Workshop brings importance of waste segregation into focus

first_imgKolkata: Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) organised a meeting-cum-workshop on solid waste management audit in Salt Lake Sector V on Thursday.Apart from senior officials of the industrial township authority, including its chairman Debashis Sen, representatives of various IT companies attended the meeting. The industrial township authority has proposed to segregate waste at source in Salt Lake Sector V. Wet waste include food waste, vegetable, fruit and fish scale, bones from meat and chicken, egg shells and flowers while dry waste include paper and cardboard waste, plastic waste, rubber and wood, glass, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) lamp, LED lights and CD, foil, thermocol and used medicine Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersstrips. The firms will have to keep two waste bins and urge people to dispose of the waste in respective bins. Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority will collect wet waste from the offices in Sector V regularly while the dry waste will be collected on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Dry waste will be stored in AQ block. It was decided that solid waste management audit in big establishments would be held in June to find out whether these organisations follow solid waste management rules. The establishments will be ranked and the zero waste achievers will be awarded with certificates. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe state Urban Development department has taken a decision to implement segregation of garbage at source throughout the state. In some municipalities the new method of collecting garbage has started. The civic bodies are giving two bins to each household where the residents are supposed to put the garbage in the proper bin. The wet waste is cleaned every day while the dry waste is cleared thrice a week. The representatives from WIPRO claimed that they had zero waste in their office. The representatives of another firm said they had zero waste in their Bangalore office and they would implement the same in Sector V soon. It may be mentioned that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation will soon start segregation of garbage at source as a part of the clean city drive. The New Town Kolkata Development Authority has introduced segregation of garbage at source in New Town to make it a green and clean city. The development authority had recently held a workshop for local residents to create awareness about the scheme.last_img read more

US France UK in intense discussions with China on Azhar listing at

first_imgWashington: The US, France and the UK are believed to be in intense “good faith” discussions with China to arrive at a “compromise”, including on the language on the UN designation of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, according to people familiar with the matter.On Wednesday, China blocked for the fourth consecutive time a resolution at the UN Security Council Committee on designating Azhar, head of the JeM terror group, as a global terrorist.The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the JeM killed 44 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.If the fresh efforts by the US, France and the UK does not end up in the formal designation of Azhar, the three permanent members are planning to soon move a resolution for his listing in the most powerful wing of the UN which would be preceded by an open debate on the issue, according to people familiar with the matter.India had expressed disappointment over the Chinese stance and the original co-sponsors of the resolution had warned they will consider “other actions” to achieve their goal.While the internal consultations of the Security Council committee remain private, this time several Council members, frustrated at China’s unreasonable stance to protect a terrorist, privately spoke to the media the negative role being played by Beijing.”If China continues to block this designation, responsible member-states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that,” a Security Council diplomat told PTI on Wednesday in an unusual tough warning to Beijing. In the last 50 hours, it is believed that the original sponsors of the Azhar resolution are having intense “good faith” consultations with China on what many familiar with the matter describe as a “compromise”. This probably means Azhar would be designated as a global terrorist by the UN body, but the language of designation would include a language acceptable to China.China is believed to have suggested “certain changes” in the language of the terrorist designation. The US, Britain and France are believed to be currently looking at the suggestions. It is understood that there is back-and-forth exchange of texts on the matter.The three countries have indicated that they are willing to accommodate Chinese request for changes in the language as long as it does not change the substance of the resolution and it ends up designating Azhar as a UN global terrorist.But unlike in the past, the US, France, Britain and other members of the Security Council are not willing to wait for long to conclude their discussion with China.It is learnt that China has been informed by these countries that they are seriously looking for other options, in particular an open debate followed by a vote on a resolution to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, pretty soon.Not months, not weeks but days. This is the what Beijing has been conveyed.At the same time, officials of the these countries believe that China this time has been much more co-operative than in the past. But in case at any point the three countries get a feeling that China is not doing a good faith negotiation on the “compromise formula” that is being negotiated, they are ready with the other move.China, after its decision to put a technical hold on the resolution, has invited criticism and its stance has also resulted in an outrage in India.Beijing would have to calculate the risk of being isolate globally on the issue of fight against terrorism or signing off to a compromised language that would designate Azhar as a global terrorist, since except China, all other UNSC members supported the resolution.Getting Chinese support to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, at the UN, in any format, would be considered as a terrific accomplishment. The very fact that there has been discussions going on between China and the US, Britain and France, is considered as a positive development.Those familiar with China’s working pattern are still not confident and that’s the reason why they are seriously working on other options including an open debate in the Security Council, where Beijing might find it difficult to defend a terrorist in public.last_img read more

Prostate medicines linked to Type2 diabetes

first_imgMedicines prescribed to reduce the symptoms of prostate diseases increase the likelihood of developing Type-2 diabetes. A study found that the drugs increased the risk of developing the disorder by about 30 per cent. In addition, a similar effect was seen when repeated with health records from a group of Taiwanese men. Men with enlarged prostates are commonly prescribed the drugs called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors that reduce the production of hormones called androgens. These help treat symptoms such as reduced urinary flow. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe findings of the sudy suggested that men taking these medications may need additional health checks to monitor warning signs of diabetes so that their prescriptions can be altered if necessary. “We found that commonly prescribed medications for prostate disease can increase the risk of Type-2 diabetes. These findings will be particularly important for health screening in older men who are already typically at a higher risk of Type-2 diabetes,” said Ruth Andrew, Professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “It is important that all patients are made aware of the risks and benefits of their medications,” noted Li Wei, Associate Professor at the UCL School of Pharmacy in Britain. For the research, the team studied health records from around 55,000 men who were prescribed 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.last_img read more

5 killed as buildings collapse in strong Philippine quake

first_imgManila: At least five people were killed when buildings collapsed near Manila after a powerful earthquake set skyscrapers swaying and drove terrified locals into the street. Rescuers in one area were using heavy equipment and their bare hands to hunt for survivors in the rubble left by the strongest quake to strike close to the densely populated Philippine capital in years. Three bodies were pulled out of a shopping mall in the town of Porac, while a woman and her grandchild were crushed to death in the town of Lubao, said Lilia Pineda, governor of Pampanga province northwest of Manila. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”We believe there are still people trapped in the four-storey building,” Pineda said referring to the shopping mall, adding that up to eight people could be dead. “Our rescuers are telling us there are people in there shouting, begging to be rescued.” Rescuers, working under floodlights, pried at the flattened structure with a crane in the disaster-prone nation. “It’s difficult because there is no power, so we’re still trying to get hold of a generator to be able to rescue the people inside,” the governor added. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe quake, with a magnitude of 6.3, struck the region at 5:11 pm according to the US Geological Survey. “The Pampanga region took a direct hit,” civil defence spokesman Edgar Posadas told reporters, with a 17th-century Catholic church, an airport and a toll road in the area all reporting damage, while a landslide struck another town. The quake that rumbled across the northern Philippines also caused skyscrapers to sway, as they are designed to do, in Manila. Thousands of travellers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour’s drive north of the capital.last_img read more

Twitter adds way to report votertricking tweets

first_imgSan Francisco: Twitter on Wednesday began making it easier to report tweets aimed at interfering with people voting, starting first in Europe and India. An option to report Twitter messages as being misleading about voting was being added to the one-to-many messaging service’s app in India and Europe, with a promise it would be expanded globally through the year. “Any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values,” the Twitter safety team said in an online post. “We are further expanding our enforcement capabilities in this area by creating a dedicated reporting feature within the product to allow users to more easily report this content to us.” Twitter teams entrusted to review reported content have been trained as part of an enhanced appeals process in the event tweet removal decisions are challenged, according to the San Francisco-based company.last_img read more

Azhars time up

first_imgChina’s technical hold allowed it the time to “examine” the proposal forwarded by the US, UK, and France to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. But of course, the technical hold also allowed China to reassess its undying commitment towards Pakistan and its global position as the core member of UNSC. In fact, China’s nod after a long opposition to listing Azhar is not mere compliance but a move for the greater good. There are not one but several factors that outline China’s assent trumping its own decade-long dissent. Pakistan’s long drawn support for terrorist outfits has attracted uncomfortable attention which is detrimental for its “iron brother” China. The mounting global pressure has, in a way, made China lift the technical hold allowing the UN to blacklist Azhar. Having supported Pakistan all along, being globally isolated due to it was too much of a risk and hence, agreeing to the UNSC 1267 Committee has been a clever move from China. This prevents China’s international credibility of combating terrorism from deteriorating. With its own problem of Islamic terrorism in Sinkiang coupled with JeM attacks on its workers and its consulate in Karachi last year, China’s reassessment clearly asserts a need to bring down Pakistan’s excessive utilisation of terrorists as strategic assets. And, with its flagship Belt and Road Initiative running right across the heart of Islamic terror stronghold (PoK), China’s attention is understandably aligned in securing its multi-billion dollar investment project. It certainly does not want Pakistan-sponsored terrorism to inflict any kind of damage on its infrastructural and economic strides in the region. Lastly, if China was considerate enough, its decision also removes the thorn which has abstained New Delhi and Beijing from progressively cooperating. China’s assent means a lot to India now since it did not nod even after developments in Wuhan. It also opens up an opportunity for both nations to sit down and discuss prospects of counterterrorism. If the stars are aligned perfectly, a combine of China and India against terrorism would be a lethal crackdown on terrorism in the area. But this development, judging by the recent past, remains a far cry. For all we know, China’s decision hardly has India in the fray. It may be more concerned over the strengthened relations of India with the West; Indian efforts to enlist Azhar has definitely played a part in mobilising key western countries such as UK, US, France, and even the Gulf countries to support us in the issue of terrorism at large. Risk-assessment, therefore, has saved China from attracting heightened criticism regarding Chinese support towards terrorism. Also Read – A compounding difficultyListing Azhar has been a victory indeed but countering terrorism, and especially cross-border terrorism via Pakistan-sponsored terror outfits remains paramount. Yesterday, Pakistan’s compliance was directed through its foreign ministry which stated that “the Federal Government is pleased to order that the Resolution 2368 (2017) be fully implemented”. Pakistan’s compliance is under strict vigil from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which has given a long list of action points to it. And, failure to comply is a grave risk since Pakistan would then be globally more isolated on the financial front. And, that would not augur well for Pakistan given its precarious financial situation. With China being forced to draw an arm’s distance from Pakistan, Pakistan has to act. Pressure from the international community should enforce Pakistan to act against Azhar to the extent of prosecuting it for the acts of terror and completely incapacitating JeM. But a single instance of compliance by Pakistan in the crackdown on Azhar and JeM is not enough. Pakistan may revert to its primary tactic of deploying proxy outfits which is repugnant and therefore, it is necessary that sustained international pressure is maintained on it to yield a positive shift on the terror issue. Listing Azhar is the first of crucial decisions that are required to be taken to counter the growing terrorism in South Asia.last_img read more

Syrian Afghan female journalists receive media awards

first_imgA Syrian photojournalist working for Reuters was one of three women to receive the Courage in Journalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation on Thursday.Nour Kelze was unable to attend the ceremony in New York, but spoke about her work in a short video.Najiba Ayubi, the director of Afghan news organization The Killid Group, and Bopha Phorn, a Cambodian investigative reporter, also received the Courage in Journalism award. Ayubi “has faced direct threats from many sources. Politicians have sent gunmen to her home, anonymous aggressors have vowed to harm her family, and she has been publicly defamed,” the IWMF said at the ceremony.Phorn, who writes for The Cambodia Daily, “narrowly escaped with her life when the vehicle in which she was traveling came under heavy fire” while she and colleagues were investigating claims of illegal logging, the IWMF said.An activist traveling with Phorn was killed, the Associated Press reported.Past winners of the Courage in Journalism award include Helen Thomas, who covered 10 presidents as a White House reporter and died in July aged 92; Marie Colvin, Britain’s Sunday Times correspondent who was one of 28 journalists killed in Syria in 2012; and Anna Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta reporter who was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building in 2006.The IWMF also honored the first black female editor of a newspaper in Zimbabwe, Edna Machirori, with its annual lifetime achievement award.“I began my journalism career as a teenager, and I’ve never done anything else, this is my life,” Machirori told Al Arabiya Television.“When you do something, maybe cover a little story, and it has an impact, that’s very satisfying,” she added.The IWMF said its lifetime achievement award “recognizes a pioneering spirit and determination that has opened doors for women everywhere.”Source: Al Arabiyalast_img read more

Morocco to stage demo in solidarity with Palestinians next Sunday in

Rabat – Two Moroccan NGOs called for staging a march in solidarity with the Palestinian people, next Sunday in Rabat.The Moroccan Association for the support of Palestinian Fight (AMSLP) and the National action group for supporting Palestine called on political organizations, trade unions and humanitarian associations, as well as all Moroccan citizens to take to the streets.This protest will be an opportunity to show, once again, the national consensus over the Palestinian issue and the condemnation of the Israeli aggression against Gaza, said the organizers during a press conference on Wednesday in Rabat. Moroccans have always expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people, supported their fight, condemned firmly all kinds of normalization with Zionists and urged to outlaw such normalization, the Moroccan NGOs added. read more

69 of Moroccans Support Separation of Religion from Politics

Rabat – 69 percent of  Moroccans support the idea of separating religion and politics, according to the 2016 Index of Arab Public Opinion, conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.The findings of the index’s survey of 18,310 interviewees from 12 Arab countries shows that the number increased slightly since 2015, when the number reached only 66 percent, but overall shows a decrease from 2011’s 71 percent.Following the comparison of opinion poll’s findings between 2016 and the past few years, the index shows that the supporters of religious-political separation in the Arab World increased from 47 percent in 2011 to 56 percent, including Morocco, which was led by an Islamist political party, the Justice and Development Party, over the past five years. The index’s chart shows that in four countries out of twelve, the majority of the population refuses to allow religion to interfere with political issues.The findings also show that 56 percent of Tunisians, led by a secularist part since it’s independence in 1956, are opposed to the idea of separating religion from political affairs.The questionnaires addressed public confidence in Arab governments; attitudes to religion and the role of religion in the public sphere; the general political and economic circumstances of Arab citizens; and the Arab publics’ attitudes to the foreign relations of their home countries. read more

UN Denounces Mass Immigrant Expulsions in Algeria

Rabat – The UN has denounced reported mass expulsions of sub-Saharan migrants from Algeria as illegal under international law. “We urge Algeria to implement the recommendations made by the Committee on Migrant Workers in April, including to explicitly prohibit collective expulsions and establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure that expulsions of migrant workers are carried out in strict compliance with international standards,” UN Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani asserted in a press briefing Tuesday.According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), raids by Algerian security forces typically occur in construction sites and areas with high migrant populations, although migrants also testified to arrest and detention after encounters with Algerian authorities in the street Many of the deported migrants often end up in neighboring Niger or Mali, without money, passports, food, or clothes due to the rapid nature of the deportations, Shamdasani added. Following detention in the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset, detained migrants are moved to the Nigerien city Agadez or smaller border cities, where they are abandoned without food, possessions, or contacts. Surrounded by the Sahara desert, many migrants are often forced to walk for hours in the heat to cross the Nigerien border.In its statement, the OHCHR urged Algerian authorities to maintain migrants’ rights to seek asylum, to the principle of non-refoulement (forced deportation), and to due process under international law.Reports of Algeria’s mass migrant deportations to Niger first surfaced in August 2017 to widespread condemnation by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The organization denounced the expulsions as blatant violations of international migrant protections granted by the UN and African Union.Racism in the country, evidenced by the popular hashtag #Say_No_to_Africans and reports of frequent assaults, feeds migrant vilification and detention; even Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia referring to the sub-Saharan undocumented population as “a source of crime, drugs, and many other plagues” in July 2017.Although Algerian officials have discussed the possibility of implementing a regularization program similar to that of Morocco, legislative action has made little progress.In April, Algerian interior ministry official Hassen Kacimi reported to Reuters that the North African country “is very concerned by the growing number of illegal migrants.”Dismissing condemnation from human rights organizations, the official stated, “Nobody has helped us, we are handling the situation with our own means.” read more

King Mohammed VI Congratulates President Trump on US Independence Day

Rabat – King Mohammed VI has addressed a congratulatory message to US President Donald Trump to congratulate him on his country’s Independence Day, which is observed today, July 4.In his cable, the monarch expressed his warm congratulations and sincere wishes to President Trump for health and happiness, and more progress and prosperity to the American people.The King also expressed satisfaction with the historic and solid ties of friendship, mutual esteem, and fruitful cooperation between the two countries. The King has also reiterated his determination to continue to work with the US President to develop the diplomatic ties which will give the Moroccan-American strategic partnership a strong and renewed dynamic.The King also welcomed the strategic dialogue established between the two countries, reaffirming the importance Morocco gives to reinforce consultation and coordination with the US at the bilateral and multilateral levels to serve the supreme interests of the two friendly peoples and consolidate the values of freedom, coexistence, security, and peace in the world. read more

Prince Harry and Pregnant Meghan Markle to Visit Morocco in February

Rabat – It is official: the UK’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will visit Morocco on February 23.Kensington Palace, the couple’s residence, tweeted today that the duke and duchess of Sussex will visit Morocco from February 23 to February 25.Prince Harry is Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and the sixth in line to the British throne. The tweet added that the visit is at the request of “Her Majesty’s Government” and the “full details of the visit will be announced in due course.”The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit Morocco from Saturday 23rd February to Monday 25th February 2019. This visit is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government.Full details of the visit will be announced in due course.— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) February 8, 2019Read Also: UK: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Officially WedMarkle, who will be nearly seven months pregnant at the time, told fans that she expects to give birth to their first baby in April.UK Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly also retweeted Kensington Palace’s post.The UK ambassador said that the purpose of the visit is to recognize the strong diplomatic ties between the two countries.Thanks. The visit is a recognition of the strong relationship between our two countries. It is a chance to enjoy #Morocco’s history and look to its future, focusing on the role of women, youth and #education in making that future @UKinMorocco— Thomas Reilly (@TSAReilly) February 8, 2019Prince Harry and Markle said their vows in front of an audience of more than 600 guests at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 9, 2018.Several celebrities have come to Morocco to celebrate important days, including birthdays.In 2018, American superstar Madonna flew to Marrakech for her 60th birthday.The singer called herself a “BerberQueen” as she donned a Moroccan Amazigh (Berber) look at her birthday party. She shared several photos and videos of her time on social media. read more

Apple revamps TV app for direct subscriptions to channels

NEW YORK — Apple users will be able to subscribe to HBO, Showtime and a handful of other channels directly through Apple’s new TV app, bypassing the need to download or launch a separate app.The new capabilities available Monday come ahead of Apple’s plan to offer its own original shows, including ones from Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. Those shows will be part of an Apple TV Plus subscription coming later this year for a yet-to-be disclosed price.Hulu and Amazon already offer premium channels as add-ons to their regular subscriptions, and both have original shows. Apple is trying to catch up on streaming video to make up for a slowdown in iPhone sales.The Associated Press

Ban Kimoon discusses regional hotspots with Egypts President Mubarak in Cairo

24 March 2007Iraq, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine and the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region were discussed during talks today in Cairo between President Hosni Mubarak and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the Egyptian leader is a key partner in dealing with these hotspots. “I count on the counsel President Mubarak and the support of Egypt to address all the problems in this region,” Mr. Ban said at a press encounter with Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit after the meeting.The Secretary-General observed that “In Lebanon, political instability threatens to undermine Security Council resolution 1701, which brought to an end to last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hizbollah,” adding that he and President Mubarak had agreed to work together to solve the issues involved.Concerning the formation of the Palestinian National Unity Government, the Secretary-General said, “We agreed that it is necessary for the international community to encourage this ongoing peace process” and added that he looks forward to meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and other leaders in the region.“On Iraq, the President and I agreed on the gravity of the situation in that country and the need to resolve internal disputes while encouraging the constructive engagement of all neighbours,” Mr. Ban said.The Secretary-General placed particular emphasis on the discussions concerning Darfur, where the UN has been trying to deploy a hybrid force with the African Union. “I expect that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take the time and look at this issue more seriously to help the efforts of the Untied Nations and the African Union to address this issue as soon as possible,” the Secretary-General said.“I explained to him that while the issue was mainly dealt with between the United Nations and the African Union, at this time, Arab Leaders should also try to help.”Mr. Ban also met with Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General the League of Arab States. “We have had good discussions, very comprehensively on major issues,” he told the press following their meeting. “I am counting upon his continued support and cooperation as we work together towards building a more prosperous and secured peace in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.”Asked about the UN’s role in Iraq, Mr. Ban, who travelled to Egypt from Baghdad, said while there he was “able to experience in person all the ongoing violence and security concerns.” A mortar attack took place an open field about 100 metres from the compound where Mr. Ban and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were holding a joint press conference on Thursday.“The United Nations has been participating and contributing during the last four years in many aspects including political facilitation and social and economic reconstruction efforts, as well as humanitarian assistance and this will be continued by the United Nations,” Mr. Ban said.“But as you may agree, the situation on the ground has largely constrained the activities of the United Nations,” he added, pledging to “consider in what way, and what kind of contributions, and how we can increase our presence there to help the Iraqi people to be able to enjoy and recover their security – politically and socially and also enjoy genuine freedom and democracy.” read more

UNbacked forum aims to spread technology knowhow in Africa

7 June 2007A United Nations-backed forum aiming to spread the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in West and Central Africa kicked off today in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The two-day meeting, called the ICT Best Practices Forum, was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Government of Burkina Faso, the African Development Bank and Microsoft. This forum is an element of the African Information Society Initiative, and will allow Governments, donors, institutions and other groups from the region to share their experiences. Government leaders, as well as representatives from international financial organizations, donors, academia and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are expected to attend. According to a recent European Union meeting, if all of the innovations in ICT from all African countries were to be compiled in one country, it would be the 12th most technology advanced nation in the world. This finding highlights how African countries have much to learn from both each other and from nations worldwide. It is hoped that by providing an opportunity to exchange experiences and share successes, the high level of interest in technology in addressed development issues in African can be harnessed. The forum, which will be replicated in East and Southern Africa over a one-year period, also aims to enhance the effectiveness of Government institutions, as well as allow technology solutions to be diffused in the region. Microsoft, in concert with its partners, will create a ‘best practices’ website tailored to Africa to underscore issues discussed at the forums. read more

Human rights situation in Somalia deteriorating UN rights expert says

12 June 2007The human right situation in Somalia is deteriorating as hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes while others are being subject to threats, rape and violence in the war-torn East African nation, a United Nations expert said today. Ghanim Alnajjar, the Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in Somalia, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the current circumstances in the country are much worse than they were when he last briefed the 47-member body in September 2006.There have been widespread reports of indiscriminate artillery fire in the capital Mogadishu between December 2006 and April 2007, he said, and the wounded were blocked from fleeing or receiving aid and protection while the delivery of urgent relief supplies was impeded.Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed or injured during that period, and the UN has assessed that approximately 400,000 people had been forced from their homes in Mogadishu by the violence between February and May of this year, he noted.Additionally, Mr. Alnajjar said that there are 400,000 more who are internally displaced and spread out throughout Somalia. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) exposed to being threatened, intimidated, robbed, assaulted and raped, and many of them are forced to take refuge in crowded camps where there is a paucity of water, food, sanitation, basic health services and shelter.Widespread harassment continued to plague human rights defenders, he said, often leading to targeted killings of such defenders, journalists, aid workers and public figures.Due to the violence, women and girls are now more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, the Independent Expert said, and some children have been recruited as soldiers while school enrolment has dipped considerably.Mr. Alnajjar appealed to the international community to support Somali leaders and the country’s civil society to bolster human rights protections, and called on the UN to press the Transitional Federal Institutions to protect the population. Both the UN and the Government must step up their efforts to address the immediate human needs and protect the rights of the hundreds of thousands of displaced, he said.In another report presented to the Council, Yash Ghai, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for human rights in Cambodia, said that despite progress made in rebuilding the country after decades of civil war, problems – such as the courts being used by the Government to punish its opponents, impunity for the wealthy and politically well-connected and rampant corruption – still persist.Speaking as a concerned country, the representative from Cambodia, Chheang Vun, rejected the accusations the country saw Mr. Ghai having levelled against it, saying that his report only dealt with negative issues and obscured efforts to consolidate democracy and freedom of expression. The representative asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reconsider his position vis-à-vis Mr. Ghai.In its afternoon session, the Council also heard the report by Louis Joinet, the Independent Expert appointed by the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Haiti.Earlier in the day, the body wrapped up its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food; the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living; and the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty.The fifth session of the Human Rights Council, created to replace the much-criticized Commission on Human Rights, will conclude on 18 June. read more

UN tribunal on Rwandan genocide hears arguments on sentencing of former mayor

17 September 2007Prosecutors at the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Rwandan genocide today urged its judges to sentence to 12 years’ imprisonment a former mayor who has pleaded guilty to a charge of extermination as a crime against humanity. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, heard closing arguments from both prosecutors and defence lawyers in the case of Juvénal Rugambarara, who served as mayor of Bicumbi commune in Kigali-Rural Prefecture from September 1993 to April 1994.The prosecution said a prison sentence of not less than 12 years was appropriate, while the defence team argued for a more lenient sentence, calling five character witnesses to say that he had saved many Tutsis during the genocide. Judges Asoka de Silva (presiding), Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki Park will announce their decision at a date to be fixed.In July Mr. Rugambarara made the guilty plea after two years of negotiations with prosecutors, who agreed to withdraw eight other charges that included genocide, torture and rape. During a hearing that month he also apologized for his actions in the genocide.“I pay sincere tribute to all the innocent victims of the shameful cowardice and humbly bow and plead for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart… I solemnly pledge to join the rallying cry of those who say ‘never again,’” he said at the time.The ICTR found that Mr. Rugambarara – who worked as a medical officer for much of his adult life – failed as mayor to take the necessary and reasonable measures to establish an investigation into the killings committed in Bicumbi commune during the genocide or to apprehend and punish the perpetrators.Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machete or club, across Rwanda in less than 100 days starting in early April 1994. Later that year the Security Council established the ICTR to deal with the worst cases. read more

Nigeria new bird flu strain detected says UN agriculture agency

11 August 2008A new strain of avian flu never before reported in Africa has been identified in Nigeria, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today. Tests conducted by Nigeria and by the FAO show that the new virus strain – which is similar to strains identified last year in Italy, Afghanistan and Iran – is genetically distinct from other forms detected in Nigerian outbreaks in 2006 and 2007.“It seems unlikely that wild birds have carried the strain to Africa, since the last migration of wild birds from Europe and Central Asia to Africa occurred in September 2007 and this year’s southerly migration into Africa has not really started yet,” said Scott Newman, International Wildlife Coordinator of FAO’s Animal Health Service.He pointed to other avenues the virus could have taken to Nigeria, such as international trade or illegal and unreported movement of poultry. “This increases the risk of an avian influenza spread to other countries in Western Africa.”The FAO called for stepped up surveillance to monitor the virus and keep track of its spread.“Many countries have succeeded in getting the virus under control; but as long as avian influenza remains endemic in some countries, the international community needs to be on alert,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer.The avian flu, or H5N1, has impacted more than 60 countries since the epidemic began five years ago in Asia and most nations have eliminated it from poultry.In Nigeria, bird flu was contained after being found in 25 states. FAO has a team of animal health experts and veterinary epidemiologists working with the West African nation’s Government. read more

International Day spotlights need for more women in UN peacekeeping

29 May 2009The United Nations is marking the annual International Day of Peacekeepers by honouring the brave troops, police and civilians who serve in some of the most difficult places around the world, and by stressing the unique role played by women and the need to deploy more of them. This year’s commemoration comes at a time when the services of UN peacekeepers are in greater demand than ever. Deployment is at a record high, with more than 113,000 peacekeepers serving in 18 operations on four continents. Yet, “there are still far too few women peacekeepers,” as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in his message for the Day, pointing out that women make up only 8 per cent of the UN police and 2 per cent of its military personnel.“We have a long way to go both with the military and the police,” Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support and one of the UN’s senior female officials, told a news conference in New York.She stressed the importance of women in the UN’s peacekeeping activities, which in many cases also involve programmes related to peacebuilding, reconstruction and reconciliation.Often, female blue helmets, human rights monitors and other mission staff can better communicate with local women, generating a greater sense of security, as in the case the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where rape has been used as a weapon of war and UN agencies estimate that 200,000 women and girls have been assaulted over the past 12 years.Serena Tiberia, a human rights officer with the UN peacekeeping mission there, known as MONUC, said that she experiences easier access to victims, as a woman. She added that female UN staff can also serve as models of women’s empowerment. “I think the fact of seeing women working [with the UN], driving cars and managing teams, it can be a good example for Congolese society,” she said. “Women can care about the family, but they can also study, they can also work, they can also do other things. I think reinforcing the role of women within the UN system, from the lowest to the highest level, could definitely serve as an example for the society we work with.”India was among the first to answer the call for more women personnel with the deployment in 2007 of an all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) – comprising police officers who have received specialized training in high-risk operations and managing crowds – to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).That subsequently led to a marked increase in women applicants to the West African country’s national police force.UNMIL chief Ellen Margrethe Løj, the only female currently heading a UN peacekeeping mission, highlighted the important impact of the Indian police officers on the local society, during a medal ceremony last year in the capital, Monrovia.“You have made a real difference, not only to us in UNMIL, but to a cross-section of Liberians, especially women and girls. Your presence in Liberia has demonstrated that women can play and have an increasingly crucial role in the establishment of the rule of law in post-conflict countries,” she stated.As noted by the Secretary-General, UN peacekeepers often face insecurity, disease and violence on a daily basis while working to make a tangible difference in the lives of many in some of most difficult and inhospitable places around the world. “Peacekeeping is tough and it means spending a lot of time away from your family,” said Bokani Hart, who heads MONUC’s civil affairs unit. The Zimbabwean native added that the UN could look at issues such as conditions of service, and help with work/life balance. At the same time, the job was not without its advantages, she said. “It’s very, very interesting work. Every day is different. I come into work and I’m juggling 101 different issues and that’9s what I love about my job.”Ms. Hart said her decision to work with UN peacekeeping has to do with her own personal history. “I spent the first 15 years of my life as a refugee and I’ve always been pulled to this kind of work. So I have sort of a personal attachment to my UN peacekeeping job, and I’m very proud to call myself a UN peacekeeper.”She added that while there are many women working in the UN system, there could be more, especially in decision-making positions. “If we put our own house in order, then we could be a very good example to wider Congolese society,” she noted. The UN is working to increase the number of women in senior positions at Headquarters and in field missions, according to DPKO. “We have done a lot but we need to do a great deal more,” UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said, noting that women peacekeepers make a critical contribution in areas such as providing security, reforming State institutions and supporting political processes, and their work encourages others to participate in local peace processes.General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, in his message for the Day, stressed that peacekeepers do not just carry out their mandated tasks. “They create a lasting legacy by exemplifying how military and police can engage in humanitarian work while interacting respectfully with civil society.” From New York to Naqoura, Darfur to Dili, the Day is being marked at UN offices around the world with a range of events, including ceremonies to honour those who paid the ultimate price in the service of peace. In 2008, 132 peacekeepers – including 10 women – lost their lives, whether through attacks, illnesses or accidents – one of the highest one-year totals in the history of the Organization. “The legacy of these men and women lives on. It lives on in what they did for the people of the countries in which they served. It lives on in the example they set for all of us as talented, dedicated professionals,” Mr. Ban said at the wreath-laying ceremony in New York.The Secretary-General also presided over the awarding of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medals, which are given posthumously to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives last year. He said he hoped the Medals – named for the former UN Secretary-General, who himself died on a peace mission to the Congo – “can serve as a tangible symbol of our sincere condolences as well as our immense gratitude for their sacrifice.”Designated by the General Assembly in 2002, the International Day is observed on 29 May, the date in 1948 when the first UN peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine. read more

Ban calls on world parliamentarians to support MDGs and disarmament efforts

“Parliaments, at their best, embody the principles of dialogue, democracy and the rule of law, which are inextricably tied to reconciliation and good governance,” the Secretary-General said in a message delivered today by Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the IPU Assembly underway in Bangkok, Thailand. Quoting the opening words of the UN Charter, “We the People,” Mr. Ban said today that parliaments and the UN share a common responsibility to strive for the betterment of lives for people, particularly the most vulnerable. In pursuit of this goal, the Secretary-General called on IPU members to help achieve the eight universally accepted MDGs before the 2015 deadline. “Parliaments provide the enabling national legislative framework for achieving the MDGs. You are also at the forefront of fighting for improved livelihoods and access to basic services.” Ways to accelerate progress will be the main theme of the MDG Summit hosted by Mr. Ban at the General Assembly High-Level debate in September in New York. On nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the Secretary-General asked the IPU for its support to ensure success in May at the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, whose members include five nuclear powers – also the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Secretary-General also called for the IPU”s efforts to support climate change, saying parliamentarians can provide the foundation for building a green economy. “While the private sector will be a big part of the picture, parliaments can produce legislation that establishes incentives for innovation, promotes investment in clean technologies and renewable energy, and develops national plans and goals.” Mr. Ban noted the challenges parliamentarians face, including lack of sufficient resources and expertise, and constitutional dominance or manipulation of the executive. Noting the IPU Assemy’s theme of political reconciliation and governance, Mr. Ban said it reflects the keen insight that elections are not, by themselves, enough to make a democracy. He noted that the UN was working with parliaments to strengthen “the quality of governance after the ballots has been counted” in Afghanistan, Burundi, Timor-Leste and Nepal, where the UN Mission there (UNMIN) helped Nepalis achieve their long-held vision of establishing “a Constituent Assembly that is representative of the country”s ethnic and religious mosaic.” 27 March 2010Given the common goal of the United Nations and parliaments worldwide to strive for a better future, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for strong cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), disarmament and clean energy. read more