Afghanistan’s Independence Day

18 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America and the American people, I extend my best wishes and warm greetings to the people of Afghanistan as you celebrate the 101st anniversary of your country’s independence.

We honor the resilience and self-determination of the Afghan people, who have embarked on a new phase in their effort to end a 40-year war and live in peace, freedom, and prosperity.  The United States remains committed to a political settlement that ends the conflict and ensures Afghanistan never again poses a threat to the United States and its allies.

At this historic moment, as the Afghan people come together and attempt to broker a lasting peace, let us redouble our joint efforts in pursuit of a sovereign, unified, democratic, and self-reliant Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and which is a contributing member of the international community.

 

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The Republic of Korea and WHO sign new Memorandum of Understanding, committing US$ 6 million in COVID-19 PCR test kits for 24 countries in the African region

18 Aug

On 14 August Korean Ambassador, Ms Ji-ah Paik and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with WHO in support of the Organization’s COVID-19 response efforts in the African region. The new MoU follows a recent call between Dr Tedros and Mr Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, during which WHO Director-General expressed the need for additional support to scale up the COVID-19 response in the African region. The MoU sets out an in-kind contribution of US$ 6 million in polymerase chain reaction (PCR)  tests / extraction kits to be delivered to 24 countries in Africa in the coming months.  PCR has proven to be a critically important laboratory tool, providing results that are reliable and consistent.

“WHO is deeply grateful for this support, which is helping to increase the testing capacity in Africa,” said Dr Tedros. “This tremendous show of support is also strengthening the relationship between WHO and the Republic of Korea. The Republic of Korea is an important partner in global health.”

The support of the Republic of Korea follows the successful management of COVID-19 in the country and is now providing support to other countries. The Republic of Korea has a strong background in fighting infectious diseases, including the MERS CoV outbreak in 2015 and the recent outbreak of COVID-19. Leveraging this experience and demonstrating leadership, it has recently launched the Global Support Group for Infectious Disease Response (G4IDR) in Geneva.

Global health security and emergency response operations have long been a priority for the Republic of Korea. Dr JW Lee, WHO Director-General from 2003 to 2006, understood the critical need for international cooperation during public health emergencies, for trust, transparency and information sharing among all stakeholders in the global community. The first emergency operations centre, the Strategic Health Operations Centre (SHOC), was established thanks to the vision of Dr Lee. Today the SHOC is the hub of the Emergency Public Health Operations Centres Network, with more than 140 member institutions in over 80 countries around the world.

The Republic of Korea continues to demonstrate its commitment to global health, global health security and humanitarian response by supporting WHO emergency response programmes and funding mechanisms such as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, the Emergency Medical Teams Initiative, the Contingency Fund for Emergencies, as well as their own innovative financing mechanism, the Global Disease Eradication Fund.

“I thank the Republic of Korea, for leading a comprehensive approach to COVID-19 response and control,” said Dr Tedros. “We are very grateful for this in-kind contribution to support COVID-19 response efforts in the African region, and we look forward to our continued partnership together towards achieving better health for all people, everywhere.”

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Online Commemoration ‘Not Forgotten’ Shares Terrorism Victims’ Stories, Marks International Day, in Year of Scaled Back Events

18 Aug

The third commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism is taking place in trying times for the international community, with the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 felt around the world.  With the international community focused on the response to the pandemic and many memorials and commemorations cancelled, it is critical to take the time to remember and honour the victims of terrorism.

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces the 2020 Industry Advisory Group Annual Meeting

17 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) will host a meeting of the Industry Advisory Group (IAG) on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., virtually via WebEx Event.

This committee serves the U.S. government solely in an advisory capacity concerning industry and academia’s latest concepts, methods, best practices, innovations, and ideas related to OBO’s mission to provide safe, secure, resilient and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support the Department’s achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad.  These facilities represent American values and the best in American architecture, design, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

The general public is welcome to attend this meeting. In order to register, you must complete the

registration form via WebEx. Additional information and the registration link are also available at www.state.gov/obo. A meeting notice will also be published in the Federal Register in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

For further information, please contact Christy Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov.

 

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Financial Sanctions and Visa Restrictions against Ugandan Individuals Involved in Corrupt Adoption Scheme

17 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, the United States imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions on four Ugandan individuals for their involvement in activities that victimized young children in a corrupt adoption scheme.  Ugandan judges Moses Mukiibi and Wilson Musalu Musene, and Ugandan lawyer Dorah Mirembe and her associate Patrick Ecobu, participated in a scam whereby young children were removed from their families and placed into a corrupt adoption network, aided by the facilitation of Ugandan officials.  The U.S. government designated these four individuals pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.  The Department of State also designated Mukiibi and Musene under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94) due to their involvement in significant corruption.

Together, these individuals engaged in corruption to arrange the adoption of Ugandan children by unwitting parents in the United States.  Mirembe’s law firm used the services of intermediary parties to seek out vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages, promising parents that their children would be moved to Kampala to further their education.  American prospective adoptive parents then traveled to Uganda to adopt children from an unlicensed children’s home in Kampala.

Mirembe, with the assistance of Ecobu, facilitated bribes to Ugandan judges and other Ugandan government officials to fraudulently procure adoption cases, either directly or through an interlocutor.  Mirembe paid bribes to get cases steered to judges Mukiibi and Musene.  Mukiibi and Musene are current or former government officials who have, directly or indirectly, engaged in corruption.

Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.  The law also requires the Secretary of State to either publicly or privately designate or identify such officials.

Today’s actions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to protecting the dignity of every human being and protecting the United States from those who seek to profit at the expense of others.  These individuals’ actions also resulted in the submission of false documentation to the Department of State for consideration in visa adjudication, a falsification the Department will not tolerate.

For further information regarding the financial sanctions imposed today, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release available here: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1095

 

 

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Forty Years of the South African Development Community

17 Aug

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States Government congratulates the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. SADC’s goals of promoting regional cooperation and integration, economic growth, socio-economic development, and durable peace and security among its member states have never been more salient.

SADC has achieved notable successes promoting regional peace and security and economic development for the betterment of the SADC region’s most important resource — its people. SADC’s enduring support helped Lesotho negotiate vital government reforms and undertake a peaceful transition of political power. It continues to promote regional peace and security as demonstrated by its positive role in helping Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo resolve a longstanding border disagreement. And through its Southern African Power Pool, SADC is mobilizing resources to address energy shortages that threaten regional development and economic integration.

We encourage SADC to play a proactive role in promoting good governance, respect for human rights, and democratic values, and to hold its members accountable when they fall short. By insisting that all its members adhere to the same universal standards of human rights protection and respect for the rule of law, SADC can to send a powerful message that it intends to be a force for positive change for all citizens across southern Africa.

 

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