Holocaust Remembrance Day marked in Accra

Accra, January 27, 2015 – UNIC Accra joined the rest of the world to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, and the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance DayThe Day also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations.

Dr. Rozett

Dr. Rozett

About a hundred guests, including members of the diplomatic community, representatives of civil society organisations and private and public sector institutions attended a lecture in Accra on the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors” delivered by Dr. Robert Rozett of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Research and Memorial Centre in Jerusalem.

The 30-min presentation highlighted the relevance of commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day and how lessons can be drawn from the past towards ensuring the peaceful coexistence of neighbours for a non-violent world. Dr. Rozett indicated that Holocaust is not only about the numbers of those brutally killed.  He said in order to understand how we can avoid or prevent its re-occurrence, “we need to ask questions about how and why” those atrocities were committed.

The Ambassador of the State of Israel, H.E. Sharon Bar-li and the German Ambassador H.E. John Ruediger both made brief statements.

Screening of film

Screening of film

Ambassador Kwasi Quarter, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration called for the need to respect one another.  He commended Israel for their continuous support to the Government of Ghana.

A 7 minute film to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the UN Holocaust Programme and another film on the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, featuring the testimony of Holocaust survivors and veterans who liberated the camp were screened.

Football Stars including Ghana’s André Ayew to Deliver Life-Saving Malaria Prevention and Treatment Messages during AFCON2015

Bata, Equatorial Guinea, 16 January 2015 – Malaria still kills a child every minute and costs the African continent alone an estimated minimum of $12 billion every year in lost productivity.   In an effort to curb malaria, the United Against Malaria (UAM), a campaign of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, has joined CAF around the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off in Equatorial Guinea tomorrow, to launch a Public Service Announcement and reach out to the millions of viewers all over the world with life saving and preventive messages on malaria.

Football stars, including Ghana’s  André Dede Ayew is featured in this PSA which will be aired in-stadium during the 2015 AFCON tournament and throughout Africa on TV and radio, and can also be viewed on UAM’s website

For ease of access, the PSA is also available on YouTube

In a press release issued in Bata, the Campaign Manager of UAM notes that “It’s critical that we continue to work together to sustain progress in malaria control. By leveraging the largest platform in Africa, we can continue to make a difference,”

“Barbershop Conference”: A gathering on gender equality with a difference

New York, 15 January 2015 – As part of efforts to promote gender equality and address the challenges gender inequality poses, a conference dubbed “Barbershop Conference” has taken place in New York. This innovative conference which sought to bring men and boys into the conversation on gender equality and rally them to commit to upholding gender equality and change the change the discourse among their peers, was the brainchild of The Icelandic Mission and The Permanent Mission of Suriname.

Photo credit: UN Photo

Photo credit: UN Photo

It brought together prominent leaders from different fields to speak about their own experience and commitment to gender equality and engaging men and boys. It is expected that Permanent Representatives to the UN will commit to discussing more actively the role of men in realizing gender equality within the UN and beyond come up with concrete strategies to further engage men to end violence against women and girls, among others.

The structure of this event has been described as unconventional whereby one part gathered men to focus on engaging men and boys, and the other part was a discussion between men and women on how to bring men and boys into our common struggle to achieve gender equality and end violence against women and girls.

Read the full statement of the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, delivered at the conference.

UNIC Accra gets a new Director

Accra, 14 January 2015 – The new UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock who assumed office early this month, has visited the United Nations Information Centre, Accra as part of a familiarization tour of the various UN offices in the country.

Ms Evans-Klock with UNIC Accra staff

Ms Evans-Klock with UNIC Accra staff

Ms Evans-Klock met the staff of UNIC in a semi-formal discussion to familiarize herself with them and their work. She lauded the work they have done so far, and promised, as part of her added role as Director of UNIC, to stay in constant touch and work harmoniously with them.

Prior to her arrival in Ghana, Ms Evans-Klock has served the International Labour Organisation in different countries and in different capacities. She brings on board a wealth of knowledge and experience and a practical determination to help the United Nations in Ghana build on previous achievements and to compliment the Government’s development efforts in the country.

Action/2015 Ghana: Students present a petition to the Government

Accra, 15 January 2015 – About 15 students from the Mataheko Roman Catholic Junior High School in Accra today presented a petition to two public sector institutions “demanding that the President of the Republic of Ghana His. Excellence, John Dramani Mahama…puts the interest of children at the heart of the new post-2015 development framework”.  The students were led by the Abibiman Foundation, a local NGO and were supported by the Coalition of NGOs Associated with UN-DPI Ghana, an umbrella organization of NGOs interested in the work of the United Nations.

The students at UNIC Accra offices after the briefing session

The students proudly showing off their “I am 15″ message

Part of the petition read “Sir/Madam, by 2030 we will be adults, and may have children of our own. Our generation might not be the ones making decisions today, but we will be the ones to make sure that our leaders take full responsibility for the actions they take this year. We and thousands like us in Ghana are demanding you make the right choices, because our future is at stake. We ask that you priorities’ our needs and make right choices that are of beneficial to future generations.”

The exercise was part of the global Action/2015 campaign which was launched today. Action/2015 a growing citizen’s movement of several organizations around the world to demand ambitious agreements on poverty, inequality and climate change in 2015.

Following the presentation of the petition to the Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Protection and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the students visited UNIC Accra where they were briefed on the significance of Action/2015 by the National Information Officer, Ms Cynthia Prah.

The students promised to used social media platforms to propagate the essence of Action/2015.

New Head of UN System pays courtesy call on Foreign Affairs Minister

Accra, 14 January 2015 – The newly appointed UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock has paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh on Monday January 12, 2015.

She was accompanied by Ms. Susan Ngongi who acted as UN Resident Coordinator from March 2014 and Mr. Dominic Sam, UNDP Country Director.

Hon. Tetteh welcomed and congratulated Ms. Evans-Klock on her appointment and promised Government’s support to her in delivering on the mandate of the UN system in Ghana.

Ghana's Foreign Minister (left) and the new UN Resident Coordinator (right)

Ghana’s Foreign Minister (left) and the new UN Resident Coordinator (right)

For her part, Ms. Evans-Klock said she is delighted to be in Ghana to join UN colleagues working hard to support the development aspirations of the Government and people of Ghana. “I look forward to consolidating the role of the UN system as a key government partner in achieving development goals”, she added.

Both Hon. Tetteh and Ms. Evans-Klock discussed the Ebola Viral Disease, its devastating impact on the epicenter countries, the regional implications and global response to the crisis as well as early recovery assessments being undertaken by UN, World Bank, EU, AfDB and the Economic Commission for Africa in close collaboration with governments of the three most affected countries. The discussion also touched on dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals, which succeeds the Millennium Development Goals.

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UNCTAD gets new Deputy Secretary-General

New York, 8 January 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has appointed Joakim Reiter of Sweden as Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD at the Assistant Secretary-General level. Mr. Reiter will succeed Mr. Petko Draganov to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service and commitment to UNCTAD.

Joakim Reiter Photo credit: Johan Oedmann/the Government Offices of Sweden.

Joakim Reiter
Photo credit: Johan Oedmann/the Government Offices of Sweden.

Mr. Reiter brings to this position a wealth of international experience at the senior level including in the trade and development field dealing with multilateral organizations, senior political experience as a representative of his country, hands on expertise on technical cooperation and donor relations, and highly relevant negotiations skills within the intergovernmental machinery.

He is currently Deputy Director General, heading the Department for International Trade Policy within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden which is responsible for the interaction with UNCTAD, World Trade Organization (WTO) and The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). From 2011 to 2014, he was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the WTO, Switzerland, where he also served as chair for the WTO bodies on services, goods and trade policy reviews. From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Reiter was Minister Counsellor and Head of Trade Section at the Representation of Sweden to the European Union, Belgium. From 2004 to 2008, he served at the European Union Directorate General for Trade in European Commission. Before that, he held various positions within the Swedish National Board of Trade, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry, including as Special Advisor to the Minister for Industry and Trade.

Born in Sweden in 1974, Mr. Reiter holds a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and a MA from University of Lund, Sweden. He is married and has 2 children.

Outgoing head of UN Ebola mission sums up progress in ‘big battle’ with outbreak

Accra, 2  January 2015 – Delivering his final press conference as head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury today pointed to significant progress in tackling the outbreak since he was appointed in September last year, while stressing that zero cases is the only acceptable outcome in the “big battle” with the disease.

“It’s important to remember where we were when we started,” Mr. Banbury told journalists in Accra, Ghana, where the Mission is headquartered. “At the time, there were predictions of up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the start of the year…Here we are in January and we have a total of around 20,000 cases instead of 1.4 million. That’s 1.4 per cent of what was being projected as a possibility by credible scientists back in September.” Read further.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has arrived in Accra to continue from where Mr. Banbury left.

Speaking with UNMEER staff at a town hall meeting today, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed praised their achievements but also noted the challenges in battling the deadly outbreak.

“This is a global crisis. We definitely have a difficult time ahead of us, but we can achieve it,” Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “We have no plan B, we have to get rid of this virus. This is within our reach, but we should not be complacent.”

“We need to keep going until we don’t have even one case, because even one case is too many,” he said. “The work ahead remains very hard but we really have no other choice.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed will be visiting Liberia and Sierra Leone next week, then Guinea shortly after, to reinforce UNMEER’s strategic priorities and see first-hand the Ebola response. He will be accompanied by UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro.

Children in Accra mark Human Rights Day with a book review

Accra, 19 December, 2014 – Human Rights Day has been marked with a book review with Junior High School students of Osagyefo Leadership School in Accra.  The book reviewed was “Faceless” by Amma Darko, a Ghanaian Author. Faceless portrays many human rights concerns with particular focus on the plight of street children in Accra.

Madam Joy Debrah briefing the students

Madam Joy Debrah briefing the students

The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre, Ms Cynthia Prah, educated the students on the history and relevance of the Day. She also schooled them on their basic rights as children especially and enjoined them to learn more on their basic rights.

Speaking to the students, Madam Joy Debrah of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) encouraged the students to respect the rights of others even as they demand their own rights. She also prayed them to take their education and other privileges seriously and make the best of them since others crave similar opportunities. In also entreated the students to promptly report any case of human rights abuse they witness or suffer to the nearest CHRAJ office.

Students at the exhibition stand

Students at the exhibition stand

The students put all the information they gained to test using the characters and events in “Faceless” and relating them to similar situations in their homes and communities.

An exhibition on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was mounted as a side event.

UN Secretary-General Meets with President John Mahama in Accra

Accra, December 18, 2014 – The Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has met in Accra with H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

UN Secretary-General with president Mahama

UN Secretary-General with president Mahama (photo credit: UN Photos)

The Secretary-General commended Ghana’s leadership in supporting the response to the current Ebola crisis. They shared views on the local, regional and global implications of the outbreak, both in terms of the tragic loss of lives and its broader social and economic consequences.

The Secretary-General also expressed appreciation for the effective and harmonized cooperation between the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union in working to stop Ebola.

The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s commitment to rapidly bring the spread of Ebola under control and to support long term recovery of health and economic systems in the affected countries.

Mr. Ban is also traveling to Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone, the four countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak. He is touring these countries to see the international Ebola response for himself, show his solidarity with those affected and to urge even greater global action.

The headquarters of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is located in Accra.