By Morgan HekkingRabat – Sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) is a strong concern for displaced Syrians around the world, but this issue is especially heightened in host countries where economic opportunities are limited. SGBV includes psychological and emotional abuse, forced marriage, child marriage, sexual assault, and rape. This type of violence occurs in both refugee camps and non-camp settings, and can be perpetrated by fellow refugees or natives of the host country. According to the Jordan INGO Forum (JIF), economic pressures and stressful living conditions can trigger what psychologists refer to as negative coping mechanisms. Within families, examples of negative coping mechanisms include using child marriage, labor, and trafficking to ameliorate financial hardships. Psychological distress can also generate sexual assault and abuse within the home, often in the form of intimate-partner violence. Although the primary targets of SGBV in refugee communities are women and girls, men and boys are also vulnerable to sexual violence, based on UNHCR regional studies. The perpetrators of this violence are typically male family members or older boys and men from local communities, both refugee and host. Refugee girls’ mobility in Lebanon is restricted by looming threats organization’ threats of sexual assault and harassment outside the home. In a study conducted by the humanitarian organization Plan International, Syrian girls in Beirut reported being harassed and chased by men and boys, and expressed fears of being kidnapped or raped. In Lebanon, Syrian refugee girls are getting married and having children at a young age, according to Plan International’s research. Colin Lee, the regional program director for the Middle East says, “child marriage is on the rise because parents are so fearful for their daughters’ safety.” The Higher Population Council’s 2017 report on child marriage in Jordan offers similar reasoning: “for families, marriage seemed the only option for their daughters to be safe and provided for, even at 14 years old.” Early marriages amongst Syrian refugees in Jordan has been on the rise for several years, with many Syrian refugee girls getting married to older Jordanian men. Child marriage allows many refugee families to ease financial burdens and can offer peace of mind regarding the safety of their daughters. However, this survival strategy is ultimately damaging to young refugee girls, who are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their family’s livelihood.
BEIRUT — The U.S.-led coalition killed more than 1,600 civilians in the northern Syria city of Raqqa during months of bombardment that liberated it from the Islamic State group, far more than the number announced earlier by the U.S.-led coalition, Amnesty International and a London-based watchdog group said Thursday.Amnesty and Airwars said the toll came after the “most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict.”The U.S.-led coalition said last month that 1,257 civilians were killed in airstrikes against IS over four years in Syria and Iraq.“We continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure,” the coalition said.Raqqa was the de facto capital of IS’s self-declared caliphate, which once encompassed a third of Syria and Iraq. Last month, IS lost the last area it controlled in eastern Syria marking the end of the so-called caliphate.U.S.-backed Syrian fighters captured Raqqa in October 2017 after a four-month campaign.The U.N estimates that more than 10,000 buildings were destroyed or 80 per cent of the city.“Coalition forces razed Raqqa, but they cannot erase the truth. Amnesty International and Airwars call upon the Coalition forces to end their denial about the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction caused by their offensive in Raqqa,” the two groups said in a joint statement.In June last year, an Amnesty International report said hundreds of civilians were killed in Raqqa, while the Airwars said it has evidence of 1,400 fatalities.The statement said Amnesty International’s innovative “Strike Trackers” project also identified when each of the more than 11,000 destroyed buildings in Raqqa was hit. More than 3,000 digital activists in 124 countries took part, analyzing a total of more than 2 million satellite image frames, it said.“The Coalition needs to fully investigate what went wrong at Raqqa and learn from those lessons, to prevent inflicting such tremendous suffering on civilians caught in future military operations,” said Chris Woods, Director of Airwars.Separately, Syrian Minister of Transportation Ali Hammoud said his country will sign a contract with a Russian company to run and expand the port of Tartous on the Mediterranean.Hammoud said in remarks published by the pro-government Al-Watan daily Thursday that Russia’s Stroytransgaz will run the port for 49 years. The minister added that a Russian company would expand the port and pump more than $500 million in this project, pointing that it has been agreed with the company to keep all Syrian workers in the port.Russia has been a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and Moscow tipped the balance of power in favour of government forces after joining Syria’s war in 2015.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov met with Assad in Damascus over the weekend and said in comments carried by Russian news agencies that he was expecting the contract to be signed this week.Borisov said the Russian lease of the port would boost bilateral trade and benefit the Syrian economy.Stroytransgaz is controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s childhood friend Gennady Timchenko. The Tartous port would be an important asset for the company which landed a contract for 30 per cent of the output in a major phosphate field outside Palmyra last year and signed a deal with a government-owned chemical company to rebuild Syria’s only fertilizer plant in the central province of Homs.Unlike many major Russian companies, private or state-owned, Stroytransgaz is not wary of international sanctions against the Syrian government since Timchenko himself and his businesses including Stroytransgaz were slapped with U.S. sanctions in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.Bassem Mroue, The Associated Press
We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created history as the first Canadian team to win an NBA championship, and businesses attempted to capitalize on the frenzy. Some came out on top earning the goodwill of fans, while others garnered negative publicity.Here’s a look at some of the business winners and losers of the Raptors’ championship run.Scotiabank and TangerineScotiabank paid a whopping $800-million in 2017 for the naming rights to the arena where the Raptors play. The deal later expanded to include its subsidiary, Tangerine, becoming the official bank of the basketball team.On playoff game days and the day after, Tangerine experienced a 50 per cent spike in website traffic and saw a 20 per cent jump in the number of customers who signed up for an account, said Scotiabank spokesman Doug Johnson.When the NBA season started last fall, only six per cent of Raptors fans were aware of Tangerine, he added. That grew to 40 per cent by the start of the playoffs and is now well over 50 per cent.Cineplex EntertainmentIn less than 24 hours, Cineplex decided to arrange to view the final series games at some of its theatres so fans could enjoy a communal place to rally around the Raptors, said Sarah Van Lange, the company’s executive director of communications.By the championship game, it was streaming the game at 45 theatres around Canada and seven of its Rec Room locations, she said. Customers had to pick up free tickets at the box office to attend the screenings and most were at capacity.Though Cineplex did not charge fans to attend the viewings or show advertisements before the show, Van Lange considers the move a win for the company.“One of the biggest returns for us was the sense of goodwill with our guests, and providing a venue and a location for them to have a shared experience around the Raptors,” she said, adding Cineplex would do it again “without question.”McDonald’s CanadaMcDonald’s Canada ran a season-long promotion giving fans free medium fries the day after a game where the Raptors scored 12 three-pointers or more. Customers had to have the McDonald’s app and redeem the offer between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m. the day after the game at participating Ontario restaurants, according to the company’s website.In the 2017-18 regular season, before the promotion, the Raptors made an average 11.8 three pointers a game, according to the team stat’s page on the NBA website.After the acquisition of superstar Kawhi Leonard, the team averaged 12.4 three pointers a game in the regular season.After the lengthy playoff run, the company gave away more than 2 million orders of fries — far surpassing their projected number of 700,000 fries during the regular season, said spokesman Adam Grachnik in an email.Though that’s more than it budgeted for, “the promotion had a very positive impact” on the app with a 26 per cent increase in users based in Ontario since the promotion started, he said.Restaurants and barsEateries showing the final series cashed in as fans opened up their wallets.Between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET on the eve of game five, bars in downtown Toronto that use a Moneris payment processing terminal saw a 93 per cent spike in spending than during the same time the previous year, according to data from Moneris. Across Canada, that figure was a jump of 63 per cent.Data for game six spending would be available Wednesday, wrote spokesperson Jesse Patterson in an email.However, not all companies came out ahead. Some experienced negative publicity or upset fans.Bell CanadaBell faced the wrath of Raptors fans after its Fibe TV feeds went dead in the final minutes of games 5 and 6.The company’s customer support Twitter account was flooded with complaints during the sixth and final game when people trying to watch the game saw an error message instead.The company said a technical issue caused the outage both times and apologized to customers. It said it has been in touch with affected customers to offer a credit.NikeNike experienced some negative publicity when one of the Raptors’ star players, Leonard, filed a lawsuit in early June against the athletic-wear retailer. He alleged the company is blocking him from using a logo that he believes he owns.Leonard, who was a Nike endorser until 2018, claims in the lawsuit that Nike filed a copyright application for a logo he designed, known as his klaw logo, and did so without his knowledge or consent. Nike allegedly told the athlete to stop using the logo, while he is preparing to use it on several products connected with sports camps and charity functions.Nike has previously declined to comment on the case, saying it does not discuss pending litigation. — With files from The Associated PressCompanies in this story: (TSX:BCE) (TSX:CGX) (TSX:BNS)The Canadian Press
Hailing the French navy for protecting its ships carrying aid supplies from pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia since mid-November, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has thanked Denmark for agreeing to take over the operation for the next two months.WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement yesterday from the agency’s headquarters in Rome that “safe travel through Somali waters has made an enormous impact on our ability to reach more than a million hungry, vulnerable people.“As food security continues to deteriorate in Somalia, and the number of hungry people is set to rise, I urge other governments to step forward in the same spirit of cooperation.”Since French navy ships began their escort operation in November, nine shipments carrying over 30,000 tons of food – or enough to feed 300,000 people for six months – have travelled safely from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to either Mogadishu or Merka in Somalia.WFP has also been able to build up its in-country stocks of food and, if shipments continue, now expects to feed 1.8 million people in the Horn of Africa nation this year, up from 1.53 million in 2007.The escort operation began after an escalating series of attacks of piracy were reported off the Somali coast last year, including some in which crew members were taken hostage. In total, 31 acts of piracy were reported, including three against ships ferrying WFP supplies.The UN agency said the situation in Somalia remains grim, particularly in Mogadishu, where the fighting has been fiercest in the past year. In other parts of the country, locals have endured their worst cereal harvest in 13 years.Without new donations of food, WFP estimates that it will exhaust its existing supplies as early as March, and it is calling for $15 million to buy almost 20,000 tons of food to cover shortfalls until June. 3 February 2008Hailing the French navy for protecting its ships carrying aid supplies from pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia since mid-November, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has thanked Denmark for agreeing to take over the operation for the next two months.
17 March 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is dispatching the United Nations’ top political official to Cyprus to lead an assessment team to the region amid hopes of a possible breakthrough in the search for a resolution to the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island. Mr. Ban told reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York that he was sending Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe to head a team that would “engage in dialogue with all stakeholders” in Cyprus. “We hope that we will be able to see improvement and make some breakthrough in this long-pending issue in Europe,” Mr. Ban said. Dimitris Christofias was recently elected President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Secretary-General said he was encouraged by both the signals so far from Mr. Christofias and from the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, who met with Mr. Ban last week in Senegal, and “also expressed his willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.” Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat have agreed to take part in direct talks under UN auspices this Friday in Nicosia. “I think the international community should seize the momentum and window of opportunity when Mr. Christofias, the new Cyprus President, was elected and [who] is committed to a resolution of this issue,” Mr. Ban said. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in March 1964 following the outbreak of intercommunal violence on the Mediterranean island and the mission is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to the maintenance of law and order and to a return to normal conditions.
6 October 2008Top United Nations officials have marked World Habitat Day with a call to ensure that the rapid urbanization of towns and cities – which the majority of people today call home – is accompanied by decent living conditions and efforts to preserve the environment. Top United Nations officials have marked World Habitat Day with a call to ensure that the rapid urbanization of towns and cities – which the majority of people today call home – is accompanied by decent living conditions and efforts to preserve the environment. The theme of this year’s Day is “harmonious cities,” in an effort to raise awareness of the problems of rapid urbanization, its impact on the environment and the challenges of rising urban poverty.“Our rapidly urbanizing world cannot claim to be harmonious if slum dwellers do not enjoy opportunities to find jobs and improve their living conditions,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, which is observed on the first Monday in October each year. “Nor will it be harmonious if the growth and expansion of urban areas comes at the expense of the natural environment,” he added. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of anti-poverty targets world leaders committed to in 2000, call for a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.“Cities have tremendous potential to be places where balanced development prevails, where diverse people live in harmony, and where healthy living conditions coexist with low levels of energy consumption, resource-use and waste,” said Mr. Ban.“I call on all partners and stakeholders to do our utmost to realize this potential, and to build decent living conditions for all women, men and children in a way that also preserves our natural heritage and promotes greener and smarter growth.”Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of the agency which promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities and adequate shelter for all (known as UN-HABITAT), said that with the number of urban slum dwellers worldwide moving above the 1 billion mark, rising urban poverty is one of today’s biggest development challenges.“We have both a moral and ethical responsibility to make our cities more harmonious by making them more inclusive. It is a societal imperative that we fight urban poverty and squalor if we are to secure urban safety and security,” she said in her message for the Day.Ms. Tibaijuka added that it is no coincidence that climate change is emerging at the forefront of international debate at the same time as the world becomes more urbanized. “Cities consume upwards of 75 per cent of all energy and contribute to an equally substantial amount of green house gas emissions. Cities must therefore be an integral part of any mitigation efforts,” she stated. “Reducing the contribution of cities to climate change and the vulnerability of cities to the effects of climate change must be viewed as a historical opportunity to improve the living conditions of all women and men, including the most vulnerable segments of our urban populations,” she added. “I can think of no better initiative than to combine these efforts to make our cities and towns greener and safer and more equitable.” The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing noted that the growth of slums in the last 15 years has been “unprecedented” with one out of every three city dwellers today – approximately 998 million people – living in a slum. “Living in slums means being deprived of access to adequate sanitation, education and health care or to other services and opportunities. It also means being excluded from full participation in civic life and the exercise of citizen’s rights, as slums are considered illegal, informal or transitory and in any case a non-permanent part of a city’s political and economic fabric,” Raquel Rolnik said in a statement. Numerous events are taking place around the globe to mark this year’s World Habitat Day, including the launch in Bangkok of a free online “Quick Guides” to help policymakers deal with the key issues of housing urban poor in the Asia-Pacific region. The Quick Guides, developed jointly by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN-HABITAT, are in response to the unprecedented growth of slums and squatter settlements that over 500 million people in the region call home. This year’s Day comes ahead of the fourth session of the World Urban Forum, set to take place in Nanjing, China, from 3 to 6 November. The Forum, the premier global event on managing urbanization, will also witness the launch of the State of the World’s Cities, UN-HABITAT’s flagship biennial publication.Nanjing is also the recipient of this year’s Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation, which is conferred upon cities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, local authorities, public, private and research bodies, or individuals for outstanding achievements in the cause of sustainable human settlements. In addition, the Chinese cities of Shaoxing and Zhangjiagang were given the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award, along with the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the Russian city of Bugulma, and Ciudad Juarez, a major Mexican city on the United States border.
Sahra Omar Farah, her two teenage sons – one of whom was deaf – and her 12-year-old daughter were stabbed and bludgeoned to death last Friday in a shop run by fellow Somalis in a village in the Eastern Cape, according to a news release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).Ms. Farah’s body was reported to have been stabbed over 100 times, and initial signs suggest that both she and her daughter may have been subjected to sexual assaults. “I strongly condemn these murders of a defenceless family, apparently simply because they were foreigners,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay. “Xenophobic attacks unfortunately occur regularly in quite a few countries, but this is one of the most vicious examples we have heard of recently, outside of war zones.“Somalia is currently in a deplorable state, with conflict raging – especially in Mogadishu, where this family is believed to have come from – and there is huge displacement and suffering. To find safe haven in a country like South Africa, only to be brutally murdered a short while later, is beyond tragic,” she stated.Last Friday’s incident is the latest in a series of attacks targeted against foreigners living in South Africa. In May, tensions related to the large-scale influx of migrants and refugees into the country erupted into several days of attacks on foreigners that left over 60 people dead and more than 15,000 displaced. Ms. Pillay noted that Somali traders and shopkeepers have been a particular target, with another three Somali shopkeepers murdered since last Friday in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. “There appears to be a dangerous pattern of targeted attacks on foreigners, especially, but not exclusively, involving Somalis,” Ms. Pillay said. While she welcomed the arrest of three suspects in the attack, the High Commissioner called for concerted and long-term efforts by authorities to prevent such violence in the future. 7 October 2008The top United Nations human rights official today condemned the brutal killing of a Somali family in South Africa, and urged the authorities to take immediate action to protect foreigners from any further attacks.
24 March 2009An independent United Nations human rights expert has welcomed Benin’s efforts to boost food security, while stressing that they should not only increase production but also improve the lives of the country’s most vulnerable. Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, focused his 11 to 20 March visit on the situation of three vulnerable groups: small farmers, the urban poor and detainees. Small farmers, the largest of the three in terms of size, deserved particular attention, according to a news release issued at the end of his visit. His visit took place as strategies are being devised to revitalize the country’s agriculture as well as for rural land reform. In addition, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is entering the final phase of negotiation of an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.Mr. De Schutter welcomed the “significant” efforts by the Government to strengthen food security, particularly in anticipation and reaction to the increase in food prices in early 2008. He also welcomed the plans to revitalize agriculture, and hailed the decision to place agriculture at the centre of the country’s development. “The Special Rapporteur highlights that the agricultural revitalization should achieve not only an increase in total production thus allowing the country to be less dependent on imports due to a diversification gained from food crops, but in particular it should lead to an improvement in the enjoyment of the right to food of the most vulnerable,” according to a news release.In addition to the plight of small farmers, the urban poor and detainees, Mr. De Schutter said that the situation of women and their access to productive resources should be a priority, adding that proposed land reform measures will have an important impact on these groups. He noted that their situation should also be taken into account when evaluating Benin’s entry into regional and international markets. Over the course of his 10-day visit, the Special Rapporteur met with Government officials, the judiciary, officials dealing with the issue of food security, UN agencies and aid organizations. He also talked with farmers and their families, researchers and members of civil society to better understand the food situation in the West African country. Mr. De Schutter, who, like all Special Rapporteurs, carries out his work in an unpaid capacity, will submit a full report on his visit to Benin to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
Mayors and representatives from some of the world’s major cities are meeting today at the United Nations to discuss how better infrastructure planning can help achieve sustainable urban development. Participants at the gathering – the Conference on Sustainable Urbanization in the Information Age, Role of Infrastructure – will share experiences and focus on solutions to improve the capacities of local governments for planning and management of physical infrastructure networks, as well as ‘soft’ infrastructure such as health care and education. They will also share innovative information and communication technology (ICT) models for sustainable urban planning, in addition to know-how on how to bridge the digital divide in that area.Officials and policymakers from cities, including Cape Town, Jakarta, New York and Melbourne, will also discuss how to address challenges such as global warming and climate change.The meeting is the second in a series sponsored by the UN, the American Institute of Architects and the Regional Plan Associations on sustainability in the information age, and follows a conference held last year in New York focusing on the environmental impact of cities.It takes place amid the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which is currently meeting in New York and aiming to take policy decisions in areas such as agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. 13 May 2009Mayors and representatives from some of the world’s major cities are meeting today at the United Nations to discuss how better infrastructure planning can help achieve sustainable urban development.
14 June 2010United Nations relief agencies are dispatching emergency aid and staff to Central Asia, where tens of thousands of refugees have crossed into Uzbekistan as they flee several days of deadly ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan. More than 75,000 ethnic Uzbeks are estimated to have fled Kyrgyzstan since Friday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today, citing figures from the Government of Uzbekistan.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it is preparing to deploy both aid supplies and staff with experience in dealing with emergencies, such as field officers and logistics experts, to help the new arrivals in Uzbekistan. The aid will be sent from the agency’s stockpile in Dubai.More than 110 people are confirmed to have died and at least 1,300 others are injured as a result of the clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that erupted last week. The southern Kyrgyz city of Osh has been the worst affected by the violence, but there have been reports of widespread killing, looting and marauding in Jalalabat and several rural districts as well.OCHA reported that the majority of residents in the ethnic Uzbek neighbourhoods of Osh has either abandoned their homes or barricaded themselves inside.“We are very grateful for the willingness of the Uzbek authorities to welcome and receive people fleeing violence in Kyrgyzstan,” said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a statement.“We have agreed with the Uzbek Government to support their efforts and assist tens of thousands, mostly women and children, seeking safety.”Kyrgyzstan has been wracked by unrest this year and in early April a violent uprising ousted the then president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.This evening the Security Council issued a press statement condemning the violence in Kyrgyzstan and calling for a return to the rule of law as soon as possible.In the statement, read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, the 15-member panel said it would continue to monitor the situation closely.Earlier, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council on the latest developments in Central Asia.He said the UN expects to launch a flash appeal later this week for people affected by the violence and unrest, with shortages of food, water and electricity all reported.Mr. Pascoe stressed that it is vital to open a humanitarian corridor in Kyrgyzstan so that UN agencies and other aid providers can deliver assistance as soon as possible.Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged local and national authorities in Kyrgyzstan “to take swift and decisive action to protect citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin, and curb the violence.”Ms. Pillay was she was disturbed by the scale of the violence and the inter-ethnic nature of the attacks.“It seems indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes have been taking place on the basis of ethnicity. This is a very dangerous situation, given the ethnic patchwork in this part of Kyrgyzstan, as well as in neighbouring areas of Uzbekistan.“It has been known for many years that this region is a potential tinder-box, and for that reason it is essential that the authorities act firmly to halt the fighting – which appears to be orchestrated, targeted and well planned – before it spreads further.”Some media reports have suggested that authorities in southern Kyrgyzstan have adopted a shoot-to-kill policy in the wake of the violence, and Ms. Pillay stressed that this is not the answer.“A state of emergency has been declared, and this is probably a necessary decision in the circumstances. However, the right to life and the right not to be tortured cannot be set aside during an emergency. Security forces need to be given strict instructions to avoid unnecessary force, and to steer clear of taking sides in the conflict, while still doing their utmost to bring an end to the violence.”For her part, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, expressed her concern over reports that children are being killed, maimed and displaced during the clashes, calling on all parties to show restraint.“Children are particularly vulnerable and have no place in conflict,” she stressed. “I ask for humanitarian aid to focus on the young at risk of physical and psychological trauma and I will continue to closely monitor the situation.”The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also issued a statement voicing deep concern about the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan.“UNICEF has received distressing reports, including photographs, of children being displaced, traumatized, separated from family members, and even being killed,” the agency said.“UNICEF urges all parties to take all necessary measures to protect children, who are always the most vulnerable in conflicts, and stresses that no children should be involved in conflict or participate in demonstrations.”The agency has sent emergency supplies – including tents, blankets, health kits, kitchen sets and water purification tablets – to those who have fled the fighting sheltering in the Fergana Valley near the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.The Uzbek Government has opened schools and colleges to accommodate refugees – the vast majority of whom are women, children and the elderly – streaming out of Osh and Jalalabad since the fighting started last week.Over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is conducting an official visit to Africa, conferred by telephone on the situation in Kyrgyzstan with Kanat Sauabayev, the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE).Miroslav Jenča, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), visited Osh a week ago and is also holding discussions with the envoys of the OSCE and the European Union (EU).
25 September 2010Three Pacific Ocean countries today appealed to United Nations Member States to act fast to combat climate change and start mobilizing the resources needed to mitigate the effects of global warming, especially in small island developing States that are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. “Those most vulnerable and those willing to confront the challenges facing us must take leadership in this process by putting forward our own agreement spelling real and ambitious commitments and actions to address climate change – we urge others to follow,” said President Iroj Jurelang Zedkaia of the Marshall Islands during the third day of the General Assembly’s high-level debate.He called for “shovel-ready” climate change adaptation measures that will help small island developing States conserve water and other resources and protect their infrastructure.“It should be a matter of serious concern to the Secretary-General that we are actively contemplating risks to our territorial integrity and UN membership, that we are considering options to safeguard our population’s political rights if our land – and our thin water table – becomes unusable in the face of rising seas,” Mr. Zedkaia said.He also said that overfishing in the Pacific had strangled the Marshall Islands’ development and urged regional fisheries management organizations and UN agencies to identify strategies to assist the islands to realize greater share of benefits from the resource, especially Pacific tuna fishing.Echoing the same message, the Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Alik L. Alik, said delays in adopting a comprehensive and legally-binding agreement to avert global climate disaster was inexcusable.“In Micronesia, we are deeply disappointed in the glacial progress at the negotiating sessions and climate change meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said Mr. Alik.“At the same time, we are growing increasingly alarmed by the prospect of lowering ambitions for the meeting in Cancun, Mexico, later this year,” he added.He said the incidence of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing in the Pacific remains of great concern.“We do maintain high expectations that through the support of the international community we can combat this illegal activity that threatens the sustainability of our fish stocks and deprives our people of the potential economic benefits,” Mr. Alik said.Kiribati’s President Anote Tong told the high-level debate that coastal erosion in heavily populated areas in his country is occurring at a rate that exceeded the Government’s capacity to respond, adding that lack of resources is exacerbating the problem.“Long before our islands are inundated by the rising seas, they will become uninhabitable as freshwater aquifers are contaminated by saltwater intrusion from rising tides,” Mr. Tong said.
Some $170,000 in proceeds from the “Match against Poverty” – held in Greece last December – will support the reconstruction of sports centres for 400 youngsters in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince and the city of Léogâne. An equal amount will help up to 1,200 women-headed households in rural Muzafargarh in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the UN Development Fund (UNDP), which organized the fundraiser, said in a press release yesterday.The Haiti-based project involves community members in cash-for-work to rehabilitate sports facilities. Through its different components, the project targets groups that were affected by the quake and who still live in precarious conditions. The project will be integrated into an ongoing programme that uses sports activities to promote conflict resolution.The UN Volunteers (UNV) programme is supporting the initiative by promoting the values of volunteering and civic engagement in the community.“The match funds will be used to complement our ongoing efforts to include youth in our activities in affected and damaged neighbourhoods where we are already working to facilitate return of people displaced by the earthquake,” said Jessica Faieta, UNDP’s Haiti senior country director.The project in Pakistan aims to achieve a 30 per cent increase in income and assets of vulnerable women in Muzafargarh district by providing them with cash subsidies and training to start or build up small businesses. The region was one of the worst affected by the massive floods that inundated large swathes of Pakistan for months in summer of last year.The home-based enterprises are expected to include crop production, storage and marketing, dairy farming, livestock production and trading, grocery shops, embroidery centres and agriculture supply stores. “The initiative is helping women to organize themselves into groups and to establish home-based businesses to create sources of additional income and to generate productive assets for the households,” said Toshihiro Tanaka, UNDP’s Pakistan country director. “Though the amount is modest, using it to promote community enterprise development will ensure every penny is targeted for maximum impact in restoring the livelihoods of vulnerable households affected by floods,” he added. 15 June 2011Hundreds of youths who survived last year’s massive earthquake in Haiti and more than 1,000 women displaced by floods in Pakistan will benefit from funds raised in a United Nations-organized football match in aid of post-disaster reconstruction work in the two countries.
10 July 2011The Secretary-General’s special envoy for Libya, Abdul Elah al-Khatib, has had talks in the country’s capital, Tripoli, with both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, stressing the need for a political solution to the ongoing conflict to spare the people of further suffering. Mr. Khatib, who visited Tripoli yesterday, emphasized that a settlement must address the legitimate demands and aspirations of the people of Libya for a democratic future.“The Special Envoy raised ideas with respect to the management of a transition in Libya. [He] also listened to the views of the Government of Libya regarding the impact of sanctions and NATO operations,” said a statement released by Mr. Khatib’s office.He will travel to New York over the weekend to brief the Secretary-General and the United Nations Security Council on Monday on his efforts to find a solution to the Libya crisis.Libya has been engulfed by fighting since a pro-democracy movement opposed to the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi emerged in February following similar protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries across North Africa and the Middle East.
More than 200 scientists conferring in the 25th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) animal committee in Geneva agreed on technical recommendations to control animal trade in several species, CITES said in a press statement.The committee focused on high levels of trading in three snake species: the oriental rat snake, the reticulated python and the Indonesian cobra. They endorsed recommendations that include tightening the controls on snake-breeding facilities and the supply chain for skin trade. Snakes from the forests and jungles of Asia play a vital role within their ecosystems. For example, if snakes were to disappear from the rice fields or other crop-producing landscapes of Asia, their prey, left behind with no predator to control their numbers, could have devastating effects on agricultural production, food security and national economies, CITES said.Snakes are consumed for food, traditional medicines and skins. They are also sold as pets and found in expensive luxury leather goods and accessories, in the boutiques of Europe and North America.The committee also examined volumes of international trade in the long-tailed macaque, originating mainly in China, Indonesia and Cambodia, which is used in biomedical research and which has experienced a rapid surge in international trade since 2004. Carlos Ibero, chair of the animals committee, said “many of the individual species that have been reviewed and considered at this meeting occur in South-East Asia, which has become a sort of hotspot for wildlife trade. This is due to the fact that it is a region rich in biodiversity with an increasing prosperous population as well as many people relying on wildlife for their living.” The committee also asked CITES, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other international organizations to provide financial and technical support for the implementation of a three-phase work-plan focused on stock-assessment for sturgeons and paddlefish in the Caspian Sea.CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva. 22 July 2011Animal experts from 50 countries meeting at a United Nations-backed conference today expressed concern about the sustainability of current levels of trade in snake skins used in luxury products and another 20 animal species used in biomedical research, the food industry or as pets.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he is deeply concerned about the deterioration of the security situation in Southern Kordofan, which has been the scene of fighting between Government forces and members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), as well as the eruption of fighting in Blue Nile state. “The Secretary-General urges the parties to immediately cease all hostilities and allow access to the humanitarian agencies to all affected areas to provide vital assistance to the civilian population,” said the statement. Mr. Ban also welcomed the recent efforts led by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, to help the parties resolve their differences through peaceful political means. Last month the UN called for a thorough investigation into violations of international law committed in Southern Kordofan which it said could, if substantiated, amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. A preliminary report, produced jointly by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the former UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), described a wide range of alleged violations of international law in the town of Kadugli, as well as in the surrounding Nuba mountains, during the month of June. Reported violations included extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property, as well as massive displacement. 2 September 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for an immediate end to the fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and for access for humanitarian agencies to the affected areas.
MONTREAL — Bombardier Aerospace says it has received two orders worth about US$800 million for 13 Global business jets from two undisclosed customers.One firm order is for four Global 6000 and four long-range Global 8000 aircraft, valued at US$500-million based on 2012 list prices. The second is for four Global 6000 and one Global 8000 aircraft.Bombardier business aircraft president Steve Ridolfi said sales momentum for its new Global 8000 aircraft is strong while the entire line of large jets offers great range, cabin volume and a vision flight deck.[np-related]The backlog for its Global line of planes is 35 months.The Global 8000 is slated to enter into service in 2017. Bombardier said the delivery schedule for the 13 aircraft is confidential.The new Global 7000 and 8000 planes under development are forecasted to generate US$1.5-billion to US$2 billion in annual revenues.The world’s largest business jet manufacturer has said that 40 per cent of its private jets will be delivered outside of Europe and the United States over the next decade, representing 400 additional units per year.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier’s shares closed down three cents at $3.69 in Friday trading.
TORONTO — Ontario’s Liberal government is promising to inject billions of new dollars into health care in its first balanced budget in a decade, a fiscal plan designed to appeal to nearly everyone in the province ahead of an election next summer.Crafted by a party in power since 2003 that has been faring poorly in recent polls, the $141-billion budget has measures targeted at both young and old, people who access the health care system and anyone who owns or rents a home and pays an electricity bill.The centrepiece of the plan is a $465-million-a-year pharmacare program for children and youth, which would cover prescription medications to treat most acute and common chronic conditions for people under age 25, with no deductible or co-payment. It would start Jan. 1.The plan will be most beneficial for youth who currently are not covered under private plans or the Ontario Drug Benefit program for social assistance recipients, but government officials weren’t able to say how many people that captures.In total, the government is promising $11.5 billion in new spending on health care over three years, including money to address hospital overcrowding, funding for mental health and addiction services, cash for hospital construction projects and home care funding.Here are six ways the Ontario Budget will help (or hurt) your walletSyndicated mortgage market gets a new watchdog and 5 other measures in the Ontario budget to protect investorsFree abortion pill, cash for boobs and babies: Top 23 takeaways from the Ontario budgetThe budget also includes funds for new child care spaces, money to build schools, measures aimed at seniors and previously announced cuts to electricity bills and plans to cool the housing market.Much of the projected spending, however, is spread out over multiple years, well past the June 2018 election. But Finance Minister Charles Sousa said his “socially progressive” budget is not a ploy for votes.“These decisions that we’re making today are not based on election cycles, they’re based on long-term benefit for the people of Ontario,” he said.Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the budget is not, in fact, structurally balanced, because of one-time asset sale money — such as the sale of shares of Hydro One — and accounting “tricks,” such as counting public pension surpluses as assets, against the advice of the province’s Auditor general.“This budget is a patchwork attempt by a desperate government to fix the mess they’ve created before the next election,” he said. “If they lose this next election this is spending they’ll never have to be accountable for.”The price tag for the Liberals’ centrepiece pharmacare plan is not in the budget itself and was provided only verbally by staffers.“Listen, that document is what, 296 pages long,” Sousa said when asked about the absence. “You can’t put everything in the document.”Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who just this week announced a New Democrat government would bring in universal pharmacare for people of all ages, said the Liberal plan seems last minute.“I think it’s quite curious as well,” she said. “All I can think of is that they made it up on the back of a napkin before they got to today.”The Liberals had promised no new taxes on families, though they are increasing tobacco taxes by $10 per carton over the next three years and giving municipalities the power to introduce a hotel tax.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette In addition to balancing the books this year, the government is now projecting balanced budgets through to 2019-20. Despite reaching balance, however, the province’s debt continues to grow.It is projected to be $312 billion this year, growing to $336 billion in 2019-20. Interest on debt is the fourth largest spending area, at $11.6 billion.Historically low interest rates helped the province get to balance, but interest on debt is still projected to be the fastest growing expenditure area, at an average 3.6 per cent from 2015 to 2020.Nonetheless, the government paints a rosy economic outlook, projecting two per cent average GDP growth through to 2020, driven by exports and business investment.On the infrastructure front, spending is growing from a promise last year of $160 billion over 12 years to $190 million over 13 years. The additional $30 billion will go toward new hospital projects, school renewal and child care expansion.Ontario will also move ahead with planning a high-speed rail corridor between Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Windsor, the government said in the budget. The project could cut travel times from Toronto to Windsor from the current four hours to two.Under the education banner, about $16 billion is earmarked over 10 years to build and improve schools at a time when the government is coming under fire for rural school closures. Another $200 million will go to creating 24,000 child care spaces and subsidizing 60 per cent of them.Seniors are also specifically targeted in the budget. A public transit tax credit for people 65 and older will see 15 per cent of eligible transit costs refunded with an average annual benefit of $130. That is estimated to cost the government about $10 million a year. The measure comes after the federal government announced it was eliminating a 15-per-cent tax credit for commuters who buy a transit pass.There is also $11 million over three years for a seniors community grant program and another $8 million over three years for new community centres with seniors’ programming. The province has also earmarked $100 million over three years for a dementia strategy that will include helping patients and their caregivers find support and improve training for health-care workers.
Report By Jamila Najmuddin The Sri Lankan Navy today arrested 57 people who were attempting to flee to Australia illegally, officials said.Navy Spokesperson Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that the 57 were arrested off the coast of Kalkuda. “They were arrested in the early hours of today and we are making arrangements to bring them to the Trincomalee harbour before handing them over to the law enforcement authorities,” Commander Warnakulasuriya said.The latest arrests were made just a day after Australia announced that it valued its ties with Sri Lanka in combating human smuggling. (COLOMBO GAZETTE)
The wife of a former army colonel was shot dead at Wijeyarama, Nugegoda late this evening, the police said.According to the police, Jayanthi Sunila Jayaratne (65) was alone at home at the time of the shooting. Unidentified gunmen had forced their way into her house and shot her twice using a T-56 weapon.The motive for the shooting is still not known. The Mirihana police are conducting investigations. (Colombo Gazette)
Police investigations are underway. (Colombo Gazette) The bus veered off the road and overturned injuring 47 passengers who were in the vehicle at the time.A 23 year old man who was injured in the accident succumbed to his injuries on admission to hospital. One person was killed and over 40 others were injured following an accident involving a private bus in Galagedera last night, the police media unit said today.The police said that the driver of the bus had lost control of the vehicle along the Kandy – Kurunegala road.