Wednesday, September 9, 2009

UNMIL Gets DSR for Recovery and Governance

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has received a new Deputy Special Representative (DSR) for Recovery and Governance, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator to assist the Mission.
Mr. Moustapha Soumaré from Mali was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to carry out these tasks. He replaces Jordan Ryan who had served in this capacity.
Mr. Soumaré graduated with a Doctorate in soil and water conservation in 1979, and served as a skilled and seasoned professional in positions of increasing responsibility, both in his native country Mali and at the international level.
He later merged his skills with policy analysis, development issues and international affairs. His range of expertise and knowledge spans environmental management; project development and management; and management of human resources.
Mr. Soumaré brings to the UN family in Liberia a range of in-depth skills in partnership-building, policy development, operations management, team management and stakeholder dialogue.
The Recovery and Governance boss possesses a unique understanding and capacity to manage complex negotiations and relationships, borne out of his in-depth knowledge and understanding of international institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions and regional economic bodies.
In recent years, Mr. Soumaré’s career at the UN Development Program (UNDP) has seen him serve in a number of capacities, including as Head of the Directorate, Special Assistant to the Director, UNDP Africa, New York; Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Benin and Rwanda; and as Deputy Regional Director for Africa.
While in New York, he also served as Research Director for the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the UN system-wide coherence, in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the Environment. The UNMIL new chief is married with children.
It can be reached on UNMIL website that Mr. Soumaré’s predecessor, Jordan Ryan, UN’s Resident Coordinator in Liberia held an interview, when he first arrived at his new post three years ago, he soon discovered how much needed to be done to rebuild the war-shattered West African country. One of the UN’s early tasks was to help re-establish working government systems at the local and regional level. But “we faced a challenge where local officials had to sit under trees to hold county meetings,” says Mr. Ryan.
In an interview in December 2008, he had this to say: “They had no electricity, running water… much less functioning county buildings. Rather than disparate UN agencies acting in an uncoordinated fashion, what we did was to create a single team in each of the 15 counties, with the goal that they were there to support the restoration of state authority, to help the County Superintendent learn the basics.”
Mr. Ryan has a lot on his plate, both as Resident Coordinator, bringing together the work of the agencies, and as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, acting under the overall leadership of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ellen Margarethe Løj, who was at the time Denmark’s ambassador to the UN in New York and now UNMIL Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG).
Mr. Ryan arrived just before President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected head of state and a former UNDP director, took her oath of office in January 2006.
There were still IDP (internally displaced persons) camps, refugee camps and a nation not very clear on its way forward. “But after three years of engagement, there has been a real effort—that the UN is quite proud of—towards beginning a dialogue with the people of Liberia, focusing on their needs.”
The UN supported consultations that helped formulate the County Development Agendas in 130 districts across all 15 counties. Thousands of people were consulted for the first time as to what development should be in Liberia: from road networks, to schools and health services.
“Early on when I first came, we faced a very large vaccination campaign. We were able to use peacekeeping mission assets—helicopters—to get us and NGOs out to places that couldn’t otherwise be reached. The strength of the mission makes us stronger; and when you start working together, people realize ‘wow, we can do so much more,” Mr. Ryan disclosed.
While the SRSG is the overall voice of the UN, Mr. Ryan said the entire team “sees what we’re doing, that we’re all part of the UN.” Each agency has relationships with a variety of ministers, and they are encouraged to think outside their traditional roles.
As the DSRSG and Resident Coordinator at the time, he promised to take an enormous pride in the entire team; an enormous respect. He did as he promised. And other ordinary citizens who spoke to these new papers hope the new successor, Mr. Moustapha Soumaré, will do even better now that he is in charge.
The country extends thanks and appreciation to Mr. Jordan Ryan for his assistance.

WAEC Dux Explains Success Story

The 2008/2009 West African Examinations Council (WAEC) dux, Hester Andoh, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, has explained her success story of her success in this year’s WAEC exams.
She spoke with the Observer on the campus of Joseph Jenkins Roberts United Methodist High School yesterday, September 3, 2009.
Hester, 16, told this reporter that ascending to this level in her life meant a lot to her. “The level of earning division one status in the exams came through hard studies and determination,” she said, beaming with smiles.
The former student of the J.J. Roberts United Methodist High School narrated that her success did not just start but began far back in her elementary school days, when her instructors saw her as a potential student who could make the difference in the lives of her fellow students. “My instructors then began to encourage me to continue to hard work,” Hester added.
She said she obtained her elementary education in Ghana, adding that at the time she was and is still very articulate in English but admitted having deficiency in Math.
“Notwithstanding, I improved on it [Math] and today I have become the dux for this year’s exams. My WAEC result is a plus in my life and I’m not surprised that I emerged as the dux because I know and believe that with hard studies and determination, it can happen not only to me but to any other person,” she asserted.
She then admonished her peers to study hard as a means of succeeding in their academic sojourn.
Hestor was born on June 24, 1993 in Ghana, to a Liberian mother and a Ghanaian father, who currently resides in his country with Hester’s siblings. The prospective college student is the only girl child of her parents and the only one in Liberia with her mother.
According to Hester, her father and mother were married but later divorced.
For his part, the JJ Roberts School Principal, Samuel K. Sagbeh, told the Observer that it was a victory for his school to produce the dux for this year’s exams.
“To a larger extent we are thrilled and fascinated for the kind of result we received this year. We, however, give special recognition to all of our instructors who took time impacting knowledge to all our students, including dux Hestor Andoh,” Mr. Sagbeh intoned.
He used the occasion to call on the Government to provide scholarship for his student.
Interestingly, there are high hopes from many quarters that Government will see reason to provide scholarship for Hester, whether in the country or outside.

World Briefing


A recent report by an Israeli non-governmental organization says 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem will not be able to attend classes this year because there are not enough classrooms.

The Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem lack more than 1,000 classrooms needed to accommodate schoolchildren, according to the report issued by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Ir Amim, an Israeli nonprofit that promotes coexistence in the city.
Iranian MPs have approved the first woman minister in the 30-year history of the Islamic republic.
She was one of 18 nominations for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new cabinet to be approved. Two other women were among three rejected nominees. The president's choice for defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, who is wanted by Argentina over a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre, won strong backing. The vote follows months of wrangling after disputed elections in June.


The aid agency Oxfam has decried the conditions in which hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in Somalia are being forced to live.
It says the overcrowded and badly managed camps in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are "barely fit for humans". Dadaab camp in north-eastern Kenya was meant to hold 90,000 refugees, but is now home to almost 300,000 people, and a further 8,000 arrive each month. Oxfam has called on Kenya's government to urgently allocate more land.


At least 46 people have died and thousands of people have been forced into emergency shelters after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia's Java Island, rescue officials say.
The magnitude 7 quake, which hit on Wednesday afternoon local time, caused widespread damage. With rescue and recovery efforts under way on Thursday, officials said the death toll was likely to rise further. Some coastal areas remained out of contact.
A 22-year-old South African man who committed suicide after being refused identity documents he needed to start a job is being buried in KwaZulu-Natal.
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will address the mourners at Skhumbuzo Mhlongo's funeral. The minister broke down in tears before journalists earlier this week when she was telling them about the case. She is expected to announce the outcome of an investigation. She said she suspected an official expected a bribe.
A journalist has fled Russia after suggesting the Arctic Sea cargo ship that was apparently hijacked in July may have been carrying illegal weapons.
Mikhail Voitenko said he had been told to leave Moscow or face arrest. The editor of Sovfracht, an online maritime journal, fled on Wednesday, saying he may not be able to return as his life would be in danger. Eight men, mainly from Estonia, have been charged with hijacking and piracy over the case.