Terrorist Threats Mobilize Moroccan Army at borders with Algeria MauritaniaTerrorist Threats Mobilize Moroccan Army at borders with Algeria Mauritania

Casablanca- Terrorist threats against the Kingdom have caused the Royal Armed Forces to urgently mobilize at the borders with the two neighboring countries, Algeria and Mauritania. The bulk of Moroccan press recently highlighted the heavy security measures taken by Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces to counter any terrorist threats that would potentially come through the borders with Mauritania and Algeria.Strict security measures were also implemented everywhere in the Kingdom. Many Moroccans suspected of being affiliated with ISIS were arrested. Others were put under constant surveillance, and some were summoned for an identity check, according to Al Ahdath Al Maghribiya and other Moroccan newspapers. Al Ahdath also highlighted the fact that the closed borders between the Kingdom and Algeria may significantly hinder effective cooperation against potential terrorist threats in the region.Anti-terrorist security cooperation between the U.S., France, Spain, and Morocco has been more beneficial. According to the same source, many terrorist groups were dismantled thanks to this cooperation. read more

Moroccanborn Minister Ridicules Sarkozys Ignorance of French HistoryMoroccanborn Minister Ridicules Sarkozys Ignorance of French History

Rabat – Moroccan-Born French Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research has ridiculed Nicolas Sarkozy’s ignorance of French history.Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research, responded to Sarkozy’s statement that the Gallic people are the ancestors of the French.Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France and republican 2017 presidential forerunner, made his controversial statement in Franconville, in Val-d’Oise. In an interview posted to Youtube, itele’s TV anchor asked Vallaud-Belkacem about her point of view related to Sarkozy’s statement, where he revisited a phrase repeated in French history:“If we want to become French, we speak French and live like a French…we require assimilation. When you become French, your ancestors are the Gallic People.”The minister referred to a famous novel in the French culture that begins with the sentence, “Once upon a time, our country was called the Gaul and its inhabitants were called the Gallic people,” and said that real history rather than fiction should be taught to French children.The minister continued, “We have to give Sarkozy classes in history because he clearly needs them.”“Yes, the Gallic people are among our ancestors,” admitted the minister, but he added that other peoples are also ancestors of the French, like the Romans, Normans, and Arabs.The minister lastly called politicians to “stop the discourse that will take us nowhere” that “extensively harms our country.”According to the French daily newspaper, Le Figaro, Sarkozy also denounced “radical and political Islam,” and promised to be the president of the “national community” against “the tyranny of the minority.” read more

Israel Issues Severe Security Threat Warning to India Ahead of NewIsrael Issues Severe Security Threat Warning to India Ahead of New

By Peer Viqar Ul AslamNew Delhi — Israel’s Counter-terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning for India on Friday, anticipating an immediate threat of attack to Western and tourist targets, particularly in the southwest of the country.“A particular emphasis should be put on events in the coming days in connection with beach and club parties celebrating the New Year where a concentration of tourists will be high,” the Counter-Terrorism Bureau said. The statement recommended that tourists avoid participation in such parties. It also called on families in Israel to contact their relatives in India and inform them of the threat.“We ask of those in India to focus on events in the coming days related to the Christian New Year’s holiday, placing particular emphasis on beach parties and clubs, where there are larger concentrations of tourists,” part of the warning stated.While the threat doesn’t exclude any part of India, it does recommend more caution in the southwest parts of India, which include popular tourist destinations like Goa, Pune, Mumbai and Cochin, areas that are particularly at risk.In addition, the warning recommends avoiding markets, festivals and crowded shopping areas. Unusually, the warning was published on Friday evening in Israel, after the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when government offices close for business. The Counter-terrorism Bureau did not disclose what prompted the warning.The travel advisory further emphasized that “Israeli tourists traveling in India are asked to stay alert and to pay attention to local media reports and security agencies.”In 2012, the wife of an Israeli diplomat stationed in India, her driver and two others were wounded due to a bomb attack on her car. Israel and India share close military and intelligence ties. read more

7 Million Moroccans Suffer from Obesity UN Report7 Million Moroccans Suffer from Obesity UN Report

Rabat – Seven million Moroccans, or an astonishing 20.6 percent of the population, were suffering from obesity as of 2014, a 5.4 percent increase compared to 2005, according to UN State of Food Security and Nutrition in their World 2017 report.The number of Moroccans over 18 suffering from obesity has increased from 5,300,000 in 2004 to 7,000,000 in 2014, said the report, which noted that Morocco is not the exception, as “adult obesity is rising everywhere at an accelerating pace.”Released last Friday, the report indicated that while adult obesity has increased in Morocco, childhood obesity decreased from 4,656,000 cases, or 13.3 percent. in 2005 to 3,745,000, or 10.7 percent, in 2016. Although childhood obesity has decreased in Morocco, the prevalence of the condition, which increases risk of premature death, heart diseases, circulatory disorders, hypertension, diabetes, and breathing difficulties as well as psychological suffering, is still relatively high.The report indicated that obesity among children is due to several factors, including “growing up in obesogenic environments that encourage unhealthy food preferences and inadequate physical activity patterns, which in turn lead to weight gain and obesity.”Worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2014.In 2014, 13 percent of the world’s adult population was classified as obese.The condition is more common among women, with 15 percent of all Moroccan women suffering from obesity, compared to men with a rate of 11 percent.The phenomenon is most severe in North America, Europe, and Oceania, where 28 percent of adults are classified as obese, compared with 7 percent in Asia and 11 percent in Africa, said the report.The UN continued to say that in Latin America and the Caribbean, roughly one-quarter of the adult population is currently considered obese.Morocco reduced the prevalence rate of undernourishment from 5.8 percent in 2004-06 to 3.5 percent in 2014-16, leading to fight against the spread of hunger in the MENA region.In North Africa, the under nourishment rate is estimated at 10.7 percent. The kingdom is ahead of Tunisia, where the rate is 5 percent rate, Algeria with 4.6 percent, and Egypt with 4.5 percent.In 2016, an episode ofChannel 2’s TV program, “The Obesity Challenge,” stated that roughly 10 million Moroccans live with obesity, while the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in the same year thatthat an “alarming” 14 percent of all Moroccan children suffer from obesity. read more

Morocco Urges UN to Intervene on Polisarios Illegal Presence in GuergueratMorocco Urges UN to Intervene on Polisarios Illegal Presence in Guerguerat

Rabat – Morocco on Friday, January 5 wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, urging him to intervene on Polisario’s illegal armed operations in the restricted buffer strip of Guerguerat.The letter has came in response to the continuous provocative actions carried out by the Polisario Front in the region. On Thursday, a trucker crossing the Moroccan-Mauritanian border told Moroccan magazine Telquel that armed forces of the separatist group stopped several trucks registered in Morocco to search them. Truck drivers have also been deprived of their mobile phones during illegal checkpoints carried out by armed elements of the Polisario Front. Read Also: Polisario Maintains Presence in Guerguerat, Defying MINURSO’s ResolutionMoroccan diplomats told the magazine that Polisario’s operations were denounced and reported by Morocco in a letter sent to the United Nations. “They are violating the ceasefire agreement and UN resolutions,” said the unidentified Moroccan diplomat. He added that MINURSO has already asked the Polisario elements to leave the Guerguerat.Read Also: Morocco Slams Polisario for Violating UN’s Ceasefire Resolution in GuergueratEarlier this week, the front stopped a race vehicle of two participants in a rally competition, blocking the borders that link the disputed territory to the Mauritanian borders. The armed elements of the Polisario checked the identity of the drivers before ordering them to leave the premises. Over 100 participants in the “Africa Eco Race” rally hit the road on December 31 from Monaco. The participants have to drive through the Moroccan-Mauritanian border at the Guerguerat border crossing on January 8 to reach Dakar on January 14. Social  media accounts, which have separatist motives, called for a boycott of the rally. The rally  uses communication means, including a map that is consistent with Morocco’s territorial integrity, added Telquel.Rally | Se ha creado una campaña de Boicot al Africa Eco Race que salió desde Mónaco por no respetar la soberanía del Sáhara Occidental https://t.co/LuFXaCdnHE #Monaco #Montecarlo #AfricaEcoRace pic.twitter.com/KiHgHxv0qy— Mónaco Informativo (@Monaco_Info_) January 5, 2018 read more

Road Accident Kills 5 Tangier Football FansRoad Accident Kills 5 Tangier Football Fans

Rabat – Five fans of the IRT Tangier football club have died on Tangier highway, near Larache, following a match against an Agadir club.On Monday, at 6 a.m., a minibus carrying IRT fans broke down and stopped on the highway. A heavy truck hit the vehicle at high speed.Four passengers reportedly died immediately; one died later at the hospital. A fifth passenger is in critical condition in the intensive care unit. The fans were on their way back to Tangier from a match against Hassania Agadir (HUSA). IRT won the match 1-0. read more

EBRD Loans Banks €35 Million for Moroccan Women EntrepreneursEBRD Loans Banks €35 Million for Moroccan Women Entrepreneurs

Rabat – EBRD has launched a business program for women in Morocco to empower women entrepreneurs and strengthen the North African country’s economy.The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) launched a “Women in Business Program” which “aims in its initial phase to reach at least 200 women entrepreneurs, through both financing and advisory services,” wrote EBRD in a statement Tuesday, September 18.The EU will give important support to the program to fund advisory services and provide guarantees to EBRD’s partner banks. EBRD will give Morocco’s banks BMCE and BMCI €35 million in a five year loan for the initial phase: €20 million to BMCE and €15 million to BMCI. The objective is to bolster women-led small and medium-sized enterprises “with a focus on entrepreneurs outside of Morocco’s main commercial centers,” reads the statement.EBRD’s managing director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, Janet Heckman, signed the loan agreement with BMCI and BMCE banks at a launch event in Casablanca.Morocco’s Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family, and Social Development, Bassima El Hakkaoui, and the deputy head of the EU delegation to Morocco, Alessio Cappellani, also attended the event.According to EBRD’s statement, only 50 percent of formal women-led firms in Morocco have a bank account.Since its launch in 2014, the Women in Business Program has supported 35,000 women entrepreneurs across the EBRD regions with over €450 million in cooperation with more than 30 financial institutions.Since 2012, EBRD has invested over €1.5 billion in 41 projects in Morocco. The bank also provided more than 380 local companies with technical assistance.On September 6, EBRD granted a €16 million loan to Varroc Lighting Systems Morocco, the Moroccan subsidiary of India’s Varroc company. EBRD’s loan is expected to create 100 jobs between 2018 and 2024. read more

Sardine Boat Sinks in Moroccos Tarfaya Royal Navy Rescues 20 MenSardine Boat Sinks in Moroccos Tarfaya Royal Navy Rescues 20 Men

Rabat – The Royal Moroccan Navy and civil defense members rescued 30 fishermen aboard a sardine boat that began to sink after it hit a reef off the coastal town of Tarfaya, in southwestern Morocco.Read Also: Royal Navy Rescues 367 Irregular Migrants in MediterraneaThe rescue operation was successful with the help of a Royal Gendarmerie aircraft and a Royal Air Force helicopter, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).The boat, named “Abdelmoughit,” had hit a reef north of Tarfaya, 300 meters from the coast. Between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., civil defense coastguards began to help the men off the boat to return them safely to shore. read more

Lithuanian man pleads guilty in 100M internet fraud caseLithuanian man pleads guilty in 100M internet fraud case

NEW YORK — A Lithuanian man who duped Google and Facebook into transferring over $100 million into accounts he controlled has pleaded guilty to wire fraud.Evaldas Rimasauskas (eh-VAHL’-dahs ree-muh-SOWS’-kuhs) entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan.Judge George Daniels set a July 24 sentencing date.The charge could carry as many as 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $1 million or twice the crime’s proceeds.Rimasauskas was extradited to New York from Lithuania in 2017. He has been detained since.According to court documents, Google sent over $23 million and Facebook nearly $100 million to bank accounts he controlled.Google, of Mountain View, California, has said it has recouped its money. Facebook, of Menlo Park, California, has said it recovered most of its money.The Associated Press read more

Last customers being reconnected to Puerto Rico power gridLast customers being reconnected to Puerto Rico power grid

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Crews were preparing Wednesday to shut down generators that have powered an island off Puerto Rico’s coast — the last customers to be reconnected to the U.S. territory’s main power system 18 months after Hurricane Maria destroyed the grid.The Electric Power Authority said it would connect an underwater cable to Culebra by the afternoon, despite wariness from the more than 1,000 people who live on the island, which is popular with tourists.“One year and six months relying solely on a generator that if the gasoline runs out, we don’t have power,” said Culebra resident Grace Monel, adding that people were hit with several outages a month that have damaged home appliances. “It has taken so long.”She said she now worries that the electrical grid is still fragile, noting that two major outages were reported on the main island of Puerto Rico this week alone. Officials said a cat was responsible for the first outage, which left thousands of people without power in the capital of San Juan on Saturday. Another outage, on Tuesday, was blamed on an iguana that made contact with a 115,000-volt bar, leaving some 100,000 people without power.Jose Sepulveda, the power company’s transmission and distribution director, acknowledged to The Associated Press that the current system, which serves 1.5 million customers, is a patch-up job following the Sept. 20, 2017, hurricane, and that it needs further repairs and updates.“Some codes were ignored because of time and lack of equipment,” he said, adding that safety was never compromised. “Now that the emergency is over, we will start rebuilding the system.”Sepulveda said he did not know how long that process would take, saying only that it would be “months” as crews inspect a grid that was destroyed by Maria and rebuilt with help from the U.S. government and millions of dollars in federal funds. He said that in some cases, cables of a substandard calibre were used to help restore power across Puerto Rico, which was fully energized by August 2018, nearly a year after a storm that caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.In addition, officials will be installing three backup generators in Culebra to replace the three that are being retired. They were operated and fully funded by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and Sepulveda said the grid is not ready for another major storm. If one hits, “We will experience something similar to what happened in 2017,” he said.Danica Coto, The Associated Press read more

State releasing review of Wynns handling of allegationsState releasing review of Wynns handling of allegations

BOSTON — Massachusetts gambling regulators are holding hearings and releasing a long-awaited report into how Wynn Resorts handled allegations of sexual misconduct against company founder Steve Wynn.The state Gaming Commission has been investigating, in part, whether company officials knowingly hid information about the allegations when the state was considering its application for a license in 2014.The series of hearings opening Tuesday in Boston have implications for the Las Vegas company’s Massachusetts casino license and Encore Boston Harbor, the $2.6 billion resort in Everett it plans to open in June.Wynn Resorts recently went through a similar review in Nevada where it was handed down a record $20 million fine but allowed to keep its casino license. Steve Wynn has denied the claims but resigned as CEO last year.The Associated Press read more

Twitter deletes accounts linked to foreign governmentsTwitter deletes accounts linked to foreign governments

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter says it has deleted nearly 4,800 suspect accounts linked to Iran that the company says secretly pushed that government’s agenda.Twitter is adding those accounts and their tweets to a public database it launched last year to track its battle against government-linked misinformation. It is also adding a smaller number of deleted accounts linked to Russia, Venezuela and the Catalonia region of Spain.Twitter says the removals are meant to prevent election interference while preserving valid political speech.The company confirmed last month it had removed about 2,800 of the Iranian accounts that were using fake personas.Twitter launched the database in October. Anyone can download the datasets, which has some information redacted. Researchers can request access to get the unredacted documents.The Associated Press read more

Asian shares mixed as investors look ahead to Fed ratesAsian shares mixed as investors look ahead to Fed rates

TOKYO — Asian shares were mixed Monday amid a wait-and-see attitude about the direction of interest rates and the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.2% to 21,157.12. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4% to 6,530.90, while South Korea’s Kospi edged down nearly 0.2% to 2,091.96. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.7% to 27,297.42, while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.3% at 2,890.90.On Wall Street, stocks ended a choppy week of trading with modest losses.The S&P 500 index fell 4.66 points, or 0.2%, to 2,886.98 Friday and ended the week with a slim gain of 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 17.16 points, or 0.1%, to 26,089.61. The Nasdaq composite slid 40.47 points, or 0.5%, to 7,796.66. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks dropped 13.30 points, or 0.9%, to 1,522.50.Earlier this month, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell set off a market rally after he signalled that the central bank is willing to cut interest rates to help stabilize the economy if the trade war between Washington and Beijing starts to slow economic growth.The Fed holds its next meeting of policyholders this week, but no action on rates is expected.Economists expect Fed officials to wait until the second week of July to indicate whether they intend to cut rates, after seeing the next government report on the jobs market and other economic data.Market watchers are also closely watching the results of the G-20 summit in late June, where U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could meet and try to negotiate a deal on trade.“Sentiments around the ability to achieve a positive turn in U.S.-China trade negotiations, should the Trump-Xi meeting materialize at the sidelines of the G-20, remain tentative,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in Singapore.“And the G-20 itself is merely a stage to kick the can down the road and a long, long way off a complete retraction of global trade tensions.”ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil added 5 cents to $52.56 a barrel. It rose 0.4% to settle at $52.51 a barrel Friday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 10 cents to $62.11 a barrel.CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.58 Japanese yen from 108.23 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1214 from $1.1263.___AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed to this report.Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press read more

Dramatic changes in global meat production could increase risk of human diseasesDramatic changes in global meat production could increase risk of human diseases

Global animal food production is undergoing a major transformation that could lead to a higher risk of disease transmission from animals to humans, and excessive concentration of animals in intensive production systems should be avoided, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today. “The risk of disease transmission from animals to humans will increase in the future due to human and livestock population growth, dynamic changes in livestock production, the emergence of worldwide agro-food networks and a significant increase in the mobility of people and goods,” FAO said in a policy brief – Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks. “There is no doubt that the world has to depend on some of the technologies of intensive animal food production systems,” said FAO livestock policy expert Joachim Otte. “But excessive concentration of animals in large scale industrial production units should be avoided and adequate investments should be made in heightened bio-security and improved disease monitoring to safeguard public health,” he added. To satisfy higher demand for meat as the world’s population continues to rise, livestock production and densities have significantly increased, often close to urban centres. Industrial animal production has become more concentrated, using fewer but more productive livestock breeds. “These developments have potentially serious consequences for local and global disease risks, which, so far, have not been widely recognized by policy makers,” FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech said. Globally, pig and poultry production are the fastest growing and industrializing livestock sub-sectors, with annual production growth rates of 2.6 and 3.7 per cent over the past decade. In industrialized countries, the vast majority of chickens and turkeys are now produced in houses with 15,000 to 50,000 birds. This trend can also be observed in developing countries in Asia, South America and parts of Africa. Industrial pig and poultry production relies on a significant movement of live animals. In 2005, for example, nearly 25 million pigs, more than 2 million pigs per month, were traded internationally. This movement and the concentration of thousands of confined animals increase the likelihood of transfer of pathogens. Confined animal houses also produce large amounts of waste, which may contain substantial quantities of pathogens. Much of this waste is disposed of on land without any treatment, posing an infection risk for wild mammals and birds. While the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus is currently of major global concern, the ‘silent’ circulation of influenza A viruses (IAVs) in poultry and swine should also be closely monitored internationally, FAO said. A number of IAVs are now fairly widespread in commercial poultry and to a lesser extent in pigs and could also lead to emergence of a human influenza pandemic. The agency called on producers to apply basic bio-security measures. Production sites should not be built close to human settlements or wild bird populations, farms should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, the movements of staff and vehicles should be controlled, and employees should be trained in bio-security. FAO, in association with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the intergovernmental World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), is tackling these global threats through surveillance and research networks for early detection of animal diseases and better scientific cooperation between countries. FAO has also established an emergency management centre that supports countries in responding to animal disease outbreaks. 17 September 2007Global animal food production is undergoing a major transformation that could lead to a higher risk of disease transmission from animals to humans, and excessive concentration of animals in intensive production systems should be avoided, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today. read more

UN food agency plans 6month emergency operation in BangladeshUN food agency plans 6month emergency operation in Bangladesh

29 November 2007The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a $52 million, six-month plan to provide emergency aid to 2.2 million Bangladeshis affected by the recent cyclone. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a $52 million, six-month plan to provide emergency aid to 2.2 million Bangladeshis affected by the recent cyclone.The aim is to avoid a repeat of the surge in malnutrition rates that typically follows a cyclone in Bangladesh, the agency said. “This time, WFP will start longer-term distributions to families with hopes of preventing increases in malnutrition throughout the region,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “While immediate food aid such as high energy biscuits continue to be rushed into the cyclone-hit areas, WFP is now ready to begin a longer-term, more comprehensive food assistance programme that will get nutritious foods directly to the children who need it the most,” said WFP Bangladesh Representative Douglas Broderick.The emergency operation will follow the work of a just-completed UN assessment which found that there are approximately 4.7 million people in the worst affected districts and 2.2 million people are in need of immediate food assistance.When the cyclone hit on 15 November, affecting more than 4 million Bangladeshis, WFP rushed in aid to thousands of the most vulnerable victims. The agency has delivered more than 300 metric tons of biscuits and more than 430 tons of rice to those in need.UN agency provides seeds and tools to over 110,000 farmers in southern AfricaAiming to secure the next harvest in three Southern African countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has distributed over 1,000 tons of seeds, as well as fertilizer and tools, to over 110,000 poor farmers in the region.“The more we can support quality farm outputs and help diversify crops and strengthen capacities, the fewer people will need food aid and other handouts next season,” said Anne Bauer, Director of FAO’s Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. The $7 million operation in in Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland should service an estimated 50,000 hectares of crops, the agency said.The relief was distributed using a voucher system pioneered the non-governmental organization Catholic Relief Services which allowed farmers attending mobile fairs to choose what to purchase among the seeds, fertilizer, tools and tillage services on offer.The aid comes to a region hit by a high death toll from AIDS which has left many rural households and orphans in the care of grandparents. Farmers there must also cope with crop failure caused by successive years of drought and inclement weather. read more

More attention must be paid to underreported conflicts says top UN refugeeMore attention must be paid to underreported conflicts says top UN refugee

8 January 2009The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today called for stepped up action to help victims of conflicts, rising in number worldwide, who do not receive international attention because they are not believed to affect global security. Unlike the “increasingly interrelated” situations in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq, the impact of these underreported crises is “local or at best regional,” António Guterres told the Security Council in an open meeting.He cited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as an example, noting that the world’s attention has recently been focused on the volatile North Kivu province, where the “current tragedy” has a “complex historical heritage coming from the colonial rule and exacerbated more recently by the Rwanda genocide and two Congolese wars.”The escalating conflict between Government forces (FARDC) and the rebel group known as the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP) has uprooted an estimated 250,000 people since late August on top of the 800,000 already displaced.“But the DRC is not just North Kivu,” Mr. Guterres reminded the Council, noting that significant population displacements and rights violations targeting women and girls are taking place in other parts of the vast African nation.“Every six months, the number of people who die unnecessarily in the country as a result of armed conflict and material deprivation is equivalent to the number of people killed by the 2004 Asian tsunami.”The High Commissioner also warned of new forms of displacement, with natural disasters on the rise due to climate change.“Conflict, climate change and extreme deprivation will inter-relate, strengthening each other as a cause of displacement,” he said.One of the biggest challenges in responding to humanitarian crises is how to respond in situations where there is no peace to keep, Mr. Guterres said, underscoring the need for “sufficiently clear and strong” protection mandates that are backed by political and material support.The safety of relief workers is also of paramount concern, he said, adding that “ensuring staff safety must be a top priority of every humanitarian organization and the UN as a whole. That is non-negotiable.”Compared to 2006, when he reported to the Council that the number of refugees had dropped to just over 9 million, the lowest level in 25 years, he said today that the total number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate now stands at 11 million, driven mainly by the situations in Iraq and Somalia. That figure, he said, does not include the nearly 5 million Palestinians for whom the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has responsibility.Today, UNHCR works in almost 120 countries on behalf of 32 million refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others. read more

Member States begin preparatory talks for upcoming UN antiracism conferenceMember States begin preparatory talks for upcoming UN antiracism conference

The review conference will be held in Geneva in April to monitor and accelerate progress towards the implementation of measures adopted at the landmark 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.Members of the working group have agreed to use a 38-page draft document as the basis for their negotiations, which will take place during its formal session ending on Friday and continue afterwards in informal meetings. The group has two further formal meetings before the Review Conference is held from 20 to 24 April, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a website dedicated to the Conference and its preparatory process.The website is online in English at www.un.org/durbanreview2009/ and will soon be available in the other official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. 20 January 2009A working group made up of United Nations Member States has begun formal negotiations on a draft outcome document for the so-called Durban Review Conference later this year, which will examine the progress made worldwide since the 2001 global anti-racism summit held in the South African city. read more

UN agencies launch DDTfree antimalaria initiativeUN agencies launch DDTfree antimalaria initiative

A number of projects, involving some 40 countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, are set to test non-chemical methods of eradicating the deadly disease, ranging from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae.The new projects follow a successful five-year pilot programme using alternatives to DDT in Mexico and Central America, where pesticide-free techniques and management procedures have helped cut cases of malaria by over 60 per cent.The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are spearheading the ten new projects, with close to $40 million in funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).The agencies aim to cut DDT use by 30 per cent worldwide by 2014 and phase out the use of the pesticide completely by the early 2020s while staying on track with WHO malaria eradication targets.“The new projects underline the determination of the international community to combat malaria while realizing a low, indeed zero, DDT world,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Today we are calling time on a chemical rooted in the scientific knowledge and simplistic options of a previous age.”However, concern over DDT is matched by concern over the close to 250 million malaria infections a year which result in over 880,000 deaths. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan noted that the agency “faces a double challenge, a commitment to the goal of drastically and sustainably reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases, in particular malaria, and at the same time a commitment to the goal of reducing reliance on DDT in disease vector control.” Malaria is caused by a parasite, transmitted through infected mosquito bites. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver and then infect red blood cells, causing fever, headache, and vomiting between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. 6 May 2009The United Nations today announced a renewed round of international efforts to combat malaria with a reduced reliance on the controversial synthetic pesticide Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT). read more

General Assembly calls for credible probes by both sides into Gaza conflictGeneral Assembly calls for credible probes by both sides into Gaza conflict

At a meeting today in New York, 98 Member States voted in favour of a resolution on the follow-up to the report of the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict, and seven voted against it, with 31 abstentions. Assembly resolutions are non-binding. The four-member fact-finding mission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, found that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants were guilty of serious human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law during the Gaza conflict. Its findings, contained in the so-called Goldstone Report, were endorsed by the Assembly in November. Earlier this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon transmitted a follow-up report concerning the implementation of the recommendations made by the team and containing submissions from the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and the Swiss Government. “International humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and civilians must be protected in all situations and circumstances,” Mr. Ban wrote. Today’s resolution reiterated that the investigations carried out by both sides must conform with “international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the fact-finding mission, towards ensuring accountability and justice.” Operation ‘Cast Lead’ – the three-week military operation which Israel said it launched in response to rocket and other attacks by militants in Gaza – left over 1,400 people dead, injured 5,000 others and reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble. 26 February 2010The United Nations General Assembly today called for “independent, credible” investigations by both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian side into the deadly conflict in the Gaza Strip that started in late 2008. read more

Ban set to address global events in Morocco FranceBan set to address global events in Morocco France

On Friday, he will speak at the opening session of this year’s World Policy Conference organized by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Marrakesh.The three-day gathering will draw some 140 representatives from governments, the private sector, academia and the media to discuss global governance issues.Mr. Ban will also meet with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and the UN Country Team in the capital, Rabat.He will then travel on to Strasbourg, where on 19 October he will address the Council of Europe on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. Later that day, he will also give a speech at a plenary session of the European Parliament.While in the French city, Mr. Ban will hold talks with the Council of Europe’s Secretary-General and with the President of the European Parliament.He will also take part in an extraordinary meeting of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and be welcomed officially by the Senator-Mayor of Strasbourg. 11 October 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will embark on a two-nation trip that will take him to Morocco and France later this week, with the United Nations chief set to address global gatherings in both countries, it was announced today. read more