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13 September 2012 Representatives from more than 40 African countries have gathered at a United Nations-backed conference in Arusha, Tanzania, to discuss the region’s strategy to achieve sustainable development and come up with an integrated strategy for the region to encourage environmental initiatives.
For three days, environment ministers and other government officials at the 14th regular session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) are expected to tackle some of the challenges that threaten the future of the region such as land degradation, climate change, deforestation, low agriculture productivity and poverty.
This is the first time that African environment ministers have met since the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June, in which more than 100 heads of state and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders sought to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
“The follow up to Rio+20 needs to mark a moment of renewed commitment, greater urgency and a turning point in terms of implementation of what has already been agreed,” said the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, at the AMCEN session’s opening.
“A fully-engaged Africa at the UN General Assembly and beyond can assist greatly in ensuring that the gains made at Rio+20 are not only secured, but acted upon in order to boost the lives and livelihoods of now one billion Africans and six billion others across this extraordinary world,” he added.
The gathering, held under the theme ‘Africa’s Post-Rio Strategy for Sustainable Development,’ is meant to provide a platform for environment ministers to address key issues and take decisions in the wake of Rio+20 and the 19th Summit of the African Union that will help boost sustainable development in Africa.
The meeting, which ends on Friday, is also intended to produce an updated common position to ensure Africa’s participation in the climate talks leading up to the 18th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which takes place in Doha, Qatar, in December, as well as a declaration mapping Africa’s road to sustainable development.
Other key issues to be addressed during AMCEN’s latest session include the strengthening of UNEP and environmental networks in the region, encouraging sustainable consumption and production in Africa, and involving parliamentarians in the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.
Residents from Forbranga, a town in West Darfur, complained to Radio Dabanga about a series of night robberies and looting they have been experiencing since Sunday, 9 September. They said groups of two to six gunmen are responsible for the attacks.
Sources said the gunmen, wearing military uniforms, have been looting homes, shops, the market, and different parts of town for the past few days. They added that specially neighborhoods around the market, such as El-Buhairah, El-Inqaz and El-Salam are targeted.
The locality’s commissioner, Suleiman Khater Zayed, confirmed the residents’ stories and revealed he would impose a curfew on the locality in the coming days. He also said he will establish patrols on several neighborhoods and that security issues were to be discussed with other local officials, such as Sheikhs and Omdas.
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/35698
Ambassador Dean Smith, US special envoy in charge of Darfur, said the US continues to support the DOHA Agreement, according to camps’ coordinators. Smith made this announcement after holding separate meetings with different camps’ representatives on 11 and 12 September in West Darfur, Radio Dabanga was informed.
The special envoy met with representatives from 10 camps in El-Geneina at the Ardamata camp, and with representatives from the Hamedia camp, near Zalingei, a camps’ coordinator said.
According to a source, Ambassador Smith added the US has encouraged the Darfuri armed movements to articulate their political objectives for Darfur with reference to the Doha Agreement.
Ardamata camp, El-Geneina
El-Geneina representatives held the meeting with Ambassador Dean Smith on Tuesday, 11 September. During the meeting, they complained about the decline in security, the spread of weapons and about the presence of pro-government militia in West Darfur, stated Ardamata’s leader. They added that security no longer exists around camps and stressed they are victims of looting, rapes, kidnapping, detention and assaults, also inside their farms.
Different sources present at the meeting informed Radio Dabanga that camps’ residents expressed their disbelief in the Doha Document and demanded the improvement of security in the area.
Radio Dabanga was informed that the displaced requested that militias are disarmed and that settlers are expelled from their lands. According to the source, these are essential steps to be taken before peace can be established and residents said they will not voluntarily return to their areas of origin under the current circumstances.
In addition, residents said the scarcity of food, water and health services is sharply increasing, especially after aid organizations left the camps, the source said.
El-Geneina leaders described the meeting with Ambassador Dean Smith as good and constructive.
Hamedia camp, Zalingei
Hamedia camp’s residents said that a change in the regime in Sudan is the only way that problems will be solved in the country, a source said. They demanded that the US supports a change of regime in Sudan, to which Ambassador Smith stressed it is up to the Sudanese to change governance in Sudan, as a Zalingei coordinator told Radio Dabanga.
A Zalingei camps’ coordinator said the displaced believe that a comprehensive solution for Sudan lies in the change of regime in Khartoum. Besides, residents expressed their support that this change is brought through the consolidation of opposition parties together with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), as pointed out by the source.
During the meeting on 12 September, residents from Hamedia asked the US to exercise more pressure in activating the mandate of UNAMID, the source told Radio Dabanga. This way, he said, the mission can play its actual role, which is protecting civilians in Darfur. Hamedia residents also asked the US to exercise more pressure on the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian access to those in need in Darfur, the source said.
Regarding the return of camps’ residents to their areas of origin, the displaced demanded Ambassador Smith that security provision is improved in their villages, according to the coordinator. They also requested that settlers are expelled and settlements are dismantled, that militias are disarmed, that perpetrators are brought to justice, and that they receive individual and collective compensation, Radio Dabanga has learned.
The camps’ coordinator said that the US encouraged the IDPs to participate in the refugee/IDP conference scheduled for November in order that they may have a voice at the table. The source announced the conference will take place in Nyala, South Darfur, but that Hamedia camps’ leaders rejected the offer.
During the meeting, camps’ leaders made it clear to Ambassador Smith that the Doha Document does not represent them as refugees and have dismissed it, according to the source.
Zalingei camps’ coordinator said refugees were satisfied with the meeting and that they managed to clearly state their views and demands to Ambassador Dean Smith.
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/35701