Monthly Archives: April 2007
Today the UN refugee agency opened an international conference on the humanitarian crisis facing nearly 4 million refugees and displaced people in Iraq. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called for a sustained international response.
“The humanitarian dimension of the problem can no longer be overlooked…Almost 4 million Iraqis are watching us today. Their needs are as obvious as the moral imperative to help. All of us – representatives of governments, international organisations and civil society – are now compelled to act.”
During the Arab League summit in Riyadh two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Secretary General Ban Ki moon held extensive talks about the crisis in Darfur with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. At the time, the meeting was significant principally for the fact that it was one of the first times that a regional power like Saudi Arabia took interest in Darfur. Now, if news accounts prove accurate, it would seem that this meeting could have actually yielded an important breakthrough.
The official Saudi news agency reported last night that Bashir contacted King Abdullah to say that he has signed a joint agreement with the United Nations and African Union to delineate the respective roles of Sudan and the international organizations to resolve the crisis in Darfur. Details about the pledge are still sketchy. But if news reports this morning are accurate, Sudan has agreed to the so-called “phase 2″ heavy support package that would let some 3,000 UN troops augment the AU force in Darfur.
To be sure, Bashir has backed away from similar pledges in the past, so his government should be judged by actions, not words. Also, while a hybrid AU-UN force would be an important development for Darfur, it is still an incremental step. The ultimate goal remains deploying the full compliment of 17,000 peacekeepers called for in Security Council Resolution 1706, passed in late August. Still, if today’s apparent agreement helps that mission materialize, it would be a positive step.
The senior United Nations envoy to Iraq, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi, condemned weekend bombings which targeted hundreds of civilians.
Qazi “denounced in the strongest terms the bombings in Karbala, and Al Jaderyia Bridge in Baghdad on Saturday, 14 April, and Al-Ottaeefia neighborhood on Sunday, 15 April, which caused the death and injury of more than two hundred innocent civilians.”
Mr. Qazi described these wanton acts of deliberate violence against men, women and children while going about their daily lives as “heinous.”
Nothing But Nets has been nominated for a “Webby Award” for excellence on the internet. NBN is the anti-malaria campaign sponsored by a number of organizations, including the NBA and the United Nations Foundation. It is up for the award in the Charitable Organizations / Nonprofits category and faces stiff competition from the the Denver Zoo.
Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy, after completing a three-day fact-finding mission to Lebanon, called on all sides in the Middle East to respect international humanitarian law to ensure that schools are “zones of peace.”
After visiting the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, [Coomaraswamy] said she was shocked to see the destruction caused by last year’s conflict between Hizbollah and Israel and its considerable impact on children.
“All parties should respect International Humanitarian Law with regard to the protection of children and ensure that schools are zones of peace. For the sake of future generations, a framework for a permanent peace should be negotiated with Israel,” she said.
The United Nations has announced that Rwanda will participate in the “One UN” pilot program that aims to better coordinate development activities nationally.
The scheme will test how the greater UN family can ensure efficient and more effective development operations, while aiming to speed up activities to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets for tackling poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015.
The reform projects – also set to be carried out in Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uruguay and Viet Nam – will consolidate the UN’s presence by replacing current structures with one leader, one programme and one budget, thus allowing various UN agencies to play to their strengths while also building on the strengths of different members of the UN family.
Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, James Musoni, says that “Rwanda is proud to have been selected as a pilot country for the implementation of the One UN Reform at country level…The efficiency of the UN agencies is crucial to the success of Rwanda’s development endeavors.”
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.