Morocco and Bahrain Discuss Tourism Cooperation

Rabat – Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) CEO Sheikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa received last week Morocco’s Ambassador to Bahrain Ahmed Rashid Khatabi in Sanabis, Bahrain, near Manama.The two sides discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and areas of cooperation, especially in the tourism sector.Sheikh Khaled “reviewed the BTEA’s tourism strategy and directives, its continual efforts to strengthen the tourism sector and promote its growth and development, and discussed the adoption of mutually beneficial tourism initiatives for both countries,” Arab news outlet Albawaba reported. Read Also: Bahrain Wants to Boost Tourism Cooperation with MoroccoKhatabi emphasized that his embassy’s continuous support of initiatives in the tourism sector between Morocco and Bahrain to promote growth and achieve progress in the sector.In late February last year, Bahraini foreign minister Khaled Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa met with Moroccan Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani in Rabat.Both officials discussed bilateral relations and areas of common interest. The talks resulted in the signing of a number of cooperation agreements in various fields including air transport, communications, sport, and social security. read more

Video evidence Masters works to catch every shot on camera

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Staid and tradition-driven Augusta National is suddenly on the cutting edge of technology.The club that hosts the Masters isn’t particularly known for its embrace of the new. The club agonizes over the slightest change to its course layout. Etiquette is paramount. History is revered.A pimento cheese sandwich at concession stands is still just $1.50 for crying out loud.But pop open a laptop when the tournament begins Thursday and for the first time the Masters plans to have nearly all of the 20,000-plus shots available to view on its website just a few minutes after they happen.Club chairman Fred Ridley said the option is the first of its kind in golf.“It’s been two or three years in developing,” Ridley said Wednesday. “We had it in a beta test mode previously, but now I feel like that we can actually execute on this. So we just thought it was something that people wanted and which supplemented our other forms of providing coverage of the tournament.”The tournament’s online trailblazing is mildly surprising because the in-person mystique of the Masters has always been a huge part of its charm.In an era where many major professional franchises and college teams struggle to attract a live audience — at least partly because of numerous online and television viewing options — the decision-makers at Augusta National have no such worries.The throngs that walk the course in Augusta have often paid a small fortune to watch even the practice rounds. In a strange twist, they’ll be pretty much the only golf fans who can’t enjoy the new technology: Cell phones aren’t allowed on the course.Ridley said he doesn’t believe the tournament’s extra online features will detract from the live experience.“I think there’s always that discussion,” Ridley said of how much access is too much. “I think it’s a balance — what really drives us is quality. We could have come out with this a year or so ago, but we weren’t ready.”The reason they weren’t ready isn’t entirely clear: The club is secretive about pretty much everything that happens in its real or digital world. Still, it’s fairly obvious it’s a prodigious undertaking.The Masters Digital wing takes up a sizable chunk of the media centre and the room was buzzing with dozens of workers. The new technology was tested one final time during the inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur tournament last week.The increased video is the most obvious new feature. Users would conceivably be able to watch a player’s round in a fraction of the time it takes to watch a full round, getting an unprecedented view at how players navigate the course from the first tee to Amen Corner to the uphill dogleg right finale on No. 18.The only time shots might not be captured is situations with difficult lies or if a group’s shots end up in vastly different locations. Ridley called it an “extensive library of content” that could be particularly useful during the first and second rounds when someone unexpected makes a charge up the leaderboard and TV isn’t capturing every move.The Masters has always had one of the smallest TV broadcast windows for a major and this is the first time that pretty much every shot will be captured on camera. Now every random hole-on-one, double eagle or gigantic mishap will come with video evidence.The new technology might not beat standing under the Georgia sunshine watching the world’s best players, but for the golf fans who can’t be here, it’s a potentially big upgrade in how they experience the tournament.“We’re not going to sacrifice quality,” Ridley said, “but we thought this was a great supplement to our traditional means of providing coverage.”___For more AP golf coverage: and Brandt, The Associated Press read more

Saharawi Moroccans Alliance Denounces Recruitment of Children in Tindouf Camps in

Rabat – The Alliance of Moroccan Sahrawis in Europe for Development and Solidarity (ASMEDS) and the “White Dove” organisation have been holding a sit-in in Geneva since July 01. The initiative called “Open Days on Polisario’s Crimes” took place on the sidelines of the 41st session of the Human Rights Council (June 24-July 12). It is part of a campaign to raise international awareness about the recruitment of child soldiers, especially in the Tindouf camps.The Alliance staged a similar sit-in in March 2019 during the previous Human Rights Council session in order to denounce “the forceful enlistment of children in the Tindouf camps, in violation of international law.” The sit-in organisers stated that they seek to “draw the public’s attention to human rights violations perpetrated by Polisario, especially against children who are snatched from their families for training on the use of firearms and explosives.”“Many children have died after handling explosive devices before being buried in anonymity, while survivors are usually enlisted in armies, guerrillas or terrorist groups,” read one of the protest banners.ASMEDS Secretary General, Ali Jeddou, explained that the sit-in aims to alert the international community to the massive human rights violations taking place in the Tindouf camps.Protesters urged the international community and international humanitarian organisations to urgently intervene in the case of families confined to the Tindouf camps. The camps are currently under the control of the Polisario Front which, according to the protesters, “violates the most basic human rights.”Human rights violationsMustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, ex-Polisario member and former commanding officer in the Tindouf camps, has condemned Polisario’s actions over the years. In one of his Facebook posts, Salma said that Sahrawis are no longer concerned by “independence” or “integrity”. He explains that Sahrawis simply want to live in “dignity and to have a future” for their children in a place “where they will not live [through] what their parents experienced.”He further explained in a statement to Morocco World News that “Polisario makes the obtention of official documents – such as the Sahrawi card which is needed for all services and work in the camps – contingent on a period of military training for Saharawis of all ages”Robert M. Holley, Director of  the Moroccan American Center for Policy, said in his publication “Cuba and the Polisario Front” (2005) that “each year between 350 and 500 young Sahrawi children between the ages of 9 and 11 are still being separated from their parents and sent to Cuba [for military training] for periods up to 15 years or more.”He went on to say that “classes in communist ideology remain mandatory for these children who get a steady diet of Cuban ideology and anti-American and anti-western propaganda as part of their ‘educational experience.’”But the Polisario has continuously dismissed these reports as “unfounded.” In 2008, Sidi Mohamed Omar, Polisario’s UK representative, told Child Soldiers International, “no Sahrawi in the Sahrawi refugee camps in south-west Algeria who is under the age of 18 years, receives any military training, or participates actively in situations of armed conflict.” read more

JPMorgan Chase and Anadarko Petroleum rise Netflix stumbles

NEW YORK — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily on Friday:Anadarko Petroleum Corp., up $14.98 to $61.78Chevron will buy the rival oil company for $33 billion as it seeks more growth from deep-water exploration in the gulf and in the Permian Basin.JPMorgan Chase & Co., up $4.98 to $111.21The nation’s largest bank by assets reported a 5% increase in quarterly profit on more revenue from loans, beating Wall Street forecasts.The Walt Disney Co., up $13.46 to $130.06The media and entertainment company will launch its new video streaming service in the U.S. as early as October.Allegheny Technologies Inc., down $1.54 to $25.66The maker of steel and specialty metals warned investors that supply and cost problems will severely cut into its first-quarter profit.Wells Fargo Co., down $1.25 to $46.49The bank’s first-quarter profit beat forecasts, but its assets, loans and deposits all fell as it deals with regulatory restrictions.National Oilwell Varco Inc., down $2.46 to $26.87The oil services company said lingering impacts from a slide in crude oil prices last year will weigh down quarterly profit and revenue.Netflix Inc., down $16.51 to $351.14The streaming video service’s $13.99 monthly cost will soon be undercut by Disney’s streaming service at $6.99 per month.PNC Financial Services Group Inc., up $3.98 to $132.70The bank’s first-quarter profit met Wall Street expectations and its revenue beat forecasts thanks to more interest income.The Associated Press read more

Algeria Refuses to Give License to Truck Drivers with Humanitarian Aid

Rabat – Algerian authorities are refusing to grant permits to truck drivers delivering humanitarian aid from Spain to Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps.Pro-Polisario news outlet Futuro Sahara reported on Wednesday, August 14, that some families “complained about the delay in the arrival of gifts and humanitarian aid coming from Spain.”Humanitarian aid is traditionally sent by Spanish families and members of the Sahrawi community  to the Sahrawi residents of the Tindouf camps before Eid Al Adha. The news outlet reported that truck drivers arrived in the Ghazaouet Port in Algeria on August 1.The truck drivers, however, were not able to deliver the humanitarian aid on time. Algerian authorities are withholding the license, meaning that the drivers have been stuck at the port since August 1.Read Also: Sahrawis Continue Protests Against Polisario’s Oppression, Arbitrary Detention of Activists“The bus drivers spent [ Eid Al Adha] holiday at the Algerian port of Ghazaouet away from their families.”The drivers, according to Futuro Sahara, have all the official licenses granted by the “Sahrawi institutions.”“It became necessary to contact the Algerian Foreign Ministry to find a solution to this ongoing issue.”Throughout the year, Sahrawis have been protesting against lack of freedom of movement.The embezzlement of funds and humanitarian aid has been an ongoing issue in the camp. It remains to be seen whether this shipment of aid will reach the families in the Tindouf camps..Dozens of Sahrawis have been condemning malnutrition in the camps, expressing surprise at finding donated merchandise on display in Algerian shops.In February, The president of the Canary Sahrawi Forum, Miguel Angel Ortiz, condemned Polisario’s embezzlement of aid corruption in an opinion piece published by  La Provincia.The  author said that a new scandal broke within the Tindouf camps following the misappropriation of some €2.5 million of humanitarian aid from the international community for Sahrawis living in Tindouf camps. read more

Solid US jobs report could allay fears of weakening economy

WASHINGTON — With worries rising about trade wars and slower global growth, Friday’s jobs figures for May could serve as a reminder that the U.S. economy is still mostly in good shape.Or, an unexpectedly weak employment report could intensify concerns that after a healthy first quarter, the U.S. economy is actually stumbling.Economists have forecast that the government will report that employers added 185,000 jobs, a solid figure consistent with this year’s average monthly gain. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at a nearly 50-year low of 3.6%, according to data provider FactSet.The economy is showing signs of sluggishness after having expanded at a healthy 3.1% annual rate in the April-June quarter. Consumers have been cautious about spending, and companies are scaling back their investment in high-cost machinery and equipment.The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta estimates that annual growth will slump to just 1.5% in the April-June quarter. That potential weakening, driven in part by President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts, has also raised pressure on Federal Reserve policymakers to consider cutting short-term interest rates in the coming months. For most of this year, the Fed has indicated that it would take a patient approach toward rate changes.Manufacturers have barely added jobs in the past three months after healthy gains last year, a sign that trade conflicts and a slowdown in auto sales might be slowing hiring. Retailers, hammered by online competition, have cut jobs for the past three months. Home building and commercial construction have weakened, a trend that could force builders to shed workers.Professional and business services, which include high-paying accounting and engineering jobs, have added workers at a healthy pace this year. So have the education and health services industries.If employers remain optimistic about the long run, they might look beyond a weak patch for the economy and keep adding jobs. Additional strong hiring could provide vital support to the economy. Steady job growth has compelled many employers to raise pay to attract and keep workers, which, in turn, has forced up average hourly wages. Average wages rose 3.2% in April compared with a year ago, a solid if not exceptional gain.Trump last month increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. And last week, he threatened to impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports to the United States beginning Monday. Those taxes would rise each month until they reach 25% in October unless the Mexican government cuts off a flow of Central American migrants entering the United States from through Mexico.The higher costs from the import taxes — and the potential for more — might be causing companies to scale back plans for spending, investment and expansion. Orders for machinery and equipment fell 1% in April. A strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods costlier overseas, has also slowed the production and export of manufactured goods. A separate report from the Fed showed that factory output fell 0.5% in April.Automakers are cutting jobs and production as U.S. sales have slowed. Analysts expect auto sales to fall below 17 million this year after four years above that level.Ford Motor Co. said last month that it was cutting 7,000 white-collar jobs — about 10% of its salaried workforce — as part of preparations for an industry driven more by electric and autonomous vehicles. Last year, GM said it would shed 14,000 workers.Home sales have been weak this year despite a sharp drop in mortgage rates. Sales fell 4.4% in April compared with a year earlier. Home price gains are slowing in much of the country, though, which, combined with more affordable mortgages, could soon revive sales.Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press read more

UN political official meets with Chinese authorities on Myanmar

9 July 2007Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, is meeting today with senior Government officials in Beijing as part of wider consultations in the region on the situation in the South-East Asian nation, a spokesperson for the world body announced. “This is a trip to discuss Myanmar with some of the key countries in the region,” UN Spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. “Any effort to promote positive changes in Myanmar is going to require not only direct dialogue with the Government and people of the country, but also dialogue with all interested countries and all who can potentially help support our efforts,” she stated. Mr. Gambari met in Beijing with Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Binguo, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, and Director-General Wu Hailong. Since being appointed Special Adviser in May, Mr. Gambari has consulted broadly on the situation in Myanmar, having visited Washington D.C two weeks ago and having travelled this week to the region. Following talks in Beijing, he will travel to New Delhi and then to Tokyo for further meetings with Government counterparts before returning to New York over the weekend, Ms. Okabe added. read more

UN peacekeeper contributors visit Haiti stress strengthening national police

5 September 2007Defence ministers and military officers from Latin American countries contributing troops to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti are at present visiting the Caribbean country to discuss security and other issues linked to the extension of the mission’s mandate, including strengthening the national police force. “This meeting is an opportunity for me to thank the peoples and governments of these countries for their contribution towards putting Haiti back on the rails with regard to security, development and stability,” Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis told the visitors. While acknowledging a net improvement compared to several months ago, Mr. Alexis stressed that “the situation remains fragile.” The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished country after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile. The visiting delegation, comprising representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, has also met with President René Préval and other Haitian leaders as well as with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Hédi Annabi and Organization of American States Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza. Issues discussed including reinforcement of the national police, reform of the judicial system, strengthening legal institutions and the battle against corruption and drug trafficking. The need to promote development also figured on the agenda. “The fight against corruption, smuggling and drug trafficking constitute priorities for the Government,” Mr. Alexis said. Speaking for the delegation, Chilean Defence Minister José Goni Carasco noted that while a military presence is indispensable, it is not sufficient. “Only the formation of a more just, egalitarian society allows democracy to function,” he said, pledging Latin American support, within the framework of the UN, towards converting MINUSTAH units into forces capable of building up the country’s infrastructure and economic development. Of the 7,061 troops currently serving with MINUSTAH, Brazil provides 1,198, Uruguay 1,133, Argentina 551 and Chile 495. read more

Flooding hampers UN humanitarian aid efforts for refugees in Chad

Heavy rainy season downpours have left areas of eastern Chad flooded and seriously hampered efforts by United Nations and other aid agencies to help tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Although food is not a major problem because supplies were stockpiled in camps in April and May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is having difficulty supplying needed goods such as new tents, while the agency and others have delayed or cancelled missions in the region. Aid can only be transported to some outposts by air and even then the rain often makes airstrips unusable, UNHCR said in its latest update from Abeche in eastern Chad. Earlier this month, two flights to Goz Beida were cancelled for two days in a row because the airstrip could not be used. “We haven’t seen such flooding in the past two years. There was so much rain that the roads and wadis became almost impassable,” UNHCR driver Khalil Ousmane said. Taking detours to avoid flooded areas meant that journeys took up to three times as long as normal, he added. Drivers always took bedding with them in case they had to sleep en route. The rains have eased over the past week but flooding continues to cut land access to the Koukou Angarana region in the southeast and has forced locals and IDPs to head for higher ground. Goz Amir, one of 12 UNHCR-run camps housing some 230,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing the conflict in Darfur, is in the flooded area. There are also 170,000 Chadian IDPs in the area. “UNHCR and its partners are helping several hundred displaced families and host communities who have been affected by the rains and sought shelter on higher ground,” said Bryan Hunter, UNHCR protection officer in Goz Beida. UNHCR staff have been forced to rent carts from locals so that they can help those uprooted by the floods, he added. Since the rains began in mid-June, flooded wadis have made it almost impossible to drive between the UNHCR logistics hub at Abeche, the main town in eastern Chad, and Farchana, the gateway to several refugee camps near the border with Sudan’s Darfur region, with the floods cutting off some of the camps. Exposure to the elements is causing physical discomfort and putting added logistical and financial pressure on aid agencies. “With most shelters in camps being in a poor state, the number of people asking for new tents grows during and after the rainy season,” said Julien Sangtam, a UNHCR community services assistant in the town of Bahai. “Their concerns are real and justified, but we can’t satisfy them because of logistical problems.” 20 September 2007Heavy rainy season downpours have left areas of eastern Chad flooded and seriously hampered efforts by United Nations and other aid agencies to help tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). read more

Climate change resulting in shift to green economies says UN agency

20 February 2008More and more companies are embracing environmentally-friendly policies and investors are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into cleaner and renewable energies, according to a new publication released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). More and more companies are embracing environmentally-friendly policies and investors are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into cleaner and renewable energies, according to a new publication released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While the impacts of climate change range from the melting of permafrost and glaciers to extreme weather events, UNEP’s Year Book 2008 shows that it is also causing a shift in the mind-sets, policies and actions of leaders of governments, companies and the UN itself. “Increasingly, combating climate change is being perceived as an opportunity rather than a burden and a path to a new kind of prosperity as opposed to a brake on profits and employment,” according to the new report. The emerging ‘green’ economy is also credited with driving invention and innovation on a scale not seen since perhaps the industrial revolution. The Year Book was presented today in Monaco at the opening of the largest gathering of environment ministers since the landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia last December which ended with nearly 200 countries agreeing in Bali to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations to tackle the problem of global warming. UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which is focusing on the theme “Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge,” brings together ministers as well as representatives of business, organized labour, science and civil society. “Hundreds of billions of dollars are now flowing into renewable and clean energy technologies and trillions more dollars are waiting in the wings looking to governments for a new and decisive climate regime post 2012 alongside the creative market mechanisms necessary to achieve this,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner told the Forum. “Formidable hurdles remain as to whether these funds will ultimately seek out new, climate-friendly investments for the future or whether they will seek the lowest common denominator by flowing into the polluting technologies of the past,” he said. He added that “designing an attractive, creative and equitable investment landscape which rewards those willing to invest in tomorrow’s economy today is the challenge before ministers here in Monaco and the challenge for the international community over the next two years.” Despite a great deal of activity, the Year Book notes that many challenges remain to truly embed new and innovative ideas in the global economy in the years to come. Subsidies favouring fossil fuels over cleaner energies and tariff and trade regimes that make cleaner technologies more expensive are just some of the barriers that need to be overcome. read more

Marking International Day top UN officials urge greater investments in women

8 March 2008Top United Nations officials commemorated this year’s International Women’s Day by calling on countries to invest more in women and girls, warning that failing to do so will undermine efforts to achieve global development targets. In his message for the Day, Secretary-General drew attention to the “serious” gap between policy and practice in many countries when it comes to gender equality, as reflected in a lack of resources and insufficient budgetary allocations. “This failure of funding undermines not only our endeavours for gender equality and women’s empowerment as such; it also holds back our efforts to reach all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said, referring to the global pledges to slash poverty and other social ills, all by 2015. “As we know from long and indisputable experience, investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity and sustained economic growth,” he added, noting that no measure is more important in advancing education and health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS, or as likely to improve nutrition, or reduce infant and maternal mortality.Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), agreed that “if we want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we need more investments in women and girls.“Whether we are looking at it from a human rights, political or economic point of view, the conclusion is the same: It makes sense to invest in women. The returns are high for women themselves and for the world at large,” she said. However, not only were investments still not being made to the extent they should be, they were actually declining in some areas, such as maternal health and family planning. “Improving women’s well-being cannot be accomplished without improving their health, particularly their reproductive health,” she stressed, noting that by ensuring universal access to reproductive health, it will be possible to reduce poverty, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, and meet the need for family planning. “By investing in women’s reproductive health and well-being, we will stand a better chance of achieving the MDGs and making gender equality a reality.”Part of the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality is the urgent need to end violence against women in all of its forms, a point highlighted by the acting Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), who drew attention to the UN campaign launched by the Secretary-General on 25 February, UNiTE to End Violence against Women. “The campaign will add value and visibility to the efforts that Governments, women’s and other civil society organizations, UN and donor partners are making to combat gender-based violence and send the message that ending violence against women stands on par with other critical development goals,” said Joanne Sandler.She added that it also comes at a time when the world’s leaders are renewing their commitment to financing for all national development goals, including the MDGs.“Ending violence against women was a missing indicator in the MDGs, owing to the lack of comparable data,” she stated. “It is encouraging, therefore, that the United Nations has also committed to assist countries in efforts to generate the data needed to measure the extent of violence against women and girls. “Together with proven evidence of what works and the financial and technical resources needed to support countries to meet the implementation challenge, there may indeed be an end in sight to the pandemic of violence against women and girls ? and genuine progress on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment,” Ms. Sandler said.From Afghanistan to Sudan, women around the world are celebrating the Day through events at the local and national levels. In the strife-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, staff of the new African Union-UN mission there (UNAMID) handed out T-shirts and posters to women in the central market in El Fasher, and held a procession along with Sudanese female police officers and local residents. Hundreds of women in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar marched for peace, while their sisters in the capital gathered in Kabul’s women’s garden to mark the Day with a UN agency fair, which included films and a performance by child artists. Female counsellors from UN agencies were also on hand to provide advice on health, education and social issues facing the country’s women. read more

Greater efforts must be made to realize every persons right to food

5 March 2009With the number of hungry people around the world surging amid the current global financial crisis and the effects of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to scale-up efforts to combat hunger and realize every person’s right to food. With the number of hungry people around the world surging amid the current global financial crisis and the effects of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to scale-up efforts to combat hunger and realize every person’s right to food.“Food is not just a commodity, and agriculture is not just a business. Both are central to survival. Realizing every person’s right to food is a moral and humanitarian imperative,” Mr. Ban told students of the UN International School at a conference on the global food crisis.The Secretary-General said that the way the world grows, markets and trades food does not protect the poor, and the situation is getting worse. “Between global warming and the financial crisis, the number of hungry people is surging.”Last year saw an unprecedented movement of farmers, community groups, businesses, governments, the UN and development organizations working together to tackle the food crisis, in what Mr. Ban described as “the largest emergency scale-up against hunger and malnutrition in history.”Donors have pledged more aid, and the international community has held a series of emergency meetings, but the main work is in communities and countries, he noted. “That is where we are using food assistance and giving seeds and fertilizers to farmers. That is where we are helping communities adapt to climate change and building roads and storage centres so that produce can get to market.”Nevertheless, the global community needs to do even more this year, Mr. Ban stated. The UN is moving on two fronts: delivering immediate food and nutrition assistance, and improving longer-term food production and agricultural development. In addition, it is pushing for a fairer world trade system that works for poor people while combating climate change.The way out of the crisis, he noted, is to tackle the urgent challenges while fixing the underlying problem. “Hunger is a stain on humanity,” he asserted. “The time has come to remove that stain – forever.” read more

Security Council condemns latest missile tests by DPR Korea

6 July 2009The Security Council today condemned the ballistic missile tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over the weekend, saying they violate Council resolutions and pose a threat to regional and international security. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, read out a statement to journalists this evening saying that the 15-member panel had “expressed grave concerns” following the reported tests off the DPRK coast on 4 July.Mr. Rugunda said Council members – which held consultations on the issue this afternoon – reiterated that the DPRK must comply with their obligations under all resolutions, including resolution 1874, which was adopted unanimously last month in response to a recent nuclear test by Pyongyang.That resolution imposed a series of measures on the DPRK that include tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities, a tighter arms embargo with the exception of light weapons and new financial restrictions. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had welcomed the resolution and called on Pyongyang to engage in dialogue, including through the Six-Party Talks that brings together the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.Mr. Rugunda said Council members appealed to all parties to refrain from any actions that might escalate the situation, and reiterated their commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the issue. read more

No effort must be spared to aid displaced Pakistanis says UN relief

7 July 2009The top United Nations relief official kicked off a four-day visit to Pakistan today, urging that no effort be spared to tackle the humanitarian crisis involving over 2 million people uprooted by fighting between Government forces and militants in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). “While it is not the largest crisis in the world, needs in Pakistan are the most immediate of any crisis in the world. The upcoming monsoon season makes meeting those needs an even more urgent priority,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.“This will not be easy, and I fear it will be by no means perfect. But we must pull out all the stops to do as much as possible, as quickly as possible,” he added.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that preparations continue in the displacement camps for the upcoming monsoon season, which is expected to start in mid-July.The agency’s spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva that, depending on the intensity of the monsoon, some families may have to be relocated to other areas less prone to flooding. Some 260,000 of the more than 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in 21 camps, according to UNHCR. The vast majority of the displaced are outside the camps, living with host families and in school buildings. During the course of his visit, the UN humanitarian chief plans to visit IDP camps, host families and spontaneous settlements where some of the displaced are taking shelter. “Although we are making headway in delivering aid to people in formal camps, we need to find ways to reach more displaced in need – especially those staying in spontaneous settlements and with host families,” he said.Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, began his visit today by meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi and General Nadeem, head of the Special Support Group, as well as the humanitarian country team in Pakistan.In a related development, UNHCR and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday signed a partnership agreement to support vital humanitarian operations in Pakistan. The agreement will procure relief items like tents and blankets, to meet the needs of IDPs, mainly women and children, as well as facilitate the voluntary return of displaced people in the country’s north-west. read more

Nepal UNESCO condemns attacks against journalists covering protests

10 May 2010The United Nations agency tasked with upholding press freedom today spoke out against the intimidations and attacks yesterday against journalists covering Maoist protests in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. Following peaceful May Day demonstrations, the Maoists called for an extended strike, or “bandh,” amid a political stand-off with the Government.According to media reports, the strike was called off last Friday, but Maoist protestors gathered yesterday in Singha Durbar, the administrative hub of the capital.The UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) office in Kathmandu today condemned intimidations and attacks against journalists covering the demonstrations in Singha Durbar.“These attacks violate the fundamental rights of media professionals” reporting on yesterday’s events, the agency said in a press release. “But they also attack the right of everyone to receive a diversity of information and ideas.”Under no circumstances, UNESCO underscored, should journalists’ efforts to contribute to Nepal’s peace process through their reporting be obstructed.The agency said it is particularly concerned about the attacks, as they occurred just days after World Press Freedom Day was celebrated on 3 May.A decade-long civil war in Nepal that claimed some 13,000 lives ended with the signing of a peace accord between the Government and the Maoists in 2006.After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, the country abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic. But the peace process has stalled recently, threatened by tensions and mistrust between Maoists, the Government and the army.Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General’s Representative and head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), warned the Security Council last week of “grave risks” the strike posed to the peace process.“Nepal’s peace process is at a delicate and critical moment, as negotiators work to resolve the current stand-off between Maoist supporters and the Government, primarily over Maoist demands for a national unity government.” read more

UN backs call for dialogue in wake of Lebanese clashes

27 August 2010The top United Nations envoy to Lebanon today backed the call made by the country’s leaders for dialogue to avoid further tensions following armed clashes earlier this week between Shi’a and Sunni Muslim groups in the capital, Beirut. Three people were reportedly killed on Tuesday when members of the Hizbollah and Al-Ahbash groups fought each other with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.According to media reports, the groups stated that the incident had stemmed from a personal dispute and that each side had agreed to immediately end their differences.UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said he welcomed the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and of the country’s leadership in restoring calm in the city.“The United Nations strongly encourages the call for dialogue, led by President [Michel] Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to avoid any further tension and any similar incidents to those which occurred on Tuesday evening,” Mr. Williams said in a statement following his meeting with the Minister of Social Affairs, Salim Sayegh.In addition to the clashes, the two men also discussed the political situation and recent developments in Lebanon, including the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah that erupted in 2006.“We also discussed the work of the Lebanese institutions in promoting stability and security in the country and in addressing the social and economic problems that need to be tackled,” Mr. Williams added. read more

UN officials welcome release of Myanmars Aung San Suu Kyi

13 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations human rights chief welcomed the freeing on Saturday of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and urged the authorities in Myanmar to release all remaining political prisoners. Ms. Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had been under house arrest for much of the past two decades. Her release comes one week after the South-east Asian nation held its first elections in 20 years.“Her dignity and courage in the face of injustice have been an inspiration to many people around the world, including the Secretary-General, who has long advocated her freedom,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.“The Secretary-General expects that no further restrictions will be placed on her, and he urges the Myanmar authorities to build on today’s action by releasing all remaining political prisoners.” The statement also noted that it was “deeply regrettable” that Ms. Suu Kyi was effectively excluded from participating in the recent elections. “Democracy and national reconciliation require that all citizens of Myanmar are free to participate as they wish in the political life of their country.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called Ms. Suu Kyi’s release a “positive signal” that the Myanmar authorities are willing to move forward with the serious challenge of democratic transition. “Clearly, Aung San Suu Kyi can make a major contribution to this process,” Ms. Pillay stated, adding that she remained “extremely disappointed” that the pro-democracy leader was not released before the elections. The High Commissioner urged the authorities to now release the other 2,200 political prisoners as “a clear sign that the new Government intends to respect human rights and forge a new future for the country.” read more

Fighting and need for aid increase in northwestern Libya – UN

24 June 2011Fighting has intensified in north-western regions of Libya and the United Nations has stepped up its effort to help wounded civilians in the area, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. Elizabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for OCHA, told a press briefing in Geneva assistance provided in the Nafusa Mountains has predominantly been in the health sector, “especially the treatment of the injured.”Ms. Byrs said that throughout the country some 530,000 persons had received food assistance from the UN and its partners, including about 20 non-governmental organizations working in Libya.She said the port of Khums in the northwest received its first humanitarian assistance vessel on 19 June with 546 tons of food delivered to 106,000 beneficiaries in the area, in cooperation with the UN World Food Programme (WFP).Ms. Byrs said an appeal for $407 million for Libya was currently 55 per cent funded. OCHA reported today that more than 650,000 people have left the country since the start of the conflict earlier this year, with the majority non-Libyan. More than a quarter million non-Libyans are also temporarily in countries not of their origin. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that about 243,000 Libyans are internally displaced because of the fighting.Libya is one of many countries across North Africa and the Middle East where popular uprisings and widespread protests have taken place this year. read more

Most fiftysomethings plan to work in retirement to offset low savings

TORONTO — More than half of Canadians now in their 50s plan to keep on working after retiring in their 60s, in many cases to supplement their income, according to a new survey.The national online survey, conducted last month for CIBC by Leger Marketing, found that Quebec residents were least likely to say they’ll work after retirement, at 47%.Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents were the most likely to say they planned to work after retirement, at 59%.[np-related /]Atlantic Canada (54%), Ontario (55%), Alberta (57%) and British Columbia (49%) were closer to the national average of 53%.Meanwhile, about 29% of those surveyed said they were not sure if they would work after retirement, while 14% said they would definitely not work post retirement.According to the survey, almost half of today’s 50-59 year olds surveyed have less than $100,000 saved for retirement and many planned to use employment income in retirement to make up for lack of savings.“The retirement landscape is shifting as baby boomers reach traditional retirement age with a smaller nest egg than they expected to have,” said Christina Kramer, executive vice-president, retail distribution and channel strategy at CIBC.“Many Canadians are now planning to draw on multiple sources of income including employment to fund their retirement, and that makes getting advice about how to manage your income, savings, and investments even more important.”Overall, the survey found that of those who plan to keep on working, 37% said they would do so part time.And only one third of those who plan to work post retirement said they would do so just for the money.Two-thirds — or 67% — saw working either as a way to either stay socially active or that they just found work enjoyable and wanted to stay involved in the workforce in some capacity.The average age at which the respondents plan to retire varied by region, with those in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Manitoba and Saskatchewan looking to retire earliest at age 62. Ontarians were next at 63 and followed by those in Alberta and British Columbia at age 64.The survey involving 805 people and conducted between July 5 and July 8 is said by pollsters to have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points 19 times out of 20 on a national basis. Breakdowns by region or other subgroups are less accurate. read more