Wednesday, May 28, 2014

U.S. Removes Restrictions on Assistance to Madagascar

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 27, 2014

In light of Madagascar’s successful 2013 elections, and the installation of a new government earlier this year, the United States has lifted all remaining restrictions on direct assistance to the Government of Madagascar.

As the African Union has lifted its suspension of Madagascar’s membership, and we have lifted all remaining restrictions on direct assistance to Madagascar, the United States has invited Madagascar President Rajaonarimampianina to the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit.

We remain one of Madagascar’s largest humanitarian partners, providing more than $55 million in food security and health programs in FY 2013.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Successful Africa Trade Mission

Office of the Secretary
Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Successful Africa Trade Mission
Following stops in Ghana and Nigeria, Secretary Pritzker Focuses on AGOA Renewal in Ethiopia
AGOA is one critical tool to continue deepening trade and investment ties between the U.S. and Africa


WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker concluded her visit to Africa with a stop in Ethiopia, where she met with President Mulatu Teshome and private sector leaders to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the U.S. and Ethiopia. Secretary Pritzker underscored the U.S. commitment to renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) as one tool that will continue to deepen trade relations between the U.S. and Ethiopia, and the entire African continent.

AGOA allows 6,400 products from eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. duty free. In 2013, U.S. imports under AGOA totaled $26.8 billion, and the Obama Administration is committed to renewing AGOA before it expires in 2015. In addition to renewal, the Administration is interested in ways to update the legislation to encourage diversification within Africa’s economies, which will better support the Continent’s growth, development and competitiveness.

Secretary Pritzker was joined in Ethiopia by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

“One of the ways the United States can serve as a partner in Ethiopia’s growth and development is through an expanded trade and investment relationship,” said Secretary Pritzker. “In Ethiopia and across Africa, we must ensure that our trade through AGOA is reaching its full potential, encompassing a variety of industry sectors, and including small and medium-sized companies and entrepreneurs.”

The fast growth in Ethiopia’s economy is also generating an increase in the number of U.S. firms looking to do more business in the country. Ethiopia’s gross domestic product has grown an average of 9.1 percent over the last 10 years, making it Africa’s second fastest-growing economy and the sixth fastest-growing economy in the world. One of the ways the Department of Commerce helps companies take advantage of mutually-beneficial commercial opportunities in Africa and around the world is through the Foreign Commercial Service, teams that work out of Embassies specifically to help American businesses find new partners and customers overseas. The Department of Commerce recently announced that it will nearly double the Foreign Commercial Service footprint in Africa, opening its first-ever offices in Ethiopia, Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique, and expanding teams in four other countries.

West Africa Trade Mission Recap
Earlier last week, Secretary Pritzker led a delegation of 20 U.S. businesses on a trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria focused on Africa’s energy sector. The trade mission was meant to further President Obama’s goal, as outlined in the Administration’s Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, of furthering trade and investment relationships across the African continent, which is home to seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world.

“American companies are in Africa and more American companies want to be in Africa,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This trade mission has already helped U.S. companies take advantage of mutually-beneficial opportunities to do business in Ghana and Nigeria, in particular. Ensuring that American firms are primed to do business in Africa will not only help the African people realize greater economic success, but will also fuel growth and job creation in the United States.”

The trip included many positive outcomes:

• Charlotte-based renewable energy company SEWW was selected by the Electricity Company of Ghana to lead a $25 million/year upgrade and expansion project in the Greater Accra Region. The project will span seven years and includes efforts to improve the transmission and distribution of electricity in Ghana. Within the seven year time frame, SEWW energy has been authorized to provide products and services in support of the project that will include network transmission, the rebuilding of substations, and the design of smart grids. SEWW will spearhead solutions to reduce the cost of power supply and address security, reliability, and efficiency. Additionally, SEWW Energy will train local citizens in Ghana to operate and maintain the new infrastructure.

• Environmental Chemical Corporation, based in California, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with University College Hospital, Ibadan for the finance, design and construction of a new, state-of-the-art cancer institute. The University College Hospital, Ibadan was established by an act of the Nigerian parliament in November 1952 in response to the need for the training of medical personnel and other healthcare professionals for the country and the West African Sub-Region. The accident and emergency (A & E) Department of the University College Hospital averages 6,000 patients annually, and 150,000 patients are attended to through the hospital various clinics each year.

• Ellicott Dredges, a Baltimore-based firm, signed multiple deals in Nigeria to provide dredges in-country.

U.S.-Africa CEO Forum
While in Nigeria, Secretary Pritkzer also announced that the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the inaugural U.S.-Africa Business Forum on the first day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August. The Forum will focus on U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, and information and communications technology.

Heads of state will engage with business executives from both sides of the Atlantic in conversations about successes and solutions that will help strengthen trade and investment in Africa.

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Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Ethiopia’s National Day

Deparmtent of State
Washington, DC
May 27, 2014

On behalf of the government and the people of the United States, I send my best wishes to the government and people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day on May 28.

It was a great pleasure to return to Addis Ababa earlier this month and see first-hand examples of the longstanding partnership between the United States and Ethiopia.

During a visit to Gandhi Memorial Hospital and a conversation with the doctors, nurses and patients there, I was moved and proud to see results of our joint efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

I was also delighted to celebrate the impressive contributions to society of Ethiopian youth and look forward to welcoming several to the United States to participate in the Young African Leaders Initiative Summit.

These are just two examples of our support of Ethiopia’s peaceful and prosperous future. The United States is committed to promoting Ethiopia’s economic growth and development, democratic governance and respect for human rights, and peace and security in the region.

As you gather with family and friends on your national day, the government and people of the United States wish you a most festive celebration.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Eritrea’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
May 27, 2014

On behalf of the American people, I welcome the opportunity to send my warmest wishes to the people of Eritrea on the 23rd anniversary of your independence which took place May 24. Know that the government and people of the United States stand beside you in your continued search for the promise of a free, prosperous, and democratic Eritrea.

U.S. Department of Commerce & Bloomberg Philanthropies To Host Inaugural “U.S.-Africa Business Forum”

Office of the Secretary
Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will be part of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Michael R. Bloomberg to host
President Obama to be keynote speaker


WASHINGTON – On August 5, 2014, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will be part of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first summit of its kind, and the largest event that any U.S. president has ever convened with African heads of state or government.

As President Obama said in Tanzania last summer, “in our global economy, our fortunes are linked like never before. So more growth and opportunity in Africa can mean more growth and opportunity in the United States. And this is not charity; this is self-interest. And that’s why a key element of my engagement with Africa, and a key focus during this trip, has been to promote trade and investment that can create jobs on both side of the Atlantic.”

Held at the Mandarin Oriental, in Washington, D.C., the U.S.-Africa Business Forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa. The Forum will focus on U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, and information communication technology. Heads of state will engage with business executives from both sides of the Atlantic to engage in conversations about successes and solutions to build greater access for trade and investment in Africa. President Obama will participate in the conversation with CEOs and government leaders from the U.S. and Africa.

“The opportunities for the United States and Africa to work together to achieve mutual prosperity for our countries and our people are growing,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Africa is home to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, the middle class across the continent is expanding, and there is great potential for U.S. firms to sell their goods and services, and leverage their expertise, to help African countries meet their development goals. At the Department of Commerce, we’re working with American companies to help ensure they have the tools they need to do business in Africa, and this Forum will be yet another mechanism for cooperation between the U.S. government and private sector, and our counterparts in Africa.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael R. Bloomberg said, “At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we share the Administration’s deep commitment to the continent. There is great optimism for what lies ahead as Africa will play an increasingly central role in global affairs and international commerce. Vibrant, transparent business communities that are wired into the global economic conversation are essential for the future of Africa. This Forum and Summit builds on this dedication to the future of Africa, and will go far in
building a better and more secure economic and political future for the continent.”

The U.S.-Africa Leader’s Summit will convene leaders from more than 45 from sub-Saharan and North African nations to discuss regional economic, political and development issues, aiming to forge deeper transatlantic ties as well as exploring comprehensive and collaborative solutions to unlock the type of economic growth and opportunity that showcases a new kind of partnership rooted in shared interests.

About the U.S. Department of Commerce
The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers. The department touches the daily lives of the American people in many ways, with a wide range of responsibilities in the areas of trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis.

Beginning next week, Secretary Pritzker will lead a trade mission of 20 U.S. companies to Ghana and Nigeria. This mission will promote U.S. exports and expand U.S. companies’ presence in Africa by helping American firms launch or increase their business in the energy sector. The firms joining the mission have the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems, as well as build out power generation, transmission, and distribution. The Commerce Department also recently announced that in the coming months, its International Trade Administration will more than double its presence in Africa, opening their first-ever offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. At the same time, offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, and Libya will also be expanded. With these critical investments, the Department of Commerce will be able to increase assistance to U.S. businesses navigating markets in Africa, and help them sell their goods and services in even more places around the world.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has been involved in supporting projects across Africa and is currently active in more than 36 countries. The initial focus was on women’s economic development, malaria, and maternal health, and later expanded to include public health initiatives, such as road safety and tobacco control, and helping cities reduce their carbon footprints through C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Across all its efforts, Bloomberg Philanthropies works closely with partner organizations and governments in countries where the foundation gives. Its focus on reforming and effectively implementing strong policies ensures that Bloomberg Philanthropies efforts will be sustainable and continue to help save and improve lives beyond its support.

For more information on the philanthropy, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg

U.S. Under Sec. Sarah Sewall’s Testimony On Boko Haram

Testimony
Sarah Sewall
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, DC
May 21, 2014

Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss Nigeria’s struggle against Boko Haram, one of the most lethal terrorist groups in Africa today.

Over a month ago, the world was shocked when Boko Haram kidnapped over 250 young women from a secondary school in Chibok. The United States swiftly joined the effort to help the Government of Nigeria safely recover the hostages.

President Obama pledged our full support, and President Goodluck Jonathan readily accepted Secretary Kerry’s offer of assistance. Today in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, a robust multidisciplinary team from the United States government is working hand in hand with Nigerian counterparts and teams from a half dozen other countries such as the United Kingdom and France. Our military and civilian experts in intelligence, military planning, hostage negotiations, strategic communications, civilian protection, and victim support, have been given unprecedented access and cooperation to assist Nigeria’s effort to safely recover the kidnapped schoolgirls. This effort – one that is extremely difficult and, as we know from our own experience, may take far longer than we would like – will necessarily entail not just a military approach, but also law enforcement and diplomatic approaches. This kidnapping – and addressing the threat of Boko Haram more broadly – would be daunting for any government. That is why the United States is doing all it can to help Nigeria address these challenges – today and longer term.

During our trip last week, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez and I met Nigeria’s top security officials to stress the importance of resolving this crisis and redoubling the effort to defeat Boko Haram, while respecting human rights and ensuring the protection of civilians. In Paris, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman continued this conversation with Nigerian President Jonathan and heads of state from neighboring countries at a summit convened by French President Hollande in Paris. The summit brought together President Jonathan with presidents of his four neighbors (Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) as well as senior representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union. Coming one day after Boko Haram killed and kidnapped Chinese nationals in northern Cameroon, the summit made clear and urgent for all parties the growing regional dimension of this challenge.

The leaders discussed the safe return of the school girls held hostage, and shared concrete ideas on how to defeat Boko Haram such as improving cooperation on border security, countering violent extremism, and redoubling efforts to promote economic growth and create jobs in the affected region. This is consistent with the comprehensive approach Nigeria announced in March and we have repeatedly called for this broad effort to be implemented.

At the summit, the U.S., United Kingdom, and France established a coordination mechanism at various levels to ensure our development, diplomatic, and security assistance are synchronized, including with our African partners. We again called on our African partners to establish national CT strategies, to integrate them across the region, and to share them with P3 and other partners. The United States has worked with Nigeria to impose UN Security Council sanctions on Boko Haram, which we expect to be completed this week.

Peace and security in Nigeria is one of our highest foreign policy priorities in Africa. The tragedy of this kidnapping has rightfully focused our attention on the need to return these girls to their families, and on Boko Haram’s increasingly brazen assaults on youth seeking education. Ensuring that girls and boys alike have the opportunity to learn is essential to ensuring that all of Nigeria’s people contribute to and benefit from its economic prosperity. As the First Lady recently observed, stories like those of the kidnapped girls – and others who have risked their lives to pursue an education – should serve as a call to action to help the millions of girls worldwide who are not in school.

The kidnappings have also exposed the long-term security challenges that confront Nigeria, one of our most important partners in Africa. The fight against Boko Haram requires more than just military action, it requires a comprehensive approach to improving the lives of people in Northeast Nigeria. Just as my portfolio at the State Department includes counterterrorism, law enforcement, democracy promotion, human rights, conflict response, criminal justice, refugees, trafficking in persons, and religious freedom, Nigeria needs to address all of these important, inter-related issues in its fight against Boko Haram. Nigeria is not only a critical regional political and economic leader, but also a partner with which we work closely together in multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council.

While the kidnapping in Chibok has cast a spotlight on Boko Haram, I want to emphasize that we have long been working to help the people of Nigeria and the Nigerian government address this terrorist threat. Boko Haram is a Nigerian-based group that became considerably more violent in 2009 and has metastasized into a regional threat. It is responsible for the brutal killing of thousands of people in Nigeria, resulting in over 1000 deaths and injuries in 2013 alone. Boko Haram also operates in Cameroon’s Far North Region and the Lake Chad Basin and has kidnapped high-profile Westerners and, just recently, Chinese nationals in Cameroon. While we are rightfully focused on the almost 300 girls who were kidnapped, this tragedy is not an isolated incident.

Going back just a few months, in February, over 59 teenage boys were killed in an attack, and, earlier this month, Boko Haram carried out an attack on two towns, killing an estimated 300 people.

As we pursue an integrated approach to helping Nigeria meet its challenges, we want Nigeria to prevail in its efforts, which we believe can only be accomplished through a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to defeating Boko Haram. We know from experience the difficulty in confronting an enemy that knows no borders and kills civilians indiscriminately. The most urgent need we see today is for Nigerian forces to conduct intelligence-driven operations that avoid civilian casualties, in order to help enhance trust and cooperation with northern populations and expose the relatively small numbers of Boko Haram fighters. More broadly, Nigeria’s approach in the Northeast should emphasize and inspire respect for human rights, rule of law and accountability, and development and responsive governance. We are seeing small measures of slow progress, including the Nigerian government’s announcement two months ago of a multi-faceted “soft” approach to Boko Haram. We are eager to see and to help Nigeria now implement this plan and have offered assistance to that end, including sharing our own lessons learned in how to effectively carry out counterterrorism operations while ensuring the protection of civilians.

Today, I would like to highlight some of the kinds of security assistance that we have been providing to help Nigeria address Boko Haram. A fuller description of our counterterrorism assistance to Nigeria can be found in the Fact Sheet about Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria released by the State Department on May 14. In Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, the Department of State planned approximately $35.8 million in security assistance programs that benefit Nigeria, subject to Congressional notification and approval. Our security assistance reflects our efforts to ensure Nigeria takes a comprehensive approach to countering Boko Haram. We are working with vetted police and civilian security components to build Nigerian law enforcement capacities to investigate terrorism cases, effectively deal with explosive devices, and secure Nigeria’s borders. We do this because the most effective counterterrorism policies and practices are those that respect human rights and are underpinned by the rule of law. For example, our West African Regional Security Initiative provided nearly $3.7 million in assistance to the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Fiscal Year 2013 to help Nigeria counter corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing, and help reform the police and promote the rule of law. We are also focused on enabling various Nigerian security services, including the police, various intelligence agencies, and the ministry of defense, with fusing multiple information streams to develop a better understanding of Boko Haram. My DOD colleague will speak to this more fully, but our military assistance supports the professionalization of vetted military units and improves their ability to plan and implement appropriate steps to counter Boko Haram and ensure civilian security. We have a robust dialogue with our Nigerian counterparts on all of these efforts, including through the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission’s Regional Security Working Group.

While these efforts will make a difference, we continue to have concerns that human rights violations by government forces – particularly those forces that have operated in the Northeast – are undermining the government’s attempts to defeat Boko Haram. Given these concerns, we continue to press the Government of Nigeria to demonstrate that it is working to protect civilians where Boko Haram is not—this means ending impunity for human rights violations by security forces. For example, alongside the Nigerian people and their own human rights commission, as well as Amnesty International and others, we have asked the Government to investigate massacres allegedly committed by government security forces that occurred in the village of Baga in April 2013 and at the Giwa Barracks detention facility after Boko Haram staged a prison break there in March of this year. Only with facts uncovered and perpetrators brought to justice can the Nigerian government demonstrate that it is working to preserve life and fairly administer justice.

Let me be clear that there is no equivalence between the actions of the Nigerian military and those of Boko Haram, a terrorist group which has made clear that it is seeking to murder civilians in large numbers and terrorize the civilian population as a matter of policy. Yet, we also know the power of popular grievance narratives against governments, and it is incumbent on Nigeria’s government to demonstrate through specific steps the will to ensure its forces protect the human rights of all of its people and end impunity for those that use violence indiscriminately. Civilians in the Northeast must be assured that security services are there to protect them from Boko Haram’s violence. The confidence and cooperation of civilians is critical to deny Boko Haram a safe haven and gather the intelligence necessary to, among other pressing goals, safely recover the girls kidnapped at Chibok. Moreover, when military and security forces are found to commit human rights violations and the government does not act to hold the perpetrators of these incidents responsible for their actions, we are then limited as a matter of U.S law and policy to work with units involved in these incidents. We are eager to help the Nigerian government address these concerns, which impede our ability to help in preventing punishing, and rectifying Boko Haram’s atrocities.

Let me say a few words about how the provisions of law concerning security assistance and human rights known as the “Leahy laws” affect our work to assist the Nigerian government combat Boko Haram. Let me be clear: We value and strongly support the tenets and purpose behind the Leahy laws, and we have worked within U.S. law and policy to assist the Nigerians in their fight against Boko Haram. There is no question that the behavior of certain Nigerian military actors have made it impossible for the United States to work directly with them. To better understand the possibilities of promoting change, I will ensure that we are working to the greatest extent possible to build Nigeria’s capacity as a rights-respecting security partner and to encourage the reform of its military to more effectively address the Boko Haram threat.

In addition, pervasive corruption undermines the government’s fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian government has one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest security budgets, with $5.8 billion dedicated to security in its proposed 2014 budget. Yet corruption prevents supplies as basic as bullets and transport vehicles from reaching the front lines of the struggle against Boko Haram. Morale is low and desertions are common among soldiers in Nigeria’s 7th Army Division. For example, on May 14, 7th Division soldiers reportedly fired at their commander’s car, complaining that he had failed to ensure they received the necessary equipment. As this incident shows, Nigeria will need to seriously tackle corruption if it is to succeed in stamping out Boko Haram.

These challenges are even more acute in the lead up to February 2015, when Nigeria will hold its fifth presidential election since its return to democracy in 1999. The last election, held in 2011, showed improvements in election administration, but was followed by riots that claimed over 800 lives, mostly in northern states. Insecurity and political tensions have fueled fears that 2015 may see even greater violence.

We are of course concerned about the northeast, where Boko Haram operates, and where it will be critical for the government to ensure security so that Nigerians in the Northeast are able to vote, including in three states of emergency. We are also working to help address instability in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where complex conflicts over land have pitted communities against one another, and the Niger Delta, where tensions over the allocation of oil revenues remain high and a long-running insurgency is yet to be fully settled. As Nigerians prepare to vote against this backdrop of corruption, tension, and uncertainty, we must look at more than the kidnapping at Chibok to understand and help Nigeria address the full range of challenges to its future.

We are therefore working in other ways to help Nigeria keep civilians safe and strengthen democracy. For example, we are reviewing ways to establish a community-based early warning response to combat GBV in Nigeria, and particularly in the north. We are striving to promote interreligious tolerance in the Middle Belt, and we have an initiative championing narratives of non-violence in the Niger Delta led by local Nigerian community, business, cultural, and economic leaders, and aimed at giving local populations’ a voice to promote peace through media. As the 2015 elections approach, our diplomatic engagements are supporting USAID’s elections assistance package, which will help the Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, to register voters, conduct elections, and run a nationwide voter education campaign to ensure that all citizens understand their rights and know how to exercise them.

During my trip to Nigeria, I met INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega to discuss preparations for the elections, the status of northeastern states’ ability to participate in elections, and convey our interest in the credibility and peacefulness of the vote. We continue to call on all political parties and candidates to publicly renounce violence and commit to ensuring a free, fair, and peaceful election.

Before I close, I would like to address two aspects of the State Department’s approach toward Nigeria and Boko Haram. The first concerns the timing of the designation of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. While I was not at the State Department at that time, the Department pursued the designation after careful deliberation and consultation with the Nigerian government and after a series of steps that included our June 2012 designation of Boko Haram’s top commanders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists and our June 2013 decision to add Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s official leader to our Rewards for Justice Program. We made the FTO designation after implementing and assessing these earlier steps, and shortly after Nigeria and the United Kingdom made their own designations. In short, our approach to the FTO designation reflected our evolving assessment of Boko Haram’s threat potential, the utility of additional sanctions available pursuant to FTO designation, and our close coordination with our partners. Significantly, while Nigeria has been reluctant to seek international attention to the Boko Haram crisis, it has moved forward this month, in part at our urging, to request that the United Nations Security Council designate Boko Haram under its al Qa‘ida sanctions regime.

The second issue concerns whether Boko Haram, and particularly the kidnapping at Chibok, is part of a worldwide trend of persecutions against Christians. We are committed to protecting the rights of people of all religions, including Christians, to practice their beliefs freely and peacefully. Certainly Boko Haram has targeted Christians, and Nigerian officials believe that 85% of the girls kidnapped at Chibok are Christians and have been forced to convert to Islam after their kidnapping. We want to highlight, however, that Boko Haram is a problem that affects Nigerians of every religion. Indeed, the majority of Boko Haram’s estimated 4,000 total victims to date have been Muslim. Even as we work to help the Government of Nigeria protect Christians, we are also helping it protect its population as a whole. In the aftermath of the kidnappings, we have encouraged Muslim and Christian faith leaders alike to speak out, in Nigeria and around the world, to urge respect for religious diversity and interfaith cooperation. I can assure you that we treat issues of religious freedom, like other issues of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, with utmost seriousness.

The State Department, like the American people, hope to see the girls reunited with their families soon. But we are also preparing for a long, tough fight to defeat Boko Haram and to help the Nigerian people – including Nigeria’s girls and boys alike – realize the full political and economic potential of their great country.

President Obama Congratulates President Jacob Zuma of South Africa

Photo: Buzz South Africa
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
May 23, 2014

President Obama called South African President Jacob Zuma today to congratulate him on his re-election — the African National Congress’s fifth successful election in the post-Apartheid era. The presidents noted that they look forward to continuing to work together on bilateral and multilateral issues of importance, and to ensuring the upcoming U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit advances regional stability and economic growth.

U.S. Commerce Sec. Pritzker’s Remarks Announcing U.S.-Africa Business Leaders Forum

Photo: U.S. Commerce Department
Office of the Secretary
Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON – Speaking this morning to a group of business leaders in Lagos, Nigeria, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the United States sees tremendous economic opportunity in Africa. As part of efforts to deepen commercial relationships between the United States and African markets, Secretary Pritzker announced that she will convene a U.S.-Africa Business Forum on the first day of the upcoming Africa Leaders Summit in August in Washington, DC. She also discussed other efforts that the Department of Commerce is making to advance the trade and investment pillar of the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, including expanded operations of Commercial Service operations throughout the Continent.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker also reiterated that the United States is a committed partner in Nigeria’s economic progress and will work with the country to promote opportunity and security, while also rooting out corruption. She also reinforced the United States support for Nigeria as they work to combat extremist groups like Boko Haram.

Secretary Pritzker is in Africa this week leading 20 American companies on an Energy Business Development trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria. The goal of the mission is to promote U.S. exports and expand U.S. companies’ presence in Africa by helping American firms launch or increase their business in the energy sector. The firms joining the mission have the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems, as well as build out power generation, transmission, and distribution.

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
It is an honor to address such an esteemed group of Nigerian business leaders, entrepreneurs, and students. I want to thank you for welcoming us and our dynamic and diverse group of 20 American companies that are joining us on this energy trade mission.

Let me start by telling you why we are here. President Obama and this Administration see tremendous opportunity in Africa. President Obama has called it “the world’s next great economic success story.” Africa is home to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Real income has increased more than 30 percent over the last 10 years, reversing two decades of decline. According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status. GDP is expected to rise six percent per year over the next decade. And by 2040, Africa will have a larger workforce than India or China.

President Obama is committed to deepening the relationship between America and all the nations of Africa, and developing a new level of mutual understanding and respect based on a shared commitment to freedom, democracy, social progress and economic growth.

In Nigeria in particular, the opportunities are abundant. You are home to the largest economy in Africa, and one in five people on the Continent are Nigerian. Not only do our governments stand together as partners and friends, but our companies – as evidenced by this trade mission – are eager to forge stronger partnerships in Nigeria.

But before I go on, I want to offer my condolences to the families in Jos, following the tragic attack there yesterday. And I want to address the issue that is on all of our minds. To the north of here in the town of Chibok, hundreds of families are without their daughters today. As a mother of two myself, my heart breaks for these girls and their loved ones and friends.

All parents, no matter where they were born or where they reside, hope that their children are always safe, and that their children have the opportunity to realize their dreams. That these young girls were kidnapped while pursuing their education is particularly unsettling, and the world is anxiously awaiting their safe return.

The United States is supporting Nigeria as it works to find and free these young girls. A team is now in place at our Embassy to provide military aid, assist in information gathering, and more. Last weekend, the United States attended a meeting in Paris where President Goodluck Jonathan and the heads of state of the countries bordering Nigeria — Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin — pledged to work together to combat Boko Haram. With them, the U.S., France, the EU and the UK agreed that to prevent violent, extremist groups from making inroads into vulnerable communities, a comprehensive approach to promoting opportunity, inclusion, and security must be implemented in the region. We will help Nigerians do that. Our commitment is long-term; we will stand by Nigerians as they strive to defend and protect their sons and daughters, husbands, brothers, sisters and mothers.

For all of the promise here in Africa, situations like this raise serious concerns. The threat of violence, corruption in government and business, and a lack of trust threaten Nigeria’s continued progress.

Despite these challenges, the United States has been and continues to be a committed partner in your progress. Back in 2012, President Obama outlined his vision for how the United States and Africa would work together toward a mutually-beneficial future. The “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” laid out a comprehensive policy that would achieve four specific aims:
strengthening democratic institutions; advancing peace and security; promoting opportunity and development; and spurring economic growth, trade, and investment.

These goals are inextricably linked. The United States has a number of initiatives in place to help Africa make progress in each of these areas. At the Department of Commerce, our goal is to advance the trade and investment pillar of the President’s strategy. This trade mission is a sign of commitment by our government to support anew U.S. business focus in Africa.

Today, nearly 600 million Africans (two-thirds of the people on the Continent) lack electricity, including millions here in Nigeria. This problem is particularly stark in rural areas where 85 percent of the population does not have power. Studies have shown that Africa will need $300 billion in investments to achieve universal electricity by 2030. Already, the U.S. Government has committed $7 billion toward Power Africa, and has secured additional commitments totaling $14 billion from 35 private-sector partners. Simply put, Power Africa is designed to catalyze new financing and investment in energy solutions that will help Nigeria – and the five other countries that comprise Power Africa — provide reliable electricity to its citizens.

Already, Power Africa has closed on transactions totaling nearly 3,000 megawatts, with an additional 5,000 megawatts in the planning stages. Here in Nigeria, the Power Africa initiative is providing technical assistance as your government privatizes its electricity industry, an effort that could add 2,000 megawatts over the next five years. We are also working together to attract additional private investment, and to secure financing for renewable-energy projects. In addition our commercial-law experts are creating a library of documents to help streamline the process for negotiating and closing agreements and transactions under Power Africa. Next month in Abuja, we will hold a workshop to increase the use of these documents among utilities and regulators.

Power Africa is just one example of our long-standing commitment to ensuring Africa’s continued growth and prosperity. Let me give three more. First, we are pushing for the seamless renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, of which Nigeria is the top beneficiary. As many of you know, AGOA allows 6,400 products from eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. duty free. For 2013, U.S. imports under AGOA totaled $26.8 billion. Going forward, our hope is that Nigeria will take advantage of AGOA to diversify its economy, fulfilling the vision of the legislation. In fact, AGOA is a key topic that I will discuss in Ethiopia later this week with members of the African Union.

Secondly, the Commerce Department itself is dedicating more human resources to Africa. Nigeria is already home to one of our largest commercial service teams on the Continent. These dynamic individuals work every day to help American companies find new partners and customers here. And I am pleased to say we just announced that we are increasing our footprint across Africa. We intend to expand our commercial service in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya. And for the first time ever – we will open offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.

A third measure that will benefit Africa is an opportunity that will grow entrepreneurship on the continent – the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship. Here in Nigeria, where youth unemployment is roughly 40 percent, we want to support innovators as they launch new startups and create jobs. This is crucial for long-term stability and economic growth. The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, or PAGE, is a group, I chair of 11 well-known and very successful U.S. entrepreneurs who have committed their time, networks, advice and ideas to advancing entrepreneurship all over the world. Africa will be an ongoing focus for this high-profile group.

In sum, the U.S. government brings a lot to the table when it comes to our commitment to Africa. But we have not come alone. U.S. businesses have decades-long relationships and experience in Africa. Many of the companies on this mission are already doing business in Nigeria, and are looking to do more. The United States is the largest source of foreign direct investment in Nigeria, with a total stock valued at $8.2 billion in 2012. But President Obama believes we should do more.

I am pleased to announce that on the first day of the Africa Leaders Summit in August, the largest of its kind that any U.S. President has initiated with African heads of state, President Obama has asked me to assemble CEOs from both Africa and the U.S. to discuss ways to deepen commercial relationships and strengthen the presence of U.S. companies in African markets. This U.S.-Africa Business Forum will increase partnerships in industries such as financing, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, information and communications technology, and more. While America’s ties to the African Continent are stronger than ever, this Forum will help spur even more trade and investment between Africa and the United States. We are excited about this CEO Forum. But it does not change the fact that there is much work to do.

The bottom line is this: We all want American businesses to invest in Africa. We want them to stay in Africa. And we want them to create jobs and prosperity both here and in the United States.

But for U.S. businesses to come here, stay here, and help you achieve your full potential, Nigeria needs to take the tough steps that allow businesses to truly thrive. Our companies want to do business in countries that follow the rule of law, maintain ethical standards, abide by workplace safety, encourage workforce training, and protect intellectual property. These are the conditions that will increase trust and confidence among international and local business leaders and encourage further investment.

Nigeria has made impressive and important progress in recent years. It has joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and adopted new anti-corruption laws. We welcome these steps. At the same time, laws only operate on behalf business and the people when they are enforced predictably and reliably. Businesses seeking to invest in agriculture, health care, transportation, tourism, information and communications technology and manufacturing must have the conditions to operate free from unnecessary regulation, government interference and corruption.

Nigeria needs the active participation of business and civil society to successfully root out corruption. Nigeria should adopt the international best practice of providing whistleblower protections. Honest citizens who are willing to alert authorities to corruption as it is taking place are your best resources in this fight. The steps that government takes to counter corruption must be reinforced by predictable regulations that help companies not only enter the market, but support their ability to do good business. Such conditions that promote ease of doing businesses will open Nigeria to more investment and innovation. As more companies succeed in Nigeria, they will act as “change agents.”

We also encourage Nigeria to implement its public procurement laws according to international best practices and to join the World Trade Organizations Government Procurement Agreement. I am confident that the Nigerian government, business and civil society leaders can develop home grown solutions to these challenges and act as agents of change.

Together, the U.S. government, the Nigerian government, the business leaders in this room and American companies that are committed to Nigeria can lay the foundation for prosperity, jobs and sustained economic growth. Fundamentally, I believe that together we can, must, and will move forward on all fronts – from strengthening our security, to ensuring that democracy can flourish, to spurring more trade, investment, and economic opportunity to benefit all of our citizens.

Why am I so confident? Let me share a poignant story. Every day, I have the privilege of working with a diverse array of talented people at the United States Department of Commerce. This group includes Julie Wenah, whose parents emigrated from Rivers State to Houston, Texas in the 1980s. Julie is a lawyer who works in our Office of General Counsel and also helps organize trade missions such as this one. Julie – Can you raise your hand? Julie comes back to Nigeria every few years to see her relatives, including her brother who works for the Governor of Rivers State.

To me, Julie is an example of how the coming generations of Americans and Nigerians will continue to weave even stronger ties between our countries. Julie said this about helping organize this trade mission: “My heart is full to be here serving the United States in my family’s homeland. My father who has passed had high ambitions for his children, but I myself never conceived that I would be here in Nigeria doing such important work. It is such an honor to be part of the effort to build a bridge between our businesses and our people.”

Let us fulfill Julie’s vision and our vision of building that bridge in the months and years ahead. It will require all of us to work together – our entrepreneurs and business leaders, our government officials, and our citizens themselves. But if there is anything I have learned on this trip so far, it is this: We can accomplish great things if we work together towards common good.

Thank you.

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U.S. Issues Statement on Presidential Elections in Guinea-Bissau

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 22, 2014

The United States congratulates the people of Guinea-Bissau on the successful completion of peaceful and orderly presidential elections on May 18, and president-elect José Mário Vaz on his victory.

The United States looks forward to working with Mr. Vaz and the Government of Guinea-Bissau as it seeks to return to democratic rule and to achieve lasting peace in the region. We urge the country’s leaders, both civilian and military, to hear the voice of their people and bring the political transition period to a successful conclusion. These elections offer the opportunity for comprehensive reforms to break Guinea-Bissau’s cycle of corruption, and make progress on providing public services and advancing the country’s development.

U.S. Policy and Response to Recent Refugee Crises in Africa

Remarks
Simon Henshaw
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Ethiopian Community Development Council
Washington, DC
May 1, 2014

Good morning and thank you for that kind introduction. It is an honor to be here. The best part of my job is the chance to meet people like you who dedicate their lives to helping refugees get a fresh start. Congress may have passed the Refugee Act of 1980, but it is your efforts, and those of local communities, that have helped implement the resettlement program – by opening hearts and homes to refugees from around the world. I understand that some of you may have once been refugees yourselves, facing the same obstacles and challenges your clients do today.

Millions of refugees depend on the expertise and dedication of organizations like ECDC. We at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration depend on you as well. As you know, our resettlement program is the largest in the world and has welcomed more than 3 million refugees to the United States since 1975.

Last year was a remarkable one for refugee resettlement; in 2013, the President set the ceiling for arrivals at 70,000. When the year was over, our final total included 69,927 refugees from 65 countries. I don’t have to tell you, but that represents 69,927 lives on the path to a new beginning in the United States.

Increasing resettlement of African refugees is a major priority for the Obama Administration. Last fiscal year we resettled nearly 16,000 Africans to the U.S., and this year we are looking to resettle at least 15,000. PRM is working hard with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to raise the number of referrals and to improve our own processes so we can admit the refugees they refer more efficiently. We are expanding resettlement infrastructure such as medical clinics and interview facilities throughout the continent and interviewing refugees in countries including Mauritania and Namibia where we haven’t worked in previous years. We have also begun offering resettlement to populations such as Eritrean Afaris in Ethiopia and Somalis in Eritrea, who lacked these opportunities before.

When the Government of Chad recently resumed the resettlement of Sudanese, the Department of Homeland Security immediately returned and just completed its first series of refugee interviews in Eastern Chad in four years. We hope that refugees from Darfur will begin departing from Chad and arriving in the United States later this year. PRM is also determined to see the Congolese resettlement strategy come to fruition. We and our partners are expanding our program to resettle Congolese refugees from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Southern Africa. And whereas most other resettlement countries have closed their doors to resettling additional Somalis, our commitment to admitting Somali refugees remains strong. In fact, we admitted more Somalis last year than in any year since 2006.

Of course PRM works not just to resettle those who flee, but also to respond to crises, save lives, ease suffering and support voluntary return and local integration when possible.

In a crisis, our first priority is ensuring a rapid and coordinated humanitarian response. The United States is the world’s single largest donor to humanitarian causes. In fiscal year 2013, PRM provided almost $2.4 billion to protect, shelter, and care for people forced to flee their homes. The organizations we support handle the acute and protracted phases of an emergency, provide life-saving assistance and help lay the groundwork for recovery and reconciliation when the conflict is over.

We also engage in humanitarian diplomacy, exerting the influence of the world’s most powerful nation on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people. We advocate with governments to keep their borders open to those fleeing conflict in neighboring countries. We urge other nations – behind closed doors and in public – to join us and contribute their resources to humanitarian appeals. This humanitarian diplomacy is every bit as crucial to our mission as the dollars we donate and it’s a unique part of my bureau’s mission.

As the principal humanitarian advisor within the State Department, PRM strives to make sure our foreign policy stresses respect for humanitarian principles and protection for vulnerable populations. And we work with other governments, the United Nations, U.S. government agencies, and our refugee officers at U.S. embassies to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless people and migrants on the ground. Our outreach is sometimes quiet, but it can have a huge impact. It can ensure that refugees are not forcibly returned, that undocumented migrants are protected from abuse and exploitation, and unaccompanied children are reunited with their parents.

Another priority for PRM is protecting women and children caught in crisis. Conflict leaves them more vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence, human trafficking, forced and early marriage, and other forms of gender-based violence. Too often, gender-based violence is recognized as a problem too late, after major humanitarian response efforts are underway. To close this gap, in 2013, the United States launched a new multimillion dollar initiative called ‘Safe from the Start’. Its aim is to equip the humanitarian system to prevent and respond to gender-based violence around the world in the earliest days of an emergency, which is often when such needs are most critical.

We are working to apply these priorities in the major emergencies to which we are responding today. Syria, of course, is the biggest one so I will say a word about that before turning to situations in Africa.

Syria is one of three “level three” emergencies the global community faces today. That is the UN’s highest level of humanitarian emergency. And the situation there is getting worse. The United States is the largest single donor to humanitarian relief efforts there and PRM helps to protect and feed more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees throughout the region. And we will continue to press all parties to the conflict, particularly the regime, to expand humanitarian access to reach more than 9.3 million inside Syria in desperate need of food, shelter, and health care.

The other two ongoing “level three” emergencies are the ones unfolding in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). And since we are focusing here on U.S. policy responses to crises in Africa, I will discuss these emergencies in some detail.

In CAR we are in a race against time to save lives. One million Central Africans have been displaced. Nearly two thirds are displaced within CAR while one-third have fled to neighboring countries and are now living as refugees. They have gone to Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Congo.

We are deeply troubled by the escalating violence and lawlessness, the attacks by ex-Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka militias, and the fact that communities are being targeted because of their religion. The danger is so grave that UNHCR has taken the extraordinary step of evacuating certain Muslim populations under siege, relocating some to other parts of the country and some to neighboring Chad, essentially helping them become refugees. Gunmen have attacked not only innocent civilians but also international peacekeepers and humanitarian workers. Victims include three workers for the aid organization Doctors Without Borders who were killed in Nanga Boguila this past weekend. Among those who have fled the violence in the CAR are over 100,000 nationals of the neighboring countries – or even countries as far away as Mali – who had been living and working in the CAR for many years, even generations. We commend the African Union and French forces in CAR for leading the effort to quell the violence and save lives, and we welcome the UN Security Council’s April 10 decision to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation. The United States has committed up to $100 million to support the African Union and French forces, in addition to the humanitarian aid we provide for civilians.

In late March and early April, Assistant Secretary Anne Richard visited southern Chad and Bangui where she witnessed first-hand the misery spawned by the violence. She met with both those affected and those striving to help them. She saw how host countries, UN agencies, and NGOs are providing shelter, food, and protection and what enormous challenges they face.

Following this visit, our Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power announced $22 million in additional U.S. Government funding for humanitarian assistance to help people affected by the CAR crisis, bringing the total to more than $91 million in FY 2013 and FY 2014. We anticipate adding to this in the near future to support the latest funding appeals from humanitarian agencies.

In addition, the United States is providing $7.5 million for conflict mitigation, peace messaging, and human rights programs in CAR. We have also sponsored high-level inter-religious dialogues to help establish a basis for national reconciliation in CAR. And we are urging all parties to end the violence, establish judicial mechanisms to punish human rights abusers, and work toward an inclusive political process leading to democratic elections in February 2015.

The situation in South Sudan is equally alarming. Approximately one-tenth of South Sudan’s population has been displaced by the violence that began on December 15. Close to 1 million people have been displaced internally. And nearly a quarter of them have fled to insecure and underserved areas where food and assistance could be cut off. More than 293,000 new refugees have been forced to flee to neighboring countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan. As the conflict drags on, the condition of these refugees is worsening, and more and more of them arrive suffering malnutrition. Like civilians in CAR, South Sudanese are being targeted based on their ethnicity and with shocking brutality. Just last week, for instance, anti-government forces massacred several hundred civilians in the northern city of Bentiu.

We are also disturbed by the hurdles aid groups are facing as they seek to reach people in need. Humanitarian workers—both international and South Sudanese—are working at great personal risk to save lives. They have been physically attacked and targeted for harassment. Their relief supplies have been looted or delayed in customs, and their vehicles stolen, blocked, or hijacked. In Bor, as you may know, gunmen forced their way into a United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) compound and opened fire on civilians who had taken shelter inside. Around the country there are currently 87,000 IDPS, including nearly 80,000 civilians seeking protection at eight UNMISS bases.

The Executive Order (E.O.) signed by President Obama sends a clear message to the Government of South Sudan and Riek Machar’s forces: those who threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, obstruct the peace talks and processes, undermine democratic institutions, or commit human rights abuses will be at risk of U.S. sanctions.

The only solution to this crisis is for the parties to the conflict to adhere to the cessation of hostilities agreement they signed on January 23, and cease the violence immediately. President Obama’s Envoy, Ambassador Donald Booth, is in Ethiopia now working to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table for peace talks set to resume later this month.

We are calling all parties to immediately and fully cooperate with the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, as they carry out the urgent task of protecting civilians and providing life-saving assistance. Humanitarian groups must be able to do their jobs without the threat of violence, taxation, or arbitrary impediments. The Government of South Sudan should cease all negative messaging about UNMISS and fulfill its duty to restore law and order. We also urge those countries that have committed additional forces to UNMISS to work with the United Nations to deploy to South Sudan and immediately reinforce this Mission.

The United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. We are providing more than $411 million in fiscal years 2013 and 2014, including $83 million announced just last month, to aid displaced persons both inside and outside the country. Last month, USAID, and the EU and UN humanitarian agencies jointly issued an urgent “Call for Action” on South Sudan, calling for more international support for the people of South Sudan. Neighboring countries are helping by keeping their borders open to those fleeing the violence. Ethiopia is providing land for new refugee camps. Kenya is expanding the Kakuma) refugee camp. Uganda is expanding transit centers and settlements as well.

Still, the needs are tremendous. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the crisis response plan is only thirty percent funded. With the rainy season in South Sudan already upon us, the humanitarian situation will likely grow worse in the coming months. Insecurity has prevented humanitarians from doing normal, vital dry season prepositioning. The risk of famine in South Sudan is quite real, as many South Sudanese have not been able to plant their crops and have lost their livestock as a result of the conflict.

These so-called “mega-crises” are not the only problems that demand our attention. For instance, we are worried about the treatment of African migrants and asylum seekers in Egypt—especially those who have been kidnapped, detained, and subjected to severe abuse by smuggling networks. In addition to ongoing reports of abuse in the Sinai, we are also following trends suggesting that routes are shifting westward toward Libya.

The plight of urban refugees is also worrying. This is one reason I traveled last year to Kenya and Uganda. Both countries have large populations of refugees living in urban environments. In Kenya, the government is rounding up urban Somali refugees from Nairobi and Mombasa and either moving them into camps if they are registered or deporting them to Somalia. We are concerned that refugees relocated to camps lose the right to move about freely and the ability to earn money and become self-reliant. We are also disturbed about reports that some urban refugees are being deported without adequate protection screening and that some have even been abused in the process. We are urging the Government of Kenya to accord UNHCR full access to those detainees so that UNHCR and the government can review refugee claims together. At the same time, we are funding programs to improve services for urban refugees in Nairobi, Kampala and elsewhere. Programs we are piloting in Egypt offer legal services, child protection, counseling, education, and opportunities for employment for African refugees.

We are also prioritizing the needs of especially vulnerable populations, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In Uganda, for example, the recent passage of a strict anti-homosexuality law has made LGBT refugees and those defending the human rights of LGBT individuals even more vulnerable. We will continue to fund partners that address the legal, medical, and psychosocial needs of this population and others facing similar discrimination, and we are also working with our partners in neighboring countries to ensure that Ugandans that flee from persecution find support.

My bureau can provide humanitarian assistance in Africa and around the world because of the generous support we receive from Congress, on behalf of the American people. These funds have also allowed us to bolster resettlement programs. In 2010, as the economic crisis strained local governments and charities, PRM doubled per capita funding for receiving and placing refugees. We have provided modest but steady increases since then and hope to continue doing so. But it is the work of groups like ECDC that helps to turn our nation’s promise to welcome refugees into a reality. Meeting you keeps those of us who are often caught up in the policy details motivated and focused on the human face of the important work we all share. Thank you for the part you play in letting refugees turn their stories of tragedy into ones of triumph.

Portrait of Liberia’s Pres. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Unveiled at Havard Kennedy School

Photo and Story : Front Page Africa Cambridge, Massachusetts – As part of the campaign launch for the Harvard Kennedy School, known as IDEASpHERE, a full-length portrait of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, a distinguished alumna of the School’s Edward S. Mason Fellows Program (MC/MPA 1971), was unveiled at a ceremony on Thursday.

According to a dispatch from Cambridge, the full-length portrait is an amazing likeness of the Liberian President. It shows her dressed in her favorite color, green, draped in a beautiful green and gold sash and matching skirt made from cloth woven in Liberia, and her signature head-tie, also green, with a gold-jeweled brooch. The attire is accented by her signature single row of pearls and a pin of the Liberian flag, the Lone Star.

As for the President’s expression, Artist Stephen Coit painted her with a soft smile, but with a reflective determination capturing her life of perseverance. Coit said he “sought to create a painting that would bring an ongoing presence of President Sirleaf to wherever it hung at the Kennedy School,” for the thousands of future students who would see it.

It was in September 2012 that Dean David T. Ellwood, Dean of the Kennedy School, informed President Sirleaf that HKS wished to commission her portrait to hang in its Library as an inspiration to future generations of Kennedy School students. Upon her acceptance, the School commissioned Mr.Coit, also a Harvard alumnus, to create a full-length portrait of Liberia’s and Africa’s first female President.

The unveiling took place at a private reception in honor of President Sirleaf, hosted by the Women and Public Policy Program(WAPPP), one of Harvard Kennedy School’s Research Centers. As President Sirleaf arrived at the Malkin Penthouse, in the Littauer Center Harvard Kennedy School, adoring supporters, mostly women, surrounded her to wish her well and thank her for all that she has achieved in her career and life. Everyone sought a photo with HKS’s most illustrious alumna.

“Wow! said President Sirleaf, reacting to her amazing portrait.

She went on to say: “A big thank you. Words cannot express the honor that I feel, and through me, the honor extended to women in Liberia, women in Africa, and I daresay women in the world, for the role that we all continue to play. I want to thank Jenny Mansbridge; she was a driving force behind this; Francine Lefrak; you, Dean Bohnet, who I’m told started the whole program of IDEASpHERE that we will all be participating in so many events.

“I said to Stephen Coit, ‘How did you do it?’ I have to say that he sent me a note on the experience we shared when he did the painting. Am I right it’s a painting? What he captured in the note he sent me really was a story of my life’s journey, because he talked about darkness into light, humility in the midst of turmoil, perseverance, courage. Thank you.

“I’m so deeply honored to join the other three persons which you mentioned, sterling women – I need to learn more about them so that I walk properly in their footsteps. And to all of you – the Women and Public Policy Program, the Women Leadership Group – that have really supported these events. A few of you I had the opportunity to meet before and interact with. Just being back here with you is what keeps me going; that’s the motivation and the inspiration when I can join all of you who have had such a big part to play in the success that I’ve had. And so, thank you all; it’s been a wonderful occasion. I go back home, almost walking on water. Thank you, Dean.”

Earlier, in his welcoming remarks, Dean Ellwood said the event was to honor a most remarkable graduate and its only Nobel Peace Prize winner. She was an amazing leader who took over a country with many challenges, and had done an amazing job to make things work. With women like President Sirleaf, he believed there was hope for the world, after all. The commissioning of the portrait, he said, was also to make things right by including the portraits of more women at Harvard, especially that of the Harvard Kennedy School’s most distinguished graduate.

Dr. Iris Bohnet, Academic Dean and Director of the Women and Public Policy Program, thanked the people who had made the commissioning possible: Professor Jane (Jenny) Mansbridge, Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, founding faculty Chair of the WAPPP, and the leader behind President Sirleaf’s portrait, It had been Mansbridge’s vision that made others realize that “seeing really is believing, and for our students to believe that they – the women students in particular – could also someday achieve greatness and maybe become a leader like you, Madam President. We need images of people like you.” Dean Bohnet also acknowledged the Women’s Leadership Board, which is supporting the WAPPP, and which has transformed the School, Harvard University, and was transforming the world.

Dean Bohnet pointed out that President Sirleaf would be only the fourth woman whose portrait hung in the Kennedy School, but assured that the School was acting rapidly in the right direction. Other portraits included Ida B. Wells, one of the early leaders of the civil rights movement, a Suffragette and journalist in the U.S.; Abigail Adams, the second First Lady of the U.S; and Edith Stokey, a faculty member at HKS. She was pleased that President Sirleaf’s would be joining these women.

Finally, Dean Bohnet acknowledged the Artist, Mr. Coit, as a remarkable man and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard
Business School, with a remarkable career in business, who, in 1997, decided to pursue his passion as an artist. He had done a number of wonderful portraits and paintings for Harvard University.

Together, Deans Ellwood and Bohnet then unveiled President Sirleaf’s full-length portrait, to the wows and ahs of the guests. Dean Ellwood joked that this would be the School’s biggest portrait, counting for two or three!

Following the unveiling, President Sirleaf participated in the Opening Plenary of the John F. Kennedy, Jr. IDEASpHERE Forum where, together with the former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, they discussed “Leaders on Leadership” before a capacity audience of some 650 guests and answered questions.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria

Boko Haram activity (States with terrorist activity atributed to Boko Haram) between 2010-2013

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 14, 2014

“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian Government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice. I will tell you, my friends, I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They don’t offer anything except violence. They don’t offer a health care plan, they don’t offer schools. They don’t tell you how to build a nation; they don’t talk about how they will provide jobs. They just tell people, “You have to behave the way we tell you to,” and they will punish you if you don’t.” — Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Nigeria is a key strategic partner in Africa. Nigeria has the continent’s largest population and largest economy, and it plays a vital role in efforts to resolve crises and promote stability and prosperity in West Africa and beyond. In the midst of rapid economic growth, however, Nigeria faces security challenges, notably Boko Haram (BH), a violent Islamist movement that has staged regular attacks in northern Nigeria since 2010. Given Nigeria’s importance as a regional political and economic leader, the U.S. has a vital interest in helping to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions, boost Nigeria’s prosperity and security, and ensure opportunity for all of its citizens. The U.S. and Nigeria also work closely together in multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council, where Nigeria is serving a term as a non-permanent member for 2014-2015.

As the President noted in his National Defense University speech in May 2013, countering terrorism requires a holistic approach. We continue to work with Nigeria and other international partners to help promote and support such an approach to Boko Haram. The United States has been working to counter BH for many years, and we will continue to do so. The first part of this fact sheet provides information about BH and the many atrocities it committed in Nigeria prior to its attack on a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, where it kidnapped approximately 300 girls. The latter part provides information about various U.S. Department of State initiatives and programs to assist Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts, such as the Antiterrorism Assistance Program and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

* * *

The U.S. Government designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 on November 14, 2013. (A transcript of an interview with senior officials about this designation can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/11/217532.htm.) BH commander Abubakar Shekau, Khalid al-Barnawi, and Abubakar Adam Kambar were designated on June 21, 2012, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of E.O. 13224. (A fact sheet about FTO and E.O. designations can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/01/219520.htm.) Since June 2013, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program has advertised a reward offer of up to US $7 million for information leading to the location of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

BH is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009, and conducted high-profile kidnappings of Westerners in the Far North Region of Cameroon. In 2013 alone, BH has carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and injuries. BH primarily operates in northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon’s Far North Region, and the Lake Chad Basin, and receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransom. The group espouses a violent extremist ideology and at times has received some limited assistance, including funds and training, from al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Among its most lethal attacks, BH was responsible for indiscriminate attacks in Benisheikh, Nigeria in September 2013 that killed more than 160 civilians, many of them women and children. Other major attacks that have been claimed by or attributed to BH since 2011 have included:

• An August 26, 2011, a bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja killed at least 21 people and injured over 120.
• On November 4, 2011, multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Yobe and Borno States targeted security force offices and the Military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) offices, as well as several markets and 11 churches. More than 100 people were killed, including nearly 70 bystanders at a major traffic circle in the center of Damaturu, Yobe State.
• On January 20, 2012, multiple near-simultaneous attacks in Kano State were carried out on at least 12 targets including police stations, an immigration office, and the residence of an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Over 150 persons were killed and hundreds were wounded.
• In April 2012, assailants attacked the Theatre Hall at Bayero University, Kano, with IEDs and gunshots, killing nearly 20 persons.
• On April 26, 2012, VBIEDs simultaneously exploded at the offices of This Day newspaper in Abuja and Kaduna, killing five persons and wounding many others.
• On June 17, 2012, attacks on three churches in Kaduna State killed worshippers and instigated violence throughout the State. At least 10 people were killed and an additional 78 were injured in the riots that ensued.
• On February 8, 2013 nine Nigerian women working in a polio vaccination campaign in Kano were killed by gunmen riding in three-wheeled motorcycles; several other polio workers were injured.
• On March 18, 2013, a VBIED attack on two luxury buses at a motor park in the Sabon Gari neighborhood of Kano killed more than 20 persons and wounded scores.
• On July 6, 2013, over 50 students were killed in their dormitories at Mamudo Government Secondary School in Yobe State.
• On August 11, 2013, gunmen killed approximately 44 persons praying at a mosque outside Maiduguri and another 12 civilians in a near-simultaneous attack at a nearby location in Borno State.
• On September 29, 2013, gunmen killed more than 40 students in the dormitory of an agricultural technical school in Yobe State.
• In November 2013, BH members kidnapped a French priest in Cameroon.
• On December 2, 2013, a coordinated and complex attack by violent extremists on the Maiduguri airport and air force base killed over 24 persons, wounded dozens, and destroyed a large amount of military equipment, including several military helicopters.
• On December 20, 2013, violent extremists assaulted the Nigerian army barracks in Bama, southern Borno State, in a well-coordinated attack that killed approximately 20 military personnel and numerous civilians.
• On January 14, 2014, at least at least 31 were killed and 50 injured by suicide bomber in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria.
• On February 16, 2014, BH raided Izghe village, Borno State, killing an estimated 115 people.
• On February 25, 2014, over 59 teenage boys were killed in an attack on Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, Nigeria.
• On April 14, 2014, BH attacked a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, with 16 killed and approximately 300 girls kidnapped.
• Also on April 14, 2014, a morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 on at a bus depot on the outskirts of Abuja.
• On May 5, 2014, an attack lasting 12 hours on towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria, killed an estimated 300 people.

Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria

• Counterterrorism support to Nigeria focuses on building critical counterterrorism capabilities among Nigeria’s civilian and law enforcement agencies. This supports the larger U.S. objective of encouraging Nigeria to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to counter BH that upholds and enforces the rule of law, provides civilian protection, respects human rights and international norms, and addresses the underlying grievances that BH exploits (including through development gains and through responsive governance).

• Based on our longstanding concerns about Boko Haram, we have a robust security dialogue and assistance relationship with Nigeria. As part of the Bi-National Commission Framework, we hold regular Regional Security working group meetings focused on the Boko Haram threat and ways our two governments can collaborate on a holistic approach to countering the group.

• Our security assistance is in line with our efforts to ensure Nigeria takes a comprehensive approach to countering Boko Haram. We are working to build Nigerian law enforcement capacities to investigate terrorism cases, effectively deal with explosive devices, and secure Nigeria’s borders, while underscoring that the most effective counterterrorism policies and practices are those that respect human rights and are underpinned by the rule of law. We are also focused on enabling various Nigerian security services with fusing multiple information streams to develop a better understanding of Boko Haram. Our military assistance supports the professionalization of key military units and improves their ability to plan and implement appropriate steps to counter Boko Haram and ensure civilian security.

• The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program enhances Nigerian law enforcement’s capability to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorism threats; secure Nigeria’s borders; and manage responses to terrorist incidents. ATA’s primary partners are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Customs Service, Immigration Service, and National Emergency Management Agency. ATA represents the only donor assistance to Nigerian law enforcement on identifying, diffusing, and the safe disposal of improvised explosives devices (IEDs). ATA curriculum has been integrated into NPF training curriculum, supporting its ability to respond to IED attacks in Abuja and to deploy to the northeast part of the country where Boko Haram attacks are the most frequent.

• Countering violent extremism (CVE) programs aim to limit recruits to BH by reducing sympathy and support for its operations, through three primary objectives: (1) building resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) countering BH narratives and messaging; and building the CVE capacity of government and civil society. Such efforts include promoting engagement between law enforcement and citizens, and elevating the role of women civil society leaders in CVE.

• The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications has developed a strong partnership with the Government of Nigeria, and in conjunction with other international partners, provided assistance on developing a comprehensive communications strategy.

• Nigeria is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and the United States has used the multilateral platform the Forum offers to introduce justice sector officials from Nigeria and neighboring countries to a series of judicial tools to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases in conformity with their domestic and international human rights obligations. As part of this effort, the United States and Nigeria have co-hosted a series of experts’ workshops in Abuja on these issues. In addition, Nigeria will join the United States as one of the founding members of the International Institute on Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), which will open its doors in June 2014 in Malta, and provide rule of law based training on how to counter terrorism and other transnational criminal activity within a rule of law framework. As a founding member, Nigeria will be expected to ensure its police, prosecutors, and prison officials are regular participants in IIJ trainings.

• Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a U.S. government-funded and implemented effort designed to enhance regional security sector capacity to counter violent extremism, improve country and regional border and customs systems, strengthen financial controls, and build law enforcement and security sector capacity. TSCTP provides counter-IED and civil-military operations training to the Nigerian military, and crisis management and border security training to Nigerian law enforcement agencies. Nigeria also participates in larger regional training opportunities such as combat medical, military intelligence, communications and logistics training with other TSCTP partner nations (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Tunisia).

• Nigeria has also agreed to become a pilot country to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), a GCTF-inspired initiative announced by Secretary Kerry at the September 2013 GCTF ministerial. This will enable community-based organizations in Nigeria to receive grants from the GCERF to carry out grass-roots CVE projects.

• The State Department’s Counterterrorism Finance (CTF) program provides training that aims to restrict Boko Haram’s ability to raise, move, and store money. CTF’s current focus provides Nigeria with cross border financial investigations training to work effectively with counterparts in neighboring countries on critical CTF cases.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

U.S. Issues Statement on Peace Agreement in South Sudan

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2014

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice

For five months, fighting in South Sudan has robbed that country of hope and denied its people the peace and prosperity they deserve. The agreement South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar signed today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, holds the promise of bringing the crisis to an end. We deeply appreciate the important role the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) played in facilitating the talks. We commend IGAD for its persistent pursuit of peace, and its Chairman, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, for his leadership. We urge President Kiir and Mr. Machar to move swiftly to honor the agreement in word and deed by ending the violence and negotiating in good faith to reach a political agreement that can ensure stability, prosperity and peace for all of South Sudan’s people.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sec. Kerry To Host Twitter Chat With the Young African Leaders Initiative Network

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 7, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry will host a Twitter chat at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 9, to engage with members of the Young African Leaders Initiative Network and answer questions about his recent trip to Africa and U.S. policy in the region.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is President Obama’s signature effort to invest in an emerging generation of African entrepreneurs, public leaders, activists, and innovators.

Through YALI, the United States provides training, tools, and technology to support young African leaders, connecting them to each other, the United States, and opportunities to develop themselves and their communities.

While in Africa last week, Secretary Kerry met with both YALI graduates and 2014 finalists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Luanda, Angola. In Addis Ababa, the YALI participants were invited to attend the Secretary’s speech on U.S. commitment to Africa, and in Kinshasa, the Secretary participated in a microfinance event highlighting how one dedicated alumna chose to give back to her own community after returning from her fellowship program. In Luanda, Secretary Kerry met participants in the 2014 YALI Washington Fellowship and discussed what they hope to accomplish.

This summer, 500 young African leaders will come to the United States as Washington Fellows. They will attend academic institutions at 20 U.S. universities, and gather for a summit with President Obama.

More than 60,000 young African leaders are already engaging with the U.S. Government and connecting with each other as part of the YALI Network.

Follow Secretary Kerry’s Twitter chat using the hashtag #YALICHAT on Twitter during the event or view highlights of the event on the YALI Network Facebook page. Questions can be submitted in advance via Twitter using #YALICHAT and @YALINetwork on Twitter.

To get the inside track on the foreign policy issues of the day, follow Secretary Kerry on Twitter at @JohnKerry and the State Department at @StateDept.

U.S. Issues Statement on South African General Elections

Photo/Logo courtesy of thesouthafrican.com
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 7, 2014

The United States congratulates the Republic of South Africa on its national and provincial elections today.

It is not lost on us that this is the fifth round of inclusive elections since the end of apartheid in 1994 and the first since the passing of Nelson Mandela. Madiba knew that the future demanded that people of good faith summon the courage and conviction to move beyond the past. With each democratic election in South Africa, we see the power and purpose of that vision.

The United States looks forward to working with the new Government of South Africa, as it continues to build strong, democratic institutions and a prosperous future for its citizens.