Police Arrest Drug Trafficking Suspect in Moroccos Mohammedia

Rabat – Law enforcement arrested the suspect on the basis of intelligence from the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST), according to a statement from the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).The statement added that police arrested the suspect in a 4×4 vehicle in Mohammedia. Police found the suspect in possession of 20,000 ecstasy tablets and 1,980 Rivotril tablets, a seizure medication. Both drugs are growing in popularity in the illegal drug market.Read Also: Morocco’s DGSN Seizes 493,700 Ecstasy Pills at Tanger Med PortPolice placed the suspect in custody to determine the source of the drugs. The new seizure of ecstasy tablets followed the thwarting of an attempt to traffic 493,700 ecstasy pills into Morocco through Tangier Med Port on November 5. During the operation, police arrested three suspects, including one woman in a car registered in the Netherlands.The ecstasy tablets were carefully concealed in the car’s trailer.The ecstasy pill, also widely known as “the love pill,” affects the central nervous system causing hallucinations and psychoactive effects. read more

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Mauritania Denies Closing Borders with Senegal

Rabat – In response to reports in the Senegalese press accusing the Mauritanian government of causing distress in a Senegalese village by suddenly closing the border with Senegal, Mauritanian authorities have issued a statement denying the allegations, slamming the reports as incomplete and sensationalist narratives. Yesterday, the Senegalese daily? Les Echos ?relayed that Mauritanian authorities had closed borders with Senegal in the Morphil region of Senegal.?  According to the report, dozens of villagers in the Senegalese locality were denied free movement to attend their farming and fishing activities on the Mauritanian side of the 700 km border between the two countries.?   Les Echos quoted Senegalese villagers complained that police patrols limited villagers’ movements and prevented them from tending to their daily businesses. “Meanwhile, Mauritanians are free to enter Senegal,” one of the villagers fumed.? However, the Mauritanian government said in a statement that the decision was wrongly relayed in the Senegalese press, as it only concerned the closure of risky and unofficial transit points between the two countries.? The statement noted that while there are 35 official passage points at the border between the two countries, some fishermen and farmers continued using “unauthorized” entry points.? “Only irregular and unauthorized entry points [in Mauritania] have been closed,” the statement read. It added that Mauritanian police seized fishing and other materials only as a “necessary” and “temporary” move to ensure that concerned villagers were not involved in illegal traffic.? “Official transit points remain open and citizens can freely go about their activities,” the statement noted, further explaining that the decision aimed to guarantee security in a notoriously insecure zone and that it had been discussed with the relevant Senegalese counterparts prior to implementation. read more

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Amazon rejects facial recognition climate change proposals

NEW YORK — Amazon said Wednesday that shareholders voted against proposals related to climate change and facial recognition technology despite pressure from civil rights groups, activist investors and its own employees.The two proposals on facial recognition asked Amazon to stop selling its technology to government agencies, citing privacy concerns that could ultimately hurt Amazon’s reputation. Earlier this month, San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition software by police and other city departments.The climate change proposal, backed by more than 7,600 Amazon employees, pushed the company to describe how it’s curbing its use of fossil fuels. After the shareholding meeting in Seattle, the employees said that they plan to continue to put pressure on Amazon to do more to combat climate change. They said they would file the same proposal next year.Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press read more

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Schools reckon with social stress Im on my phone so much

BUFFALO, N.Y. — High school biology teacher Kelly Chavis knew smartphones were a distraction in her class. But not even her students realized the psychological toll of their devices until an in-class experiment that, of course, was then spreading on social media.For one class period, students used a whiteboard to tally, in real time, every Snapchat, Instagram, text, call or other notification that popped up. Students were told not to respond to avoid generating replies … and further notifications.Teachers around the country have run similar experiments, typically recording dozens of trips to the board.“One girl, just during the one hour, got close to 150 Snapchat notifications. 150!” marveled Chavis, who teaches honours-level courses at Rock Hill Schools in South Carolina.She’s among a growing number of teachers, parents, medical professionals and researchers convinced that smartphones are now playing a major role in accelerating student anxiety — a trend so pervasive that a National Education Association newsletter labelled anxiety a “mental health tsunami .”Testing, extracurricular-packed schedules, and perpetual stressors like poverty can all weigh on students. But research now points to smartphones-driven social media as one of the biggest drivers of stress. After all, that’s where college acceptance letters fill Instagram, everyone knows where everyone else is going for spring break, and athletic failures and awkward social moments can live forever.Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State who has studied the issue, said it’s no coincidence that youth mental health issues have risen with the number of phones. “What a lot of teens told me is that social media and their phones feel mandatory,” she said, leading to a loss of sleep and face-to-face interactions necessary for their mental well-being.Last year, an editorial in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ flagship journal recommended that doctors ask adolescent patients about their social media use as part of routine screening, alongside older questions about home life and drug and sexual activity. “Aberrant and/or excessive social media usage may contribute to the development of mental health disturbance in at-risk teenagers, such as feelings of isolation, depressive symptoms, and anxiety,” three researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.Researchers are still arguing whether phones drive student depression or depression drives phone use. But 70 per cent of teens view anxiety and depression as major problems among their peers , according to a February Pew Research Center report. Nearly 60 per cent of parents said they worry about the influence of social media on their child’s physical and mental health in the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey .Schools are starting to react. Many districts now hire outside companies to monitor students’ social media postings for signs of distress. Others invite in yoga instructors and comfort dogs to teach even the youngest kids to keep technology from putting them on edge.Belfast Area High School in Maine even staged an #unplugged event day in April — but it served to underline the technology’s pull when less than 20 per cent of students and staff took part.Meanwhile, students and parents are filling school auditoriums for screenings of documentaries such as “LIKE ” and “Angst ,” which explore social media, technology and anxiety. Movements like Away for the Day and Wait Until 8th discourage cellphones in middle school.When she first got a smartphone around seventh grade, all the posting, messaging and liking pushed Nia Coates’ anxiety level to “probably a 10,” she said. Now a high school junior, the Buffalo, New York, teen has figured out to manage the distractions.She’ll completely log out of her Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, and sometimes will delete an app altogether for a while. “The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize it doesn’t really matter so it’s not as stressful,” Coates said, recalling how in the past she’d post something only to delete it to avoid being judged.Anxiety has taken over as the most significant obstacle to learning among Chris Doyle’s high school students at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut. Some rack up absences because they feel overwhelmed by the day ahead, Doyle said. A teacher for 30 years, he has seen a profound shift toward constant self-evaluation that he associates with social media, YouTube, and even school grade portals sometimes checked dozens of times a day — things students have never before had to manage.“That kind of awareness of other people’s lives, even maybe what used to be considered other people’s private lives, is kind of hyper right now,” Doyle said. “And I don’t think that usually leaves most people feeling good, because nobody’s perfect and most kids feel very imperfect.”But putting the genie back in the bottle isn’t easy. In Illinois, Glenbrook High Schools District 225 experimented with limiting teens’ access to their grades on a digital portal. But for every student who said the grade book caused them anxiety, there was another who said losing regular access created even more stress, said instructional innovation director Ryan Bretag.Some students simply appear overwhelmed by nonstop social-media notifications during the school day. “It becomes an anxiety — ‘well, if I don’t answer them back right now I’m missing something,’” said Troy, Missouri, high school teacher Elizabeth Utterback. Freshmen are particularly susceptible, she said. Her own class tallying experiment netted 80 notifications among 20 students in less than 30 minutes.“I definitely feel stress with online profiles, social media, to keep up, maintain my profiles and stuff,” said Emily Mogavero, a 17-year-old student in Buffalo, New York. “It kind of worries me that I’m on my phone so much.” Mogavero said she sometimes puts her phone out of reach or powers it down so she doesn’t hear notifications.Teaching limits at an earlier age might help. Deirdre Birmingham of Montclair, New Jersey, signed onto a campaign called “Wait Until Eighth” because she didn’t think her video game-loving 10-year-old son was ready to manage a smartphone’s pull.The idea, which got its start in Texas two years ago, is to lessen the peer pressure of being the only kid without a phone by enlisting parents of classmates to agree to hold off until at least eighth grade. So far, almost 20,000 people have signed on, founder Brooke Shannon said.“I had a gut level that it would be difficult for my child to manage,” Birmingham said. “As a grown-up, I find it difficult sometimes to manage.”Carolyn Thompson, The Associated Press read more

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Many thousands flee more fighting in eastern DR Congo UN reports

28 September 2007Fresh fighting between Government forces, renegade troops and rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has uprooted yet more people, with new waves in the coming days expected to add to the over 100,000 who have already fled the latest conflict, United Nations agencies said today as they mobilized to face the crisis. “Hundreds of knee-high children with heavy loads and women with bundles on their heads and babies on their backs stream along the pot-holed road,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official Sarah Crowe reported from outside the emptied ghost villages around the town of Sake in North Kivu province. Some 65,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering in the larger Mugunga area close to Goma, the provincial capital, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said humanitarian agencies are stretched to the limit. “Continuing attacks and populations displacements are robbing already extremely poor people of all their survival strategies, and making them vulnerable to armed elements, especially to sexual violence,” WFP reported in another dispatch from North Kivu. A recent inter-agency mission to villages in Masisi district estimated that as many as 16,000 new IDPs were sheltering along the road and a humanitarian response is being planned for the area where IDP sites have already reached maximum capacity. “We are extremely concerned that an intensification of fighting in North Kivu will lead to tens of thousands of newly displaced flooding already over-crowded displacement sites,” Ms. Pagonis said, noting that this would be in addition to the over 300,000 displaced in North Kivu since December last year, which has already brought the cumulative total to over 700,000 IDPs there. “All the people left this village,” said Pastor Safari Maywono of Sake, which has been newly secured by the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) and Congolese forces. “The military came to the village and the people got scared and left,” he told UNICEF’s Ms. Crowe. In and around the Mugunga UNICEF and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Solidarites have already provided 120,000 people with cooking utensils, blankets, plastic sheeting, soap, water bottles and mosquito nets. “As fast as supplies are handed out, however, the displaced keep coming. Children separated from their families, and now alone, get priority treatment. They are the most vulnerable to being recruited by the many armed forces in the region,” Ms. Crowe said. Evidence has emerged, via MONUC and from schools, that hundreds of children are being re-recruited, taken from both secondary and primary schools and marketplaces. “In the camps for the displaced, the process of tracing the families of these unaccompanied minors has to kick in urgently,” she added. Earlier this week UNICEF took delivery of some 290 tonnes of emergency household kits in Goma, comprising BP5 high protein biscuits and emergency shelter supplies. As of today, WFP reported that it had started distributions to nearly 65,000 IDPs in Masisi which had until recently been no-go area for humanitarian operations for security reasons. “Despite this progress in reaching the affected, reports of clashes continue, jeopardizing deliveries to those who need them most,” the agency said. “Getting vital assistance into Masisi continues to be problematic as armed groups are currently blocking the movement of trucks in and out of the area. An armed escort from MONUC is needed in almost all areas outside Goma. “WFP is concerned at the lack of humanitarian capacity in North Kivu as NGO partners are already stretched to their limit,” it added. Food needs in eastern DRC have already tripled in the past year and WFP still requires an additional $12 million for its existing operations until the end of the year. read more

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Guinea UN humanitarian fund allocates 1 million in flood relief projects

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated just over $1 million in aid to health, water purification and food security projects in Guinea, where hundreds of thousands of households are trying to recover from the effects of widespread flooding and avoid deadly cholera epidemics.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced the grant today in response to the floods, part of wider inundations that have swept across most of West Africa since July.More than $400,000 has been allocated to the World Health Organization (WHO) to fund efforts to control potential outbreaks of cholera. The programme will strengthen the capacity of local health workers, promote public awareness about health and hygiene and include follow-up monitoring of people affected, OCHA said. Nearly 6,000 people have been infected.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will receive almost $300,000 to help an estimated 975,000 households in two of Guinea’s four regions undertake a series of measures to prevent cholera from spreading, such as by systematically disinfecting homes and wells, treating drinking water and encouraging good hygiene practices.The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will use over $360,000 to provide seeds for a variety of crops, such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, and agricultural equipment, including watering cans and hoes, to some 3,200 households.In all three cases the UN agencies will be working with Guinean Government ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).CERF was approved by the General Assembly in December 2005, and was created to speed up relief operations for emergencies, make funds available quickly after a disaster and finance under-funded emergencies. Its funds are also made available to address the existing imbalance in global aid distribution which results in millions of people in so-called neglected or forgotten crises remaining in need. 25 October 2007The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated just over $1 million in aid to health, water purification and food security projects in Guinea, where hundreds of thousands of households are trying to recover from the effects of widespread flooding and avoid deadly cholera epidemics. read more

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Ban Kimoon pays tribute to Edmund Hillary – mountaineer and humanitarian

11 January 2008Mourning the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute not only to the New Zealander’s mountaineering skills but to his humanitarian commitment to those around him. “Sir Edmund not only climbed to one of the purest victories known to humankind, thereby championing and pioneering an awareness of the treasures of our Earth – he also worked to build health and education in the communities around him,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson. Eulogizing Sir Hillary for giving “profound meaning to the concepts of courage and exploration,” Mr. Ban joins Sir Edmund’s family, the people of New Zealand, and his followers and friends around the world “in giving thanks for his life.” read more

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New UNbacked report calls for more effective response to stem AIDS in

“Redefining AIDS in Asia – Crafting an Effective Response,” produced by the independent Commission on AIDS in Asia, states that nearly 5 million people are living with HIV in Asia, with 440,000 people dying each year. However, without concerted efforts, the annual death toll will increase to almost 500,000 by 2020.The report emphasizes that the number of people newly infected by 2020 can be kept to 3 million if Asian leaders implement priority interventions right away. An annual investment of only 30 cents per capita on focused prevention programmes can reverse the epidemic, it adds.Noting that countries in Asia have the resources, technology and organizational capacity for a scaled-up response, the report notes that what are needed is the political will of governments and the involvement of community-based organizations in the response.Speaking at the handover of the report, Mr. Ban said that Asia has proved before that it can act decisively and effectively in the face of grave threats, as seen in the “swift and resolute” response to SARS five years ago. “Asian countries have the capacity to tackle AIDS with the same resolve and creativity,” he noted. “But it will require a collective effort on all fronts – from gender inequality to stigma, discrimination, and marginalization of populations such as migrants and ethnic minorities.”The Secretary-General added that AIDS will challenge Asia for years to come. “But if we invest early enough and judiciously enough, we can achieve an effective response,” he stated. Chakravarthi Rangarajan, the Commission’s Chairman and Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, agreed, stating that “the problem of HIV/AIDS in Asia is assuming proportions which demand and which require greater focus and attention.” Presenting the report to journalists, he said the Commission looked at three aspects of the epidemic – the seriousness of the problem, the nature of the problem and the kinds of policies required. “It is estimated that HIV/AIDS may emerge as the single largest cause of death for adults in the age group 15-42,” Dr. Rangarajan said, adding that the three major drivers of the disease are commercial sex workers and their clients, injection drug users, and men having sex with men. “Therefore, any attempt at controlling HIV/AIDS must focus attention on these groups.” He stressed that crucial to addressing the problem is an enhanced level of political commitment. The Commission also recommends that watchdog bodies be set up to monitor national programmes, and that activities such as commercial sex and injection drug use be decriminalized. Additional resources are also critical to scaling up efforts to tackle the problem.“What is really unique about this report is that it is the first time ever that there is such a comprehensive study on the AIDS epidemic in Asia,” Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), told reporters. Also, the epidemic is looked at through the “lens” of economists and sociologists in addition to members of the medical community and those living with HIV and community groups. The report is important for four reasons, he said. First, it shows clearly that the response to the epidemic has to be tailored to Asian realities. Secondly, it calls for making the most of the funding currently available. Thirdly, the report tackles some “really tough issues” and calls for stronger leadership to address problems such as discrimination and to support HIV prevention among commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and injection drug users. In addition, the report emphasizes the need to increase the involvement of communities and people living with HIV “from token involvement to full partnership,” Dr. Piot stated. “It is simply an illusion to think that one can stop an epidemic without involving the people who are affected by the epidemic.” 26 March 2008Unless Asia mounts a more effective response to stem the tide of HIV and AIDS, 8 million more people in the region could find themselves newly infected by 2020, according to a new report presented today to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. read more

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Poverty reflected in childrens schools as well as in the home –

Social inequality has a major impact on the kind of schooling children receive and poses a significant challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities, according to a report released today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).“The data reveal how social inequality affects a child’s opportunity to learn. And clearly, no country – rich or poor – is immune to these disparities,” Hendrik van der Pol, director of UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, said.The report, which is based on a survey of 7,600 schools in 11 countries in Latin America, Asia and North Africa, reveals a particularly glaring gap between the resources available to urban and rural schools. In India, the report found that 27 per cent of village schools have electricity compared to 76 per cent of schools in towns or cities. Only about half of the rural schools surveyed have enough toilets for girls and fewer than 4 per cent have a telephone.In Peru, fewer than half of village schools are equipped with electricity, a library or toilets for boys or girls. Yet, in urban areas, nearly all schools have electricity, 65 per cent have enough lavatories and 74 per cent have libraries. In general, village schools are in greater need of repair, according to the survey results. In Brazil, half the pupils in villages sit in run-down classrooms compared to fewer than 30 per cent of pupils in urban establishments. The survey also found wide variations in how much parents were expected to contribute financially. In Tunisia, the parents of one-third of pupils were asked to pay for textbooks. This was the case for 24 per cent of pupils in Argentina and almost 10 per cent in India. Sri Lanka was the only country to provide textbooks for free to virtually all students.“It is disturbing to think that students get more or less resources based on where they live. But that is just part of the story,” says Yanhong Zhang, one of the authors of the report. “The inequalities in school resources are linked to their socio-economic status. In effect, these children are subject to a double-jeopardy – with fewer resources at home and in school.”According to the study, teachers and principals in schools serving socially-disadvantaged children tend to report lower levels of pupil motivation and more behavioural problems. In these schools, teachers were generally dissatisfied with salary, parental support, class size and access to classroom materials.The UNESCO survey was carried out in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Uruguay. 28 May 2008Social inequality has a major impact on the kind of schooling children receive and poses a significant challenge to provide all children with equal learning opportunities, according to a report released today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). read more

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Millions lather up to save lives as UN observes Global Handwashing Day

Nearly 200 million people from over 70 countries participated today in United Nations events marking the first ever Global Handwashing Day, held to raise awareness about how a lack of effective sanitation and poor hygiene practices can bring death and disease.Handwashing with soap – particularly before eating and after using the toilet – is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia, which together are responsible for almost 3.5 million child deaths every year, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated in a press release.Additionally, UNICEF said handwashing with soap by birth attendants and mothers can increase newborn survival rates by up to 44 per cent.UNICEF Senior Adviser for Sanitation and Hygiene Theref Dooley reiterated the need for awareness of the importance of handwashing.“We hope an ordinary act such as handwashing becomes recognized as an extraordinary act that can save lives,” said Ms. Dooley.The inaugural event focuses on children and schools, with the intention that children can act as agents of change by taking these lessons home to their families and communities.“We hope to make handwashing fun. For children to participate it needs to be fun and then they will wash their hands by choice,” stated the UNICEF envoy.Global Handwashing Day activities across the globe include the release of a catchy educational song by UNICEF ambassadors and popular children’s entertainers, The Wiggles, to help motivate millions of children worldwide by transforming the mundane act of handwashing into an enjoyable habit.In India, where more than 100 million children participated in festivities, international cricket star Sachin Tendulkar joined forces with UNICEF to urge children to wash their hands for better health and hygiene.The King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni also took part today washing his hands, while the President of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana synchronized his involvement with schoolchildren across the country all washing their hands at midday.In total, 77 countries participated, including the Philippines, Ghana, Pakistan, Tajikistan and South Africa.Global Handwashing Day is an initiative of the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing which brings together multilateral organizations local community groups and private sector business for the social marketing campaign.Spearheaded by UNICEF, other partners include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme, Procter and Gamble, and Unilever.“By combining all sectors we can sell handwashing. It’s not just about selling soap as it is about selling handwashing,” stated Ms. Dooley.With 2008 marking the UN International Year of Sanitation, Global Handwashing Day will support its ethos to promote improved sanitation and hygiene practices. 15 October 2008Nearly 200 million people from over 70 countries participated today in United Nations events marking the first ever Global Handwashing Day, held to raise awareness about how a lack of effective sanitation and poor hygiene practices can bring death and disease. read more

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UN private sector take stock of global immunization efforts

The three-day meeting, which began yesterday, is being hosted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI Alliance, an initiative including the two agencies, along with the World Bank, developing and industrialized countries’ governments and the private sector.Peter Salama, UNICEF’s Chief of Health, said that the gathering is an opportunity to identify means to reach immunization targets.“An additional two million lives could be saved every year by expanding existing immunization coverage and adding available new vaccines for diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, two of the leading causes of death for children under five years of age,” he noted.Vaccines have eradicated smallpox, dropped the global incidence of polio by 99 per cent since 1988 and slashed illness and death from diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.Last year, measles partners announced that mortality due to measles plummeted 74 per cent worldwide between 2000 and 2007.Participants at the New York event are examining progress made in implementing the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS), created by UNICEF and WHO to step up immunization for major diseases to at least 90 per cent in all countries by 2010.Immunizations are a key component of the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG), which calls for cutting child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. 18 February 2009United Nations agencies and their partners in the global fight against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines are meeting in New York to assess the coverage provided by immunizations, which prevent two million children’s deaths annually. read more

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Urgent funding needed to avert worsening malnutrition disease in Somalia – UN

25 February 2009Without an immediate infusion of funding, the already grave malnutrition and disease levels in Somalia will worsen, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cautioned today. Without an immediate infusion of funding, the already grave malnutrition and disease levels in Somalia will worsen, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cautioned today.In an alert to donors, the Office highlighted the need for assistance for emergency nutrition as well as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in two regions in north and central Somalia.The nutrition situation is critical in Gedo and Central regions, and has been exacerbated by limited funding and a water shortage.Both areas have reached Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above the 15 per cent emergency threshold, topping 20 per cent in some parts.OCHA warned that more people could become vulnerable to water-borne diseases, which are responsible for 20 per cent of deaths among children under the age of five in the Horn of Africa nation. More than one-quarter of the over 200,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of immediate treatment to survive.Over $20 million is required for nutrition needs for the next four months, while $6 million is needed for WASH needs, including improving emergency water and sanitation services.Last month, a UN analysis found that more than three million people in Somalia, a third or more of the total population, will remain dependent on humanitarian assistance this year.The country, which has been riven by factional fighting and has not had a functioning central government since 1991, witnessed several encouraging developments over the past month, including the election of the country’s new President and the creation of an enlarged Parliament. read more

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Focus of Pakistan aid efforts swing to areas of return reports UN

4 September 2009The massive emergency aid effort in north-west Pakistan has shifted focus from areas hosting civilians displaced by the Government’s military operation against militants to places of return, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. The massive emergency aid effort in north-west Pakistan has shifted focus from areas hosting civilians displaced by the Government’s military operation against militants to places of return, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.OCHA reported that some 1.6 million – of the over 2 million – who fled the armed clashes in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) have now returned to their homes in Swat, Buner, Dir and Shangla districts.NWFP authorities have asked the World Food Programme (WFP) to feed almost 400,000 people in the Swat district, who stayed behind during the military operation, and another 224,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have returned.In addition, the international aid community intends to increase the number of humanitarian hubs in Swat, Buner and Bajaur from 14, while hubs in the areas which hosted the majority of IDPs are being closed.OCHA stressed that there is an urgent need to provide school supplies for the new school year, especially school tents, until pre-fabricated shelters arrive for some 525 schools in Swat and 15 in Buner. read more

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Nepal UN human rights official urges arrests of killers of 15yearold girl

Maina Sunuwar was killed in the Birendra Peace Operations in central Nepal on 17 February 2004.In September 2007, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered that the case be investigated, and the following year, criminal charges were filed and arrest warrants issued but never executed.For the past six years, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) “has been just one voice among many calling for justice in the case of Maina Sunuwar,” said the body’s Representative, Richard Bennett.Last September, the District Court ordered the Nepalese Army to submit statements by witnesses it had gathered and to suspend Major Niranjan Basnet. It failed to comply with the order, deploying him to the UN peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, known as MINURCAT. Major Basnet was repatriated in December and reportedly taken into custody by the Army despite the Government’s request that he be turned over to the police.Meanwhile, the other suspects remain at large, with the case becoming a rallying point for victims of both parties to the conflict and for others calling for accountability for human rights violations.A decade-long civil war, pitting the Government against Maoists and claiming some 13,000 lives, ended when a peace accord was reached in 2006.“The Supreme Court and the Kavre District Court have both issued rulings. The Office of the Attorney General has filed charges,” Mr. Bennett pointed out, adding that the Nepal Police, Home Ministry, National Human Rights Commission and top human rights defenders have called for the suspects to be tried.“The Army’s non-cooperation with a court order threatens to undermine the independence of the judiciary and sets a negative precedent for all human rights cases,” including those involving groups such as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) where court orders are being defied, he emphasized. 17 February 2010On the sixth anniversary of the torture and killing of a 15-year-old girl by armed forces in Nepal, the top United Nations human rights official in the Asian nation today called on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to end impunity by arresting the four suspects believed to have carried out the crime. read more

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Attack on staff will not deter Hariri murder probe says UNbacked Lebanon

27 October 2010The United Nations-backed court set up to try suspects in the 2005 murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others has condemned this morning’s attack against three of its staff members in Beirut, pledging that the incident will not deter its investigation. “The attack this morning in Beirut against staff members of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is a deplorable attempt to obstruct justice,” the Tribunal, which is based in The Hague, stated in a news release.“Those who carried out this attack must know that violence will not deter the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a court of law, from fulfilling its mandate,” it added. Two investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal and their interpreter were attending a pre-arranged meeting at a doctor’s office in Beirut as part of the investigation when a large group of people “showed up unexpectedly” and violently attacked the three staff.According to the Office of the Prosecutor, several items belonging to the staff were stolen during the attack. The Lebanese army extracted the three staff members and brought them back safely to the Tribunal’s office where they were provided with medical attention. “The Office of the Prosecutor takes this incident very seriously and is currently gathering the facts,” it stated, adding that Lebanese authorities have launched an investigation.Denouncing the use of violence, the Office stated that the investigation into the Hariri attack will continue undeterred by today’s incident.The Tribunal is an independent body that was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing in February 2005 that killed Mr. Hariri and the others was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. The investigation of the murders is being carried out under the guidance of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor and former head of the IIIC. read more

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UN Human Rights Council to appoint a rapporteur to look into Iranian

24 March 2011The United Nations Human Rights Council voted today to appoint a special rapporteur to look into the situation in Iran, expressing concern over its lack of cooperation with a previous General Assembly call for the country’s authorities to improve their human rights record. The United Nations Human Rights Council voted today to appoint a special rapporteur to look into the situation in Iran, expressing concern over its lack of cooperation with a previous General Assembly call for the country’s authorities to improve their human rights record. In a resolution adopted with 22 votes in favour, seven against and 14 abstentions, the 47-member Council said the rapporteur would report to both the Council and to the General Assembly. The text also called on the Iranian Government to grant access to the country for the independent human rights expert who will take up the rapporteur post. Earlier this month Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released an interim report to the Council on the human rights situation within Iran, noting “many areas of continuing concern.” Mr. Ban said he had been “deeply troubled by reports of increased executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, and possible torture and ill-treatment of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition activists.” The report encouraged the Government in Tehran to address the concerns raised and to fully guarantee freedom of expression and assembly. Iranian authorities had taken some positive steps, Mr. Ban’s report noted, such as preventing stoning from being used as a method of execution and limiting the application of the death penalty on juvenile offenders. But “these measures have not been systematically enforced and cases of this nature continue to arise.” Speaking against the resolution, Iranian representative Seyed Mohammad Reza Sajjadi warned that the Council must not be the domain of the few and must avoid politicization and double standards. In other developments, the Council agreed to extend the mandate of the special rapporteurs on the following subjects: the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, human rights defenders, minority issues and violence against women. Yesterday the Council agreed to appoint a special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as members of working groups or expert mechanisms on several other subjects. read more

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Libya UN mission to Misrata reports need for continued humanitarian assistance

14 July 2011A United Nations humanitarian assessment mission to the Libyan port city of Misrata has found that high food prices, lack of money and shortages of medical supplies and other essential items have left residents in need of continued assistance. Misrata has seen some of the heaviest fighting between Government forces and the armed opposition bidding to oust the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi. The Libyan uprising started in February following similar mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries across North Africa and the Middle East.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in press release that although some normalcy had returned to Misrata, the city itself is still surrounded by Government forces and exposed to sporadic rocket attacks.The four-day humanitarian mission, the second one to the city so far, assessed the population’s need for food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter, with members noting that some shops and markets had reopened. Community leaders told the UN team that people did not have enough to eat due to rising food prices, a shortage of supplies, and a lack of cash.The mission found that large quantities of explosive remnants of war remain in Misrata, with local leaders saying that there is a 15-kilometre minefield between Misrata and Zlitan town, which they said had killed two civilians and injured 30 others.According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the interruption of the delivery of supplies of life-saving medicines and other medical items had caused acute shortages throughout Libya. WHO was particularly concerned over the lack of children’s vaccines.“The only way we can reach the population is by sea,” said Azhar Mehdi Salih of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). “The road from Benghazi to Misrata is too dangerous due to the ongoing fighting,” he said. WFP has distributed 2,634 tons of food to 125,000 people in Misrata since April.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is assessing the extent of the destruction of homes in Misrata and considering helping with some reconstruction.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) identified an urgent need for psycho-social support for children and is working to create child-friendly spaces where they can play safely, learn and express themselves.The Misrata Inter-Agency Humanitarian Hub, which was established a month ago, is providing logistical support, mapping, and humanitarian coordination. The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) also participated in the assessment mission. read more

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DR Congo UN envoy assesses preparations in far east for elections

During the two-day visit, which ended yesterday, Roger Meece, the Special Representative of the Secretary–General and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC Congo (MONUSCO), reassured local officials that the mission will continue to support preparations for the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 28 November.The provincial executive secretary of the National Electoral Commission (CENI), Eugène Birhenjira, indicated to Mr. Meece that the delivery of electoral material was progressing well with MONUSCO’s logistical support.The provincial police commander, General Gaston Luzembo, gave the assurance that his force, which has been trained on providing security during the elections, is ready to ensure smooth conduct of the polls at every stage. About 4,000 police officers will be deployed, he said.As for areas where illegal armed groups are still active, DRC military commanders said the deployment of newly trained units of the Congolese national armed forces (FARDC) will be on the ground to deter any attempts by the illegal militias to disrupt the elections. 21 October 2011The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has visited the eastern city of Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, to assess preparations for the forthcoming general elections in the vast African country. read more

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Donors give nearly 375 million to UN emergency relief fund

Donors pledged nearly $375 million today to the United Nations fund that ensures that humanitarian workers can quickly begin saving lives when a crisis strikes.The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has disbursed more than $2 billion in assistance since it was launched in 2006, making it the world’s largest source of humanitarian funding.Managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the fund has enabled the fast delivery of life-saving assistance to people affected by natural disasters and other crises in some 80 countries over the past five years. “CERF is a United Nations success story,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the start of the pledging conference held at UN Headquarters. “It is flexible, and responsive to the needs of people. It provides a service, with low costs, that would otherwise not exist. And it has a clear, measurable impact.”This year about $400 million has been disbursed by the fund to help some 29 million people across 45 countries, including for UN efforts to overcome the Horn of Africa crisis, the drought in Niger and the floods in Central America.Mr. Ban noted that many, both in the developing and developed worlds, are facing financially difficult times, and it is essential that every dollar spent on humanitarian aid is spent to maximum effect.“Money given to CERF is money well spent,” he told the representatives from governments, the private sector and civil society. “It is guaranteed to go to the people who need it most, in time to make a difference.”Several Member States – including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Norway, Sweden, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United Kingdom – announced increases to their 2012 pledges.Denmark became one of the largest donors after it announced it would double its contribution to nearly $18 million. There were also two new donors, Uruguay and Niger, which brings the total number of donors to 46 countries.In the last six years, a total of 126 States and observers, as well as some 30 public and private donors, have contributed to the fund. “I thank Member States for their strong support, which underscores their continued belief in CERF, and will enable us to help even more people in need,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, who also chaired the pledging conference. 16 December 2011Donors pledged nearly $375 million today to the United Nations fund that ensures that humanitarian workers can quickly begin saving lives when a crisis strikes. read more

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Ban encourages Jordan and Arab neighbours to continue with reforms

“At this critical juncture, I am committed to supporting Arab countries in transition and the people that struggle for democracy, justice, dignity, human rights and economic opportunity,” Mr. Ban said during a joint press conference with Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh.The past year has witnessed a wave of popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring, calling for greater freedoms and reforms and which led to the toppling of regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.“Reform and transition to democracy should continue to take place,” said Mr. Ban. “The Arab region has a generational opportunity to create a future it deserves…“Dignity and justice in this region are threatened, not only by authoritarian rule, but also by occupation and conflict,” he added.The Secretary-General also commended Jordan for its strong commitment to the goals and values of the UN, noting that it is one of the top troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations.“We work together for democracy, stability, peace, justice, development and prosperity across the Middle East and all throughout the world,” he stated.Mr. Ban met separately with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh, in addition to his meeting with the Foreign Minister. He reiterated the UN’s continued support to the Jordanian people and encouraged the King on efforts for comprehensive and inclusive reforms.The wide-ranging discussions with the leaders also touched on the Middle East peace process and the ongoing crisis in Syria that is having a growing impact on neighbouring countries, including Jordan, which is hosting some 2,500 Syrians who fled the violence in their country.“It is more urgent than ever to put an end to this bloodshed and violence, to start a credible political solution that addresses the legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people and to protect their fundamental freedoms,” stated Mr. Ban.He added that he hoped the Security Council meeting to be held later today in New York with the participation of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Prime Minister of Qatar “will bear good results, so that they can meet the expectations of the international community.”Also today, Mr. Ban held a lunch meeting with Jordanian young people, who shared their views and opinions on their situation, priorities and aspirations in various areas, including education, employment and health.Following his visit to Jordan, the Secretary-General will head to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in an effort to help move the peace process forward.Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began preparatory talks at the beginning of January in Amman under the facilitation of King Abdullah and Mr. Judeh. 31 January 2012The Arab world has a “generational opportunity” to create a future it deserves, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today during a visit to Jordan, voicing his support for ongoing reforms in the country and the region. read more

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