Category Archives: EU-Africa

Kidnapped Bulgarian capitan freed

Captain of a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship who was kidnapped along with seven other sailors by pirates off the coast of Benin last month, has been freed, Bulgaria’s foreign Ministry announced on May 25.

The Bulgarian captain of the container ship Tommi Ritscher, which was attacked at the port of Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea on April 19, was already in an European country and would soon return to Bulgaria, the Ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry said it has been in close coordination with the ship’s owners but did not give other details. It’s unclear what whether the other seven sailors have been released.

#EDD postponed to 2021

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and after careful consideration, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development has decided to postpone this year’s edition of the European Development Days #EDD from 9-10 June 2020 to 15-16 June 2021.

“Brussels will remain home to the event.

“The #EDD organising committee reaffirms its commitment to the EU’s Green Deal and will maintain the theme ‘The Green Deal for a Sustainable Future’. The event programme will be announced in the coming weeks. The European Commission invites all partners and media to continue their strong engagement with the event and will work towards ensuring an even greater level of participation and new partnership opportunities in June 2021.

“We extend our thanks for your input and support for the event to date. The European Commission’s main concern is to protect everyone’s health, ensure maximum attendance and allow due preparation for the event. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the crisis”.

Original published on http://www.eudevdays.eu/

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

Borrell condemns barbarism in Ituri

Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been hit for several weeks by an intensification of almost daily systematic attacks against the civilian population. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 200,000 people have fled the atrocities.

“These barbaric acts must stop. It is up to the Congolese authorities and the UN Mission for Stabilization in the DRC (MONUSCO) to put an end to the actions of the CODECO armed militia and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. No feeling of impunity can prevail. It is also essential to give priority to dialogue and to fight against any instrumentalization of identity.

“What is happening in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot become a forgotten crisis; and efforts to end insecurity in this region must be accelerated. The European Union stands ready to support the efforts of the Congolese authorities in this direction, in coordination with its partners.

“Finally, the European Union does not exclude taking adequate measures with regard to individuals, groups or organizations which contribute by their actions to undermining the preservation of peace or to serious human rights violations”.

EU additional €50M aid across world

Today the European Commission announced an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid to help respond to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic globally. The new funding follows increased appeals by humanitarian organisations, including the UN Global Appeal.

The new funding will help vulnerable people facing major humanitarian crises, notably in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes region in Africa, Eastern Africa, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Venezuela, as well as the Rohingya. It will provide access to health services, protective equipment, water and sanitation. It will be channelled through non-governmental organisations, international organisations, United Nations agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale in some of the most fragile countries in the world. The pandemic threatens food security in countries where public health systems were already weak before this new crisis. We must act now to leave no area of the world unprotected. This is in our common interest. And it is crucial that humanitarian actors continue to have the access to carry out their life-saving work,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

The €50 million allocation comes in addition to significant humanitarian funding and actions already provided by the European Commission to respond to the most pressing needs created by the Coronavirus pandemic:

In February 2020, €30 million was allocated to the World Health Organization. Since then, the Commission has, subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities,planned around €76 million to programmes included in the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, the Commission is providing direct funding for the work of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, which are in the frontline of the humanitarian response to Coronavirus.

Previously, on 8 May, the Commission also announced the establishment of an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the Coronavirus response to some of the most critically affected areas around the world. The first flight on 8 May, operated in cooperation with France, transported around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and UN agencies and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Bangui in the Central African Republic. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights to Central African Republic will transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total.

On 15 May, on the second destination of the EU humanitarian air bridge 20 tons of supplies and humanitarian and health workers were flown to the West-African country of São Tomé and Principe. The flight was set-up in cooperation with the Portuguese government and several humanitarian partner organisations. On their return leg, the flight also brought back over 200 EU citizens and other passengers to Lisbon in a repatriation effort.

The additional humanitarian funding comes on top of some €20 billion in development and emergency funding from the Commission and Member States for both short-term and long-term needs around the world as part of a “Team Europe” approach.

Burundi: EU calls for peaceful elections

Tomorrow, millions of voters will go to the polls in Burundi, at the end of an electoral campaign marked by great citizen involvement, despite several incidents. On the eve of this important meeting, the European Union calls on all political actors to honor the commitments made in the electoral code of conduct signed in December 2019 and thus contribute to the holding of free, transparent, credible and peaceful elections”, says the statement of the European diplomatcy spokesperson (EEAS).

“The European Union fully associates itself with the Joint Commission Communiqué of the African Union and the United Nations Secretariat, calling on “all political actors to refrain from any act of violence, hate speech and to favor dialogue”. “The Burundian population, whom the European Union has continuously supported, must have their aspirations recognized and it is therefore essential that the electoral process goes smoothly and without violence”.

ORIGINAL VIDEO:

https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu:443/en/video/I-191419?&lg=OR

EU-Mauritania fishery extension

The fisheries agreement with Mauritania and its implementing protocol, the EU’s most significant in economic terms by far, are currently being renegotiated. To allow continued EU fishing activities in Mauritanian waters after the expiry of the latest protocol, the European Commission has proposed to prolong it for a maximum of one year. The European Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to this extension during the May plenary part-session.

The EU’s fisheries relations with Mauritania date back more than 30 years, with a series of agreements concluded in 1987, 1996 and 2006. The latter, renewable for six-year periods, is now in force. It is one of the few mixed fisheries agreements covering a variety of demersal and pelagic species, including a tuna component. EU fishing vessels operate in Mauritanian waters under a protocol implementing the agreement, which defines the fishing opportunities available and the financial contribution paid by the EU. The latest protocol, concluded in 2015 and modified by Commission decision in 2017, expired on 15 November 2019. An evaluation study recommended its renewal.

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