The first United Nations flight carrying humanitarian aid since fighting broke out in South Ossetia on Thursday arrived in Tiblisi, Georgia today. From the UN News Center:
The Boeing 707 cargo plane, chartered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is the first UN humanitarian flight to reach the country since heavy fighting erupted last Thursday between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, leading to a large number of casualties and the displacement of thousands. Russian forces have since become involved in South Ossetia, and in Abkhazia in the northwest.
The flight brought 34 tonnes of tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets from UNHCR’s central emergency stockpile in Dubai. A second UNHCR flight is scheduled tomorrow from Copenhagen, another of its central logistical hubs.
“The two flights will provide more than 70 tonnes of aid supplies for up to 30,000 people and will augment other relief items already distributed by UNHCR from its warehouses in Georgia,” the agency’s spokesperson, Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.
According to the latest figures provided by Georgia and Russia, the total number of people uprooted in the conflict is approaching 100,000, UNHCR said. Officials in North Ossetia, Russia, say some 30,000 people from South Ossetia have fled to that Russia region.
Read more. Also, see Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money. He’s posted some interesting commentary on what the outbreak of conflict means for the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention.
…introducing “Rattus Holmes in the Case of the Spoilsports,” in which a rat detective and his feline sidekick help restore honor and integrity to the summer games by investigating doping and steroid use.
I am off to catch a plane to Addis Ababa then going to Rwanda, Liberia, Senegal — and Mexico City for next week’s big HIV/AIDS conference. I’ll be following President Clinton and his entourage as they visit his Foundation‘s project sites, and will be posting updates to UN Dispatch and Twitter. Efforts to combat HIV/AIDS (particularly mother to child transmission) and Malaria will be the focus of our many stops…and we will even catch up with the Secretary General in Mexico. Check back for updates throughout the week. I’ll take lots of pictures and post them here.
Via the UN News Center, an announcement that the UN is helping to create global standards for the ways in which rescue workers can notify the next-of-kin of injured people.
Next-of-kin information for injured people will now be easier to find thanks to a new telephone code from the United Nations telecommunications agency.
By adding prefixes such as “01,” “02″ and “03″ before contacts — for example, “01husband” — in a person’s mobile telephone directory, rescuers will be able to notify relatives or friends worldwide.
“This simple addition to a person’s next-of-kin or nominated contact details has the potential to greatly reduce stress for overworked emergency workers around the world,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “Anything that can be done to reduce the workload of these remarkably brave people and assist in getting injured people the right care and attention is commendable.”
The code “ICE” — short for “In Case of Emergency” — has appeared in some mobile phones in English-speaking nations, but ITU members stressed the need for a global unified standard that would be effective regardless of language or script.
Add this to the list of “little ways” that international cooperation can make life easier for everyone around the world.
Via the UN News Center, Jay-Z is headlining the HoveFestival in Norway — a concert that has signed onto the United Nations Environmental Program’s Climate Neutral Network. What does this mean? UNEP explains:
Morten Sandberg, the festival’s organizer, said that the carbon footprint of the 2007 festival accounted for just over 1,300 tons. This was calculated among others by the use of a specially developed online carbon calculator and in close cooperation with CO2-emissions data experts. This year’s carbon footprint is now being quality checked, and we are eager to see the difference and analyze this further in order to learn more about how we can continuously reduce our impact on the climate.
Participants, including staff and acts, where invited to pay by SMS or credit card for their individual carbon footprint caused by their travel to the festival and during the event’s operations.
The funds are being used to support a methane-into-electricity project on a landfill in China approved by the United Nations as a Clean Development Mechanism project.
Other energy saving measures at the Hovefestival included solar charging points for mobile phones, electric golf carts for on site travelling, and LED lighting systems powered by wind and solar power.
In addition to Hovefestival, a Norwegian Jazz and Blues festival which kicks off today–Canal Street--is also climate neutral. How green are your music habits? Take the Grist Quiz and you’ll be entered to win tickets to Bumbershoot in Seattle.
I’ve been remiss in plugging Creative Capitalism – a new project by Conor Clark and Michael Kinsley. Creative Capitalism is the public blog of a private website in which economists discuss and debate the premise of a speech Bill Gates delivered in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In the speech, Gates ruminates on the limits of private philanthropy and the need for free-market solutions to global health and development challenges. The contributions on the blog will turn into a book sometime this fall. But here’s the interesting part: Clark and Kinsley (and Simon and Schuster) are not interested in publishing elusively the opinions of economists on their website. Rather, they are opening up the project to the blogosphere as a whole in the hope of soliciting contributions to their book from blog authors and blog commentators.
In a recent post, Lawrence Summers suggests a creative capitalist solution to the mortgage crisis:
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.