Thursday, 20 November 2014

Communiqué: High Level Partnership Forum (HLPF)

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Copenhagen – The first annual Ministerial High Level Partnership Forum was held in Copenhagen 19-20 November, co-chaired by HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Government of Somalia, and the United Nations, and hosted by the Government of Denmark. [Communiqué]

2.    Fifty-six delegations gathered to review progress made since the Brussels Conference in September 2013, where the New Deal Somali Compact was endorsed, acknowledge challenges encountered in 2014, and identify priorities for 2015.

3.    The endorsement of the New Deal Somali Compact marked a new phase in the political relationship between Somalia and the international community. The New Deal Compact binds together the Federal Government's commitment to working towards stability and the unity of Somalia with the international community's commitment to provide support.

4.    We welcome the Somali Compact progress report, including the Somaliland Special Arrangement annual report, as a first step towards tracking and reporting of implementation of the Somali Compact. We will continue to use the principles of New Deal Engagement in Fragile States based on mutual accountability between Somali government institutions and its international partners, as the basis for ensuring a nationally-led and nationally-owned approach to development. We encourage the Federal Government to continue their efforts to operationalise the Somali Compact with the effective involvement of the sub-regional and regional administrations.

5.    We emphasise that the Somali people need to see the tangible results and deliverables, at the local level of the Somali Compact. To support this we commit to improve the effectiveness of the PSG working groups and the allocation of a dedicated amount of the resources under each Peace and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) to help further strengthening the link between central and local administration, in order to enhance further development. We recognise that the establishment of the New Deal financing architecture has advanced, including through the establishment of the UN and World Bank administered funding windows and that aid flows have increased. We look forward to the quick establishment of the remaining funding windows, administered by the AfDB and IMF.

6.    We acknowledge the considerable gains of the past two years in the process to secure a more stable, peaceful and prosperous Somalia. Somalia today stands at a critical juncture. These gains and the overall positive trajectory of Somalia must not be lost. We express concern with the current political crisis. We recognise the need to restore political stability and regain momentum of delivery quickly.  It is time now for inclusive politics and unity of purpose within the government. Going forward, we call on Somalia’s political leadership to unite and ensure the stability that is critical for the implementation of Vision 2016.

7.    We recognise the progress made in the state formation process. The finalisation of a new federal state structure in 2015 is central to our efforts to return peace, stability and development to Somalia. We encourage all stakeholders to engage in these efforts as well as in reconciliation initiatives that will support the achievement of Vision 2016. The existing Administrations such as Puntland, the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA), Galmudug and emerging administrations will be closely engaged in the implementation of Vision 2016. We welcome progress towards the formation of interim administrations in South-West and Central Somalia. We comment IGAD’s efforts on supporting the state formation.

8.    We recognise the need to avoid any further delays in the implementation of Vision 2016 and we recommit to the goal of having democratic, inclusive and legitimate elections in 2016. To that end, the government will establish the Inter-Regional Consultative Forum (IRCF) and the constitutional review process must be completed. International partners will support, including financially, the assessment of electoral modalities. We welcome the establishment of the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission and look forward to the appointment of the members of the Oversight Committee. We urge the swift establishment of the National Independent Electoral Commission as well as the Boundaries and Federation Commission. We welcome the commitment to the legislative timetable already agreed, and urge the passing of critical legislation within the current Session.

9.    We commend the SNA and AMISOM for their successful campaign against al-Shabaab, including operations Eagle and Indian Ocean. We reaffirm our commitment to support Somali Federal and sub-federal authorities in defeating al-Shabaab and reiterate our strong condemnation of all forms of terrorism and extremism. 

10.    We commit to the implementation of the commitments made at the London Security Event, including the integration of local armed forces and development of the SNA Development Partnership agreement, based on the mutual accountability commitments, by end of January 2015. The Federal Government will enhance compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2182 (2014).

11.    We note steps taken to strengthen the professionalisation of the Somali Police Force, including progress on restructuring and support of police forces, training, ranking development of disciplinary procedures. We welcome the deployment of police officers to newly recovered areas, and urge the Federal Government to continue this systematically and endeavour to secure funding to support its personnel.

12.    We welcome progress in reducing piracy but the threat remains. We encourage the Federal Government to produce its Maritime Security Strategy.

13.    We welcome the progress on the rule of law, through the establishment of the Judicial Services Commission and the Joint Implementation Unit. We applaud the Somali stakeholders’ engagement in the rule of law priorities programme and implementation plan, which paved the way for the addressing the underfunding of this sector. 

14.    We congratulate the government on its progress to improve the management of Somalia’s public finances, including through increased revenue collection, strengthened budget policy, and payment controls, under the new Financial Information Management System (FIMS). We acknowledge the role of the Financial Governance Committee (FGC) and urge the Committee to further strengthen its oversight work on public procurement, concessions, and the recovery of Somalia’s national assets within two years, and exhort the Federal Government to implement its recommendations. We emphasise the need for swift adoption of critical legislation, and strengthen capacities of the independent Office of the Auditor General and oversight function of the Accountant General.

15.    We welcome the ambition of the Somali government to strengthen the transparency, coordination and alignment of international assistance, by increasing the share of external resources using the national budget framework. We welcome the “Interim Roadmap towards the Use of Country PFM Systems” and note the now-established “national windows” of the Somalia Development and Reconstruction Facility (SDRF).

16.    We encourage the reengagement of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) in Somalia, paving the way to arrears clearance and debt relief, within the framework of HIPC. We look forward to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff monitored programme, in 2015.

17.    Effective measures to combat corruption and promote transparency and accountability are also key to strengthen the legitimacy of the state. We commend the Federal Government’s decision to accelerate the establishment of an independent Anti-Corruption Commission and the effective operation of the judicial system.

18.    We recognise the importance of developing infrastructure as a basis for economic recovery and job creation. We note that work is underway to complete the national infrastructure assessment, and call for a dedicated international meeting to present identified infrastructure priorities and projects in early 2015.  

19.    We are alarmed by the critical humanitarian situation in Somalia, fragile gains since 2011 famine are being eroded. We note that persistent drought, seasonal floods, continuous fighting and displacement lead to major food insecurity and rising malnutrition levels. We recognise the urgency to establish safe and unhindered access to all areas of Somalia, in particular newly recovered areas, in full respect to international humanitarian law and principles. We recognise the importance of building resilience, through better linkages between humanitarian and development programmes, with a particular focus on durable solutions.

20.    Protecting and promoting human rights, including adoption of measures to prevent violence against women, is key to the credibility of Federal Government and building and maintaining the confidence of the population.  We welcome the development of legal and policy frameworks to promote human rights and protection of women and children in conflict and to ensure women and children’s rights, and encourage the development and implementation of action plans as well as the swift establishment of the Independent Human Rights Commission. We welcome the commitments made by the Federal Government in its 2011 Universal Periodic Review (UPR), before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

21.    We recognise the vital contribution of women to the social, economic and political life of Somalia.  We welcome the measures agreed at the event on women participation in the political process, to promote the role of women in peace processes and the political transformation of the country. 

22.    We recognise the importance of addressing the needs of youth in Somalia, and welcome the swift finalisation of a youth national policy.

23.    We commit to reviewing progress in political and security areas within six months.

24.    In conclusion we thank all participants for their constructive engagement; we have set the foundations for a sovereign, secure, democratic, united and federal Somalia, at peace with itself and the world and for the benefit of its people. On these foundations we must now raise the pillars of stability, security, equality and prosperity.

Why do so many people die shovelling snow?

Residents shovel their sidewalks along Coit Avenue in the wind and snow in Grand Rapids, Mich.
At least two people have died from heart attacks while shovelling snow in Buffalo, New York. Every winter, about 100 people in the US die doing this. Why?
A study looking at data from 1990 to 2006 by researchers at the US Nationwide Children's Hospital recorded 1,647 fatalities from cardiac-related injuries associated with shovelling snow. In Canada, these deaths make the news every winter.
Cardiologist Barry Franklin, an expert in the hazardous effects of snow removal, believes the number of deaths could be double that. "I believe we lose hundreds of people each year because of this activity," says Franklin, director of preventative cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan.
His team found that when healthy young men shovelled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill. "Combine this with cold air, which causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply, you have a perfect storm for a heart attack," he says.

The Answer

  • raises blood pressure and heart rate more than some other forms of exercise
  • cold air constricts blood vessels
  • cardiac risks are higher in early morning
  • rare exercise for sedentary over-55s
Snow shovelling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work. Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure, Franklin says.
Many people hold their breath during the hard work, which also puts a strain on the body. In addition, the prime time for snow clearance is between 6am and 10am which is when circadian fluctuations make us more vulnerable to heart attacks.
Franklin considers snow shovelling to be so dangerous that he advises anyone over the age of 55 not to do it.
Sue Radka helps shovel out a friends driveway on in Lancaster, N.Y.
"People at greatest risk are those who are habitually sedentary with known or suspected coronary disease, who go out once a year to clear snow," he says, adding that smoking and being overweight drastically increase the risk. If you must do it, push rather than lift the snow, dress in layers, take regular breaks indoors and don't eat or smoke before shovelling, he advises.
Using a snow blower is a better option, but there have also been heart attacks recorded in men using blowers, including one fatality in Buffalo on Wednesday. "People don't have any idea how taxing it is on the heart," Franklin says.
Reporting by Jo Jolly

Murderer paedophiles sue ministers over hurt feelings

Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan. Pics by CIARAN DONNELLY O'Neill and Lauchlan murdered Alison McGarrigle and dumped her body at sea

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Two paedophiles who murdered a woman are suing Scottish ministers over lack of contact in jail and for £35,000 compensation each over "hurt feelings".
William Lauchlan and Charles O'Neill killed Allison McGarrigle after she planned to reveal their sex abuse.
The pair say they were previously in a long-standing relationship.
They claim the Scottish government has breached their human rights in relation to inter-prison visits and contact by telephone and letters.
O'Neill, 51, and 37-year-old Lauchlan are serving life sentences in different prisons in Scotland. The authorities have not granted permission for them to see each other in visits.
They argue the Scottish government has failed to respect their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which provides protection for private and family life. They also claim they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.
They say they were in "a long-standing intimate and sexual relationship" before being imprisoned after their trial in 2010.
Both are seeking damages of £35,000, claiming they are entitled to an award for "hurt feelings" among other things.
'Callous and depraved'
It is said: "Their relationship has suffered as a consequence of the treatment they have suffered. They have both felt frustration and distress at being unable to communicate with each other to a greater extent or to have face-to-face contact."
"This is particularly so when heterosexual couples have apparently been afforded greater contact with each other," it is maintained.
The judicial review brought by the prisoners stated that Scottish ministers failed to provide them with "suitable and sufficient contact" with each other.
Allison McGarrigleThe men murdered Allison McGarrigle, who intended to report them for abuse
O'Neill was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, while accomplice Lachlan was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years after they were found guilty of murdering 39-year-old Mrs McGarrigle in Largs, Ayrshire in 1997. Her body, which they disposed of at sea, was not found.
They were also sentenced for sex abuse offences following two trials.
The sentencing judge, Lord Pentland, told them that they were relentless and murderous paedophiles who represented a high risk to the safety of the public.
The judge said that when they became aware that Mrs McGarrigle was intending to report them to the authorities for sexually abusing a boy they "conceived a callous and depraved plan to murder her and to dispose of her body".
He added: "You then put this plan into effect with chilling composure."
He told them: "The consistent theme which permeated the evidence in both trials was your calculating and devious manipulation of vulnerable individuals in order to further your appetites for sexually abusing young men and boys."
'Fundamental rights'
David Leighton, counsel for the men in the judicial review, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh: "This is a court of law and not a court of morals."
He said the men were seeking to relying on "fundamental protections and fundamental rights which the law affords to all persons."
O'Neill is detained in Edinburgh's Saughton prison and Laughlan is held in Glenochil jail, in Clackmannanshire.
Mr Leighton said the men were aware of heterosexual couples, each of whom was in prison, being allowed face-to-face contact, but were not aware of homosexual couples with the same opportunity.
He argued that the state was obliged to assist prisoners to maintain effective contact with close family members.
In the action for judicial review the prisoners are seeking a declaration that the Scottish ministers have failed to respect their rights and that their treatment has been unlawful.
It is also argued that prison rules that require "exceptional circumstances" for inter-prison visits should be set aside. The action maintains that the murderers are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
Scottish ministers are contesting the action and maintain that none of the orders sought from the court is justified.
The hearing continues.

Rape of three-year-old girl shocks Afghans

The BBC's Richard Galpin says the child was playing with friends when she was attacked

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Listless and silent, three-year-old Neelofar lies in the arms of her grandmother in the back of a taxi speeding towards the Afghan capital Kabul.
A plastic tube protrudes from her body.
One hand is wrapped in a bandage where an intravenous drip had been inserted at her local hospital in the north.
Neelofar is in a critical condition after being raped and urgently needs specialist medical treatment which she can only get in the capital.
The car descends the winding, mountainous road from the Salang tunnel onto the Shomali plain on the last leg of the gruelling eight-hour drive to Kabul.
A few days earlier she had been playing with her friends outside her home when a man picked her up and carried her to a nearby garden.
According to her family and medical staff, he gagged, raped and then it seems, tried to murder her.
A close up of the three-year-old raped in AfghanistanBadly injured in the attack, the young girl is being treated in hospital.
"He was suffocating her, trying to take her life away because he was afraid," said Monija, a doctor who treated her in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
"There are several marks on her neck."
Father's journey
Neelofar's father and mother were both away at the time.
By chance, the family says, another man happened to walk past the garden and heard noises.
He found Neelofar bleeding and took her to the village mosque.
The police have arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the case.
He is allegedly a neighbour and known to the family.
At the time, Neelofar's father, Abdul, was on the eighth day of a marathon journey to the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas where he had hoped to find work.
The girls father, Abdul.The girl's father fears the authorities will not ensure the man responsible is prosecuted.
A large section of the journey had been on foot.
Afghan colleagues told him they had heard rumours of an incident in his village and when he called home, his worst fears were confirmed.
He turned round and began the long journey to Kabul.
Exhausted, hungry and thirsty - he had not eaten for days - he told me his daughter's life was now over.
In this male-dominated and segregated society, rape victims are viewed as outcasts, even as prostitutes.
Marriage is almost impossible and a sense of shame hangs over the entire family.
But Abdul also fears that because they are poor, the authorities will not take the case seriously and ensure the man responsible is prosecuted.
"The president is not listening to people who are poor and don't have money," he said.
"If the government does not give me my rights based on Sharia and Afghan law, I will bring my other six children and kill them in front of the presidential palace and I will leave Afghanistan. My wife and mother also say they will kill themselves."
Women's rights campaigner Najia NassimThe case has shocked even women's rights campaigners, such as Najia Nassim.
"Are the children of poor people like dogs, so nobody cares about them?" he added.
The local police insist they will bring the case to court as quickly as possible and are calling for the person found guilty of the rape to face the death penalty.
Widespread problem
The rape of three-year-old Neelofar is just one of several attacks on young Afghan children which have come to light so far this month.
But Neelofar's case has been particularly shocking.
"I have never heard of a three-year-old being raped by a man before," says Najia Nassim, country director of the NGO Women For Afghan Women.
"I cannot express how upset I was when I looked at the pictures. She is such a little girl.
"You cannot call the man [who did this] a human being."
Child rape is a widespread problem in Afghanistan.
Human rights lawyer Benafsha Efaf Lawyer Benafsha Efaf says it is better the case is heard in Kabul so the man is properly punished.
But women's rights campaigners are encouraged by the fact that more cases are now coming to light instead of being hidden away because of the perceived shame it brings on the victim and family.
In what is being seen as another important development, a Muslim cleric or Mullah was given a 20-year prison sentence and a fine of $26,000 last month for raping a young girl in northern Afghanistan.
He was convicted by a court in Kabul even though the attack had taken place in Kunduz province.
The girl - as has now happened with Neelofar - had been brought to a hospital in the capital, which also ensured the trial was held in the city.
Human rights' lawyers feared the cleric might get off lightly in his home province.
"If the case had been heard in Kunduz, he might have been sentenced to 80 lashes and then freed," says Benafsha Efaf, a lawyer with the NGO Women for Afghan Women, which was involved in bringing the case to court.
"But 80 lashes for what he had done would have been nothing, it would not have been justice, nowhere near so.
"That is why we wanted the trial in Kabul."
The victim is carried by her grandmotherVictims of rape face being shunned by their communities.
After the long, gruelling journey from her home to the capital, Neelofar is now being treated at a well-equipped children's hospital where she has already had an operation.
Doctors are hopeful she will survive her injuries.
But it is not clear if she will ever be able to return to her village because of the stigma of being raped.
When she recovers, she could stay at one of several children's shelters around the country where some rape victims are being looked after and given an education.
A girl at a shelter in Kabul is now doing so well in class that she is planning to become a doctor.
She is the only girl from her village who has learned to read and write.

Parliament repair bill 'could top £3bn'

Palace of Westminster rooftop
Taxpayers may have to spend more than £3bn to stop Parliament turning into an unusable "ruin", Newsnight understands.
The Palace of Westminster has seen fire and floods, some stonework is badly damaged and much of the infrastructure has not been updated since the 1950s.
Restoring it will be "embarrassing, expensive and difficult", a senior insider said.
No final decisions have been taken, but an option under consideration is moving MPs and peers out for five years.
Leaking pipes
Some parts of the façade of Westminster Hall are so fragile they can be crumbled off easily with a hand.
The basements underneath the historic building are full of asbestos, leaking pipes and miles and miles of outdated wiring and cables.
The annual DIY bill is about £30m.
Newsnight, which was given exclusive access to parts of the palace never seen by the public, has been told by several well-placed sources that the "working assumption" of the cost of restoration is £3bn.
That's considerably more than other estimates previously released.
Westminster HallThe stone facade of Westminster Hall crumbles to the touch
A source familiar with the project said: "I'd be surprised if it stayed at that."
Richard Ware, the director of the "Restoration and Renewal" project, said the work was urgent.
"We're moving backwards. The building is getting older, faster than we can deal with it," he said.
"The building is on borrowed time and, if we don't act soon, we won't have a choice."
'Sinking and crumbling'
He warned that if nothing was done, politicians and staff would end up "working in a ruin".
Cloister Court, part of the building dating back to the 14th Century, is "sinking and crumbling", according to Adam Watrobski, Parliament's principal architect.
Gargoyles and stone facades have been disfigured by decades of pollution.
Crumbling stoneworkStonework is badly disfigured in many areas
An initial, independent report has been completed, considering and costing three main options:
  • Moving MPs and peers out completely for five years, closing the entire Palace of Westminster. This would be expected to encounter significant political opposition
  • A "partial decant" - the House of Lords and the House of Commons would move out in turn, so one half of the palace could be restored at a time, which would take considerably longer
  • Politicians refuse to move and construction takes place around them. That could take decades and cost even more
The parliamentary authorities have decided not to publish the report until next summer.
'National identity'
They are reluctant to make the cost of the building an issue in the run-up to the general election and are expected to commission more research instead.
Sources emphasise that, at this stage, no final decision has been taken about the preferred option or final cost.
Mr Ware accepts the cost may be well over the most recent estimates of about £1.6bn, but won't yet divulge what the final figure might be.
There will inevitably be controversy about the costs.
But historian and architectural expert Dan Cruickshank believes the Palace of Westminster "it's one of the great buildings of the world".
He added: "It represents in many ways the national identity of Britain... it has to be done properly.
Palace of Westminster buildingsAn independent quango is likely to manage the restoration project
"It has to be a model of how to make a historic building work for the 21st Century."
Newsnight also understands that an independent quango, similar to the Olympic Delivery Authority that was in charge of the 2012 Olympics, is likely to be set up to manage the project.
The decisions, which may need legislation, will have to be made soon after the general election next year.
The most likely start date for the actual restoration is 2021, so that MPs elected in the 2020 election would be able to sit in the Commons for 12 months before potentially having to move out.
Sources predict that the decisions around cost and moving politicians are likely to be a "real battle", storing up trouble for MPs after next May.

Labour's Emily Thornberry quits over tweet

TwitterThe tweet was posted on polling day in Rochester

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Labour's Emily Thornberry has resigned from the Labour front bench over a tweet she sent during the Rochester and Strood by-election campaign.
The shadow attorney general previously apologised for the tweet, which showed a terraced house with three England flags, and a white van parked outside.
Alongside the picture, she wrote: "Image from Rochester".
She said she had not meant to cause offence, but Labour backbencher John Mann accused her of "snobbery".
Polls have closed in the by-election, which was triggered when Conservative MP Mark Reckless defected to the UK Independence Party and resigned his seat to seek re-election for UKIP.
Emily Thornberry
BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said the problem was that the tweet suggested Ms Thornberry, the MP for Islington South and Finsbury, thought the house and flags were "something to be sneered at".
He added: "It is not the sort of news that you need to have on a polling day, in a by-election, when you're trying to fight back against some pretty tough press."
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "What is Labour's Emily Thornberry trying to imply about Rochester and Strood? I suspect she's let Miliband's mask slip."
In a statement released by the Labour Party, Ms Thornberry said: "Earlier today I sent a tweet which has caused offence to some people.
"That was never my intention and I have apologised.
"However I will not let anything distract from Labour's chance to win the coming general election.
"I have therefore tonight told Ed Miliband I will resign from the shadow cabinet.

Beheading plot': Three terrorism suspects in court

Daniel Sandford reports: "The three men... laughed and joked through parts of the hearing"
Three terrorism suspects were involved in a plot to behead a member of the British public "imminently" when they were arrested, a court has heard.
Nadir Ali Sayed, Yousaf Shah Syed and Haseeb Hamayoon were arrested three days before Remembrance Sunday.
During a preliminary hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, none of them applied for bail and they were remanded in custody.
Full details of the alleged plot were not given.
Rebecca Mundy, prosecuting, said the charges related to an alleged plan to carry out a beheading.
Mr Sayed, 21, from Hounslow, Mr Syed, 19, from High Wycombe, and Mr Hamayoon, 27, from Hayes, were arrested on 6 November in London and High Wycombe.
A fourth man, arrested in Uxbridge, west London, was released on Saturday with no further action against him.
Police officers outside a house in Desborough Avenue, High Wycombe after four men were arrested in connection with an alleged Islamist terror plot. One of the men was arrested in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire
The trio were charged earlier on Thursday - the 14th and final day that they could be held by police under terrorism legislation.
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said Mr Sayed and Mr Syed stood in the dock for most of the proceedings, "smiling and laughing as details were read out", while Mr Hamayoon remained seated.
Scotland Yard said the men had been charged with being "jointly engaged" in preparing for committing acts of terrorism.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bird flu: New EU measures after Dutch and UK cases

Benno Bruggink, Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority: "The public should not be overly concerned"

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The European Commission has adopted protective measures to try to contain a bird flu outbreak after new cases were reported in the UK and the Netherlands.
The measures include killing animals in infected areas and banning sales of poultry products from those areas.
The Dutch government has reported the "highly contagious" H5N8 strain at a poultry farm there.
The UK reported a case at a duck farm in East Yorkshire, and the Commission said it was "probably identical".
H5N8 can potentially affect humans.
EU officials say the outbreaks may be linked to bird flu recently found in Germany.
They say it could have been spread by migratory wild birds heading south for winter, but that tests are continuing to confirm any links between the three cases.
Three-day ban
The European Commission said in a statement that the UK and the Netherlands were already applying directives on culling affected poultry, prohibiting sales of affected poultry products and live birds, and establishing protection zones.
It said: "The measures aim at quickly bringing the disease under control and at preventing the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza within the affected member states, to other member states and to third countries."
At the scene: BBC's Anna Holligan in Hekendorp
It was a tense and traumatic day at the farm.
The idyllic Dutch image was destroyed by the hum of a truck carrying an industrial size gas canister and the appearance of men in orange boiler suits. The health and safety teams came to Hekendorp to gas 150,000 hens.
Their primary concern is to contain the outbreak. Poultry farmers, even those operating outside the 10km exclusion zone, have an additional concern. Many are worried about the potential damage to the reputation of Dutch poultry products.
The industry has been brought to a standstill. A nationwide transportation ban will remain in place until at least Tuesday. The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. It exports more than six billion eggs annually.
We watched from behind the fire retardant barrier as diggers poured hundreds of dead chickens into trucks. Neighbours living around the contaminated farm see the cull as an unpleasant but essential sacrifice.
Eggs and chickens are dumped into a container at Hekendorp, 17 NovEggs and chickens are dumped into a container at Hekendorp
The Dutch authorities have already begun destroying 150,000 hens at the infected farm, in the village of Hekendorp.
"This highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza is very dangerous for bird life," the Dutch government said in a statement (in Dutch).
"The disease can be transmitted from animals to humans."
The Dutch economics ministry says humans can only be infected through very close contact with infected birds.
An expert wearing a protection suit arrives at a poultry farm, where a highly contagious strain of bird flu has been found, in Hekendorp, the Netherlands, 17 November 2014Experts wore protective suits before examining the Hekendorp farm
The authorities have imposed a three-day nationwide ban on the transportation of poultry and eggs.
Earlier this month, a farm in north-eastern Germany detected cases of H5N8, which had previously not been reported in Europe.
The strain has never been detected in humans, but an outbreak in South Korea meant millions of farm birds had to be slaughtered to contain it.
Also on Monday, Egyptian health officials said a woman had died from the deadliest strain of the virus, H5N1, after coming into contact with infected birds in the south of the country.
Dangerous strains
Meanwhile, officials in the UK confirmed at least one case of bird flu in Yorkshire, but insisted the risk to public health was "very low".
A cull of poultry is being carried out at the site and an exclusion zone is in place.
The Commission said: "The information available indicates that the H5 virus in the UK is probably identical to the H5N8 virus found in the Netherlands and in Germany."
Map showing the three outbreak spots in the Netherlands, UK and Germany
The head of the World Animal Health Organisation, Bernard Vallat, suggested that bird feed at the farms might have become contaminated by wild migratory birds.
"If feed is not protected and a wild bird comes to eat it, it's enough to contaminate the feed and then those that eat that feed," Mr Vallat said.
Most forms of bird flu do not infect humans, but H5N1 and H7N9 have caused serious infections in people, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
The majority of those infected had come into close contact with live or dead poultry.
There is no evidence to suggest H5N1 and H7N9 can be passed to humans through properly prepared poultry or eggs, the WHO says.
H5N1 has a mortality rate of about 60% in humans, and led to 384 deaths between 2003 and December 2013, according to WHO figures.
Common symptoms include a high fever and coughing.

Coronavirus Is Battering Africa’s Growing Middle Class

From Kenya to Nigeria, South Africa to Rwanda, the pandemic is decimating the livelihoods of the once-stable workers who were helping ...