Security Council mission arrives in Burundi

Following a stop in war-torn Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), yesterday, the Security Council mission to West Africa, led by Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, is now in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, where they have meetings scheduled with Vice President Alphonse Marie Kadege and President Domitien Ndayizeye.Upon arrival in the capital yesterday, Ambassador de La Sablière made a statement in which he expressed his congratulations to the Burundian people and the various political parties and groups for the successful conclusion and signing of ceasefire agreements, according to a UN spokesman in New York.Ambassador de La Sablière also expressed the Council’s support for the peace process and invited armed movements, which have not yet done so, to join the process. Tomorrow, the Council delegation travels to Kigali, Rwanda, to meet with President Paul Kagame.The spokesman reported that during yesterday’s three-hour visit to Bunia, the delegation was briefed on the deployment of the Emergency Interim Multinational Force by its commanding officer, Gen. Jean Marie Thonier of France. A meeting with the members of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) – which rival militia and tribal groups agreed to set up to manage the region until a new post-war national government takes over – was to reinforce the support of the international community to that democratically elected body. The last of the delegation’s meetings was with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the humanitarian community. They raised fears that Bunia could become a big camp for displaced people if the mandate of the Multinational Force is to exclusively secure that town and its surroundings. They encouraged the UN to put an end to impunity in Bunia as the only way to discourage further violence and human rights violations against the civilians.In other news, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 1,300 Central African Republic (CAR) refugees from the northwestern DRC returned home when the agency launched a recent repatriation programme. The plan was initiated to assist some 2,600 CAR refugees in a camp at Mole, near the small town of Zongo on the Oubangui river.Daily truck convoys bring the refuges from Mole to Zongo, where they board UNHCR-contracted boats for a 10-minute ferry ride to the CAR capital of Bangui. Yesterday, the agency transported 500 refugees to Bangui and, if the current pace continues, the repatriation may be completed over the weekend. UNHCR added that CAR refugees from the Republic of the Congo have also begun to return, with an initial group of 57 flown home from Brazzaville earlier in the week. read more

Farmers want Ottawa to allow more producers to hire foreign seasonal workers

Farmers want Ottawa to allow more producers to hire foreign seasonal workers by John Cotter, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 24, 2016 12:33 pm MDT Last Updated Feb 25, 2016 at 7:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Agriculture groups want the federal government to allow more producers to hire foreign seasonal employees to work on farms.“There are some jobs that we can’t get Canadians to do,” Norm Hall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said Wednesday.“Having enough employees to get the job done in a timely matter makes more money for agriculture.”The federal Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program already allows about 20,000 temporary foreign workers to be hired in Canada for up to eight months each year in specific industries such as the tobacco, livestock, fruit and vegetable sectors.The program is open to workers from Mexico and some Caribbean countries.Hall’s group and other farm organizations such as the Union des Producteurs Agricoles want Ottawa to expand the program to include other commodities such as grain, oilseeds and maple syrup.Hall said there is a growing shortage of farm hands as older producers retire and younger people leave rural areas or seek other jobs. But farmers who remain on the land are hoping to expand production.“There are just not enough farm boys left,” Hall said. “It would mean getting the crop in on time, getting it sprayed in time and then getting it harvested on time.”Foreign workers hired under the program are limited to basic jobs such as running farm machinery, looking after animals, planting and harvesting.They can come back to Canada year after year until they reach the program’s cumulative limit of 48 months.Delegates attending the Canadian Federation of Agriculture annual general meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for expansion of the seasonal program.They also passed resolutions for the federal government to lift the 48-month limit, to make it easier for foreign seasonal workers to change employers and to simplify the application process.Producers also want to be able to use more foreign seasonal workers in their processing operations.Hall said the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is to present the resolutions to the Liberal government later this year.“We are hoping that the minister and the bureaucracy will look on this favourably and enact as much of it as possible,” said Hall, who is also a member of the federation’s board of directors.Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was asked Tuesday about the push by the groups for Ottawa to expand the seasonal worker program.“I fully understand the value of the temporary foreign workers,” he said.Officials from Employment and Social Development Canada were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.Justicia for Migrant Workers, a group that advocates on behalf of foreign workers, said it opposes the expansion of the program.Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer for the group, said these workers can be exploited and are at the total mercy of their employers.“With an expanding agricultural industry there must be a correlating focus of better working and living conditions for farm workers,” Ramsaroop said.“We demand that migrant farm workers must have access to permanent residency and should be employed with dignity and respect and not treated as disposable labour.” read more