UN chief welcomes release of arrested leaders in Cameroon

31 August 2017 &#150 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed yesterday’s release of several leaders of the English-speaking regions in Cameroon’s South West and North West as well as the dropping of all charges against them.

&#8220The Secretary-General hopes that this positive step will lead to a further lowering of tensions and strengthened political dialogue,&#8221 said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a statement issued overnight.

&#8220The Secretary-General encourages the Cameroonian authorities to pursue their efforts to address the grievances of the Anglophone community and promote measures of national reconciliation in order to find a durable solution to the crisis,&#8221 Mr. Dujarric added.

The Secretary-General also reiterated the UN’s readiness to continue to support such efforts, the Spokesman said.

According to media reports, President Paul Biya has ordered the release of the leaders who were arrested late last year and accused of inciting violence during the protests in the North West and South West regions. They pleaded not guilty to the charges which included complicity in hostility against the homeland, secession, and campaigning for federalism.

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La conférence TEDGlobal 2017 commence en Tanzanie

Dix ans après, TEDGlobal revient en Afrique pour un évènement en direct présentant plus de 45 interventions, entretiens et performances ARUSHA, Tanzanie, 28 août 2017 /PRNewswire/ — TED, l’organisation à but non lucratif qui se consacre aux « Ideas Worth Spreading » (idées qui méritent d’être diffusées) inaugure sa conférence TEDGlobal 2017 aujourd’hui à Arusha, en Tanzanie. Placé […]

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Kenya Bans Plastic Bags

NAIROBI � Kenya has become the latest African country to ban the use of polythene plastic bags, imposing stiff fines and even jail time for anyone found using, importing or manufacturing the bags.

In one of the biggest garbage dumping sites in Nairobi, it was business as usual Monday. Loads of plastic bags full of garbage were brought in, a testament to their widespread use in the capital.

But no more, says the government.

A new law went into effect Monday making the manufacture, sale and use of polythene plastic bags illegal. Offenders can get slapped with penalties up to a four-year jail term and a $40,000 fine.

The National Environment Management Authority, with the help security agencies, has been going around Nairobi to urge retailers and manufacturers to heed the new ban.

Geoffrey Wahungu is the director general of NEMA. He is promoting the take-bag scheme, basically calling on consumers to bring their own cloth bags or baskets from home.

I hope soon we’ll start seeing people who are carrying out these recycling materials, or alternative bags, which are eco-friendly. All this is creating much more employment than is being lost, he said.

Economic impact

Two plastic bag importers unsuccessfully challenged the ban before the High Court Friday. Kenya produces plastic bags for local use and export in the region. The National Association of Manufacturers has argued that the ban will cost more than 60,000 jobs and hurt more than 170 companies.

NEMA gave six months’ notice of the new ban, but it still appears to have taken many in Kenya by surprise.

Some large retailers have already switched to paper, but small traders are feeling the pinch.

Simon Njenga runs a grocery kiosk. He says he lost customers Monday.

He says the ban pains me a lot because a customer wants to purchase vegetables, but he doesn’t have a bag and I can’t give him one, so they leave my kiosk without buying. The government has to bring back the plastic bags. My livelihood depends on it.

Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Cameroon have announced similar bans on plastic bags, although the bans aren’t widely enforced. Rwanda is the only African country so far to both declare a ban and push people to follow the law.

Kenyan Environment Minister Judy Wakhungu told Reuters news agency that manufacturers and importers will be the ones initially targeted for enforcement of the ban.

Experts argue that polythene bags are bad for the environment and public health. The thin plastic bags have been blamed for polluting cities and shorelines and killing animals who eat them.

NEMA says the single-use polythene bags never fully biodegrade, remaining in the environment as small or even microscopic particles, essentially forever.

Source: Voice of America

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Fall Armyworm Spreads to Cameroon

YAOUNDE � Fall armyworm has spread to Cameroon. The pest has attacked crops in at least 24 African countries. In Cameroon, the Ministry of Agriculture says it is particularly concerned about the impact of the fall armyworm infestation in the north and the east of the country.

Minister-delegate Ananga Messina says fall armyworm has infested six of the central African state’s 10 regions.

She says the armyworms have been a serious threat to food security in Cameroon because cereals like maize, sorghum, rice and legume plants like cow-pea, peanuts and beans are increasingly being attacked every day. She says the situation is particularly worrisome on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria where the population and 100,000 Nigerian refugees are already suffering from food scarcity due to the Boko Haram conflict.

The Ministry of Agriculture says nearly two million people are currently in need of food assistance in northern Cameroon.

Messina told VOA about half of Cameroon’s 23 million inhabitants and millions of livestock risk hunger in the months ahead. She said the armyworms have extended to Cameroon’s eastern border, putting neighboring Central African Republic at risk, a country gripped by a severe humanitarian crisis after years of conflict.

Cameroon has launched a task force to manage the infestation.

Some farmers have been using chemicals to kill the pests, but agriculture technician Anicet Mvondo says that is not the best approach.

“The problem is that the insecticide is not good for the health of the farmer,” said Mvondo. “It is not good for the environment. It kills other organisms in the environment. Using insecticides is not a good way. We should try to look for other solutions because these insects on the field are also eaten by other organisms.”

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports fall armyworm was first detected in four countries in West Africa in early 2016. It has since spread to at least 20 other countries.

Experts say the fall armyworms can reproduce rapidly and can fly long distances in moth form, though it remains unknown how the pest spread to West Africa from South America.

The FAO is leading the regional response efforts in Africa, and it says it is drawing from lessons learned in the America’s on sustainable fall armyworm management. FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri says methods like regular monitoring and hand-picking of worm larvae can be effective.

“Fall armyworm has a lot of natural enemies and we should enhance their use to control the fall armyworm … So the message is that fall armyworm has come here to stay and also that use of chemical pesticides should be reduced to a minimum, said Phiri.

Staple crops like maize, sorghum, rice and sugarcane have been hit hard in Africa, though the fall armyworm can ravage more than 80 other plant species. Losses for Africa are estimated at at least $13 billion.

Source: Voice of America

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TEDGlobal 2017 Conference Opens in Tanzania

Ten years on, TEDGlobal returns to Africa with live event featuring 45+ talks, interviews and performances ARUSHA, Tanzania, Aug. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, opens its TEDGlobal 2017 Conference today in Arusha, Tanzania. Themed “Builders. Truth-tellers. Catalysts.” the event will host 700 attendees at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge for […]

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CISSE UNVEILS SQUAD FOR BURKINA FASO DOUBLE

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has announced a 26-man squad for next month’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifier double-header against Burkina Faso.

The Teranga Lions host ‘Les Etalons’ in a Group D Day Three clash on Saturday, 2 September 2017 at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar, before traveling to Ouagadougou three days later for the return.

Cisse has handed debut call ups to three players; defender Pape Amadou Toure of Guinean side, Horoya AC and France-based duo, Assane Diousse (Saint-Etienne) and Modou Diagne (Nancy).

The Teranga Lions who occupy the third place in Group D with three points have been strengthened by the return of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Amiens forward, Moussa Konate.

South Africa and Burkina Faso top the group jointly with four points apiece whilst Cape Verde sits at the bottom with no point.

Meanwhile, the squad reports to camp on Tuesday, 28 August 2017 to begin preparations for the double-header.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France), Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya AC, Guinea), Pape Seydou Ndiaye (Niary Tally)

Defenders: Moussa Wague (KAS Eupen, Belgium), Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Fallou Diagne (Metz, France), Pape Amadou Toure (Horoya AC, Guinea), Saliou Ciss (Angers, France), Kara Mbodj (Anderlecht, Belgium), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Modou Diagne (Nancy, France)

Midfielders: Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England), Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Galatasaray, Turkey), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham, England), Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham, England), Younouss Sankhare (Bordeaux, France), Alfred Ndiaye (Vilarreal, Spain), Salif Sane (Hanover, Germany), Assane Diousse (Saint-Etienne, France).

Forwards: IsmaA�la Sarr (Rennes, France), Opa Nguette (Metz, France), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City, England), Moussa Konate (Amiens, France), Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England), Moussa Sow (Al Ahly, United Arab Emirates), Keita Balde (Lazio, Italy)

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Press Encounter Today

As you know, the Secretary-General is meeting at 12:30 p.m. with the Foreign Minister of Venezuela.  Following that, we have been told that around 1:15 p.m., we expect the Foreign Minister to speak to you on the ground floor by the elevators by the entrance.

And later today, as you will have seen, the Secretary-General will be meeting the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, and that is at 5 p.m.

We haven’t been advised by the Mission that they would have a press encounter.  If that changes, I will let you know.

**Myanmar

In a statement today, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the attacks carried out against the Myanmar security forces in northern areas of Rakhine State.  He extends his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.  He hopes those responsible for this unacceptable violence will be swiftly brought to justice.

The Secretary-General has been closely following developments in Rakhine State and is concerned over the escalating tensions in the region.  He reiterates the importance of addressing the root causes of violence, in particular issues related to identity and citizenship, and reducing intercommunal tensions.  He strongly urges all the communities in Rakhine State to choose the path of peace.

The Secretary-General stresses that, while taking the necessary measures to curb attacks by criminal elements in the region, the security forces must protect civilians at all times, in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.

**Yemen

Turning to Yemen, the UN Human Rights Office in that confirmed that 33 civilians were killed and 25 injured in the air strike by coalition forces that hit a hotel in Sana’a Governorate on Wednesday.

This was one of several air strikes by the coalition that day, which resulted in deaths.

In all these cases, witnesses said that there had been no warnings that an attack was imminent.

In the week from 17 to 24 August, according to our human rights colleagues, 58 civilians were killed, more than the number of civilians killed in the whole of June, when 52 were killed, and in July, which saw 57 civilian deaths.

Since March 2015, the Office has documented 13,829 civilian casualties, including 5,110 killed and 8,719 injured, but the Office stresses that the overall number is probably much higher.

As you know, the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all parties to ensure the safety and protection of civilians.

**Syria

The UNICEF Representative in Syria, Fran Equiza, today spotlighted what he calls the staggering impact of the war on Syria, with heavy fighting having displaced thousands of families around Raqqa city and Deir-ez-Zour.

Mr. Equiza just wrapped up a visit to camps in Areesha, Ein Issa and Mabrouka, where he met with displaced children.

He said that he is overwhelmed by the profoundly traumatizing experiences children have been through, adding that they have endured brutal violence and lost friends and family members.

UNICEF has received reports that thousands of children are trapped in Raqqa in the direct line of fire and that the city is completely cut off from life-saving assistance.

He stressed that children and families who wish to leave Raqqa city must be allowed to do so in safety and in dignity.

For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that it has been supporting routine immunization programmes which restarted in north-west Syria.

As of this month, more than 35 centres in Idlib and Hama offered vaccinations against diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, polio and whooping cough.

**Somalia

In Somalia, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, urged the country to continue with the processes of reconciliation and State-building.  Mr. Feltman just wrapped-up a two-day visit to the country in which he held discussions with Somali officials, including President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.

You can read more about his visit in the note to correspondents we issued this morning.

**Central African Republic

On the Central African Republic, our humanitarian colleagues in the country tell us that the situation continues to worsen in Bangassou.  2,000 internally displaced people remain confined in the Catholic Church.  Discussions are ongoing between the UN and Government partners for their relocation.

In Batangafo, 40,000 people are now internally displaced.  OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] says it is monitoring the situation very closely and holding discussions with armed groups on humanitarian access to prevent NGOs from being forced to leave.

In Zemio, the movement of heavily-armed groups has raised the level of tensions in the area.  Some 22,000 internally displaced people continue to be repeatedly displaced due to attacks by armed groups.  Humanitarian convoys and NGO compounds have repeatedly been attacked, forcing all humanitarian partners to leave the area.

And in Bria, the presence of armed groups in IDP camps continues to create tensions.  Fighting has been ongoing outside of the town since 21 August, with all major roads out of Bria impacted ,and commercial activities have been screeched to at a halt.

**Senior Appointment

On a related note on the Central African Republic, I have a senior personnel [announcement] to make:  the Secretary-General is appointing Kenneth Gluck of the United States as his Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the UN peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic.

He succeeds Diane Corner of the United Kingdom.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Corner for her dedicated service and her steadfast political engagement during the start-up to the peacekeeping operation.

Mr. Gluck brings to the position several years of mediation and peacebuilding experience, and prior to joining the UN, he has worked with several international non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies. 

His bio is in my office.

**Nepal

The World Food Programme (WFP) has begun distributing aid to 180,000 people following flooding in Nepal which has affected 1.7 million people.

The floods have displaced some 460,000 people from their homes and left them without assistance.

WFP says that many people whose home were washed away were already extremely poor, and that families which lost food stocks have nothing to fall back on.

WFP has more information on its website.

**Cambodia

I wanted to flag that our colleagues at the UN Human Rights Office today expressed their concern over a rapid series of ministerial and administrative measures which have resulted in the suspension of radio programmes and licences, threatened a main English-language newspaper with closure, and shut down a foreign non-governmental organisation in Cambodia.

Ahead of next year’s general election, the Office called on the Government to guarantee full political and civil rights, and media freedoms.

**Climate

Our colleagues at the Food and Agriculture Organization warned today that global warming is expected to have a significant impact on future yields of everything from rice to fish, particularly in countries situated closer to the equator.

A meeting in Viet Nam of Agriculture Ministers from the APEC region heard that many key agricultural regions in Asia are already at risk of crossing key climate thresholds after which the productivity of plants and animals goes into decline.

**Guinea-Bissau

You will have seen yesterday, Modibo Ibrahim Touré, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau, briefed the Security Council.

**Snow Leopard

In a video message to the Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection International Forum in Kyrgyzstan, the Secretary-General said we are all responsible for the survival of this species, and called on countries to invest in its habitat preservation, combat poaching, and tackle climate change — all causes for the decline of the snow leopard numbers.  Investing in this species is essential to preserve biodiversity, ensure prosperity in the region and achieve sustainable development.

And on the same note, our colleagues at UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] just launched a regional initiative to help save the snow leopard and protect its sanctuaries in 12 countries.

With only 4,000 snow leopards alive from Kazakhstan to China, the initiative will train wildlife, border and customs agents to help them combat the illegal trade in snow leopards, while at the same time boosting the exchange of knowledge on how to best protect their habitat.

**Next Week

Just as I mentioned, next week, there will be no noon briefings.  The Office will be staffed Monday through Wednesday — as you will recall Thursday is an official UN holiday — and Friday, we will be open.

We will reopen for live briefings right after the day that celebrates labour.

And I will stop there.

**Questions and Answers

Ali.

Question:  Thank you, Stéph.  Probably you heard what Ambassador Nikki Haley has to say on UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon].  She harshly criticized UNIFIL, and, and, by name, she named the commander of UNIFIL as being blind on Hizbullah’s violation.  Do you have anything to say in response to that, those comments from the US Ambassador? Thank you.

Spokesman:  Excuse me.  First of all, I would say that we obviously stand by the Force Commander in UNIFIL and we have full confidence in his, in his work.  I think the men and women of UNIFIL are doing work in a very delicate area.  They report regularly and faithfully on what they, on what they see and on what they observe.

I understand there is a debate ongoing within Member States regarding the renewal of the mandate of UNIFIL.  We will let that debate play out.  It’s in the hands of the Security Council.  It’s done under their authority.

I think, for the Secretary‑General, for his part, he’s written to the Security Council, and you all have that letter and that reflects his opinion.

Yes, sir.

Question:  [inaudible] In Raqqa, Syria…

Spokesman:  Your microphone, please.  There you go.

Question:  In Raqqa in Syria, they have around 50,000 civilian.  You think they have any plan to evacuate these people?

Spokesman:  Well, I think the, what is important is that those civilians who want to leave should be allowed to leave freely and in dignity.  As we, we, from this podium and others in the UN system, have said we’re extremely concerned at the ongoing violence in, in Raqqa and how the civilians are suffering.  We understand, within any military operation, all care must be taken to protect, to protect civilians.

Yes, ma’am, and then Matthew.

Question:  Will the Secretary‑General, on Guatemala, will the Secretary‑General or is he considering removing the current commissioner there [inaudible]?

Spokesman:  I think the, obviously, we hope to have some readout for you after the meeting.  The Secretary‑General made his position clear a few days ago, standing by the work of the commission and the commissioner.

Mr. Lee.

Question:  Sure. I, and I’m sorry if you said it before, before I came in, but I wanted to ask you about Yemen.  There’s been another air strike in Sana’a, killing 14.  The ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] has already spoken on it and, and I guess I’m just wondering, one… particularly the envoy, what does he say about these, this escalation of civilian deaths?

And did you get any answer on… on Mr. Hisham al‑Omeisy, what, if anything, the UN system is doing to secure…

Spokesman:  All of us who work for the United Nations, whether it’s the envoy, whether it’s the Secretary‑General, whether it’s our other colleagues on the ground in Yemen, are extremely concerned and appalled by the increase in civilian deaths.  We’re aware there was another air strike which, according to our humanitarian colleagues in Yemen, killed about 12, killed 12 people.

Attacks targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructure, are clearly prohibited under International Humanitarian Law.  And all the parties have an obligation to uphold, to uphold that law.

On your, on your first question, we’re aware of the reports of Hisham al‑Omeisy’s detention by the de facto authorities and of the concerns expressed.  At this point, we do not have any more information.

Question:  I guess… thank you.  I wanted to just… I mean, given this, this recent visit to, to UN headquarters by the King Salman Centre and everything that was said afterwards, ICRC is saying that, of this most recent air strike, they found, having been on the ground, they found no military target nearby at all.  So, I mean, I understand what you’re saying.  I guess I’m just wondering…

Spokesman:  No, I would refer you, you did miss part of it in the beginning.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesman:  I referred to…

Question:  The earlier strikes.

Spokesman:  Yes, and I think those concerns are echoed over and over again.  Our human rights colleagues, on behalf of the UN, are documenting these, these strikes and the damage caused to, the damage caused to civilians.

Question:  Would you say this makes it more or less likely that the Saudi‑led coalition would be listed in the annex to the children and arms conflict report?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General will do the right thing regardless of what pressures may be coming from inside the house or outside the house.

Mr. Roth.

Question:  I have three questions.  I can space them out.  I know I sound like someone else in this room.

Spokesman:  Just speak slowly.  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  The court in Brooklyn threw out the last class action lawsuit against the United Nations over the cholera epidemic, citing the organisation’s assertion of diplomatic unity… immunity.  What is the UN response to this?  It might be appealed.  What is, what’s the message to the Haitian people on this?

Spokesman:  The message to the Haitian people is that we remain fully committed to doing our utmost to combat and eradicate cholera in, in Haiti.  The Secretary‑General continues to consider this to be a matter of great priority and urges Member States that demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Haiti by supporting the new approach announced last year in increasing their contribution to eliminate cholera and provide assistance to those affected.

As you know, he recently appointed a Special Envoy on this issue who’s fully engaged, who’s fully engaged.

And, obviously, on the legal part, we’re aware of the order issued yesterday in the LaVenture case before the District Court, and I will leave it, I will leave it at that.

Second question.

Question:  Still no money coming in from countries?

Spokesman:  No, there is, there is money.  It’s up on the, it’s up on the website.  The total contribution of the funds, as of a few weeks ago, was $2.67 million.  I think some new money may have come in the last day or so.  Mathias in my office can give you the latest update.

I’m happy to entertain your second question.

Question:  I know it… you’ve been here awhile.  Don’t remind me, but…

Spokesman:  You’ve been here awhile, Richard.  I think…

Question:  No, I’m, I’m a twin brother, I’m the younger brother.  It’s not often, but it does happen with certain administrations that a UN staffer is called out, as witnessed this morning for UNIFIL.  And we’ve had certain nominees not get approved.  Will Mr. Guterres, if he’s in the building — I lost track — come down and defend his general?  Will the US, the UN bow to the US, should they press for removal of this gentleman?

Spokesman:  I think, as I answered to your colleague a few minutes ago, we stand by the general and the Force Commander, and he continues his work with the full support of the, full support of the Secretary‑General.

Question:  And the last one, I was going to ask what day the Middle East peace conference is scheduled during Mr. Guterres’ trip, but does he consult with Jared Kushner?  Does anybody speak between US and UN regarding the ongoing negotiating…

Spokesman:  No, there are contacts between the US and the UN.  I’m not aware of any direct phone calls between the Secretary‑General and Jared Kushner.  We’re, obviously, aware that he’s, that he’s in the region, and I will keep you updated on any contacts.

Yes, Ibtisam, and then… I’m sorry.

Question:  On Yemen, is the Secretary‑General going to call on independent investigation regarding the latest strike?  And when you, you said before that the Human Rights Council is collecting evidence.  So, is this…

Spokesman:  The Human Rights Office.

Question:  Oh, sorry.

Spokesman:  The Human Right Office in Yemen.

Question:  Yes.  Is this for a specific… for their work or a specific report, or is it for more than one apparatus in the…

Spokesman:  I think it’s important that they, there has to be accountability for crimes committed against civilians.  And, for accountability, you need information, and you need data.  And it’s important that that information be collected.

Question:  What about…

Spokesman:  I think they all, all of these incidents need to be, need to be investigated.  And I think part of the work, the transparency that we do is the work of the Human Rights…

Question:  Sorry.

Spokesman:  …Office.

Question:  On Yemen too, is there any update regarding the Sana’a airport?

Spokesman:  No, ma’am. None that I’m aware of.

The Associated Press.

Question:  The Secretary‑General is getting together with the Foreign Minister from Venezuela, and I think they will have plenty to talk about, not least because there’s been some US activity on sanctions for Venezuela in the last hour or so.  Anything you can tell us about what the message is there?

Spokesman:  I think, for, and I don’t want to pre-empt what the Secretary‑General will say, but I think the Secretary‑General has been very persistent and consistent in expressing his support for the ongoing regional efforts and the work of other international facilitators who are assisting the parties in trying to reactivate the negotiations.  But I will leave it at that.  I think the Foreign Minister will speak to you, and we will issue our own readout of the meeting.

Mr. Lee.

Question:  …ask about both Burundi and Cameroon.  One is, the Tanzanian Government has given, supposedly, UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] seven days to repatriate thousands of refugees that are there, saying that, if they don’t, if UNHCR doesn’t do it, they, Tanzania, will do it unilaterally.  Many people working in the refugee field are pretty surprised by it, and I’m wondering if the Secretary‑General or his envoy, Mr. Kafando, have any view of this ultimatum by the Tanzanian Government?

Spokesman:  I haven’t seen report.  I would encourage you, as a first port of call, to call either UNHCR here or Geneva for a reaction.

Question:  My other… can you give any… I don’t know if it will, maybe next week, any, any update on what Mr. Kafando is doing?  because there have been announcements from the country of basically kind of a fourth term.  There’ve been outlawing…

Spokesman:  We’ll look…

Question:  …of political parties… 

Spokesman:  And, obviously, we will be posting highlights daily.

Question:  The other one is on Cameroon.  I know the Deputy Secretary‑General, Amina Mohammed, after meeting with the delegation of the Biya Government, said she didn’t want to use a sledgehammer, but she was going to continue to work on it. And the UK’s understanding is that it’s somehow on the radar.

Given that, like, a… journalists are now being arrested for just reporting on the Anglophone issue and there were people filmed in an underground prison, three of whom are now near death, what exactly has the UN done on the southern Cameroon issue since this visit to Amina Mohammed…

Spokesman:  The contacts are continuing, and, obviously, our, our principled stand on making sure that people are free to report stands.

Yes, ma’am.

Question:  On the visit of the Secretary‑General to Israel and Palestine, is the Secretary‑General going to address the issue of illegal settlements when he meets with Mr. Netanyahu?

And the other question:  regarding his meeting with Mr. Abbas, there is in the, like, increasing arrests of journalists, Palestinian journalists, by the Palestine authority.  So, because, a lot of times because they are very critical of different political steps that the Palestinian Authority is doing.  So, is the Secretary‑General going to address this issue, too?

Spokesman:  These are all issues of concern, and we’ll, we will give readouts accordingly after the, after the meetings.  There is a, there will be a press encounter, I think, after his meetings in, in Ramallah.

Yep.

Question:  Just wanted to ask…

Spokesman:  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  I just wanted to ask if you’re going to share details about the visit of Secretary‑General to…

Spokesman:  No, I mean, not more than what we had yesterday at this point.

Question:  Okay.

Spokesman:  Yeah.

Question:  Sure.  Just now at the stakeout, I asked Nikki Haley about this Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán and the UN, the report to date, and she seemed to say that, that relying on, on the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] to investigate is not acceptable to at least one of the countries of the two deceased.  So, what… I mean, I know that you’ve been asked, and I’m not sure I understand the answer.  What exactly… does the Secretary‑General intend to have there be an investigation that is not…

Spokesman:  There…

Question:  …DRC run?

Spokesman:  There needs to be a, there needs to be some sort of a follow‑up mechanism.  Those issues are currently being discussed within the house and with the Security Council.  Obviously, there are also issues of, of sovereignty and of the Security Council that need to be taken into account.  But I think the Secretary‑General is, first and foremost, wants to make sure that justice is done for these two young people who were doing work on behalf of the United Nations, on behalf of the Security Council, to try to bring light to illicit, onto illicit activity.  And so we are, we are dedicated to ensuring that there is accountability and that justice is done.

Question:  Thanks, thanks.  And I wanted to ask you again about this event that’s now, is going forward.  It’s in the Journal.  It will be televised.  And I’d asked you yesterday whether this World Organisation of Governance and Competitiveness… how it was vetted, and I didn’t get an answer from you, so I want to ask you…

Spokesman:  I don’t have any more to, I don’t have any information to share on that.  I’ll check… I’ll check…

Question:  Seems like…

Spokesman:  I’ll check again.

Question:  It’s beginning at 1:00.

Spokesman:  The SG is not participating.

Question:  Right.  But my question is this.  I went and looked up… 

Spokesman:  It’s sponsored, I think, by a Permanent Mission.

Question:  It’s listed, the Journal itself says World Organisation of Governance and Competitiveness.  So, I searched the ECOSOC database and… I just want to ask you because… when you answer on this.  It was only formed in 2016, and yet it says it’s an ECOSOC member organisation.  That’s how it’s sponsoring, and, I believe, paying for part of this event.  And when you go to the ECOSOC documents, it basically took over the name of another group called World of Hope International.

And so many people that work in this field… there’s a lot of controversy about the NGO committee in ECOSOC, but how can a group sneak under the radar by buying a name?  And I would like just to know from you, who’s paying for the event?  And what…

Spokesman:  Well, I think you should…

Question:  …connection does Carlos Garcia…

Spokesman:  You should ask, that’s a question, I mean, I will look… 

Question:  No, no, it’s the UN.  Who’s paying the UN…

Spokesman:  You should ask… 

Question:  Who’s transferring money to the UN?

Spokesman:  …ask the organisers as well.

Mr. Roth.

Question:  Stéphane, you’ve been here a long time.  Let me ask you.

Spokesman:  Is that going to be the preamble to every question, Richard?

Question:  No.

[Laughter]

Spokesman:  Is your hair naturally grey?

[Laughter]

Question:  These briefings have turned it grey.  Basically, it’s sort of a recommendation.  Do you think, and I know it falls under DPI, do you think that as we get closer to the GA that it’s possible, not to have the… you can have your annual security briefing, but, as you know, the reporters get very late notice on some of these events taking place in the building, offsite.  Is there any way to have a background briefing that perhaps various departments could say and explain and to highlight issues that tend to get overrun, maybe more this year, somewhere a week or two before, if they know…

Spokesman:  In fact, we, we were just discussing that this morning with some of my colleagues, so we’ll, we’re trying to arrange that.

Question:  And speaking of violence, do you have any pick in the Mayweather‑McGregor fight?

Spokesman:  We’re all for nonviolence.

Yes, sir.

Question:  Do you have any update for Qatar and Saudi Arabia and that problem between, you know, the Gulf and Qatar?

Spokesman:  No, I do not have any update on that, on that problem.

Have a good one.

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MIYA HELPING CRANES FLY HIGH

When the draw for the group phase of the African FIFA World Cup� qualifiers was made, Uganda was given little chance of qualifying for Russia.

Farouk Miya though, will have none of it and dismisses any suggestions that he is the star player out of hand. There is no star player in our team. That makes our team so strong. It is the unity that binds us and moulds us into a team, he told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview.

Ugandan fans might see it differently though. Drawn against former World Cup finalists Togo in the second round of the qualifiers, Uganda did much of the hard work in the first leg in Lome, winning 1-0. A near capacity crowd of 40,000 packed the Mandela Stadium in the Ugandan capital of Kampala for the return leg. And again the Cranes emerged victorious, this time 3-0.

Having qualified for the group phase, Uganda was drawn into Group E, where they faced Ghana, Egypt and Congo. As the bottom seed in the group, not many gave the side a chance. We were the underdogs. But that does not mean we did not believe in our chance, said Miya.

Their opening match in Tamale, saw the side return to east Africa with a more-than-credible goalless draw against the Black Stars. Some five weeks later, Congo travelled to Uganda, only to be beaten 1-0. Thus, after two matches played, Uganda has four points � second only to Egypt who have six. Ghana has just a point, while Congo is yet to get off the mark.

Astonishingly, Uganda is the only African side not to have conceded a single goal thus far in their World Cup qualifying campaign. Their record reads: played four, won three, drawn one, lost none; goals scored: five, goals conceded none. And of those five goals, all but one were scored by Miya, which in turn is why fans are giving him much of the credit.

Confidence and belief

“As a team, we grew stronger when we beat Togo. They have already played at the World Cup and we gained in confidence when we advanced at their expense. Even when we were drawn into the same group as Egypt and Ghana, not to forget Congo, we still believed that we could go through to the World Cup.

The 19-year-old, who plays his club football in Belgium for Standard Liege, whom he joined from Vipers SC, says qualifying for the World Cup would be huge � not only for the team, but for the whole country. We have the support of the whole of Uganda and we so much want to go to Russia for our fans. Qualifying for the World Cup would be a tremendous achievement.

With back-to-back fixtures coming up against the leading Pharaohs, Miya is aware that the team will have to be at their best. The task will presumably not have been made any easier by the fact that coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic left the country a few weeks before the matches to join South African Premier League club Orlando Pirates. In his place, Moses Basena and Fred Kajoba will lead the team into battle against Egypt as interim coaches.

New direction for Cranes

Miya does not believe the change-over will have a detrimental effect on the team. Both coaches know the players and know how we play. I do not think there will be much of a difference and I certainly do not think that the team will be weaker as a result of our coach leaving.

Like his team-mates, Miya is indebted to the Serbian Sredojevic, for leading the team to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. It was the first time the side qualified since 1978 and provided the young � but experienced � striker a chance to play at the continental level for the first time.

That already was like a dream come true. It was a great feeling to be able to play there. We lost at the finals in Gabon against Ghana and Egypt, so having drawn with the Black Stars in the qualifiers shows that we are stronger now than we were then.

Miya, who is known as ‘Muyizi Tasubwa’ (A hunter who cannot miss), scored Uganda’s only goal at the finals in Gabon, in a 1-1 draw against Mali. His goals in the World Cup qualifiers could take the team to an even bigger stage: The World Cup.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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Confessions of a Boko Haram Defector

MAIDUGURI/WASHINGTON � The way Bana Umar tells it, VOA and other broadcasters helped convince him to leave Boko Haram.

Until the night of August 18, Umar was a fighter for the Islamist radical group, living at a camp in the vast Sambisa Forest, one of the group’s long-time strongholds in northeastern Nigeria.

The experience was certainly exciting. Umar says he served as a bodyguard for a commander, Abu Geidam, who he describes as very close to Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s best known leader.

And he saw action across Nigeria’s Borno State. “I have been to war about six times,” he says. “I fought in Wulari. I fought in Bita. I participated in the fighting around Chad. I was in the group that repelled Nigerian soldiers whenever they ventured into Sambisa.”

But his conscience was just as active as his gun. When asked if what Boko Haram does is good and right, he says it is not, because the group attacks people “mercilessly and unjustly,” and in his view, manipulates Islam to its own violent ends.

Radio prompted him to make an escape plan. Umar says he heard promises from the Nigerian chief of army staff, General Tukur Buratai, that defectors from Boko Haram would be welcomed, not punished. And he heard how Boko Haram’s deadly ambushes and suicide bombings were received in the outside world.

“Many of us listened to radio stations like BBC and VOA,” he says. “I listened to these radio stations frequently to the extent that when I laid down to sleep I would be thinking of what I heard. I realized that all our activities were evil. We killed. We stole. We dispossessed people of their properties in the name of religion. But what we are doing is not religion. Finally I got fed up with the group.”

Umar is now in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, after fleeing the Boko Haram camp. He described his experiences this week in an interview with VOA Hausa Service reporter Haruna Dauda. His comments, translated from Hausa, provide insight into how the militants recruit and retain fighters and are managing to survive in the face of a multi-nation offensive.

Persuaded to join, scared to leave

Umar is 27 years old and hails from Banki, a town on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. Until 2014, he made his living as a cell phone repairman and burning CDs.

But that year, Boko Haram overran the town. Umar says his friend, Abu Mujaheed, lured him into becoming a member of the group. All Nigerians are infidels, and only the followers of Abubakar Shekau are true Muslims, Mujaheed said. Join and you can fight to kill all the infidels.

Umar joined, but says he quickly got scared and wanted to run. He didn’t, he says, because Abu Mujaheed told him he would be killed if he tried to escape.

Asked this week if that was true, Umar said there is no doubt about it. “Even mere rumor or allegation that someone is contemplating leaving the group would lead to the killing of the person,” he says.

He says Boko Haram also discouraged defectors by telling them General Buratai’s promise of amnesty for any escapee was a ruse.

There are more than 1,000 Boko Haram members who would like to leave the group, Umar says. “There are many people that were abducted from their home towns who don’t know the way back to their places of origin. They [Boko Haram leaders] preach to such people not to leave, as if it was divine for them to be there.”

He adds: “Even some original members of the sect now want to leave because soldiers have intensified the war against them unlike in the past.”

All Boko Haram members must take new names when they join the group, and Bana Umar’s name was changed to Abu Mustapha. He says he became a fighter, not a commander. He said the militants were living in the Jimiya section of the Sambisa Forest, which, according to him, was the headquarters for Boko Haram.

At one time, he implies, living conditions were decent. In 2014, Boko Haram ruled large parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, and could operate almost at will.

Now, he says, “Life is difficult. It is not what it used to be in the past. Food is difficult for everyone.”

Some militants grow their own food, he says. “But even when you farm, your leader could take all your farm produce from you in the name of religion. You are always told that your leader has rights over all you have and yourself,” he says.

Boko Haram leaders also use religion as a prod to violence, he says.

“They use religion to tell us to kill with the promise of going to paradise. Leaders quote profusely from the Quran and the sayings of the prophet [Mohammed] to support their arguments. As they explain to make us understand their own point of view as the absolute truth, we must keep saying Allah is great, Allah is great. Then we would go out to kill,” he says.

A call to ‘repent’

Boko Haram has killed at least 20,000 people across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger since it launched its insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009. Attacks and bombings continue, even though the joint task force sponsored by those countries and Benin has stripped Boko Haram of nearly all the territory it once controlled, which leader Abubakar Shekau said would form the base of a “caliphate.”

With the weight of the group’s deeds bearing down on him, Bana Umar felt a growing need to flee. He didn’t act, however, until someone else encouraged him to believe what General Buratai promised.

He escaped on the night of August 18 with that person — the wife of his commander, Abu Geidam. On the 20th, they turned themselves in at a Nigerian army base in Maiduguri.

Asked what he would say to Boko Haram fighters still in the Sambisa Forest, Umar says: “I am calling them to repent, especially those who want to come out but are afraid… Let people know that soldiers would not do anything to whoever voluntarily repents. I came out and no one harms me. Not one single soldier lays his hand on me.”

Nigerian officials are currently debriefing Bana Umar, as they do with all Boko Haram members who leave the group voluntarily. When they finish, he will be reintegrated into Nigerian society, although not in his hometown of Banki. He will be taken to another location where he isn’t known, to make a fresh start.

Source: Voice of America

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Afghanistan redux, mind your language, and Angola’s First Family

President Joao Lourenco – can he escape “the family”?

It’s no surprise, Angola’s next president is going to be Joao Lourenco. The big question is can the party loyalist and former general usher in any real change in Africa’s third largest economy? Angola has a per capita GDP of $6,800. But, run as a “crony petro-state”, its social indicators are appalling and economy in free-fall. Lourenco has promised to crack down on corruption. Although not known for personally having sticky fingers, he is part of the system. He is the hand-picked successor to José Eduardo dos Santos who has ruled for close to four decades and will remain head of the ruling MPLA party. Dos Santos’s billionaire daughter Isabel heads Sonangol, the state oil company, and his son José Filomeno runs the country’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. Lourenco is generally depicted as the candidate for continuity. Yet he will need resources to build his power base, and so the transition may have real impact on dos Santos business interests. The Financial Times suggests the showdown could come with Isabel, whose job “puts her in control of much state revenue”. And the family could fight back. Rebecca Engebretsen writes in African Arguments that Filipe Nyusi was elected in Mozambique on an anti-corruption platform, but has since been troubled by leaks connecting him to prominent fraud cases during his time as a minister. What is clear is that change is unlikely to come overnight in Angola.

Cameroon’s deepening language divide

On a recent visit to Yaoundé, an IRIN journalist was rash enough, over lunch in a modest eatery, to raise Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis with the head of an NGO that works with the country’s youth. When the man suggested the main problem lay not between the restive Anglophone minority and French-speaking majority, but between the Anglophones and President Paul Biya, a women at a neighboring table, who turned out to work in Biya’s office, kicked up an almighty fuss and seemed set to have the man arrested. So sensitive is this 10-month-old crisis which has paralysed education, led to strikes in two English-speaking parts of the country, and seen dozens of activists and even bishops detained pending trial in military courts, that it cannot be discussed in public. Yet it continues to fester. At least six schools were set on fire over the past week, reportedly for failing to stick to a declared education strike. Earlier in the year, markets and government buildings were targeted. The government blames emerging separatist groups. Dialogue is moribund. According the International Crisis Group’s latest report on the issue, “ahead of presidential elections next year, the resurgence of the Anglophone problem could bring instability.” The report added that small secessionist groups that emerged this year are taking advantage of the situation to radicalise the population with support from part of the Anglophone diaspora. While the risk of partition of the country is low, the risk of a resurgence of the problem in the form of armed violence is high, as some groups are now advocating that approach.”

A man. A plan. Afghanistan

“It was 2 or 3 in the morning. I was woken up by gunfire. It was so loud. There were people screaming. My children were scared. My youngest was only a few months old. We all ran down to the basement. It was the safest place in the house. It was terrifying.” So begins Doctor Marzia Salam Yaftali in this BBC Outlook feature linked to US President Donald Trump’s announcement that American troops will remain in Afghanistan for the long haul. Doctor Yaftali is describing the situation the last time the Taliban tried to retake their northern former stronghold of Kunduz. It was 2015 and she was the gynaecologist in the city’s last public hospital. Those weeks under siege were an extreme time, but the danger of a repeat and more is still real. Two years on the Taliban have made more gains in other parts of the country and half the country is now back under their control. Trump’s new Afghan policy was criticised as more of the same and light on strategy and detail. But if it means Yaftali and her patients are safer, they won’t complain, and Washington’s renewed pressure on Pakistan is going down well in Kabul too.
 

In Islamic State’s crosshairs

So-called Islamic State’s loss of territory does not mean it has been defeated, but instead presents several new challenges, argues Megan Stewart in an article for Sustainable Security. When rebels control territory and civilians, they move from being roving bandits to stationary bandits, “incentivised to provide some form of governance”. The rise of IS was linked in part to the Iraqi state’s inability to deliver services. So without IS, “people’s needs might not only go underserved, triggering a humanitarian crisis,” says Stewart, but the governance vacuum could be filled by “equally ruthless and dangerous actors” such as al-Qaeda. She argues that civilians may also increasingly become targets, either as victims of deliberate acts of terror, or “collateral damage” as IS resorts to guerrilla tactics. “In sum, as IS transitions from controlling territory to a more clandestine network, civilians’ lives and livelihoods remain in the crosshairs. Weak rebel organisations and rebel organisations that lack territorial control are more likely to engage in terrorism and indiscriminate violence.”

Did you miss it?

 The death toll in Sierra Leone has risen to approximately 500 from recent mudslides. The event is tragic, but also characteristic – rapidly urbanising areas in West Africa and beyond all face similar vulnerabilities as Freetown. Equally characteristic has been the response, from sporadic relief to political tours of affected sites. How do we move beyond short-term intervention and mitigate everyday risks? What should the priorities be for reducing the effects of both small- and large-scale disasters? This week we explored the lessons to be learned for disaster risk reduction. Researchers from Urban Africa: Risk Knowledge have a few findings and suggestions for collaboration between governments, humanitarian actors, and the civil society.

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TOP PHOTO: Isabel dos Santos – Africa’s richest woman

isabel.jpg News Aid and Policy Conflict Human Rights Politics and Economics Cities This week’s humanitarian cheat sheet IRIN GENEVA Angola Cameroon Sierra Leone Afghanistan Global Iraq Syria

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Lake Chad Basin: integrating gender dimensions to fight terrorism

Lake Chad Basin: integrating gender dimensions to fight terrorism. Image: UNODC18 August 2017 – Terrorism continues to pose a major threat to peace and security in Central Africa, in particular the Lake Chad Basin region. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram commit grave violations of human rights through killings, abductions, early and forced marriage, rape, and sexual slavery. Women and girls are increasingly used as suicide bombers, messengers, spies, smugglers, recruiters, providers of funds.

With a view to assisting States in strengthening the effectiveness of their criminal justice responses to terrorism and ensuring that women’s rights are respected amid growing terrorism threats, UNODC and the
Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently organized a sub-regional workshop on “Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism” in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

In line with the
United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (UNGCTS), the three-day workshop sought to equip participants with a deeper understanding of how men and women may experience counter-terrorism laws and practices differently.

Speaking about challenges, a women’s rights activist from Niger said: “Boko Haram has been very effective at using existing patriarchal structures and gender roles to its advantage,” adding: “It is high time that governments catch up and understand how applying gender perspective can assist their fight against terrorism.”

On that point, Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights said: “Gender integration means asking the right questions: what are women’s experiences of terrorism and under counter-terrorism responses?” This included asking what justice and remedies meant to them, and designing programmes like reparation and rehabilitation.

“It is critical taking into account women’s specificities when deciding for or against detention and on conditions of detention; as well as when identifying programmes such as de-radicalization or disengagement, to direct women associated with or victims of Boko Haram to,” she added.

Throughout the workshop, participants and UNODC experts also discussed the ways to move forward in addressing sexual violence committed by terrorism groups.

Hadiza Abba from UNODC Country Office in Nigeria said: “Terrorism investigations have to be conducted in a gender sensitive manner. Investigating sexual violence by terrorist groups requires expertise on interviewing women and girl victims, and undertaking measures to protect them, which may be lacking in investigation teams specialized on counter-terrorism.”

She also drew participants’ attention to the need to look beyond counter-terrorism legislation when handling cases of sexual and gender based violence by Boko Haram.

Participating in the workshop were representatives of criminal justice institutions, ministries and civil society organizations of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Representatives from the African Union also attended the event, exchanging information about their respective experiences through working groups.

UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch’s work in Central Africa includes strengthening legislative and policy frameworks, enhancing knowledge and skills to investigate and prosecute cases, as well as mechanisms for regional and international cooperation.

The workshop, funded by Japan, is a part of UNODC’s capacity building support initiatives for Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. It aligns with the Office’s previous training sessions related to gender equality among law enforcement and justice authorities in the region. It therefore affirms UNODC’s willingness to strengthen its efforts towards gender mainstreaming into its substantive work in West and Central Africa.

Further information:

UNODC and Terrorism Prevention in West and Central Africa

UNODC Training Module on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism

UNODC Sahel Programme

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BACHIROU: OSTERSUNDS EXAMPLE CAN INSPIRE COMOROS

Singing on national TV. Writing a novel. Learning how to paint, then auctioning your best work. Performing the ballet ‘Swan Lake’ in front of a 3000-strong audience.

All daunting tasks, and impossible – surely – to imagine elite-level footballers undertaking any one of them. Yet Fouad Bachirou and his Ostersunds team-mates have not only dedicated their time to these cultural challenges, but relished doing so.

The idea is to take us out of our comfort to bring us together through what we achieve as a group, the midfielder explained to FIFA.com. Because there will be times in football when things won’t go your way, and you will need to be ready to adapt and come together to find solutions. Putting on a ballet – obviously it’s not something footballers are used to. But you get together and find a way to make it work.

Every year, the club start a new project and at the end of the year there’s a show. So we did the ballet show, last year it was singing on national TV, and previously we all had to work on paintings that were then auctioned for charity and write our own books.

I like dancing, so ‘Swan Lake’ was probably my favourite. It was a bit nerve-wracking, as we had to perform the show in front of 3000 people. But the feeling after we did it was really exciting � you really felt like you had achieved something.

We have so many different cultures in our team and things like that really bond us together and teach us how we can work as a group and help each other. There’s no doubt in my mind that it helps us when we’re out on the pitch.

Ostersunds fast facts

Lowest ebb: Relegation to fourth tier in 2010

Rapid rise: Three promotions in the space of five seasons

Biggest result: 3-1 aggregate win v Galatasaray in UEFA Europa League qualifying

Ostersunds’ spectacular results over recent years offer the strongest possible support for Bachirou’s conviction. Plenty, of course, will not have heard of this little-known club from a remote Swedish region, especially as much of its short history has been spent languishing in the country’s third and fourth tiers. But the arrival of Daniel Kindberg, a former lieutenant in the Swedish army, and Englishman Graham Potter as chairman and coach respectively has transformed Ostersunds into a force to be reckoned with.

Successive promotions from the fourth and third tiers followed Potter’s appointment in 2011, and two years ago the club reached the Allsvenskan for the first time. Even then, their climb continued and, having won their first major trophy earlier this year by beating Norrkoping 4-1 in the Swedish Cup final, they stunned the football world last month by knocking Galatasaray out of the UEFA Europa League. This evening, they face off against Greek side PAOK for a place in the group stage.

Comoros fast facts

Lowest ebb: A run of 3084 days without a win

Rapid rise: Climbing 32 Ranking places in 2016

Biggest result: 0-0 draw vs Ghana in Russia 2018 qualifier in November 2015

Ostersunds, however, aren’t the only fast-improving side for whom Bachirou plays. He also represents Comoros’ national team, a side that, as recently as last March, had gone over 3000 days without a win. Beating Botswana ended that run though, and more recent wins over Lesotho, Namibia and Mauritius � not to mention a hard-earned FIFA World Cup qualifying draw against Ghana � have helped propel these African minnows to new heights on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

Comoros is a really small country, and not many people will know about the team, acknowledged Bachirou. We hardly played for years and that was one of the biggest problems. But since the current coach (Amir Abdou) came in at the same time as me in 2014, we have progressed so much.

“The Ghana players and staff were really complimentary about us after we drew against them. We just need to build on the progress we’ve made and I know from Ostersunds that little teams, with the right organisation, can sometimes do amazing things. Comoros need to believe we can do the same.

I’m very passionate about helping the national team be a success. I was born in France but my mum is from Comoros and my older brothers and sisters were born there, so it’s a really strong family connection I have. My family are so proud of me every time I play for the national team, and the passion for football in the country is incredible. I really want to help them do something special.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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