Senate Confirmations: Bitter, Kim, Young, Symington, Donovan

Posted: 1:38 am ET
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The U.S. Senate confirmed the following ambassador nominations on Wednesday, September 28. Five nominations included in SFRC’s business meeting on September 27 did not make it to the full Senate vote (see bottom list).  About 17 other ambassador nominations and FS lists are currently pending in committee and do not have scheduled hearings as of this writing.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Executive Calendar #728
Rena Bitter – to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Executive Calendar #729
Sung Y. Kim – to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of the Philippines

Executive Calendar #730
Andrew Robert Young – to be Ambassador of the United States of America to Burkina Faso

Executive Calendar #731
W. Stuart Symington – to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Executive Calendar #732
Joseph R. Donovan Jr. – to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Indonesia

 

UNITED NATIONS

Executive Calendar #733
Christopher Coons – to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-first Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Executive Calendar #734
Ronald H. Johnson – to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-first Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

 

Waiting for full Senate vote:

The following nomination and FS lists were in the agenda of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but appear not to make it through the full Senate vote. Note that the hyperlinked lists are those posted in the Senate’s Executive Calendar.

Ms. Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Malaysia

Jorge A. Abudei, et al., dated September 6, 2016 (PN 1704), as amended — (PN1704-2)

John Robert Adams, et al., dated September 6, 2016 (PN 1705) – (PN1705)

Jennisa Paredes, et al., dated July 13, 2016 (PN 1643), as amended — (PN1643-2)

Diana Isabel Acosta, et al., dated July 13, 2016 (PN 1642), as amended — (PN1642-2)

 

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Kerry Examines the Sultan’s Parade Horses in Sokoto, Nigeria

Posted: 3:44 am ET
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Secretary Kerry Examines Some of the Sultan's Parade Horses in Sokoto U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, examines some of the Sultan's parade horses after delivering a speech about countering violent extremism and promoting good governance following a meeting with government officials and religious leaders at the Sultan’s Palace in Sokoto, Nigeria, on August 23, 2016. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary Kerry Examines Some of the Sultan’s Parade Horses in Sokoto
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, examines some of the Sultan’s parade horses after delivering a speech about countering violent extremism and promoting good governance following a meeting with government officials and religious leaders at the Sultan’s Palace in Sokoto, Nigeria, on August 23, 2016. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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Photo of the Day: Staffers Smile and Carry Signs Bearing Secretary Kerry’s Face

Posted: 12:21 am ET
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Staffers from U.S. Embassy Abuja Carry Signs Bearing the Face of Secretary Kerry Staffers from U.S. Embassy Abuja carry signs bearing the face of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before he addresses them and their family members on August 24, 2016, at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]


Staffers from U.S. Embassy Abuja carry signs bearing the face of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before he addresses them and their family members on August 24, 2016, at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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May 1 Memorial Ceremony Honors Foreign Service Employees Lost Overseas: Rayda Nadal and David Collins

Posted: 12:35 am EDT
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Via afsa.org:

On Friday, May 1, AFSA will hold its 82nd Annual Memorial Ceremony, which honors Foreign Service personnel who have given their lives while serving their country overseas.

The plaques on which these individuals’ names are inscribed serve as a powerful reminder of the work of Foreign Service personnel who conduct American diplomacy abroad, often under dangerous and difficult conditions. The Memorial Ceremony is our opportunity to give these individuals the recognition that they are due.

We are honored to have Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy scheduled to preside over this event, along with AFSA President Robert J. Silverman, who will serve as host for the solemn occasion.

The Memorial Ceremony will begin at 10:20 a.m. EST in the C Street Lobby of the Department of State. (Note that outside guests must arrive no later than 9:30 a.m.) The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Department of State’s BNET channel. We welcome members of the Foreign Service to attend the ceremony and to enter through the 21st street entrance. If the lobby is full, the ceremony can be watched via BNET or the live simulcast inside the Dean Acheson Auditorium. We hope that colleagues stationed around the world will watch the live BNET broadcast, as well. As with other AFSA events, a recording will be posted on the AFSA website (www.afsa.org/video) shortly after the ceremony.

This year, we will be honoring the lives and work of David Collins and Rayda Nadal.

David Collins, 54, was a financial management officer at Consulate General Lagos, Nigeria. Before joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Collins worked as an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God for more than 20 years, serving in many different capacities such as youth minister and business administrator. Mr. Collins also worked for the Compassion Ministry at the Convoy of Hope in Brussels. He joined the Foreign Service in 2009 and served as an FMO in Pretoria before he arrived in Lagos. There, he and his wife participated in an embassy group outing to the beach on April 28, 2013. Swimming in the ocean, the two were caught in an undertow; struggling to save his wife, David managed to push her successfully to higher ground, but was unable to save himself. When he was brought to shore, he still had a pulse, but died during the 90 minutes it took to get emergency medical treatment. His family has requested that donations in David’s name be made to Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Missouri. Information on Convoy of Hope can be found at www.convoyofhope.org.

Rayda Nadal, 37, was a Foreign Service specialist serving at Embassy Moscow. She joined the Foreign Service in 2008. Ms. Nadal served as an office management specialist in Kuwait City, Kabul, Nassau and New Delhi. She worked for Ambassador Capricia Marshall under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Office of Protocol in Washington, D.C. While in Moscow, Ms. Nadal sustained injuries in a gas explosion in her apartment on May 22, 2014. She was transported for treatment to a hospital in Sweden where she died on May 26, 2014. Her family requests that donations in Rayda’s name be made to the Harriet Tubman Emergency Shelter in Washington, D.C. Information on the shelter can be found at www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/HarrietTubmanShelter.

David Collins and Rayda Nadal affected the lives of others through their dedication and passion. Please join us on May 1, as we commemorate their lives and legacies.

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The State Dept’s Most Expensive Assignments in the World (February 2015)

Posted: 11:31 EST
Updated: 21:57 PST

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The “cost-of-living” allowance or COLA is officially called “post allowance” in the State Department.  It is an allowance based on a percentage of “spendable income,” i.e. money you can really put your hands on to spend on goods and services.  The allowance is calculated by comparing costs for goods and services in multiple categories – including food (consumed at home or in restaurants), tobacco/alcohol, clothing, personal care items, furnishings, household goods, medical services, recreation, public transportation, or vehicle-related expenses – to the cost of those same goods and services in Washington, D.C.

The State Department’s Office of Allowances determines a ratio between the average cost of goods and services at the foreign post to costs in Washington, D.C.  It then evaluate expenditure patterns between the foreign location and Washington, D.C. to establish an overall cost index, which may be adjusted biweekly for exchange rate fluctuations.  If the overall cost of goods and services at a foreign post, taking into account expenditure patterns, is at least 3% above the cost of the same goods and services in the Washington, D.C. area, the office  establish a post allowance. See DSSR section 220 for more information.

According to state.gov, this allowance is a balancing factor designed to permit employees to spend the same portion of their basic compensation for current living as they would in Washington, D.C., without incurring a reduction in their standard of living because of higher costs of goods and services at the post.  The amount varies depending on salary level and family size.

We put together a list of countries and posts with the highest State Department COLA rate as of January 2015. Posts in Europe (EUR), Africa (AF), East Asia Pacific (EAP) and the Western Hemisphere (WHA) are represented.  No posts from South Central Asia (SCA) and Near East Asia (NEA) made it to this top list.  The traditionally expected expensive posts like Tokyo, Vienna, Hong Kong, Sydney and Rome are all in the 35% COLA rate and are not included in this list (we chopped the list at 42%; representative posts in France at the 42% rate are included).

Note that we added a couple of columns for the cost of a McDonald’s meal (or equivalent) and cost of a regular cappuccino from numbeo.com, a crowdsourcing site for cost of goods and services around the world. For another snapshot  on most expensive cities for expat employees, click here with data from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living ranking (costs compared to NYC) and Mercer’s Cost of Living surveys from 2014.

DOS | Most Expensive Assignments in the World (February 8, 2015)

DOS | Most Expensive Assignments in the World (February 8, 2015)

 

 Update:
Corrected the spelling for Ediburgh. Also the Allowances Bi-Weekly Updates dated February 8, 2015 indicate several changes on the COLA table, so we updated it to reflect that newest data. Switzerland went from 90% to 100% in this latest update. Shanghai, Copenhagen, Auckland and Wellington went from 50% to 42% COLA posts.  Helsinki, Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Versailles and Oslo were all downgraded from 42% to 35%, so we took them off this table. It is conceivable that the rankings in allowances will change again in a couple of weeks or in a few months.  The bi-weekly updates are located here.  The original list we did based on end of January data is located here.

 

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U.S. Embassy Dakar Issues Security Message on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Senegal

— Domani Spero
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Today, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar issued a security message to U.S. citizens in Senegal concerning the country’s first confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD):

On August 29, the Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Action (MOH) announced the country’s first confirmed case of EVD.  At a press conference, the MOH reported that Guinean authorities reached out to Senegalese authorities to advise them about a young Guinean student who is confirmed to have the virus.  The student is currently placed in isolation at a local hospital and is in stable condition.  At this time, there are no other confirmed cases in Senegal. The Department of State is working with the government of Senegal, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the situation.

 

On August 21, the government of Senegal has closed its borders with Guinea. It has also closed air and sea borders for aircraft and ships from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

The State Department has previously issued travel warnings for two countries in the region – Liberia and Sierra Leone– and warned U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to these countries. Due to the lack of available medical resources in these countries and limited availability of medical evacuation options, the U.S. Department of State ordered the departure of family members residing with Embassy staff in Monrovia and in Freetown. (see U.S. Embassy Sierra Leone Now on Ordered Departure for Family Members #Ebola and U.S. Embassy Liberia Now on Ordered Departure For Family Members, New Travel Warning Issued).

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State Dept Issues Travel Alert on Ebola-Related Screening and Travel Restrictions in West Africa

— Domani Spero
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On August 28, the State Department issued a Travel Alert for screening and restrictions related to the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.   This Travel Alert will expire on February 27, 2015.

Due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued  Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD.  The CDC also issued a Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria to notify travelers of the Ebola outbreak in that country.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD.  Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions.  Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period.  Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it.  For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive.  We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).  Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel.

Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries.  U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options.

The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans.  Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice.  Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information.

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According to the WHO’s Outbreak News, the total number of probable and confirmed cases in the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) as reported by the respective Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone is 3069, with 1552 deaths.  The World Health Organization reports that the outbreak continues to accelerate with more than 40% of the total number of cases occurring within the past 21 days.  The overall case fatality rate is 52%.

A separate outbreak of Ebola virus disease not related to the four-country outbreak was laboratory-confirmed on  August 26 by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC’s index case was a pregnant woman from a village who butchered a bush animal that had been killed and given to her by her husband. From July 28- August 18, 2014, a total of 24 suspected cases of haemorrhagic fever, including 13 deaths, have been identified in that outbreak.

As of this writing, Senegal also confirmed its first case of Ebola related to the four-country outbreak in West Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Embassy Sierra Leone Now on Ordered Departure for Family Members #Ebola

— Domani Spero
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On August 14, the State Department  announced the ordered departure of family members not employed at U.S. Embassy Freetown from Sierra Leone. This follows the ordered departure of family members from U.S. Embassy Liberia on August 7. No Travel Warning has yet been issued for Sierra Leone as of this writing but we expect one coming out soon. Below is the statement of the U.S. Embassy Freetown ordered departure:

At the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone, the State Department today ordered the departure from Freetown of all eligible family members (EFMs) not employed by post. The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department’s Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak.

We are reconfiguring the Embassy staff to be more responsive to the current situation. Our entire effort is currently focused on assisting U.S. citizens in the country, the Government of Sierra Leone, international health organizations, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Sierra Leonean people to deal with this unprecedented Ebola outbreak.

We remain deeply committed to supporting Sierra Leone and regional and international efforts to strengthen the capacity of the country’s health care infrastructure and system — specifically, the capacity to contain and control the transmission of the Ebola virus, and deliver health care.

According to the World Health Organization, a total of 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 56 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between August 10-11, 2014. See the disease update from the WHO:

via WHO

via WHO

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Snapshot: Top 10 Recipients of US Foreign Assistance in FY2012 Actual and FY2014 Request

Extracted from the CRS: The FY2014 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request, April 18, 2013 via Secrecy News:

The list is dominated by strategic allies in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, as well as top global health program recipients in Africa. Israel would continue to be the top U.S. aid recipient, at $3.1 billion, a $25 million increase over FY2012 funding. Afghanistan would again rank second among recipients, though with a slightly smaller allocation compared to FY2012. Iraq would drop out of the top five, with elimination of the Police Development Program driving a 55% funding cut, while Nigeria would move up to number five with a proposed allocation of $693 million, or 7% more than actual FY2012 funding. Together, the top 10 recipients would account for about 37% of total bilateral economic and security assistance funds in the FY2014 budget proposal.

Screen Shot 2013-05-22

 

 

–DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Embassy Nigeria Restricts Movement of American Personnel

On June 23, the US Embassy in Nigeria issued an emergency message to American citizens in Abuja regarding the restrictions of movement of official and diplomatic U.S. personnel:

In light of recent security warnings, continued states of emergency and curfews in the North, and the overnight (June 22/23) explosion of an IED planted by a tree in front of Hanan Plaza opposite Krystal Lounge in Abuja, all official and diplomatic American personnel are restricted from going to all commercial establishments, including restaurants, grocery stores, bars, shopping malls, place of worship, and places of social gatherings.  All such personnel are also restricted from movement in the evening hours. These restrictions will remain in effect until Monday June 25th, 2012, at which time the Embassy will reevaluate the situation.

All American citizens are reminded that this year, extremists have attacked many targets, killing and injuring hundreds of people.  They have targeted churches, mosques, media houses, police stations, immigration and customs offices, financial institutions, markets, state government offices, beer gardens, and nightclubs.  Attackers have also burned and destroyed several public and private schools in Borno and targeted several educational institutions in Kano and churches in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, and Borno states.

Kidnapping is another common tactic extremists use to instill fear and promote extremist goals. In recent months three Western expatriates kidnapped earlier in the year were killed by extremists in the North. In addition, Nigerian security personnel in the Federal Capital Territory have been reassigned from crime prevention to other security- related assignments.

Domani Spero

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