Libya: the humanitarian response in and around Libya has ratcheted up, as the U.S., Egypt, France, Italy, and the UK are now working with UNHCR and the IOM to airlift people fleeing the conflict.  President Obama announced yesterday that more than 50 flights are carrying migrant workers home. UNHCR has expressed its concern by the sudden drop in civilians crossing into Tunisia, with reports pointing at heavily armed pro-Government forces preventing them from fleeing the violence. Yesterday, less than 2,000 arrived in Tunisia from Libya, compared to figures between 10,000 and 15,000 entering Tunisia daily in the beginning of week. While progress has been made in evacuating Egyptians and other civilians of different nationalities from Tunisia, roughly 12,500 people, mostly from Bangladesh, still need to be repatriated. Valerie Amos briefed the press today about the current humanitarian situation in the region, stating that on Monday in Geneva, OCHA will launch a flash appeal to support humanitarian efforts in the region, especially in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Niger. In addition to OCHA’s appeal Monday, CERF has allocated $5 million, IOM has appealed for $11 million (U.S. has contributed $2 million), WFP has launched a $38.7 million emergency operation to provide food aid to 2.7 million people in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia for 3 months, and UNICEF is requesting $7.2 million to address needs of children.

HRC/Iran: speaking to the press today in Geneva, Ambassador Donahoe spoke about a resolution Sweden is introducing this session to create a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.  In addition to the U.S., co-sponsors of the resolution include the Maldives (a member of the OIC), and Zambia (of the African Group).

Sudan: Yesterday, ASG for Peacekeeping Operations Atul Khare briefed the Security Council on the recent fighting in Abyei and South Sudan and the Council issued a press statement expressing their deep concern by the fighting and condemned the use of violence, uring all parties to work on reducing tensions by implementing the agreements made in Kadugli this past January. Through discussions between the CPA parties under the AU High-level Implementation Panel as well as cooperation with UNMIS, the Council urged all parties to reach a political agreement on the status of the Abyei region. Meanwhile, the Council commended the work of SRSG Haile Menkerios and UNMIS for its efforts in working to resolve these issues. Lastly, the Council called on all parties to provide full and unhindered access for UNMIS.

DRC: Visiting Goma in eastern DRC today, UNICEF ED Anthony Lake talked about the effects that armed conflicts have on children, stating, “We all should be alarmed by the most recent allegations of rape by soldiers in North and South Kivu, and especially by reports that children are among the victims of these atrocities.” He also highlighted the issue of continued recruitment of children into armed forces, as well as alarming rates of sexual violence.  In 2010 alone, 14,591 cases of sexual violence were reported in the DRC, many of which were children.  UNICEF is also engaging in the DRC to vaccinate 14 million children against polio before the end of May, as an outbreak over the past year has registered 120 cases after only 3 in 2009.

UN Women: Today, Michelle Bachelet, ED of UN Women, announced a new peacebuilding initiative that will boost women’s roles in conflict resolution. The initiative will create an international roster of gender experts who can be rapidly deployed to work on issues such as constitutional law, electoral and party law, and legal aid.   The roster will help women’s associations organize themselves so that they can participate fully and effectively in peace processes. Bachelet cited women’s persistently low participation in peace talks, where women average less than 1 in 10 negotiators.

Week Ahead: On Monday, the second Rio+20 PrepCom begins in New York (March 7-8), as well as the first resumed session of the Fifth Committee.  The Fifth Committee session looks like it will be relatively quiet, though the eighth progress report on the Capital Master Plan will be issued and discussed. Tuesday, March 8th, marks International Women’s Day. On that day, the SG and DSG Asha-Rose Migiro will speak at a forum on “Investing in Women and Entrepreneurship: Solutions to Addressing MDG 3” at 10 AM. At 11am Helen Clark will host a live Twitter chat about women and development issues.

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