News / Africa

Somalia, Maternal Mortality Dominate Start of AU Summit

An African Union summit has begun in Kampala with calls for tougher action against  extremists in Somalia and piercing questions about why so many of the continent's women are dying in childbirth. The opening session heard a strong message of support from President Barack Obama.

Joy and sorrow intertwined as more than 30 heads of state assembled for the 15th African Union summit in suburban Kampala.  Opening statements hailed Africa's triumph in hosting the World Cup soccer finals, and mourned the loss of 76 fans killed by suicide bombers while watching the finals on TV.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni pleaded for Africa to unite in a strong military response to Islamic militants in Somalia who claimed responsibility for the bombings.

"Who are these guys who do not respect the A.U.?  Where do their loyalties lie?  Whose interests are they serving?  These terrorists can be and should be defeated.  Let us now act in concert and sweep them out of Africa.  Let them go back to Asia and Middle East, where I understand many of them come from," he said.

A decision expected at the end of the summit will give broad authority to the A.U. peacekeeping mission AMISOM to react forcefully against the al-Qaida linked Somali militant group al-Shabab.  The 6,000 member force is made up exclusively of Ugandan and Burundian troops.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama, pledged strong American support of AMISOM and the Kampala bomb probe. "My nation is also among many working to bring the perpetrators of these vicious acts to justice.  The United States recognizes that ending the threat of al-Shabab to the world will take more than just law enforcement.  That is why we are working closely with the A.U. to support the African Union mission in Somalia," he said.

The summit also featured a frank examination of Africa's poor record in the field of healthcare for women and children.  President Museveni joined some of Africa's most powerful women in a panel discussion led by BBC television news anchor Zeinab Badawi.

Renowned recording artist and panel member Yvonne Chaka Chaka took the opportunity to plead with all the continent's leaders.

"You are presidents because of those women and those children.  Those are the people who put you in power.  As an African woman and the mother of four sons, I need to say this Africa is for all those who live in it.  Africa has been released from the shackles of slavery, and we have our freedom.  And what does freedom mean?  Freedom means health, education, water, sanitation.  Health is an investment," she said.

A.U. Social Affairs Commissioner Bience Gawanas pleaded with heads of states to find the resources to bring Africa up to par with the rest of the world in caring for its mothers and young children.

"You are once again called upon to show that Africa can also provide quality service to the women and children of Africa. We have got a collective responsibility and we have to involve all our stakeholders also to take responsibility for the lives of women and children," she said.

The summit will go into closed session Monday for discussions on a variety of contentious issues.  Among them are forging a common consensus on climate change in preparation for the Cancun summit later this year, and how to proceed on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's proposal for a United States of Africa.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs