NAS and RwandAir partner to provide Premier Lounge Services

NAS and RwandAir partner to provide Premier Lounge Services

MAPUTO, Mozambique, June 12, 2018/ — National Aviation Services (NAS, the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, announced a joint venture agreement with Rwanda’s national flag carrier, RwandAir. The JV titled NAS RwandAir Limited, will be the exclusive lounge management company at Kigali International Airport (KIA).

NASRwandAir is tasked with the construction and development of two new lounges at KIA, the RwandAir Dream Lounge dedicated to the airline’s premium passengers and an arrivals lounge. The JV will also take over management of the existing NAS Pearl Lounge in the departures area which caters to other airline passengers as well.

“The NASRwandAir JV is part of many initiatives RwandAir is putting in place to upgrade its business class service across its value chain, from dedicated areas at its town offices to fast track and quality services at airports, upgraded amenities and full-flat bed seats in our wide-bodied aircraft.” said Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO of RwandAir.” She added, “Business class passengers are extremely important to us and we have chosen to partner with NAS due to their track record in delivering results to premier customers.”

The different lounges at KIA offer arriving and departing passengers an opportunity to relax, refresh and enjoy a meal before heading out of the airport or onwards to other destinations. For those wishing to catch up on work, the lounges are also fully equipped with Wi-Fi and business services. NASRwandAir will also extend meet and assist services to passengers at the airport allowing for smoother passage through check-in and immigration processes.

Hassan El Houry, Group CEO of NAS said “By partnering with RwandAir, one of Africa’s fastest growing airline, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the aviation sector in Rwanda. Rwanda, as a country has demonstrated remarkable development and is an important geography for NAS in Africa. As we grow our footprint in the region, we continue to drive efforts to bring high quality international services into the country and further contribute to its growth.”

Abuja: Statement on the occasion of Democracy Day, 29 May 2018

Abuja: Statement on the occasion of Democracy Day, 29 May 2018

ABUJA, Nigeria
June 1, 2018


We join Nigerians today in celebrating the day on which democracy and civilian rule were restored.  In Nigeria, as in so many of our countries, the right for all citizens to enjoy equal participation in the democratic process was achieved after considerable struggle and suffering. We remember and celebrate all those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today.  The struggle to achieve democracy gives it a special value and places responsibility on all of us to support the democratic process. We congratulate Nigeria on its progress since 1999, including the first peaceful transition of power from a ruling party to an opposition party in 2015. As we celebrate your progress, we encourage and support Nigeria and its people to consolidate and deepen democracy as the country heads towards important elections next year.

Who will win the general elections in 2019 is a decision for the Nigerian people. Our concern as partners of Nigeria is to see a process that is free, fair and inclusive. We are particularly keen to see greater participation in politics from under-represented groups, including women, young people and people with disabilities.  We offer our strong support to the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) and welcome the technical improvements they have introduced to the electoral process. We encourage the government and legislators to work with INEC to achieve further improvements at least six months before the elections, in line with the established ECOWAS protocol.

Democracy is not only about the voting process. It also requires a strong and ongoing commitment from political actors to uphold the democratic ideal. We have noted with concern recent reports of violence, intimidation and corruption, both within parties and between parties. We take advantage of this national celebration of democracy to urge all political parties to maintain Nigerian and international norms and support a credible process. It is the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to freely express their will now and in the forthcoming elections.

Signatories:

Norway, European Union, Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.


Distributed by APO Group

Johannesburg: MSF & FTPL welcome new IP policy officially released by the Department of Trade and Industry Minister

Johannesburg: MSF & FTPL welcome new IP policy officially released by the Department of Trade and Industry Minister

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, June 1, 2018/ — Yesterday (30 May 2018), after nine years of development, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) finally published the Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa, Phase I. The policy has been adopted by cabinet and as such represents official government policy, and has the potential to herald a new era in access to medicines for South Africa.

While we welcome the finalisation and adoption of this policy, we stress that it has not yet changed anything in the lives of people in South Africa who right now need medicines that remain unaffordable, and that it will not do so until key elements of the policy become law. As a matter of urgency, the dti must produce a thorough and far-reaching bill to amend the relevant Acts and parliament must prioritise the passing of this bill. Those aspects of the policy that can be implemented without legislative changes must be implemented right away. Whether the state can deliver the required legislative changes will be a key test of its commitment to the health of the people.

The harsh reality is that this law reform process in South Africa has already taken too long. It has taken too long for two of our comrades who have passed away in recent years, Tobeka Daki and Sue Johnson. At critical times in their illnesses, both Tobeka and Sue could not access the medicines they needed due to high prices. We will remember these comrades as we continue to advocate for more just and humane patent laws.

Comment on the content of the policy

As the Fix the Patent Laws coalition, we welcome the publication of the new policy and we are broadly in agreement with its content. The policy addresses most of the critical health-related policy and legislative changes that we have been campaigning for since 2011. We are disappointed though that certain critical sections of the policy are lacking in detail – in particular the sections on patentability criteria and on compulsory licensing.

That said, we welcome the policy’s framing in terms of the Constitution of South Africa and its acknowledgement of the importance of considering the public health impact of economic policy. We also welcome the policy’s acknowledgement that South Africa requires an intellectual property framework appropriate to its phase of development and that a patent maximalist approach is not in the best interest of our economy. In this regard, the policy implicitly rejects the incorrect view that trade-offs have to be made between the right to health and economic development

We make the following specific comments:

1. We support the introduction of a substantive patent search and examination system for patents in South Africa – something we have been advocating for, for years. The policy recognises that the current depositary system, in which patent applications are granted if they meet procedural formalities (paperwork and filing fee), leads to an excessive number of poor quality patents being granted in comparison to other countries. Patent examination guidelines must now be published for public input and the examination of patent applications for pharmaceutical products must start as soon as possible.

2. We welcome the commitment to develop patentability criteria to “promote genuine innovation” – although we are disappointed that the policy does not go further to discourage specific evergreening practices. Ideally, the policy would have explicitly stated that South Africa will no longer grant patents for new uses, new forms, new formulations, combinations and other minor modifications of existing medicines. To improve the system, it is vital that South Africa develop rigorous patentability criteria and examination guidelines, following international best practices in countries of a similar developmental status, such as Argentina and India. By ensuring that only patents that meet rigorous criteria for novelty and inventiveness are granted, the government can curb excessive and secondary patenting, and ensure that only genuine innovation is rewarded. This will facilitate earlier introduction of more affordable generic medicines, ensuring that more people can access medicines earlier. Raising the bar for patentability is also necessary to incentivise R&D expenditure and efforts towards the development of meaningful health innovations that address unmet health needs, rather than perpetuating the pursuit of minor modifications and me-too versions of existing profitable products.

3. We welcome the long-term commitment to introducing pre- and post-grant patent opposition procedures that could help ensure that only those inventions that represent genuine innovation are granted patent protection. This has been another key ask of our campaign. However, we are concerned that the interim solution proposed by the policy—a third-party observation system and administrative law procedures—will not permit sufficient participation by third-parties. We instead encourage the rapid introduction of simplified opposition procedures, and greater transparency concerning patent applications to allow third parties, such as civil society groups and other pharmaceutical companies, to intervene.

4. We support the commitment to introduce a “more effective and efficient” system to obtain compulsory licenses for medicines – another key ask of our campaign in recent years. Compulsory licenses are a vital tool to ensure medicine access and must be available on a wide variety of grounds and in such a way that they can be granted quickly and effectively when needed for public health purposes. We urge government to withstand the industry pressure that will no doubt oppose this policy commitment, even though this commitment is entirely in line with World Trade Organisation rules.

We remain committed to engaging constructively with the DTI, the inter-ministerial committee on IP, and wider government to ensure rapid reforms to our patent laws to improve access to medicines in line with the state’s Constitutional obligations. We cannot wait another nine years for this policy to be turned into law.

Distributed by APO Group

UN Migration Agency Helps Over 100 Ethiopian Migrants Return Home from Yemen

UN Migration Agency Helps Over 100 Ethiopian Migrants Return Home from Yemen

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 30, 2018/ — Yesterday (29/05), IOM, the UN Migration Agency, helped some 101 Ethiopian migrants leave Yemen through Hudaydah Port as clashes grew closer to the area. The migrants are currently travelling via the Gulf of Aden to Djibouti, which they will transit through on their way home to Ethiopia. IOM is providing transport assistance at all stages of the journey in cooperation with its Government partners.

The group that left Yemen around noon yesterday, included nearly 51 women and 33 children, who had become stranded in the country. They are the most vulnerable cases from a larger group of about 300 migrants in total, who IOM will help leave Yemen in the coming days provided weather conditions are conducive to sea travel and the security situation allows for the movement.

The majority of the 300 migrants had been in a Sana’a holding facility run by the authorities, which Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergency, had visited at the start of this month. Some others from had been staying with host families. IOM works with families to host vulnerable cases as they wait for voluntary humanitarian return assistance. IOM provides meals, aid items, psychosocial support and health assistance to the migrants living with these host families.

In 2017, 100,000 migrants entered Yemen, of whom the majority were Ethiopian and some were Somali migrants. They were typically headed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in search of work and better living conditions. Even just in the period 6-12 May of this year, IOM’s coastal search and rescue teams for migrants assisted 313 new arrivals (80 boys and 233 men) in Lahj Governorate with information, food, water, emergency aid items and medical assistance, as necessary.

Both while travelling to and in Yemen, migrants are abused by smugglers and other criminals, including physical and sexual abuse, torture for ransom, arbitrary detention for long periods of time, forced labour and even death. Some migrants get caught up in the conflict, sustaining injuries or dying from shelling, and some are taken to detention centres, both official and unofficial.

Through its Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme, IOM is providing transportation and return support from Yemen to the migrants’ final destinations in their home countries.

In 2017, IOM helped around 2,900 migrants and refugees return home from Yemen: 73 per cent of them were Somalis, 25 per cent Ethiopians and 2 per cent other nationalities. IOM has also helped 298 Ethiopian and 1,064 Somali migrants and refugees return home voluntarily to date (30/05) in 2018. Assisted spontaneous returns of Somali refugees are carried out in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

In Yemen, IOM provides additional humanitarian assistance to migrants, including health care, shelter and aid items and psychosocial support, while also supporting displaced and conflict affected Yemenis. In Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, IOM also provides emergency support to migrants starting out their journeys, while in transit and when returning.

“Thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen and are in desperate need of assistance and protection, as well as the international community’s general attention and support,” said Abdiker, following his recent visit to Yemen. “When I was in the country, I met with many of these young migrants, who we helped leave Yemen today. They told me that they about their shocking experiences and that they wanted to go home. No migrant should be stranded in a conflict. However, there are reasons why they left their countries and without further support when they get home, it is likely they will attempt the perilous journey again. Right now, IOM is only funded to provide reintegration support to some vulnerable cases but not the majority of Ethiopian returnees from Yemen,” added Abdiker.

This return movement from Yemen is funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Government of Germany and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Fund.