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Africa Day: Ban spotlights achievements, reflects on challenges of 2015

Africa Day: Ban spotlights achievements, reflects on challenges of 2015

India Blooms News Service | | 26 May 2015, 08:09 am
New York, May 26 (IBNS): Each year, Africa Day is an opportunity to celebrate the continent's achievements and to reflect on its challenges, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday, highlighting the courage and determination it took to make remarkable progress to end the Ebola outbreak and urging leaders to commit to ending violence against women and empower them.

“The dominant story of the year has been the Ebola crisis that swept West Africa, claiming at least 11,000 lives and threatening hard-won social, economic and political achievements,” Ban said in his remarks on the Day, which is celebrated worldwide on 25 May.

Now, we have to intensify efforts to get to zero and stay at zero cases, repair the damage and strengthen social and institutional resilience throughout the continent, Ban urged.

To help mobilize support for this important task, the UN chief will convene an International Ebola Recovery Conference at the United Nations in New York in July.

Overall, the continent's economy grew by roughly four per cent in 2014, creating one of the longest stretches of uninterrupted positive economic expansion in Africa's history.

“As a result, a growing number of Africans have joined the middle class each year. With investment in education, health and infrastructure increasing, the prospects for much of Africa are bright,” the Secretary-General added.

The challenge now is to spread these benefits of Africa's progress more broadly and deeply, particularly to the women and girls who represent Africa's future.

Empowering women will help build better, more equal and more prosperous societies, Ban said, commending the commitment of the African Union to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

“While we work to break down the social, economic, environmental and cultural obstacles that women and girls face, let us also recognize the gains that have been made,” he emphasized.

“Africa leads the world in female representation in parliaments and the continent has one of the highest rates of female entrepreneurship. Let us be inspired by these successes and intensify efforts to provide Africa's women with better access to education, work and health care and, by doing so, accelerate Africa's transformation,” the Secretary-General said.

He called on the international community to do more to end violence against women and girls while strengthening their role in all fields, including peacebuilding.

Despite an overall decline in the number of conflicts, too many Africans still experience violent conflict. Women and girls bear the brunt and are frequent targets of sexual violence and abuse.

“We know that conflicts breed where people suffer from poor governance, human rights violations, exclusion and poverty,” the UN chief said, applauding Africa's vision to build, by 2063, a peaceful and prosperous continent where democracy, human rights and the rule of law are entrenched and flourishing, starting with the aim to silence all guns by 2020.

“I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to work with the African Union, the regional economic communities and African countries and their citizens to make this vision a reality,” he added.

Photo: UNICEF/Tanya Bindra

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm