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April, 2017

 

General Assembly confirms appointment of Achim Steiner as new UN development chief

NEW YORK, 19 April 2017 – PRN Africa — The United Nations General Assembly today confirmed the appointment of Germany’s Achim Steiner as the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).Mr. Steiner’s nomination for UNDP Administrator was forwarded to the General Assembly by Secretary-General António Guterres following consultations with UNDP’s Executive Board.
In an announcement of the four-year appointment, which begins on 20 April, Mr. Guterres noted that Mr. Steiner brings to his new position “extensive senior leadership experience both at the grassroots and at the highest levels of international policymaking addressing environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development.”

Among his most recent experiences, Mr. Steiner was the head of the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) and Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi.
In today’s announcement, the Secretary-General thanked outgoing UNDP Administrator Helen Clark of New Zealand, who Mr. Guterres called “a highly effective communicator” and champion of development, among myriad key priorities.

Mr. Steiner takes the helm of UNDP, the largest of the independently funded UN agencies, which, under its special General Assembly mandate, leads the world body’s work on eradicating extreme poverty and promoting good governance in the developing world.

SOURCE UN News Centre

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DRC: Further mass graves and killings discovered in Kasais, says Zeid

GENEVA  PRN Africa / — UN investigators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have confirmed the existence of at least 17 further mass graves in Kasai Central Province, which has been the scene of clashes between soldiers and members of a local militia known as Kamuina Nsapu. This brings to 40 the number of mass graves documented by the UN in Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental Provinces since August 2016.

The presence of the additional graves was confirmed during an investigation mission to Kasai Central between 5 and 7 April by staff from the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) and UN Police (UNPOL). Fifteen of the mass graves were in a cemetery in the town of Tshimbulu and two in the locality of Tshienke. The UN team gathered information that soldiers from the Forces armées de la Republique démocratique du Congo (FARDC) had reportedly dug the graves, after clashing with presumed elements of the Kamuina Nsapu militia between 26 and 28 March. At least 74 people, including 30 children, were reported to have been killed by soldiers as a result of these clashes.

The UN team also visited Kananga to gather information about alleged abuses and violations there. Between 28 and 30 March, FARDC soldiers were reported to have shot dead at least 40 people, including 11 children and 12 women, in the Nganza commune of Kananga, and injured at least 21 others. The majority of the victims were said to have been killed in their homes as soldiers went door to door looking for militia members.

Two of the victims died in hospital, while the remaining 38 were reportedly buried by the local population in three mass graves. FARDC soldiers were also reported to have buried an unknown number of bodies in a fourth mass grave in Nganza cemetery. UNJHRO also received reports that at least two women and three girls had been raped by FARDC soldiers during the same operation in Nganza. Defence and security forces were alleged to have arrested and detained 27 people, including 10 boys and a 15-year-old girl.

The UN investigators, who also visited the Katoka commune of Kananga, heard reports that during search operations by officers from the Police nationale congolaise (PNC) on 28 March, a 23-year-old man, a 17-year-old boy and a one-month-old baby had been killed. The UN team was told that the baby had been fatally injured after being trampled on by police officers searching their house.

The Kamuina Nsapu militia, which is loyal to a local customary chief killed by the army on 12 August last year, has been accused of recruiting hundreds of children into its ranks, and targeting state agents and symbols, including government premises, schools, hospitals, police stations, as well as churches. An example of such violence happened on 30 March when about 30 alleged Kamuina Nsapu militiamen attacked the parish church of Saint-Jean de Masuika in Luiza territory, where they ill-treated at least three nuns and a priest, threatening to kill them. In addition, the priest and one of the nuns were reportedly abducted and then released the next day after money was paid.

The militiamen also vandalized the church, breaking doors and windows, and burning the priest’s chasubles. “The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasais over the last nine months,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “It is absolutely vital that the Government of the DRC takes meaningful steps, which to date have been lacking, to ensure that there is a prompt, transparent, and independent investigation to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by all parties, and other abuses of justice. My Office has offered its assistance in conducting such a credible investigation. We reiterate our request for access to all sites of mass graves, as well as to all witnesses, including those in detention, and other relevant information necessary to determine responsibility at all levels,” Zeid said.

“The scale and nature of the violence increasingly underscore the need to monitor the situation closely. Should there be no effective national investigation, I will not hesitate to urge the international community to support an investigation by an international mechanism, including the International Criminal Court, which recently reminded the DRC authorities of their primary responsibility under the Rome Statute to investigate and prosecute the alleged acts of violence in the Kasais,” the High Commissioner said.
SOURCE United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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108 million people in the world face severe food insecurity – situation worsening

ROME, 31 March 2017 – PRN Africa — Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels today.

The report, whose compilation required integrating several measurement methodologies, represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and Unicef.
The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security, says the Global Report on Food Crises 2017 report.
By joining forces to deliver neutral analytical insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually – enables better-informed planning decisions to respond to food crises in a more timely, global and coordinated way. “This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes. The EU has taken leadership in this response.

In 2016, we allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa,” said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development. “The report is the outcome of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises. I hope this document will be a strong tool for the whole international community to improve the coordination of our responses to crises,” added Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and

Crisis Management.
Most critical situations are worsening
This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria.
Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and |Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action not only to save people’s lives, but also to pull them back from the brink of famine, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report. “The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.”

“The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.”

The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represent those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance. This includes households that can cope with their minimum food needs only by depleting seeds, livestock and agricultural assets needed to produce food in the future.
Without robust and sustained action, people struggling with severe food insecurity risk slipping into an even worse situation and eventual starvation.
SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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