Security Council extends UN peacekeeping missions in Côte dIvoire Cyprus and Darfur

The Council unanimously decided to extend the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) until 30 June 2014 to continue work on its core priorities of protecting civilians, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and security sector reform.Members also agreed that the Mission should be reconfigured by 30 June 2014 to consist of 7,137 military personnel from the current limit of 10,400, as recommended in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report presented earlier this month by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. The Council noted a possible further reduction down to 5,437 military personnel by June 2015, depending on the security on the ground and the improved capacity of the Government to take over UNOCI’s security role. The Council also decided that UNOCI should reconfigure its military presence to concentrate resources in high-risk areas to more effectively assist the Government in protecting civilians and stability the security situation in the country.Turning to Cyprus, the Council extended until 31 January 2014 the mandate of the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by a vote of 13 to 0, with two members, Azerbaijan and Pakistan, abstaining.One of the longest-running UN peacekeeping missions, UNFICYP has been deployed on the island since 1964, when inter-communal fighting erupted between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.The Council today reiterated its call on the leadership of those two communities to accelerate the pace of talks aimed at reunifying the divided Mediterranean island nation.Also today, the Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for a further 13 months, until 31 August 2014. Briefing the Council last week on security in Darfur, Joint Special Representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas said the situation remains “volatile” amid fighting between Sudanese Government forces and rebels, a recent spate of attacks against peacekeepers and an upsurge in inter-ethnic violence. Since the beginning of this year, the renewed violence in Darfur has prompted more than 250,000 people to flee their villages and abandon their livelihoods, and the inter-tribal clashes have strained the ability of humanitarian organization to reach vulnerable families.The clashes have also led to four attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers over the past four months. The most recent incident occurred on 13 July, when seven Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and 17 other members of the Mission were injured in a roadside ambush.In this context, the Council requested that Mr. Ban, in close consultation with the African Union, presents options and recommendations on improving UNAMID’s effectiveness to the Security Council by the end of next February. read more

Fight against child labour moving in right direction but not quickly enough

“We are moving in the right direction but progress is still too slow. If we are serious about ending the scourge of child labour in the foreseeable future, then we need a substantial stepping-up of efforts at all levels,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). “There are 168 million good reasons to do so.”The agency’s new report, “Marking progress against child labour,” comes ahead of next month’s Global Conference on Child Labour in Brazil. It shows that most of the progress was made between 2008 and 2012, when the global number fell from 215 to 168 million.More than half of the 168 million child labourers worldwide are involved in hazardous work. This is work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development. The current number of children in hazardous work stands at 85 million, down from 171 million in 2000.Among other findings, the report says that the largest absolute number of child labourers is found in the Asia-Pacific region (almost 78 million), but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest incidence of child labour in terms of proportion of the population, at over 21 per cent.The incidence of child labour is highest in poorer countries but middle-income countries have the largest numbers of child labourers. Also, child labour among girls fell by 40 per cent since 2000, compared to 25 per cent for boys.Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers can be found (98 million children, or 59 per cent), but the problems are not negligible in services (54 million) and industry (12 million) – mostly in the informal economy.The report identifies a number of actions that have driven progress in the fight against child labour in recent years, noting in particular policy choices and accompanying investments in education and social protection. Other actions include the political commitment of governments and the increasing number of ratifications of the two ILO child labour conventions.“No one can take sole credit for this result, as many have helped draw attention to the negative impacts of child labour on economic growth, the future of societies and the rights of children,” said Constance Thomas, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).“However, the ILO’s role in leading the fight against child labour, through its standards and supervisory system, advice, capacity building and direct action, deserves special mention.” read more

Central African Republic amid rising violence Ban says perpetrators will be held

A statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that the further deterioration of the security situation in the country has resulted in additional fatalities, a high number of injured, and increased hardship for the population. “The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms all acts of violence against civilians, and against international forces working in the Central African Republic to re-establish peace and order. He stresses the fundamental importance of protecting civilians at all times,” said the statement. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed, and 2.2 million, about half the population of CAR, need humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict that began in December 2012, when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks.More than 650,000 people are still internally displaced, and over 290,000 have fled to neighbouring countries in search of refuge from the conflict, which has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms.Following her recent visit to the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the inter-communal hatred between Christians and Muslims have reached “a terrifying level,” and called on the international community to scale up aid efforts for those affected.In today’s statement, the Secretary-General reminded all those who are involved in spreading the violence, including those directly or indirectly supporting or otherwise facilitating the actions of armed groups, that they will be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice.In this regard, he stressed the importance of quickly establishing a list of individuals who act to undermine peace, stability and security in CAR, as called for by the Security Council in a resolution adopted late last year. That resolution also authorized an African-led and French-backed peacekeeping force to quell the spiralling violence in CAR, and requested the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of human rights abuses by all parties since 1 January 2013. “The Secretary-General reaffirms the full commitment of the United Nations to help the Central African Republic emerge from the ongoing crisis and to build peace,” the statement added. read more

FEATURE Meeting Malala gives boost to creators of GirlWithABook project

Inspired by those words, two students at American University, in Washington, D.C., responded with a campaign using that phrase – #GirlWithABook – reaching out and urging the world to: “Stand with Malala Yousafzai and show the Taliban that there’s no way they can stop us girls from getting an education. Ever. Post a picture of yourself reading a book or holding a sign of support.”“The terrorists have shown that they are afraid of a girl with a book, so we stuck it to them by inviting people to post pictures of girls with books,” reads the website set up by creators Olivia Curl and Lena Shareef.Within one month of the launch of their project last year, Ms. Curl and Ms. Shareef received hundreds of pictures from around the world, including those of the Secretary-General reading to his granddaughter, as well as UN Messengers of Peace, writer Paulo Coelho, musician Midori, and environmentalist/scientist Jane Goodall.The pair then compiled the photos into a book for Malala.Their dream came true last year when the Secretary-General presented their book #GirlWithABook to Malala when she visited the United Nations on her 16th birthday, the occasion when she moved the world with her words on the importance of education.Today, another dream came true for the two creators of the initiative when they were among the 500 young people invited to the United Nations and got to meet face to face with Malala and her father.They were all gathered at UN Headquarters to join in on a conversation about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a part of the UN’s 500 days of action. “It was really exciting, after we brought out a copy of the photo book, that they all remembered getting the book last year. For them to make a connection between our #GirlWithABook project and the book was very special,” said Ms Curl, speaking also on behalf of her project partner.Ms. Shareef also said on their behalf: “I’m also really appreciative for the words of encouragement from Malala and her father to continue this movement into the future. If Malala wants us to keep going, then there’s no question that we will.”The two women said they were motivated by the enthusiastic support for their work to stand up for each girl’s right to an education.“The atmosphere was powerful and motivating, and we were really encouraged to see so many young people, most of them younger than us, participating and caring deeply about the many issues addressed by the MDGs,” Ms. Curl said. read more

UN chief appoints expert panel to address humanitarian funding shortfalls

In a statement released by his spokesperson’s office earlier today, the Secretary-General observed that over the last decade, the demand for humanitarian aid had risen “dramatically” amid an uptick in water scarcity, food insecurity, demographic shifts, rapid urbanization and climate change. “All these and other dynamics are contributing to a situation in which current resources and funding flows are insufficient to meet the rising demand for aid,” Mr. Ban’s statement declared. “Humanitarian actors expected to stay longer and longer in countries and regions impacted by long-running crises and conflicts.”Over the past 10 years, the global demand for humanitarian aid has, in fact, risen precipitously. The number of people requiring critical relief has more than doubled since 2004 to over 100 million today and current funding requirements for 2015, according to the UN, stand at $19.1 billion, up from $3.4 billion in 2004. As a result, Mr. Ban has launched his High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing with Vice President of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria, and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Malaysia as co-chairs of the Panel. The Panel, which will examine humanitarian financing challenges and identify ways in which the gap between rising needs and the resources available to meet them can be closed, will also work on generating solutions around the issues of more timely and predictable funding, as well as ways in which resources can be used more effectively, according to the statement. The Panel will also include Hadeel Ibrahim of the United Kingdom; Badr Jafar of the United Arab Emirates; Trevor Manuel of South Africa; Linah Mohohlo of Botswana; Walt Macnee of Canada; Margot Wallström of Sweden; and Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah of Sri Lanka. It is expected to submit its recommendations to the Secretary-General in November 2015 which will help frame discussions at next year’s World Humanitarian Summit. read more

Iraq amid fears cholera outbreak may worsen UN agencies step up support

In order to ensure household water supplies were properly disinfected, UNICEF explained that 1.3 million water treatment tablets for household usage and 1,000 water treatment tablets for use in community water storage tanks had already been distributed.Mr. Hawkins said the important part of UNICEF’s effort is to ensure that communities can protect themselves against cholera. “They can do that in simple ways, for example, by using water only from a protected source, by treating the water they store at home, and by getting medical help as soon as any member of the family develops diarrhoea or other symptoms,” he explained.With providing 820,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts to treat patients suffering from dehydration, UNICEF also made great effort to ensure the threat cholera represents could be understood by the public. UNICEF said in the statement, “cholera information materials are being delivered to households across Iraq, through awareness and prevention messaging in schools, home visits, as well as via SMS, social media, and mass media, including billboards in high-risk areas.”UNICEF also reports in the press release, underlining the seriousness with which the cholera outbreak is viewed, the beginning of the school year was delayed by a full month in large parts of Iraq.Concluding the statement, $12.7 million is required for UNICEF to maintain its response to the cholera outbreak, because of the critically underfunded humanitarian operations in the country. “There is unfortunately a high risk that cholera will reach more areas of Iraq, affecting marginalized and displaced children, women and their families in particular, so we have to act fast,” UNICEF Representative in Iraq Peter Hawkins said in a statement released today.UNICEF is part of urgent efforts underway to protect communities and families from the effects of a cholera outbreak that has already infected more than 2,200 people – about 20 per cent of them children – across 15 of the country’s 18 governorates.With concern rising that the disease could spread further, UNICEF – alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO) – indicates that it has provided support to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, delivered and secured clean water supplies, offered treatment for people with cholera symptoms, and undertaken a national communication campaign to help people protect themselves against the disease. “Heavy rains in late October inundated several areas of the country considered vulnerable to the spread of cholera,” addressing in the statement, UNICEF also mentioned that 65,000 residents near Baghdad had been affected by the overflow sewage system due to the extensive flooding.According to the statement, “since the cholera outbreak was confirmed in mid-September, UNICEF has supported the distribution of bottled water to 37,000 people, and water trucking at a rate of 100,000 litres per day, benefitting 5,000 people. Community water tanks sufficient for 15,500 people have been installed, and family water and hygiene kits distributed to 44,250 families.” read more

Ban expresses concern over blocking of essential supplies on NepalIndia border

“[The Secretary-General] is alarmed by reports of the obstruction, and destruction, of life-saving medical supplies and the continued impact on humanitarian operations,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson, which said Mr. Ban underlines Nepal’s right of free transit.Ahead of planned protests on 21 November, the Secretary-General further stresses in his statement the importance of dialogue and non-violence, as well as respect for peaceful protest and the freedom of assembly.“He urges all sides to resolve their differences in a peaceful and flexible manner and reiterates the support of the United Nations to Nepal’s efforts to build a democratic, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous future,” the statement concludes.

In Zimbabwe UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador calls for more protection of child victims

“No woman, and most definitely no child, should ever have to experience sexual violence – especially from someone they trust for protection, such as a family member,” said actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra, who is currently in Zimbabwe to advocate for increased support for child victims of sexual violence. “When I met these survivors, young brave women and children, and listened to their experiences, it just broke my heart […] I will never forget their stories,” she added, recalling her conversation with a 13-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by her uncle. According to UNICEF, sexual violence against children is widespread in Zimbabwe and latest available data has showed that close to one in 10 girls aged 15-17 years old has been a victim of forced sexual intercourse or a forced sexual act. Approximately two-thirds of victims were first abused by an intimate partner and about a tenth of the victims by a stranger. Most concerning is that in the case of children, most abuse occurred in situations when the child knew and trusted the adult who abused him or her. Sexual violence against children is also “mostly invisible” and goes largely undocumented, noted UNICEF, stating that fear of “getting into trouble” as well as shame and stigma all contributed to children not reporting the abuse. Additionally, many victims were too young or too vulnerable to know what happened to them. In the case of the 13-year-old girl that Ms. Chopra spoke to, with the help of her mother and neighbours, the incident was reported to the police and the uncle who abused her has been arrested, tried, and jailed for 10 years. The 13-year-old child received supported by the Family Support Trust, an organization supported by UNICEF, that runs a “one stop” child-friendly clinic providing medical and psychosocial support for sexually abused children. She also attended a peer support group for teens, and received regular home visits from social workers to provide the help and support she needed. VIDEO:On her recent visit to Zimbabwe, actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra emphasized the critical role of parents – including men – in protecting children against sexual violence.Approaching trauma with compassion and seriousness While in the country, Ms. Chopra also visited Childline Zimbabwe, a 24-hour service that provides free, confidential, multilingual counselling to children and those under 18 years of age who have been abused, violated or exploited. “The counsellors, all volunteers, told me that many calls come from children in hysterics because they had been raped or abused,” noted the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador recollecting her visit. “Without Childline, they would have nowhere to turn. This is a model that many countries with high rates of violence against children can adopt, because it is a safe place for children to turn to and know that their call will be answered by a compassionate person who will take their complaints seriously and respond.” read more

Car output remains steady despite August dip

Provisional output data released today by the Office for National Statistics show that: Commenting on the new data, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, ‘Changes to plant schedules resulted in a disappointing but temporary dip in new car production. Despite the decline, year-to-date output remains on par with last year’s level boosted by a strong third quarter total. We are still expecting full year production to reach 1.65million units’CV output down 20.3 percent on August last year SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, ‘CV production over the year-to-date remains virtually the same as that for the same period last year. Trends over the past three and six months show the sector is holding 2002’s positive outcome, up 10.2 and 1.8 per cent respectively. Strong domestic demand helps UK plants balance the effect of weaker demand in continental Europe. Rigid and artic production held up well despite the 1,300 plus loss of ERF and Seddon Atkinson volumes. 2002’s LCV growth spot has faded somewhat in recent months, especially in August as holidays and some refocusing made a mark. We think full year volumes will hit 195,000 units.’DownloadClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Production figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that: Year-to-date down 0.4 per cent on the same period in 2002CV output volume in August 2003 fell 20.3 per cent on August 2002 Car production in the last three months climbed 9.5 per centOutput over the year-to-date slipped 0.3 per cent read more

September car production best in five years

Provisional data released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that: Rolling year-to-September reaches 208,433 up 20,332 from September 2003 CV production soars 27 per cent in September Output for export rises 45 per cent and 27.5 per cent over year-to-date Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive said, ‘ Commercial vehicle assembly is still growing. September is one of a number of key months in the annual production calendar, with this September’s increase well above the 14.4 per cent growth average so far this year. Annual volumes are now on track to top 210,000 units and with strong demand in Europe, it may go even higher.’DownloadClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Car production up 1.2 per cent in the highest September since 1999 Output for home market increased 2.1 per cent, but exports still driving growth SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan, commented, ‘September car production figures reflect positive results, achieving the highest output levels in five years. It is particularly encouraging to see output for the home market rise, although the focus remains export based and seven out of 10 cars are destined for markets outside the UK. Year-to-date output remains up and we expect the full year total to be on a par with last year.’Strong export drive lifts CV output read more