Friday, October 23, 2009

French Red Cross Worker Kidnapped in Darfur

A French national, Gauthier Lefevre, was taken hostage while working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Western Darfur.  Mr. Lefevre was returning from a trip to upgrade the water supply of a remote village when his marked ICRC vehicle was stopped by gunmen.  There were several ICRC employees in the vehicle, but Mr. Lefevre was the only one taken hostage.  The identity  and affiliation of the kidnappers is unknown at this point in time.

USAID Signs Statement on Family Planning After Abortion

On Wednesday, USAID signed a consensus statement with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, the International Confederation of Midwives, and the International Council of Nurses that emphasizes the importance of family planning in post abortion care.  Dr. Scott Radloff, the director of USAID’s Office of Population/Reproductive Health pushed for “universal access to post abortion and postpartum family planning” noting the “clear evidence that family planning and pregnancy spacing not only reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion, but also lower morbidity and mortality rates of women, neonates, infants, and children.”

UN Report Supports Lowering Barriers to  Remittances to Africa

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development released a report arguing that restrictive laws and high fees prevent Africans around the world from sending money to friends and relatives in Africa.  Africa receives $300 billion in remittances each year, more than foreign direct investment and development aid.  Western Union and Money Gram control almost 65% of the places n Africa that payments can be picked up and can charge up to 25% of the amount sent.  The report claims that deregulating the industry to allow microfinance banks and other institutions to receive remittance payments would make it easier to pick up payments and reduce the cost of sending money by increasing competition.