Africa 

First Person: The struggle to protect human rights in East Africa during the pandemic

“These have been trying times for all of us on different levels, almost like a seismic change in the direction of our work, but we made the decision not to forget everything else, even as we focus on COVID-19. Our work includes providing technical advice, and input to response plans, humanitarian appeals, development plans, as well as socio-economic analyses of the impact of COVID-19, in coordination with other offices UN in East Africa. We provide advice for the prevention of stigmatization and discrimination, particularly in relation to healthcare access and…

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Africa 

Making education safe for children with albinism in Malawi

Chinsisi Jafali, a 14-year-old with albinism, knows that going to school is a risky prospect, but it’s a risk he’s prepared to take. “I have six siblings who are all looked after by my mother,” he says. “Fending for the entire family has been exceptionally difficult for my mother. Her fight for our survival motivates me to go to school and work hard, so that I can help my family in future.” One in 130 people in Malawi has albinism, over 134,000 in total. Of these, 40 percent (about 53,000)…

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Africa 

Heed ceasefire call, UN chief urges, marking Africa Day

Marking Africa Day, António Guterres said in his message that the pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063. The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts. He noted that the…

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Africa 

Somalia looks to first full elections in 51 years, despite COVID-19 crisis

James Swan, Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Somalia (UNSOM), told the Security Council that 2.6 million internally displaced persons are particularly at risk from the novel coronavirus. Somalia coronavirus cases In its latest situation report, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday put the number of confirmed cases in Somalia at 1,502, with 59 deaths. Even before the outbreak, more than 5 million Somalis required humanitarian assistance, Mr. Swan said, as the country continued to deal with the al-Shabaab terrorist insurgency and a major locust invasion that is putting food production…

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Africa 

Stand in solidarity to preserve Africa’s hard-won progress, urges UN chief

At the virtual launch of a UN briefing paper focusing on the impact of COVID-19 across Africa, Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that citizens across the continent have done much to advance their own well-being, detailing strong economic growth, an on-going digital revolution, and a bold free-trade area agreement.  But, he added, “the pandemic threatens African progress”. The UN chief elaborated on the coronavirus’ potential to aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease, saying “much hangs in the balance”.   Demand for Africa’s commodities, together with…

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Africa 

Guterres encourages Member States to reach agreement over Ethiopian Nile dam project

Through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General noted on Tuesday that “good progress” is being made in negotiations between the three countries in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial agreement. Going up along the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan, and under construction since 2011, the $4.5 billion dam – also known by its acronym GERD – will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant once completed. Negotiations centre on the pace at which Ethiopia fills the 74 billion cubic metre reservoir behind the dam and the impact that could have on…

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Africa 

‘Alarming’ military build-up underway in Libya, as COVID-19 heightens insecurity

Stephanie Williams, who is also Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, said on Tuesday that while the rest of the world adjusts to life with the novel coronavirus, Libyans have dealt with almost constant bombardment and frequent water and electricity outages during the holy month Ramadan. At the same time, an “alarming” military build-up is underway as foreign backers send increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons to the warring sides – the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the so-called opposition Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General…

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Africa 

AU and UN appeal for ‘stable and peaceful environment’ for Burundi elections

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the partners said they have been following the electoral campaign and remain concerned about reports of intimidation and violent clashes between supporters of opposing sides. “The two Organizations encourage all entities involved in organizing the 20 May 2020 elections, the defense and security forces and state-owned media to fully contribute to preserving a stable and peaceful environment, pre-requisite for free, inclusive, fair, transparent and credible elections in Burundi,” the statement said. “They urge all political actors to refrain from all acts of violence and…

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Africa 

UN welcomes arrest of top suspect in Rwanda genocide

Félicien Kabuga, alleged to be a leading figure in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, was apprehended in Paris by French authorities as a result of a joint investigation with the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT). He was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 on seven counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Arrest sends  ‘powerful message’ “Mr. Kabuga’s apprehension sends a powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed such crimes cannot evade justice and will eventually be held accountable, even…

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Africa 

WHO seeking further details on staff expulsion from Burundi

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said she was made aware on Wednesday that the Government had asked them to leave the country immediately. She described WHO Representative Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo as “a long-standing well-respected staff member”, who is extremely competent as well as a good leader and manager. “We are in communication with the government of Burundi to clarify and understand the reasoning behind the decision they have taken. In the meantime, we are working with the UN system in the country to organize the departure of our staff”, she said.…

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