Tag Archives: UN

2016 Somali General Elections Unlikely

Posted on in Somalia title_rule

On Wednesday, the UN envoy for Somalia insisted that the country was making progress, remarks that come just a day after the government stated that elections cannot be held as promised next year.

Nicholas Kay, the top UN diplomat in Somalia, stated that “the road to democracy is there, but 2016 will be a stepping stone short of full democracy.” Kay further indicated that the announcement, which was greeted with dismay in Somalia, was “no surprise,” adding, “it’s a reality we’ve been staring at for quite a while.” Kay spoke on the sidelines of the so-called High-Level Partnership Forum, a meeting of Somali and foreign delegates, which was held in the capital on Wednesday and Thursday. Kay described this week’s meeting as “the largest international meeting in Mogadishu in modern times” with discussions of what will happen in 2016, when the current government’s four-year mandate expires, at the top of the agenda. Kay also indicated that the process of state-building, after decades of civil war and anarchy, and the creation of a federal rather than a centralized administration “is going well but has taken longer than expected.” The last forum was hosted in Copenhagen.

On Tuesday, the Somali government admitted that insecurity and a lack of political progress meant that there cannot be “one man, one vote” elections in 2016 as were envisaged by the UN, foreign diplomats and the government itself. In a statement, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud disclosed that national elections are impossible amidst rampant violence that has been planned and carried out by al-Shabaab. The president denied the opposition’s allegations, stating that his government intends to focus on a review of the Constitution as well as building a strong national army.   Mohamud’s term is due to expire in August. Elected in 2012, Mohamud’s government has struggled to assert its control across the country. While al-Shabaab militants have been driven out of the major strongholds over the years, they still control some parts of rural Somalia, particularly in the southern region of the country, and continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks in Mogadishu. What the electoral process may look like will be decided by the end of the year, with the Somali government due to hold public consultations before presenting proposals to the international community in early 2016.

Meanwhile late on Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution, which effectively authorizes until May 2016 the deployment of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is fighting al-Shabaab and protecting the government. The same resolution also extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which is headed by UN envoy for Somalia Nicholas Kay, until March 2016.

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Ebola Update (4 June 2015)

Posted on in Ebola, Guinea, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

On Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that as long as there is one Ebola case in the West African region “all countries are at risk,” urging all nations to support the final battles aimed at wiping out the deadly disease in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Speaking to a General Assembly meeting on efforts to end the Ebola epidemic, which has killed over 11,100 people mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the UN chief stated, “we are on the home stretch now and what happens now is critical.” While Liberia, which was once the worst affected country, has now been declared Ebola-free, Ban has warned that in Guinea and Sierra Leone, “the battle has not yet been won,” and “any lapse in vigilance could allow the virus to spread.” Dr David Nabarro, the UN Ebola chief, told the assembly that the priority is to ensure that the outbreak ends as soon as possible, “which will take several weeks and may take a number of months… But everybody should be ready in case the disease recurs and needs to be controlled, especially in the coming 12 months.” Ban also disclosed that UN agencies who will be taking over responsibility for tackling the outbreak as the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Repose (UNMEER) scales down “will need considerable resources to go the distance and support recovery” in the three hardest-hit countries. UNMEER’s acting chief Peter Jan Graaff has indicated that UNMEER’s office in Mali closed on 31 March while its office in Liberia has handed over its operations to the UN country team. The Sierra Leone office is expected to end operations by the end of June, with Graaff indicating, “UNMEER could complete its transition by July 31 and be closed by the end of August,” noting however that if the situation deteriorates, the timeline could be changed “to ensure that the UN’s political leverage and convening power is maintained.” The UN Secretary General has indicated that he will convene an International Ebola Recovery Conference in New York on 10 July, which will aim to mobilize resources to start early recovery in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest figures on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As of 31 May, there have been a total of 27,145 reported confirmed, probable and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,147 reported deaths. In the seven days leading up to 31 May, a total of 25 confirmed cases of EVD were reported from 4 prefectures in Guinea and 3 districts of Sierra Leone,

According to the WHO, “since the week ending 10 May, when a 10-month low of 9 cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported from 2 prefectures of Guinea and 1 district of Sierra Leone, both the intensity and geographical area of EVD transmission have increased.” In the 7 days leading up to 31 May, a total of 13 new confirmed cases were reported in Guinea and 12 in Sierra Leone, with officials indicating that several cases in both countries arose from unknown sources of infection in areas that have not reported confirmed EVD cases for several weeks. This effectively indicates that chains of transmission continue to go undetected. Officials have noted that “rigours contact tracing, active case finding, and infection prevention and control must be maintained at current intensive levels in order to uncover and break every chain of transmission,” and have warned that the onset of the rainy season will make field operations more difficult from now onwards.

Two response teams from Guinea-Bissau have been deployed to the border with Guinea to assess several points of entry and sensitive communities. This is due to the proximity to Guinea-Bissau of the recent cluster of cases that have been reported in the northwestern Guinean prefecture of Boke. So far, the investigation team has not been able to locate the contact who had attended the funeral of a case in Boke and who is believed to have returned to a fishing community in Guinea-Bissau.


In the week leading up to 31 May, a total of 13 cases were reported in 4 western prefectures of Guinea.

Seven of these cases were reported from the prefecture of Forecariah, which borders Sierra Leone. Multiple chains of transmission gave rise to cases in 4 of Forcariah’s 10 sub-prefectures, however all cases were either registered contacts of a previous case or had an established epidemiological link to one. Five cases were concentrated in the central areas of the prefecture where the sub-prefectures of Farmoriah, Kaliah, and Moussayah intersect. The remaining cases were reported from the northwestern prefecture of Boke (1 case), which borders Guinea-Bissau; the west coast prefecture of Dubreka (4 cases), which borders the capital city Conakry; and the western inland prefecture of Fria (1 case). The cases in Boke and Dubreka were all registered contacts of cases linked to localized chains of transmission. The case that was reported in Fria however arose from an unknown source and is suspected to have originated from an as-yet unidentified chain of transmission in the neighbouring prefecture of Telimele. Officials have indicated that investigations into the origin of the case in Fria have been complicated by active and passive resistance from communities both in Fria and neighbouring Telimele.

On the ground sources in Guinea have reported that community engagement continues to prove challenging, particularly in all the 4 affected prefectures. There have been several reported incidents of violence that has been directed at field staff during the past week.

Sierra Leone

In the week leading up to 31 May, Sierra Leone reported a total of 12 cases in three districts.

Eight of these cases were reported from a densely populated area of the Kaffu Bullom chiefdom in the district of Port Loko, which is located just north of the capital, Freetown. All but one of these cases were registered contacts of previous cases within quarantined houses in the chiefdom. The additional case is from the same neighbourhood however it was not on a contact list and was living in a non-quarantined home at the time of symptom onset. The other cases were reported in the following districts: Kambia reported its first case for over 2 weeks on 31 May. The case was identified after a post-mortem test of a community death and was not a known contact of a previous case. The remaining three cases were reported from the capital city, Freetown. Officials in Freetown have indicated that at this time, none of those 3 cases can be linked to previous chains of transmission however investigations are at an early stage.



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Libya Against UN Action To Prevent Migrant Smugglers from Operating in Mediterranean

Posted on in Libya title_rule

Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations indicated Tuesday that his government is refusing to give its consent for UN action, which is aimed at endorsing Europe’s military plan to fight migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean.

According to Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, “the position of Libya is clear: as long as the European Union and some other countries are not dealing with the legitimate government as the sole representative of the Libyan people, they will not get any consent on our part.” The remarks come after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini appeared before the UN Security Council last month to request UN backing for Europe’s plan to confront the migrant crisis by using military force against smugglers. The Security Council’s EU members – Britain, France, Lithuania and Spain – are currently working with Italy on a draft resolution that would effectively endorse the EU naval force, authorizing the use of force in Libyan territorial waters. However the resolution requires the Libyan government to first give its consent for the operations, which could also take place on its costal territory.

While Libya’s internationally recognized government has been driven out of Tripoli, it is now based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The UN has been for months working to broker an agreement on a new national unity government. Last week, the Tobruk government sent an envoy to Brussels. Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Dayri was at the EU’s headquarters this week, where he attended talks on the EU plan. Despite these meetings, however Dabbashi has made it clear that a letter of consent was not forthcoming, stating, “I think the resolution will never come out.” While the Ambassador did acknowledge that the new EU naval force can act in the Mediterranean without Security Council endorsement, he warned “there are consequences,” adding “I don’t think they will go too far without the Security resolution.”

Since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, Libya has been engulfed in fighting and over the past several years, the country has developed into a staging ground for smugglers who load rickety boats with refugees and migrants desperate to reach Europe. So far this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has indicated that some 1,770 migrants have perished on the hazardous journey to Europe, effectively a 30-fold increase on the same period in 2014. Over the past eighteen months, more than 5,000 people have died. Security Council diplomats have privately admitted that European efforts to present a resolution on the migrant crisis have hit a wall over Libya’s refusal to grant them approval. Sources have disclosed that European governments had instructed their diplomats, most of home are based in Tunis, to reach out to the various Libyan factions in a bid to try to get them onboard the plan prior to formally presenting the draft resolution at the Security Council.

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Burundi Coup Fails as Leader Returns

Posted on in Burundi title_rule

An attempt earlier this week to overthrow Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza ended in failure on Friday as coup leaders admitted defeat and were either arrested or forced to go on the run.

Earlier this week, General Godefroid Niyombare launched a coup in the Central African nation as the country’s president was in neighbouring Tanzania to participate in regional talks on the on-going crisis in Burundi. On Friday a spokesman for the president confirmed that Burundian forces have arrested General Nyiombare. Earlier in the day, a senior police official had indicated “General Niyombare has evaded us but we know where he is hiding,” adding that he is believed to have fled to a southern district of the capital. Two senior army officers and a police general, who have been accused of taking part in the attempted coup, have been arrested.

The dramatic end to the coup attempt effectively ended 48 hours of uncertainty as questions arose who was in charge of the country, which in recent weeks has been gripped by a political crisis over President Nkurunziza’s controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive term in office. Wednesday’s coup announcement resulted in international criticism. In emergency talks on the crisis on Thursday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the coup attempt and called for a swift return to the rule of law. The United States State Department indicated that Nkurunziza remained the legitimate president.

On Friday, the presidency announced that President Nkurunziza was back in the capital Bujumbura and that he will soon address the nation. According to an aide to the president, “he is in Bujumbura in a very secure place,” adding that he will address the nation today. The streets of Bujumbura were mostly calm, following fighting that erupted on Thursday between loyalist troops and forces supporting the General. On the ground sources have reported that police set up checkpoints along a highway in the southern region of the country. Protesters have indicated that they will return to the streets, a move that will likely lead to more clashes.


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Liberia Celebrates End of Ebola

Posted on in Liberia title_rule

On Monday, thousands of Liberians gathered to celebrate the end of Ebola after the country was declared free of the deadly disease that has killed more than 4,700 people. Several dignitaries participated in the celebration, including the President of Togo, along with guests from the African Union, Ghana and Nigeria.   Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf closed the celebrations by recommitting herself to helping the governments and people of neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone to overcome the disease.

In a statement released Saturday 9 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that 42 days had passed since the last person confirmed with the virus in Liberia was buried. On Monday, the Liberian government declared a public holiday in order to allow workers and students to take part in a festival in the capital city, Monrovia. The ceremony however began on a sombre note, with testimonials from health workers and other staff in the country’s Ebola treatment units (ETU’s) as well as survivors and body disposal team members.

The WHO has hailed the eradication of the deadly disease in Liberia as an enormous development in the crisis, which has affected the West African region for over a year. However the United Nations agency has warned that because outbreaks are continuing in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, the risk remains high that infected people could re-enter the country. More than 4,700 people died during the Ebola crisis in Liberia, which remains the hardest-hit country by the outbreak. Neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to report new cases on a weekly basis. While the number of new cases being reported has significantly declined in recent months, officials in both countries have noted that they have had difficulty in tracing new cases.

Latest figures released by the WHO indicate that 26,720 cases have been reported and 11,079 people have died from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone and the United States, however officials have warned that the full scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported. The latest outbreak, which was officially confirmed in March 2014, has killed five times more people than all the other known outbreaks combined.

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