UN Ghana hands over a refurbished youth friendly centre 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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Ghana’s media briefed on 69th Session of the UN General Assembly

Accra, 16 September 2014 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the United Nations system in Ghana have held a media briefing on the Opening of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly to provide an overview of events leading to the UN General Debate which begins on September 24 and key issues to be discussed during the debate. The session was led by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (MP) and the UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Ms Susan Ngongi.

Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs addressing the media

Minister Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (middle) addressing the media. On her left is the UN Resident Coordinator a.i.

Ghana’s delegation to the General Assembly Debate would be led by President John Dramani Mahama. He is expected to deliver a statement on September 25. Ghana would also be engaged in a number of high-level meetings and events at which time President Mahama would deliver papers from the country’s position and from a regional perspective as Chairman of ECOWAS.

The 69th Session of the UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday, September 16.  In his opening address, the President of 69th UN GA, Hon. Sam Kutesa of Uganda said “we must strive to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda is truly transformative, with the eradication of poverty and hunger and the promotion of sustained and inclusive economic growth as its overarching objectives.”  He will, in the course of the 69th Session of the UN GA, convene three high-level Thematic Debates in February on the Means of Implementation for the post-2015 Development Agenda, in March on Advancing Gender equality and  Empowerment of Women in the post-2015 Development Agenda, and in May on addressing Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Strengthening Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional Organizations.

 

United Nations General Assembly opens tomorrow, 16 September 2014

Accra, September 15, 2014 – The 69th Session of the UN General Assembly opens tomorrow, September 16, 2014.  Activities leading to the UN General Debate on September 24 include the

HE Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the UN GA

HE Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the UN GA

World Conference on Indigenous People, Special session of the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Climate Summit 2014, convened by the UN Secretary General. Learn more about the 69th session here. Download the full press kit here.

A media briefing is scheduled to take place in Accra on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 10 a.m. at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. The press briefing will be addressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (MP) and the UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi.

 

UN Sec-Gen appoints Mohammed Ibn Chambas of Ghana as Special Rep. for West Africa

New York, September 12, 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Mohammed Ibn Chambas of Ghana as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).  Mr. Chambas will succeed Said Djinnit of Algeria to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and effective leadership of UNOWA.

Mohammed Ibn Chambas (left)

Mohammed Ibn Chambas (left)

Mr. Chambas brings to the position extensive experience after a long and distinguished career in both international and governmental forums, most recently as the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur since 20 December 2012.

From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Chambas was Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.  Prior to that, he served as President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from 2006 to 2009 and Executive Secretary from 2002 to 2005. A former Member of Parliament of Ghana, Mr. Chambas served as Deputy Foreign Secretary of Ghana in 1987 and Deputy Minister for Education in charge of Tertiary Education from 1997 to 2000.  Between 1991 and 1996, he was involved in ECOWAS mediation efforts in Liberia.

Born in 1950, Mr. Chambas holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Ghana.  He also has a Master’s degree and a PhD from Cornell University, as well as a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, both institutions in the United States.

Latest on Ebola Response in West Africa…UN welcomes global support

Cuba is to send 165 medical personnel to Sierra Leone to help in efforts to curb the ebola outbreak. The AU has begun mobilising medical personnel for the response while Ghana recently agreed to use Accra as a key logistics hub. Below is a statement attributable to the spokesman for the Secretary-General international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa:

“The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the announcement by the Cuban government that it will be sending 165 medical personnel to Sierra Leone soon to assist in the response to Ebola. In addition, the African Union has begun to mobilize medical personnel for the response, and the Government of Ghana has agreed to use Accra as a key hub for flights into and out of Monrovia. Offers of cash, equipment and personnel from governments, NGOs and the private sector have also begun to materialize.

Under Secretary General Hervé Ladsous (middle) in Accra to access UN Humanitarian Response Depot

Under Secretary General Hervé Ladsous (middle) in Accra to access UN Humanitarian Response Depot

We are also grateful for the continued support of the US government. Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced plans to make an additional $75 million available. More than 100 experts, most of them from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are deployed to the region in an effort to prevent, detect and halt the virus’s spread.

The UK government also announced that British military and humanitarian experts will set up a medical treatment centre for victims of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General welcomes these signs of solidarity, particularly the deployment of skilled medical teams. He calls on more countries and organizations to move swiftly to support the Governments of the countries affected, through the WHO Road Map and a complete overview of requirements, which will be released by OCHA in Geneva on 16 September.

As you will recall, the Secretary-General has held a number of calls with world leaders seeking their support for the countries most affected – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. He continues to reach out to leaders around the world on this issue.

The Secretary-General also renews his call for countries to refrain from closing their borders to people coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and for airlines and shipping companies to maintain transport links. Isolating the countries risks causing more harm and delaying efforts to stop the Ebola virus, rather than preventing its spread.

On Monday, the Secretary-General activated the UN’s crisis response mechanism for managing a system wide crisis, and instructed all UN Heads of Agencies and Departments to give top priority to working together in support of a unified, effective response. And our UN teams on the ground are engaged in active support of the national efforts, providing health services, food, supplies and outreach to communities.”

UN General Assembly to adopt the 2014 Malaria Resolution reiterating Member States’ commitment to keep malaria high on the international development agenda.

New York; September 10, 2014 – UN Member States have by consensus adopted Resolution A/68/L.60, “Consolidating Gains and Accelerating Efforts to Control and Eliminate Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa, by 2015”.

The resolution calls for donor and endemic governments alike to support global malaria control efforts, including through the secretariat of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership,  and to intensify efforts to secure the political commitment, partnerships and funds needed to continue saving lives. In a press release, the RBM notes that increased financing will be critical to further advancements, as current international and domestic financing for malaria of US $2.5 billion in 2012 amounts to less than half of the US $5.1 billion RBM estimates is needed annually through 2020 to achieve universal coverage of malaria control interventions.

According to the Executive Director of RBM, Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the adoption of this resolution by the General Assembly reiterates the commitment of UN Member States to keep malaria high on the international development agenda.

The Ghana Black Stars Captain Visits Malawi to Re-invigorate Advocacy on HIV Prevention through the Protect the Goal Campaign

Signing of the Ghana Protect the Goal PLEDGE by H.E. President John Mahama (middle) & Black Stars Captain Asamoah Gyan (right)

Signing of the Ghana Protect the Goal PLEDGE by H.E. President John Mahama (middle) & Black Stars Captain Asamoah Gyan (right)

Accra, August 30, 2014 – The Captain of the Ghanaian national football team, Asamoah Gyan, is currently in Malawi to support the country’s invigoration of the global ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign, which was launched in Malawi last year. The three-day visit includes various activities and events organized to highlight the importance of harnessing the power of football to raise awareness of HIV particularly amongst the youth. The Malawian President, H.E. Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’ is expected to sign the ‘Global Ball’, reaffirming his PLEDGE to HIV prevention. Fifteen other African Heads of State, including President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, have so far signed the ‘Global Ball’ which has now arrived in Malawi.

Read more in the press release issued by UNAIDS.

INTERVIEW: UN System Coordinator on Ebola dispels myths, pledges support for West Africa’s efforts to halt outbreak

20 August 2014 – As the World Health Organization (WHO) ramps up its response to the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa, the wider United Nations, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has launched a system-wide coordination initiative to assist Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in their efforts to halt the spread of the virus, which has left more than 1,000 people dead and is now affecting more than 1 million people throughout the region.

The Organization’s efforts got a major boost with the appointment of Dr. David Nabarro, British physician and public health expert, as Senior UN System Coordinator for Ebola, in support of the work done by WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan and her team to counter the outbreak of the virus.

Speaking to the UN News Centre before heading out on his first mission to West Africa, Dr. Nabarro, tasked with ensuring that the UN system makes an effective, coordinated contribution to the global effort to control the outbreak, touched on some critical issues – strengthening the health sectors in the affected countries, ensuring protection for frontline health workers, and tackling fear and stigma associated with Ebola – that the region’s Governments, with the support of the United Nations family, will be grappling with in the coming days and weeks.

Please read the full interview transcript or listen to his press briefing which was held on August 19.

Five UN Agencies to Help Ghana Green its Economy

Accra, 20 August 2014 – The United Nations, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, has launched an initiative to support national efforts to transition to a greener and more inclusive economy. Known as the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), the initiative would entail mobilizing social awareness and providing specialized training to identifying critical bottlenecks, formulating and assessing policy options, and enabling policy implementation for greening the economy.

Cross section of participants at the launch of PAGE

Cross section of participants at the launch of PAGE

The initiative was officially launched on 14 August 2014 at a national workshop in Accra. During the event, over 80 participants from the government, private sector, academia and civil society discussed the scope of actions that PAGE can carry out in Ghana to assist national efforts towards a green economy.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Trade, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, said the key aim for a transition to a green economy is to promote economic growth and investment, while increasing environmental quality and social inclusiveness, and these will in turn lead to sustainable development. All speakers underlined the fact that the PAGE initiative comes at an opportune time for Ghana.

partners of PAGE at the launch

Ms Welch (5th from left) with other partners of PAGE

Ms. Gita Welch, UNDP RR a.i., welcomed the initiative, which consolidates five UN agencies – namely the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – and closely coordinates with the entire UN Country Team through the UN Resident Coordinator system, as a milestone on the path of making Delivering as One a reality in Ghana.

The PAGE initiative in Ghana is in response to a request from the government.  It will operate within the framework of existing policies, such as Ghana’s medium term (2014–2017) development strategy and the National Climate Change Policy, and will build on existing work, such as the UNDP-UNEP Green Economy scoping study and assessment of Ghana. Consultations with representatives of the government, the private sector, academia and international development partners have identified critical areas where PAGE can deliver, including enabling conditions for sustainable economic growth with an emphasis on industrialization and the modernization of agriculture, as well as job creation.

The PAGE partners will contribute to the evidence-based selection of priority areas for the implementation of concrete green economy actions in Ghana, and will promote green industry, trade and jobs, as well as institutional capacity-building on the green economy through training-needs assessment and delivery.

UNIC Accra past intern Magnus Berg

“I will deeply miss both Ghana and UNIC. Once again, this has been an experience I would not want to trade for anything. I know that I will come back, and I know that I will meet my colleagues again. That is the reason why I am still smiling, even on my last day.” Click on Magnus to read more about his internship experience at UNIC Accra.
Magnus Berg