13 February 2013 The United Nations agency tasked with supporting agricultural projects in developing countries is boosting economic opportunities for rural youth and women in Tunisia through a programme that gives loans and grants to farmers and local communities.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today announced that it would extend a loan and grant of $11.4 million to finance the second phase of the Agropastoral Development and Local Initiatives Promotion Programme.
The programme “will intensify investment in infrastructure focusing on natural resource management and irrigation to improve agricultural productivity,” IFAD said in a press release.
The agriculture sector makes up 8 per cent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product and provides employment to 18.3 per cent of the national labour force, according to figures cited.
“In addition, the programme will promote local economic initiatives by providing assistance and resources in the form of access to microcredit, knowledge and training opportunities,” IFAD added.
Some 13,200 households in the southern province of Tataouine and the central desert area of Kebili are expected to benefit.
In addition to funding from IFAD, the programme is co-financed by the Spanish Food Security Co-Financing Facility Trust Fund to Tunisia and by the projects’ beneficiaries.
The financing agreement was signed today by Naceur Mestiri, Ambassador of Tunisia in Italy, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
Also today, the Governing Council, the highest decision-making body of IFAD, appointed Mr. Nwanze by acclamation to a second term to continue to lead the rural poverty agency for another four years.
In his address to the Council, Mr. Nwanze made the case for advancing rural economic development by focusing the Fund’s work on rural youth, resilience to climate change, and fragile states in the coming year.
8 February 2013 Secretary-General strongly condemned the assassination earlier this week of Tunisian political leader Chokri Belaid, while also encouraging the North African nation to move forward with its democratic transition.
“Tunisia’s democratic transition should not be derailed by acts of political violence,” said a statement issued last night by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
Mr. Belaid was the Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots Movement and one of the leaders of the Popular Front in Tunisia. He was shot Wednesday morning while leaving his home in the capital, Tunis. Sporadic protests and clashes have been reported arounThere has been important progress in Tunisia’s transition. Yet, much remains to be done in terms of the constitutional process and with regard to meeting the social and economic demands of the Tunisian people.d the country following the killing.
The Secretary-General encouraged authorities to move forward with the reform process that has been under way since the toppling of the long-standing regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.
“There has been important progress in Tunisia’s transition,” the statement noted. “Yet, much remains to be done in terms of the constitutional process and with regard to meeting the social and economic demands of the Tunisian people.”
The killing was also condemned earlier this week by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who called on the authorities to take serious measures to investigate the assassination and other apparently politically-motivated crimes, as well as to provide better protection to people who are political targets.
6 February 2013 The top United Nations human rights official today condemned the assassination of Tunisian activist Chokri Belaid and urged authorities to provide better protection to people who are political targets.
“I was extremely saddened to hear the shocking news of Mr. Belaid’s murder,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news release.
“He was a prominent defender of human rights and democratic values, and a firm opponent of political violence, which just yesterday he publicly condemned as ‘a blow against the democratic process in the country’.”
Mr. Belaid was the Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots Movement and one of the leaders of the Popular Front in Tunisia. He was shot Wednesday morning while leaving his home in the capital, Tunis.
According to media reports, the killing sparked protests around the country, with police firing tear gas to disperse angry crowds. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has condemned the killing and is cutting short an overseas visit.
In her statement, Ms. Pillay warned that the assassination comes in an “environment of increasing political violence,” which includes attacks on political parties’ premises and gatherings, and other political killings.
She called on the authorities to take serious measures to investigate Mr. Belaid’s killing and other apparently politically-motivated crimes, as well as to provide better protection to people who, like Mr. Belaid, have received threats and are clearly at risk.
It was the people of Tunisia that inspired the region in 2011 when they stood up to demand democracy and freedom, leading to the removal of the long-standing regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Their actions sparked a wave of popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring, which also led to the toppling of regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
“I strongly condemn such acts, which – as Mr. Belaid himself said so clearly – threatens to seriously undermine the democratic transition in post-revolution Tunisia,” Ms. Pillay said.
“I call on all actors in government and civil society to unite strongly behind Mr. Belaid’s campaign against political violence. That would, at least, provide him with a fitting memorial for his invaluable work as a human rights defender and opponent of violence.”