Sudan, the European Union, Germany, and the United Nations co-hosted a virtual High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference.
The Joint Communiqué adopted by the participants, confirmed the support of the international community to the democratic and economic transition in Sudan headed by the civilian-led transitional Government.
In addition to displaying strong political support to the ongoing transition, partners pledged a total of $1.8 billion (€1.6 billion), with Team Europe – which includes the EU institutions and the EU Member States – providing $867 million (€770 million) in development andhumanitarian funding. Of this amount, the European Commission is contributing €312.25 million for medium and longer-term development assistance, immediate humanitarian aid, and support to stability and peace. This contribution comes at a critical moment, as the coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates the difficult socio-economic situation in the country.
Josep Borrell, High Representative/Vice-President, said: “History is in the making in Sudan. Supporting the transition here and now is not only an expression of solidarity, but an investment worth making: for Sudan, for stability and development in the region, and in order to set an example for the world. For any transition to be sustainable, people need to see concrete and quick dividends, hence our mobilization today. The message we send to the Sudanese people is clear: we will not fail you.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This conference marks the start of a renewed partnership between Sudan and the international community. Today’s EU pledge will economically empower women and youth, support social and economic development and the ambitious reforms of the civilian-led transitional Government, as well as strengthen stability and peace. Of this, €93 million will contribute to the Sudan Family Support Programme, which will allow Sudan to move ahead with critical economic reforms, laying the foundations of a social protection system. Sudan will be a priority partner for the EU for 2021 and beyond.”
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Today’s support will help vulnerable Sudanese from sliding further below the poverty line. We are stepping up our humanitarian assistance in Sudan, as the country and its people are going through a fragile transition and face major challenges, worsened by the locust outbreak and the global coronavirus pandemic. The EU continues to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable in Sudan and our support to them is crucial in these unprecedented times.”
EU support for Sudan’s economic reforms, social protection and immediate humanitarian needs
Today’s funding pledged by the European Commission includes:
- €251.75 million in development funding. This includes €93 million to help start Sudan’s Family Support programme, which will be managed by the World Bank. The programme will deliver social assistance and cash transfers to vulnerable households, and contribute to developing an effective and comprehensive Government-owned social protection system, while addressing the immediate economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the most vulnerable. It also includes €65 million to finance four new programmes that will help improve public finance management, women and youth’s economic empowerment, human rights, and the civic space. €93.75 million will further support the political transition and the most vulnerable populations.
- €60.5 million in humanitarian funding to help provide for the critical needs of the most vulnerable people. The EU has already announced €31.5 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan in 2020. The European Commission is mobilising an additional €29 million to provide further food assistance, especially in the context of the desert locust outbreak in the region, to increase access to health care for vulnerable people, including those affected by the coronavirus and to respond to new emergencies. €20 million of this package is subject to the approval of the budgetary authority.
Around 50 stakeholders, including international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, participated in the conference. The World Bank committed to providing an additional pre-arrears clearance grant up to $400 million (€355 million).
The Conference was opened by a panel discussion between Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and. This discussion took stock of the achievements of the Sudanese political transition so far, as well as the challenges ahead. The EU pledge was delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.
Since 2016, the EU has supported the Sudanese population and the high number of refugees it hosts with development aid up to €242 million, mostly through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. These funds have been used, among others, to promote peace, support women and youth’s economic empowerment, and ensure inclusive and sustainable growth for all. Since the civilian-led Government took office in early September 2019, the EU has provided €88 million in development assistance to support political and economic reforms and contribute to stability and peace in Sudan.
Since 2011, humanitarian action in Sudan has been supported with around €580 million, including the amount pledged today. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights were organised to Sudan , helping humanitarian relief items and staff to reach the people in need at a time where transport constraints are posing an additional challenge. So far, it is the biggest operation of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge in terms of the total number of humanitarian workers and cargo taken together.
Tanzania helpline calls time on child marriage and abuse
Child marriage continues to affect many young girls across Tanzania, in East Africa, but now a series of interventions supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are allowing children to get the support they need to avoid unwanted and potentially damaging relationships.
It was 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon when Grace*, a counsellor at the National Child Helpline in Tanzania, received a call from a concerned teacher in Msalala, a small town in the remote Shinyanga region in the north-west of the East African country.
One of her brightest students Eliza*, aged 13, had not gone to school that day following worrying rumours that her parents intended to marry her off. She learned that they had accepted a payment in the form of a bride dowry from the family of the intended groom. The man chosen for Eliza was at 35-years-old, more than 22 years her senior.
On a recent two-day visit to Tanzania, UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, met with counsellors at the National Child Helpline, in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The helpline is run by C-Sema, a national NGO, in collaboration with the Government.
The #116 toll-free service, available across all mobile networks in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, responds to around 3,500 calls a day from women and children who are at risk of violence, and from family and community members who report abuses.
The helpline has reported an increase in calls during the COVID pandemic as school closures made children more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Trained volunteer counsellors like Grace give women and young people support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The counsellors also liaise with support networks and protection systems in the callers’ locality to provide further assistance.
Eliza’s story has a happy ending. As a result of Grace’s coordination with local government authorities and district social welfare officers in Msalala, officers from the Police Gender and Children’s Desk visited Eliza’s parents and the marriage did not take place.
A whole-of-community effort
Dr. Kanem expressed gratitude to C-Sema and counsellors for their dedication to advancing gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and young people, including through the use of digital platforms and new technologies.
Despite progress and the commitment by the Government to tackle gender inequalities and discrimination, as articulated in the Five-year National Plans of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children, violence remains a daily reality for many women and adolescent girls.
UNFPA Tanzania is supporting efforts to eradicate gender-based violence and to strengthen protection systems across the country In addition to supporting the National Child Helpline, it is also working with police officers who staff specialized gender and children’s investigation units which meet the needs of women and girls, and other one-stop support services that provide holistic care all in one place to ensure that victims of abuse do not have to go from one place to another to get medical care, psychosocial support or legal assistance.
Community centres, where women support each other and take the lead in ending violence in their communities, have also been set up.
Empowering men and boys as agents of change
Efforts to end violence are not only focused on empowering women and girls. Men and boys, and traditional and community leaders, are also included in conversations in recognition of their role and contribution to gender equality. Through extensive community outreach, UNFPA’s partners are encouraging discussions around harmful stereotypes of masculinity and positive ways to support the rights of women and girls.
Engaging men in holding other men accountable is critical to creating the basis for greater equality and they must not be left out or left behind, stressed Dr Kanem. “Every girl and boy should be valued and should be taught that the expression of their right and empowerment should not be centred on overpowering others.”
Supporting government-led efforts
During her visit to Tanzania, Dr. Kanem met with the country’s first female President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who expressed Tanzania’s commitment to eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation.
Dr. Kanem commended the government’s leadership and reaffirmed UNFPA’s support to Tanzania to realize development targets and stronger, more inclusive socioeconomic growth with the goal of leaving no one behind.
*name changed to protect identity.
Joining hands to strengthen food safety knowledge in West Africa
In the context of the Guinea-Bissau component of the European Union-funded West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), 30 Bissau-Guineans received training on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System, HACCP, and on the ISO standard for Food Safety Management System, ISO 22000.
This virtual training was made available to all those participating in the WACOMP, which allowed additional 30 people to benefit from the training. The 60 participants who attended the training came from nine countries in the region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia and Togo.
In his opening remarks, Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO’s representative to Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Cabo Verde and Mauritania, emphasized that the “training sessions on HACCP and ISO 22000 are crucial to provide capacity-building in the fields of food safety assurance and management for people responsible for performing conformity assessment activities, and technicians involved in food safety and quality.”
The WACOMP Programme is funded through a €116m contribution under the 11th European Development Fund and includes one regional and 16 country components. The objective of the programme is to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries and enhance their integration into the regional and international trading system. UNIDO has been entrusted with the implementation of the WACOMP regional component, as well as six country components, namely The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, and a component of the one for Cabo Verde. With a portfolio of €29m, UNIDO is the main implementing agency of the WACOMP.
Somalia recognizes decent work for women and men
Somalia has become the second country in Africa to ratify international labour standards seeking to end violence and harassment in the world of work.
The Somali Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Duran Farah, presented the instrument of ratification of the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) to ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.
He also presented the ratification instruments of the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144) ; the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) ; the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187 ); the Migration for Employment (Revised) Convention, 1949 (No. 97) ; the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143) ; and the Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) .
The seven Conventions are the first ratifications by Somalia since 2014 and bring to 26 the total number of Conventions Somalia has ratified.
“I welcome the deposit of these seven key ILO instruments. They mark the desire of the Somali people for peace, stability and good governance and their resilience in insisting democracy delivers on its promise” said Guy Ryder.
He highlighted the importance of continuous dialogue, patience, compromise and strong legal, political and civic institutions to nurture peace and guide democracy, as illustrated by Somalia’s ratification of Convention No. 144.
“Promoting peace, preventing conflict, enabling recovery and building resilience often start at the workplace” Guy Ryder added. “With the early ratification of Convention No. 190, Somalia recognizes the critical importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in promoting peace.”
Convention No. 190 calls on ratifying States to respect, promote and realize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment and to this end adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach for the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.
The Somali Minister stressed the importance of the moment. “As a member state of the ILO, the Somali government is committed to enforcing the international labour organization’s Constitution and standards to promote social and economic justice and uphold internationally recognized human and labour rights. Somalia, over the years, has ratified numerous conventions essential to improving labour standards in its domestic economy, and the recently approved conventions were a Government priority crucial for the reforms, regulatory laws, policies, and frameworks in implementing the National Development Plan.”
With the support from ILO, social dialogue and tripartism have been embraced by tripartite constituents in recent years. A conducive working relationship based on consensus, confidence and trust building between the government and trade unions has enhanced social peace in Somalia and opened the door for the establishment of the first formal tripartite structure, the Somali National Tripartite Consultative Committee to deal with labour issues including policies of relevance to the post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction, including a new Labour Code, National Employment Policy, Social Protection Policy and National Development Plan, all anchored in the ILO Decent Work Agenda.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the ILO Director-General thanked H.E. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the Federal Government of Somalia, led by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and Somalia’s workers and employers organizations for their “commitment to the rights of working men and women, as set out in ILO instruments.”
The seven Conventions will enter into force in Somalia on 8 March 2022.
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