s love for all men. I also invite you to call out without fear to all Malagasy society, and especially its leaders, with regard to the issue of poverty, which is largely due to corruption and lack of attention to the common good”.

Education is field in which the Church is very active in Madagascar. Therefore, the Pope asks the prelates to do everything in their power to “ensure that the greatest number of children, including those from the poorest families, have access to education, since as a result of economic difficulties many parents no longer have the economic means”. He also urges them to guarantee a Christian presence in public schools, so that Christians occupied in the field of education may “contribute to forming the Gospel and human values in the young generations that will be the leaders of the society to come”.

He goes on to mention that in their message for the end of the Year of Faith the bishops complained of the loss of the true “fihavanana”, a way of life typical of Malgasy culture, which promotes harmony and solidarity, and in relation to this he affirms that “the values that the Creator has instilled in your culture must continue to be transmitted, illuminated from within by the message of the Gospel. The dignity of the human person and the culture of peace, dialogue and reconciliation will find their place in society, leading to a better future”.

The Pope praises the implementation in dioceses throughout Madagascar of “an ambitious and very dynamic programme of formation for life and love”, and emphasises that the family “needs to be protected and defended so that it so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony”. With regard to challenges in the field of interreligious dialogue, he repeats that it is “urgent to develop, and also at times to initiate, a lucid and constructive dialogue in order to maintain peace between communities and to promote the common good”. He urges the prelates “never to doubt the strength of the Gospel, nor its ability to convert hearts to the resurrected Christ”, reiterating that for this to happen, “it is necessary that Christians bear daily witness to the faith they proclaim”, and for this witness to be credible, “life must be consistent with faith”.

“This invitation”, he continues, “is directed mainly at the clergy and consecrated persons. The priesthood, like consecrated life, is not a means of social climbing, but rather a service to God and to man”. Likewise, he remarks that chastity and obedience are essential virtues for priests and concludes, “The same applies with respect to temporal goods and prudence in their management. Offering a poor example in this area is particularly disastrous because of the scandal it causes, especially before a population that lives in poverty”.

 

SOURCE

Vatican Information Service (VIS)

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Conclusions of the 9th Meeting of the International Contact Group on Madagascar (ICG-M) Antananarivo, 28 march 2014

Posted by African Press International on March 31, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Conclusions of the 9th Meeting of the International Contact Group on Madagascar (ICG-M) Antananarivo, 28 march 2014

1. At the initiative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the International Contact Group on Madagascar (ICG-M) held its 9th meeting in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 28 March 2014, under the chairmanship of the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui. The list of countries and institutions which participated in the meeting is indicated below [1].

2. The opening ceremony of the meeting was graced by the presence of His Excellency Hery Rajaonarimampianana, President of the Republic. In the address he made on this occasion, he outlined the broad outlines of his priorities and informed the members of the Group about the steps that are being taken for the appointment of a new Prime Minister and the formation of a new Government. He thanked the ICG-M for its sustained support to the process for ending the crisis in Madagascar.

3. The meeting afforded the opportunity to take stock of the evolution of the situation in Madagascar since the 8th meeting of the Group, held in Addis Ababa, on 6 September 2013, and to agree on the modalities for the pursuit of the support of the international community and the future of the ICG-M. The Group’s deliberations were based on the updates provided by the Malagasy Prime Minister, Mr. Jean Omer Beriziky, and other members of the Government, as well as on the ensuing exchanges.

4. Participants, stressing the highly symbolic nature of the convening of their meeting in Antananarivo, welcomed the continued positive evolution of the situation since the eighth meeting of the Group. In this regard, they pointed out the organization, as planned and in the required conditions of transparency and fairness, of the presidential and legislative elections: on 25 October 2013, for the first round of the presidential election, and on 20 December 2013, for the second round of the presidential election, coupled with parliamentary elections. Participants commended Hery Rajaonarimampianina for his election as President of the Republic of Madagascar. They praised the sense of responsibility of Dr. Jean Louis Robinson, who was a candidate in the second round, for having recognized the victory of his opponent, allowing Madagascar to successfully complete this crucial phase of the process for ending the crisis. Participants also acknowledged the role of the former President of the Transition, Andry Rajoelina, and his decisive contribution to the success of the electoral process. In general, Participants welcomed the patriotism and commitment of all the political and social stakeholders and of the Malagasy people, which made it possible to successfully conclude the process for ending the crisis.

5. Participants noted with satisfaction the commitment of the new President of the Republic and his Government to spare no effort, in order to consolidate the remarkable progress made in recent months and to address the root causes of the recurring crises in Madagascar, particularly by affording equal opportunities for development for all the regions of the country. Within this framework, Participants recalled the measures envisaged for the implementation of the outstanding aspects of the Roadmap to end the crisis in Madagascar, especially the continuation and completion of the reconciliation process, including the return of political exiles and compensation for victims of the political events of 2002 and 2009, and the organization of local elections. They stressed the crucial importance of these provisions of the Roadmap and that of their diligent implementation. They also urged all political and social actors in the country to continue to demonstrate the necessary spirit of responsibility in this phase devoted to the consolidation of the gains made. They requested them to place the interests of Madagascar and of its people above partisan and individual considerations.

6. Participants were informed of the priorities of the Government of Madagascar in terms of governance and socio-economic development. These relate in particular to the enhancement of the authority of the State, the fight against corruption, insecurity and poverty, the promotion of the rule of law, education and health, as well as the establishment of an enabling environment for Malagasy and foreign investment. Participants, having welcomed the pro-activeness of the new authorities and the measures they have already taken, expressed the support of their respective countries and organizations to the ongoing efforts. They supported the convening of the envisaged Donors’ Conference, as proposed by the Malagasy authorities, once the new Government is established. They urged all international partners to actively participate in this Conference and to seize the opportunity to provide Madagascar with all the financial, technical and economic support that the country needs.

7. Participants welcomed the lifting by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the suspension that had been imposed on Madagascar after the unconstitutional change of government in March 2009, as well as all other sanctions adopted by the AU, SADC, the OIF and other actors. In this context, and given the importance to respond quickly to the expectations of the Malagasy people, who had paid a heavy price for the crisis, Participants urged the international partners to fully resume their cooperation with the country. Participants welcomed the pledges made, in this regard, by some international partners of Madagascar at the meeting.

8. Participants recalled that the ICG-M was established in the context of serious political and institutional crisis that affected Madagascar, to serve as a structure monitoring the situation and coordinating the action of the international community, with a view to accelerating the search for a consensual and lasting solution. They noted that with the imminent completion of the process to end the crisis and the restoration of constitutional order, the Group had attained its main objectives. In this regard, Participants paid tribute to SADC and its Mediator, former President Joaquim Chissano, for their determined, patient and persevering support to the process to end the crisis. They expressed their gratitude to the AU and, through it, to former Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra, for having coordinated the action of the Group and for its crucial support to the process for ending the crisis. They also expressed their gratitude to all the other members of the Group, both the bilateral and multilateral actors, for their coordinated and continued support to the Mediation, which made it possible for the international community to speak with one voice and to use effectively its influence to facilitate and speed up the resolution of the crisis. Participants also expressed their deep appreciation to bilateral and multilateral partners for their financial support to the process to end the crisis, including the organization of the elections.

9. In view of the imminent completion of the process to end the crisis and the fact that no international mediation was henceforth required, Participants agreed on the need for the Group to adapt its modus operandi to take into account the new situation. More specifically, they stressed that emphasis should be laid on supporting the efforts of the Government of Madagascar, especially in the socio-economic areas and the different aspects of governance, on the basis of its needs and priorities and within the framework of national ownership and leadership. They decided to transform the ICG-M into an International Support Group for Madagascar (ISG-M), which will be co-chaired by the AU and Madagascar and will meet at least twice a year. To ensure an effective follow up of the conclusions of the ordinary meetings of the ISG-M, Participants agreed to establish, in Antananarivo, a local branch of ISG-M, which will meet as often as necessary and will keep all members of the ISG-M informed about its activities.

10. Participants expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic and the Government of Madagascar for the warm welcome accorded to the members of the ICG-M, their availability and cooperation, as well as for the excellent facilities made available for the smooth conduct of the meeting.

[1] China, France, Japan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Unites States of America, AU, COMESA, EU, IOC, OIF, SADC (Namibia in its capacity as Chair of the SADC Troika Organ, and the representative of the former SADC Mediator) and UN.

 

SOURCE

African Union Commission (AUC)

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