Monthly Archives: September 2015

Closing ‘vast’ gender gap, ending child marriage key priorities, Ghanaian President tells UN

30 September 2015 – Spotlighting the importance his country places on gender equality, the President of Ghana told the United Nations General Assembly today that a major priority will closing the “vast” gaps between men and women through, among other efforts, providing decent education for girls and working to end child marriage.

“Most of the world’s poorest people are women,” John Dramani Mahama said. “Currently we create programs and policies to address this imbalance, yet regardless of how successful they may be, they are not permanent solutions. They do not solve the ultimate problem, which is the vast inequality between men and women that so many traditions have inculcated.”

He also addressed the plight of children and the work his country is doing to address their needs.

“In order to address the issue of child mortality and malnutrition, preparatory work is underway to earmark disbursements for pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of one,” he said.

He noted the central role of education in achieving gender parity, emphasizing that it was “the key to change.”

“In Ghana, we have made tremendous progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal target on universal basic education. We instituted the ‘Girl Child Program,’ which encourages parents to send girls to school, and at the primary level we have achieved gender parity between boys and girls,” he said.

Turning to the practice of child marriage on the continent, Mr. Mahama highlighted that, in West Africa, two out of five girls are married before they turn 18, face increased maternal mortality rates and “are subject to the sort of poverty that is nearly insurmountable.”

“Ghana has launched a campaign, under the auspices of [the UN Children’s Fund] to end child marriage in our nation by focusing not only on getting young girls in school but also on keeping them there their education is complete,” he continued. “This is being achieved through enhanced access to secondary education and beyond without compromising quality.”

On UN reform, he emphasized that it was time “for greater inclusivity in the United Nations.”

“The world that was in 1945 does not exist now in 2015,” he continued, “so the visionary Organization that was formed to meet the needs of that world must now be reformed to meet the needs of this one.”

He also delineated those needs, among them the issues caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram and Al-Qaida, as well to address the situatio of those killed in the South Sudan conflict and the “thousands dead in Syria, in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Mexico, Afghanistan and Somalia; thousands more, the majority from African nations, dead in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to flee poverty, hunger, disease or political strife or persecution.”

30 September 2015 – Illicit cigarettes hidden in trailer carrying horse at Beitbridge

Pretoria, 30 September 2015 – A vigilant SARS official discovered over R1 million worth of illicit cigarettes hidden in a trailer carrying a horse at Beitbridge border post on 28 September 2015.

The officer was doing inspections of trucks parked at the border post at about 2am when he discovered the one truck carrying a horse in the trailer.

The truck driver did not have a permit for the horse and was parked there overnight. However, the officer had a sixth sense about the truck and decided to do a thorough search. He banged under the bottom of the trailer and became suspicious as the sound was unusual. He then climbed into the trailer and discovered carpets hiding planks. The planks were covering a hole which contained several boxes of illicit cigarettes.

He then checked the roof of the trailer on the outside and inside and he realised that the level of the roof on the inside was not the same as on the outside. The roof was then cut open and a false compartment was found filled with more illicit cigarettes.

Altogether 105 master cartons of illicit cigarettes with a street value of R1 093 071 were confiscated.

Illicit cigarettes were also discovered at the Lebombo border post yesterday (29 September), hidden in the undercarriage of a taxi.

During a random search of vehicles at the main import gate, Customs officials discovered 100 cartons (20 000 sticks) of cigarettes wrapped in bags and strapped to the bottom of the taxi. They also discovered 320 pairs of undeclared All Star sneakers hidden under the taxi. The driver and goods were handed over to the SAPS.

And in another unusual bust, two Customs Detector Dog Unit members stopped a taxi which had illegally passed through the border near the Oshoek border post from Swaziland on 25 September. The taxi was escorted back to the border post where it was searched. Customs officials then searched the taxi and found packets of compressed dagga under the backseat, as well as 58 small packets of heroin rolled up in socks.

The suspect then tried to escape but was tracked down on a nearby farm. The suspect was arrested by the SAPS. The dagga was valued at R1218, while the heroin was valued at R2320.

These are significant seizures by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections in an effort to foil smuggling of goods. SARS will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organised crime and reducing illicit trade activities.

See the pics here.

30 September 2015 – Trade Statistics for August 2015

Pretoria, 30 September 2015 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for August 2015 that recorded a trade deficit of R9.95 billion. This figure includes trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS).

Please click here to read the full document.

For more info, visit the Trade Statistics webpages.

Crisis Forces CAR President to Leave UNGA Early

Hey DAWNSers!  Before we get to the day’s Digest, we have some exciting news to share. We have entered into a partnership with the good people at Global Citizen to help us expand our reach and provide us with the necessary support to keep our newsclips service free and fantastic. — Tom and Mark

With strife on the streets of Bangui escalating, Catherine Samba-Panza cut short her New York trip. French helicopters reportedly fired on militias near the airport. “It marked a fourth day of clashes since the killing of a Muslim man on Saturday unleashed the worst sectarian violence this year in the former French colony and raised doubts over plans to hold elections. The vote, scheduled for Oct. 18 but expected to be postponed, is meant to conclude a restoration of democracy after Muslim rebels seized power in the mostly Christian country in 2013, plunging the nation of 4.5 million people into a spiral of religious violence. Samba-Panza, who took office when Seleka ceded power in 2014 under international pressure, said the unrest was being stoked by supporters of ousted former president Francois Bozize.” (Reuters

Saudi’s Under Pressure to Halt Yemen Bombing Campaign…Saudi Arabia and its allies faced mounting international pressure on Tuesday to halt a bombing campaign in Yemen the day after airstrikes killed dozens of people at a village wedding on the Red Sea coast. The attack occurred Monday morning in the village of Wahija, south of the city of Mokha, and appeared to be one of the deadliest involving civilians since the military campaign began in March. Witnesses said Monday that at least 70 people had been killed in tents set up for the wedding. On Tuesday, two local medical officials said as many as 81 people had died.

Stat of the day: The office of the U.N. human rights chief says 151 civilians have been killed in fighting in Yemen over two weeks in September, taking the civilian death toll to 2,355 over the last six months. (AP

On the UNGA Docket today: POTUS and VPOTUS are back in DC today. But the action still abounds in Turtle Bay. Palestine, Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan are on the speaker schedule on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Russia will chair a Security Council meeting to drum up support for its own anti-ISIS strategy.


The streets of the capital of the Central African Republic were deserted Tuesday with terrified residents sheltering indoors and 30,000 seeking refuge at the airport after three days of shooting and bloodshed. (AFP

The Central African Republic’s president appealed for calm Tuesday as the United Nations reported 36 people dead and almost 30,000 displaced in three days of bloodshed terrorising the capital Bangui. (AFP

Burkina Faso’s army took up positions on Tuesday outside the presidential guard’s camp in the capital Ouagadougou, a day after the military chief of staff said the elite unit was refusing to disarm after a short-lived coup. (Reuters

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged South Sudan Tuesday not to “betray and disappoint” the international community after its president promised to implement a faltering peace deal designed to end civil war. (AFP

Nigeria is struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis due to a plunge in oil revenues undermining the state’s ability to provide even basic services, Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday. (Reuters

A scorching drought that has cut South Africa’s key maize crop by a third is likely to continue into the southern hemisphere summer as an El Nino weather pattern strengthens, according to the latest forecast from the South African Weather Service. (Reuters


Syrian opposition forces say they will never accept President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, after signs that Western powers may be willing to work with the embattled leader to end the war. (AFP

The United Arab Emirates is introducing labor reforms aimed at tightening oversight of employment agreements for the millions of temporary migrant workers who make up the bulk of the country’s workforce, a top Emirati official said Tuesday. (AP

The Libyan coastguard said it rescued 346 migrants on Tuesday, almost 100 of them women and children, crammed onto rubber boats and stranded off the country’s coast. (AFP

The World Bank says the Palestinian economy has worsened for a third consecutive year. (AP

The U.S. is losing the battle to stop Americans from traveling abroad to enlist in ISIS, a bipartisan congressional task force concluded in a report released Tuesday. (CNN


Western embassies in Bangladesh have restricted their diplomats’ movements amid concern more foreigners would be targeted after an Italian was shot dead in the first attack in the country claimed by Islamic State. (Reuters

Deposed Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra filed a criminal case against the attorney general on Tuesday alleging unfair handling of charges against her that could see her jailed for 10 years. (Reuters

More than 200 ethnic Rohingya stormed out of an Indonesian encampment Tuesday as tensions erupted following alleged rapes and beatings by locals at the site where members of Myanmar’s long-persecuted minority have been held since arriving by boat four months ago. (AP

Two British journalists have gone on trial in Indonesia for allegedly trying to make a documentary about piracy without the correct visas, and could face up to five years in jail, an official said Tuesday. (AFP

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met U.S. President Barack Obama and France and Britain’s leaders on Monday, and called for a climate change agenda from upcoming global talks in Paris that helps developing countries with access to finance and technology. (Reuters

The Americas

The news keeps getting worse for the once-ballyhooed Brazilian economy, compounding the delicate political situation for President Dilma Rousseff, who polls show is the nation’s most unpopular president since the 1985 return to democracy. (AP

The justice accord signed at peace talks between Marxist FARC rebels and the Colombian government does not address possible prison time for those who confess crimes committed during the country’s 51-year war, the rebel group said on Tuesday, contradicting government statements on the issue. (Reuters

Peru declared a state of emergency in six provinces on Tuesday after protests over a big Chinese copper mining project left three people dead and 15 injured. (AFP

Greenpeace called on Brazilian authorities on Tuesday to reject an environmental assessment for a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River in the Amazon because it was a “marketing tool” that disregarded the indigenous people living along its banks. (Reuters

…and the rest

An international press freedom group says the European Union has been too lenient in its treatment of media abuses in Hungary and accuses it of economic bias in defending the rights of journalists. (AP

More than half a million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year — 383,000 of them arriving in Greece, the United Nations said on Tuesday. (AFP

Austria may have to use force to ease any backlog of migrants if Germany decided to no longer let them enter via their shared border, but will continue to work closely with its neighbor to expedite the flow, the Vienna government said on Tuesday. (Reuters

European stock markets recovered their poise Tuesday despite an earlier rout in Asia which featured a 4 percent slide in Japan’s main index. (AP

A top U.N. human rights official says efforts by Russia-backed separatist rebels to block the flow of humanitarian aid to people in eastern Ukraine could amount to crimes against humanity. (AP


The SDGs Should Stand for Senseless, Dreamy, Garbled (Foreign Policy

The not-so-easy task of educating girls (Humanosphere

A Change of Perspective on Social Good (UN Dispatch

We Can Overcome Poverty and Hunger by 2030 (IPS

Maybe Trevor Noah Shouldn’t Be So Comfortable With An Indoor Toilet (Goatas and Soda

In two charts, this is what refugees say about why they are leaving Syria now (Monkey Cage

Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant (The Conversation

The majority of the world’s children are in school. So why aren’t they learning? (Guardian

Secret aid worker: As a woman, I’m seen as a piece of meat (Guardian

Bad time to change UN refugee supremo? (IRIN

It’s Up To The World: Pay For The Global Goals Or Buy Everyone A Latte (Goats and Soda