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Ecobank Transnational Incorporated announces the appointment of Josephine Anan-Ankomah as Group Executive, Commercial Banking

Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

LOME, Togo, August 22, 2018/ — Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, ETI, the Lome-based parent company of the Ecobank Group announces the appointment of Josephine Anan-Ankomah as Group Executive, Commercial Banking with immediate effect. This appointment follows an internal recruitment process. As a member of the Group Executive Committee, Josephine Anan-Ankomah will report to the Group CEO.

The position of Group Executive, Commercial Banking became vacant following the appointment of Laurence do Rego to the position of Senior Advisor in the Group CEO’s Office.

Prior to this appointment, Josephine Anan-Ankomah was the Managing Director of Ecobank Gambia.

Josephine Anan-Ankomah is a well-rounded banker with over 25 years’ experience within Ecobank, having joined Ecobank Ghana in 1992 as a Treasury Officer. She has held various senior positions within the bank, such as Regional Treasurer in several affiliates of the Group, Chief Operating Officer at regional level, Head of Corporate Strategy and Business Development (Ecobank Ghana) and Deputy Head – Investment Banking Group (Ecobank Ghana).

Josephine Anan-Ankomah holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Ghana and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology from the same university. She is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of Ghana.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ecobank.

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Breastfeeding campaign ends with a celebration in Juba health center; 15,000 people reached in South Sudan

Breastfeeding campaign ends with a celebration in Juba health center; 15,000 people reached in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, August 10, 2018/ — South Sudan’s State Ministry of Health (SMH) and program partners gathered in Rock City health center last Tuesday, 7 August 2018 to celebrate the final day of World Vision’s weeklong breastfeeding campaign. This year’s global campaign theme was “Breastfeeding: Foundation of life”.

World Vision was able to bring awareness to an estimated 15, 000 people in 11 locations around Juba, the country’s capital city. Apart from the activities conducted in the health centers and villages, the nutrition team also used radio programs and role plays to educate and promote.

Mothers role-play unhealthy practices: Many people in South Sudan still go to witchcraft or herbalists to treat their children. World Vision’s mother-to-mother support group performs a drama to demonstrate the behaviors and activities in the communities that could put their children’s health and even their lives at risk.

Lactating and pregnant mothers converged in Rock City Primary Health Care Unit that was elevated to primary health care center during the occasion, and listened to different experts who explained to them the importance of exclusive breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding is an easy way to provide food for the children and ensure strong immune system to fight different diseases,” says Dan Kwaje, the Nutrition Coordinator in the SMH. He advised that mothers should still breastfeed children even when they unexpectedly become pregnant until they give birth to the baby and breastfeed them all.

Senesie Joseph, UNICEF’s nutrition specialist encouraged mothers to breastfeed within the first hour after birth as breast milk is their only food. He added that mothers should introduce complementary food and water after the six months but continue to breastfeed until the child is two years or more. Babies should be introduced to family food after one year.

“Breastfeeding prevents malnutrition,” says Rita Juan, the representative of the National Ministry of Health, adding that if the mother leaves for work, she should extract her breast milk, keep it in a clean container to feed the baby for the next eight hours. She further encouraged all mothers to give birth in the hospital.

Dr. Jamal Hassan from the SMH explained that exclusive breastfeeding prevents chances of conceiving un-wanted pregnancy and added that when a child is being breastfed, the baby should be allowed for as long as he or she wants it. He discouraged mothers against traditional cultural practices of introducing some food substances to the baby immediately after birth.

World Vision’s nutrition program has reached close to 200,000 people in South Sudan, over 100,000 of these are children. As of August 2018, World Vision’s programs in the country that also includes food security and livelihood, health, protection, education, shelter and non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have assisted over 1.7 million in the country.

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Princess Sarah Zeid champions maternal and child health as she visits World Vision’s nutrition project in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, August 1, 2018/ — Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, a global advocate for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, rights and wellbeing visited World Vision’s nutrition program at Gurei primary health care center (PHCC) in Juba, South Sudan, today.

During the visit, Princess Sarah recognized the important role of women as the cornerstone of health and wellbeing and emphasized that if a mother is supported to have healthy pregnancy, safe delivery and good level of nutrition, “she will have the ability to give her child a future”.

The princess says, “Not only women are the heart of health and well being today but also for tomorrow and the future generation.” She also acknowledged that women have the heart of a lion and will protect their children so they can go to school and have good health.

World Vision’s nutrition program in Juba serves over 3,400 women and children daily with services that include community mobilization, outpatient therapeutic programme, targeted supplementary feeding programme, and referral of severe acute malnutrition with medical complication to inpatient therapeutic programme.

Activities are done through well-trained nutrition staff and community structures, such as mother-to-mother support groups.

The World Food Programme (WFP) provides nutrition supplies for the moderate acute malnutrition cases as well as budget funding in running the 11 nutrition centers in Juba, while UNICEF provides supplies and additional funding for management of severe acute malnutrition cases.

WFP’s Nutrition Manager Hussein Hassan described the World Vision’s nutrition center in Gurei as a “model facility” that provides services for the nutrition and health needs of mothers and children in Juba.

Princess Sarah expressed relief that the mothers have access to quality health care in the center. She adds, “It is encouraging to hear that the women observe proper spacing in having children as it is important for the child’s as well as the mother’s health.”

A founder of Every Woman Every Child (Everywhere), a movement that pushes to integrate humanitarian and fragile setting in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, Princess Sarah further said it is important for women to have the right information as mothers on how to raise their children, the value of breastfeeding and where to go for assistance if they cannot breastfeed.

She adds, “Everybody needs the right information, the right food to feed the children, what services are available and to best provide for the family.”

She raised the issue of the destruction of health facilities in Maban she visited last year and expressed concern that many will be deprived of the services because of the incident.

She talked to the members of the women’s group and discussed traditional practices that put their lives in danger during delivery of their children. World Vision’s Nutrition Manager Damaris Wanjiku explained that, through different activities, the mothers are gradually realizing the need to go to hospitals instead of giving birth at home to ensure the safety of their children as well as their own.

Princess Sarah upheld the need for the safety and protection of the humanitarian workers, saying, “Humanitarians are here to serve and support the needs of the population, and that needs to be respected and their security needs to be guaranteed.”

“Princess Sarah Zeid’s visit is very timely as UN agencies like WFP, World Vision and the rest of the humanitarian community continues to advocate for the health and welfare of mothers and children in the country”, says World Vision’s Country Programme Director Mesfin Loha.

Loha adds, “Millions of lives are affected by hunger and malnutrition caused primarily by the conflict. We need more voices like hers to raise the urgent needs of the children in South Sudan.”

Princess Sarah works with the Women’s Refugee Commission as member of the Board of Directors, as well as the Advisory Board for Women’s Rights, the UNHCR’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection.

She is also a member of John Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health Advisory Committee. She is married to Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, the current Commissioner for United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

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Political crisis in Ethiopia and the risks of ripple effect humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa

Political crisis in Ethiopia and the risks of ripple effect humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa

 

By:Nick Ogutu

Refugee and Immigrant Rights Activist, Executive Director of Columbia University based Initiative, Safari Yangu Immigrant Stories, President, Amnesty International Bronx New York. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

Nick Ogutu
Mr. Nick Ogutu

Ethiopia, with more than 100 million people, is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria. It hosts the headquarters of the African Union and its geographical location makes it a strategic resource for the Western powers in their counterterrorism efforts. Ethiopia maintains very strong support from foreign donors despite its deteriorating human rights record (New York Times, 2016).

Ethiopia is currently under a state of emergency due to recent protests and violence. This violence has caused widespread internal displacement. In addition to its own internal turmoil, Ethiopia plays a crucial role in the region as a host of refugees itself. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2018), “Ethiopia is host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, with over 847,200 refugees from nineteen countries, the majority originating from neighboring South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan”. The political crisis in Ethiopia cannot, therefore, be told in isolation. Ethiopia is part of the Horn of Africa, the easternmost extension of African land, comprised of the countries mentioned above, and Kenya. These countries share a long history and many diverse communities live across the region. Due to political instability, the region has seen many conflicts and is very fragile. This article will examine the complex relationships between Ethiopia and its neighbors in order to understand the risks of a multi-country humanitarian and refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The Ethiopia and Eritrea Conflict

Following many years of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and at some point, involving Italy as well, Eritrea was formally recognized as an independent country after the 1993 referendum. Eritrea believes that Ethiopia is constructed of different nationalities that were forced together during the imperial scrambles for Africa, and is therefore held together with weak, artificial alliances. Therefore, the Eritrean opposition’s approach has been to conduct sharp, well directed military offenses in the hopes that Ethiopia will collapse. Hence, they identified south-eastern Ethiopia, inhibited by Ethiopians of Somali origin, as the weakest point of Ethiopia. For more than 30 years, escalation of conflict has continued along borders killing many people, displacing many people from their homes and adding to the regional refugee crisis (Axel Borchgrevink & Jon Harald Sande Lie, 2009).

The hostility between these countries has adversely affected the Somali communities that live along the common border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. According to a Human Rights Watch report (2018), the Somali region security forces’ intolerance for dissent by the Somali community extends beyond the border into Eritrean territory, targeting families with relatives across the border. Hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced since.

Ethiopia’s Long Border with Somalia & The Somali Diaspora
(Photo credit: Nick Ogutu) Ethiopia’s Long Border with Somalia & The Somali Diaspora

Somalia has almost one million citizens living in the diaspora, many of which are refugees and asylum seekers. Any conflict in Ethiopia would result in a grave situation in Somalia, given the long, unmarked border that Ethiopia and Somalia share. In fact, Ethiopian military has in the past crossed its southeastern border and intervened inside Somalia (New York Times, 2011)

Somalia is one of the most unstable countries in the region at the moment. Since the former president Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in a bloody civil war in 1991, Somalia has not had a stable government. Parts of the country have either seceded or are run by different warlords. Some militant groups like the Union of Islamic courts, which later evolved into the now infamous Al-Shabaab, have been labeled as terrorist organizations.

More than 10 peace conferences were held throughout the 1990s to address the sources of conflict and possibilities for peace in Somalia, but they were largely unsuccessful. (Axel Borchgrevink & Jon Harald Sande Lie, 2009). Since then, other efforts followed, and Somalia is now governed under the Federal Government of Somalia, a government which is not widely accepted and has faced constant opposition and threats from different militant groups. The fragile government is protected by the African peacekeeping forces, AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).

Ethiopia’s southern Kenya Border & Regional Refugee Hosting Challenges

Kenya is one of the most stable countries in the region, with a diverse economy and vibrant democracy, civil society, and press. However, Kenya has faced its own human rights challenges. Just like Somalia, Kenya shares common ethnic and geographical similarities with Ethiopia. The upper eastern province of Kenya is predominantly Oromo and Somali ethnic populations, ethnic groups that also reside in Ethiopia and Somalia. Apart from the recently arrived refugees, many of the Oromo and Somali ethnic populations have lived in Kenyan for decades and are Kenyan citizens.

The Kenyan government has long supported the Ethiopian government, showing a blind eye to the human rights violations it is accused of.   Ethiopian refugees face so many challenges in Kenya. It takes months if not years to get official recognition as a refugee, a status you need to access any benefits from the host government or UNHCR (United National High Commission for Refugees). Kenya has an encampment policy, which requires refugees to stay in the camps at Dadaab and Kakuma. These camps presently also house refugees from Sudan and Somalia. The two camps are the biggest in the world and cannot accommodate any more refugees. Refugees in Kenya who choose to not stay in the camps faces arrest and prosecution by the Kenyan authorities. Amnesty International Annual report (2018), explains how the Ethiopian government has taken advantage of that loop-hole in Kenya refugee policy to harass their own citizens in Kenya. The Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi has recruited spies and bribed the Kenyan police to target the Oromo refugees in Nairobi and other cities (Human Rights Watch, 2018). Many of these refugees have been either killed, tortured, or deported back to Ethiopia.

Kenya has gone through its own internal economic and social challenges that have had negative effects on the refugee populations it hosts. The economy is shrinking, and the country is divided along tribal and regional lines due to political upheavals. For a number of years, Kenya has threatened to close down the refugee camps (UNHCR, 2015) and repatriate the refugees back to their countries of origin, citing security fears and the economic burden. Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps remain open only due to a court order and international pressure. UNHCR (2017) while urging the government to reconsider their decision, issued this statement, “UNHCR works closely with the Government of Kenya and we understand well the current regional security situation and the seriousness of the threats Kenya is facing. We also recognize the obligation of the government to ensure the security of its citizens and other people living in Kenya, including refugees.” Kenya is concerned about terror groups using refugee camps as recruitment centers, especially after the Garissa university terror attack (Kenya Daily Nation, 2017). The terror suspects were found to be operating from the Dadaab refugee camp.

Current Ethiopian Political Concerns

If the Ethiopian crisis escalates, it could spiral into a regional catastrophe affecting more than six countries. When the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his draft of reforms that included the release of thousands of political prisoners (Human Rights Watch, 2018), there was a sense of relief among civil society and the international community that finally the government was serious about addressing some of its political issues. However, his resignation weeks later shocked many, and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency (Reuters, 2018). Some of the recently released prisoners have since been re-arrested (Amnesty International, 2018) and then released on bail, and many people live in fear.

Ethiopia Prime Minister
(Photo credit: Nick Ogutu: Ethiopia Prime Minister)

Since the state of emergency was declared in Ethiopia, almost one million Ethiopians have been internally displaced, and thousands have crossed the border into Kenya. Activists have also sounded the alarm on the rising incidences of rape and other gender-based violence, allegedly committed by the police and the military (Amnesty International, 2018). Last month’s election of the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a former lieutenant-colonel in the army and the first Prime Minister from the Oromo community, has not definitely quelled any fears from the general public.

The Ethiopian situation is a time-bomb that the international community must take an active role in to ensure stability. With a population of over 100 million, the current refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa risks meeting the levels of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Iraq, and the Congo. With so much instability in the region, including the ongoing war in South Sudan, most of the countries neighboring Ethiopia are terrified.

There has been evidence of victims of slavery and human trafficking in Libya are refugees from the horn of Africa (The East African, 2018). Any further escalation of violence Ethiopia and instability in the region will push more refugees to attempt the already dangerous journey to Europe through North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

Reforms Required: A Call to Action

The political opposition, civil society, and the press must be given a respected space and a voice in Ethiopian society to ensure transparent governance. The Ethiopian democratic space must be opened and widened as the political landscape is quickly shifting. It will have to accommodate the people’s demands, especially the most vulnerable such as displaced populations, if the current ruling party wants to govern equitably.

As a key western ally receiving billions of dollars from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada, the West must use that leverage for reforms before instability in Ethiopia have widespread repercussions across the region. All political prisoners should be released, responsive and representative government formed, end state of emergency, compensate victims of violence and perpetrators of crime to face justice.  Without these urgent reforms, unrest in the country could have a domino effect in what is an already volatile part of the African continent.