Daily Archives: August 31, 2015

Press Releases: Remarks at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: ...

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. Thank you very, very much, Admiral Papp, for a very generous introduction. I have to tell you that I’m surprised that on an Irish ship in St. Petersburg any sailors were able to talk at all. (Laughter.) I mean, sailors are sailors, and when you get to port, you don’t talk.

But I really want to thank Admiral Papp. I have to tell you, he’s been a blessing to this enterprise. And over the last year as the U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic, he has already seized the reins and done a rather remarkable job of helping us to set, yes, an ambitious agenda, but one that is, after listening to each of the speakers thus far, I think everybody here would agree is necessary to the challenge. And the challenge is real.

Admiral Papp was literally one night away from retirement as commandant of the United States Coast Guard after a brilliant career in the Coast Guard when I telephoned him and I said – I’d met him in the course of our work, me in the Senate and work we did on fisheries and narcotics trafficking and other things. And I knew this was the man for the job, and I asked him to continue his service to our country and indeed to mankind. And believe me, without hesitancy, the next day he was in the office, we met, and he picked up this baton and he has been running with it ever since. And he has a deep, deep commitment to the Arctic, to the challenge of climate change, and I think we are all blessed to have somebody who is prepared to give up the emoluments of the private sector and of retirement to continue in this role. And I’m very grateful to you, Admiral, for being willing to do that. And maybe someday I can make up to you the thwarting of your retirement plans. (Laughter.)

I want to congratulate each of the other speakers that we heard her today. I sat there, as I think most of you I’m sure did, and when I listened to Chief Stephan talk about 10,000 years, and I think of the Industrial Revolution since the late 1800s, which is, after all, at the heart of sort of how we produce things and how we live and how we travel that is creating this challenge of climate change. You see the contrast pretty starkly. And it struck me that this is the right place to be. This was the right site to come and discuss this issue. Because just by being here, just by listening to Mayor Berkowitz, to Mayor Joule, to the Lieutenant Governor and his tunic and his tribute to his mother, we all have a better sense of the human dimension and of the history, and indeed, even the moral challenge that we face as leaders in our countries and as leaders in the world with respect to this challenge of climate change.

So I’m particularly grateful to all of them and I’m grateful to John Holdren, a resident of my state, somebody I worked with for years as a senator, who helped me early on to come to understand the science of climate change. And we very much look forward – all of you here – to participating today and building, we hope, a record, an agenda, a roadmap, if you will, for how we go out of here to lead into Paris, where we have a critical negotiation in December, but which is not, as the video said, the end of the road. It’s really the beginning of the most important part of our responsibility to meet this challenge.

I particularly want to thank my coterie of colleagues, my counterparts who have come here from each of their countries, my distinguished colleagues who work so brilliantly on this issue and on others to help us to find common ground. The foreign minister of Iceland, Gunnar Sveinsson; the foreign minister of Norway, Borge Brende, who has been a great partner in so many efforts. Margot Wallstrom, the foreign minister of Sweden. Bert Koenders, the foreign minister of The Netherlands. Timo Soini, the foreign minister of Finland. Kristian Jensen, the foreign minister of Denmark. And finally, Yun Byung-se, the foreign minister of South Korea. And we’re very grateful to each of them for having traveled so far at a time that is particularly busy leading into September and the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

I’m grateful to the other heads of delegations, all of you sitting here around this table. The European Union, the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, Russia, Poland, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China – all of you who are part of this – Canada. Canada is part, obviously, of the Arctic Council, and the foreign minister is not here, but we’re grateful for all of your participation here and for all of the other delegations. Many of you have traveled very, very far to the largest state in our country, as you heard, and certainly one of the most beautiful states in our country, as you can see for yourselves.

The motto of Alaska is “North to the Future.” So I think it’s particularly fitting today that men and women from every corner of the globe have come north for the future. Because what we can decide here – and not just here but what we make real in Paris and beyond – will profoundly impact the future of life on this planet.

I have struggled for years, as I’m sure many of you have, with how you adequately take an issue of this magnitude, this kind of challenge, and put it in terms that average folks can really grab onto, where it isn’t so intimidating that people walk away and say, “Well, there’s no way I can deal with that.” Where people somehow feel that there are individual steps you can take even as countries, states decide to come together and stake – and take the larger steps.

But what we discuss here today is important not just for the Arctic, it is important for the rest of this planet. Everywhere I travel, leaders and average folks talk to me about the impacts of climate change and what they feel and see is happening to their lives in one particular part of the world or another. And the Arctic is so important for us to visit and understand because the Arctic is in many ways a thermostat, a computerized system, if you will, where we don’t even understand fully what the algorithm is, and yet we already see is having a profound impact on the rest of the planet. The temperature patterns, the weather patterns, what happens in the ocean in the Arctic can, in fact, we know – though we don’t completely understand the ways in which it will happen – but we know it has this profound impact on habitat everywhere, on breeding grounds everywhere, on the ecosystem itself.

And one of the beauties of what we heard today from each of the speakers who spoke a few minutes ago is this notion of balance. The balance between our activities – we, having the power of reasoning and choice over all of these other living species, what we choose has this profound downstream impact. Dr. Holdren just painted a very straightforward, purely scientific, actually absolutely factual picture. And it’s hard for people to digest that fully. Some people just want to write it off as a natural change, notwithstanding that at the end of the 19th century a Swedish scientist actually first described the impact of global heating and of the greenhouse effect itself. And we all know that were it not for the existence of the greenhouse itself, life itself would not exist on this planet because it is the greenhouse effect that has held the temperature at a steady average of about 57 degrees for life to be able to exist.

Now we know the Arctic is warming at this pace that was described today, twice as fast, four times in certain places, glaciers now melting three times faster than the rate observed in the last century, and as they melt into the seas the level of sea level rises. But in the figures that we saw regarding Greenland there is cause for greater concern, because the ice sheet on Greenland sits on rock, not in the ocean. Therefore it doesn’t displace water, it only adds to it. And as that level of ice melts, that is a magnitude greater of increase in the rate of sea level rise. And as we saw from Dr. Holdren’s presentation, in the most recent days the gigatonnage, billions of level of meltdown, is significantly greater than it has been at any time in the past, giving greater cause for concern.

We see the permafrost melting, which is releasing methane, and methane we all know is anywhere from – it’s about 30 times on average more damaging than CO2. And sometimes, in the short term it’s 86 times more damaging, but over an average of about a hundred years 30 times more damaging. But 30 times more damaging than something that we’re already having trouble getting control of is a threat to everybody.

We’ve seen 5 million acres of fires in Alaska alone, equal to the size of my state of Massachusetts, in this last year. And on top of that, we see significant challenges to life itself as it invades the communities that have been built, not just in Alaska, but in other parts of the world – low-lying nation-states in the Pacific and others that are increasingly facing this challenge.

The bottom line is that climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about. It is now. It is happening now. And I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the word should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today.

Villages in Alaska are already being battered by the storms and some have had to move, or will. As the permafrost continues to thaw, the infrastructure is beginning to be challenged. Houses and other buildings are literally collapsing into rubble. Already this is happening.

There’s a village a few hours northwest of Anchorage called Galena. In 2013, Galena and a number of other villages in the state faced terrible hardships after an ice jam caused the Yukon River to flood. And because natural defenses had melted away, 90 percent of Galena’s buildings were completely destroyed.

The Arctic has never been, we know, an easy place to survive let alone to raise a family or make a living. The story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next. But global climate change now threatens life in this region in a way that it hasn’t been threatened for all of those 10,000 years that Chief Stephan talked about. And unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that we’re seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world.

And we as leaders of countries will begin to witness what we call climate refugees moving – you think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival.

So over the course of this conference, we will discuss all of this. And the many opportunities that are actually staring us in the face right now to be able to respond to this challenge and, ironically, respond to it in a way that creates millions of jobs, improves our economy, improves health, improves our ability to respond to the environment, does all of the plus-ups that you search for in public policy without the long-term damage and costs that we’re witnessing by not taking those actions.

The energy market, because energy policy is the solution to climate change – and the energy market, if people make the right choices, is the largest market the world has ever seen. The market that drove the great wealth creation in the United States of the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users: technology, computers, personal computers, et cetera. The market that’s staring at us today is already a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users, and it will grow to 9 billion users as the population of the planet increases in the next 30, 40 years. It is the biggest market ever, and it’s waiting to be grabbed.

So we need to move to reducing carbon pollution, including emissions of short-lived climate drivers like soot and methane, and begin to factor carbon dioxide and its cost into the actual accounting of business and of our economies. We need to explore the need for greater collaboration to develop affordable and reliable renewable energy options in the Arctic communities. And let me underscore we have a number of impressive case studies from which to draw inspiration.

For instance, a small Alaskan village, Igiugig, men and women are using clean energy now, wind turbines in particular, that helps to feed their community. And through a partnership with the Ocean Renewable Energy Company they’re generating a third of their energy needs using a river-based hydrokinetic power technology.

These are the kinds of creative solutions that will enable Arctic communities to endure and to thrive in the future without having to rely on dirtier and ultimately destructive sources of power. And more broadly, today we can discuss what we can pull off in Paris, looking ahead to December when we’ll try to come up with a truly ambitious and truly global climate agreement.

Now our hope is that everyone can leave this conference today with a heightened sense of urgency and a better understanding of our collective responsibility to do everything we can to deal with the harmful impacts of climate change.

Over the course of the day we’re going to discuss efforts to expand resiliency in the region and to provide effective stewardship of wildlife and ecosystems that make the Arctic such an extraordinary place. We’re going to talk through ways that we can better prepare for the spike in human activity that is taking place in the increasingly open Arctic seas that were described earlier. Commercial fishing operations, which are not yet taking place in the central Arctic Ocean but they may begin to ramp up soon, and we’re not going to be able to manage fishing in that area effectively unless we gather more scientific information.

That’s why the United States is proposing an international agreement to prevent unregulated fishing for the time being. In addition, as more and more people begin to take advantage of the new shipping lanes and the potential of exploration of resources, there is obviously a heightened need to be able to expand open water search and rescue responsibilities and capabilities and also to define the rules of the road.

So we have a lot to cover today, and there is no question that the stakes could frankly not be much higher. And that’s why I’m so grateful for such a display of interest by so many countries coming here today to be part of this discussion. I know that when you consider the enormity of what we’re up against and the serious risks and overwhelming uncertainty that people are already experiencing, this seems like a pretty high mountain to climb. Well, I can assure you, as I have described, in fact, if you step back and look at it, it is not.

We are hardly the first generation in human history to face uncertainty about the future. Seventy-five years ago, our predecessors faced a world that was literally engulfed by strife, where seemingly all of Europe was overrun by evil, and civilization itself seemed to be in peril. We had leaders then who rose to that occasion, and we have all seen a world that is better for what came out of it with the United Nations and multilateralism and commitments to humanitarian and other missions.

The threat posed by climate change is obviously entirely different in character. But it is not different in its global reach or its potential to do harm. And the urgent need for global cooperation, for global commitment, for global choices is exactly the same as it was in the 1930s and ’40s and ’50s. If only we fully grasp that, if we commit ourselves to climbing this mountain together, then I am absolutely convinced that we will meet the obligation that we have to future generations, we will meet it here in the Arctic, and we will meet it for the rest of the world.

So I thank you very, very much for being part of this. I hope we have an extremely productive and rewarding day here at GLACIER, and I hope that GLACIER is a stepping stone to our meetings in New York around UNGA, and then afterwards in Paris, and afterwards to getting the job done. Thank you all. (Applause.)

PRESS RELEASE: High Reresentative Federica Mogherini announces senior ...

High Representative Federica Mogherini announces senior appointments
 
 
Brussels, 31 August 2015 – Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission, announced today the appointments of 19 senior appointments to EU Delegations, following the previous 16 appointments on 28 July. A further 4 appointments of Heads of EU Delegations will be announced in due course, depending on the receipt of agrément from the third countries involved.
 
 
Jose Ignacio SALAFRANCA has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Argentina. He is a former Member of the European Parliament.
 
Piotr SWITALSKI has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia. He is currently serving as Director for Policy Planning in the Council of Europe and was formerly the Permanent Representative of Poland to the Council of Europe.
 
Jean LAMY has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Burkina Faso. He is currently serving as Coordinator of the taskforce on civilian cooperation for the Republic of Central Africa.  He was formerly the French Ambassador to Burundi.
 
Denisa-Elena IONETE has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Chad. She is currently serving as Head of Unit for Fragility and Crisis Management in the European Commission.
 
Ana Paula ZACARIAS has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Colombia. She is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation in Brazil.
 
Jernej VIDETIČ has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Guyana. He is currently serving as Head of the Department for International Development Cooperation Policies in his Ministry. He was formerly the Slovenian Ambassador to Montenegro.
 
Vincent DEGERT has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Haiti. He is currently serving as Head of Russia Division in the EEAS. He was formerly Head of the EU Delegations in Serbia and in Croatia.
 
Tomasz KOZLOWSKI has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to India and Bhutan. He is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation in South Korea.
 
Andrea Matteo FONTANA has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Jordan. He is currently serving as Head of Unit in charge of Geographic Coordination for Neighbourhood East in the European Commission. He previously served in the Delegations in Syria and Russia.
 
Iina Marjaana SALL has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Mauritius. She is currently serving as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Kenya.
 
Ioannis GIOGKARAKIS-ARGYROPOULOS has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Papua New Guinea. He is currently serving as Head of Unit in the European Commission, in the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency. He has previously served in the Delegations in Senegal, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
 
Franz JESSEN has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Philippines. He is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation in Vietnam.
 
Markus CORNARO has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. He is currently serving as Deputy Director General for Development in the European Commission. He was formerly Head of the EU Delegation in Vietnam.
 
Roeland VAN DE GEER has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Tanzania. He is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa.
 
Hansjoerg HABER has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey. He is currently serving as the German Ambassador to Egypt.
 
Patrizio FONDI has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to United Arab Emirates. He is currently serving as the Italian Ambassador to Jordan.
 
Bruno ANGELET has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam. He is currently serving as the Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam.
 
Ralph-Joseph TARRAF has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to West Bank and Gaza Strip. He is currently serving as the German Ambassador to Jordan.
 
Alessandro MARIANI has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to Zambia. He is currently serving as Head of Division CSDP Policy, Partnerships and Agreements in the EEAS. He was formerly Head of the EU Delegations in Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles as well as Malawi.
 

 

Farmers turn to fishing as Zimbabwe crops fail

WEDZA, Zimbabwe, 31 August 2015 (IRIN) – Every morning, Josphat Kamwi joins scores of villagers at a muddy dam near Shurugwi in the heart of Zimbabwe’s maize-growing midlands. He drags his converted mosquito nets through the murky water.

Kamwi, 52, is a farmer by trade. But such is the extent of the agricultural crisis in Zimbabwe that he has turned to illegal fishing during the lean season to supplement his meagre food stocks.

“My catch is getting smaller by the day because almost everyone from my village has joined in the fishing,” Kamwi told IRIN.

“Sometimes our village head comes with police officers to arrest us because it is illegal to use nets to fish in the dam, but we won’t stop because that is the only way to avoid starving.”

In Shurugwi, as in most rural districts across Zimbabwe, household income is less than a dollar a day and families still depend largely on their annual maize production to survive.

Most villagers here had their entire harvest written off because the rains came late, flooded the fields and stopped abruptly, leaving the crops to wither.

See: Zimbabwe plunges towards a food crisis

The World Food Programme reported last week that 1.5 million people, 16 percent of Zimbabwe’s population, are expected to be “food insecure” at the peak of the lean season, which runs from around November to March – a rise of 164 percent compared to the same period last year.

Finding a way to survive

Whenever opportunities arise, farmers find other ways to earn a modest income, whether it is moulding bricks or selling dry long grass used for thatching. Some resort to panning for gold, which is both illegal and often highly dangerous.

Several hundred kilometres east of Shurugwi, in rural Wedza, another maize-producing region perennially affected by drought, villagers have been attending meetings to mobilise for possible food handouts from the government. But there is no hope of that actually happening yet.

“We used to depend on donors for food aid, but none have visited our area this year. We are also told that (the) government doesn’t have any food to give to us, so we are in a fix,” Godfrey Samaita, the head of the village, told IRIN.

“The teachers at our schools tell me that more and more children are collapsing at school due to hunger and some are dropping out. I also hear that there is an increase in young girls turning to commercial sex.”

There is growing anger at the mismanagement of the agriculture industry, especially at the country’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which is supposed to ensure food security by promoting crop production but whose failure to pay farmers for grain in recent years has only made the crisis worse.

Zimbabwe is facing a 1.1 million tonne cereal deficit this year, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a USAID-funded analysis service.

The GMB holds only 24 percent of the required minimum of 500,000 tonnes in its strategic reserves. The government has said it will need to import 700,000 tonnes of corn to feed those facing hunger in the coming months. But experts like Harare-based economic consultant John Robertson estimate it will need a lot more than that and doubt it will be able to raise the funds to pay for such large imports anyway.

Mismanagement

This crisis didn’t just happen overnight. Zimbabwe has experienced recurrent cycles of crop failures, with 2012-2013 among the most severe. FEWS NET’s latest grain and livestock forecast paints a gloomy picture going forward, particularly for the drought-prone south.

“Households in most southern provinces are currently facing ‘Stressed’… outcomes, which are expected to deteriorate to ‘Crisis’ from October to December,” it observed.

“Crisis” indicates at least 20 percent of households have significant food consumption gaps and that levels of acute malnutrition are abnormally high.

Farmers have lost faith in the grain board’s ability to pay because it is in serious financial difficulty and has been defaulting on payments for years. It hasn’t paid its own workers for more than eight months and offered them its little available grain as a bonus last Christmas.

See: Zimbabwe short-changing its small-scale farmers

“Grain deliveries to the GMB are very low this year, with only 29 percent (11,500 metric tonnnes) received as of early July, compared to 40,000 MT by the same time last year,” the latest FEWS NET update said.

“These low delivery levels to the GMB are due to the loss of trust by farmers with surplus grain because of non-payment for past deliveries. These farmers are opting to sell to private traders offering cash.”

Farmers are prepared to sell privately for less than half the price the GMB is offering just to make certain they are paid. Some are holding on to their grain, hoping for higher prices as the situation becomes more desperate in the coming months.

Vicious cycle

Without being paid for their grain, the farmers can’t feed their families in the short-term, but they are also unable to look after their land and plan for the future.

Kamwi said the GMB had still not paid the $780 due to him for the two tonnes of maize he sold it last year. “I would have used that money to buy basic foodstuffs and inputs for the next farming season,” he told IRIN.

In areas where crops failed due to the drought, households that planted their crops early last year managed to get some grain, but this is running out fast, while the majority got nothing.

Villagers are forced to buy grain from traders who come from as far away as Harare, but at a steep price (a 20-kg bucket has risen from $3 last year to up to $10). Some have already sold off most their livestock to buy food, send children to school and meet medical expenses.

Most people in Wedza now only have one meal a day, comprising of the starch-rich maize porridge called sadza and modest amounts of vegetables.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently announced a $77 million supplementary budget for drought relief, but as Zimbabwe even struggles to pay its civil servants in Harare on time, those living in the country’s remote farming communities aren’t exactly holding their breath.

In Shurugwi, Emma Mhene, a 40-year-old widow looks after three children of her own and two others from her late sister. She doesn’t know what she is going to do now that her brother, who used to send her money to buy food whenever he could, has been laid off.

“It is a painful struggle now, and if things continue like this, the children will starve,” she told IRIN.

tm/ag/ha

Water is an MDG Success Story. Sanitation is Most Certainly Not. Why?

Water and sanitation are two sides of the same development coin. In development and UN speak, they are rarely discussed separately. These days, the UN simply uses the acronym WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) when referring to this issue.

But even though they are not disaggregated as separate issues in official circles these days, that was not always the case. When the Millennium Development Goals were created in 2000, there were two separate targets for water and sanitation. And as a result, progress toward these goals was highly uneven.

While the goal of halving the portion of those was without access to safe drinking water was met in 2010, boasting 91% improved global water source coverage, the MDG sanitation target will not be attained until 2026 based on projections, making it one of the worst executed MDG agenda items. But more importantly, the gains have largely been unequal, with urban areas far outperforming rural areas and the least developed countries lagging behind other developing nations, translating to the poorest and most marginalized still going without access.

Lack of proper sanitation and access to clean drinking water remains to be a lethal and poverty-inducing circumstance, responsible for 80% of deaths in the developing world and more than 4 billion cases of diarrhea worldwide. Of the 3.8 billion cases that do not result in death, many will suffer from extreme dehydration, reducing retention of micronutrients necessary for healthy childhood development and cognitive function. The interruption of cognitive function severely disrupts an individual’s ability to learn and focus, limiting the impacts of educational interventions. This is but one example of how gains in water and sanitation can magnify and compound the dividends of other development agendas, suggesting the foundational importance of addressing global water and sanitation needs.

The past two decades have seen vast improvements in the area of water and sanitation, with nearly 2.1 billion people gaining access to improved sanitation facilities and 2.6 billion now using improved drinking water source since 1990, with the greatest gains made in Eastern Asia. These gains have largely come from a global recognition of how sustainable access to water and sanitation drastically improve health, education, security, dignity, and aid in reducing poverty. However, contaminated water and unsanitary conditions continue to threaten human security and development, and governments’ and donors’ interventions have left stark inequalities.

Unwillingness to prioritize the poor in water and sanitation interventions has resulted in uneven and unjust results.

Eight out of ten people still lacking access to safe drinking water live in rural areas. And unlike their more affluent counterparts, the least developed countries did not achieve the sanitation goal, with only 27% of their population having access to improved basic sanitation services since 1990. The situation is much more dire in states fragile and conflict-riddled states, where just over a quarter of these countries will attain the safe drinking water MDG. Failure to target investment towards those that need it most stems from misallocation of aid resources due to political interests and a dearth of information needed to make plans and decisions.

Currently, USAID water and sanitation expenditure does not reflect global priorities of aiding the most vulnerable, with $74 million of its WASH budget going to countries with more than 80% water and sanitation coverage and only $51 million going to countries with less than 20% access. In other words, most of the funding is not going to the places that need it the most.

Yet progress has been made. At the end of last year, Congress unanimously passed and President Obama signed into law H.R. 2901 Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014. The bill seeks to improve USAID’s focus on, and accountability to, the poorest of the poor and the countries and communities suffering most from water-related diseases. Not only does it codify and elevate water leadership roles in USAID and the State Department, but it also sets criteria and deadlines for the development of a comprehensive and coordinated strategy that transparently justifies prioritization, resource allocation, and program development of water and sanitation interventions.

These are the types of reforms that will go a long way in addressing the huge imbalances in water and sanitation aid distribution and perhaps enhance our ability as a global community to achieve the next set of Sustainable Development Goals over the next 15 years. But this will require the U.S. and other donor countries to prioritize the development and implementation of these type of aid reforms that look to prioritize the least developed, most marginalized, poorest, and those most estranged to the political process, and that will take political will.

Discussion

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OSCE representative calls on authorities in Turkey to respect ...

VIENNA, 31 August 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on the Turkish authorities to respect journalists’ rights and to refrain from actions that can hinder the freedom to report about issues of public importance, following the detention of two British journalists in Turkey.

“The accusations that these journalists face are extremely grave and can threaten their safety,” Mijatović said. “I trust that the authorities will do their utmost to ensure that the investigation is carried out in a transparent and swift manner, so that these journalists can resume their important work as soon as possible.”

The Representative said that journalists must be free to report on issues of public interest, including sensitive issues.

On 27 August, British journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, both with Vice News, were covering developments in Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey, when they were taken into custody by the authorities. Further, the journalists’ hotel rooms were searched by the authorities and some of their equipment was confiscated.

Together with their translator and their fixer, Hanrahan and Pendlebury are accused of supporting terrorist groups. They are expected to appear in court today.

Mijatović added that her Office would continue monitoring the issue closely.

Previous statements by the Representative on media freedom and freedom of expression issues in Turkey are available at www.osce.org/fom.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

31 August 2015 – SARS confiscates undeclared currency to the ...

Pretoria, 31 August 2015 – Customs Officials at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) on Friday 28 August 2015 apprehended five individuals in possession of currency to the value of R23 million and US 3.775 million. The passengers were scheduled to depart South Africa on United Arab Emirates flight EK 766 to Dubai.

Risk profiling earlier by SARS custom officials, identified the passengers, and led to their apprehension as they boarded the aircraft at 21h45.

The passengers were in possession of eight luggage bags and four backpacks. Upon noticing the SARS officials, the passengers retreated and headed back to the entrance of the boarding gate. At this point, officials closed the boarding gate door and the passengers were compelled to wait for the SARS officials.

When questioned by SARS officials on whether they were in possession of any currency, one of the passengers speaking on behalf of the group stated that he had R100 000 and that the other individuals also had currency.

The five individuals were escorted back to immigration at international arrivals, booked back into South Africa and escorted to Customs.

In total, 11 bags, in which the currency was held, were sealed in the presence of the travellers to be handed over to the South African Reserve Bank for further investigation.

SARS appreciates the collaborative efforts and support it receives from the various law enforcement agencies and ACSA in our efforts to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organised crime and reducing illicit trade activities.

Tackling violent extremist: a regional and a global concern

Session

Djibouti, 29-08-2015: A two-day Experts workshop on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in the Horn and Eastern Africa closed today in Djibouti under the auspices of the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), HE Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, the Charge’ of the United Sates Embassy to Djibouti, HE Christina Higgins, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti, Mr. Mohamed Ali.

Building on the momentum of ongoing regional efforts throughout the Horn and East Africa region, and in line with the February White House CVE Summit and the June 25-28 Kenya regional CVE Summit, this meeting was designed to focus on the best ways to institutionalize CVE in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa Region. Experts focused particular attention on practical and tangible outcomes that will strengthen CVE capacities and cooperation across the region. These outcomes will be highlighted at the upcoming leaders’ summit during United Nations General Assembly high-level week in September 2015.

Ambassador Maalim, in his closing remarks, thanked the US Government for the support provided to the CVE initiative and also to the workshop itself. “The importance of this meeting need not be emphasized to the experts you are. We all know that the issue of peace building is a top priority to the countries of the IGAD region considering the complexity of the subject matter”, he said.

He reiterated that the expected outcomes should be turned into recommendations: one highly desired recommendation being the establishment of a Center of Excellence to Counter Violent Extremism for the IGAD region.

“We gather here today to identify and to implement practical and tangible outcomes that will strengthen CVE capacities and cooperation across the region. Our work today to identify concrete solutions, including the proposal for an East Africa CVE Center of Excellence,” said Charge’ Higgins. She also highlighted that “we must stand together in support of one another and vow to strengthen our collective efforts to eradicate the roots of violent extremism throughout the region”.

Mr. Mohamed Ali noted that IGAd region and member states made significant progrees in the struggle against violent extremism, and thanks to support form partners and regional cooperation. He stressed that Djibouti would be happy to host the CVE Center of Excellence.

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31 August 2015 – Trade Statistics for July 2015

Pretoria, 31 August 2015 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today released trade statistics for July 2015 that recorded a trade deficit of R0.40 billion. This figure includes trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS).  

Including trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS)

Summary   

The R0.40 billion deficit for July 2015 is due to exports of R94.21 billion and imports of R94.61 billion. Exports increased from June 2015 to July 2015 by R4.26 billion (4.7%) and imports increased from June 2015 to July 2015 by R10.14 billion (12.0%).

The cumulative deficit for 2015 is R25.23 billion compared to R53.37 billion in 2014.

Trade highlights by category

The month-on-month export movements:

 

R’ million

Section:

Including BLNS:

Mineral Products

+ R2 911

+ 16.1%

Base Metals

+ R1 850

+ 17.3%

Machinery & Electronics

+ R 541

+ 6.3%

Wood Pulp & Paper

+ R 512

+ 39.0%

Precious Metals & Stones

– R 876

– 5.4%

The month-on-month import movements:

R’ million

Section:

Including BLNS:

Mineral Products

+ R1 632

+ 12.7%

Vehicle & Transport Equipment

+ R1 569

+ 20.1%

Equipment Components

+ R1 270

+ 19.0%

Chemical Products

+ R1 124

+ 12.6%

Machinery & Electronics

+ R1 107

+ 5.0%

Trade highlights by world zone  

The world zone results from June 2015 to July 2015 are given below.  

Africa:  

Exports: R26 308 million – this is an increase of R 161 million from June 2015

Imports: R9 759 million – this is an increase of R1 838 million from June 2015

Trade surplus: R16 549 million.

This is a 9.2% decrease in comparison to the R18 226 million surplus recorded in June 2015.

America:  

Exports: R9 114 million – this is an increase of R 856 million from June 2015

Imports: R10 086 million – this is an increase of R 746 million from June 2015

Trade deficit: R 972 million

This is a 10.1% decrease in comparison to the R1 082 million deficit recorded in June 2015.

Asia:  

Exports: R27 891 million – this is an increase of R1 965 million from June 2015

Imports: R42 506 million – this is an increase of R2 939 million from June 2015

Trade deficit: R14 615 million

This is a 7.1% increase in comparison to the R13 642 million deficit recorded in June 2015.

Europe:  

Exports: R23 132 million – this is an increase of R2 152 million from June 2015

Imports: R30 944 million – this is an increase of R4 784 million from June 2015

Trade deficit: R7 812 million

This is a 50.8% increase in comparison to the R5 180 million deficit recorded in June 2015.

Oceania:   

Exports:  R1 322 million – this is an increase of R 245 million from June 2015

Imports:   R1 097 million – this is a decrease of R 184 million from June 2015

Trade surplus: R 225 million

This is an improvement compared to the R 203 million deficit recorded in June 2015.

Excluding trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS)

The trade data excluding BLNS for July 2015 recorded a trade deficit of R9.22 billion.

Summary   

The R9.22 billion deficit for July 2015 is as a result of exports of R82.88 billion and imports of R92.10 billion. Exports increased from June 2015 to July 2015 by R4.77 billion (6.1%) and imports increased from June 2015 to July 2015 by R10.21 billion (12.5%).

The cumulative deficit for 2015 is R85.50 billion compared to R111.65 billion in 2014.

Trade highlights by category

The month-on-month export movements:

 

R’ million

Section:

Excluding BLNS:

Mineral Products

+ R3 012

+ 18.8%

Base Metals

+ R1 806

+ 18.3%

Machinery & Electronics

+ R 734

+ 10.9%

Wood Pulp & Paper

+ R 493

+ 44.9%

Chemical Products

– R 460

– 9.7%

The month-on-month import movements:

 

R’ million

Section:

Excluding BLNS:

Mineral Products

+ R1 657

+ 12.9%

Vehicles & Transport Equipment

         + R1 581

+ 20.3%

Equipment Components

+ R1 270

+ 19.0%

Chemical Products

+ R1 170

+ 13.9%

Machinery & Electronics

+ R1 100

+ 5.0%

Trade highlights by world zone 

The world zone results from June 2015 to July 2015 are given below.  

Africa:  

Exports: R14 972 million – this is an increase of R 663 million from June 2015

Imports: R7 247 million – this is an increase of R1 902 million from June 2015

Trade surplus: R7 725 million

This is a 13.8% decrease in comparison to the R8 964 million surplus recorded in June 2015.

Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) Only

Trade Statistics with BLNS countries

Trade statistics with the BLNS for July 2015 recorded a trade surplus of R8.82 billion.

Summary

The R8.82 billion surplus for July 2015 is as a result of exports of R11.34 billion and imports of R2.51 billion.

Exports decreased from June 2015 to July 2015 by R0.50 billion (4.2%) and imports decreased from June 2015 by July 2015 by R0.06 billion (2.5%). 

The cumulative surplus for 2015 is R60.27 billion compared to R58.27 billion in 2014.

Trade Highlights by Category

 

The month-on-month export movements:

R’ million

Section:

BLNS:

Precious Metals & Stones

– R 878  

– 98.1%

Machinery & Electronics

– R 193

– 10.0%

Mineral Products

– R 102

– 5.0%

Prepared Foodstuff

+ R 152

+ 16.9%

Textiles

+ R 104

+ 24.4%

The month-on-month import movements:

R’ million

Section:

BLNS:

Chemical Products

 – R 46   

– 9.4%

Base Metals

 – R 41   

– 30.9%

Mineral Products

– R 25

– 39.6%

Textiles

+ R 30

+ 8.9%

Footwear

+ R 16

+ 122.3%