Author Archives: Peter Daou
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Rob’s Blog: “Trimming the fat could do with a start in Iraq, where we’ve wasted hundreds of billions. Some examples: On 12 April 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Erbil in northern Iraq handed over $1.5 billion in cash to a local courier. The money, fresh $100 bills shrink-wrapped on pallets, which filled three Blackhawk helicopters, came from oil sales under the UN’s Oil for Food Programme, and had been entrusted by the UN Security Council to the Americans to be spent on behalf of the Iraqi people.”
King of Zembla: “At last the people of Afghanistan know what it’s like to live in, say, Florida. Or Ohio: “Election officials and observers said Sunday that with 80 percent of the ballots counted in Afghanistan’s national and provincial elections, they had found significant incidents of fraud. Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot box stuffing and proxy voting, said Peter Erben, the chief of the United Nations-assisted Joint Election Management Board. He said ballot boxes from 4 percent of the 26,000 polling places – about 1,000 stations – had been set aside for investigation on suspicion of fraud and other irregularities.”
Protein Wisdom: “From BBC News: Former South African President Nelson Mandela has topped a BBC poll to find the person most people would like to lead a fantasy world government. More than 15,000 people worldwide took part in the interactive Power Play game, in which players were invited to choose a team of 11 to run the world from a list of around 100 of the most powerful leaders, thinkers and other high-profile people on the planet… And UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan just made the fantasy world elite in 11th place.”
Terrorism News: “This is an interesting read By Luciana Bohne from online journal: “Most Americans like to believe they live in the best country in the world. They don’t. According to the United Nations Human Development Report for 2005, Norway is number one. Why? It’s a welfare state. There is a pleasant economic equality enjoyed by the Norwegian polity. No one is too poor; no one is too rich. In fact, great wealth is regarded as some sort of social disease. Third oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, Norway is tucking away a national fund of over $180 billion for when the oil runs out, guaranteeing each family the quaint sum of $22,000 per year-in addition to guaranteed health care, education, pensions, and paid maternity leaves and vacations to die for! True, a glass of beer will cost you $8, but the waiter makes a good salary.”
“Obstetric Fistula is a childbearing injury, caused by long, obstructed labors without recourse to Caesarean sections. The consequences, left untreated, can be devastating, usually including both the death of the child and the incontinence of the mother. And women in the developing world, particularly Africa, rarely get the treatment they need…. Here, then, is a classic opportunity for worldchanging action: an entrenched problem, which could be largely addressed by more funding for medical care and education, largely ignored by big international NGOs and development agencies. In short, this is a place where a small group of people could make a big impact.”
“Typhoon Damrey, which came ashore on the eastern coast of Viet Nam one week ago, prompted the evacuation of some 600,000 persons and caused extensive damage throughout the country. At least 59 individuals in the country were killed as a result of the typhoon, and 13 others were injured.
Storm surges broke several sea dykes in Nam Dinh and Thanh Hoa provinces, and seawater penetrated inland some three to four kilometres in coastal provinces. Flash floods damaged more than 11,000 dwellings, destroying more than 1,000. More than 130,000 hectares of rice fields due for harvest have been submerged. Damage to roads, bridges and telephone lines has left several villages inaccessible. Including damage to transport, power supply, education and health infrastructure, the total destruction has been estimated at approximately $5.3 million.” [More]
“Facing dire warnings of an impending global pandemic of avian influenza, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced the appointment of a United Nations system coordinator for the virus, which is presently decimating poultry stocks in Asia and could cross over to humans to deadly effect.
“We expect the next great influenza pandemic to come at any time now,” David Nabarro, a senior public health expert in the UN World Health Organization (WHO), told a news briefing, recalling that the 1918 flu pandemic had killed over 40 million people.” [Full story]
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Outside the Beltway: “The UN is warning that the Asian bird flu could spread to humans and kill up to 150 million people.”
Fed Blog: “John Bolton made clear Wednesday that he believes the United Nations has systematic management problems, but the new U.S. ambassador to the world body said he held out hope that those problems could be fixed.”
American Future: “Reassuring words from Tony Blair’s speech at the Labour Party Conference: “British troops whose bravery and dedication we salute, along with those of 27 other nations, have been in Iraq with full United Nations authority and in support of the Iraqi Government.”
Balloon Juice: “I am a little fuzzy on the science of this: “Capturing and storing the carbon dioxide generated by power plants and factories could play an important role in limiting global warming caused by humans, says an international climate research group associated with the United Nations. In a new report the group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says doing so could cut the cost of stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere as much as 30 percent compared with other options, like switching to cleaner technologies.” So they will capture it, pipe it somewhere, and store it in big tanks and wells forever?”
Centerfield: “Reuters: With Katrina and Rita dominating the news recently, there’s a good deal of talk out there about the relationship between hurricanes and climate change (or global warming). And it comes down to this: Are these larger, more powerful hurricanes related to climate change, or not? Reuters: “Scientists say it’s not easy to tell if global warming caused hurricanes Katrina and Rita but on Monday they forecast more unpredictable weather as Earth gets hotter. ‘Global warming, I think, is playing a role in the hurricanes,’ said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. ‘But a lot of what is going on is natural. What global warming may be doing is making them somewhat more intense,’ said Trenberth, a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.’”
Nuno Macedo: “Today was the first day of the UNHCR annual consultations with NGOs that will last the whole week. As intern of the UN Liaison Office of the General-Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, I could not miss it! So there I go to the plenary session… We then had a very inspirational speech from Gil Loescher, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and International Relations of Notre Dame University, who was nearly killed in the bombing at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. At a moment of the speech he said something that made the entire assembly hold its breath, more or less like this: …it was with them (speaking about refugees) that I learnt how to survive and live under difficult conditions which, ultimately, has been very useful for my own recovery (he made his speech in his wheel chair).”
New York Times: “Dr. Kees Waaldijk began surgery shortly before 10 a.m. one recent Saturday in a cement-walled operating room in this city near Nigeria’s northern border. More than five hours later, orderlies carried the last of four girls to the recovery ward. In the near-90 degree heat, Dr. Waaldijk’s light blue surgical garb had turned dark with sweat.
What brings the girls to Dr. Waaldijk – and him to Nigeria – is the obstetric nightmare of fistulas, unknown in the West for nearly a century. Mostly teenagers who tried to deliver their first child at home, the girls failed at labor. Their babies were lodged in their narrow birth canals, and the resulting pressure cut off blood to vital tissues and ripped holes in their bowels or urethras, or both.
Were it widely available, the United Nations agency states, a $300 operation could repair most fistulas. But Mozambique, with 17 million people, has just three surgeons who consistently perform those operations. Niger, population 11 million, has but six, the organization reported in 2002.”
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To support UNFPA’s campaign to End Fistula, visit One By One Project. One By One is a volunteer-led initiative that enables people to make a difference by creating giving circles to raise enough money to cover the cost of fistula surgery, post-operative care and rehabilitation for one woman.
To learn more ways to get involved, visit The Woman Tour
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.