News in Brief 05 February 2018

Further proof of chemical weapons use in Syria should be met with “meaningful response”: UN Disarmament Affairs chief

Further evidence of the use of banned chemical weapons in Syria, should be met with a “meaningful response” by the UN Security Council, said the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs on Monday.

Izumi Nakamitsu was briefing the Council on the work being undertaken by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to destroy the Syrian Government’s weapon production facilities.

She said that the complete destruction of the Government’s 27 above-ground facilities should be completed within two months, and added that the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) into allegations of chemical weapons by government forces, was due to submit a report “very soon”.

The majority of allegations involve the use of chlorine gas.

Allegations were continuing, she said, “including only this past weekend in the town of Saraqeb”.

According to news reports, nine people have been treated with breathing problems after a bomb believed to be filled with the toxic gas was dropped on the rebel-held town in Idlib Governerate.

High Representative Nakamitsu said that the situation made it “abundantly clear our continuing and collective responsibility to ensure that those responsible are held to account”.

“New reports by the FFM are pending. Should they conclude that there has been the use, or likely use of chemical weapons in any of those alleged incidents, our obligation to enact a meaningful response will be further intensified. It is my hope and the hope of the Secretary-General that such a response will favour unity, and not impunity.”

In November last year, the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution to renew the mandate of an international panel investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria, due to the use of the veto by Russia.

“Human cost” of prolonged crisis in Libya highlighted in $313 million appeal

More than a million Libyans will likely need humanitarian assistance during this year said the UN on Monday, launching an appeal for $313 million to provide lifesaving support.

Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria do Valle Ribeiro, said in Geneva that around 940,000 were currently in need due to ongoing political turmoil which has left many areas without functioning government services.

She said that both civilians caught up in conflict between armed factions together with vulnerable migrants seeking to pass through Libya to the Mediterranean, needed protection above all.

Ms. Ribeiro said that there were “serious protection concerns”, including for thousands of internally displaced, whose homes have in some cases become minefields.

“In focusing on the humanitarian response plan for 2018 for Libya, we really want to give the human cost and the human face of the impact of a prolonged political and security crisis in Libya, and its ensuring impact on the population, on the Libyan population, as well as the migrant population finds itself on Libyan territory”.

World’s poorest countries need faster growth to reach SDGs: UNCTAD

The economies of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) need to grow faster in order to reach the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

That’s according to new analysis from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published on Monday, which says that urgent action is necessary to meet the 17 SDGs, which include an end to extreme poverty and hunger.

The average growth of LDCs during 2017 was around 5 per cent, rising to 5.4 per cent this year.

But that’s below the 7 per cent growth target envisioned by Goal 8, on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Paul Akiwumi, Director of UNCTAD’s Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes, said that the international community needed to “strengthen its support to LDCs in line with the commitment to leave no one behind”.

He added that inequalities between the poorest countries and other developing countries “risk widening”.

The analysis suggests that too many LDCs remain dependent on basic commodity exports.

Source: United Nations Radio