“To integrate Africa, bring down the walls,” Adesina urges at 2019 AfDB Annual Meetings Open in Malabo - Mega Icon Magazine
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“To integrate Africa, bring down the walls,” Adesina urges at 2019 AfDB Annual Meetings Open in Malabo

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African leaders on Wednesday underscored the urgent need to fast-track the continent’s regional integration process in order to accelerate Africa’s economic transformation.

The call was made at the opening ceremony of the Bank’s 2019 Annual Meetings, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, with the theme: “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.”

Apart and divided, Africa is weakened. Together and united, Africa will be unstoppable,” the Bank’s President Akinwumi Adesina told delegates at the packed Sipopo Conference Center.

Adesina urged African governments to work toward the elimination of non-tariff barriers. “Pulling down non-tariff barriers alone, will spur trade by at least 53%, and potentially double trade,” he said.

The opening ceremony was presided over by the host nation’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Also in attendance were King Letsie III of Lesotho; President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, Prime Minister of eSwatini. High-level government officials from Rwanda, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Côte d’Ivoire were also present.

In his opening speech, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo recalled that Equatorial Guinea, once one of the poorest countries in the world, has since been radically transformed with one of the highest per capita incomes on the continent.

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“For me, development is not about per capita income, it is about expanding the opportunities for the people to live a more dignified life,” Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said.

“Equatorial Guinea is open for business. We are committed to regional integration for shared prosperity. We count on the African Development Bank to help us achieve economic diversification and the consolidation of social equality.”

Regional integration is one of the Bank’s strategic High 5 agendas to rapidly advance Africa’s economic transformation.

In the past several years, the African Development Bank has invested over $13 billion in the central African region. “And for every dollar invested, the region has leveraged $36, an incredible rate of return of 36 times,” Adesina noted.

The Bank’s investments include the construction of the Central African fibre optic network that connects the population with faster and less expensive access to the Internet, and is boosting businesses and regional integration.

In his remarks, Equatorial Guinea’s Finance Minister Cesar Mba Abogo said: “Progress is the realisation of utopia. This is a country of utopia in Africa, with independence and the ability to control our own destiny. It seemed impossible at first in the last century but it was done. Now our utopia is regional integration.”

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More than 2,000 participants are attending the Annual Meetings, a unique opportunity to share the Bank’s perspectives on the state of Africa’s economy. The meetings also provides updates on the Bank’s work and serves as a platform for the exchange of views on emerging issues shaping the future of the continent.

The Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea, the president of the Senate, members of governments, the diplomatic corps as well as the African Development Bank’s Governors, Executive Directors, and other dignitaries attended the opening ceremony.

“There’s excitement in the air on Africa’s economic opportunities, and those opportunities are boundless. The newly ratified Africa Continental Free Trade Area will make Africa the largest free trade zone in the world, with a combined GDP of over $3.3 trillion,” Adesina said.

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29 million babies born into conflict in 2018 – UNICEF

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More than 29 million babies were born into conflict-affected areas in 2018, UNICEF said today.

Armed violence across countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen meant that, throughout last year, more than 1 in 5 babies globally spent their earliest moments in communities affected by the chaos of conflict, often in deeply unsafe, and highly stressful environments.

“Every parent should be able to cherish their baby’s first moments, but for the millions of families living through conflict, the reality is far bleaker,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “In countries around the world, violent conflict has severely limited access to essential services for parents and their babies. Millions of families lack access to nutritious food, safe water, sanitation, or a secure and healthy environment to grow and bond. Along with the immediate, obvious dangers, the long-term impacts of such a start in life are potentially catastrophic.”

When young children experience prolonged or repeated adverse and traumatic events, the brain’s stress management system is activated without relief causing ‘toxic stress’. Over time, stress chemicals break down existing neural connections and inhibit new ones from forming, leading to lasting consequences for children’s learning, behaviour, and physical and mental health.

Examples of the impact of conflict on babies and young children – given by UNICEF staff working in conflict zones – include:

  • “Some of the young children we see shake with fear, uncontrollably, for hours on end. They don’t sleep. You can hear them whimpering, it’s not a usual cry but a cold, weak whimper. Others are so malnourished and traumatized they detach emotionally from the world and people around them, causing them to become vacant and making it impossible for them to interact with their families,” UNICEF worker in Yemen.
  • “My son, five-year-old Heraab, finds himself in a community where he is constantly exposed to the sounds of explosions, smell of smoke, accompanied by the regular shrieking of sirens, be it police or ambulance, or the persistent honking of cars and motorbikes rushing the injured to hospital.  He shudders and wakes up at night if a truck passes by with speed, sometimes shaking the windows of our house, thinking it must be another attack,” UNICEF worker in Afghanistan.
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  • “Some of the children are scared and look very anxious, others are very aggressive. They are frightened of visitors and flee when they see visiting vehicles coming. The cars remind them of fighting, war weaponry they need to flee from,” UNICEF worker in Somalia.

 

  • “I’ve travelled to the hardest to reach areas of South Sudan to help provide humanitarian assistance to children who have been forced to flee their villages because of violence. With no basic services, no health facilities, poor sanitation, no food, and deep-set trauma, families struggle to survive. I see despair in the eyes of the children I meet. The conflict has taken away their childhood,” UNICEF worker in South Sudan.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which, among other things, governments pledged to protect and care for children affected by conflict. Yet today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades, threatening the safety and wellbeing of millions of children. Hospitals, health centres and child friendly spaces – all of which provide critical services to parents and babies – have come under attack in conflicts around the world in recent years.

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Providing safe spaces for families and their young children living through conflict – where children can use play and early learning as outlets for some of the trauma they have experienced; and providing psychosocial support to children – and their families – are critical parts of UNICEF’s humanitarian response.

When caregivers are given the support they need to cope with and process trauma, they have the best possible chance of providing their young children with the nurturing care needed for healthy brain development – acting as a ‘buffer’ from the chaos around them.

“Parents who interact with their babies can help shield them from the negative neurological effects of conflict. Yet, in times of conflict, parents are frequently overwhelmed,” said Fore. “Ultimately what these families need is peace, but until then they desperately need more support to help them and their children cope with the devastation they face – 29 million new lives and futures depend on it.”

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Wanted Rwandan warlord killed by DR Congo troops

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A Rwandan Hutu rebel leader wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crime charges has been shot dead by the Congolese army, DRC military spokesperson said on Wednesday in what Kigali described as “good news for peace”.

Sylvestre Mudacumura, commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was “definitively neutralised” in DRC’s North Kivu province on Tuesday night, General Leon-Richard Kasonga said.

Mudacumura, wanted for charges including rape, torture, and pillage, was killed about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the capital of the province Goma.

Neighbouring Rwanda welcomed the news, saying it proved DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s commitment to fighting “negative forces”.

“The death of Sylvestre Mudacumura is good news for peace and security in the region,” Rwandan state minister for regional affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe told AFP.

“With his genocide group, the FDLR, he was destabilising DRC, killing Congolese and Rwandans.”

The FDLR was created by Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC after the genocide of Tutsis by majority Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.

According to the United Nations, the force numbers between 500 and 600 active fighters.

They are scattered across the mineral-rich eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu as well as in southern Katanga, and the group is regularly accused of committing atrocities against civilians in the zones it controls.

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“His death confirms the commitment of President Felix Tshisekedi in fighting negative forces and will open a new era of good and peaceful cooperation between DRC and countries in the region,” Nduhungirehe said.

The FDLR, opposed to the current Rwandan government, has not launched any large-scale offensive in Rwanda since 2001.

– Warning to other warlords –
Eastern DRC has been torn for more than two decades by armed conflicts fed by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of a wealth of mineral resources and regional rivalries.

Mudacumura’s death “is a strong signal for other rebels,” said General Richard Kasonga, spokesman of the Congolese army, calling it a “big step” in the fight against insecurity and terrorism.

He called on “all armed groups to lay down their arms, or face the same fate as Mudacumura.”

During a visit to the region early this month, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also called on the rebels to disarm.

US researcher Jason Stearn said the death was “an extremely important event”, telling AFP that the FDLR is “one of the biggest armed groups in the region, even if they have diminished in capacity.”

However, Stearn, of New York University’s Congo Research Group, held out little hope for peace in a region where around 130 armed groups remain active.

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“We have seen a lot of commanders die without the groups necessarily disappearing or diminishing in force,” he said.

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Japan: OPU prominent member needs  ¥20 million for kidney transplant, seeks financial assistance

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Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), Japan chapter has disclosed that ailing member,  Mr Segun Tope Sharafa  needs ¥20 million (20,000,000 Japanese yen) to undergo kidney transplant.

The group coordinator,  Comrade Ige Rowland James in a chat with our reporter  disclosed this on Tuesday.

Comrade Ige, who betrayed emotion further described the ex-President, Yoruba Association, Japan,  Mr Sharafa as a prominent member, saying “its so sad for this kind of health challenge news of our respected member , the Baba Oodua of  Japan”.

Speaking further, he said “although Oodua Progressive Union (OPU),  Japan is new among others but  we stand like others and we never envisaged to encounter the health challenge that is facing  one of our prominent members and the union. But we decided to face the challenge as it comes because our main goal is service to  humanity which is the best work of life.

“Baba Oodua is critically ill and it has become obvious that he cannot provide the required funds to have the necessary medical attention.

“At this point, we are calling all our leaders, union, friends and family across the globe to stand by us and let show the real love and unity within us”, Ige appealed.

Mega Icon Magazine reliably gathered that Mr Sharafa is currently hospitalised in Japan due to kidney-related ailment, and urgently needed to be taken to Indian for transplant that will gulp ¥20 million.

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Also,  the OPU is organising a fund raising event on behalf of its ailing member billed for Sunday October 27th, 2019 at Arashi party room, Shinjuku, Tokyo.

 

For any enquiry or support, please contact the Coordinator or the following executives. 

Oodua Progressive Union, Japan National Coordinator, Com Ige James +81-80-5036-3437. 

Comrade Odanibe lucky 81-70-1421-1414 

Comrade Busari Jelly 81-80-5037-4712 

Comrade Adeniyi  Taiwo 81-70-7051-8154 

Comrade Akadi Micheal 81-80-4478-0665. 

 

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