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.

International Volunteer Day marked in Accra

Accra, December 4, 2014 – International Volunteer Day (IVD) is being marked in Ghana with a three-day event that began on the 3rd of December. The first event was held at the fore-court of the UNDP office and was chaired by Nii Dodoo Dodoo the country manager of youth challenge international. Present at the event were, the UN Resident Coordinator and Heads UNHCR and UNDP, the Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, the La Mantse (Chief of La), representatives of UN agencies, volunteer groups and UN volunteers.

cultural dance v3

YMCA Cultural troupe performing at the event

The Program Officer of UN Volunteer, Ms. Betty Simate, in her opening remarks stressed that the UN considers volunteers as an integral part of development as they give development efforts a greater impact, adding that she learnt respect, value for people and the art of listening from being a volunteer. Three volunteers, Ms. Abba Crentsil of UNHCR, Mr. Eyram Dzitire of UNICEF and Ms. Kalevor of St. John’s Ambulance shared their volunteer experiences with the audience. Ms. Abba Crentsil who served as a volunteer in war-torn Ivory Coast attributes her empathy for the refugees she works with to her volunteer work and urged volunteers to appreciate and value every little effort they put in their work as volunteers.

Mrs. Dela Sowah

Mrs. Dela Sowah

According to Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Dela Sowah, “the spirit of the volunteer embodies true nobility. Volunteers give their time without expecting a material reward” and she commended their efforts while calling on more people to volunteer for national development.

The UN Resident Coordinator, a.i. Ms. Susan Ngongi read the UN Secretary General’s statement commending the work of volunteers in war and disease torn countries especially those fighting the Ebola Virus Disease, encouraging them in their noble cause and enjoining the rest of the world to contribute to the effort.

The activities to mark the IVD in Accra include a clean-up and tree planting exercise involving over 100 international and national volunteers and free eye screening for the people of La community by volunteering medical personnel.

IVD was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985. Celebrating the day gives a chance for organizations and individual volunteers to celebrate their efforts and share their values to national and international development.

The sights and sound bites of the events were captured by UNIC Accra. Read more.

Ghana teams up with UN-backed alliance in move towards cashless economy

New York, December 1, 2014 – The Government of Ghana joined the Better Than Cash Alliance to enhance fiscal transparency and promote financial inclusion for all its citizens.  By becoming an Alliance member, the Government commits to transition government programmes from cash to digital payments.

Read more: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49483#.VH3f1jGsVMZ

 

Accra launches LDCs report 2014

Accra, November 27, 2014 – Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has launched the 2014 Least Developed Countries report in Accra at a brief event jointly organized by the United Nations Information Centre, Accra and the Third World Network (TWN), Africa in Accra.  A flagship report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the 2014 LDC report titled “Growth with structural transformation: A post-2015 development agenda”. It examines the linkages between structural transformation, economic growth and human development and argues that “LDCs are the battleground on which the proposed post-2015 development agenda will succeed or fail”.

Official launch of the LDCs report 2014 in Accra

Official launch of the LDCs report 2014 in Accra

Presenting the report, Mr. Gyekye Tanoh of TWN disclosed that even though Ghana is not a LDC, Ghana can learn from some of the issues raised in the report to enable its economy to grow in a way that would translate into human development. Richard Tweneboah-Kodua, a Principal Planning Analyst of the National Development Planning Commission spoke on Ghana’s Post 2015 agenda and processes where he highlighted the efforts made to ensure an inclusive post-2015 development agenda.

Details of the report are available at http://unctad.org/en/pages/MeetingDetails.aspx?meetingid=527

A UN4U session held for students from 10 Senior High Schools in Western region

Takoradi, 18 November, 2014 – UNIC Accra, in partnership with United Nations Association (UNA), Western Region, have taken some 400 students through an information and knowledge sharing session.  The exercise, known as UN4U, was held at the Ghana Secondary Technical School (GSTS), Takoradi, and was attended by Senior High School students from 10 schools in the region. They were taken through various presentations on the history and work of the United Nations by the National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, Ms. Cynthia Prah; on the role of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees by its Assistant Protection Officer, Mr. Samuel Dzikunu; and on UNA and the World Federation of UNAs, by Ms. Edna Nyame, the Secretary-General of UNA Ghana.

A cross section of students at the event

A cross section of students at the event

Mr. Obed Bentum of the Ghana AIDS Commission also educated the students on the state of HIV/AIDS in Ghana and the national response.  He urged students to refrain from discriminating against people living with HIV/AIDS and, instead, learn more about the disease in order to support national efforts to reach the “Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS related deaths” target.

Mr. Nyrako of SOS International making a presentation on Ebola

Mr. Nyrako of SOS International making a presentation on Ebola

Another interesting and engaging topic was on Ebola.  The presentation was made by Mr. Chris Isaac Nyarko of the SOS International. He threw more light on the disease, its history and preventive measures.

At the end of the presentations, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. For many of the students, this was their first time of participating in such a session which offered them the platform to gain insight into the work of the UN and other useful topics. All the schools expressed their preparedness to host future UN4U sessions in the region.

UN4U is an outreach program which brings UN officials to speak to students in their schools. UNICs around the world are encouraged to organize such sessions in their countries to engage students at all levels.

Journalists call for a mechanism for reporting & documenting attacks against journalists

Takoradi, November 17, 2014 – Journalists attending a media forum to mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) in the Western region have called on media stakeholders and the United Nations to initiate a mechanism for reporting and documenting incidents of attacks against journalists in the country.  They also called for more fora to provide information on issues relating to safety of journalists for the security services and political parties.  The journalists expressed their displeasure about the way they are treated at events to which they have been invited to provide coverage, citing a recent incidence involving a Citi FM news reporter and political party supporters in Bogoso in the Western region.

 Acting GJA Regional Secretary Mr Saminu addressing the participants presentation


Acting GJA Regional Secretary Mr Saminu addressing the participants presentation

The Forum which was organized by UNESCO and the UN Information Centre (UNIC, Accra), brought together about thirty five journalists from the print and broadcast media. The event marked the IDEI under the theme “The State of Journalists’ Safety in Ghana: The case of the Western Region”.

In a presentation, the Acting GJA Regional Secretary, Zambaga Rufai Saminu reminded journalists of their responsibility to protect the citizens of Ghana and emphasized the need for professionalism in their field of practice.    He expressed his appreciation to UNESCO and UNIC for holding a forum to draw public attention to the state of Journalists’ safety in Ghana. Mr. Saminu also promised to hold events to highlight the dangers journalists face in the course of their duties and to engage the security service in discussions on the protection of journalists in the future. Continue reading

Ghana AIDS Commission launches 2014 World AIDS Day at Ashaiman

Accra, November 4, 2014 – Residents of Ashaiman, a suburb of Tema, and its environs, seized the opportunity of the launch of World AIDS day in their community to check their HIV/AIDS status and receive counseling and free IEC/BCC materials and information.

Residents of Ashaiman patronising one of teh stands

Residents of Ashaiman patronising one of teh stands

The launch of the month-long advocacy and awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS toards World AIDS day on December 1, was under the national theme, “Ghana towards an HIV free generation through PMTCT, safe sex and stigma reduction”. The campaign will include community outreach in churches and mosques, a walk, and media campaign to better engage the general populace on HIV and AIDS issues with the goal of promoting and encouraging the utilization of HIV services, especially testing and counseling, condom use, treatment services and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It was attended by representatives from the Ghana Health Service, the Council of State, United Nations system, NAP+ Ghana and elders from the Ashaiman Township and the clergy. Continue reading

Ghana records 138 incidents of violation against journalists from 2005 till date

Accra,  November 3, 2014 – As the world marks International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists for the first time, media stakeholders in Ghana have called for more measures by regulatory bodies, training institutions and media actors to improve the quality of journalism and ensure the safety of practitioners. Some bemoaned the inadequate facilities for training journalists in the country, the toothless nature of the National Media Commission, the frequent attacks on journalists and the absence of a national mechanism to monitor and report on journalists’ safety.

Participants at the Forum

Participants at the Forum

The stakeholders made the call at a forum organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO and the UN Information Centre, Accra to commemorate the Day.  It brought together over 100 stakeholders to discuss the “state of journalists safety in Ghana” following a presentation by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) Ghana, a regional independent NGO that works to defend and promote the rights and freedoms of the media.   Continue reading