Thursday, July 28, 2016

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Travel to Morocco

File Photo
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 27, 2016

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Dr. Jonathan Pershing will travel July 27-28 to Rabat, Morocco for meetings with Moroccan officials to discuss climate priorities for the year and plans for the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22). Morocco will host COP-22 in Marrakesh, November 7-18, 2016 – the first climate conference since the successful adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Special Envoy Pershing will meet with counterparts at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment, Energy and Agriculture, as well as members of the COP-22 commission and steering committee responsible for planning and hosting COP-22. In his meetings, Dr. Pershing will discuss next steps to address global climate change, as well as shared priorities for the year, including: rapid entry-into-force of the Paris Agreement, implementation of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions, mobilizing private sector finance for low-carbon climate resilient solutions and clean energy, and climate adaptation and resilience.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on the Union of the Liberia’s National Day


Department of State
Washington, DC
July 26, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the government and people of Liberia on the 169th anniversary of your country’s independence.

The friendship between the United States and Liberia dates back to the founding of your Republic and is based on a broad array of shared interests and values.

Today, we are partners in supporting strong democratic institutions, promoting security and sustainable prosperity for our citizens, and — in the wake of the Ebola epidemic — striving to improve health care infrastructure and services to the benefit of all. The United States places a high value on our bilateral relationship and we look forward to working with you to make the most of future challenges and opportunities.

I extend my very best wishes to all Liberians as you celebrate your national day.

U.S. Science Envoy Travels to Africa


Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 25, 2016

Dr. Jane Lubchenco completed a week-long trip to South Africa, and traveled to Mauritius on July 22. She will host a roundtable discussion there, July 25-26, which will bring together representatives from African academies of science to discuss how ocean science can be integrated into policy. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the President of Mauritius, will attend the opening of the roundtable and will give keynote remarks. Next, Dr. Lubchenco will travel to the Seychelles, July 28-30, to meet with government officials to discuss ocean, fishing, and other marine conservation issues.

U.S. Science Envoys are leaders in academia, Nobel Prize winners, and distinguished authors, and serve as U.S. government advisors. These eminent U.S. scientists and engineers leverage their expertise and networks to forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation.

For more information on the Science Envoy Program, please visit: www.state.gov/e/oes/stc/stem/envoys. For other questions, follow @StateDeptOES and #USScienceEnvoy on Twitter.

Ocean Acidification Monitoring Public-Private Partnership Launched in Southern Africa


Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 25, 2016

The U.S. Department of State has partnered with the Ocean Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, and the XPRIZE Foundation to launch a public-private partnership, the “OceAn pH Research Integration and Collaboration in Africa (ApHRICA)” project, to advance ocean acidification monitoring in Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, and South Africa. ApHRICA’s regional capacity building workshop will be held July 26-30, 2016, in Mauritius and will welcome ocean scientists from African countries to learn how to operate new ocean acidification monitoring technology and will facilitate connections to global efforts such as the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON).

ApHRICA was announced at the 2015 Our Ocean Conference in Chile. The program seeks to increase worldwide coverage of the GOA-ON and train monitors and managers to better understand the impacts of ocean acidification, especially in Africa, where there is limited monitoring.

The launch of ApHRICA, through this regional workshop, and the provision of equipment and resources to support data collection and sensor maintenance, will enhance efforts in Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, and South Africa to collect ocean acidification data in the Indian Ocean, filling a data gap.

U.S. Issues Statement on The Gambia


United States Condemns Harsh Sentences and Calls for Unconditional Release of Prisoners

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department of State Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 22, 2016

The United States condemns the harsh sentences handed out to 30 people this week in The Gambia, including a U.S. citizen, for protesting peacefully. These sentences followed trials that raise legitimate questions about the degree to which they were fair and observed due process.

We are also deeply troubled by the reported torture of protesters and opposition figures and the death in custody of opposition leader Ebrima Solo Sandeng.

We call on the Government of The Gambia to immediately release all those 30 sentenced this week, as well as every protester arrested during demonstrations last spring. We call for the government to allow an independent investigation of allegations of torture and abuse.

As The Gambia prepares for national elections in December, we further call on the government to guarantee the constitutional rights of its people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Monday, July 25, 2016

U.S. Condemns Fighting in Northern Mali

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 22, 2016

The United States condemns the violence that has come as armed groups in Kidal, northern Mali, began fighting one another.

This fighting represents a clear violation of cease-fire agreements and threatens to unravel efforts to restore stability and implementation of the Accord for Peace and Reconciliation signed in June 2015.
We urge all parties in Mali to respect these cease-fire agreements, recommit themselves to resolving differences through constructive dialogue, and focus on implementing the Accord.

The United States remains committed to helping the Malian people as they work to achieve a durable and inclusive peace.

DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Hosted Its 2nd Annual Young African ConneXions Summit


Story & Picture by DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs

(Washington) – On Friday, July 15, 2016, the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (MOAA) hosted its 2nd Annual Young African ConneXions Summit titled Impact through Leadership, Civic Engagement, and Social Entrepreneurship. The summit was held at the Howard University School of Business Auditorium as part of MOAA’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebrations and its Youth Engagement program. Over 155 members of the public attended the summit which created a platform to bring together bright minds for idea-focused peer-to-peer exchange in support of Mayor Bowser’s policy priorities. The summit fostered interactions between the District’s African immigrant community and young professionals from the continent on topics such as leadership, technology, education, and the importance of civic engagement.

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph. D., Howard University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, welcomed all attendants and Commissioner Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena officially began the program. Mamadou Samba, Director of MOAA provided congratulatory remarks on the tenth year anniversary celebration of the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs and Commission on African Affairs and highlighted significant accomplishments under the Bowser administration. H.E. Omar Arouna, Ambassador of the Republic of Benin delivered the keynote address and shared personal reflections and challenges encountered on his path to success. The summit featured two panel discussions, the first one titled Cultivating Leadership, Galvanizing Volunteerism for Community Building. Panelists shared views on innovative solutions and how prospective young leaders could strengthen their leadership potential. The panelists included Delano Hunter, Executive Director of Serve DC, Pape Samb, President and CEO of Global Youth Innovation Network, Selvon M. Waldron, Executive Director of Life Pieces to Masterpieces; and Ntombenhle Mkhize, of the Howard University Mandela Washington Fellow. Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, served as moderator.

The second panel, titled Inter-continental Youth Dialogue, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, focused on creating a generation of entrepreneurs that will generate opportunities for the African community. Panelists included Rebecca Enonchong, Co-Founder of I/O Spaces, Elvis Ndansi, Wagner College Mandela Washington Fellow, Samuel Suraphel, Founder of Mansa Colabs, and Guy Djoken, Executive Director of UNESCO Center for Peace. Mubuso Zamchiya, Director of Global Partnership at the Ashoka Organization, moderated.

The summit was held in partnership with the Commission on African Affairs, Mandela Washington Fellowships, Howard University and Wagner College, UNESCO Center for Peace, Action Moves People United, and Forest Nation. The corporate sponsor for this event was South African Airways which provided a free raffle prize of a round trip ticket to South Africa. The lucky winner was District resident Terence W. Daniely.

Click here for photos of the event.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry and Sec. Kerry Address Reporters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry address reporters at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C., on July 21, 2016. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

Remarks With Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
July 21, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt. As we all know, Egypt has been undergoing extraordinary challenges in these last years with the popular uprising that took place a number of years ago in Tahrir Square now famous – Egypt opted for change. The problem is there are terrorists who do not want to allow that change to take place, people who are constantly disruptive within Egypt. And so Egypt is facing major challenges – economic challenges, challenges of counterterrorism, challenges in the Sinai, challenges of the region. And Egypt is an extremely important partner in so many different ways because of the critical role it has always played in the Middle East, the role it has played as a leader in the Arab world. It is home to one-quarter of all of the Arab population. And Egypt has been important working with the United States not only in counterterrorism, but on the peace process with Israel, as well as on the regional challenges.

So we’re delighted to have Egypt’s full participation in the counter-Daesh, counter-ISIL coalition, and also on a number of other initiatives. And we look forward to working very closely to try to address the concerns that Egypt knows it faces with respect to the political space and the ability to be able to embrace people’s hopes and aspirations for the completion of their move towards the full democratic process, which they are committed to.

So it’s difficult to get there and hard to move, and we have talked very openly and very directly about the challenges that exist with respect to that political space. We also need to talk about the economic transformation that needs to take place, because Egypt needs to get its economy moving and it has big reforms and difficult reforms that they are trying to tackle in order to improve the lives of their people and get their economy moving again, attract investment, and put reforms in place at the same time.

So this is a country that knows it has challenges, but it’s working hard at trying to deal with them, and I look forward to discussing this with Minister Shoukry in the course of the morning.
Sameh.

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Thank you. Thank you, John. I’m delighted to be here in Washington once again to see Secretary Kerry and to participate in the counter-ISIL coalition. Egypt’s role in that coalition has been forthcoming and has been supportive and we recognize the challenge that ISIL and other terrorist organizations pose not only to the region but to the world, and we value the coalition and we value the cooperation that exists between Egypt and the United States. Egypt and the United States for over four decades have been relying on the strategic relationship that exists between them, and we have a parallelity of interests, whether on the Middle East or on global issues, and we continue to value highly the Egyptian-U.S. relationship and the benefits that both Egypt and the United States have extracted from that relationship.

We are in a state of transition in – and confident that the challenges that we meet both internally and in the region will be overcome by the dedication of this government to the principles that were enshrined in both the revolution of the 25th of January and the corrective revolution of the 30th of June. The very wide popular support that this government and the president has in the Egyptian people and their solidarity, I think, is the safeguard of our continuing to promote the constitutional principles of democratization, human rights, and freedoms that are the aspirations of the Egyptian people. And we will continue to work with the United States in achieving those goals and in further strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

I think our dialogue has been deep and extensive, and we continue to reach commonality of opinions on many of the issues and many of the common challenges that face us. So I’m grateful to have this opportunity to both participate in the coalition and also have this opportunity with the Secretary to discuss a very wide range of bilateral issues.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Sameh. Sir. Thank you very much.

Deputy Secretary Blinken’s Travel to the Maghreb

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 18, 2016

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, July 20-26, where he will meet with both government officials and civil society.

July 20-21, Deputy Secretary Blinken will be in Morocco to discuss the country’s environmental leadership role with government officials as Morocco prepares to host the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 22). He will also meet with university students, entrepreneurs, and NGOs active in the fight against violent extremism.

July 22-23, Deputy Secretary Blinken will travel to Tunisia to affirm with government officials the growing strategic partnership between our countries. He will also meet with civil society leaders and Tunisian youth to discuss their important role in ensuring citizen engagement in political processes.

July 24-26, Deputy Secretary Blinken will be in Algeria to meet with a range of government officials to review our countries’ strong cooperation, particularly on counterterrorism, and discuss avenues to enhance bilateral trade and investment. He will also visit the new American School in Algiers and meet with local business leaders and entrepreneurs interested in youth employment opportunities.

In all of his discussions, the Deputy Secretary seeks to strengthen our ties with the people of this important region through our trade relationship, cultural exchange, and government-to-government-relations.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

U.S. To Host 2016 U.S. Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 18, 2016

The United States will host the fifteenth annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, commonly known as the AGOA Forum, on September 26, 2016, at the U.S. Department of State, in Washington, D.C. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is the U.S. government’s signature trade initiative with sub-Saharan Africa. The AGOA legislation mandates the annual AGOA Forum to foster close economic ties between the United States and its partners in sub-Saharan Africa. This year’s theme is “Maximizing AGOA Now while Preparing for the Future Beyond AGOA.”

The 2016 AGOA Forum will bring together African and American government officials, civil society, and private sector representatives to discuss current trade and investment relations and possibilities for future engagement. The AGOA Forum is timed to follow the President’s second U.S.-Africa Business Forum (USABF), which will take place in New York City on September 21.

As in past practice, the AGOA Forum will include a number of events on the margins of the ministerial. This year’s “side events,” incorporating private sector, civil society, and African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) stakeholders, will take place on September 22–23, 2016, at venues to be determined. Please contact the AGOA Civil Society Network for more information. This year, the U.S. Department of Labor will host a Ministerial Roundtable on the margins of the AGOA Forum in Washington on September 22–23, 2016. This Ministerial Roundtable will, for the first time, bring together a select group of trade and labor ministers from sub-Saharan Africa to support policy coordination.

Once finalized, the AGOA Forum program will be available at agoa.info/forum.

Dr. Jill Biden Travels to Malawi

Dr. Jill Biden interacts with students at Nsama Primary School in Zomba District, Malawi, July 19, 2016. (VOA/L. Masina)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2016

Dr. Jill Biden Travels to Blantyre and Lilongwe, Malawi to Highlight Girls’ Education, Women’s Empowerment, and Food Security

Monday, July 18 – Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in Blantyre, Malawi as part of her three-country visit to Africa to engage government and civil society partners on issues related to economic empowerment and educational opportunities for women and girls, and food security.

On Monday evening, Dr. Biden will host a reception for humanitarian aid workers, civil society representatives, and staff from the American embassy. This event is pooled press.

On Tuesday, Dr. Biden will travel to Manchinjiri to visit a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace program being implemented by Catholic Relief Services, where she will meet with local families, community leaders, government officials and representatives from Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children to learn more about how the Food for Peace program is helping to address the challenges posed by the severe drought in Malawi caused by El Nino. The Food for Peace program provides critical food assistance to members of the community in exchange for their work on community watershed management projects that help build resilience to the negative effects of the ongoing drought. This event is open press.

Afterwards, Dr. Biden will travel to Msamba Primary School in Zomba, Malawi, to visit the school which is assisted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern/Dole Food for Education program implemented by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). She will be joined by the WFP Executive Director, Ambassador Etharin Cousin and meet with local students, teachers, and community leaders. The school is also a USAID-supported Early Grade Reading (EGRA) pilot school. Dr. Biden will visit one of the classrooms to learn more about an early grade reading lesson and to see the effect of school feeding and education quality programs on student learning. This event is open press.

In the afternoon, Dr. Biden will visit Mtubwi Primary School in the rural Machinga district to see USAID’s Girls’ Empowerment Through Education and Health Activity (ASPIRE). Dr. Biden will have an opportunity to hear from students, mothers’ groups who serve as mentors to girls, and teachers about the integrated support, teacher training, and community after-school programs working to bring girls who have dropped out of school back to the classrooms, while making schools safe places for girls to learn and succeed. This event is open press.

On Wednesday morning, Dr. Biden will travel to Lilongwe, Malawi.

Upon arrival, Dr. Biden will visit the Chigonthi Farmers’ Cooperative in Mbangombe, where a USAID Food for Peace Program, administered by WFP, buys maize from local farmers. Dr. Biden will meet with leaders of the farmer’s cooperative and learn more about how local farmers produce and sell their maize to WFP, both as a means of economic empowerment and to provide food for distribution in drought-stricken areas of the country. This event is pooled press.

Dr. Biden will then visit State House in Lilongwe to meet with Malawi’s First Lady, Madame Gertrude Mutharika. The two will discuss their countries’ shared commitment to empowering women and girls, and fighting food insecurity. This event is pooled press.

Afterwards, Dr. Biden will depart Lilongwe, Malawi en route to Niamey, Niger.

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The Gambia’s Ambassador, Sheikh Omar Faye, on the Presidency of Yahya Jammeh


Embassy of The Gambia
Washington, DC
Wednesday July 20, 2016
 
Interview and Story by Frederick Nnoma-Addison


As the people of The Gambia prepare to observe 22 years under President Yahya Jammeh on Friday July 22, 2016, Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye has called on Gambian nationals both at home and in the Diaspora to reflect over the gains of the past 22 years, open a new dialogue on national development and existing differences, and write a new narrative for the nation they are all proud of. Ambassador Faye made this call in an interview he granted at his new embassy chancery on 16th street in Northwest Washington, DC, and stressed the need for progressive dialogue instead of negativity and divisiveness.

Speaking about his first two years in Washington, he said:
 
“Lots of positive things have happened, great things! Of course a few hitches here and there. In 2014 my staff and I hosted President Jammeh when he was in Washington for the US-Africa Leadership Summit. I have met with State Department officials on several occasions to work on common interests, attended functions at The White House, and reached out to institutions to let them know that The Gambia is the place to go to. I am also actively engaging the Gambian community across the United States. I have traveled to Atlanta, New York, Michigan, and lots of places just to reach out to our community. They can call the Ambassador, anytime because I know that is what my community needs.”


About President Yahya Jammeh


President Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup d’√©tat on July 22, 1994 and has remained in office since then. Presidential elections have been held every 5 years since 1996, and the next one is scheduled for December 1 of this year. While the Jammeh Administration prepares to celebrate the gains of the past 22 years, his critics have also renewed their debate on term limits, and Ambassador Faye was not unaware of that debate, and did not hesitate to comment on that, stating that it would be shortsightedness for anyone to fail to recognize the successes of the Jammeh Administration.

“The issue of term limits in The Gambia must be determined by the people of The Gambia, and not by other nations. It simply depends on what your philosophy is on term limits. Like in Rwanda, what is going on…We can dialogue on this… A lot of Gambians support President Jammeh by the way, because there have been big leaps, big improvements, what I will call colossal gains under him. Even people with different political affiliations agree with him on many issues. Infrastructure, education, and health services have improved tremendously and The President’s Vision 2016 for agriculture – Grow What You Eat and Eat What You Grow – is on track. We never had the privilege of having a university. It was when President Jammeh came that The Gambia got its first university. We used to have one major hospital called Royal Victoria Hospital and now that has changed. We have several hospitals in the Gambia. There is room for improvement in the area of press freedom, but there used to be only one private radio station before President Jammeh came into power, apart from the national station. Now we have over 20 FM stations.”


Ambassador Faye referred to Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s bid to seek a third term in 2017. President Kagame has been president since 2000. He was originally limited to two terms, but Rwanda has approved changes to the constitution that will effectively allow him to stay in power until 2034, sparking a new international debate about the merits and demerits of term limits.

Commenting on President Jammeh’s vision for The Gambia, Ambassador Faye said, “The President wants The Gambia to be a Silicon Valley. He actually has a vision 2020 where The Gambia will be up there, where The Gambia will be the envy not only of Africa but also of the whole world.”

According to the Ambassador, the President, who is a visionary, believes this is achievable due to the size of the country and the great human resource in the country, especially the youth. He challenged the youth to take advantage of the conducive environment created by the Administration and seize the opportunities available.

The Gambia and Democracy


Contrary to what many people believe about President Jammeh, The Gambia, and multiparty democracy, Ambassador Faye explained that there are currently several political parties preparing to participate in the upcoming elections in December. He named the United Democratic Party (UDP), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the National Convention Party (NCP), and the National Reconciliation Party (NRP), among others, and said that the Gambian people are free to elect whomever they want as their next President. Ambassador Faye further pointed out that The Gambia, for the first time in its history, has an independent electoral commission Independent Electoral Commission established by President Jammeh, and contrasted it with the model in the First Republic where the Ministry of Local Government was responsible for elections. Ambassador Faye described President Jammeh as a “uniting force in The Gambia” and complimented the President for having the vision to invite his predecessor, President Dawda Jawara to return to The Gambia from the United Kingdom, where he was staying after he was removed from office. According to Ambassador Faye, Jawara now plays the role of an elder statesman in The Gambia, and is usually seen at national events sitting next to President Jammeh.

About The Gambia


The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, and has a narrow Atlantic coastline. She gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. The country is well known for its diverse ecosystems around the central Gambia River. Abundant wildlife in its Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve includes monkeys, hippos, and rare birds. Small fishing villages, nature reserves, and historic slaving stations are all within easy reach of the Atlantic resorts.

The capital Banjul, and nearby Serekunda offer access to beaches running south from Bakau to Kololi, making the country an important tourist destination for Americans and westerners. Tourism and agriculture are the leading industries in The Gambia and offer foreign investors several opportunities. Remittances from Gambians living abroad also play an important role in economic development.

Last December, President Yahya Jammeh declared his country an Islamic Republic, making it Africa’s second, after Mauritania. President Jammeh reportedly justified his announcement by saying “he was breaking from The Gambia’s colonial past”.

According to Ambassador Faye about 90% of The Gambian population is Muslim but the country has a track record of peaceful between Muslims, Christians, and people of other faiths. He condemned Muslim extremism and said he believes that the new Islamic Republic of The Gambia will show the world a different and positive brand of Islam.


Gambia-U.S. Relations


A number of U.S. citizens have set up small businesses in The Gambia and several U.S. companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram, UPS, Motorola, and Coca Cola are represented there, but Ambassador Faye made a call to more U.S. companies to explore business opportunities through the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency GIEPA

The U.S. Government conducts some amount of business with The Gambia but Ambassador Faye believes there are more opportunities for bilateral trade between the two countries. In 2015, The Gambia’s eligibility for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act was suspended alongside Swaziland and South Sudan, but Ambassador Faye hopes to work with his government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reinstate that.

Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye concluded his interview by reiterating his call for a culture of dialogue, and the need to recognize and build upon the gains of President Jammeh’s Administration while looking forward.

On behalf of President Yahya Jammeh, the Ambassador thanked the U.S. Government for her partnership, and for facilitating the process of acquiring a new property (Embassy Chancery at 5630 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20011). He wished all Gambian nationals both at home and in the Diaspora a happy July 22nd and also thanked President Jammeh for giving him the honor of representing The Gambia in the United States.

About Ambassador Faye


Before being posted to Washington first as Charg√© d’Affaires in March 2014, and being appointed Ambassador in August 2015, Sheikh Omar Faye served his government as Minister of Youth, Sports, and Religious Affairs, and later on as Deputy Chief of Mission in Mauritania for 7 years. Prior to entering public service as a civilian, Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye served in The Gambian Military for 14 years, and retired in 1995 with the rank of Major. His last overseas training was at The Command and General Staff College, Forth Leavenworth, Kansas, United States.
 
Story Editor Beryl Nnoma-Addison

United States Reassures Support to South Sudan

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department of State Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 17, 2016

The United States wants to reassure the people and the government of South Sudan that we are not planning, nor will plan, to target any government or military leaders; nor will we import special military equipment with the goal of destabilizing South Sudan. Any suggestion that the United States has done so or will do so is false, baseless, and not in the interest of peace in South Sudan. We want to make clear to the people and the government of South Sudan that the United States has no plan for offensive action in their country.

Our Embassy in Juba remains open so that we can continue to offer assistance to U.S. citizens. We also remain committed to helping the people of South Sudan by pressing both sides to bring about a peaceful resolution to this crisis and by maintaining our humanitarian assistance program.

In order to keep the Embassy open, on July 12 a small contingent of U.S. military personnel deployed to Juba to assist the Embassy in temporarily bolstering its security and assisting with the departure of non-emergency personnel. The additional U.S. troops in Juba and those dispatched to neighboring countries are there only to protect the Embassy and American citizens who are leaving South Sudan because of the conflict. Citizens of Juba can expect to see a rotation in military personnel during the week of July 18. This rotation of troops is to replace not reinforce the number of military personnel.

All of the additional troops will return home when the need for additional security no longer exists.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of South Sudan and your families during this difficult time. We mourn with you the tragic loss of life that has taken place since this crisis began. We welcome the July 11 ceasefire in Juba put in place by the SPLA/M-In Government and the SPLM-In Opposition and urge both sides to remain committed to the ceasefire and to protecting and ensuring the welfare of civilians in Juba and elsewhere throughout the country.

Dr. Jill Biden’s Remarks at Girls Can Code Graduation Ceremony

Photo: Twitter – @DrBiden

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2016

Remarks of Dr. Jill Biden at a Girls Can Code Graduation Ceremony as Prepared for Delivery

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Hi, everyone! Thank you, Lidia, for that great introduction! It’s truly a pleasure to be here in Ethiopia this afternoon and to meet all of you.

I know it’s graduation day, so let me start by saying congratulations! And I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank your families who have supported you along the way. Let’s give them a round of applause.

I’d also to recognize some pretty amazing women and men traveling with me across Africa this week to help highlight the importance of economic empowerment and educational opportunities for women and girls.

I’m so pleased to be joined by Cathy Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Phil Karsting, from the Department of Agriculture; Shannon Smith, from the State Department; Susan Markham, from USAID; my Chief of Staff, Sheila Nix; Eric Doucette; Special Advisor to my husband Joe, the Vice President; and two of my sisters, Bonnie Jacobs and Kim Snow.

This is my first trip to Ethiopia but I’ve heard so much about your country from my own students — many of whom are from Ethiopia. They’ve shared with me their hopes and dreams through their journals and writing assignments. I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years. I love helping students navigate their future, and see it grow bright before their eyes.

That’s exactly what’s happening to all of you. I’m so excited to see the projects that you have been working on. From what I’ve heard, you’ve worked so hard on them — coming together with your mentors and fellow students to make a difference not only in your own lives but in lives of so many in your community.

Because of the education you are getting, you are setting out on a lifelong path where most of all, you will have the confidence and tools you need to succeed. And, that’s one of the reasons why I’m traveling across Africa this week, to Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger.

During my trip, I’ll emphasize my country’s commitment to making sure girls and young women — like you — all around the world have the opportunities they deserve — to go to school, get the education they need and become whoever they aspire to be. Because when women and girls are included, they expand our economies, enrich our communities, and our countries are better off for it. It’s really that simple.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to help launch TeachHer — a partnership led by UNESCO and the State Department — to close the gender gap for girls in science and technology in schools and in careers. These programs will provide girls with valuable job skills and access to inspiring women leaders as mentors. Ethiopia — which will host one of the first TeachHer trainings later this year — is leading the way in the region to close the education gender gap. I’m excited to see the results of this program.

Fifteen years ago, boys were 20 percent more likely than girls to go to school. Today, this gender gap in Ethiopia has been cut in half. That’s an incredible accomplishment — and it’s because of you.

Despite the progress being made, there’s more work to be done. We know girls and boys are equally interested in STEM education and careers. But, as we’ve seen all around the world, gaps that start in secondary school widen at the college level. Currently, fewer than 20 percent of university STEM graduates in Ethiopia are female. None of our countries are there yet. We must change this. We have to convince more girls and their families that these careers are not just for boys.

That’s why I’m proud to be here with you all today. Programs like Girls Can Code are helping high school girls around the world learn computer and IT skills. It’s designed to empower and inspire young girls — not only to join STEM fields at the university level, but to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields and become future leaders in technology.

I am happy to announce that because of the success of this pilot program here in Addis — because of your success — the U.S. Embassy will be expanding Girls Can Code to four new cities. This means an additional 200 female students will soon have access to the same classes and lessons that you have had so that they can reach their full potential.

Through partnerships like these with Ethiopia and other African governments, we hope to improve the lives of women and girls through educational opportunities. And we’re going to keep pushing until all children —girls and boys — have the same pathways to success and the same chance to go as far as their dreams will take them.

It’s clear to me that you understand the importance of your education. And you should be proud of the paths you are setting for yourselves. I urge you to be confident, to always believe in yourself and to never forget that education is the key to success. In the words of Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, “If they are educated, they will educate their communities. If they are healthy, they will ensure others grow up healthy. If they are empowered, they will change the world.”

Each of you can and will change the world. But it’s up to you to seize the opportunity — to rise to the occasion. To take risks. You’re women of action. And I know there’s nothing you cannot do if you have confidence in yourself and don’t let anything stand in the way of your goals.

You are already making a difference in your own life and in the lives of your family members. Continue to challenge yourselves to make a difference in your school, your communities, and your country. You’re trailblazers. You’re leading the way for the generations of students who come after you. As you have found mentors here, be a mentor for others.

Once again, congratulations. You all are my inspiration, and I’m excited to see what you do in the future. Thank you so much for inviting me to your graduation ceremony.

###

U.S. Expresses Concern Over Escalating Press Intimidation in Lesotho

Press Statement
Elizabeth Trudeau
Director, Office of Press Relations
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 15, 2016

The United States is deeply concerned about increasing pressure on the media in Lesotho, particularly noting the July 9 shooting of Lesotho Times/Sunday Express Editor Lloyd Mutungamiri. Journalists in Lesotho have expressed concern for their safety in the current climate of harassment and intimidation.

We welcome the statement by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology condemning the shooting and encourage the government to investigate it fully and hold those responsible to account. Freedom of expression is a constitutional right in Lesotho and journalists must be able to do their critically important jobs without fear of intimidation, harassment, and violence.

Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield to Travel to Rwanda and Kenya

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 14, 2016

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, and U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth will be in Kigali, Rwanda, July 15-19, to meet with Intergovernmental Authority on Development member state officials on the recent crisis in South Sudan.

The Assistant Secretary will depart on July 19 for Nairobi, Kenya, where she will meet with Kenyan officials, non-governmental organizations, and our embassy personnel.

Be sure to follow the Assistant Secretary on Twitter @StateAfrica for more updates throughout her trip.

TechGirls From North Africa Invest in STEM Futures

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 11, 2016

Teenage girls from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, and Tunisia will participate in the U.S. Department of State’s TechGirls exchange program from July 12-August 3. During their three weeks in the United States, participants will strengthen and develop technical skills, form invaluable networks, and establish relationships with mentors that will influence their future tech careers. The TechGirls initiative empowers girls around the world to challenge perceptions of women by becoming leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The 27 TechGirls will attend leadership and project management workshops and clinics in Washington, DC and at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. The teens will also participate in iD TechCamp, an interactive technology and computer camp at American University, and complete community service projects. Top leaders in the tech industry from the United States and the Middle East and North Africa will mentor the girls throughout the program.

The State Department and program partner Legacy International have teamed up with both public and private sector partners for this year’s TechGirls program, including: AT&T, Girls Who Code, 18F, Facebook, TechChange, Islamic Relief, VOX Media, the Federal Communications Commission, Nokia, Byte Back, NES Associates, and iStrategyLabs.

TechGirls exchange alumnae, now totaling more than 100, have utilized the program’s lessons to train more than 2,300 peers in their home countries. The achievements of these alumnae and the talent of the incoming class contribute to the U.S. global commitment to advance the rights of women and girls around the world, as well as STEM education.

Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #TechGirls.

U.S. Issues Statement on Fighting in Juba, South Sudan


South Sudan: Outbreak of Fighting in Juba

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 9, 2016

The United States expresses grave concern with the outbreak of fighting in Juba on July 7 and 8. We urge all parties in the Transitional Government of National Unity to take immediate steps to reduce tensions. We call on the leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movements in government and in opposition to immediately direct their forces to disengage and cease fighting. We welcome the joint public message by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President Riek Machar Teny, and Vice President James Wani Igga calling for calm.

We have pressed the leaders of the Transitional Government at the highest level to accelerate implementation of the peace agreement. Sustained cooperation, engagement, and reform to confront the country’s grave challenges are essential to avoid a return to widespread conflict. We have urged South Sudan’s leaders to operationalize the security arrangements in the agreement, particularly by establishing Joint Integrated Police units to patrol Juba, empowering the Joint Operations Center to ensure communication and coordination between forces in Juba, and directing the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission to operate continuously.

We hope that today, the fifth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, can serve as a reminder of the promise of the new nation and foster a spirit of unity and peace for the coming year.


South Sudan: United States Demands an Immediate End to Fighting in South Sudan

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 10, 2016

In response to ongoing violence in South Sudan, the Department of State ordered today the departure of non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Juba. U.S. citizens in South Sudan are advised to take precautions to enhance their personal security and should check U.S. Embassy Juba’s website for the latest consular information, including security messages and the latest Travel Warning. The Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Juba is extremely limited.

The United States strongly condemns the latest outbreak of fighting in Juba today between forces aligned with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and those aligned with First Vice President Riek Machar Teny, including reports we have that civilian sites may have been attacked. We again call on both leaders and their political allies and commanders to immediately restrain their forces from further fighting, return them to barracks, and prevent additional violence and bloodshed. The United States is determined to ensure appropriate measures are taken to hold accountable those responsible for continuing fighting and violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and targeting of civilians.

We are in active communication with African Union and regional leaders at the most senior levels; all are working jointly to press the South Sudanese leaders and their commanders to end the fighting. We have asked for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to address the situation.

U.S. Issues Statement on the Democratic Republic of Congo


Support for Facilitation of National Dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 8, 2016

The United States welcomes the recent Inaugural Meeting of the Support Group for the Facilitation of the National Dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While not a member of this Group, the United States endorses the conclusions of the meeting, in which participants reaffirmed the crucial importance of holding a successful national dialogue with all Congolese stakeholders; called on stakeholders to create a conducive environment for the dialogue; offered support to the Facilitator and the dialogue process; welcomed ongoing efforts to urgently revise the voter registration list; and appealed for partner support for voter registration and to address Congo’s economic challenges.

The United States urges Congolese political leaders to seize the opportunity afforded by this international Support Group; to ensure protection of political space and democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution; and to work constructively with the Facilitator appointed by the African Union to proceed quickly to an inclusive National Dialogue to find a consensus path forward on DRC’s electoral timeline and its first democratic transfer of power.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on the Union of the Sao Tome and Principe’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 12, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe on the 41st anniversary of your independence on July 12.

The United States is proud of the strong and vital partnership that our countries have forged. We value your contributions to peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea, and support your efforts to promote stable economic growth, democracy and good governance, and sustainable development of energy resources.

I send best wishes to the people of Sao Tome and Principe for a joyous national day.

PEPFAR Welcomes the Return of the International HIV/AIDS Conference to Africa


Department of State
Washington, DC

International Health Issues: PEPFAR Welcomes the Return of the International HIV/AIDS Conference to Africa

07/18/2016 07:30 AM EDT

PEPFAR Invests $85 Million to Drive Innovation for Adolescent Girls and Young Women

This week, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) joins thousands of partners for the 21st International HIV/AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa. The conference returns to Africa for the first time since 2000, coinciding with the thirty-fifth anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, a moment that would change the lives of millions of people around the globe.

“The U.S. government’s commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic cannot be overstated,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “We are investing with our voices, our capacity, and our dollars to help achieve an AIDS-free generation in which no one is left behind, in the U.S. and around the world. We owe it to the millions of people who lost their lives to AIDS, and the millions more who we can still reach to finish the journey we started 35 years ago.”

Demonstrating the U.S. government’s leadership toward reaching this goal, today, PEPFAR, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson and ViiV Healthcare, announced investing a combined $85 million investment to support 56 DREAMS Innovation Challenge winners* in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Of this investment, $40 million is focused on keeping girls in secondary school, which dramatically reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection, and nearly half of these education-focused resources are directed to Malawi.

Throughout the course of AIDS 2016 and beyond, PEPFAR will continue to translate words and policy into concrete actions, including:

Investing in adolescent girls and young women

Standing with and for key populations

Delivering on our commitment to children

• Strengthening civil society and community leadership and capacity

Meeting the President’s bold PEPFAR HIV prevention and treatment targets

As a global community, we have made great progress, but there is much work to be done to end AIDS by 2030 (#EndAIDS2030). This week, more than 20,000 adults and 2,100 children died from AIDS-related causes. More than 37,000 adults were infected with HIV, including 7,500 young women.

Nelson Mandela’s words from the 2000 International AIDS Conference in Durban still ring true, “In the face of the grave threat posed by HIV/AIDS, we have to rise above our differences and combine our efforts to save our people. History will judge us harshly if we fail to do so now, and right now.”

The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health issue and was first convened in 1985 as a forum to bring together policy makers, community leaders, scientists, and health experts. This year’s theme, “Access Equity Rights Now” serves as a call for action and cooperation in reaching people who lack access to the life-saving treatment, prevention, and support services they deserve.

* Currently, the organizations selected are considered provisional winners until further notice.

# # #
About PEPFAR
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. government initiative to save the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally, and PEPFAR investments also help alleviate suffering from other diseases across the global health spectrum. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information about PEPFAR, visit www.pepfar.gov, www.instagram.com/pepfar, www.twitter.com/pepfar, or ‎www.facebook.com/pepfar.

PEPFAR and DREAMS Partners Announce Winners of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge

File Photo

Department of State
Washington, DC

International Health Issues: PEPFAR and DREAMS Partners Announce Winners of the $85 Million DREAMS Innovation Challenge

07/18/2016 07:30 AM EDT

$40 Million Targeted on Keeping Girls in Secondary School

Durban, South Africa – Today, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson; and ViiV Healthcare announced a combined $85 million investment to support 56 DREAMS Innovation Challenge winners* in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Of this investment, $40 million is focused on keeping girls in secondary school, which dramatically reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection, and nearly half of these education-focused resources are directed to Malawi.

A recent case study in Botswana compared the benefits of one additional year of education for young women. For girls with ten years of education instead of nine, the risk for HIV infection was cut nearly in half. This is a potential game changer, particularly as girls and young women account for 75 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.

The winners selected will implement innovative solutions in DREAMS districts, across all DREAMS countries and Challenge focus areas. The top three implementation countries – South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda – account for 64 percent of the winners. Of the winners, 18 percent will provide a bridge to employment for adolescent girls and young women; 23 percent will strengthen capacity of local organizations to deliver services; and 9 percent will apply data to increase the impact of HIV/AIDS interventions.

The Challenge generated ideas from many new and local community-based partners. As a result, 48 percent of the winners have never previously received PEFAR funding, and 64 percent of winners are small, local community-based organizations.

“With today’s investment, thousands more adolescent girls and young women will have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “Adolescent girls and young women deserve nothing less, and we are committed to walk with them at every step along the road to an AIDS-free generation.”

“Young women and adolescent girls represent the largest population of those affected by new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We need the best ideas and innovation from all around the world to solve HIV’s spread, and we are pleased that these new DREAMS award programs will help empower women and girls and reduce the burden of HIV.”

“When you know that close to 60 percent of new HIV infections, globally, occur in adolescent girls, it is an obvious decision for us to invest in supporting education and empowerment for girls,” said Dr. Dominique Limet, Chief Executive Officer at ViiV Healthcare. “As with any of our initiatives, it is crucial to work with partners to develop systemic solutions. We are proud to be involved with the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, to support this new important work delivered through community-based projects.”

The $385 million DREAMS public-private partnership, led by PEPFAR and with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare, is supporting adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe.

The DREAMS Innovation Challenge will accelerate progress toward the DREAMS target of achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017.

The DREAMS Innovation Challenge winners* include the following:

1. Afya Mzuri
2. American University
3. Amref Health
4. Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team
5. Badilika Foundation
6. Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme
7. Brick and Brick Uganda
8. Camfed Malawi
9. Cecily Eastwood Zambian AIDS Orphans Appeal
10. CMMB
11. College of William and Mary
12. Community Media Trust Kenya
13. Community Media Trust South Africa
14. Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust
15. Family Health International
16. Femina HIP Ltd.
17. Future of the African Daughter Project
18. Girl MOVE Foundation
19. Greenfield Management Solutions
20. HIVSA
21. Hope for Victoria Children
22. HOPE Worldwide Zambia
23. ICS Africa
24. IdeiaLab
25. International Development Law Organization
26. Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV/AIDS
27. Latkings Outreach Program
28. Lubuto Library Project, Inc.
29. University of the Witwatersrand
30. Mercy Corps
31. Mirembe Project
32. Nyanza Initiative for Girls’ Education and Empowerment
33. Nzeve
34. Ogra Foundation
35. Peer ProjectSupport
36. Population Council, Inc.
37. Premise Data Corporation
38. Rede Contra Abuso de Menores
39. Save the Children Federation, Inc.
40. Sesotho Media & Development
41. SisterLove, Inc.
42. Stitchng AIDS Fonds- STOP AIDS NOW!
43. Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team
44. TackleAfrica
45. The African Centre for Women, Information & Communications Technology
46. Touch Roots Africa
47. Trocaire
48. University of Washington
49. Ushahidi Inc.
50. VillageReach
51. VOTO Mobile
52. Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre
53. Wizarts Foundation
54. World Education, Inc./ Bantwana Initiative
55. World Vision, Inc.
56. Youth Advocates

* Currently, the organizations selected are considered provisional winners until further notice.

# # #
About PEPFAR
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. government initiative to save the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally, and PEPFAR investments also help alleviate suffering from other diseases across the global health spectrum. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information about PEPFAR, visit www.pepfar.gov, www.instagram.com/pepfar, www.twitter.com/pepfar, or ‎www.facebook.com/pepfar.

North African Officials in U.S to Explore Strategies to Preserve Cultural Heritage

Photo: Multicultural Kid Blogs

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 15, 2016

Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State is hosting fifteen officials from the Middle East and North Africa region as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to explore strategies that prevent the destruction, looting, and trafficking of cultural heritage. With the ongoing threat to archaeological heritage around the world, the program provides opportunities for the creation of partnerships and networks with U.S. museums, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, U.S. law enforcement agencies, and other entities that protect and preserve cultural property. The program runs from July 9-30, 2016.

These exchange program participants will begin their visit in Washington, D.C., and then continue on to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; St. Louis, Missouri; and New York, New York. In these locales, the participants will deepen their understanding of U.S. laws and legal mechanisms to prevent smuggling of artifacts into the United States and examine U.S. theory, practice, and application of new technologies in the area of cultural heritage protection. Meetings and site visits will also highlight advocacy methods used by public and private entities to raise awareness of conflict antiquities domestically and overseas.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Two Africans Among Four International Scientists to Win 30th Annual World Food Prize

Maria Andrade and Robert Mwanga

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
June 28, 2016

Four distinguished international scientists – Maria Andrade, senior sweet potato breeder in Cape Verde; Howarth Bouis, founder and director of HarvestPlus from Washington, D.C.; Jan Low, sweet potato science leader from Denver, Colorado; and Robert Mwanga, sweet potato breeder in Uganda – were named winners of the 2016 World Food Prize today at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State.

United States Agency for International Development Administrator Gayle E. Smith delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, which honored the winners for collaborating to successfully implement a plant breeding approach to increase vitamins and minerals in staple crops, especially the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Their integrated application of biofortification, extension training, nutrition education, and marketing reduced malnutrition and improved the health of 10 million rural poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Kurt Tong hosted the ceremony and Special Representative for Global Food Security Nancy Stetson delivered greetings from U.S. Secretary of State Kerry. World Food Prize Foundation President and former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn announced the names of the winners.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the $250,000 World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. This is the 13th year the State Department has hosted the prize’s laureate announcement.

The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman E. Borlaug with the aim of focusing the world’s attention on the ongoing hunger crisis and on those whose work has significantly helped efforts to end it. Each year, more than 4,000 institutions and organizations around the world are invited to nominate candidates for the prize. The World Food Prize is guided by a distinguished Council of Advisors that includes former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. More information, including biographies of the laureates, is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.

The award will be formally presented during the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony on October 13 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.



World Food Prize and 2016 World Food Prize Winners

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 28, 2016

The 2016 World Food Prize laureates were announced at a ceremony at the Department of State June 28. The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.

The Four 2016 World Food Prize Winners Are: Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low, and Howarth Bois.

Maria Andrade began her research in 1997 in Mozambique using sweet potato genetic material from North Carolina State University and the International Potato Center in Peru. By 2014, more than 1 million orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) seeds were distributed to 11 other countries in Africa.

Robert Mwanga’s OFSP research in Uganda resulted in the orange-fleshed sweet potato largely replacing the white sweet potato, which contains very low or no Vitamin A. He combined higher yield traits with virus tolerance, blight resistance, and palatable taste, which increased adoption of OFSP varieties among farmers. By 2014, more than 30 percent of Uganda’s farmers were growing his varieties.

Jan Low conducted nutritional studies among poor African communities in 2005 demonstrating that consumption of OFSP led to a 15 percent decline in Vitamin A deficiency in children who consumed OFSP regularly compared to children who did not. She is leading a project, “Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative” (2009—2019), with the goal to favorably position sweet potatoes in the food economies of 17 African countries to reduce child malnutrition and improve smallholder incomes.

The fourth World Food Prize Laureate, Howarth Bouis, harnessed the enormous power of agricultural science to improve human nutrition through his innovative leadership in bringing together agronomists, plant breeders, nutritionists, and economists to breed and disseminate new high yielding nutritious, biofortified staple food crops in more than 30 countries. By 2014, biofortification was improving the health of 2 million farm families, with more than 100 million people projected to benefit by 2018.

The 2016 World Food Prize Laureates developed and implemented biofortification to increase vitamins and minerals in staple crops through conventional breeding methods. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, and Jan Low Andrade, Mwanga, and Low developed disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, high yielding varieties of the Vitamin A-rich OFSP that appeal to rural families in Sub-Saharan Africa and can survive in the variable soils and climate conditions that exist in the region. Their multi-year effort has reduced malnutrition, prevented blindness and improved overall health by providing critical micronutrients in the diets of millions of rural poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Andrade, Mwanga, and Low developed seven biofortified crops in all – iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet; and Vitamin A-rich cassava, maize, and orange-fleshed sweet potato. These crops have been released in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and another ten countries are testing varieties of these crops.

Andrade, Mwanga, and Low also showed true talent in marketing. They created a campaign called “the sweet that gives health” to brand the color orange as a sign of healthy Vitamin A-rich foods. The Laureates will receive their $250,000 award during the World Food Prize ceremony in October at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the prize.

Special Envoy Thomas Perriello Travel to Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Egypt, Angola

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 8, 2016

U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Thomas Perriello will travel to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo; Arusha, Tanzania; Paris, France; Cairo, Egypt; and Luanda, Angola July 9 to 23.
The Envoy will attend the East African Community-led dialogue amongst Burundian stakeholders in Arusha, as part of the continued U.S. support for the process and former Tanzanian President Mkapa’s facilitation. He will emphasize that the dialogue remains the best option to peacefully resolve the crisis in Burundi and achieve a consensus path forward for the country.

During the trip, Special Envoy Perriello will also meet with regional leaders and donor partners to discuss growing concerns about the political impasse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and efforts to advance an inclusive dialogue amongst Congolese stakeholders aimed at holding timely elections.

Asst. Secretary Anne C. Richard Travels to Cameroon and Chad

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 8, 2016

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to Cameroon (July 11-14) and Chad (July 14-17). She will highlight efforts to strengthen international cooperation to ease the desperate plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in the two countries, as well as in the broader Lake Chad Basin region.

The itinerary will focus on furthering U.S. cooperation with both countries, as well as the United Nations and the European Union on refugee and migration issues. In Cameroon, Assistant Secretary Richard will meet with various officials, together with Mr. Toby Lanzer, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel. In Chad they will travel with Mr. Christos Stylianides, the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Dr. Jill Biden to Travel to Africa

The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
July 7, 2016

Dr. Jill Biden to Travel to Africa

Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger from July 15 – July 23, 2016 where she, along with Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, will engage government and civil society partners on issues related to economic empowerment and educational opportunity for women and girls. During their travel, Dr. Biden and Ambassador Russell will also highlight partnerships on global health and food security to reduce hunger and lift people out of poverty.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth’s Travel to Khartoum

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 2, 2016

On June 29 and 30, Special Envoy Donald Booth visited Khartoum and engaged with government officials on a range of issues, including the political negotiations to end the conflicts, the National Dialogue, and implementation of a cessation of hostilities. He also met with the leadership of the United Nations African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) on how to support its efforts to protect civilians and achieve a sustainable end to conflict in Darfur.

The United States recognizes Foreign Minister Ghandour’s June 29 call for reconciliation in Sudan, his Government’s stated commitment to rebuilding Darfur after more than a decade of war, and his remarks about the negative impact the conflict has had on the lives and living conditions of the Sudanese people. We welcome the announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 30 that all Sudanese forces have been instructed to cease offensive operations in Darfur, which follows the Government of Sudan’s recent declaration of a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The United States also welcomes the Humanitarian Aid Commission’s June 29 pledge to enhance cooperation and coordination with UN organizations and international NGOs. Implementation of these commitments would be an important step toward achieving peace in all of Sudan.

We call on Sudan to ensure that humanitarian assistance is able to reach all populations in need throughout Sudan. There is no military solution to Sudan’s conflicts. As such, the United States also calls on all armed groups in and outside of Sudan to sign the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) roadmap and enter into peaceful political negotiations with the Government of Sudan.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Burundi’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 1, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Burundi on the 54th anniversary of your independence on July 1.

This year’s celebrations come in the midst of a yearlong crisis that has shown the resilience of both the Burundian people and the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. The United States continues to stand with all Burundians committed to peace and prosperity in their country and in the region. I call on all people of Burundi to reach a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis through a mediated dialogue.

I wish all Burundians a peaceful and joyous celebration.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Somalia’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 1, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people and government of Somalia on your 56th Independence Day on July 1.

The United States supports Somalia as it continues its progress towards building a stable, federal democracy. We remain confident that this year’s electoral process will be another step forward on Somalia’s path to democracy, security, and prosperity.

The United States was pleased to welcome the formal reopening of the Somali embassy in Washington, D.C. last November. We are equally pleased to be sending our first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in 25 years.

As I mentioned during my visit to Mogadishu last May, Somalis are a resilient people. On this day of celebration, I wish all Somalis peace and joy.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Rwanda’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 1, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to the people of Rwanda as you celebrate your 54th year of independence on July 1.

Rwandans have much to be proud of about their country and their future. Rwanda has become a model on the continent for its progress in advancing the role of women in both the public and private sectors, and for encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Rwanda has made laudable efforts to protect its forests and endangered species, and to advance the fight against climate change. Its commitment toward finding innovative solutions to produce clean energy such as solar and hydro-power has opened up key opportunities for investment and development. We look forward to continuing to work with you to build on Rwanda’s progress in health, education, and development, and to further strengthen democracy, human rights, and civil society in Rwanda.

On behalf of the American people, I am honored to wish all Rwandans continued happiness, prosperity, and success as you celebrate your national day.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
June 30, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 56 years of independence.

The United States appreciates the challenges that your country has overcome and those it continues to face. We remain committed to working with you in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect as you strive to build a peaceful, more prosperous, and truly democratic future.

I extend my best wishes to you on this special day and throughout the year to come.

Fighting Poverty by Educating Girls – MCC in Morocco

Sorya attends an MCC-funded vocational training course in Morocco where she learns marketable and sought-after job skills.
Photo & Story – MCC


June 28, 2016

Morocco has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world, and many girls face challenges to completing their education and learning the skills they need to successfully participate in the workforce.

The Government of Morocco is working to reduce gender gaps in school enrollment and achievement and MCC is proud to support those efforts through our Employability and Land Compact, signed in 2015. The compact is focused on improving the opportunities for Moroccan students while supporting economic growth and poverty reduction across the country.

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama announced an MCC commitment of nearly $100 million toward a new model of secondary education in Morocco. This announcement comes during the First Lady’s visit to Morocco as part of the #LetGirlsLearn initiative.

Solving Morocco’s education challenges will require an inclusive and innovative approach. So as part of this investment, MCC and the Government of Morocco are establishing a $4.6 million Education for Employability Partnership Fund that will engage the private sector and non-governmental organizations to develop innovative secondary education programs. Together, we can create better opportunities for the people of Morocco.

Learn more about this announcement from MCC’s Press Release and Fact Sheet, the White House Fact Sheet.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Seychelles’ National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
June 29, 2016

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Seychelles as you celebrate 23 years of independence on June 29.

The United States and Seychelles share a strong commitment to regional security, sustainable economic growth, and ocean conservation. We commend your leadership in the fight against piracy, and support your efforts to develop a sustainable and prosperous ocean economy that will provide economic opportunities for generations of Seychellois.

I send best wishes to all Seychellois for a joyous national day, and look forward to our continued cooperation in the year ahead.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

AMIP News Head Discusses Upcoming Obama Africa-Legacy Book with African Ambassadors in Washington

(L-R) Mr. Frederick Nnoma-Addison (AMIP News) – Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal (Embassy of Morocco)
Photo by BNA – AMIP News

Wednesday June 29, 2016
Washington, DC

AMIP News CEO, Mr. Frederick Nnoma-Addison today briefed the African Diplomatic Corps in Washington on progress on a commemorative book about President Obama’s engagement with Africa since 2009. AMIP News http://www.amipnewsonline.org/ is the publisher of The United States & Ghana -2010/2012, and The United States & Nigeria – 2010.

In his presentation, Mr. Nnoma-Addison explained that The United States & Africa: The Historical Legacy of the Obama Presidency“is a detailed chronicle of the President’s engagement with Africa and African leaders, an important, national and international historic document, and a volume that highlights Africa in the United States”.

The United States & Africa is a joint production by AMIP News, and The Africa Society on the National Summit on Africa, http://www.africasummit.org/ now headed by veteran U.S. career diplomat, Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater (Retired) – former U.S. Ambassador to Benin, Ghana, and Jamaica.

In her introduction to the book Ambassador Bridgewater writes:

“Every U.S. President has engaged in initiatives aimed to impact and to improve U.S. and Africa relations, but President Obama’s are remarkable in many respects. This important publication will highlight the bold programs of the Obama years and the benefits they have yielded, and will yield for generations of Americans and Africans.”
Pamela E. Bridgewater

The 300-page volume highlights some of President Obama’s most important policies, programs, and key initiatives like Power Africa, Feed the Future, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. It includes White House Fact Sheets, excerpts of the President’s speeches to Africans, statements by African leaders and governments during the historic U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit, bilateral meetings, state visits, and a collection of historic photographs.

Contributors to this historic volume include a number of African Presidents, African Union representatives, and government officials like Senator Richard Green “Dick” Lugar (Retired) – Chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2003-2007). Ambassador Johnnie Carson (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs: 2009-2013), and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs: 2013-Present) shared information about the Administration’s engagement with Africa in separate interviews.

Concerning the significance of one of the President’s initiatives, Ambassador Carson remarked on June 15, 2016.

“The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders formerly known as The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), has the potential to be for Africa what the Fulbright Scholarship program was to western Europe after the end of 2nd world war. It is of enormous importance and benefit to establishing ties with the next generation of African leaders… and I will give it high marks”
Johnnie Carson

The United States & Africa is a culmination of extensive research, and over seven years of covering the Obama Administration’s engagement with Africa. Created with a large international audience in mind, it combines both human and national interest stories, and pictorially presents people, places, events, and common challenges and opportunities that Africans and Americans share.

The book will be launched in the United States in fall 2016, and promises to take an important place in international relations literature.

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