General Assembly Elects Slovakia Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák President of Seventy-Second Session, while Selecting Bureaux for Main Committees

The General Assembly today elected Miroslav Lajčák, Slovakia’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, as President of its seventy-second session, while also selecting members to the Bureaux of its six Main Committees.

In accordance with tradition, the Assembly President’s election follows the system of geographical rotation whereby regional groups — the Eastern European States in the present case — putting a consensus candidate forward every year.

Following the election, the new President outlined six priorities, emphasizing first his intention to focus on people.  “I do believe we can do more to bring the UN closer to the world’s citizens” and make a real difference in their lives, he said.  The Sustainable Development Goals and climate action would also be important priorities, he said, adding that human rights would guide his work as an overarching principle.

He went on to highlight the importance of prevention and mediation in sustaining peace, and of calling attention to the issue of migration.  Emphasizing the importance of quality, he pledged not to launch any initiative that would result in additional burdens, particularly for smaller States, saying he would rather create a streamlined agenda, organized in clusters.

Indeed, creating a stronger United Nations, able to meet the multitude of expectations placed upon it was a common goal, he continued, adding that, to that end, he would facilitate a constructive, informed and open interaction among Member States and with the Secretary-General.  He called for greater trust between the United Nations and its members, stressing that he would do his utmost to support progress on the United Nations reform agenda.  He underlined the vital need to bolster the General Assembly’s role and improve its efficiency, and to transform the Security Council into a twenty-first-century entity.

Extending his congratulations, outgoing President Peter Thomson (Fiji) emphasized the Assembly’s critical role in setting the stage for peace and sustainable development amid massive global challenges — constant conflict, the largest refugee and humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, the spread of terrorism and the destructive effects of climate change.  He expressed confidence that, under Mr. Lajčák’s leadership, the United Nations would be strongly positioned to advance efforts to sustain peace, promote human rights and “stay the course” in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Secretary-General António Guterres also congratulated the new President, commending his “impressive” command of the Organization’s work and strong commitment to its principles.  Mr. Lajčák had expressed his firm belief that “strengthening the UN is the best investment to achieve the universal desire for peace, development, equality and justice in the world”, he recalled.

Also congratulating the President-elect on behalf of regional groups were representatives of the following Member States:  Cameroon (African States), Marshall Islands (Asia-Pacific States), Poland (Eastern European States), Haiti (Latin American and Caribbean States), Austria (Western European and Other States) and the United States (Host Country).

Acting in accordance with tradition, the Secretary-General then drew lots to determine which delegation would occupy the first seat in the General Assembly Hall during the seventy-second session.  The Czech Republic’s delegation was picked for the first seat, to be followed in English alphabetical order by all the other countries, including in the Main Committees.

The Assembly also elected the following 21 Vice-Presidents of its plenary:  Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.  Also serving as Vice-Presidents were the five permanent members of the Security Council — China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.

Prior to that action, the outgoing President expressed regret that out of 16 regional nominations, only two representatives had been female.  He encouraged Member States to consider what steps they could take to advance gender parity.

A number of delegates then expressed reservations about Israel’s election as an Assembly Vice-President, with Iran’s delegate representative emphasizing that Israel was “in no way qualified”, having occupied Palestinian lands and committed flagrant violations of international law for decades.  “Israel is no friend to the United Nations,” he stressed, disassociating his delegation from Israel’s election.

Qatar’s representative pointed out that the role of Vice-President demanded respect for United Nations decisions, whereas Israel saw itself as superior to its resolutions and violated them regularly.

Syria’s representative described Israel’s election as part of a “clear policy” by the Group of Western European and Other States, as well as the Assembly’s Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization), Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) and Sixth (Legal) Committees.  Underlining that Israel was an occupying Power, he said its candidacy in elections for any United Nations entity was at odds with the Organization’s Charter.

The Assembly then held consecutive meetings of its six Main Committees to elect members of their respective bureaux.  It elected five Chairs by acclamation, while electing the Chair of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by secret ballot.

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) elected Mouayed Saleh (Iraq) as Chair; Terje Taadik (Estonia), Alfredo Toro Carnevalli (Venezuela) and Georg Sparber (Liechtenstein) as Vice-Chairs; and Martin Ngundze (South Africa) as Rapporteur.

As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) opened its meeting, Haiti’s representative announced the unanimous decision by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) to nominate Rafael Darió Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela) as Chair, while emphasizing that no aspect of his country’s current political situation would prevent him from fulfilling his duty in that position.

However, the representative of the United States called for a secret ballot, expressing concern about the state of democracy in Venezuela and the ability of a representative of the Government of President Nicolás Maduro to serve as Chair of the Fourth Committee in a fair and apolitical manner.  To date, nearly 60 Venezuelans had died and hundreds had been injured or arrested in political protests, while thousands had fled to neighbouring countries, she said.  Noting that the Government was attempting to rewrite the Constitution and curbing political freedoms, she said the United States could not support the candidacy of Mr. Ramírez until democratic order was restored in Venezuela.

The Fourth Committee then elected Mr. Ramírez as its Chair after he received 133 votes, surpassing the required majority.

Mr. Ramírez (Venezuela) rejected the attempt by the United States delegation to alter the “posture and position” of the Latin American and Caribbean region as an attack on the multilateral system, aimed at imposing its own will.  “Today, we have taught [the United States] an extraordinary lesson in sovereignty,” he said, vowing to advance the Fourth Committee’s efforts to eradicate colonialism, including the dominion of the United States over Puerto Rico, among other territories.

Acting by acclamation, the Fourth Committee then elected Ahmed al-Mahmoud (United Arab Emirates) and Ceren Hande Őzgür (Turkey) as Vice-Chairs, and Angel Angelov (Bulgaria) as Rapporteur.

In a second secret ballot vote, the Committee elected Yasser Halfouni (Morocco) as the Vice-Chair by 88 votes to 58 for Zaina Benhabouche (Algeria).

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) elected Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) as Chair; Malelaos Menelaou (Cyprus), Kimberly Louis (Saint Lucia) and Valérie Bruell-Melchior (Monaco) as Vice-Chairs; and Chipulu Luswili Chanda (Zambia) as Rapporteur.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) elected Einar Gunnarsson (Iceland) as Chair; Nebil Idris (Eritrea), Alanoud Qassim M.A. al‑Temimi (Qatar) and Dóra Kaszás (Hungary) as Vice-Chairs; and Mariá José del Águila (Guatemala) as Rapporteur.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) elected Tommo Monthé (Cameroon) as Chair; Abbas Yazdani (Iran), Anda Grinberga (Latvia) and Julie O’Brien (Ireland) as Vice-Chairs; and Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico) as Rapporteur.

The Sixth Committee (Legal) elected Burhan Gafoor (Singapore) as Chair, as well as Duncan Laki Muhumuza (Uganda), Angel Horna (Peru), Carrie McDougall (Australia) and Peter Nagy (Slovakia) as Vice-Chairs, with Mr. Nagy also elected Rapporteur.

At the outset, Mr. Thomson (Fiji) expressed his deepest sympathies following the terrorist attack earlier today in Kabul, Afghanistan, which claimed many lives, also extending condolences to all family members of the victims of recent terrorist attacks around the world.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 June, to discuss implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS.

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General Assembly Elects Slovakia Foreign Minister Miroslav Laj?ak President of Seventy-Second Session, while Selecting Bureaux for Main Committees

The General Assembly today elected Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, as President of its seventy-second session, while also selecting members to the Bureaux of its six Main Committees.

In accordance with tradition, the Assembly President’s election follows the system of geographical rotation whereby regional groups � the Eastern European States in the present case � putting a consensus candidate forward every year.

Following the election, the new President outlined six priorities, emphasizing first his intention to focus on people. I do believe we can do more to bring the UN closer to the world’s citizens and make a real difference in their lives, he said. The Sustainable Development Goals and climate action would also be important priorities, he said, adding that human rights would guide his work as an overarching principle.

He went on to highlight the importance of prevention and mediation in sustaining peace, and of calling attention to the issue of migration. Emphasizing the importance of quality, he pledged not to launch any initiative that would result in additional burdens, particularly for smaller States, saying he would rather create a streamlined agenda, organized in clusters.

Indeed, creating a stronger United Nations, able to meet the multitude of expectations placed upon it was a common goal, he continued, adding that, to that end, he would facilitate a constructive, informed and open interaction among Member States and with the Secretary-General. He called for greater trust between the United Nations and its members, stressing that he would do his utmost to support progress on the United Nations reform agenda. He underlined the vital need to bolster the General Assembly’s role and improve its efficiency, and to transform the Security Council into a twenty-first-century entity.

Extending his congratulations, outgoing President Peter Thomson (Fiji) emphasized the Assembly’s critical role in setting the stage for peace and sustainable development amid massive global challenges � constant conflict, the largest refugee and humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, the spread of terrorism and the destructive effects of climate change. He expressed confidence that, under Mr. Lajcak’s leadership, the United Nations would be strongly positioned to advance efforts to sustain peace, promote human rights and stay the course in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also congratulated the new President, commending his impressive command of the Organization’s work and strong commitment to its principles. Mr. Lajcak had expressed his firm belief that strengthening the UN is the best investment to achieve the universal desire for peace, development, equality and justice in the world, he recalled.

Also congratulating the President-elect on behalf of regional groups were representatives of the following Member States: Cameroon (African States), Marshall Islands (Asia-Pacific States), Poland (Eastern European States), Haiti (Latin American and Caribbean States), Austria (Western European and Other States) and the United States (Host Country).

Acting in accordance with tradition, the Secretary-General then drew lots to determine which delegation would occupy the first seat in the General Assembly Hall during the seventy-second session. The Czech Republic’s delegation was picked for the first seat, to be followed in English alphabetical order by all the other countries, including in the Main Committees.

The Assembly also elected the following 21 Vice-Presidents of its plenary: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe. Also serving as Vice-Presidents were the five permanent members of the Security Council � China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.

Prior to that action, the outgoing President expressed regret that out of 16 regional nominations, only two representatives had been female. He encouraged Member States to consider what steps they could take to advance gender parity.

A number of delegates then expressed reservations about Israel’s election as an Assembly Vice-President, with Iran’s delegate representative emphasizing that Israel was in no way qualified, having occupied Palestinian lands and committed flagrant violations of international law for decades. Israel is no friend to the United Nations, he stressed, disassociating his delegation from Israel’s election.

Qatar’s representative pointed out that the role of Vice-President demanded respect for United Nations decisions, whereas Israel saw itself as superior to its resolutions and violated them regularly.

Syria’s representative described Israel’s election as part of a clear policy by the Group of Western European and Other States, as well as the Assembly’s Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization), Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) and Sixth (Legal) Committees. Underlining that Israel was an occupying Power, he said its candidacy in elections for any United Nations entity was at odds with the Organization’s Charter.

The Assembly then held consecutive meetings of its six Main Committees to elect members of their respective bureaux. It elected five Chairs by acclamation, while electing the Chair of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by secret ballot.

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) elected Mouayed Saleh (Iraq) as Chair; Terje Taadik (Estonia), Alfredo Toro Carnevalli (Venezuela) and Georg Sparber (Liechtenstein) as Vice-Chairs; and Martin Ngundze (South Africa) as Rapporteur.

As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) opened its meeting, Haiti’s representative announced the unanimous decision by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) to nominate Rafael Dario Ramirez CarreAo (Venezuela) as Chair, while emphasizing that no aspect of his country’s current political situation would prevent him from fulfilling his duty in that position.

However, the representative of the United States called for a secret ballot, expressing concern about the state of democracy in Venezuela and the ability of a representative of the Government of President Nicolas Maduro to serve as Chair of the Fourth Committee in a fair and apolitical manner. To date, nearly 60 Venezuelans had died and hundreds had been injured or arrested in political protests, while thousands had fled to neighbouring countries, she said. Noting that the Government was attempting to rewrite the Constitution and curbing political freedoms, she said the United States could not support the candidacy of Mr. Ramirez until democratic order was restored in Venezuela.

The Fourth Committee then elected Mr. Ramirez as its Chair after he received 133 votes, surpassing the required majority.

Mr. Ramirez (Venezuela) rejected the attempt by the United States delegation to alter the posture and position of the Latin American and Caribbean region as an attack on the multilateral system, aimed at imposing its own will. Today, we have taught [the United States] an extraordinary lesson in sovereignty, he said, vowing to advance the Fourth Committee’s efforts to eradicate colonialism, including the dominion of the United States over Puerto Rico, among other territories.

Acting by acclamation, the Fourth Committee then elected Ahmed al-Mahmoud (United Arab Emirates) and Ceren Hande Ozgur (Turkey) as Vice-Chairs, and Angel Angelov (Bulgaria) as Rapporteur.

In a second secret ballot vote, the Committee elected Yasser Halfouni (Morocco) as the Vice-Chair by 88 votes to 58 for Zaina Benhabouche (Algeria).

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) elected Sven Jurgenson (Estonia) as Chair; Malelaos Menelaou (Cyprus), Kimberly Louis (Saint Lucia) and Valerie Bruell-Melchior (Monaco) as Vice-Chairs; and Chipulu Luswili Chanda (Zambia) as Rapporteur.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) elected Einar Gunnarsson (Iceland) as Chair; Nebil Idris (Eritrea), Alanoud Qassim M.A. al Temimi (Qatar) and Dora Kaszas (Hungary) as Vice-Chairs; and Maria Jose del A�guila (Guatemala) as Rapporteur.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) elected Tommo Monthe (Cameroon) as Chair; Abbas Yazdani (Iran), Anda Grinberga (Latvia) and Julie O’Brien (Ireland) as Vice-Chairs; and Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico) as Rapporteur.

The Sixth Committee (Legal) elected Burhan Gafoor (Singapore) as Chair, as well as Duncan Laki Muhumuza (Uganda), Angel Horna (Peru), Carrie McDougall (Australia) and Peter Nagy (Slovakia) as Vice-Chairs, with Mr. Nagy also elected Rapporteur.

At the outset, Mr. Thomson (Fiji) expressed his deepest sympathies following the terrorist attack earlier today in Kabul, Afghanistan, which claimed many lives, also extending condolences to all family members of the victims of recent terrorist attacks around the world.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 June, to discuss implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS.

Source: United Nations

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Recent tragedies highlight urgency for ‘credible’ and ‘safe’ pathways to Europe – UN refugee agency

30 May 2017 &#150 Against the backdrop of more than 1,700 people having perished this year while undertaking perilous crossings across central Mediterranean Sea to reach mainland Europe, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for “credible alternatives” to ensure accessible and safe ways for people in need of international protection to reach the continent.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the beginning of the year, more than 60,000 people have used the route, with close to 9,500 migrants and refugees having been rescued over the past week and disembarked in various Italian ports.

“[However] the total number of dead and missing since the beginning of 2017 has now reached over 1,720,” Babar Baloch, a spokesperson for the agency, told the press at a regular media briefing at the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) today.

“A total of 50 bodies were disembarked over the past few days in Crotone, Palermo and Catania following an undetermined number of incidents, in which dozens of others are feared dead or missing at sea.”

Last week alone, at least 116 people died or went missing in shipwrecks in the region.

In one such tragedy, early morning on 24 May, 33 people – including 13 women and seven children – lost their lives and dozens more feared missing when a wooden vessel carrying somewhere between 700-900 passengers sunk. 593 persons (from Sudan, Eritrea, the Comoro Islands, Egypt and Morocco) – many are deeply traumatized by the ordeal – were rescued.

Furthermore, on 23 May, some 82 people died or went missing when a dinghy carrying 126 people, mostly from Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan and Cameroon capsized. The others were rescued by an Egyptian fishing boat that came to their aid.

Also, on 27 May, the Tunisian Coastguard rescued a boat carrying 126 people, including 48 women, a five-year old boy and three babies, and took them to the port of Zarzis. A Nigerian woman, however, lost her life.

“UNHCR praises the Italian Coastguard for their constant efforts in coordinating rescue operations as well as the Tunisian Coastguard and the crew of all the ships involved for saving so many lives,” said Mr. Baloch, reiterating the UN agency’s call for alternatives to such dangerous crossings, including accessible and safe ways to reach Europe such as family reunification, resettlement and private sponsorship.

Attacks on refugees and migrants further complicate situation

Further compounding the challenges for refugees and migrants, there are reports of attacks on refugees and migrants at during crossings as well as in places where they embark.

“Survivors disembarked in Salerno last Saturday told our staff that their boat was approached by criminals who stole their belongings and took their engine off, shooting in the air on several occasions,” noted the UNHCR spokesperson, and “luckily, nobody was wounded in the incident.”

However, several refugees and migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa over the week-end had gunshot wounds and reported having witnessed friends being fired at or killed.

“One man told our staff that he was shot in the leg by members of Libyan militias who also stole his belongings. Another man was shot in the arm and tortured by a trafficker to extract money from him,” he added.

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Famine Looms in Former Boko Haram Stronghold in NE Nigeria

GENEVA � The United Nations is warning that more than 1.4 million people in northeastern Nigeria could face famine by September because of a severe funding shortage. To date, only 28 percent of the U.N. appeal for more than $1 billion to provide humanitarian aid for nearly seven million people has been received.

Since Boko Haram militants began their armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria in 2009, the United Nations estimates more than 20,000 people have been killed, nearly two million are internally displaced inside the country, and about 200,000 have taken refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Government forces have recaptured much of the territory held by Boko Haram, but the security situation remains fragile.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, says food is in short supply and traditional coping measures have been exhausted.

“Although the humanitarian response has increased substantially, we have not turned the corner yet,” he said. “If the funding situation is not sustained, the situation can easily relapse into a famine situation.”

Kallon says 43,000 people already are in a state of famine.

Nigeria has entered the so-called lean season when food stocks are at their lowest. U.N. estimates indicate 2.8 million people will be in urgent need of food between June and September. This is also the rainy season, a period when disease outbreaks are expected.

The situation means some of the 450,000 severely malnourished children could die, according to Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Peter Lundberg.

“If they die, they will most likely die from disease that could be easily prevented if their immune system had been much stronger,” Lundberg told VOA. “So, what we will see is that people will die from diarrhea disease or malaria or anything else that they normally would be able to survive if they were in a much better nutritional condition.”

The United Nations says people in northeastern Nigeria also are living through a protection crisis. It says thousands are victims of sexual violence and exploitation, while tens of thousands have been used as suicide bombers.

Source: Voice of America

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Recent tragedies at sea highlight urgency for safe pathways to Europe – UN refugee agency

Against the backdrop of more than 1,700 people having perished this year while undertaking perilous crossings across central Mediterranean Sea to reach mainland Europe, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for credible alternatives to ensure accessible and safe ways for people in need of international protection to reach the continent.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the beginning of the year, more than 60,000 people have used the route, with close to 9,500 migrants and refugees having been rescued over the past week and disembarked in various Italian ports.

[However] the total number of dead and missing since the beginning of 2017 has now reached over 1,720, Babar Baloch, a spokesperson for the agency, told the press at a regular media briefing at the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) today.

A total of 50 bodies were disembarked over the past few days in Crotone, Palermo and Catania following an undetermined number of incidents, in which dozens of others are feared dead or missing at sea.

Last week alone, at least 116 people died or went missing in shipwrecks in the region.

In one such tragedy, early morning on 24 May, 33 people � including 13 women and seven children � lost their lives and dozens more feared missing when a wooden vessel carrying somewhere between 700-900 passengers sunk. 593 persons (from Sudan, Eritrea, the Comoro Islands, Egypt and Morocco) � many are deeply traumatized by the ordeal � were rescued.

Furthermore, on 23 May, some 82 people died or went missing when a dinghy carrying 126 people, mostly from Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan and Cameroon capsized. The others were rescued by an Egyptian fishing boat that came to their aid.

Also, on 27 May, the Tunisian Coastguard rescued a boat carrying 126 people, including 48 women, a five-year old boy and three babies, and took them to the port of Zarzis. A Nigerian woman, however, lost her life.

UNHCR praises the Italian Coastguard for their constant efforts in coordinating rescue operations as well as the Tunisian Coastguard and the crew of all the ships involved for saving so many lives, said Mr. Baloch, reiterating the UN agency’s call for alternatives to such dangerous crossings, including accessible and safe ways to reach Europe such as family reunification, resettlement and private sponsorship.

Attacks on refugees and migrants further complicate situation

Further compounding the challenges for refugees and migrants, there are reports of attacks on refugees and migrants at during crossings as well as in places where they embark.

Survivors disembarked in Salerno last Saturday told our staff that their boat was approached by criminals who stole their belongings and took their engine off, shooting in the air on several occasions, noted the UNHCR spokesperson, and luckily, nobody was wounded in the incident.

However, several refugees and migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa over the week-end had gunshot wounds and reported having witnessed friends being fired at or killed.

One man told our staff that he was shot in the leg by members of Libyan militias who also stole his belongings. Another man was shot in the arm and tortured by a trafficker to extract money from him, he added.

Source: UN News Centre

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ZAMBIA’S DRUMMING PASTOR

Viewers tuning into watch Zambia so far at the FIFA U-20 World Cup may have noticed a subtle but consistent feature of their games � outside of the raw attacking pace and power they have often displayed.

While drums have been adding to the atmosphere across the stadia so far at Korea Republic 2017, when Zambia is in town, there is one notable addition to that percussion section. With his chants of Let’s go Zambia, let’s go repeated a thousandfold across the course of a game, Peter Makembo � drum strapped to his chest � cannot be faulted for the lengths he goes to to pull the current of the crowd behind his team.

As the President of the Zambia Sports Fans Association, it is perhaps not a surprise to find him leading the charge. Whatever is going on on the field, he told FIFA.com following their thrilling 4-2 comeback against Iran, they can look up into the stands and see the big man, drumming up the crowd, only wanting victory.

Providing a 4-2-4 system of drums and support and decked out in the colours of his country, Makembo is clearly committed to his role as chief cheerleader, and knows the power it can have. In football, the 12th man plays a very big role, he explained from the stands of the Jeju World Cup Stadium.

When the 12th man goes to sleep, it becomes a problem. We don’t make room for that at all. We make sure that we give them the extra power, the extra munition, that comes with extra support.

Most fans, when their team is down, follow them. All fans ever want is to see their team go on to victory, so when things are going badly on the pitch, you have to be seen adding extra force and rhythm to the team.

But maintaining the vocal stamina to keep that four-second chant alive throughout the game is a mean feat, but when Makembo adds that he is a church pastor, the natural command of voice and crowd all makes sense. As too his religious commitment to following his team around the globe.

Wherever my national team is, they provoke my presence, he passionately insisted, with plans already in place to travel to Algeria for their FIFA World Cup� qualifier. To me, football is my food. I sleep in it, I wake up in it, that’s my nature. When there is nothing like that, I feel like I’m missing something.

Makembo hopes to see his ranks bolstered by even more fans when Zambia take on Germany in Jeju, hoping to provide the extra push, as the Junior Chipolopolo look to achieve their best-ever U-20 World Cup finish � having been roared on by packed-out crowds in becoming African champions on home soil in March.

But the clergyman’s message to the players for their next challenge is simple. Play to the last whistle. When god says it’s over, it’s over.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)

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Trade Slowly Returns to Cameroon-Nigeria Border

ACHIGACHIA, CAMEROON � Trade is returning to Cameroon’s border communities more than two years since the start of the regional military offensive against Boko Haram militants. But as security improves, local officials warn Boko Haram remains a threat.

Hundreds of buyers and sellers assembled at the Ngule market near Achigachia as police and a few soldiers stood guard. The town straddles the Cameroon-Nigeria border, which officially reopened in January.

At the market, traders sell cotton, sorghum and millet destined for Nigeria. Food items and dresses from Nigeria are also for sale.

Fifty-eight-year old merchant Bouba Lamsi said 80 percent of the population in the area work in commerce. He said business activity is picking up and life is slowly coming to their locality.

It’s a stark change from last year when the village was deserted after a large Boko Haram attack on Achigachia and a nearby military command post. Mosques, schools, and the market were burned.

In April, the government of Cameroon reconstructed the market and refurbished the Ngule government primary school, also damaged in the deadly attack. Hundreds have returned to class.

Speaking to VOA as he visited the school, Boniface Bayaola, Cameroon’s secretary of state for secondary education, said teachers who are still reluctant to resume work should be informed that peace has returned.

He said he is visiting schools that were shut down due to the insurgency to encourage children with textbooks and financial assistance.

The official said 125 of the 170 schools sealed in the former Boko Haram hot spots of Logone, Chari, Mayo-Sava and Mayo-Tsanaga administrative units have been reopened.

But Midjiyawa Bakari, the governor of the Far North region of Cameroon, urged vigilance. He said Boko Haram has lost significant firepower but has orchestrated at least 20 suicide bombings in the area since January.

“We cannot say that 100 percent we have security,” he said. “You know how Boko Haram is operating. They are just seeing whether you are sleeping and they will operate.”

Another concern is food security.

El Hadj Toukour Abbo, who reopened his business in Achigachia after a two-year hiatus, sells cattle and livestock to Nigerian traders. But he said he now has to travel to the interior of Cameroon to find the animals.

He said cattle ranchers at the border are now poor and jobless because all of their stock has been stolen. Most herders have lost everything, he added, and prefer to leave their villages and move to more secure places where they can have food to eat and water to drink.

The Cameroonian government has begun distributing seeds to farmers willing to return to their fields, offering assurances of protection in the event of a Boko Haram attack.

But some residents say it is too risky to go home to their villages.

Source: Voice of America

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Continued progress on ICAO compliance crucial to unlocking socioeconomic development in Africa

Montréal, 29 May 2017 – ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu highlighted this week that African States, with ICAO’s assistance and support, are achieving significant progress in complying with international civil aviation standards, but that much more can and should be achieved to help them better optimize the significant socio-economic benefits of safe and efficient global air transport connectivity.

Her message was delivered to the hundreds of government and air transport participants from 36 states and 21 international and regional organizations to the Fourth ICAO Africa and Indian-Ocean (AFI) Aviation Week, which was held from 22 to 25 May. The series of meetings was jointly organized this year by the Government of Botswana and ICAO under the theme “Strengthening aviation as a driver to economic and social development.”

The 2017 AFI Aviation Week provided an opportunity to jointly assess AFI Region’s challenges, and to harness applicable opportunities to pursue the global and regional goals. The participants recognized  the improved level of compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) by several States as well as  the commitments and actions taken by a number of them to resolve Significant Safety and Security Concerns (SSCs and SSeCs) identified through ICAO’s Safety And Security Oversight Audits.

“Since the last AFI Aviation Week, an increasing number of States have accepted ICAO Plans of Action, the implementation of which has resulted in an increase in the number of States that have attained and improved upon the 60% minimum EI target in ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety Plan,” Dr. Liu remarked. Pointing out the challenges ahead, Dr. Liu highlighted the importance of ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative, and the support of its Regional Offices in realizing its assistance and capacity building objectives, while recognizing the contributions of Botswana’s regional leadership on aviation developmental issues. “I would like to recall that the attainment of this target by at least 80% of States, and the resolution of all outstanding SSCs, are the key safety Goals for the AFI Region in 2017,” she highlighted.

The Secretary General then took the occasion to present Botswana with an ICAO Council President Certificate of Recognition for its recent efforts and the results achieved during the 2016 ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme cycle.

Looking forward, the Secretary General stressed the associated need for greater allocation of resources, particularly towards the Human Resources Development Fund for Africa (HRDF).

“Under the HRDF, voluntary contributions are being used today to assure the skilled personnel required for future operational efficiency and continuous implementation of ICAO SARPs, and other programme activities in the civil aviation sector,” Dr. Liu remarked.  “This is a very important capacity-building initiative for Africa’s civil aviation sector, and I would like to encourage support from States, industry partners and other interested parties.”

Dr. Liu further extended a special acknowledgement to ASECNA Member States (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo), as well as China, Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Turkey, and United Republic of Tanzania, for having already made significant contributions in support of the HRDF.

While in Botswana, Dr. Liu also undertook high-level bilateral discussions with Botswana’s President and Head of State, H. E. Ian Khama, his Minister of Transport and Communications, the Hon Onkokame Mokaila, and the Chairman of the Board and the Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana, Messrs Mark Sampson and Geoffrey P. Mashabesha, respectively. She also took the opportunity of being in the Region to hold a bilateral meeting in Cape Town with the Hon Mkhacani Joseph Maswanganyi, the Minister of Transport of South Africa where matters related to aviation status in the State and support to other States in the region were discussed. South Africa’s Representative on the ICAO Council Mr. Tshepo Peege attended the meeting.

Resources for Editors


About ICAO
A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, amongst many other priorities. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 191 Member States.


ICAO’s Middle East Regional Office
ICAO’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office
ICAO’s Western and Central Africa Regional Office
ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative


Contacts


Anthony Philbin
Chief, Communications
aphilbin@icao.int
+1 514-954-8220
+1 438-402-8886 (mobile)
Twitter: @ICAO


William Raillant-Clark
Communications Officer
wraillantclark@icao.int
+1 514-954-6705
+1 514-409-0705 (mobile)
Twitter: @wraillantclark

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