Three Carcinogenic Agents Still Approved for Use in Morocco

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a subsidiary body of the World Health Organization (WHO), has released a list on March 20 of five probable and possible carcinogenic pesticides.Three of these carcinogenic products, which are probably carcinogenic to humans (classified Group2A), are still being used in Morocco and have received the approval of the National Office for Food Safety (ONSSA), based on the list of the 2012 available approved substances on the organization’s website. The three carcinogens,Malathion, Diazion, and Glyphosate, are widely used throughout Morocco, specifically in the agriculture and insect control protection at homes and gardens.Malathion is a fabricated organophosphorus product used as an insecticide.The IARC noted the proof of carcinogenicity of this compound in humans (group2A) for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and prostate cancer.“The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001,” explained IARC in its Monographs Volume 112.According to the same report, the compound also causes tumors and DNA and chromosomal damage.On the other hand, Diazinon, a thiophosphoric colorless-to-dark-brown liquid, is also a probable carcinogen to humans. This classification was made based on studies which confirmed that this product may induced DNA or chromosomal damage, according to the same report.Glyphosate is also strongly suspected to cause cancer. On the basis of tumors in mice, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (GroupC) in 1985.According to the IARC, glyphosate is the most used of these substances in agriculture worldwide. The other two compounds are Tetrachlorvinphos and parathion which were also classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).What is Group 2A and Group 2B?According to the IARC, Group 2A category is used to designate substances with a limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and adequate evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.On the other hand, Group 2B refers to substances have demonstrated convincing evidence causing. read more

Read More »

Video American Actor Morgan Freeman Talks about Islam

Rabat – National Geographic’s “The Story of God,” a TV series looking into three major world religions, Morgan Freeman has recently begun its focus into Islam. Freeman, 79, says that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share three main tenets: good thoughts, good deeds, and good words. In the second season’s first three episodes, Freeman will focus on the themes “The Chosen One,” “Heaven and Hell,” and the “Proof of God,” in which he investigates religious leaders and varying major beliefs.In a segment that aired earlier this June, Morgan Freeman visited the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. to speak with a scholar of the Islamic tradition and a calligraphist. Freeman enters the Mosque courtyard to examine the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and discusses the significance and beauty behind Qur’anic calligraphy. Freeman says, “For Muslims, the Qur’an is the holy revelation of God’s word. The very existence of the words of the Qur’an is proof of god. Drawing these words has become a high form of art – a way to invoke the presence of God and all who gaze at them. No matter which language they speak.”This National Geographic special may aid in the ongoing discussion between Muslim countries and the Western World, most notably regarding Islam-targeting stereotypes and Western fear that stems from them. read more

Read More »

A Burqa MiniSkirt Hicham Lasri Releases Girl Power Video Trilogy

Rabat – A month after his model in burqa and a miniskirt stirred controversy in the Casablanca Boulevard Boulevard festival, director Hicham Lasri has finally unveiled the first video of his new trilogy, Girl Power Hypra Feminist and Women Celebration.Published Sunday on Lasri’s YouTube channel, the new clip shows the burqa-skirt-clad woman walking confidently through the festival’s audience while throwing a glance at the camera from time to time.The video begins with a remix of the traditional Islamic song “Talaa Al Badrou Alayna” playing in the background. Soon “Perfume,” a song by the Metal Moroccan band Lazywall, takes over, mimicking the contradictory look of the model. Many onlookers stare at the nonconformist woman with a clear expression of confusion painted on their faces. Others simply laugh or even scowl at her appearance.Lasri explained later in September that the video was meant to convey a “sociological experience” to the viewers, by observing the instinctual reactions of the festival-goers when they see the young woman pass by.“For those who did not understand, this is part of my new project,” he wrote on Facebook. “After ‘Bissara Overdose,’ ‘No Vaseline’ fatwa and the rest, a new project [named] ‘Girl Power Hypra Feminist and Women Celebration.’ It is a response to these sordid stories of bus, rape and macho stupidity.” Lasri was referring to the sexual assault filmed on a bus in Casablanca, which shocked the Moroccan public at the time.After revealing the purpose of mini-burqa wearer, the film director clarified that he did not intend to disrespect Islam. “Long live the Morocco of tomorrow, and if an idiot tells me that I am conveying a negative image of Islam, I will send Nikita, Leon, and Predator to deal with him.” read more

Read More »

American Outlet Picks Moroccos Amrabat for World Cup Dream Team

Rabat – Nordin Amrabat’s performance did not go unnoticed during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Despite being out of the competition after Morocco’s losses against Iran and Portugal both (0-1), the Moroccan football player has again caught the attention of international press, which chose him as one of the 11 ideal players of the World Cup’s group stage.The 31-year old midfielder was chosen by the American outlet Bleacher Report  alongside other big names in football, such as Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-Woo, Senegal’s defender Youssouf Sabaly, Sweden’s defender Andreas Granqvist, Uruguay’s defender Diego Godin, Brazil’s defender Màrio Figueira Fernandes, Croatia’s midfielder Luka Modric, France’s midfielder N’Golo Kanté, Brazil’s midfielder Philippe Coutinho, Spain’s midfielder Isco and England’s forward Harry Kane.During the competition, the Atlas Lion has made quite the impression. He was called a “warrior” by Coach Hervé Renard and a “hero” by Moroccan fans. Amrabat, who suffered a head injury during the Iran-Morocco game, showed the full extent of his talent with his fabulous attacking skills, showing great determination to make history.After the first game, Amrabat’s doctor gave him a week to rest but he did not want to leave his teammates and showed up to the Morocco-Portugal match wearing a helmet.During the third game against Spain, the football sensation has once again proved his worth by taking on Spain’s best players, including Real Madrid’s star Sergio Ramos.The CD Laganés football player earned the respect of the whole nation when he denounced the “unfair” use of VAR, speaking for many Moroccans. “VAR is bull****” he said in front of millions of viewers.As for the captain of the national team, Mehdi Benatia, he was chosen as a defender in French outlet l’Equipe’s dream team among the eliminated groups. “The Moroccan defender was not particularly shown in the two games he played in the World Cup… However, Benatia can’t do anything about the goals scored against the Atlas Lions and remains an international class player,” wrote the outlet. read more

Read More »

Reflecting on the Amazigh Cultural Trinity

There are three major themes within the Amazigh culture, defined as the “trinity,” and easily recognizable in Moroccan culture. The three themes have transcended Amazigh culture and been accepted as the wider Moroccan identity: The importance of language (Tamazight), the pervasiveness of the tribal system and kinship (ddm), and the strong connection to the land (tammurt).The importance of languageWithout the wider Moroccan community or original Moroccan Arabs accepting the three pillars in Amazigh culture, Morocco would have a very different culture. In short, the similarities between Amazigh and Moroccan Arab culture ensured wide acceptance of Amazigh cultural aspects with Moroccans.The most obvious theme in the Moroccan community of Amazigh nature is the importance of language within society. When one looks at the Amazigh people, there is a clear correlation between the relevance of language and the preservation of the culture. The Amazigh people’s history and belief system was preserved in oral fashion where one generation would pass the history, wisdom, and laws to another. Despite having three distinct dialects, the history and laws of the Amazigh people synced and survived countless invasions.When the Arab invasion occurred, the Arabs brought a similar appreciation for the essential nature of language and the role that the elderly should play in the preservation of Tamazight. Even if one were to overlook the fact that both Arabic and Tamazight, the languages spoken by the Amazigh people, come from the Afro-Asiatic language family, both languages place a heavy emphasis on elders to ensure the continuation of language, either through writing or oral recitation. Though the Arabs expressed themselves in more poetic and eloquent language, it is believed that they appreciated the way in which the Amazigh people used language as a uniting factor.The relevance of language as a binding element became very apparent when King Mohammed VI amended the Moroccan constitution in 2011 to include Tamazight as a national language. A new written language was formed in neither Arabic script or Latin script but an entirely new alphabet—Tifinagh—to ensure the preservation of Amazigh history, traditions, laws, and wisdom.This recognition provided the Amazigh an even greater acceptance into contemporary Moroccan culture. Despite the similarities, the move to recognize the Amazigh was more a political gesture than an inclusion of Tamazight into society. Relevance of kinshipA second theme that one must look at when comparing Amazigh and contemporary Moroccan culture is the idea of kinship that spawns from the tribal system. The idea of a nation-state was a foreign concept from the West that both the Amazigh and Arab invaders in Morocco rejected.  For both the Amazigh and the Arabs, there is an acceptance that similarities between people are not defined by imaginary lines but rather that an identity stems from a shared language, shared history, and for the Arabs, a shared religion.This shared definition of identity resulted in a pervasive tribal system in both Amazigh and Moroccan culture. The tribal system is defined in terms of economically socialist but socially democratic that can still be found in the hospitality of Moroccans today. However, the idea of kinship that accepts people of different backgrounds is a relevant distinction between Amazigh and Moroccan culture. Even though the tribal system places an emphasis on the matriarch, Moroccan culture prefers an influential patriarch. The relevance of this is that there continues to be a disenfranchisement of the Amazigh people in the laws and politics of Morocco.The centrality of the landFinally, one must understand the idea of a homeland resonates with the Amazigh people. There is a unique relationship to the land that extends beyond the physical and into the spiritual. The Amazigh viewed the land as a thing that not only sustained life but provided protection from imperialistic Western and Arab campaigns that helped to preserve the language and tribal system.The spiritual aspect of the land can be found in the Moroccan Islam (closely related to Sufism) today and that there was a strong relationship between the people in the city and the people in the mountains.  This relates back to the idea that the Amazigh people accepted those who lived in the urban areas of Morocco. The relevance of this relationship between urban and rural emphasizes two distinct cultures in Morocco that coexist and share similar linguistic and societal norms. There is a complex relationship with language, societal tribal norms, and the connection to the land between Amazigh cultural traditions and their place in Moroccan society. The societal structure and relationship to the land strongly correlate to their acceptance into Moroccan culture today. Language also has Amazigh cultural characteristics but the acceptance of Tamazight within Moroccan culture still remains to be seen. However, if one were to remove any one of these Amazigh cultural aspects, it is fairly likely Morocco would have a different set of beliefs and way of life. read more

Read More »

Man With Disability Receives Summons to Complete Moroccan Conscript Form

Rabat – Although an official provision excludes him from needing to complete mandatory military service, Mahmoud Elmghaitri, a man suffering from a physical disability, was summoned to complete his census form to perform military service.Originally from Guelmim, a city in southern Morocco, Elmghaitri has been suffering from a disability his entire life. The law does not require Moroccans who financially support their families as well as persons with disabilities to fulfill the military service.Like others who qualify for an exemption, Elmghaitri will have to file for exemption by submitting an application within 20 days of completing the census form. He must submit the application to local administrative authorities who will transfer the request to the prefectural commissions which make exemption decisions. “Youth of Guelmim,” a popular Facebook page, posted photos of Elmghaitri and his contract, which has since been shared nearly 250 times.The post also received over 60 comments, many expressing confusion and outrage that Elmghaitri received a conscription notice.However, according to the process the Council of Ministers adopted for military conscription, after an individual fills out the census form, he should receive a receipt in an email informing him that he can file an application for temporary or definitive exemption.The Moroccan government has not released a comment on the situation. read more

Read More »

Judge orders Facebook to turn over records on data privacy

DOVER, Del. — A Delaware judge is ordering Facebook to turn over internal records regarding data privacy and access to user data.Thursday’s ruling involves an investor lawsuit seeking company records to investigate potential wrongdoing and mismanagement by Facebook directors regarding data privacy breaches.The lawsuit followed reports that the data of more than 50 million Facebook users had been misappropriated without their knowledge by British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica in 2015. At the time of the Cambridge Analytica breach, Facebook was subject to a consent decree involving the Federal Trade Commission’s determination that its data privacy measures were not adequate.The judge rejected Facebook’s argument that the plaintiffs had not stated a proper purpose for inspecting company records or demonstrated a credible basis to infer that board directors breached their duties.Randall Chase, The Associated Press read more

Read More »

Plight of urban poor spotlighted by Ban Kimoon in message to UN

16 April 2007Observing that this year half the world’s population lives in towns and cities for the first time in history, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for more efforts to mitigate the plight of the urban poor, who are among the most vulnerable to climate change. “Urban poverty should be unacceptable in the new urban era,” especially given that the number of slum dwellers is expected to reach one billion during 2007, Mr. Ban said in a message to the 21st session of the Governing Council of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Nairobi, Kenya.In the message, read by Inga Bjork-Klevby, UN-HABITAT’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ban called for the international community’s support to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of improving the lives of 100 million slum residents by 2020, since “failure would risk massive social exclusion, with national and international repercussions.”He also noted that while cities – which consume approximately 75 per cent of global energy and emit 80 per cent of greenhouse gases – cause much environmental damage, the urban poor is rendered helpless by natural disasters, made more frequent by climate change patterns, because they tend to live in unsafe places prone to ruin.The Secretary-General said that he witnessed this problem first-hand on a visit to the Kibera slum in Nairobi, where slum dwellers, despite having resources, had no access to affordable credit, and where banks have funds but no means to lend money to the poor.“I have the clear sense that time is not on our side,” Mr. Ban noted.The meeting of UN-HABITAT, the UN agency that seeks to achieve sustainable development of human settlements, will conclude on 20 April. read more

Read More »

UN envoy speaks out against attacks in Nepalese capital

2 September 2007The top United Nations envoy to Nepal today condemned a series of bomb blasts which struck Kathmandu, resulting in a number of casualties. The top United Nations envoy to Nepal today condemned a series of bomb blasts which struck Kathmandu, resulting in a number of casualties.”The United Nations expresses its condemnation of the bomb attacks which have killed and injured Kathmandu citizens,” Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ian Martin said in a statement. “The Nepalese have shown a great capacity to resolve difficult issues through peaceful dialogue, and I have no doubt that acts of terror will discredit whatever cause they are claimed to promote,” said Mr. Martin, who is also head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).According to media reports, at least two people were killed and more than two dozen others injured following three blasts that took place aboard a minibus packed with commuters, at a bus stop in the busy city centre and outside army headquarters.The attacks came just days after the Special Representative appealed for an end to violence ahead of November’s Constituent Assembly elections.Late last year, the Government and rebel Maoists signed a peace accord ending a decade-long armed conflict that killed some 13,000 people in the Himalayan nation. read more

Read More »

UN agriculture development fund supports microfinance in Pakistan

The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced that it will provide a $35 million loan to a new $46 million programme making microfinance services available to about 160,000 new clients – at least half of them women.“It is a pivotal time for microfinance in Pakistan,” says Nigel Brett, IFAD’s country programme manager for Pakistan. “Future growth in this sector will depend partly on microfinance institutions and commercial banks forging successful financing partnerships. This programme will work to build such partnerships.”The IFAD-supported programme will work with small farmers, livestock owners, traders and microentrepreneurs; women and households headed solely by women; and vulnerable rural households living below the poverty line.In another development, IFAD announced an over $14 million project to boost the market value of Bolivia’s millions of llamas, alpacas and undomesticated vicuñas in products like meat, hides and wool-based handicrafts, as well as eco-tourism. The agency will contribute a loan of $7.2 million for the initiative. “The project will give poor rural people better access to financial services and provide them with technical assistance, knowledge and information, so that they can start small businesses,” said Roberto Haudry de Soucy, IFAD’s country programme manager for Bolivia. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Although GDP per capita grew during the 1990s, it was insufficient to reduce poverty, inequality and social exclusion, IFAD said. Poverty in rural areas is almost double the rate it is in capital cities, and extreme poverty is nearly triple. 22 November 2007The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced that it will provide a $35 million loan to a new $46 million programme making microfinance services available to about 160,000 new clients – at least half of them women. read more

Read More »

Ban Kimoon to appoint new UN envoy for Chad Central African Republic

The mission, known as MINURCAT, was established by the Council last September to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan. It is a multidimensional operation including European Union military forces and comprising 300 police and 50 military liaison officers, as well as civilian staff, focusing on the areas of civil affairs, human rights and the rule of law. Mr. Angelo has served since 2005 as the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative for Sierra Leone, as well as Resident Coordinator of the UN system there. Prior to that, he was UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe. His career with the world body also included positions with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in East Timor, New York, Tanzania, the Gambia and the CAR. He also served as UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Mozambique and UN Adviser in Sao Tome and Principe. Prior to joining the UN, Mr. Angelo worked as University Lecturer and Senior Statistician in the Portuguese National Institute of Statistics, and was a member of the Electoral Commission of Portugal. 28 January 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Victor Da Silva Angelo of Portugal as his Special Representative for the new United Nations peacekeeping mission to Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). read more

Read More »

Time to devise better strategies to use and conserve scarce water –

17 March 2008The international community needs to start conceiving strategies for using water more efficiently and sharing it more fairly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, warning that unless action is taken soon, the problems caused by water shortages around the world will only multiply. In an opinion column published today in The Hindu of Chennai, India, ahead of celebrations on Saturday to mark World Water Day, Mr. Ban called for partnerships between governments, civil society groups, businesses and individuals to better use and conserve water.“We are at the early stages of this awakening,” he wrote. “But there are some encouraging signs, especially in the private sector. Corporations have long been viewed as culprits. The smokestacks from power plants pollute our air; the effluents from industry spoil our rivers. But this is changing – more and more today, businesses are working to become part of the solution, rather than the problem.”Mr. Ban cited the gathering earlier this month in New York of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative, on the subject of water.He stressed that it was important to move “beyond the mere use of water to stewardship,” given how scarce fresh water is becoming in so many regions of the world, both rich and poor.“International Alert has identified 46 countries, home to 2.7 billion people, where climate change and water-related crises create a high risk of violent conflict. A further 56 countries, representing another 1.2 billion people, are at high risk of political instability. That’s more than half the world.”The Secretary-General said population growth and climate change would only exacerbate the situation, observing that already one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease associated with a lack of clean water.Helping people living “in the most abysmal standards of hygiene and sanitation” would not only reduce the death toll, Mr. Ban stated, but would also assist in protecting the environment, alleviating poverty and fostering economic development. read more

Read More »

Deputy SecretaryGeneral heads to Japan for weeklong official visit

On Monday in Hiroshima, Ms. Migiro is scheduled to address the Third Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children and to participate in an inter-faith prayer for peace, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.The Deputy Secretary-General is expected to speak on Thursday in Yokohama before the plenary of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development, which this year is examining ways to boost economic growth, ensure human security and tackle climate change and other environmental issues.Ms. Migiro is also expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the margins of the conference with both Japanese and African officials, with progress far towards the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) likely to be high on the agenda.After the conference she will hold a joint press conference with UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Dervis, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. 23 May 2008Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro heads to Japan this weekend for a week-long visit that will focus on issues ranging from climate change to human security and economic growth. read more

Read More »

UN tribunal welcomes arrest of Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect

“The Prosecutor’s Office welcomes this development and the fact that this now brings the number of fugitives from four to three,” Olga Kavran, spokesperson for the Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said.Serbian authorities today informed the Tribunal, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, that Mr. Župljanin had been arrested. There had been a previous, unsuccessful attempt to apprehend the suspect.Ms. Kavran said today’s events confirmed what the Prosecutor has been saying for some time – namely that the remaining Bosnia Serb fugitives are within reach of Serbia. “We hope, of course, that Župljanin will be in The Hague shortly and that he will soon be followed by the remaining three fugitives – Radovan Karadžic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic,” she added. 11 June 2008The Prosecutor of the United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the worst crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s has welcomed today’s announcement that indicted Bosnian war crimes suspect Stojan Župljanin had been arrested. read more

Read More »

Darfur joint UN African envoy meets with local authorities on security

The Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada expressed appreciation for the good relationship between the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, and the State Governments and reiterated the mission’s commitment to fulfil its mandate of protecting civilians, in meetings with the Deputy Governor of South Darfur, as well as the Deputy Governor of West Darfur.He expressed appreciation for the good relationship between UNAMID and the State Governments and reiterated the peacekeeping operation’s commitment to fulfil its mandate of protecting civilians, said a UN spokesperson. In a related development UNAMID reported today that the remainder of the Egyptian infantry battalion, consisting of 93 peacekeepers, started arriving at its base in El Fasher, North Darfur. A second group, also consisting of 93 peacekeepers, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, bringing the battalion’s strength to 850, with the Egyptian contribution to the Mission at 1,588, and a total UNAMID military force of 12,937. The force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. One year from the transfer of responsibility to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), over 60 per cent of the 19,555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council are now in place.In other news, UNAMID today received information that armed militiamen opened fire in a market in El Fasher. The cause of the shooting is still unknown and UNAMID security is investigating the incident. 2 March 2009The joint Darfur envoy of the United Nations and the African Union (AU) today travelled to Nyala, South Darfur, and El Geneina, West Darfur, to discuss security problems with local authorities of the strife-torn region of Sudan. read more

Read More »

Nauru calls for enhanced UN presence in South Pacific

25 September 2009The United Nations’ strengthened presence and engagement in the South Pacific is vital if the region’s countries are to meet development goals, the President of Nauru told the General Assembly today. The United Nations’ strengthened presence and engagement in the South Pacific is vital if the region’s countries are to meet development goals, the President of Nauru told the General Assembly today.For the past four years, the island nation has called on the world body to set up an office in the country, Marcus Stephen said at the annual high-level debate.“The absence of the UN in the Pacific is reflected by the paucity of statistics collected in the region,” he pointed out, adding that such data is vital in tracking economic and social progress and in the ability of governments and regional organizations in setting policies.The President also pointed out the danger of adding “layers upon layers of new programmes,” noting existing schemes such as the Monterrey Consensus, the 2002 global partnership agreement for developed countries to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to official development aid (ODA).“Too often, the UN and other development partners succeed in delivering many new reports but fail to deliver tangible results,” he said. “Action plans are no substitute for action.” read more

Read More »

United Kingdoms Queen Elizabeth II plans to address UN General Assembly

The British monarch is slated to address the 192-member General Assembly on 6 July for the first time in over 50 years.The spokesperson for the Secretary-General said that Mr. Ban “looks forward to receiving Her Majesty personally on this historic occasion,” in a statement issued today.The head of State of the United Kingdom and 15 other UN Member States, the Queen has addressed the General Assembly only once before, in 1957.“The President of the General Assembly is very happy for this visit,” his spokesperson Jean-Victor Nkolo told the UN News Centre, noting that the confirmation comes on the heels of Mr. Treki’s own trip last week to London, when he met with the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband and its Minister for Europe Baroness Kinnock.“The President of the General Assembly hopes the Queen will throw her weight and support behind the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] and other important issues on the agenda of the General Assembly,” said Mr. Nkolo. 25 January 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Ali Treki today welcomed the announcement from Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth II will visit United Nations Headquarters in New York in July. read more

Read More »

Haitian quake survivors to benefit from more UN foodforwork projects

12 May 2010As Haiti continues to recover from January’s catastrophic earthquake, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced an increase in cash- and food-for-work programmes for the country. As Haiti continues to recover from January’s catastrophic earthquake, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced an increase in cash- and food-for-work programmes for the country.“Step by step, the people of Haiti are rebuilding their country,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, in the capital, Port-au-Prince. “This is a tribute to a nation that has shown extraordinary resilience in the face of epic levels of devastation.”More than 200,000 people were killed in the 12 January quake, which left 1.3 million people homeless, in addition to damaging Government buildings and vital infrastructure.WFP food was being distributed within hours of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake, and the agency has helped millions of people with its life-saving food rations in the first few months after the disaster.WFP is currently working with Haitian authorities to put the agency’s so-called toolbox – also including nutritional supplementary feeding and school meals – to full use, and these schemes are expected to benefit more than 2 million people.“We will look to empowering farming families and to stimulating markets across the country as a way to support the local community,” Ms. Sheeran, who wrapped up her two-day visit to the country, said.As Haiti enters the rain and hurricane season, WFP is also working to pre-position food, trucks and other supplies. It is also supporting local communities protect themselves against flooding, erosion and landslides.During her trip, Ms. Sheeran visited a cash- and food-for-work programme in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets, near the capital. Under this scheme, people who have lost their homes and livelihoods are building flood barriers to prevent the erosion of fertile soil, in return for food to feed their families and money to rebuild their homes.Such initiatives, she pointed out, are a vital element of WFP’s efforts to support long-term reconstruction, helping to jump-start the local economy and address food insecurity.Work projects are being scaled up to include 140,000 workers across Haiti, with benefits reaching up to 700,000 people in total.In Port-au-Prince, the WFP chief visited a school meals programme with the agency’s newest Ambassador Against Hunger, pop singer Christina Aguilera.In January, the five-time Grammy winner performed in MTV’s ‘Hope for Haiti’ telethon that raised more than $60 million for disaster relief, including for WFP relief work.Ms. Sheeran travelled to Haiti from Brazil, where she honoured President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for his leadership in the fight against hunger and inadequate nutrition in his country and across the world by recognizing him as a Global Champion in the Battle Against Hunger.“The Government of Brazil and the World Food Programme share a common vision of a world free of hunger,” she said.“President Lula has shown leadership in the fight against hunger by pushing the needs of the poor and the under-nourished to the very top of the international agenda.”Ms. Sheeran, who visited the site of one of Brazil’s national hunger programmes, “Fome Zero” (Zero Hunger) project near the capital, Brasilia, said Mr. Lula da Silva’s enthusiasm for the needs of the hungry had set an example for others. read more

Read More »

UN health agency declares H1N1 pandemic is over

10 August 2010The United Nations health agency today declared an end to the H1N1 pandemic but urged continued vigilance, cautioning that pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable. “We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course,” Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told reporters. The announcement follows an assessment by its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, which met earlier today, as well as reports from several countries that are now experiencing influenza. It comes a little more than a year after the agency first declared the start of the H1N1 pandemic. The new influenza virus spread with unprecedented speed, reaching 120 countries and territories in around eight weeks, according to WHO, which noted that cases were eventually reported in almost every country. Dr. Chan said that globally, the levels and patterns of H1N1 transmission now being seen differ significantly from what was observed during the pandemic. Out-of-season outbreaks are no longer being reported in either the northern or southern hemisphere. “Influenza outbreaks, including those primarily caused by the H1N1 virus, show an intensity similar to that seen during seasonal epidemics,” she noted. Also, during the pandemic, the H1N1 virus crowded out other influenza viruses to become the dominant virus. “This is no longer the case. Many countries are reporting a mix of influenza viruses, again as is typically seen during seasonal epidemics.” She noted that the start of the post-pandemic period does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away. “Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come. “Pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable. So is the immediate post-pandemic period,” she stated. She stressed that continued vigilance is extremely important, and WHO has issued advice on recommended surveillance, vaccination, and clinical management during the post-pandemic period. read more

Read More »

UN envoy calls again for dialogue to resolve tensions in Lebanon

7 December 2010The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon today reiterated his concern over the crisis that has put on hold the work of key national institutions, and called once again for dialogue to resolve existing tensions. “We continue to believe that all problems, no matter how sensitive, have to be resolved through dialogue and with all sides relying on the state institutions,” Michael Williams said in a statement in Beirut.His comments followed a meeting with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, during which he was accompanied by General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).The situation in Lebanon has been marked by rising tensions in recent months and described by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “domestic climate of uncertainty and fragility” in a report issued in October. “The country’s political leaders must focus on strengthening its sovereignty and independence as well as its institutions,” Mr. Ban stated in that report. Mr. Williams and Gen. Asarta also informed Mr. Berri about their joint visit last week to Israel to discuss the issue of a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the northern part of Ghajar, a village that straddles the so-called Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon.Last month Israel announced its decision, in principle, to withdraw its army – the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – from the area, which Mr. Ban welcomed as an important step towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which brought to an end the 2006 conflict between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah.“We believe this is an important development,” said Mr. Williams. “At the same time, as we explained to Speaker Berri today, the withdrawal of the IDF from northern Ghajar is but a first step towards resolving the status of Ghajar so that Lebanese sovereignty is fully restored over all Lebanese territory and that also the humanitarian requirements of the villagers are met.”Mr. Williams added that he and Gen. Asarta are planning to meet later this week with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Sleiman. read more

Read More »