AU Summit urged "to make peace happen now"

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - As African leaders fly into the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, this weekend for the 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly, leading civil society organisations (CSOs) present here have said they want the 50th anniversary of the Pan-African organisation to be marked by decisive actions for lasting peace on the continent.

In addition, the CSOs want to see pioneering initiatives for sustainable development and renewed hope among the African population.

"While tens of thousands of people in the eastern DR Congo are living in terror and extremely harsh conditions, and more than 300,000 Malians are displaced inside and outside their country, the golden jubilee of the AU should provide an opportunity to bring the focus of governments back to the pressing problems on the continent," the CSOs said in a statement issued here Saturday.  

Abdul Aziz Ag Alwali of Tassaght, a local NGO in Gao, northern Mali, said while the offensive was ongoing to liberate territories occupied for nine months by armed groups in the West African country, "we know that in two or three weeks food supplies will be depleted in Gao, in particular."

According to Alwali, the situation was made worse by the closure of the borders with neighbouring countries.

"The AU must take the leadership needed to create unlimited access to all the people in need of aid in Mali. Innocent people are the hostages of this war, and are suffering unnecessarily,” he said.

Leading CSOs present here have called for the respect of International Humanitarian Law in Mali and DRC, saying this is not a choice for parties involved in the conflict in the two countries, but an obligation under international laws.

Emmanuel Kabenguele of the DRC-based RRSSJ, a network calling for reform of justice and security, said: “The dimension of the humanitarian disaster of Eastern DRC is still not well known. Nearly one million people are displaced in Northern Kivu, and still today some of them will wake up not knowing if they will be going to bed in the same place in the evening. This is a terrible and unacceptable situation.”

“Such crises are not the only ongoing challenges for the AU,” added Ms Osai Ojigho from Solidarity for African Women Rights (SOAWR). “Women, representing more than half the continent’s population, are still struggling to have access to equal rights. It is an illusion to try to find solutions to conflicts without taking on board the views of women.

"It is again an illusion to aim for sustainable development in Africa without women’s voices, who need to actively take part in this process. With a lady as a chairperson of the AU Commission we expect to see positive change for all, as this is a battle women have been fighting for nearly half a century,” Ojigho added.

The State of the Union Coalition (SOTU) believes that the crises in Mali and DRC would have been avoided if African governments implement key decisions they make at the AU.  
-0- PANA AR/SEG 26Jan2013

26 january 2013 10:19:02




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