Monthly Archives: January 2015

Hahn: EU will assist Lebanon in coping with refugees

Hahn: EU will assist Lebanon in coping with refugees

Sat 31 Jan 2015 at 13:02

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NNA – The EU will assist Lebanon in coping with refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict, visiting EU Commission Johannes Hahn, reassured Prime Minister Tammam Salam upon his stop-over at the Grand Serail today

Having boarded together the recent security flashpoint in South Lebanon, Hahn disclosed that the EU intends to finance a local security force as part of helping the government cope with myriad challenges at hand including the nation’s joining of the peace process as he said.

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Portolano to Berri: No to further escalation

Portolano to Berri: No to further escalation

Sat 31 Jan 2015 at 13:00

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NNA – No to further escalation in the sector under UNIFIL jurisdiction, peace-keepers’ Commander Luciano Portolano, reportedly told House Speaker Nabih Berri after meeting with him at his Beirut office today.

Having discussed the present situation in south Lebanon, Portolano expressed deep grief at the tragic death of the Spanish peace-keeper at the hands of the Israelis; he also thanked Speaker Berri for his relentless efforts to pacify the situation and maintain calm in the south.

The general also conveyed a special message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he demanded the honouring of the 8-year-old truce for the wellbeing of the civilian population as he said.

As we continue to patrol all sectors in conjunction with the Lebanese armed forces, we remain focused on implementing UN Security Council Resolution # 1701 for the safety of all civilians living in the South, he concluded.

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‘Silent emergency’ in South Sudan as protracted conflict displaces millions of cattle – UN

As South Sudan’s livestock owners flee the country’s conflict, a “silent emergency” has emerged threatening the very fabric of society and further undermining social stability, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today as it announced a scale-up in its livestock interventions in the embattled nation.

The ongoing fighting has caused the displacement of millions of animals, leading to fresh outbreaks of disease and rising tensions between pastoral groups and farmers, as well as within different pastoralist communities.

“From the earliest days of the crisis, FAO has done its utmost to draw attention to the silent emergency that these unusual livestock migrations represent,” Sue Lautze, FAO Representative to South Sudan said in a statement to the press.

Both herders and farmers face a rising threat of armed conflict, the FAO warned. Farmers have cut the amount of land they are planting by as much as 40 per cent in areas such as Renk County, and the prices of basic staple foods are as much as four times higher in the most conflict-affected areas.

The Organization along with its partners is leading efforts to combat disease outbreaks and maintain the animal health care system. In recent months, teams of FAO livestock experts have traversed South Sudan, conducting dozens of assessments, disease investigations and monitoring missions.

The Organization is also boosting its operations in the country by expanding the community-based animal health network and vaccination programme, deploying staff to lead and support disease surveillance efforts, and helping to re-establish local laboratories for livestock disease diagnosis.

For 2015, FAO is seeking $89 million to improve the food security of 2.35 million vulnerable people in South Sudan while further expanding its development efforts.

Working with host communities and pastoralists, FAO’s teams have flagged worrying new animal disease patterns, intensifying violence over access to land for grazing and worsening livestock conditions.

As animals have been moved, diseases have spread to previously uninfected areas. Diseases like East Coast Fever, foot-and-mouth disease and trypanosomiasis devastate cattle production and threaten the food security and livelihoods of pastoral communities across the country.

FAO also announced today that it is implementing a new milk voucher scheme for nutritionally at risk families. Declines in milk production and the loss of cattle to disease increase the risk of malnutrition, particularly among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women who rely on milk as an essential part of their diet. For most herders, the loss of cattle means the loss of their entire livelihood.

In 2014, FAO’s humanitarian programme in the country reached over 2.8 million people through a combination of crop production, fisheries and animal health interventions, including vaccinating over 1.6 million animals.

SOURCE: AFRICA RENEWAL

Expulsion of UN officials will constitute ‘serious loss’ for Sudan, warns Ban

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated his strong opposition to Sudan’s decision to expel from the country two senior UN officials, calling on the Government to reconsider the ruling and allow for essential work to be carried out.

“Departure of these key senior United Nations officials would constitute a serious loss for the humanitarian and development community in Sudan at a time when humanitarian needs are growing and the country faces significant development challenges,” Mr. Ban said in a note issued to reporters.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), Ali Al-Za’tari, and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Yvonne Helle were ordered late last week to leave the Sudan by 2 January.

Since then, the Sudanese Government has agreed to extend the deadline for the RC/HC’s departure from 2 January until the end of the month. The UN continues to engage the Government at several levels to obtain a reversal of its decision.

“It is essential that the United Nations can continue to carry out its crucial duties in the country,” Mr. Ban said, reiterating UN commitment to a productive and fruitful working relationship with the Government of Sudan for the benefit of its people, on the basis of respect of sovereignty.

To that end, the UN counts on the full cooperation of the Sudanese Government in enabling all UN entities and their leadership to carry out their work.

SOURCE: AFRICA RENEWAL

In Addis Ababa, senior UN officials pledge ongoing cooperation with Africa on all fronts vital

30 January 2015 – Addressing the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the start of what he called a &#8220crucial year for global action to secure our global future,&#8221 the United Nations Secretary-General today said he looked forward to African countries realizing their massive cultural, human and economic potential.

&#8220African countries have been the backbone and leading Member States of the United Nations since the day they achieved independence,&#8221 Mr. Ban said, noting their growth in numbers from four States in 1945 to 54 in 2015. &#8220In this critical year, we need Africa to help guide the way to a world of sustainability and dignity for all the people, where nobody will be left behind.&#8221

Throughout his speech, the Secretary-General stressed the centrality of Africa to the UN’s work and promised that the UN would stand with Africa as a partner and the &#8220strongest supporter&#8221 of the continent’s efforts to achieve peace and security and all aspects of sustainable development.

The President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, also spotlighted the importance of the year ahead and specifically, his selection of the theme ‘Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda’ for his Presidency of the 69th Session.

Having launched the negotiating process for the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mr. Kutesa said the post-2015 agenda’ overarching objective would be poverty eradication. Adequate means of implementation &#8211 such as financing and technology development and transfer &#8211 and mobilisation of resources at the national level, through public and private channels, by attracting more foreign direct investment and by strengthening global partnerships, would be essential and he said he would convene a High-level Thematic Debate on &#8220Means of Implementation for a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda&#8221 in New York on 9-10 February this year.

The Secretary-General pointed to gains already made thanks to the MDGs and looked forward to adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, including a set of sustainable development targets, and to a meaningful, universal climate change agreement in Paris in December.

&#8220No continent has more at stake in these negotiations than Africa,&#8221 he stressed, underlining the importance of the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July. &#8220Without resources, our commitments to sustainable development will amount to little more than fine words on paper.&#8221

Fulfilling the aspirations and wishes of the continent’s people required leaders to listen to their people.

&#8220People around the world have expressed their concern about leaders who refuse to leave office when their terms end,&#8221 he said. &#8220I share those concerns. Undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes should never be used to cling to power.&#8221

Alongside that call, the Secretary-General highlighted the AU’s long history of supporting democratic transitions, saying that he hoped elections due to take place in African countries over the course of 2015 would be as peaceful and successful as those in Tunisia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and others in 2014.

He noted other positive developments from the previous year, including affirmation by the AU’s Human Rights Commission of the rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and the Cotonou Declaration on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa. He was also pleased to welcome the AU Commission of Inquiry report on South Sudan and the final report of the Commission of Inquiry for the Central African Republic.

The focus of the African Union’s &#8220Agenda 2063&#8221 on gender equality and the empowerment of women was another positive step and he hoped for its formal adoption during the Summit. However, he called for even quicker action, urging African States to make a deep and lasting difference to the lives of women and girls by 2020.

&#8220We have much more work to do to unleash [their] tremendous potential,&#8221 emphasized the UN chief. &#8220They need better access to secondary education, decent work and economic opportunities. They need more help to combat maternal mortality and poverty, and genital mutilation. They need more protection from the scourge of violence at the hands of men and boys.&#8221

The General Assembly President also took up the AU Summit’s &#8220important and timely&#8221 focus on women’s empowerment and Africa’s development and said he would mark 20 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by convening a High-level thematic debate on the subject on 5 March.

The event aims &#8220to galvanize political commitment and action towards achieving greater gender quality and women’s empowerment,&#8221 he said, citing equitable land distribution, property and inheritance rights, and access to credit and markets as critical steps for the empowerment of women.

&#8220In this new era of Africa’s progress, we must not shy away from taking bold decisions to empower women and girls,&#8221 he said.

The Secretary-General pointed to the need for Africa’s development agenda to provide affordable, quality healthcare, a fact illustrated most clearly by the impact of the Ebola crisis. Having recently visited Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, he praised the support, solidarity and generous contributions of African Governments and people to their efforts.

&#8220We are seeing clear signs of progress,&#8221 he said. &#8220I urge the international community to commit more resources at this critical time.&#8221

Cooperation is also essential to the progress seen on the peace and security front, he said, pointing to several examples of combined operations, including the joint mission with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Burkina Faso, the partnership between the UN, the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in Somalia, and continued collaboration between the UN and AU in Sudan and Libya.

Peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Great Lakes region required joint decisive action, and it was time to redouble joint efforts towards peace and stability in South Sudan. He also welcomed the specific focus of the AU’s Peace and Security Council on the issue of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

&#8220The humanitarian consequences are enormous, with up to one million people forced from their homes,&#8221 he said. &#8220This group continues to kill Christians and Muslims, kidnap women and children, and destroy churches and mosques. We will never forget the girls and boys kidnapped from Chibok last April, and I will never stop calling for their immediate and unconditional release.&#8221

As the UN reviewed its peace operations, including its peacekeeping missions and special political missions, he stressed that African troops remained vital to the UN’s peacekeeping capacity. In that field, as in others, cooperation with African mechanisms would again be essential and he welcomed progress on the African Standby Force and the African capacity for crisis response.

Mr. Kutesa also called for strengthened cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in Africa, pointing to the &#8220tangible positive results&#8221 achieved so far. He said a thematic debate would be held in May on strengthening cooperation.

He also took up the issue of the threat of terrorism and extremism, stating the need to address it by promoting dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation.

&#8220The recent terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan, France and elsewhere around the world are a stark reminder of the threat posed by groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda,&#8221 he said. &#8220We need collective action to defeat them.&#8221

In addition, Mr. Kutesa said he was also prioritising reform of the Security Council to make it better reflect modern global realities.

&#8220Today, the Security Council is one of the most undemocratic organs of the United Nations,&#8221 he said. &#8220My effort is to work towards text-based negotiations, within the Inter- Governmental process. The need for unity and cohesion of the African Group on this issue cannot be overemphasised.&#8221

The Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings with leaders attending the Summit, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Chairperson of the African Union Commission. They discussed UN-AU cooperation and committed their two organizations to deepening their strategic partnership. The Secretary-General commended Dr. Dlamini-Zuma for her leadership of the AU Commission and her continuous efforts in seeking additional resources to support the work of the AU.

They exchanged views on the situations in a number of countries where the UN and AU are cooperating, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Great Lakes region, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Sahel. They also discussed the security threat posed by Boko Haram and the need to mobilize the international community even more on the regional response.

In his other talks, the UN chief met with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia; Aminu Wali, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria; Michel Kafondo, Transitional President of Burkina Faso; Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea; Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi, President of Tunisia; and Edgar Lungu, President of Zambia.

Also on the margins of the Summit, the Secretary-General met with King Felipe VI of Spain.