Category Archives: Key Issues

UNICEF Needs Nearly $4 Billion to Help 73 Million People

The U.N. Children’s Fund is launching its largest-ever appeal for $3.9 billion in life-saving assistance for 73 million people, including 41 million children affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies in 59 countries.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. Children’s Fund says 2019 also marks a year of heightened conflict, with more countries at war than at any time in the past three decades.

Among the greatest victims are more than 34 million children affected by conflict or disaster. UNICEF says they are suffering horrific levels of violence, deprivation and trauma with little access to protection and life-saving assistance.

UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations Manuel Fontaine says 88 percent of this year’s appeal is for humanitarian crises driven by conflict. He says the single biggest operation is to help Syrian refugees, the largest displacement crisis in the world, and the host communities in five neighboring countries of asylum.

The 2nd largest appeal is for Yemen, which over the past year has seen conditions, unfortunately, that were already catastrophic for children get even worse, if that is possible” Fontaine said. “Eight out of 10 children, which is over 11 million, now require humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

UNICEF’s biggest operations traditionally have been in Africa. But this year the Democratic Republic of Congo places third, followed by Syria and South Sudan.

Fontaine says Africa unfortunately is the continent with the biggest gap in funding. He tells VOA African countries are not getting the attention they need, and that has serious consequences for humanitarian operations.

In a country like Cameroon, which is one of the countries for which we have concerns, particularly in northwest and southwest region at the moment. We had aimed to immunize 61,000 children against measles and because of lack of resources, we could only immunize a bit more than 2,000,” Fontaine said. “So, obviously, we are far behind what we need to do.

Fontaine says UNICEF has had to drastically cut back services for gender-based violence in Central African Republic because it only has received 36 percent of the money it needs. In all cases, he says funding shortfalls have very direct implications on the lives of children and women.

Source: Voice of America

Minister Mkhize Commends Peaceful Election Registration in Vuwani

The registration weekend ahead of the 2019 National and Provincial election took place throughout the country on 26 and 27 January 2019, including in Vuwani and the entire Vhembe District in the Limpopo Province. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has reported a good turnout of potential voters in all the voting stations to register and confirm their addresses.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize noted the developments in Vuwani during the registration weekend. We are encouraged by the turnout of the citizens who came out in their numbers registering to vote and checking their addresses and we commend all those who visited registration stations as their commitment will lead to a better future for South Africa and strengthen our democracy, said Minister Mkhize.

The IEC indicated that many of the 22 935 registration stations were opened and were able to afford potential voters to register and check their details on the voters roll. In Vuwani, all 32 voting stations opened and were operational for the duration of the registration weekend. No incidence of intimidation or attacks were reported and Minister commended leadership for prioritizing voter registration.

This good turnout follows the meeting that Minister Mkhize held at the Vuwani Fire Station on 24 January 2019. This meeting was attended by MEC Ndou, Mayors of Vhembe and Collins Chabane Municipalities, Traditional leaders and the Pro-Makhado Demarcation Task Team ( PMDTT). At that meeting, the stakeholders agreed that political processes like registering to vote and the actual voting will be allowed to proceed without hindrances.

Minister Mkhize urged all stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that a lasting solution is found to address the demarcation challenges in Vuwani and surrounding areas. To this effect, all parties undertook to meet regularly to process various matters to find lasting solution in that area. Minister promised to consult the IMC on Vuwani with regards to the new request made by the PMDTT.

As government we are committed to ensuring that communities in Vuwani and surrounding areas are able to get an opportunity to have their issues addressed, said Minister Mkhize.

Minister commended the leadership of various structures in Vuwani and the communities who came out in numbers to register and the peaceful registration weekend. Minister also commended the IEC for the professionalism in which it continues to discharge its mandate.

After the election registration weekend, there is still an opportunity for potential voters who have not yet registered to vote to do so at all IEC offices daily until the elections is declared, said Minister Mkhize.

Source: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs


The Department of Home Affairs received a notable response from voters who visited its offices on day one of voter registration to collect smart ID cards and green ID books. The Department earlier announced offices will open from 08:00 to 17:00 on Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 January, to assist citizens who need to collect IDs, apply for temporary identification certificates or reapply for IDs.

On 26 January 2019, 19 428 smart ID cards were collected from Home Affairs offices across the country. A total of 3339 green ID books and 1188 Temporary Identification Certificates were issued. In the bigger scheme of things, many more citizens are still expected, and are encouraged, to collect their IDs. With the resources mobilised for this purpose, including officials who were requested to work over the weekend, citizens should seize this opportunity the better to fulfill their civic duties and to exercise their right to vote. About 258 668 smart ID cards are still to be collected.

Home Affairs offices will be opened today, Sunday 27 January 2019, from 8:00-17h00, for citizens to collect their IDs, apply for temporary identification certificates and access other home affairs services.

Source: Department of Home Affairs

South Sudanese Fear Leaving UN Protected Camps Despite Peace

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN Tracing his fingers over the metal fencing at a United Nations protected site in South Sudan’s capital, Nhial Nyuot Nhial hung his head as he contemplated going home after years of civil war. At the moment it’s impossible for someone to leave, he said.

The 33-year-old is among tens of thousands of people who are still sheltering in such camps across the country, the legacy of an unprecedented decision by a U.N. peacekeeping mission to throw open its doors to people fleeing war.

Nhial has been in the Juba camp since 2014, shortly after the country erupted in fighting. A fragile peace deal signed between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in September has brought little comfort. Like many in the camps, Nhial still fears for his life and refuses to leave.

What began as a temporary experiment is looking more like a permanent refuge for more than 190,000 people living in squalor in the six U.N. protected sites. Now the U.N. is pushing for the camps to close, amid warnings by the international community that rushing the process could re-ignite violence among ethnic groups.

If or when the walls of the protection sites come down, there will still be dangerous intercommunal tensions and massive protection needs, said Lauren Spink, senior researcher on peacekeeping for the Center for Civilians in Conflict, an international non-profit group.

An internal U.N. draft shared with aid agencies in September and seen by The Associated Press detailed a plan for all services to be permanently relocated outside Juba’s two U.N. sites by the end of January, according to the document.

The plan, which was never made public, has yet to be implemented and U.N. mission chief David Shearer said there has been no decision to close the camps at any particular time. People moving back to their homes have to make their own decisions, he told the AP.

Five years of fighting have killed almost 400,000 people and left more than seven million, or two-thirds of the population, in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to South Sudan’s 2019 humanitarian response plan, which will cost $1.5 billion.

The cash-strapped government doesn’t have the means to resettle the more than four million people who have been displaced from their homes. More than two million of them fled the country.

Given the population and the people that will need to be resettled, it’s really massive, said Hussein Mar Nyuot, South Sudan’s minister for humanitarian and disaster management.

The government is largely relying on the U.N. and aid agencies to implement its resettlement plan, which includes safe passage and a three-month package of food for people who want to go home, Nyuot said. The government has said it will provide land and security for returnees.

At least one South Sudan expert said the number of people willing to leave the U.N. sites and return from refugee camps in neighboring Uganda and elsewhere will be a true test of peace.

If we see that number significantly go down . in a meaningful, lasting way over several months maybe we can measure the peace agreement in steps like that, as opposed to just believing what politicians say and what statements are, said Pete Martell, a journalist and author of a new book on South Sudan, First Raise a Flag.

In the last six months, about 17,000 have voluntarily left the camps, according to the U.N.

But continuing unrest in South Sudan has civilians worrying about whether the government can provide for and protect them. Even inside the U.N. camps, violence occurs.

In August, due to intercommunal clashes inside one of Juba’s U.N. sites, almost 3,500 people were relocated to Mangateen, a displaced persons’ camp run by the government on the edge of the city.

People there said the camp doesn’t feel safe.

Living here is a danger, said John Tut, Mangateen’s camp coordinator. Earlier this month government soldiers came to the gates and threw rocks at civilians while shouting insults, the 42-year-old said.

There is also not enough space. About 1,500 people currently live in a stifling warehouse waiting for the government to allocate more land for the site.

Seated on the floor of the warehouse, Elizabeth Nyamai shrugged. We’re not living in good conditions, we’re living in fear with no basic needs being met, the 28-year-old mother of five said. I’ve lost hope in the government, whatever they say we don’t believe.

Source: Voice of America

Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant announces an increase in minimum wage for Contract Cleaning Sector

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has announced in terms of section 56(1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), No 75 of 1997 the upward review of the minimum wages for Contract Cleaning Sector.

In terms of the Contract Cleaning Sector’s sectoral determination that governs minimum wages � for workers in Area A the new minimum rate per hour will be R22.00 (2018/2019: R20.74).

Area A includes Metropolitan Councils: City of Cape Town, Greater East Rand Metro, City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela. The Area also includes Local Council of: Emfuleni, Merafong, Mogale City, Metsimaholo, Randfontein, Stellenbosch, Westonaria.

In Area B the new minimum wage will be R22.20 per hour (2018/2019: R20.00). Conditions of employment for KwaZulu-Natal areas shall be subjected to the agreement concluded in the Bargaining Council for the Contract Cleaning Service Industry KwaZulu-Natal.

In Area C � which includes the rest of the Republic of South Africa the minimum rate per hour will be R20.07 (2018/2019: R18.90).

The new minimum rate will be applicable from 01 February 2019 to 31 January 2020.

Source: Department of Labour