BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Tomas Ruiz embraced his father one last time at the Buenos Aires airport before he boarded a plane in search of a new life in Ireland. His sister recently did the same when she moved to Spain.Like many other young Argentines, the siblings hold European passports by descent, and they are returning to the home countries of their grandparents — far from Argentina’s sizzling inflation, high unemployment and sharp currency depreciation.“My country’s situation prompted me to take this decision,” Ruiz said as he finished packing his bags for his trip to Dublin surrounded by photos of his family and friends on the wall. “It was a constant frustration to live constantly on the edge, barely making it to the end of the month.”Ruiz studied gastronomy and was employed as a cafe manager in Argentina’s capital. But even when he worked extra shifts, he couldn’t manage to save money, and for months he had been living with his mother to save on rent.Outside his room, family members left him and his sister farewell messages on a chalkboard. “I love you and I’ll miss you,” his mother wrote. Others said: “The best is yet to come,” and “Crpe diem,” Latin for seize the day.It’s not the first time Argentines have sought shelter in Europe in times of economic uncertainty. Hundreds of thousands emigrated to the old continent to escape hyperinflation in the early 1990s and an economic meltdown in 2001 and 2002.Now, Argentines are losing purchasing power to a nearly 50% annual inflation rate — one of the world’s worst. Many have also protests President Mauricio Macri’s decision to cut subsidies, leading to a spike in the costs of utilities and public transportation.Last year, the Argentine peso lost more than half its value to the U.S. dollar following a run on the local currency, causing the government to seek a record $56 billion bailout loan with the International Monetary Fund to try to come out of the recession.“As a result of the economic crisis and the devaluation, more young professionals are thinking about a future in Europe,” said Alejandro Servide, director of professionals and recruitment process outsourcing at Argentina’s branch of Randstad, the world’s second-largest staffing company.As part of the austerity measures aimed at balancing the budget, Macri’s administration has laid off thousands of government workers and slashed funding for dance, science and other programs. Hundreds recently protested outside the headquarters of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina’s main agency for science and technology.“The science sector is suffering because these budget cuts ordered by Macri endanger the continuity of scientific activity,” said Alberto Kornblihtt, a molecular biologist. “This is undoubtedly contributing to a brain drain that we’ve suffered at other times (of crisis) in our country.”There are no official statistics available on how many Argentines have moved to Europe. Argentina’s immigration directorate said it is nearly impossible to keep track of the number because Argentines leaving the country don’t have to provide information on their destination or how long they’ll stay.But academics, research groups and consulting firms agree there has been a rise in the number of people leaving, especially among young, educated Argentines — just as there was during the nation’s worst crisis 17 years ago.Back then, millions were plunged into poverty, more than 20 per cent of the population became unemployed and many reportedly went hungry in a country that is one world’s biggest producers of beef, soy and wheat.“When Argentina goes through these profound crises, people search for options, and just like it happened in 2001-2002 when nearly 800,000 Argentines went abroad, today we’re living through perhaps the initial phase,” said Ariel Gonzalez, executive secretary of the Center for International Studies at the Catholic University of Argentina.“That means that there’s a sector of society — the middle and high class professionals — who are eyeing a Plan B, which is that if the crisis deepens, one of the options would be to go abroad.”Servide said Randstad Argentina carries out about 160 daily interviews for surveys. One of the questions they ask is whether if given the chance, they would be interested in living abroad. “About 80 per cent tell you yes,” he said.Manuel Miglioranza, a 26-year-old lawyer, is moving next month to Toulouse, France. Although he doesn’t have dual Argentine-French nationality, he’s going to take French lessons and find a job through a temporary work permit allowed through a treaty between the two nations.“The economic situation in Argentina is not helping. You can’t progress unless you work for the state or you have dollars,” he said. “I know many people who are leaving.”Millions of Europeans flooded into Argentina in the 19th century to escape war and poverty back home, which has been a source of pride for the country.“Argentina gave peace to those who were escaping war, freedom to those escaping religious persecution, and bread and work to those escaping hunger,” said Horacio Garcia, director of Argentina’s National Migration Directorate.“Of the last six presidents, four of them were first-generation sons of immigrants,” Garcia noted. “Their fathers came to Argentina with a cardboard suitcase, and they saw that their children in a short amount of time became presidents of the nation. That hardly happens anywhere else in the world.”By the 20th century, a strong workforce along with export earnings from agricultural products and beef had helped turn Argentina into one of the wealthiest countries in the world.Argentines were also among “the most Europeanized and educated people in Latin America,” Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo write in their anthology “The Argentina Reader: History, Culture and Politics.”“Their literacy rate (about 90 per cent) was the highest by far. Until 1945, the country boasted the highest per capita income on the continent, the most extensive urbanization, the largest middle class, as well as the best newspapers, universities, and publishing houses.”But political mismanagement and lower prices for agricultural products that form the country’s economic backbone have for decades led to cyclical booms and busts.The Spanish government recently launched an initiative that allows a limited number of descendants of Spaniards living in Argentina without a Spanish passport to seek a special three-month work visa. Once they find a job, they can request Spanish nationality and bring their families. There were 76,328 Argentines officially registered by mid-2018 in Spain.“There are many, many Argentines living here. We’re like pigeons — everywhere,” quipped Paz Pucheu, an Argentine now living in Spain.The 25-year-old radio and television announcer went to Barcelona in 2017 when “things got really complicated” in Argentina. She began working at a restaurant and eventually landed a job at a local radio station.“Like other Latin American countries, Argentina was a Spanish colony. With friends now we joke around that we’re colonizing our colonizers,” she said.__Associated Press journalists Paul Byrne and Demian Bio in Buenos Aires, Aritz Parra in Madrid and Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press read more

Rabat -The Moroccan Karate team has won 15 medals during the ongoing African Games 2019, in Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex, in Rabat. The wins include nine gold medals, four silver, and two bronze.Sayah Aicha won the gold medal in the under 50 kg category. Nisrin Brouk (-68 kg), Abderrahmane Eddaqaq (-67 kg), Achraf Ouchene (+84 kg), Sanae Agalmam, and Mohamed El Hanni also won gold in the individual Kata competitions.The Moroccan national teams for men and women won the Kata team competitions, while the women’s team also won the Kumite team competition, earning Morocco its ninth gold medal in Karate competitions. In the men’s Kumite team competition, the national team earned a silver medal. Abdesalam Ameknassi (-60 kg), Khaoula Ouhmad (-55 kg), and Nabil Chaabi (-84 kg) also won silver medals in their respective categories. Ibtissam Sadini (-61 kg) and Yassine Sekouri (-75 kg) all placed third in their competitions, winning bronze medals.The Moroccan Royal Federation of Karate’s general secretary, Abdelhay El Kantaoui, commended “the honorable results achieved by the Moroccan Karate team during the African Games”, in a statement to the Moroccan press agency MAP.“These results are the fruit of many preparation stages that Moroccan Karate has participated in, such as the African Championship, in Botswana, where Morocco won 11 gold medal with 18 participants, or the Arab Championship, in Tunisia, where Morocco won 4 gold medals,” he added.The latest wins by Moroccan Karate team bring the total of medals earned by Moroccan athletes to 68, with 22 gold, 19 silver, and 27 bronze.Morocco remains in the 3rd spot in the medals board of the African Games in their 8th day, behind Egypt with 116 medals (37 gold) and South Africa with 56 medals (25 gold).The African Games 2019, held in Morocco, will continue until the end of August. More than 6,000 athletes, from 54 countries, in 29 different sports are participating in this year’s games. It is Morocco’s first time participating in the African Games, after its return to the African Union in 2017.Read also: Morocco Wins Gold in Equestrian Show Jumping at African Games read more

OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada is keeping its key interest rate steady as its senior officials insist there are more signs the economy’s abrupt winter deceleration was short-lived.The central bank, as widely expected, kept its trend-setting rate at 1.75 per cent Wednesday and governor Stephen Poloz appears to be in no hurry to make a move, even as he points to economic improvements.The bank said in a statement that there’s growing evidence the economy has been re-emerging in the second quarter of this year following a slowdown in late 2018 and early 2019.The statement said indicators show the oil sector is beginning to recover while the national housing market is stabilizing and job growth remains strong.It said recent data also point to growth in consumer spending, exports and business investment.However, the central bank says that the economy also faces expanding trade risks following the escalation of international conflicts and Chinese restrictions on Canadian goods that are already having a direct impact on exports. read more

5 April 2007The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today hailed a €1.5 million donation from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) to feed over 108,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal who are unable to work outside the camps in which they reside. Since 1992, WFP, in close coordination with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has being providing food for the Bhutanese refugees at the request of Nepal’s Government.WFP aims to feed the Bhutanese refugees, who arrived in Nepal 16 years ago after the introduction of strict citizenship laws in their homeland, at a cost of almost €18.5 million over the next two years, of which donors have already contributed €8.5 million. In the past six years, ECHO has donated €13.4 million towards WFP’s efforts.“We are very pleased that ECHO has decided to once again support the refugees,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Country Director in Nepal. “The Commission has consistently been on of the biggest providers of humanitarian support to the refugees.”Frustration has been growing among the Bhutanese refugees as they have seen no solution to their situation over the last 16 years. A substantial offer of resettlement places by the United States was made last year, and Canada and Australia have also shown interest, but resettlement has yet to take place.Last November, UNHCR and the Nepalese Government began taking a census of refugees, in which any existing information will be validated, cross-checked, updated and recorded in a new database, and refugees will have their photographs taken for identity cards. read more

18 October 2007United Nations relief officials in Indonesia have begun mobilizing staff and emergency medical supplies in eastern Java, where the eruption of Mount Kelud volcano is believed to be imminent. UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is closely monitoring the situation after the Government recommended on Tuesday that locals evacuate the area immediately.The World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized 100 medical professionals, placed 200 health facilities on alert and established 41 outreach health posts in anticipation of the eruption. Emergency health kits, masks and other essential equipment are also in place. UN humanitarian agencies are also taking part in assessment missions, Ms. Montas said.WHO reported that some 116,000 people who had been living within 10 kilometres of Mount Kelud in either Kidiri or Biltar districts have already been evacuated, although some people in relatively low-risk areas have since been allowed to return to their homes because the volcanic activity has slowed. read more

6 May 2008As of the end of April, more than half of United Nations Member States have submitted assessments to the Security Council regarding efforts to keep nuclear, chemical and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists and black marketeers, it was announced today. As of the end of April, more than half of United Nations Member States have submitted assessments to the Security Council regarding efforts to keep nuclear, chemical and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists and black marketeers, it was announced today.Over 150 nations have fulfilled their reporting responsibilities, Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, the chair of the Security Council committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by non-State actors, particularly terrorists, told the Council today.He also encouraged States which have yet to submit reports to do so as soon as possible.The Chairman of the 1267 (1999) committee concerning Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions said that the group has held discussions on the three sanctions measures: the freezing of assets, travel bans and the arms embargo.Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, told today’s open Council debate which heard from two dozen speakers that the committee also considered the topic of the criminal misuse of the Internet for terrorist purposes.“The Committee shares the concerns expressed over the fact that the Internet constitutes a powerful medium and instrument for Al-Qaida, the Taliban and their associates,” he said, adding that the issue will be discussed further in the future.Meanwhile, the chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) briefed the Council on the new organization plan of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), which is tasked with monitoring the efforts of countries to combat the global scourge of terrorism.“The adjustments to CTED’s organization and methods of work will have the effect of improving the quality and consistency of its technical judgments and will enhance the ongoing dialogue between CTED and the Member States,” Ambassador Neven Jurica of Croatia said. “It will also strengthen CTED’s cooperation with relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations.”Established as a special political mission in 2004, the CTED assists the CTC in monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373, which was adopted in the wake of the September 2001 attacks on the United States and calls on countries to adopt a number of measures to enhance their ability to counter terrorist activities nationally, regionally and globally. read more

6 May 2008The international community needs to refocus on South Sudan and to increase support for recovery and development there, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General said today. Speaking to the third meeting of the Sudan Consortium held in Oslo, Norway, Asha-Rose Migiro said the main goals must be to improve security and living standards, rebuild infrastructure, advance disarmament and demobilization, strengthen the rule of law, and to create secure conditions in the country.The Sudan Consortium, which is led by the UN and the World Bank, brings together governments and civil society organizations from around the world, including representatives from Sudan itself. It was established in 2005 following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended 21 years of civil war between South Sudan and the national Government of the country.Ms. Migiro said that the initial pledging conference for Sudan three years ago had “proved crucial in mobilizing resources for the initial phase of the CPA. It is therefore opportune that, three years later, we return here once again to energize our efforts in support of the CPA.”She cited significant achievements, including the return of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes, and the increase in the number of children going to primary school in South Sudan from 350,000 in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2007. But she added that “much more needs to be done. A unique but narrow window of opportunity exists, which, if grasped, can help Sudan…achieve a lasting and broad-based peace.”Ms. Migiro noted that the continuing violence in the Darfur region of Sudan is “of grave concern,” but added that it is “of critical importance that the focus on Darfur should not eclipse our work for peace throughout the rest of Sudan.”Before today’s meeting in Oslo, a group of 20 women from all over Sudan said that progress since the first Consortium meeting had been “too slow” and called for international support for women’s leadership in the country and the realization of a 25 per cent quota for women in public office.At a meeting in the Norwegian capital facilitated by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the women expressed “grave concern” about the situation in Sudan and said they are “particularly concerned about the persistence of extremely poor human development indicators in relation to women and girls’ literacy, maternal mortality, productive asset security, economic and political empowerment and protection from gender-based violence.” read more

United Nations support for security sector reform in countries attempting to rebuild after suffering through conflicts must become more coherent and streamlined if it is to be successful, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today. Addressing a debate on the issue, Mr. Ban said that while the Organization “has rich and varied experience” in helping countries – from El Salvador and Cambodia in the past to Liberia and Sierra Leone today – reform their armed forces, police and other segments of the security sector, too often the UN has “remained an ad hoc partner” to other national or international bodies in this process. “What has been lacking is a common framework and a coherent system-wide approach,” he said. “Despite our hands-on record, we have only limited institutional structures to guide engagement on the ground. “We need to strengthen our ability to provide consistent, well-coordinate and high-quality technical advice, during peace processes and in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development. We need to make our approach less piecemeal and more holistic.” Mr. Ban, who issued the report on the subject earlier this year, called for the UN to work in collaboration with key international partners and ensure its approach in any individual country is flexible and tailored to that nation’s needs. “States and societies define and pursue security according to their particular context, history, culture and needs. There can be no rigid one-size-fits-all” approach, he said. The Secretary-General stressed that Member States remain the primary providers of security and national ownership must be the cornerstone of the UN’s approach on the issue. He also called on policymakers devising reform of the security sector in countries emerging from conflict to place an emphasis on preventing and reducing sexual and gender-based violence, which he noted “has become the common aftermath of conflict.” Later, in a presidential statement, Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom – which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member body this month – said the Council backed the UN’s efforts to “develop an holistic and coherent” approach in consultation with Member States. Mr. Sawers also stressed that the UN Peacebuilding Commission plays a vital role in the process, as do many regional, sub-regional and other intergovernmental organizations, especially in ensuring ongoing international support to countries struggling to implement the needed reforms. 12 May 2008United Nations support for security sector reform in countries attempting to rebuild after suffering through conflicts must become more coherent and streamlined if it is to be successful, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today. read more

Training and equipment supplied by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has helped emergency workers search for sources of radioactivity during rescue work following the massive earthquake that hit China’s Sichuan province last month.In the two weeks immediately following the earthquake, a team of radioactive source search and recovery experts fanned out across all disaster-stricken areas. The teams used radiation detection equipment to pinpoint the location of 50 sources and safely recover all of them, according to China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration. Most of the sources were used in industry.Under an IAEA Technical Cooperation Project launched in early 2007, staff from Chinese national authorities were trained in how to search for radioactive sources, and to then control and dispose of them safely.A series of week-long national training workshops on recovery was attended by some 100 Chinese search team members from each of the country’s 31 provinces.“At the time of the training workshops, we had no clue that the training and equipment would be used in such a disaster,” explained Nabil Lutfi, the IAEA Programme Management Officer responsible for organizing the workshops.In addition to the training that Chinese authorities received, the IAEA made an in-kind contribution of radiation detection and search equipment.The 7.9-magnitude earthquake of 12 May devastated China’s mountainous Sichuan province, killing an estimated 69,000 people and causing extensive property damage. 12 June 2008Training and equipment supplied by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has helped emergency workers search for sources of radioactivity during rescue work following the massive earthquake that hit China’s Sichuan province last month. read more

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, characterized the return after a nearly two-year absence of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, who heads the Alliance of the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), as “a most welcome development.”Under June’s Djibouti Agreement, the ARS and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) decided to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled nation, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991.Somalia has been beset by fighting and massive humanitarian suffering for the past two decades but the violence has flared anew this year, particularly in and around the capital, Mogadishu, and caused widespread displacement.Mr. Ould-Abdallah also issued a call for Somalis of all political or other affiliations, during the period of Eid al-Adha to agree on pressing ahead with reconciliation, security, unity and dignity. 10 December 2008The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today welcomed the return of an opposition leader, who took part in reconciliation talks with the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation’s Government, to the capital Mogadishu. read more

2 February 2009The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar continued his visit to the South-East Asian nation today, meeting with Government officials and opposition and other political parties, including with detained pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ibrahim Gambari arrived in Yangon over the weekend for a four-day visit, his fifth in the past year and a half, as part of the good offices mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly.He held talks for more than an hour today jointly with Ms. Suu Kyi, who is the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and the Central Executive Committee of that party. He met separately with representatives of the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD).Ms. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for over four years, and has spent more than 11 years in detention since the NLD and its allies won the 1990 election with over 80 per cent of the parliamentary seats.Mr. Gambari also conferred with the Tripartite Core Group – comprising Myanmar, the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – on humanitarian, recovery and reconstruction efforts in the wake of last May’s devastating Cyclone Nargis, which claimed nearly 140,000 lives.On this visit, he has met with the so-called Government Spokesperson Authoritative Team composed of the Ministers of Information, Foreign Affairs, and Culture, as well as with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Planning, Health and Agriculture. He also met with the Minister for Liaison with Ms. Suu Kyi.Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his growing frustration that the UN’s long-standing efforts to promote national reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar have yet to achieve the desired results and urged the Government to release all political prisoners immediately and initiate “genuine dialogue” with the opposition. read more

2 May 2009The United Nations health agency today stressed the importance of preparedness for a possible global pandemic, as the number of laboratory confirmed cases of the influenza A(H1N1) infection topped 600 worldwide. “This is the time for us to prepare and be ready,” Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of Global Alert and Response for the World Health Organization (WHO), told a news conference in Geneva. Dr. Ryan noted that the agency”s pandemic alert remains at Phase 5 – on a six-level warning scale. This means that sustained human to human transmission had been confirmed, with widespread community outbreaks in at least two countries in one WHO region. “Pandemics are serious but it is important to note that Phase 6 describes geographic spread of the disease and not its severity,” he stated. “We do not know how severe or mild this pandemic might be.”According to the latest WHO update, 15 countries have reported 615 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, with 17 deaths. Mexico has reported a total of 397 confirmed cases, including 16 deaths. This includes 241 new laboratory confirmed cases and 7 new deaths since yesterday. “The increased figures from Mexico reflect primarily ongoing testing of previously collected samples and not a surge in people falling sick,” noted Dr. Ryan. He said that while WHO has seen case reports from Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea, indicating the geographic spread of the disease, there is “no evidence of sustained community spread outside North America.”The United States has reported 141 laboratory confirmed cases, including one death.In addition, laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths have been reported by Austria (1), Canada (34), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Denmark (1), France (1), Germany (4), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (4), Republic of Korea (1), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (13). Dr. Ryan said WHO continues to monitor the spread of the virus and expand its understanding of its behaviour and severity. At the same time, the agency is moving to a more operational stance to support countries in their readiness and response. It has begun to dispatch 2.4 million doses of antivirals to 72 countries, including Mexico, from stocks donated from Roche pharmaceutical company in 2005 and 2006. It will also supplement its regional stockpiles in the six WHO regions as a contingency for further supplies to countries. In addition, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan is continuing discussions with Roche and others on how to best meet future needs of developing countries for antivirals, noted Dr. Ryan. “Obviously the biggest thing we face now is the possibility of a pandemic,” said Dr. Ryan. “Good preparedness will help us mitigate its effects should we work together in a coordinated and collective fashion.”WHO has reiterated that there is no risk of infection from the virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products. The agency also advised individuals to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and to seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness. read more

Mr. Ban “congratulates the four leaders – Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy – for committing to a peaceful transition under a government of national unity,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.The statement follows the deal reached yesterday during talks in Maputo, Mozambique, that were mediated by that country’s former president Joaquim Chissano and a joint team comprising the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Organization of the Francophonie.Mr. Ban urged the leaders in the Indian Ocean country to agree quickly on the composition of the government of national unity “and on the establishment of the institutions of the transition leading to credible elections and the restoration of democracy and the rule of law.”The Secretary-General thanked Mr. Chissano and the other mediators for their efforts and joined them in calling on “all political actors in Madagascar to build on the Maputo consensus and to work for the prompt implementation of the agreements.”Since the start of the year Madagascar has been engulfed by political tensions, which have led to widespread violence and killings and numerous politically motivated arrests. Mr. Ravalomanana resigned as president in early March amid a dispute with Mr. Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, and now the leader of the country. 10 August 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the power-sharing agreement reached in Madagascar and urged all sides to work together to ensure that a new government of national unity is quickly installed and a process leading to credible elections can be established. read more

5 February 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has transmitted a report to the General Assembly on the follow-up to the report made by the United Nations fact-finding mission into the deadly conflict in the Gaza Strip at the start of last year. Mr. Ban’s report – submitted at the request of the General Assembly – concerns the implementation of the recommendations of the fact-finding mission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, into the conflict.It contains submissions from the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and the Swiss Government, all received before Mr. Ban’s report was finalized. The report is now being sent to UN Member States.The Goldstone Report, as it has become known, found that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants were guilty of serious human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law during the Gaza conflict, which began in late December 2008.The four-member fact-finding team, set up at the request of the UN Human Rights Council, called on the two sides to carry out independent credible investigations into their actions during the conflict.In his report this week Mr. Ban stressed that he hoped Israel and the Palestinians conduct those inquiries appropriately.“International humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and civilians must be protected in all situations and circumstances,” the Secretary-General wrote.“The Secretary-General remains personally moved by the plight of all civilians harmed during the Gaza conflict,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson told journalists today. “He was at the forefront of the efforts to stop the fighting in Gaza. He was the first international leader to visit after the fighting and express his solidarity with victims on both sides of the conflict. He has consistently called for credible domestic investigations, and did so again in this report. “Looking forward, the Secretary-General is firmly leading the advocacy and planning for the rebuilding of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.” read more

25 June 2010A new laboratory has been set up in the Ivorian port city of Abidjan to improve the monitoring of hazardous materials under a project backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to prevent a repeat of a notorious incident in which thousands of people were sickened by toxic waste. A new laboratory has been set up in the Ivorian port city of Abidjan to improve the monitoring of hazardous materials under a project backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to prevent a repeat of a notorious incident in which thousands of people were sickened by toxic waste.The laboratory, which has been handed over to Cote d’Ivoire’s environment ministry, is equipped to test for waste in ships entering the port, according to a press release issued by UNEP in Geneva.The agency developed the laboratory as part of a joint project with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.UNEP said the project is the result of wider efforts by the agency to both improve waste management systems in Côte d’Ivoire and protect the West African coast from hazardous materials.In 2006 the cargo ship Probo Koala dumped 500 tons of toxic waste, belonging to the Dutch company Trafigura, at various sites – including local waterways – around Abidjan, the largest city in Côte d’Ivoire. The liquid sludge contained large quantities of hydrocarbons and toxic substances such as hydrogen sulphide and caustic soda.Official estimates indicate at least 15 people died, 69 others were hospitalized and at least 100,000 more residents complained of nausea and vomiting after inhaling fumes.In a report last year Okechukwu Ibeanu, the UN Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, said some areas of Abidjan had still not been decontaminated.He called for urgent steps to tackle the long-term human health and environmental effects of the incident. read more

Kyrgyzstan witnessed a violent uprising in April that ousted former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. That was followed by deadly clashes in the southern part of the country in June between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks which uprooted nearly 400,000 people and sent many fleeing to neighbouring Uzbekistan.Mr. Ban and Rosa Otunbaeva discussed the political situation in the country and the upcoming parliamentary elections, when they met at UN Headquarters on the margins of the annual high-level General Debate of the General Assembly.They agreed on the importance of an inclusive and transparent vote for the stabilization and long-term development of the country, according to Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.They also discussed the status of an international commission of inquiry into the June violence. 23 September 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today assured the President of Kyrgyzstan of the continued support of the United Nations for rehabilitation, recovery and reconciliation in the Central Asian nation in the wake of the crisis that erupted earlier this year. read more

At the same time, the mission, known by its acronym UNOCI, accused Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step down despite international recognition of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the clear victor in November’s run-off poll, of launching a new wave of harassment against its staff, including night-time knocks on the door by armed men, after the earlier shooting at a UN convoy. “However, all these acts will not deter UNOCI from doing its job as we remember one of Winston Churchill’s maxims: ‘If you are going through hell, just keep going’,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Y. J. Choi told a news conference in Abidjan, commercial capital of the world’s largest cocoa exporter. “UNOCI shall keep going, doing its job.”In a unanimous resolution, the Council condemned “in the strongest possible terms the attempts to usurp the will of the people and undermine the integrity of the electoral process and any progress in the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire,” where UNOCI has been supporting efforts over the past seven years to reunify the West African country, which was split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.Adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that allows for the use of force, the resolution denounced post-electoral violence that has claimed at least 50 lives and asked Mr. Ban to facilitate dialogue between all sides, urging them to respect Mr. Ouattara’s victory as endorsed by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a poll that was meant to be a culminating step in the peace process.The Council affirmed its readiness to impose sanctions – which can include asset freezes and travel bans – against those threatening the peace process, undermining the outcome of the elections, obstructing UNOCI, or committing human rights violations, and recalled UNOCI’s authorization “to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate” – which includes helping the Government in conjunction with the AU and ECOWAS to re-establish the rule of law. Renewing the mission’s mandate until 30 June 2011, it authorized a three-month extension of the deployment of 500 additional personnel beyond UNOCI’s maximum strength of 8,650 and a four-week extension of the deployment of three infantry companies and one helicopter unit from the UN mission in neighbouring Liberia. It affirmed “its intention to consider” further temporary UNMIL redeployments as may be needed.The redeployment from UNMIL to UNOCI was cited today by Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support (DFS) Susana Malcorra as an example of the benefits of the new UN logistics centre set up in Entebbe, Uganda. It enabled the necessary planes to be on site within four hours, she told a news conference in New York.In a press statement after its meeting, the Council reiterated its deep concern at the continued violence, including armed attacks against UNOCI, and warned all those responsible that they will be brought to justice. Mr. Choi said that UNOCI’s military and police were increasingly being placed in harm’s way and a decision to distort the mission’s impartial role was made deep inside Mr. Gbagbo’s camp on 15 December.“This decision was the mother of all the ensuing anti-UNOCI campaign actions that still continue,” he added. “Why? The reason was made known to us three days later on 18 December: President Gbagbo’s camp needed those pre-planned untruthful cases to ask for the departure of UNOCI and Licorne [the French force supporting UNOCI].”Underscoring the UN’s impartiality, he noted that peacekeepers refused to accompany Mr. Ouattara’s supporters in a march from the Golf Hotel, where he is based, to the presidential palace, despite the Gbagbo camp’s claims that they had conspired to support the march.Clashes between marchers and Mr. Gbagbo’s military forces led to numerous casualties – at least 50 killed, 200 injured, 470 arbitrarily arrested and detained, and many disappearances, according to tentative UN estimates.Starting on 15 December, Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters began increasing hostile acts against the international community, Mr. Choi noted. The following day, they began reinforcing checkpoints on the access road to the Golf Hotel, blocking UNOCI vehicles, including an ambulance carrying medical personnel, and sporadically denying access to food and water supply trucks, depriving civilians and UN peacekeepers of water, food and medicines.The following night, a UN patrol was followed by a civilian car with six military uniformed men who fired at it as it entered UNOCI headquarters. They continued to fire at a sentry on the wall, who fired back.On Saturday, Mr. Gbagbo’s camp began sending armed men, generally during the night, to the homes of some UN staff, knocking at the door and asking them their departure date or entering their residence under the pretext of looking for weapons.“UN staff members are blocked and harassed,” Mr. Choi said, while adding that most of the essential staff are continuing with their work, with some even sleeping in their offices. “UNOCI is carrying out its military and police patrols across the country. Our patrols are intended to monitor, observe and dissuade acts of violence and human rights violations. Our rules of engagement allow us to fire only when we are fired at.”Cote 20 December 2010Rebuffing a demand by Côte d’Ivoire’s president that the United Nations mission leave after it certified his electoral defeat, the Security Council today renewed the nearly 9,000-strong force for another six months, foreshadowed a possible increase and threatened sanctions against those imperilling peace. read more

Over the weekend the Arab League requested that the Council impose a no-fly zone against Mr. Qadhafi’s air force, which has been pounding cities held by his opponents, according to media reports, but today’s Council session met in closed consultations – including the briefing by Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe – and no details were officially released.Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Libya, former Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Elah al-Khatib, arrived in Tripoli, the capital, and in a meeting with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa reiterated the calls by Mr. Ban and the Council for an immediate end to the violence.Mr. Khatib called for cooperation from the authorities on human rights and humanitarian concerns and was assured by senior Libyan officials that the Government would fully cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry recently authorized by the UN Human Rights Council. He urged the Government to allow unfettered access for all relevant UN agencies to assist the Libyan people and alleviate the suffering of those affected.Mr. Khatib’s team will assess the situation on the ground and “undertake broad consultations with Libyan authorities on the immediate humanitarian, political and security situation,” Mr. Ban said last Friday, stressing that he has instructed the envoy to convey “in no uncertain terms” the concerns of the UN and the international community as expressed in Security Council resolutions.In a unanimously adopted resolution the Council last month imposed sanctions against the Libyan authorities, placing an arms embargo on the country and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo subsequently announced that he is opening an investigation into Mr. Qadhafi, some of his sons and members of his inner circle for crimes against humanity in repressing peaceful protesters in violence that has claimed hundreds or even thousands of lives, according to media reports. Mr. Ban has said Mr. Qadhafi lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people.The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, arrived in Tripoli over the weekend and has met with authorities to discuss access for humanitarian aid workers throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of refugees, mainly migrant workers, have already fled across the borders into Tunisia and Egypt. “The Government has informed Mr. Khalikov that his mission would be granted access to locations outside Tripoli during his visit, including to areas of recent fighting,” spokesperson Farhan Haq told a news briefing in New York.“The Humanitarian Coordinator’s team has observed that Tripoli appears calm, with shops being open and people moving freely in the city. But it has also observed a large number of migrant workers forming long lines outside airport terminals and in makeshift camps outside the airport,” he said.Mr. Khalikov briefed Mr. Khatib about his talks and the field visits he has so far made. 14 March 2011The Security Council was briefed today on the latest events in Libya by the United Nations political chief amid mounting concern over the fighting between Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s forces and opponents seeking his ouster. read more

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has voiced its deep concern about the impact on children of the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, and called on all parties to protect the well-being of young people. “In the past weeks, we have witnessed a series of incidents in which Palestinian and Israeli children have lost their lives, sometimes in the most horrifying manner,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Special Representative to the occupied Palestinian territory. “Many children have also been injured and have witnessed the deaths and injuries of close relatives. We call upon all parties to do everything in their power to protect children and put an end to violence.” According to UNICEF, eight Palestinian children have died since the beginning of this year as a result of the violence, including three who were killed in the Gaza Strip two days ago. More than 60 children have been injured. On Wednesday, several Israeli children were injured by an explosive device planted near a bus stop in Jerusalem, while three Israeli children were killed in the West Bank earlier this month, including a three-month-old baby. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials have voiced their concern in recent days over the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel, calling for an immediate cessation of violence and efforts to resume the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. 25 March 2011The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has voiced its deep concern about the impact on children of the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, and called on all parties to protect the well-being of young people. read more

“This partnership is launched at a critical time in the world – economic and weather shocks continue to challenge the food security of nearly 1 billion people on earth,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran said of the agreement signed by her agency.“Luxembourg’s support for humanitarian assistance and international cooperation is second-to-none,” she added, noting that the grand duchy, with a population of some 500,000, is WFP’s largest per-capita donor, with more than €15 for every one of its citizens.Ms. Sheeran stressed that Luxembourg’s commitment to sign multi-year partnership agreements with WFP allows for forward planning and flexibility that ensure the most effective deployment hunger tools to fight hunger.Under the four-year agreement Luxembourg will provide €30.8 million to support emergency response and programmes such as school meals, nutrition activities in West Africa, nutritional support to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis activities and emergency preparedness.It is also providing an in-kind donation by developing an innovative platform to support telecommunications in emergencies, allowing WFP, as head of the humanitarian community’s Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, to set up life-saving voice and data links during quick-onset disasters such as earthquakes and floods as well as other operations around the world. 15 September 2011Millions of victims of humanitarian emergencies, particularly in West Africa, will benefit from a new life-saving partnership signed today between the United Nations and Luxembourg to provide a rapid response in food aid and communications needs. read more