SG: The SG opened the Fourth Least Developed Countries (LDC) Conference in Istanbul today (LDC-IV), explaining that there are 48 LDCs which are home to nearly 900 million people, or 12% of the global population, half of whom live on less than $2 a day. They are the most vulnerable societies, the least secure, and have produced roughly 60% of the world’s refugees in recent decades. This cannot continue, the SG said. Going further, he explained, “Instead of seeing LDCs as poor and weak, let us look at it as vast reservoirs of untapped potential.” Afterwards, the SG addressed the press, and talked about commitments, accountability, and the role of countries’ developing economies. In response to a question on accountability, the SG highlighted the $40 billion committed to support the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and the establishment of an accountability commission to ensure that the commitments are successfully monitored and delivered.
Libya: USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC Valerie Amos briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Libya in closed consultations this afternoon. Lampedusa, an island off the coast of Italy, has seen more than 30,000 people flee North Africa. On top of this, it was reported that pro-Qaddafi forces have been using helicopters disguised as Red Cross helicopters, dropping mines into Misrata’s harbor, breaching international law. NATO confirmed that helicopters flew over the city in breach of the no-fly zone.
Côte d’Ivoire: OHCHR has reported that 68 bodies were found in ten graves by UNOCI’s human rights team. Guillaume Ngefa, the UN’s human rights chief in Côte d’Ivoire, explained that new mass graves were found in the Yopougon district, a suburb of Abidjan, where UNOCI’s human rights team traveled to last Friday. This includes two mass graves – one with 31 bodies, the other with 21. OHCHR is currently interviewing witnesses and families of victims to find out what happened. It is believed that the killings took place on April 12th by pro-Gbagbo militia and that those killed are all males. In addition, OHCHR says that there are allegations of other graves nearby and that UNOCI’s human rights team is continuing to investigate.
Sudan: After several recent clashes over the weeks and an evident deteriorating security situation in Abyei, troops from both the North and South Sudan have agreed to withdraw their troops from the region, the subject of contention. According to a deal brokered by UNMIS through the first meeting of the Abyei Technical Committee, both sides will withdraw starting on Tuesday to be completed within a week and replaced with joint patrols made up of northern and southern military and police forces. Also, the meeting focused on finding a timeline to implement the Kadugli Agreements between North and South Sudan. UNMIS Force Commander Maj. Gen. Moses Bisong Obi commented, “There was good will on both sides and we hope to follow up on this spirit, to see that it is actualized because Abyei is very important in the peace process.” A UN humanitarian assessment team who visited South Darfur’s Kalma camp for IDPs found no shortage of water, medicine, and food there. UNAMID noted that the finding belies recent media reports that aid supplies were running low at the camp.
Climate Change: Today, the IPCC released a report that concluded nearly 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewable energy sources by the middle of this century, if backed by the right enabling public policies. With such policies in place, the world would cut its GHG emissions by about one third, compared to business-as-usual projections. It could also help to meet the goal of keeping the rise in the global mean temperature from exceeding 2oC in the 21st century, a goal recognized by countries in the Cancun Agreements.
Syria: After reiterating the SG’s discussion with President Assad last week, where he called for an immediate end to violence and an independent investigation of all killings that happened during the protests, Haq said that on the humanitarian front, OCHA has been trying to see if they can get to certain areas in Syria like Deraa. At this point, they haven’t been able to do so.
PGA on the LDC Conference: Today, Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the PGA Joseph Deiss, briefed the press on the PGA’s remarks at LDC-IV. At the opening ceremony, Deiss stated that the conference presents a unique opportunity to make a real difference and has called for renewed partnership. On May 8th, he underlined the key role of civil society in having checks and balances in regards to LDC issues like job creation. Also in Istanbul, the PGA plans to attend a series of bilateral meetings to meet with high-level officials, and the President as well as the PM of Turkey. In the run-up to the May 20th vote at the HRC, Nkolo stated that the PGA will not comment on Syria’s candidacy and that this is a matter for the Member States. The PGA will act as the guardian and mentor in regards to rules and procedures of the election.