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Envoy Visits Syria to Press for Ceasefire

The joint UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has arrived in Damascus to negotiate a ceasefire. The battle, meanwhile is raging furiously around him. “Brahimi, who is due to hold talks with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Damascus, appealed to all sides in the conflict to observe a truce over the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday beginning on 26 October.”If the ceasefire is implemented, we can build on it and make it a real truce, as well as the start of a political process that would help the Syrians solve their problems and rebuild their country,” Brahimi said while visiting Amman. His call was endorsed from Ankara by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who also called on all sides to implement a ceasefire. Brahimi’s intended visit to Syria will be the latest stop of his tour of influential countries in the crisis – Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Jordan.” (DW http://bit.ly/QARGiY)

UNICEF Launches $900 Million Appeal

Global crises have forced UNICEF to revise upwards the amount of funding it needs to fully support its humanitarian operations. “UNICEF has revised its Humanitarian Action for Children appeal upwards by 14 per cent to $1.46 billion for 2012. With only 38 per cent of this figure funded as of the end of August, the organization faces a $900 million gap. The change in the amount of the appeal reflects both new emergencies and changes in requirements in existing humanitarian situations. The year has seen numerous new and continuing emergencies. The food and nutrition crisis across the Sahel belt now requires a humanitarian response in nine countries. Cyclical shocks in the region have driven a reflection on how humanitarian action can better lay the seeds for developing stronger systems and building community resilience…The crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic continues to escalate, affecting an estimated 2.5 million people inside the country, about half of them children. It has also caused a refugee crisis in surrounding countries. Working with local partners, UNICEF has supported the vaccination of 285,000 children under 5 against measles, complemented with vitamin A supplementation, and provided over 100,000 people with access to soap and hand-washing facilities, among other key interventions. Equally worrisome – and less noticed – are continuing humanitarian needs that have failed to capture the attention of the world. For example, the children of South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, face a worsening nutrition situation and lack of access to social services stemming from the country’s political tensions with the Sudan.” (UNICEF http://uni.cf/RIH6rd)

Controversy Stirs As Rwanda Joins the Security Council

Over the vocal objections of the DRC, Rwanda won a seat on the Security Council—the very same Security Council which is circulating a report accusing Rwanda of supporting rebels in the Congo. Other winners included South Korea, Argentina, Australia, and Luxembourg. “Steve Hege, the coordinator of the U.N. Security Council Group of Experts, informed the Security Council in a confidential October 12 letter that it harbored “very serious security concerns for the physical safety of its drivers and interpreters who have already been the victims of harassment by Rwandan officials.” The letter, which was obtained by Turtle Bay, expressed concern that the U.N. “group’s wide network of collaborators and sources remain extremely vulnerable to targeted retaliatory attacks.” The warning to the council comes as the Group of Experts concluded a second hard-hitting report documenting Rwanda’s role in organizing a group of Congolese military mutineers — known as M23 — that has been fighting government forces in eastern Congo. The report, which has not been published but has been read by Turtle Bay, claims that Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe exercises effective command over the mutineers, and that the Rwandan government continues to direct M23’s military operations in eastern Congo. The report, which was first reported Tuesday by Reuters, also accuses Uganda of providing military, financial, and political support to the movement.” (Turtle Bay http://bit.ly/RIK7ri)

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