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UN records 38 sexual allegation cases against personnel

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The United Nations said it received 38 allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) involving its personnel, in the second quarter of 2019.

A spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, released the figures to UN correspondents in New York.

According to him, those involved include civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping operations, and those from agencies, funds and programmes.

Dujarric said not all the allegations had been fully verified, and many were in the preliminary phase of assessment.

He stated that only one of the 38 allegations had been substantiated through investigation, while eight were pending further investigation by member states.

Additionally, two allegations were “found to not be substantiated”, while 16 cases were in the process of being investigated.

Of those, 14 are under preliminary assessment to determine if there is sufficient information for them to remain active.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the organisation received 37 similar allegations in the first quarter of the year, making the Q2 figure higher by just one unit.

Of the latest data, the spokesman said two allegations were still under review as “limited information has been provided”, and four had closed.

Forty-three victims comprising 19 women, 10 girls and 10 females of unknown age, have come forward with allegations.

There is one male, two boys, and one unknown victim, whose gender has not been identified, according to the figures.

Twelve of the allegations are categorised as sexual abuse, defined by the UN as “actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”.

Nineteen cases were considered sexual exploitation, meaning, “any actual or attempted abuse of position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.”

Another 10 allegations have been categorised as “other,” while two are of unknown nature, Mr Dujarric said.

He added that 24 of the 38 allegations were related to agency personnel, funds and programmes, while 14 were related to civilian and uniformed personnel in peace operations.

“This quarter also saw 39 allegations involving non-UN personnel working for implementing partners — those mandated by the UN to carry out its programmes.

In a statement, the UN said it was steadfast in its implementation of the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

“From this quarter onwards, the organisation will publish monthly updates on the status of previously reported allegations, dating back to 2017, when the current reporting framework began.

“Strengthening engagement with Member States, and encouraging their Governments to join the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership on prevention, launched in September of last year, is another measure the organisation is taking to stamp out further incidents.

“Finally, Secretary-General António Guterres is continuing to encourage all Member States to become signatories to the Voluntary Compact to which 101 States have committed so far, in a firm commitment to implementing a Zero Tolerance policy,” it said.(NAN)

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Algeria clamps down, detains opposition activist, Boumala

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Algerian authorities have arrested Fodil Boumala, a prominent opposition activist and anti-government protester, fellow activists and a lawyer said on Thursday.

Mr Boumala’s arrest on Wednesday night, though not immediately confirmed by the justice ministry, was the latest sign of a new clampdown on dissent following the detention of three other leading opposition activists in recent weeks.

The authorities are trying to quell a mass protest movement that began in February, forced veteran president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to quit in April and is pressing demands for a thorough purge of the old ruling elite.

Interim President, Abdelkader Bensalah, on Sunday called for an election in December.

Protesters have rejected the move, saying any election that goes ahead while the old guard holds power cannot be free or fair.

Earlier on Wednesday, Army Chief, Ahmed Saleh, ordered security forces to stop and confiscate any vehicles being used to bring protesters into the capital Algiers.

His order and the arrests mark an increase of pressure on the protesters along with a heavier police presence at demonstrations.

The authorities had earlier responded to protesters’ demands over corruption by detaining and charging several prominent officials and businessmen with allegations of graft.

The three other activists recently detained were Lakhdar Bouragaa, Karim Tabou and Samir Belarbi, who have been accused of “contributing to weakening the army’s morale’’ according to their lawyers.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Andela plans to lays off over 250 engineers in Nigeria, other African countries

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Tech firm and talent accelerator, Andela, has announced that it will lay off over 250 junior engineers across Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria.

Jeremy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Andela, made this known Tuesday in a statement titled “The Future of Andela”.

The layoffs come as the company announced its plan to hire another 700 experienced engineers by the end of 2020 in order to keep up with demand from its partners.

To continue creating junior engineering talent at scale, it also said it will invest in the Andela Learning Community, through which it has already trained more than 30,000 learners in software engineering fundamentals.

But despite the huge plan, the company said it has seen shifts in the market and what its customers are looking for in more experienced engineers.

By implication, Andela is letting go over 250 of its contracted junior developers in Lagos and Uganda while up to 170 trainees in Kenya could also be potentially impacted, the company said.

“As a result of that,” the statement said Tuesday, “we began sourcing and assessing mid-level and senior engineers, and they now represent more than 25% of our talent base.

“While placing teams led by senior engineers has helped drive additional junior placement, it hasn’t been enough. We now have significantly more junior talent than we are able to place.

“Just as important, those junior engineers want, and deserve, authentic work experience that we are not able to provide. As a result, we’ve come to the conclusion that Andela’s next phase of growth requires a strategic shift in how we think about talent.”

Historically, the company said it has viewed its talent supply as being primarily junior with some mid-level and senior engineers. Moving forward, Mr Johnson said, Andela will be shifting its approach to be focused on senior talent, with junior talent layered in on top of it.

He said: “While nuanced, this shift in focus will allow us to better align with what the market needs, and in the process better connect brilliance with opportunity at all levels.

“As part of this shift, we have also had to make an extremely difficult decision as it relates to a number of talented junior engineers. Today, we are announcing that we are closing the D0 program in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Moving forward, we will be focusing D0 training efforts on our pan-African hub in Rwanda.

“In addition, we will be letting go of approximately 250 Andelans in Nigeria and Uganda, with an additional 170 potentially impacted in Kenya, who we don’t believe we’ll be able to find meaningful work for over the next year.

“The well-being of our employees, both past and present, is our immediate priority. We are providing holistic support programs for those who are affected by this shift, including ongoing access to learning programs and job placement services. We have committed a range of financial and emotional resources to former employees, and those who are leaving will continue to have access to the strongest engineering network on the African continent. Once an Andelan, always an Andelan.”

Founded in 2014, Andela has offices in New York and five African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Egypt.

The company selects a roster of developers each year who come on staff for a salary and are encouraged to continue working and living in their home markets in Africa.

Before the layoff, Andela had 1575 engineers on board.

The affected software engineers will gain severance packages and placement assistance and Andela is working with partners such as CCHub in Nigeria to connect the developers to new opportunities.

The emergence of the 400 developers may impact Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s tech space. There are concerns over the availability of opportunities in local tech start-ups in Nigeria and other African countries.

Iyin Aboyeji, a co-founder who left the company in 2016, described the influx of young talent into the ecosystem across Africa as a welcome development.

“Glad that more junior engineering talent will come to the ecosystem. Local companies better scoop up this junior talent and build pipeline with a focus on engineering mentorship and management,” he tweeted via his handle @iaboyeji on Tuesday.

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36 persons missing as boat capsizes in DRC – Police

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At least 36 people are missing after the sinking of a boat on Sunday at Maluku commune, a district on the banks of the Congo River in Kinshasa’s suburbs, according to announces of the Congolese national police on the spot.

According to police authorities, only 76 survivors have so far been counted out of over a hundred passengers who embarked on the boat journey, which came from the province of Mai-Ndombe, a province located southwest of the city of Kinshasa.

The boat filled with goods and passengers capsized at Mambutuka locality in Maluku commune.

For the moment, research is underway to try to find other survivors in the accident area.

No bodies have yet been retrieved by the local river services in the area where the authorities say they have deployed the Congolese army’s naval forces, to intensify research on the extent of the accident, which is not away from the main port of the village of Maluku located about 50 kilometres from the city of Kinshasa.

Shipwrecks are frequent between the city of Kinshasa and the province of Mai-Ndombe, where dozens of boats leave with passengers to go to refuel agricultural goods and others.

The overload and poor conditions of the ships are generally at the root of most shipwrecks on the river and across the country, where most of these ships cannot withstand storms during navigation.

(Xinhua/NAN)

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