feiten, impressies en beelden       

2 oktober 2014



DAKAR/OUGADOUGOU, 22 September 2014 (IRIN) - As the Ebola caseload rises to over 5,350, aid agencies and governments in countries not yet affected by the deadly virus are gearing up for its potential spread across new borders by pre-positioning supplies, training health workers, identifying isolation centres, and disseminating prevention campaign messages, among other activities.

Countries that share a land border with the affected countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, and Mali, are considered to be most at risk.

"It is vitally important that, countries - especially surrounding countries that don't have Ebola cases as of yet - are prepared for a worst case scenario," said Pieter Desloovere, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO).

In August, WHO issued an Ebola Response Roadmap
to help countries across the region limit the spread of the virus. One of its three objectives is to strengthen the ability of all countries to detect and deal with any potential cases.

"The reason that Ebola started in Guinea and has since spread to Liberia and other countries is that no one was paying attention," said Grev Hunt, the UN Children's Fund's (UNICEF's) sub-regional coordinator for the Ebola outbreak. "We were caught unaware. But now, we are paying very close attention to what is going on and making sure the same thing won't happen again."

Unlike in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where response plans and training materials had to be created from scratch, UNICEF is now replicating those resources and giving them to neighbouring countries, saving time and effort. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says they have put in place Ebola preparedness and response activities in 11 countries across West Africa, and many local and international NGOs have been pre-positioning medical supplies, training health workers and educating the public. "Failing to plan is actually planning to fail," said Unni Krishnan, the head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International. "And we know from previous disasters that a dollar you put towards preparedness... tends to save thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of lives."Preparedness funds Key to prevention and preparedness in at-risk countries is having access to timely funding, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Senegal currently has US$5.7 million at the ready to use towards Ebola preparation and prevention. 

Mali has around $3.6 million and Côte d'Ivoire $2.9 million. In Guinea Bissau, where the health system is extremely weak, only $800,000 is currently available for Ebola-related activities. "It's quite a fragile situation right now," said Daniel Sanha, a communication officers for the Guinea Bissau Red Cross. "We have a contingency plan in place, but the Red Cross still has no funds to implement any Ebola intervention activities. At the same time, the government doesn't have enough funds or equipment to take all the necessary precautions."

Mass public education campaigns

National media campaigns, including radio shows, TV programmes and other on-air broadcasts, are now under way in all sub-regional countries to educate people about Ebola and give them enough information to protect themselves, as well as to prevent rumours and misunderstandings from spreading.

"This is the first time we have had an Ebola outbreak in West Africa and part of the challenge we are facing is that people have no idea what the disease actually is or how it is spread," Desloovere said.

Volunteers in Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau are handing out pamphlets and flyers door to door, as well as posting them in public areas. Social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, along with text messages to mobile phone subscribers, are being used by Health Ministries and aid agencies to transmit information and to remind people to practise safe hygiene measures, and to go to a clinic if they detect symptoms. 

UNICEF says the messages, which have all been approved by the Ministries of Health, are transmitted in local languages and in culturally appropriate ways. Rather than urging families not to bury their dead in the traditional way, for instance, aid agencies work with communities to find a safer burial procedure that both are comfortable with. "Our message is very simple," said Buba Darbo, the head of disaster management for the Gambian Red Cross. "Don't touch a sick person, don't touch a dead body. If everyone follows this advice they will prevent themselves from getting Ebola." Some messaging specifies that people should avoid shaking hands as a gesture of greeting. Aid agencies have also begun working with religious leaders and local community leaders to spread messages about what to do, and not do, in case of possible Ebola infections.Health worker training Doctors and nurses across the region are being trained to spot possible cases, as well as to follow protocol for reporting suspected cases, how to prevent any further contamination and how to protect themselves. "Educating and protecting our health workers is a top priority," said Ibrahima Sy, a grants manager and health expert with the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA). "We need to put at their disposal all the materials they need to avoid contamination, and arm them with the information they need to avoid further spread of this virus."

In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, the Red Cross has been conducting staged simulations of Ebola cases, so that health workers know exactly what to do if they encounter a suspected case.

"We hope Ebola never comes here, but if a case were to be declared today, with the emergency health system we have in place, we are ready to take charge of it," said Franck Kodjo, the communications officer for Côte d'Ivoire's Red Cross. "All the actors, from the Ministry of Health to the local volunteers, we are prepared to take it on."

Other countries, such as The Gambia, have been training healthcare workers on how to handle the dead bodies of suspected cases.

Thus far over 300 health workers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola, according to WHO.

Specialized prevention and response teams

To help coordinate prevention efforts and put such measures in place, many countries have created multi-sectorial committees to implement the measures. Senegal's National Crisis Committee, for example, now has a 10-committee unit dedicated to Ebola prevention and containment. They have been working with the Ministry of Health and other key partners, including the Senegalese Red Cross and WHO, to engage in activities such as resource mobilization, media and communication, surveillance, logistics, security and clinical care. The Gambia has a similar seven-committee Ebola response unit, which works alongside the government and various health partners and NGOs to implement prevention measures. 

In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, the Red Cross has been conducting staged simulations of Ebola cases, so that health workers know exactly what to do if they encounter a suspected case. "We hope Ebola never comes here, but if a case were to be declared today, with the emergency health system we have in place, we are ready to take charge of it," said Franck Kodjo, the communications officer for Côte d'Ivoire's Red Cross. "All the actors, from the Ministry of Health to the local volunteers, we are prepared to take it on." Other countries, such as The Gambia, have been training healthcare workers on how to handle the dead bodies of suspected cases. Thus far over 300 health workers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola, according to WHO.

Pre-positioning materials

Items such as soap, chlorine, gloves, disinfectant materials, medicines, medical equipment, and hygiene kits are being stocked in countries across the region. In Mali, protection kits have also been given to some of the volunteers who are involved in contact tracing and mass education campaigns.

Identifying isolation and treatment centres

Some treatment centres and isolation units in at-risk countries have been pre-identified, but not in sufficient numbers, say aid agency staff.

Cameroon now has isolation centres and laboratories in selected hospitals throughout the country, as well as a quarantine zone in the Southwest Region of the country, near the Nigerian border. The Gambia has also established three Ebola treatment centres: one in the greater Banjul area, the second in the country's "middle belt", and the third in the far east. Senegal has established an isolation unit and has testing facilities at its Institute Pasteur, as do the Institute Pasteur in Côte d'Ivoire and laboratories in Mali. Guinea-Bissau has not yet identified isolation units.

Border closings and surveillance measures

Despite strong recommendations by WHO not to close borders, or to restrict travel to or from the affected countries, seven African countries have decided not to allow anyone from an Ebola-affected country in or out. Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, for example, have shut all land, sea and air borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Guinea Bissau has closed its land borders with Guinea, and Guinea, in an attempt to contain the outbreak, has shut its land borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. Cameroon has also closed its land and air borders with Nigeria though refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks have been crossing the border.

All countries in the sub-region now have health workers posted at all main border crossings and points of entry, including the airports, where incoming travellers are screened for Ebola-like symptoms.

In Nigeria, where 21 cases have been confirmed, health workers are also going around communities to check people's temperatures and seek out the sick. Many schools, shops and restaurants now have handwashing stations set up outside their doors.

"It has become an everyday sight to see temperature-taking devices both at major border crossings, as well as hospitals and offices," said O. Nwakpa, of the Nigerian Red Cross. "They take our temperature and give you hand sanitizer each time you enter a building."

In Mauritania, not only do incoming travellers go through health checks, but outgoing travellers do as well, as the capital, Nouakchott, is considered a "last stop" before Europe.

Many communities in border areas most at risk have also created neighborhood watch programmes, in which people are encouraged to report anyone who shows Ebola-like symptoms. 


Countries, such as Burkina Faso and Senegal, have set up toll-free numbers for people to call and report suspected cases.Restricting public gatherings To avoid potential bodily contact, many countries, such as The Gambia, have restricted or prohibited large public gatherings. In Burkina Faso, the government has cancelled important high-level meetings, including the African Union Employment and Poverty Reeducation conference, which was scheduled to be held in the first week of September. NGOs and health volunteers across the region say they have stopped performing educational theatre sketches on Ebola for fear of encouraging crowds to gather. 



27 augustus 2014

- van

Unprecedented number of medical staff infected with Ebola

Situation assessment - 25 August 2014

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa is unprecedented in many ways, including the high proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been infected.

To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died.

Ebola has taken the lives of prominent doctors in Sierra Leone and Liberia, depriving these countries not only of experienced and dedicated medical care but also of inspiring national heroes.

Several factors help explain the high proportion of infected medical staff. These factors include shortages of personal protective equipment or its improper use, far too few medical staff for such a large outbreak, and the compassion that causes medical staff to work in isolation wards far beyond the number of hours recommended as safe.

In the past, some Ebola outbreaks became visible only after transmission was amplified in a health care setting and doctors and nurses fell ill. However, once the Ebola virus was identified and proper protective measures were put in place, cases among medical staff dropped dramatically.

Moreover, many of the most recent Ebola outbreaks have occurred in remote areas, in a part of Africa that is more familiar with this disease, and with chains of transmission that were easier to track and break.

The current outbreak is different. Capital cities as well as remote rural areas are affected, vastly increasing opportunities for undiagnosed cases to have contact with hospital staff. Neither doctors nor the public are familiar with the disease. Intense fear rules entire villages and cities.

Several infectious diseases endemic in the region, like malaria, typhoid fever, and Lassa fever, mimic the initial symptoms of Ebola virus disease. Patients infected with these diseases will often need emergency care. Their doctors and nurses may see no reason to suspect Ebola and see no need to take protective measures.

Some documented infections have occurred when unprotected doctors rushed to aid a waiting patient who was visibly very ill. This is the first instinct of most doctors and nurses: aid the ailing.

In many cases, medical staff are at risk because no protective equipment is available – not even gloves and face masks. Even in dedicated Ebola wards, personal protective equipment is often scarce or not being properly used.

Training in proper use in absolutely essential, as are strict procedures for infection prevention and control.

In addition, personal protective equipment is hot and cumbersome, especially in a tropical climate, and this severely limits the time that doctors and nurses can work in an isolation ward. Some doctors work beyond their physical limits, trying to save lives in 12-hour shifts, every day of the week. Staff who are exhausted are more prone to make mistakes.

All personal protective equipment despatched or approved by WHO meets the appropriate international safety standards.

The heavy toll on health care workers in this outbreak has a number of consequences that further impede control efforts.

It depletes one of the most vital assets during the control of any outbreak. WHO estimates that, in the three hardest-hit countries, only one to two doctors are available to treat 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas.

It can lead to the closing of health facilities, especially when staff refuse to come to work, fearing for their lives. When hospitals close, other common and urgent medical needs, such as safe childbirth and treatment for malaria, are neglected.

The fact that so many medical staff have developed the disease increases the level of anxiety: if doctors and nurses are getting infected, what chance does the general public have? In some areas, hospitals are regarded as incubators of infection and are shunned by patients with any kind of ailment, again reducing access to general health care.

The loss of so many doctors and nurses has made it difficult for WHO to secure support from sufficient numbers of foreign medical staff.

The African Union has launched an urgent initiative to recruit more health care workers from among its members.


13 augustus 2014

- van

Ebola: l’OMS approuve l’emploi de traitements non homologués

Les experts de l'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) réunis, ce mardi 12 août, en comité d’éthique au siège de l’organisation à Genève, ont approuvé l’emploi de traitements non homologués contre la fièvre Ebola. Selon un dernier bilan, 1 013 décès et 1 848 cas ont été enregistrés.

Deux questions étaient examinées par les experts de l'OMS lors de leur réunion au siège de l'organisation à Genève, ce mardi 12 août. Il s'agissait de déterminer s'il est éthique ou non d'utiliser des traitements non homologués contre le virus Ebola et si oui, dans quels cas administrer le traitement et à qui.

Pour le moment, il n'existe toujours aucun vaccin ou médicament certifié contre le virus. Par contre, plusieurs traitements sont en phase de test. Certains ont montré des résultats prometteurs en laboratoire, mais on ne peut pas garantir leur efficacité sur des humains ni connaître leurs éventuels effets secondaires qui pourraient être dangereux pour la santé. Néanmoins, devant les circonstances exceptionnelles de l'épidémie, la plus grave depuis la découverte du virus il y a 40 ans, les experts ont accepté l'utilisation de ces traitements non homologués.

Des conditions éthiques doivent être remplies

Il faut une transparence absolue concernant le type de traitement, la liberté de choix et la garantie de confidentialité pour le malade, et l'implication des communautés locales avant toute utilisation d'une thérapie. Les scientifiques devront recueillir toutes les données possibles : sur la durée du traitement, les doses administrées, le moment et les conditions où il est administré.

Toutes les conditions rigoureuses d'un essai clinique classique doivent être respectées. Le but est de pouvoir déterminer le plus rapidement possible si tel ou tel médicament est réellement efficace  pour pouvoir améliorer la prescription et même éventuellement le diffuser plus largement. « Il ne s’agit pas de prendre n’importe quelle poudre de perlimpinpin sous prétexte que les taux de mortalité d’Ebola sont très élevés pour l’utiliser sur des patients », prévient ainsi Marie-Paule Kieny, sous-directrice générale à l'OMS. « Il s’agit de voir quels sont les produits qui ont fait leurs preuves au moins dans des modèles animaux pertinents, chez le singe en particulier, montrer qu’ils étaient capables de protéger ces animaux contre une infection et une maladie d’Ebola et quels sont les effets secondaires qu’on a pu observer dans ces modèles, pour essayer de déterminer si ce qu’on attend comme bénéfice est commensurable avec ce qu’on fait courir comme risque au patient », explique-t-elle.

Reste à savoir qui pourra bénéficier de ces traitements. Et pour l'instant, les experts en éthique de l'OMS apportent peu de précisions. Il reste en effet à déterminer quels malades doivent être traités en priorité et comment répartir équitablement les traitements entre les pays affectés. Car de très faible quantité de ces médicaments sont disponibles.

Dans le cas du fameux sérum expérimental qui aurait aidé à guérir deux soignants américains mais qui n'a pas sauvé le missionnaire espagnol, les Etats-Unis ont d'ores et déjà annoncé l'envoi de ce traitement au Liberia. Il est destiné aux médecins libériens actuellement infectés.

Décès du premier malade européen rappatrié du Liberia

Ce mardi matin, un premier malade est décédé sur le sol européen. Il s'agit du missionnaire espagnol qui avait été rapatrié du Liberia vers l'Espagne.  C'est le quatrième membre du personnel de l'hôpital Saint-Joseph de Monrovia qui décède. L'hôpital a été fermé début août par les autorités libériennes.

Les personnels de santé restent en première ligne, sept médecins et un infirmier chinois ont été placés en quarantaine en Sierra Leone.

Au Liberia, particulièrement touché par l'épidémie, une troisième province affectée, la province de Lofa, frontalière avec la Guinée et la Sierra Leone, a été isolée le lundi 11 août. La maladie touche également le Nigeria où un nouveau cas a été détecté hier à Lagos.

La Guinée-Bissau a annoncé ce mardi soir la fermeture de ses frontières avec la Guinée. La Guinée est l'un des trois pays africains les plus durement touchés par l'épidémie du virus Ebola. 


31 juli 2014


Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update


Disease outbreak news
31 July 2014

Epidemiology and surveillance

Between 24 and 27 July 2014, a total of 122 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD; laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 57 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The Ebola epidemic trend in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone remains precarious with ongoing community and health-facility transmissions of infection. The surge in the number of new EVD cases calls for concentrated efforts by all to address the identified problems, such as health facility transmission and effective contact tracing.

On 29 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point for Nigeria confirmed that the probable EVD case notified to WHO on 27 July 2014 was symptomatic at the time of arrival in Nigeria and that 59 contacts (15 from among the airport staff and 44 from the hospital) have been identified so far. The report also confirms that the patient travelled by air and arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on 20 July via Lomé, Togo, and Accra, Ghana. The sample from this case is yet to be sent to the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, due to refusal by courier companies to transport this sample. Though only one probable case has been detected so far in Nigeria, Ebola virus infection in this country represents a significant development in the course of this outbreak.

National authorities in Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo continue to work closely with WHO and it partners in identification of contacts and contact tracing as well as in preparing response plans.

Health sector response

In an effort to accelerate the response to the current EVD outbreak in West Africa, the Director General of WHO and other senior managers continue to hold discussions with the donor community, development partners, and international agencies at a global level. Focus of the discussion has centered on the need to rapidly deploy additional human and financial resources that will help interrupt Ebola transmission and end the outbreak.

Efforts are currently ongoing to scale up and strengthen all aspects of the response in the four countries, including epidemiologic investigations, contact tracing, public information and community mobilization, case management and infection prevention and control, coordination, and staff security. WHO is also working closely with various partners to finalize the national response plans that define urgent response needs in line with the Accra strategy adopted by Member States.

WHO and it partners – GOARN, CDC, MSF, UNICEF, IFRC, Institute Pasteur of Dakar, Save the Children, Plan Guinea, and others – continue to work together through the Sub-regional Ebola Outbreak Coordination Center (SEOCC) in Conakry to accelerate the control of this outbreak.

WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions is applied to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone based on the current information available for this event.

Disease update

New cases and deaths attributable to EVD continue to be reported by the Ministries of Health in the four West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Between 24 and 27 July 2014, 122 new cases (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) of EVD and 57 deaths were reported from the four countries as follows: Guinea, 33 new cases and 20 deaths; Liberia, 80 new cases and 27 deaths; Nigeria, 1 case and 1 death; Sierra Leone, 8 new cases and 9 deaths.

As of 27 July 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the four countries stands at 1 323 including 729 deaths. The distribution and classification of the cases are as follows: Guinea, 460 cases (336 confirmed, 109 probable, and 15 suspected) including 339 deaths; Liberia, 329 cases (100 confirmed, 128 probable, and 101 suspected) including 156 deaths; Nigeria, 1 case (1 probable who died); and Sierra Leone, 533 cases (473 confirmed, 38 probable, and 22 suspected) including 233 deaths.


15 juli 2014


Statelessness = invisibility in West Africa

DAKAR, 15 July 2014 (IRIN) - At least 750,000 people are stateless in West Africa, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is calling for governments to do more to give or restore the nationality of stateless individuals, and improve national laws to prevent statelessness.

Many in the region are both stateless and refugees, said Emmanuelle Mitte, senior protection officer on statelessness with UNHCR in Dakar, but 80 percent of West Africans are stateless within their own country, lacking proof of the criteria required to guarantee their nationality.

Statelessness can block people’s ability to access health care, education or any form of social security. In the case of children who are separated from their families during emergencies, the lack of official documentation makes it much harder to reunite them, says the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Lack of official identification documents can mean a child enters into marriage, the labour market, or is conscripted into the armed forces, before the legal age.

Statelessness can also render people void of protection from abuse. Denied the right to work or move, they risk moving into the invisible underclass, said UNHCR’s West Africa protection officer, Kavita Brahmbhatt, who gave the example of a group of stranded non-documented Sierra Leonean migrants living in the slums of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, selling charcoal as they were too poor to do anything else, and too scared to return home for fear of being punished. “They became a member of Monrovia’s underclass,” she said.

Statelessness not only stops people travelling across borders but restricts movement within countries such as Côte d’Ivoire or Mauritania, which are heavily check-pointed.  

“Nationality is not just a document; it affects all of your rights as a citizen. Without a nationality you’re invisible, you don’t exist,” said Mitte. According to her, the 750,000 figure is “just the tip of the iceberg” - no studies have been undertaken to document the number officially. But UNHCR estimates at least 10 million people are stateless worldwide.

Stateless children

Stateless children are particularly vulnerable as there is little that they can do to fight for their cause.
Lack of birth registration is the first step to statelessness for many children: some 230 million under-fives globally have never been registered, according to UNICEF. West Africa suffers very low rates of birth registration: just 4 percent of infants are registered in Liberia; 16 percent in Chad, and 24 percent in Guinea-Bissau, making them among the world’s worst 10 performers.

“Birth registration is more than just a right. It’s how societies first recognize and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF deputy executive director in a late 2013 communique launching the report
Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration.

A significant proportion of West Africa’s three million double orphans (children with no living parent) are stateless, as are almost all of the region’s street children, known as talibés.

“People never look at the talibé issue from the standpoint of statelessness. It’s the elephant in the room,” said Brahmbhatt.

Emergencies and statelessness

Emergency-linked displacement causes stateless figures to spike. The Chadian government helped evacuate tens of thousands of Chadians from Central African Republic (CAR) into southern Chad where most are still living in temporary transit camps. But many arrived without papers to prove their identity and thus fear for their future. Youths who attended secondary schools in CAR told IRIN they had no papers to register at secondary schools in Chad.
Furthermore, many people living in transit camps are from Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, but have no papers. “You can’t send them to a country where they will have no state,” said Mitte.

Citizens of Niger (Nigeriens) who fled Boko Haram attacks on their villages in Nigeria to return to Niger face a similar predicament as most arrived with no papers. “People flee leaving their documents behind thinking they’ll soon return or that they’re safer left at home,” said Mitte. The Niger government demands a birth certificate as an initial document to certify Nigerien citizenship but almost all returnees IRIN spoke to in Diffa, eastern Niger, said they had left them behind. Dozens of interviewees said they fled quickly in the night as their houses were set on fire, and they fear their paperwork, alongside most of their possessions, has been burned or looted.  

Taking action

Statelessness usually occurs because people cannot provide the necessary documentation to prove their identity when state laws exist. But in some cases the laws are simply too weak to impose or do not sufficiently help protect citizens’ rights.

Governments must adjust their laws to fit with the Conventions they have signed, notably the 1954 Convention relating to the status of Stateless Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, said UNHCR.  The gap between signing up to and applying international norms remains too wide, say campaigners.  

A first step in reducing statelessness is to raise awareness that it exists, and of its impact. “People don’t know about statelessness or to fight for it, so they don’t ask for help,” said Mitte. As such, UNHCR runs trainings on statelessness among legal experts, government officials, civil society groups and journalists to try to get the word out.

Progress on documenting individuals in West Africa is slow partly because there is more leeway for people to live in invisibility in a region dominated by a largely informal economy. In Europe stateless individuals would not last long before being imprisoned or deported, said one critic. But as West African economies and societies formalize legally and increase border restrictions linked to terrorism concerns, it will probably become more difficult to live without paperwork, said Mitte. 

UNHCR advises governments on how to help individuals acquire identity documents and to include nationality issues in wider governance plans, among other activities.

Civil society groups play an important role in giving legal advice to individuals on how to obtain documentation but could do more, say campaigners. UNHCR urges NGOs to bring forward strategic legal cases. Thus far just a few cases of statelessness have been brought up with national judicial bodies in Africa and only two cases have been examined by the African Commission, according to UNHCR. None have yet been brought to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court of justice.

UNHCR works closely with other UN agencies and with NGOs to address statelessness holistically. It works closely with UNICEF, given UNICEF’s long-term efforts to boost birth registration, which are starting to pay off, said child protection specialist in West and Central Africa Mirkka Tuulia Mattila. In the region, Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal have improved registration rates, introducing SMS registration systems and removing registration fees.

The key is to tie registration to all maternal and child health services, with registration as the grounding factor, she stressed.



20 februari 2014

op staat onderstaand artikel betreffende de CEDEAO-bijeenkomst van deze week:

West African Defense Chiefs to Meet Over Guinea Bissau Security 


Peter Clottey

February 17, 2014

West African defense chiefs will meet in Guinea Bissau on Tuesday to discuss bolstering security in the region in general, and in Guinea Bissau in particular, according to a high ranking official.  The group already has 700 security officials in the country.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, external relations director of the Economic Community of West African States, says during the three-day summit the defense chiefs will also discuss security cooperation between ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).  Heads of state from the two regions recently agreed to combat transnational maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

“They will be discussing broadly the situation in the region, and also certain specific measures related to initiatives like maritime security. [They will also] review progress of the ECOWAS military and security assistance to Guinea Bissau,” said Musah. “One of the central themes of the meeting is what the region is doing to stem piracy and other sea-borne transnational organized crime.”

Musah says members states including Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Niger have agreed to set up a pilot center to monitor and coordinate maritime surveillance in the Gulf of Guinea.

He says the defense chiefs will also discuss the security situation in Mali.

Observers say South American cartels are using some West African countries to ship their drugs to western countries.
ECOWAS and other international groups have expressed concern about the challenges the drug problem poses to the region.
Musah says the defense chiefs will look at ways to combating the illegal trade.

“Drug trafficking is a major security threat in the region, and we all know Guinea Bissau as the weak link in the efforts to control drug trafficking region from Latin America in transit to Europe and the USA,” said Musah.

Guinea Bissau was originally scheduled to hold elections next month, but had to postpone the vote until April following logistical challenges.

Musah says ECOWAS has $ 20 million earmarked improving security in Guinea Bissau as part of the process of returning the country to constitutional rule.

“It is important to review the ECOWAS presence in the country. The region has close to 700 military and formed police units [there] trying to secure the transition, and there are plans to increase the number on the eve of the election,” said Musah. “ECOWAS is also conducting wide ranging security sector reform including the rehabilitation of the run down barracks in the country.”

Musah says ECOWAS is committed to helping Guinea Bissau in its transition to constitutional rule.