SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Peter Silva, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

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Minister Fantino Concludes Visit to Sahel Region

ABUJA, NIGERIA -- (Marketwire) -- 09/14/12 -- The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, today concluded a visit to the Sahel region of West Africa, with stops in both Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

While in Burkina Faso, Minister Fantino raised awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel. He visited refugees and locals affected by the drought and political instability. He was accompanied by heads of Canadian humanitarian organizations operating in the Sahel region.

He also met with President Blaise Compaore, Prime Minister Beyon Luc-Adolphe Tiao, regional governors and humanitarian partners to discuss coordination of the response to the crisis and how such crises can be averted in the future.

"This week, I have witnessed the widespread human suffering in the Sahel region first-hand. Our relief efforts in the Sahel exemplify the best of Canadian values," said Minister Fantino. "Since the launch of the matching fund, it is estimated that Canadians have donated $1.8 million to registered charities of their choice. Millions of people continue to suffer the effects of drought and conflict in this region. I encourage all Canadians to support those in dire need by donating to a charity of their choice by September 30 to ensure their contribution is matched by the Government of Canada."

In Nigeria, Minister Fantino advanced Canada's leadership on maternal and child health. He also discussed potential future strategies to deepen Canada's international cooperation with Nigeria in the area of economic growth, such as responsible resource management.

"Canada plays a key role in supporting Nigeria as it strengthens primary health care systems and reduces maternal mortality rates," added Minister Fantino. "Unlocking barriers to economic growth is integral to advancing prosperity in Nigeria. Realizing growth in Africa is in Canada's long-term-prosperity interests as we look to diversify our economy. Our efforts can truly be win-win."

Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), also provides funding for poverty reduction and economic growth in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, including support to microfinance and education.

For more information on CIDA's engagement in Nigeria (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/Eng/JUD-217122746-NGW), Burkina Faso (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/Eng/JUD-124131655-PFM) and in the Sahel (http://acwln310/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/CAR-72514253-P6U) region, including information on the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund (http://acwln310/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/ANN-72415153-QKY), please visit CIDA's website.

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