MHE. MCHEMBA AJIBU MASWALI KATIKA KIKAO CHA BUNGE LA PAMOJA LA ACP NA JUMUIYA YA ULAYA
Naibu Waziri wa Fedha (Sera) Mhe. Mwigulu Mchemba akijibu maswali mbalimbali katika Bunge la Pamoja la Afrika, Karibiani na Pacific (ACP) na Jumuiya ya Ulaya leo jijini Strasbourg Ufaransa.
by Horst Schnellhardt
Subject: Situation in South Sudan
Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, some 200 000 people have been displaced from the crisis areas. The continuing fighting is hampering aid organisations' efforts to get to people in distress. A humanitarian disaster could be triggered if epidemics break out among refugees. However, the delaying tactics displayed by the warring parties at the peace negotiations prompt concerns that no-one is genuinely interested in a quick agreement.
1. Are efforts currently being made to work towards free humanitarian access in the areas controlled by the two warring parties?
2. What action is planned in order to increase pressure so that the peace negotiations advance?
This is a very pertinent question and I thank you for the concern about the humanitarian situation in South Sudan. This is the youngest country in Africa, and when it became independent two years ago, we were all full of hope and optimism that its people, who have endured so much suffering over the past three decades, could embark on a process of nation building and development.
The ACP Council does not have structures or instruments on the ground for direct intervention in crisis. Our role is to political support the efforts of the UN, African Union Commission, Regional organisations such as IGAD which has been instrumental in this case, as well as individual Member States of the African Union to resolve the crisis and assist in addressing the humanitarian crisis.
What is of utmost importance to the ACP Council is that these international efforts are supported, especially with regard to providing security to relief teams and humanitarian supplies.
by Mariya Gabriel
Subject: Reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
On 13 December 2013, the DRC Government announced an investment of USD 51.4 million to fund a project to equip health facilities. That should make it possible to speed up efforts to realise MDGs 4 and 5.
– What support can the Member States and the EU give DRC in actually implementing this major government-launched programme?
– How is the DRC Government planning to coordinate its partners' efforts to reduce maternal mortality and infant mortality?
– In addition to infrastructure, is provision being made for appropriate training in using the new equipment?
First of all, the ACP Council would like to congratulate the Government of the Republic of Congo for undertaking this initiative, which is important for the realisation of the health related MDGs. The Council has often stated that although the international community can provide assistance to our member states in this and many other areas, the primary responsibilities for promulgating the appropriate programmes, taking into account the particular needs of their own countries lies with ACP Governments themselves.
This project does not only cover equipment, it also includes the infrastructure for that equipment. The idea is to renovate or rebuild certain infrastructure before installing the equipment. In addition to equipment and infrastructure, the Government is also using this project to finance the procurement of medication for health service structures and to train health care personnel, not only to ensure the proper use of all the resources made available to them, but also to enable them to provide quality health care to the populations under their responsibility.
On behalf of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo I would like the Member States of the European Union (EU) to do two things in terms of support. The first is to bring the financial resources allocated to the country's health sector in line with the priorities. The second thing that the Government would like is an increase in the external aid that the EU allocates to the health sector in order to help it to quickly extend quality health care services for women and children to the entire country.
by Olle Schmidt
Subject: Freedom of speech in ACP states
Freedom of speech is still a major issue in many ACP states. The African Union, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the United Nations all stress the importance of freedom of speech for political and social development.
Twenty-eight journalists are currently imprisoned in Eritrea, one of whom, Dawit Isaak, is an EU citizen. Does the ACP Council have any news concerning Mr Isaak’s fate?
How will the ACP Council uphold the rule of law and the right to habeas corpus for Mr Isaak and for all political prisoners who have been imprisoned in ACP states without trial?
The ACP Group believes that free speech facilitates democratic governance. The free flow of information and ideas is essential to healthy, progressive societies, and that free expression is central to all other freedoms.
As the Council has stated at previous occasions, freedom of speech is one area that is fraught with difficulties in its application, and furthermore, the ACP Council has not assumed legal competence to adopt any measures for the promotion of media freedoms in its member States. While there are generally acceptable principles for good governance, press freedom and other civil liberties, there are jurisdictional issues involved.
Many of the international instruments adopted by regional organizations are merely best practice measures with persuasive and not legally enforceable obligations in many countries.
Mr Schmidt, as the current President-in-Office of the ACP Council, I am aware of your keen interest in the plight of prisoners, and that you have been asking this question a lot of times. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to give the answer that you would like to hear. The ACP Council would like to state that it has no jurisdiction or competence to take measures against or in any member State of the Group. ACP states retain their full sovereignty over their internal and external policies.
Nevertheless, the Council would like to advise that the best way to approach this issue is through the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which is an organ of the African Union. Further, as with any case where the human rights of individuals are concerned, we must use all the diplomatic channels with the Government of Eritrea on this matter.
by Michael Cashman
Subject: Key year for sexual and reproductive health and rights
The Council of the EU has acknowledged that progress on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is essential to human rights and equitable development. It has continuously and strongly supported the target of achieving universal access to reproductive health as established in Millennium Development Goal 5b, as well as the entire agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (1994). 2014 will be a crucial year, as the International Conference on Population and Development will be renegotiated. Do both Councils agree that this renegotiation must reaffirm that SRHR are fundamental human rights and are key to the continuing development of both EU and ACP states?
The ACP Council recognizes the strategic importance of access of sexual and reproductive health care including family planning. This includes pre-and post natal care and safe delivery, prevention and treatment of infertility and STDs including HIV and AIDS, access to contraceptives, reducing the recourse to unsafe abortions and comprehensive sexual education.
The ACP Council re iterates that access and affordability of health services and quality medicines to all, constitute fundamental human rights, as their inadequacy, results in major constraints in addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights among others.
Indeed, the prevailing incidences of maternal mortality in many ACP Countries, underlines the need to provide adequate basic health services and education to both men and women of reproductive age.
To this end, the ACP Council welcomes the upcoming renegotiations of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action with the hope that, access and affordability of health services and quality medicines, will be highlighted as fundamental for universal health coverage, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.