Afghanistan: Ahead of a Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Wednesday, the United Nations mission in the country today drew attention to the “critical need” for all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians.

Last week, 214 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in 48 separate incidents in Afghanistan, with anti-government elements responsible for 98 per cent of these civilian casualties, according to UNAMA. Two suicide attacks alone – one in Khost and another by Qargha Lake – resulted in the deaths of at least 38 Afghan civilians, with 38 others wounded.

Women in Libya: The top United Nations envoy in Libya today stressed the importance of the equal participation of women in rebuilding the country, as he commended the number of women who have registered to vote and to stand for election in the upcoming legislative polls.

Some 2.7 million people in the North African nation have registered to vote for members of a new National Congress, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for Libya.

The polls, which are scheduled to be held on 7 July, will be the first free elections in decades in Libya, where Muammar al-Qadhafi ruled for more than 40 years until a pro-democracy uprising last year led to civil war and the deposing of his regime.

Somali Refugees: The UN refugee agency said today that growing numbers of displaced Somalis have been citing difficulty in providing for themselves as the main reason for fleeing their homes.

Most of the hundreds of thousands of displaced Somalis have fled their country to escape insecurity, including 146,000 so far this year, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

While the effective delivery of international aid and a good harvest in some areas helped roll back last year’s famine in Somalia, the humanitarian situation remains critical, with some 2.5 million people in the Horn of Africa country still in need of support.

Drug abuse: Highlighting the impact of drug abuse around the world, the head of the United Nations anti-drugs office today said that countering transnational organized crime and illicit drugs must become an integral part of the development agenda.

“Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, shattering families and bringing misery to thousands of other people, insecurity and the spread of HIV,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, told the General Assembly today, during a special thematic debate on drugs and crime as a threat to development.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on countries to provide concrete support for victims of torture and prove their commitment to fighting a cruel and dehumanizing practice that remains pervasive.

In his message for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, observed on 26 June, Mr. Ban noted that every day, women, men and children are tortured or ill-treated with the intention of destroying their sense of dignity and human worth.

Livestock epidemic in DR Congo: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is mobilizing urgent support to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) tackle the spread of a powerful livestock disease that has already killed 75,000 goats and threatens neighbouring countries.

The DRC authorities say tens of thousands of goats have been infected by peste des petits ruminants (PPR), while another one million goats and 600,000 sheep are at risk of contracting the disease.

“This is the worst livestock epidemic in the country in more than 10 years,” the FAO Representative in DRC, Ndiaga Gueye, said in a news release.

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