APO News from Africa:
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on the in-coming visit for the High level People to People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM), will brief the media on the state of readiness for this visit. The Minister of Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa will lead the media briefing supported by the Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation Mr Buti Manamela.
The purpose of the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism is to deepen mutual understanding between the peoples of South Africa and China and to enhance People-to-People exchanges and cooperation in areas of, amongst others, culture, education, communications, health, science and technology, sports, tourism, women affairs and youth.
Members of the media are invited to cover the state of readiness briefing scheduled as follows:
Date: 20 APRIL 2017.
Venue: Tshedimosetso House, GCIS, PRETORIA WITH VIDEO LINK TO CAPE TOWN (Imbizo Media Centre).
Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.
The third meeting of the biannual UK-Sudan Strategic Dialogue was hosted by the Government of Sudan in Khartoum on 29th March 2017, co-chaired by Undersecretary Abdulghani Al Naim, from the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Sudan, and Neil Wigan, Director for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, accompanied by delegations from both countries.
The meetings covered bilateral issues, culture, the peace process, human rights, development, trade and investment, migration, defence engagement, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, and regional issues.
Both sides welcomed the steps taken since the last Strategic Dialogue meeting in London and agreed to continue their joint work over the coming months. They welcomed the visit to Sudan of the Permanent Undersecretaries of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development, and a recent visit by a trade delegation from Sudan to the UK, as well as recent agreements on increasing cultural co-operation.
Both parties discussed recent political developments and the peace process in Darfur and the Two Areas. The United Kingdom welcomed the recent HAC directives to improve humanitarian access to Darfur and the Two Areas, in particular the decision to open a humanitarian corridor into South Sudan. Both sides agreed to continue the regular dialogue on human rights between the two governments at all levels, including on the subject of trafficking in people.
The UK provided briefing on recent political developments in the UK, including its decision to leave the European Union and the way forward after triggering Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty.
Both sides also affirmed their strong commitment to continuing to cooperate on education and the importance of cultural exchanges. These continue to be an important opportunity to build on our shared history and values, and engage the next generation. Both sides exchanged views on recent political developments in the region, including Libya and South Sudan, and agreed to continue an open dialogue on these issues. Both sides expressed strong concern about the current situation in South Sudan, and agreed on the importance of providing humanitarian assistance to those in need in the South, as well as supporting Sudan’s efforts in receiving South Sudanese refugees.
The two parties also agreed to continue working together on countering terrorism and violent extremism. They welcomed the recent exchanges of visits to share expertise and agreed to continue and broaden these exchanges in future.
The UK and Sudan reaffirmed the importance of continued progress towards our joint goals, and a continued broadening of the bilateral relationship, and agreed to hold another Strategic Dialogue in London in six months’ time.
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
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.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).