SG’s travels: The Secretary-General began his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina today, where he met with the Members of the Presidency, among other top officials, and also addressed the Parliamentary Assembly.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General was in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where he met with the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and former General Assembly President, Srgjan Kerim.

Security Council Mandates: This morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for a period of twelve months.

The Council also adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group for twelve months, and welcomed the Group’s recommendation to set up a Joint Financial Management Board to improve financial management, transparency and accountability of Somalia’s public resources, called for an end to the misappropriation of funds, condemned the politicization of humanitarian assistance, and demanded that all parties ensure safe and unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid.

Syria: The United Nations peacekeeping chief announced today that half of the 300 UN observers in Syria have left the country, while adding that the crisis there remains “of utmost concern” and the world body will continue to promote a political solution.

“We will try to work towards contributing to a political solution which would help alleviate all the suffering,” the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told a press conference in Damascus.

With half of the military observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) having been sent back home, Mr. Ladsous said that the Mission is operating on a reduced basis in a reduced number of team sites in the provinces and “does what
it can.”

Israeli- Palestinian talks: The past month has been characterized by a continuation of the effort to restart direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians amid continued worrying developments on the ground, a top United Nations official said today.

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, told an open debate of the Security Council that “quiet direct exchanges” between the parties are ongoing in an attempt to reach agreement on a package of measures that would create an environment conducive to talks and pave the way for high-level contacts.

The Israelis and the Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Côte d’Ivoire: Asked about allegations made by victims of an attack on Duékoué, the Deputy Spokesperson said that The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, UNOCI, has reinforced its presence in the area.

Some 150 police and 200 military are currently providing enhanced security at Nahibly camp, the Catholic Mission, and near the Mairie and Sous-Préfecture and Carrefour neighbourhood of Duékoué, where large numbers of IDPs have gathered, and reserve forces nearby remain on standby.

The mission has also increased patrols in the area, and is conducting a full investigation into the incident. National security forces also have reinforced their presence in the area.

World Hepatitis Day: Ahead of World Hepatitis Day, which falls on Saturday this year, the United Nations health agency is urging Governments to strengthen efforts to fight viral hepatitis, while also providing new measures to help tackle the disease.

The theme of this year’s observance is ‘It’s closer than you think’ and focuses on raising awareness of the different forms of hepatitis: what they are and how they are transmitted; who is at risk; and the various methods of prevention and treatment.

In preparation for this year’s Day, WHO is launching a new global framework to tackle the disease. The Prevention and control of viral hepatitis infection: Framework for global action describes four areas of work to prevent and treat hepatitis infection, and is aimed at guiding the development of regional and country-specific strategies.

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