Thursday, June 25, 2015

U.S. Participates in African Regional Conference on Violent Extremism

Opening Remarks – Regional Conference on Countering Violent Extremism

Sarah Sewall
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Nairobi, Kenya
June 25, 2015

Thank you and good morning, Deputy President Ruto, Cabinet Secretary Nkaisserry, Ambassador Juma, distinguished guests.

I am honored to lead the U.S. delegation to the East African regional CVE Summit and am happy to see so many partners gathered here in support of our shared struggle against violent extremism.
I applaud the GOK for its leadership in hosting this regional summit. It is very important and showcases an very impressive commitment to strengthening CVE efforts.

Kenya, like its neighbors, has faced difficult terrorism challenges, and I know I speak for everyone in offering my condolences to the citizens of Kenya and other East African nations that have experienced loss and trauma at the hands of violent extremists.

Only yesterday, terrorists exploded a car bomb in Somalia, and of course the recent Garissa attacks in Kenya remain fresh in our minds.

No region, country or community is immune to the threat of violent extremism. We stand together in support of one another and vow to strengthen our collective efforts, not only to defeat Al Shabab militarily but also to eradicate the roots of violent extremism throughout the region and prevent the next generation of extremist threat from emerging.

In this effort, we are learning from a clear lesson of the past decade: while our military, intelligence, and law enforcement tools are vital to defeating violent extremism in its current forms, only a truly comprehensive strategy, mobilizing a broad range of stakeholders, can address its underlying drivers. This is why President Obama convened a White House summit last February.

As many of you know personally, this meeting included more than 300 participants from national and local governments, civil society, multilateral bodies, and the global business and faith communities. It was a new, and different, type of global conversation about terrorism because it emphasized the need to 1) work preventively to tackle the underlying drivers of VE, 2) include all of civil society in this work, 3) promote the role of good governance to protect and include all citizens and 4) maximize impact by integrating national and local, and government and non-governmental approaches.

At the White House Summit, President Obama described how violent extremism breeds by exploiting a range of economic, social, and political grievances.

When people “feel entirely trapped in impoverished communities,” he argued, “where there is no order and no path for advancement, where there are no educational opportunities, where there are no ways to support families, and no escape from the injustice and the humiliation of corruption – that feeds instability and disorder and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment.”

He explained that social marginalization “feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey.”

Political grievances matter, he said because “when people are oppressed, and human rights are denied – particularly along sectarian or ethnic lines – when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism.”
With these words, President Obama described some of the push factors that make people more vulnerable to radicalization by violent extremists, who then wield their narratives, messages and ideologies to pull individuals, and even whole communities, into their orbit.

Disrupting both these push and pull factors demands a ‘whole-of-society’ approach.
While we rely upon government security and law enforcement services to defeat the active terrorists, becoming more proactive, working to prevent the NEXT generation of violent extremism, requires everyone to become part of the solution.

And the preventive CVE agenda is fundamentally constructive and positive. It seeks to address tangible human needs and empower communities to physically, psychologically and intellectually resist the falsehoods and distortions of extremism.

I’ve attended several regional CVE summits, and each reflects the dominant concerns within the hosting region.

This is why Kenya’s regional CVE summit is so important. While summits in Oslo and Tirana focused largely on individual FTF recruitment, this summit usefully expands the agenda to examine community mobilization by terror networks.

The agenda will seek to integrate lessons from the emergence of – and responses to – insurgencies, which can emerge from push factors similar to those that create vulnerabilities to violent extremism.
Yet the key new insight we bring to this discussion of addressing push factors is the value of non-governmental action.

For example, civil society can give at-risk populations like youth a new sense of purpose and community by engaging them through educational, service or mentoring programs.

Similarly, the private sector can expand opportunities in vulnerable communities to enable greater economic security.

Religious and cultural leaders can lend their voices to challenge extremist narratives and propaganda.
And governments have complex roles.

To enable civil society to contribute to the prevention effort, governments need to protect space for those groups to act.

To be frank, this is why the United States is disappointed that some of the Kenyan civil society groups so central to the discussion about security and terrorism such as Muhuri and Haki Africa, which President Obama welcomed at the February White House summit – are not able to participate in our discussion today.

Governments are stronger in their fight against extremism when they make all citizens feel included, protected and respected.

At a minimum, governments should not create grievances by tolerating incompetence, corruption, or the abuse of human rights.

As Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon remarked at the Summit in February, “governments should not use the fight against terrorism and extremism as a pretext to attack one’s critics.

Extremists deliberately seek to incite such overreactions, and we must not fall into those traps.”
The Term “government” does not just mean national authorities, of course.

Local government is at the front-line in both identifying early signs of radicalization and partnering with communities to counter it.

Cities and other sub-national actors are vital to this effort, and their contributions to CVE are growing every month.

To support their efforts, we anticipate launching a ‘Strong Cities Network’ at the September CVE Leaders’ event in New York, which will connect municipal policymakers and practitioners from around the world to identify and exchange best CVE practices.

We strongly encourage cities from across this region to become members of this new platform.
As participants work on their national action plans and anticipate the next high-level summit on the margins of the UNGA this September, let me briefly remind us of the agenda that states and civil society crafted in February:

First, we must better understand the threat of violent extremism at the local and regional levels. That means strengthening our research and information-sharing on the key drivers of radicalization and the most effective strategies for building community resilience to prevent this.

To build momentum for this effort, we are sponsoring an International CVE Research Conference this September in New York, which will culminate in the launch of a global network of local researchers to conduct community-based analysis on the drivers of violent extremism and facilitate the design, funding and dissemination of CVE-related research.

I encourage participants at this Summit to contribute by supporting and sharing similar research to better identify the key drivers of violent extremism in East Africa and highlight promising efforts to address it.

Second, we must empower civil society as core partners in the struggle against violent extremism, with a particular emphasis on youth, religious leaders, women, and the victims of violent extremism. Local groups are best positioned to lead efforts to counter violent extremism, as they often have the greatest knowledge and credibility to address its underlying drivers.

Because civil society plays such a critical role in countering violent extremism, they must have a meaningful seat at the table and safe space to operate.

That is why the U.S. is supporting efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to work with countries around the world to develop inclusive CVE strategies that draw on a range of stakeholders both in and out of government.

In developing our own U.S. domestic National Action Plan, painstaking and patient relationship building and consultation with civil society made all the difference.

My colleague Dr. Ronald Clark from our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is here today and would be happy to share the US experience with those who are interested.

When I visited the region earlier this year, promising community-driven CVE initiatives in Mombasa and in Zanzibar showed me how communities were improving cooperation with security forces and how local government was beginning to test innovative efforts of community service and religious scholarship to help at risk youth, former VE recruits, come back into society.

Supporting youth in this manner is critical to countering violent extremism in the long run.
Last month at the European regional CVE summit in Oslo, Norway, participants launched a regional youth network against violent extremism.

This network will serve as a platform for young people to share their challenges in pushing back against radical recruiters and propaganda, and to exchange youth-driven approaches and technologies for countering violent extremism.

I hope civil society representatives at today’s summit consider adopting a similar model for East Africa.

I would be remiss to not also mention the importance of women and girls, who as victims, potential recruits and perpetrators of violent extremism, are also on the frontline in this struggle.

Third, we must strengthen human rights protections for members of all of our communities, with a renewed focus on including ethnic and religious minorities.

When all communities feel protected and respected by the law, violent extremists struggle to exploit feelings of marginalization.

Too often, however, there is deep mistrust between marginalized communities and security and police forces.

The mistrust is exploited by violent extremists to infiltrate members of marginalized communities, who are in turn less likely to cooperate with police and security forces to drive extremists out.

We can avoid this trap by working now to build mutual trust and respect between police and security force and at-risk communities, and by improving accountability and respect for human rights within these forces.

Government and law enforcement can show their commitment to the communities they are meant to serve and help ease the tensions that violent extremists exploit.

Fourth, we must counter the narratives of violent extremists by amplifying authentic voices from at-risk communities. That means harnessing the power and reach of traditional and social media to discredit the messages of violent extremists with credible voices, while offering positive and empowering alternatives.

It is clear that there will be a long-term need to maintain this messaging effort, and I encourage governments and civil society participants gathered here to think about developing a platform that could coordinate and sustain this effort.

Such a platform could support new initiatives, such as providing social media training to mainstream religious scholars to better disseminate their message to at-risk audiences, or by developing public messaging campaigns with popular voices from arts, sports and entertainment to challenge extremist propaganda.

And finally, we must address the social and economic grievances that violent extremists exploit by working with at-risk communities to better understand those grievances and design effective responses, whether they are in the areas of social services, education, employment opportunities, or security and justice.

I’d like to highlight these areas as key opportunities for large institutional financial actors such as the World Bank or the African Development Bank as well as bilateral foreign donors.

But we must be realistic as we seek to take on “root causes” – recognizing that we cannot address every area or cause in the short term.

Governments in their NAPs should think deeply about the areas or communities that are MOST vulnerable to the lure of extremism.

Prioritizing and focusing prevention efforts in these communities is absolutely critical in creating a NAP that can actually be implemented and yield results.

Furthermore, the NAPs can then become useful tools for dialogue with outside actors who wish to use mainstream economic and development tools to support governments and communities in our shared fight against violent extremism.

We will leave this Summit with not only new ideas, but a renewed sense of partnership and determination to tackle the threat of violent extremism.

And in September at the 70th UNGA, we will learn how each of your governments or organizations is stepping up to meet this generational challenge.

There is no single way forward, and as Ambassador Juma said, no silver bullet, no one government or organization has a monopoly on good ideas.

I am confident that with the energy and talent gathered in this room, we can move forward together, and have even more to share in the global discussion in New York this September.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to Visit U.S.

Office of the Press Secretary
June 25, 2015

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

On Monday, July 20, President Obama will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House. The visit will underscore the United States’ longstanding friendship with Nigeria, our commitment to strengthening and expanding our partnership with Nigeria’s new government, and our support for the Nigerian people following their historic democratic elections and peaceful transfer of power. President Obama looks forward to discussing with President Buhari our many shared priorities including US.-Nigeria cooperation to advance a holistic, regional approach to combating Boko Haram, as well as Nigeria’s efforts to advance important economic and political reforms that will help unlock its full potential as a regional and global leader. In addition to hosting President Buhari at the White House, the United States will welcome President Buhari’s senior advisors for consultations with U.S. counterparts and other events aimed at building on the strong U.S.-Nigeria relationship.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Mozambique’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
June 25, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to all Mozambicans as you celebrate the 40th anniversary of your independence on June 25.

Your country is truly special to me, as it is the birthplace of my wife, Teresa. Our house resonates with the sound of Portuguese, as well as Teresa’s fond recollections of heading into the bush with her father, a doctor, to tag along as he cared for patients. A map of Mozambique hangs in our home.

This year represents a milestone in the history of U.S.–Mozambique relations. For the past 40 years, our relationship has grown to reflect our shared commitment to achieving lasting peace, progress, and shared prosperity for all people.

Together, we are partnering to strengthen democracy, promote trade and investment, improve health, expand educational opportunities, conserve the environment, and combat transnational crime.

On this day of celebration, Teresa joins me in wishing her fellow Mozambican people peace, joy, and prosperity in the year ahead.

U.S. Condemns Latest Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria

Press Statement
John Kirby
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 24, 2015

We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the victims of recent attacks in Borno State, attacks that resulted in more than 40 deaths. We condemn in the strongest terms the continued and widespread violence inflicted by Boko Haram on innocent men, women, and children in Nigeria. Those responsible must be held accountable.

These latest attacks serve as a reminder that despite progress on the battlefield, Boko Haram remains capable of deadly and destabilizing acts of terrorism. We commend the efforts by the Nigerian military, as well as the militaries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon for the gains they have made fighting Boko Haram. We encourage the government of Nigeria to take steps to secure and govern liberated areas by filling in behind military successes with police and civilian administration.

The United States stands with Nigeria in the face of this threat. We will continue to take steps to increase our support for their efforts.

U.S. Under Secretary Sarah Sewall to Travel to Kenya


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
June 24, 2015

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall will travel to Kenya from June 24-27, 2015.
Under Secretary Sewall will lead the United States Delegation to the June 25-27 East Africa Regional Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), hosted by the Government of Kenya in Nairobi. The Summit, the fourth in a series of regional summits following the February White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, will provide an opportunity for governments, civil society, and the private sector to discuss collaborative, innovative efforts to address the spread of violent extremism. Topics will include the typologies and drivers of violent extremism, the architecture and dynamics of radicalization and recruitment, countering violent extremism in cyberspace and the media, promoting research and learning for evidence-driven action, and strengthening local preventive work.

U.S. Condemns Boko Haram Attacks in Niger

Press Statement
John Kirby
Department of State Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 19, 2015

We condemn the attacks by Boko Haram in Lamana, Boulamare, and Goumao, Niger, that killed approximately 40 villagers, including women and children. We offer our condolences to the Government of Niger and the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.

Boko Haram has perpetrated countless unprovoked attacks on men, women, and children in their homes, schools, places of worship, and businesses. We remain committed to working closely with partners in the region to root out the threat posed by the group.

President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia

Office of the Press Secretary
June 19, 2015

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Ethiopia

In late July, President Obama will travel to Ethiopia for bilateral meetings with the Government of Ethiopia and with the leadership of the African Union. This visit, which will follow the President’s travel to Kenya, will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit by strengthening ties with our African partners and highlighting America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa. This will be the first visit of a sitting U.S. President to Ethiopia and to the African Union headquarters, underscoring our efforts to work with the countries and citizens of sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Nigerian Philanthropist Sir Emeka Offor Donates $10 Million To Carter Center

The Carter Center

Philanthropist Sir Emeka Offor Donates $10 Million to Accelerate Jimmy Carter’s Efforts to Help Eliminate River Blindness in Nigeria

ATLANTA…Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and businessman Sir Emeka Offor signed an agreement today for a partnership to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) from seven states in Nigeria where The Carter Center works with the Federal Ministry of Health, including Sir Emeka’s native state, Anambra. The project is made possible by grant support of USD$10 million from the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF). It will help reach the goal of eliminating river blindness from the world’s most endemic country by 2020.

“The new resources from the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation will extend the reach of the Carter Center’s work in South East and South South Nigeria and help accelerate river blindness elimination throughout Nigeria at a pivotal time,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose health programs have actively collaborated with the government of Nigeria to eliminate and control diseases in Africa’s most populous country since 1988.

The $10 million multi-year commitment by Sir Emeka is the largest grant from an individual African donor in Carter Center history, and the new resources will fund two-thirds of the Carter Center’s expanded interventions against river blindness in Nigeria to help meet the five-year target to eliminate river blindness nationwide. Since 2013, with an initial gift of $250,000, the SEOF has been a valued partner to the Center’s River Blindness Elimination Program, helping to change the face of philanthropy and inspire more African engagement and support.

“I am deeply honored to work closely with The Carter Center, through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation to help eliminate river blindness in Nigeria,” said Sir Emeka, founder and chairman of the SEOF, a charitable organization focused on health, education, and empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Nigeria has more cases of river blindness than any other country in the world. Yet, we know that with adequate resources, hard work, and perseverance, we can defeat this terrible neglected disease that can steal a person’s ability to see the beauty of the world in which we live and to enjoy a full and active life.”

At the Atlanta-based Carter Center, more than 300 individuals from the Atlanta and international communities attended the official signing ceremony and learned more about river blindness elimination efforts. Spread by the bites of infected black flies that breed in rapidly flowing streams, the river blindness parasite causes dreadful eye and skin disease affecting millions of the poorest people in 36 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Yemen.


The Carter Center began a partnership with Nigeria to reduce the prevalence of neglected diseases, such as river blindness, knowing that the Center’s assistance could make great impact in Africa’s most populous country. Nearly half of the world’s river blindness cases are in Nigeria; it is estimated that up to 31 million Nigerians need treatment to prevent unnecessary suffering caused by this ancient disease.

For nearly two decades, The Carter Center has assisted the Nigerian Ministry of Health in nine states to fight river blindness in this highly endemic country through community-based health education and mass drug administration of Mectizan®, a microfilarial drug donated by the U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck. Until recently, scientific communities widely believed that river blindness could not be eliminated with drugs and health education alone in Africa, in part due to its high prevalence and the challenges to delivering health services in the very remote areas afflicted by the condition.

In February 2013, the Federal Minister of Health of Nigeria announced the country’s bold goal of nationwide elimination of river blindness by 2020. Formally moving from control to elimination is a turning point in Nigeria’s river blindness strategy, requiring that intervention efforts intensify to wipe out once and for all the parasite causing the disease. Unlike in a control program, success in an elimination program means a country’s precious health resources can be freed and reallocated to fight other diseases.

“Since its inception in 1996, the Carter Center’s River Blindness Program has improved coverage, increased the population it assists, and shown great impact on disease prevalence in Nigeria. Today’s unprecedented donation from Sir Emeka Offor Foundation will allow us to ramp up the program and close in on elimination, impacting many more people in southern Nigeria,” said Dr. Emmanuel Miri, country representative of the Carter Center’s health programs in Nigeria. “With SEOF and the Nigerian government, we believe we can surpass the caliber of success we’ve already demonstrated and will meet the 2020 river blindness elimination target in the states where we work.”

In 2014, the Center assisted the Nigerian Ministry of Health to provide health education and Mectizan treatment to nearly 7 million people in more than 16,000 villages.

In accordance with the national plan, the Nigeria Onchocerciasis Elimination Expert Advisory Committee was inaugurated in May 2015.

“In South East and South South Nigeria, we still face challenges in the fight against river blindness,” said Dr. Frank O. Richards, Jr., director of the Carter Center’s river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis programs. “We still have evidence that children are being infected, and we can still find infected black flies. So the Center’s strengthened partnership with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is really a critical catalyst to further the momentum of stopping this transmission cycle, and in doing so, eliminating river blindness in the areas where we work.”

The elimination strategy requires treating all at-risk populations once or twice a year with Mectizan. The Offor Foundation’s contributions will help implement the necessary elimination strategies, such as better coverage and more frequent treatment, in the southern states of: Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo.

The Carter Center will enhance elimination efforts by assisting the Nigerian Ministry of Health to increase distribution of Mectizan, moving from once-a-year to twice-a-year treatments whenever necessary and starting drug distribution in previously untreated areas.

Globally, The Carter Center is helping to eliminate river blindness in Uganda, and in areas of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The Center also leads the coalition to eliminate river blindness from the Americas.


The engagement of a wide range of partners remains critical to the elimination of river blindness in Nigeria, including the communities and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health. Other donors and partners of the Carter Center’s River Blindness Program in Nigeria have included Merck and its Mectizan Donation Program; the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO-World Bank African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation; the Lions Clubs International Foundation; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); RTI International; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mr. John J. Moores; the former River Blindness Foundation; The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Henry McConnon; the A. G. Leventis Foundation; and many other generous donors and partners.



In the late-1990s, Sir Emeka Offor established the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), a non-profit, charitable organization, with a vision to reduce poverty and create life-improving economic opportunities for those residing in Nigeria’s most marginalized communities through education, health, and empowerment.

Website | Facebook | Twitter @SirE_Foundation | YouTube

Asst. Sec. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Travels to Tanzania and South Africa

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
June 5, 2015

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield is traveling to Tanzania and South Africa June 7-15.

In Dar-es-Salaam, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will participate in high-level bilateral meetings. She will meet with Tanzania’s 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, as well as current Peace Corps Volunteers.

In Johannesburg, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will lead the U.S. delegation to the 25th African Union Summit, which will focus on the theme, “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.” While in South Africa, she will also participate in high-level bilateral meetings, attend the opening of a new U.S. mission facility, and visit a PEPFAR project site.

For further information, please visit or follow @StateAfrica on Twitter.

U.S. Issues Statement on Madagascar’s Current Political Situation

Press Statement
John Kirby
Department of State Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 5, 2015

The United States is closely following ongoing political developments in Madagascar. The country has made tremendous progress since its 2013 elections and return to democracy, and we hope that current developments do not jeopardize those gains.

We call on all parties to resolve the current political impasse with respect for the rule of law and through national dialogue in order to maintain the political stability needed to grow the economy, attract investment, create employment and improve the lives of the Malagasy people. All political leaders need to work together to enable Madagascar to reach its full potential. The welfare of the
Malagasy people should be everyone’s first priority.