Ghana’s Record on Women’s Rights to Face Scrutiny by UN Committee

Geneva, October 20, 2014 – Ghana’s record on women’s rights will be examined by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Friday 24 October 2014 in Geneva. This event will be webcast live at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/

A press release issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “Among the issues likely to be discussed by the Committee and the delegation of the government of Ghana are: measures to eliminate harmful practices against women, such as widowhood rites, FGM, ritual or customary slavery, polygamy, child marriage; [and] measures to tackle violence against women believed to be witches…”

 

UNMEER to Further Consult Governments of Ebola-affected Countries on International Support

Accra, October 18, 2014 – At the end of a 4-day meeting on Ebola, participants have come out with an operational framework to ensure the United Nations adopts a unified and coordinated approach to the international support being provided to national response plans. In a press release issued by the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), “All partners at the meeting reaffirmed the principle of moving rapidly and in a coordinated and precise manner to defeat the disease.”

UN Secretary-General appoints Ebola Crisis Managers for the three affected countries

New York 8 October, 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced the appointments of Marcel Rudasingwa of Rwanda as Ebola Crisis Manager for Guinea, Peter Jan Graaff of the Netherlands as Ebola Crisis Manager for Liberia and Amadu Kamara of the United States as Ebola Crisis Manager for Sierra Leone.

The appointments are part of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). In their respective roles, the Crisis Managers will work with their host Government along with key stakeholders in ensuring a rapid and effective international response to the Ebola crisis within their respective country.

Mr. Rudasingwa brings great value of service with United Nations Children’s Fund for almost twenty years, having served extensively in various senior management and leadership functions in Kenya, Mali, Guinea and Denmark. Born in 1955 in Rwanda, Mr. Rudasingwa graduated from the Makarere University of Kampala in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in languages and communication and has undertaken additional studies in psychology and teaching.

Mr. Graaff brings to the position a wealth of experience in international health issues along with international affairs, having served extensively with the World Health Organisation in a number of countries in Africa, Afghanistan and Haiti, along with more recently leading the Civil Affairs and Development team within the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Born in 1960 in Heerde, the Netherlands, Mr. Graaff graduated from the University of Leiden in 1986 with a master’s degree in science focused on pharmacy, and from Herriot Watt University in 2003 with a master’s in business administration.

Mr. Kamara brings to the position a diverse portfolio spanning the continent of Africa in international affairs, having served extensively with the United Nations in various senior management support functions and other roles in Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Timor Leste, Haiti, and Lebanon. Born in 1957 in Sierra Leone, Mr. Kamara graduated from the State University New York in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in arts and economics and has undertaken post graduate studies at the New School for Social Research.

UN Books on Wheels project launched in Accra

Accra, 1 October, 2014 – Blessing and Chris are both students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the University of Professional Studies respectively.  Both schools are based in Accra.  However, neither of them has stepped in any of the UN offices in search of information about the United Nations. For Blessing and Chris, the UN is a distant organization.

Cross section of participants at the launch of UN Books on Wheels project

Cross section of participants at the launch of UN Books on Wheels project

It is to demystify this conception and to make information about the United Nations easily accessible to the general public, including students that the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, with support from all the UN agencies and the Resident Coordinator’s Office, embarked on the ‘UN Books on Wheels’ project. The project aims to decentralize access to UN research materials and other literature and place them within the reach of Ghanaians.  The project has been launched at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra.  The event was attended by students and representatives from 10 institutions of higher learning.

The Commandant of the GAFCSC presenting some UN publication to UDS Assistant Registrar Mr. Ansa

The Commandant of the GAFCSC presenting some UN publication to UDS Assistant Registrar Mr. Ansa

The National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, Cynthia Prah in her opening statement stressed on the need to provide a means of research into evolving global trends especially concerning the United Nations and its functions; what it stands for and on its work. On how the project will unfold, she explained that participating libraries will have a ‘UN corner’ which will be branded as such and stocked with UN literature in hard copies, and access to soft copies.

The UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi, expressed a desire for Ghanaians to better understand and relate with the United Nations , adding that the project will help achieve that.

Deputy Minister for Communications & UN RC ai cut the sod to officially open the UN Corner at GAFCSC.j

Deputy Minister for Communications & UN RC ai cut the sod to officially open the UN Corner at GAFCSC.j

The Guest of Honour and Deputy Minister for Communications, Ato Sarpong , lauded the United Nations for defining and redefining the global development agenda since its inception seven decades ago. He expressed support for ‘UN Books on Wheels’ and outlined the government’s efforts to make information easily accessible to the general public. He also hoped that the project will spark the interest of more Ghanaians in the affairs of the United Nations and hopefully produce the next ‘Kofi Annan’.

Minister Ato Sarpong (Back to camera) in a chat with the Commandant of the GAFCSC

Minister Ato Sarpong (Back to camera) in a chat with the Commandant of the GAFCSC

At the end of the launch, Blessing expressed excitement at the opportunity to access information about the UN with ease and hoped that the resources will be extended with time to all district libraries to enable her gain access to information anywhere in the country. For Chris, the sustainability of the project was his concern, citing the immense help it will be to his studies and many other Ghanaians if the project was to be sustained for a longer period.

Participants were later taken on a tour of the ‘UN Corner’ of the International Peace Keeping library of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College following the official opening of the corner. The institutions were later presented with some UN publications and UNIC Accra designed UN-labeled posters.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General arrives in Accra to establish the UNMEER Headquarters

ACCRA, GHANA, 30 September 2014 – As the number of patients with Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone surpassed 6500 with more than 3000 deaths, the United Nations is increasing the momentum to curb the spread of the disease. The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Anthony Banbury, arrived in Accra Monday 29 September to head the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), which will join governments and international partners to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

“Ghana has never had a case of Ebola, yet the leadership of this country recognizes the impact this outbreak is having on the region” says Banbury. “We are extremely grateful to the Government of Ghana and the people living here for their willingness to support our work. Our task now is to work with the international community and support the national authorities of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to stop this outbreak from spreading any further.”

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UNMEER Head to brief media in Accra

Accra, September 29, 2014 – A 13-member advance team of UNMEER, led by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of UNMEER, Anthony Banbury has arrived in Accra. A press conference will take place tomorrow September 30.

Ghana's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey welcomes Tony Banbury

Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey welcomes Tony Banbury

Under the leadership of Mr. Banbury, the team will ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak is outlined and implemented.

The establishment of UNMEER follows the unanimous adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 69/1 to provide a platform for wide-ranging international efforts to put an end to the spread of the disease. UNMEER will have its headquarters in Accra with offices in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Head of UNMEER arrives in Ghana

Accra, Ghana, 27 September 2014 - An advance team of the newly established UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) arrives in Accra on Monday, September 29, 2014.  The team would be led by the UN Secretary-General Special Representative and Head of UNMEER, Anthony Banbury.

A press conference is scheduled to take place at 13:30hrs (1:30 p.m local time) at the VVIP lounge of the Kotoka International Airport. All media representatives are expected to be seated at 1 p.m.

As Head of UNMEER, Mr. Banbury will provide the operational framework and leadership to ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak.  This includes treating the infected, reinforcing essential services and taking action to ensure the disease does not spread to countries currently unaffected.

The establishment of UNMEER last week follows the unanimous adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 69/1 to provide a platform for wide-ranging international efforts to put an end to the spread of the disease. UNMEER will have its headquarters in Accra with offices in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Banbury will also travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

UN Secretary-General to convene high-level meeting on Ebola response & appoints Special Envoy for Ebola & Head of UNMEER

Accra, September 24, 2014 – In an effort to speed up the momentum for global support to curb the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the Secretary-General will convene a High-level Meeting on Response to the EVD on Thursday, 25 September 2014 in New York.

The meeting will bring together global leaders to focus international attention to combat the outbreak of the disease. It aims to mobilize an exceptional response to contain and stop the spread of the virus, treat those who are infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent outbreaks in other countries.

President Alpha Condé of Guinea, and via teleconference: Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone will take part in the meeting. Representatives the African Union Commission, the European Commission, the ECOWAS Commission, the United Nations Development Group, the World Bank Group, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and WHO are expected to participate in this meeting.

David Nabarro

David Nabarro

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced the appointment of David Nabarro of the United Kingdom as his Special Envoy for Ebola and Anthony Banbury as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

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Accra to serve as headquarters for the newly established UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response

Accra, September 22, 2014 – Ghana is to serve as the Headquarters for the newly established UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).  The office will be located in Accra with offices in each of the three most affected countries, namely, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The mission will support national efforts and reinforce government leadership.

Additionally, Ghana’s international airport will be used for the vital air bridge.

The establishment of UNMEER follows the unanimous adoption of General Assembly resolution 69/1.

In his remark to the UN General Assembly last Thursday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted that UNMEER will provide a platform for wide-ranging international efforts and will have five priorities: stop the outbreak, provide treatment, provide essential services, preserve stability and prevent outbreaks in non-affected countries. The mission is expected to also emphasize community outreach, training and education especially among local leaders, including traditional and religious leaders.

Consequently, the UN Secretary General, in a statement on the subject, has issued instructions that UNMEER advance teams be deployed to the mission headquarters in Ghana and to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by Monday, 22 September 2014.

It will be recalled that early this month the Under Secretary General Hervé Ladsous paid a brief visit to the UN Humanitarian Response Depot to access the depot in relation to the establishment of Accra as a logistics hub on ebola.

UN Ghana hands over a refurbished youth friendly centre to garage workers for provision of HIV & AIDS services

Accra, September 18, 2014 – Thirty-eight-year old Benjamin Panford is a ‘master’ mechanic at Odawna, a suburb of Accra, notable for its perennial flood. Benjamin has been an auto mechanic at Odawna for 10 years.  He is married with three children.  As an auto mechanic, Benjamin is the main bread winner of his family and oftentimes extended family.

Benjamin Panford being interviewed by UNIC Accra's Cynthia Prah

Benjamin Panford being interviewed by UNIC Accra’s Cynthia Prah

Benjamin is one of over a thousand Ghanaians, including vehicle parts shop owners, auto mechanics and food vendors at Odawna.

Literally translated as the bank of the odaw river, Odawna is a huge area where informal sector mechanics and enterprises, mainly dominated by men but with active women participation, are indiscriminately spattered.

Some Odawna garage workers at work

Some Odawna garage workers at work

In efforts to curb the HIV/AIDS endemic, the informal sector trade and work area is identified as one of the vulnerable groups but frequently overlooked. A 2012 vulnerability assessment carried out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) identified the lack of access to health and HIV services and safety nets away from parental control, guidance and care as risk factors that increase young people’s vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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