Morocco’s Safaa Taouch only Arab Representative at Miss Humanity International 2014

Fez – Morocco’s beauty is on a mission! Miss Morocco, Safaa Taouch has been selected to represent the Arab World at the 4th edition of Miss Humanity International 2014, scheduled August 17-27 in Barbados.24-year-old Safaa Taouch is not only a pretty face. She is an advocate of humanitarian causes and is aware that beauty is power and she is using it for good.For that reason, she was selected to compete for the Miss Humanity International title which is an innovative and holistic pageant that advocates humanitarian causes through raising funds and awareness. In an exclusive interview with Morocco World News, Safaa Taouch revealed that she marked her first appearance in the beauty competitions in 2012 in Morocco, “when [she] participated in Miss Morocco at the Cherry Festival in Sefrou, before [she] won the runner-up for edition.”“Later in 2012, I was crowned Miss Arab World in Cairo, Egypt before the committee selected me to represent the Arab World in Miss Humanity International 2014,” she added.“In the same year, I was named Goodwill Ambassador for abandoned & homeless children in the Arab World,” she noted. Revealing the reason that made her join this competition, Safaa said she liked what Miss Humanity International stood for, stressing that she decided to run for the competition because of her keenness on helping children.Morocco’s most beautiful woman is an advocate. Her beauty attracts more attention and she is using it to speak for those who have no voice and to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, such as needy children. Safaa believes Beauty is much more than appearance. “Beauty is honesty, integrity, compassion and people’s love for you,” she said.Representing Morocco in this competition, Safaa said she feels “pride in representing my country. Still, I also have a feeling of responsibility to promote a good image of Moroccan women on this international platform, and show the world Moroccans women’s openness to other cultures as well as their strong presence in society.”This year, Safaa Taouch graduated from the Institute of Applied Technology (ISTA) in Kenitra, and earned a degree in marketing and business management.Safaa revealed to MWN that she enjoys a lot of support from her family and friends, stressing that they give her the power and energy to go further in this competition and in her charitable activities.Safaa Taouch will compete for Miss Humanity International 2014 along with thirteen pageants from other countries, including the US, Australia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Belgium, South Africa…etc.To vote for the Moroccan candidate, follow this link.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

Continue Reading →

Morocco: MP Caught in a Cybersex Blackmail Trap

Rabat- Morocco Parliamentarian and member of the opposition’s Istiqlal Party Adil Tchikitou was allegedly being blackmailed with cybersex footage. Blackmailers threatened to post video of the Member of Parliament masturbating, unless he sends a huge sum of money.Multiple reports said that the trap was set by an organized criminal group specializing in blackmailing rich Gulf men for large sums of money by threatening to post incriminating footage of them.Last week, police arrested the gang’s “brain”, a 17-year-old boy from Oued Zem, according to Hespress. Two weeks ago, one of the blackmailers impersonated an attractive girl from Libya nicknamed Ihssane Ben Ahmed on Facebook, and contacted the Parliamentarian Adil Tchikitou. After several conversations on different topics, they developed the relationship, which came to include Skype chats.According to Alyaoum24, the video chatting on Skype turned into cybersex, as “Ihssane” started taking off her clothes and tried to seduce him.The blackmailers claimed they saved the footage of Adil Tchikitou performing cybersex, and used it to blackmail him for a sum of money estimated at MAD 40,000 ($4,519 US) by threatening to post the video on YouTube.Tchikitou filed a lawsuit in the Court of First Instance in Temara Rabat against an unspecified man. He said the man blackmailed him by threatening to post a video of him masturbating on YouTube.Tchikitou went on to add that the blackmailers fabricated the video. He admitted to video chatting with the Libyan girl, but denied responding to her seduction when she started getting undressed.He also revealed that shortly after he refused to partake in cybersex, the images of Ihssane Ben Ahmed disappeared, and her attractive voice turned out to be the harsh voice of a Moroccan boy.He goes on to add that “the voice” sent him a fake video in which he appears to be masturbating, and asked him to send MAD 40,000, or else the footage will be posted on YouTube.Reporting from Rabat by Aziz Allilou, Editing by Timothy Filla read more

Continue Reading →

Lindsay Lohan Tried to Say You Are Beautiful in Arabic, Instead…

Rabat – Trying to send a sweet message to her Arab-speaking fans, Lindsay Lohan sent them a message that means totally the opposite. Instead of telling her audience “you are beautiful,” she said “you are a donkey.”Next time @lindsaylohan, let me check b4 u post Arabic words don’t mean ‘U are beautiful’ but ‘u are a donkey’ pic.twitter.com/cNKQCdOHDp— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) April 21, 2015American actress Lindsay Lohan suffered an Instagram fail on Tuesday as she tried to practice her Arabic language skills.The Mean Girls star shared a mistranslated Arabic message on her Instagram page on Monday. The 28-year-old tried to complement her Arabic-Speaking fans by posting “You’re beautiful” in Arabic. However, the Arabic picture quote she shared with her 3.5 million fans and followers on the social media site did not read “You’re beautiful” as she intended. Instead, it was actually translated as “You’re a donkey.”Lohan has since deleted the image from her Instagram, but not before it went viral. read more

Continue Reading →

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is telling his MPs they must stay focused on helping Canadians at home in this coming election year, despite the anxiety created by global turbulence.The prime minister is referring to the China-U.S. trade war and the pending Brexit divorce of Britain and Europe, as well as the threat of climate change and the economic upheaval of lost jobs to Artificial Intelligence.Trudeau is addressing his Liberal caucus at a meeting on Parliament Hill today, following last week’s cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Que.He is taking several partisan shots at the Conservatives, saying they have no plan for tackling climate change and the economy while citing Liberal gains in lowering taxes and unemployment.Trudeau says the Liberals will offer Canadians hope, branding his opposition as a party of wedge politics rooted in the ideas of its former leader, Stephen Harper.Trudeau’s remarks opened a two-day caucus retreat for Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill.ai???The Canadian Press read more

Continue Reading →

Saudi Arabia to Borrow Money from International Market

Rabat – Saudi Arabia has begun talks with potential investors to launch a deposit of international bonds based on the U.S. dollar in order to borrow money from the international market for the first time in its history.The news came from the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), which explained that the Ministry of Finance has put together “an international program to issue the instruments of debt…and has appointed a number of national and international banks in order to coordinate a series of meetings with investors in debt instruments.”The same source iterated that the Saudi Ministry of Finance has tasked these investment banks with the mission of managing and organizing the first deposit of the international bonds denominated in U.S. dollars, adding that “this deposit will depend on the conditions of the market.” According to the Arabic-speaking news source France24, Oxford Economics analyst Patrick Dennis told the French news agency (AFP) that the funds that Saudi Arabia will raise are estimated around $15 billion, which is sufficient to face the economic problems that resulted from the drop of oil revenues since circa mid-2014.Dennis added that due to its nonexistent debt record, Saudi Arabia will not face any significant issues in raising capital, but it will be the first time the kingdom finds it necessary to borrow from international marketsThe Saudi daily newspaper Alhayah, quoted in France24, noted that the Saudi debts have gradually increased, with deficits of $11.8 billion in 2014, $37.9 billion in 2015 and $73 billion in 2016.This deficit coupled with the $170 billion decline in Saudi reserves, pushed the Saudi government to launch a new program last April called “Saudi Vision 2030.” This program aims to diversify the kingdom’s sources of revenue, which has primarily been based on oil for decades.Dennis told AFP that due to its nonexistent debt record, Saudi Arabia will not face any significant issues in raising capital, but it will be the first time the kingdom finds it necessary to borrow from international markets. read more

Continue Reading →

CAF: Kenya Loses Eligibility to Host 2018 Africa Championship

Rabat – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) withdrew the hosting rights for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) from Kenya after Accra’s CAF Executive Committee meeting Saturday.The African confederation said that Kenya will not be able to complete its infrastructure projects in time for the competition which is scheduled to take place in January 2018.The announcement came a few days after the Kenyan government approved SH 4.2 billion in order to prepare the venues for the competition. With an overwhelming majority of the members present, the Committee decided to revoke the hosting rights for the competition from Kenya in light of accumulated delays documented by reports of the various inspection missions conducted in the country, the last of which took place from September 11 to 17, 2017, according to the CAF’s official website.The same source added that CAF had opened a bidding process for a new host. “The deadline for receipt of applications is seven days from Sunday, September 24. The identity of the bidding countries will be disclosed within a maximum of 15 days after the opening of the bidding process.”Morocco and South Africa are expected to submit applications to host the 2018 CHAN amid speculations that CAF would take the competition to one of those two countries.Edited by Elisabeth Myers read more

Continue Reading →

The New DG of ONMT Will Soon Be Revealed: Lamia Boutaleb

Rabat – Who will succeed Abderrafie Zouiten as head of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT)? That’s a question that will soon be answered, according to the Moroccan Minister Delegate in Charge of Tourism, Lamia Boutaleb.Among the favored candidates is Jamal Kilito, Marketing Director of the Office. The council of government will ultimately make the final appointment, however, of the new director of ONMT. In total, more than twenty people responded to the call for applications announced by the Ministry of Tourism.At the moment, ONMT is still is still headed by an interim worker whose legal mandate of 6 months ended on May 30th. “The call for applications has been successful and we are going to announce the name of the new Director General of the ONMT shortly. It is not impossible that it will be made public at the end of the Council of the Government of tomorrow (Thursday, June 7) but if this is not the case, the announcement is imminent,” said Boutaleb to Media24.In 2017, the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism abruptly announced the departure of Abderrafie Zouiten, who until November 30 had been the director of ONMT.“The Tourism Department appointed Rachid Hamzaoui, Finance and Administrative Director at ONMT on November 30, 2017, to act as interim Director General of the ONMT since the post of Director General of the Office had become vacant since the retirement of Abderrafie Zouiten,” said the Ministry in a statement.After being stripped of his signing authority one month ago, his departure has been controversial and handled without preparation or anticipation.According to Média24, the content of the 2017-2021 roadmap is still a mystery. The secretary of state says that the ministry prepares tourism bases to communicate to the profession and the media. Boutaleb has assured that ti is set to be public on September.“We are going to fix a date with the private sector operators who have been involved in its design and have given us their priority recommendations to revive the tourism activity.The official announcement of the content of our strategy for the coming years will be within the framework of a great event titled, the foundations of tourism, that will take place after the summer season,” explained Boutaleb to Media24. read more

Continue Reading →

Fire at Marrakech University Dorm Kills Student, Injures Policeman

Rabat– University housing in Daoudiate neighborhood in Marrakech has caught fire, killing one student and severely injuring a policeman.Late on Tuesday night, a massive fire burned in the university housing after a gas explosion, suffocating an 18-year-old student. One policeman received a severe head injury while trying to save students, reported Alyaoum24.The man is currently hospitalized at Hassan II Hospital in Marrakech. According to the news outlet, firefighters worked all night to both put out the fire and evacuate the area.Read Also: Moroccan Navy Shoots Another Migrant, 16, in AtlanticThe General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) police commissioner in the Marrakech-Safi region, Said El Aloua, was present at the scene.Photo credits: Alyaoum24 read more

Continue Reading →

Walmart is getting rid of greeters, worrying the disabled

As Walmart moves to phase out its familiar “greeters” at some 1,000 stores nationwide, disabled workers who fill many of those jobs say they’re being unfairly targeted.Walmart told greeters around the country last week that their positions would be eliminated on April 26 in favour of an expanded, more physically demanding “customer host” role. To qualify, they will need to be able to lift heavy objects and perform other physical tasks.That comes as a heavy blow to greeters with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other disabilities. Now Walmart, America’s largest private employer, is facing a backlash as customers rally around some of the chain’s most highly visible employees.Walmart says it is striving to place greeters in other jobs at the company, but workers with disabilities are worried.Michael Rubinkam, The Associated Press read more

Continue Reading →

EU commissioner Vestager running for bloc’s top posts

COPENHAGEN — The EU’s competition commissioner says she is one of seven candidates from the European Parliament’s liberal, pro-business ALDE faction running for top posts within the European Union this year.Margrethe Vestager, whose term ends in October, told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper on Thursday that she was “part of the team.” She did not name the other ALDE candidates.A former Danish deputy prime minister and economy minister, Vestager has since 2014 been the EU’s competition chief, making headlines by repeatedly slapping major tech companies — most recently Google — with big penalties and fines.The top posts up for election in May include the presidencies of the European Commission, European Council, European Parliament and the European Central Bank, as well as the post of EU foreign affairs chief.The Associated Press read more

Continue Reading →

Apartment rents climbing, and poised to go higher

It’s a great time to be a landlord in America, not so much if you’re a renter.Apartment rents are continuing to rise this year, fueled by higher demand from millennials looking for a place of their own, strong job growth and rising wages.The U.S. median rent climbed 3.4% in March from a year earlier to $1,535, according to data from online rental housing portal HotPads.While apartment construction surged in the years after the housing bust, it hasn’t kept up with demand, giving landlords the upper hand. Years of rising home prices, meanwhile, have made it more difficult for many would-be homebuyers to save up for a down payment.“Even though mortgage rates are sliding a little bit and are lower than the historical average, you still have a huge amount of people who are not able to afford homes right now,” said Joshua Clark, an economist at HotPads. “That’s keeping people renting and that’s going to keep people competing against each other for the same units.”The national median rent has risen annually since at least December 2012, the earliest data available from HotPads.That trend has developed against the backdrop of a steady increase in rental households and a sharp decline in the homeownership rate for much of the last two decades.The number of renter-occupied U.S. housing units climbed from a low of around 32.9 million in 2004 to a high of about 44.08 million in 2016. It’s been mostly flat ever since, reaching around 43.11 million at the end of last year, according to Census data.At the same time, the nation’s homeownership rate has tumbled from a high of 69% in 2004. It bottomed out at 63.4% in 2016 and has since crept higher, reaching 64.4% last year.HotPads’ March report shows rents are rising in all of the nation’s top 50 most populous metropolitan areas.Phoenix notched the biggest gain, with its median rent vaulting 6.7% from a year earlier to $1,520. On the opposite end of the scale, the median rent in Houston rose just 1.3% in March to $1,585. New York’s median rent also rose slightly, increasing 1.5% to $2,380.“A year ago, the country was experiencing slowing rental markets and tighter for-sale markets,” Clark said. “Today, most of the country is experiencing the opposite.”Steady job growth and demographic trends, namely more of the younger millennials coming of age and seeking to move out on their own, are expected to continue to drive more demand for rental housing, pushing rents higher.“What I’m confident about right now is that over the next few months we’re going to see rents continue to rise,” Clark said. “The fact that we have been accelerating in these winter months a little bit, that’s a really strong signal that we’re going to have higher rent appreciation this year than last year.”Alex Veiga, The Associated Press read more

Continue Reading →

Updated fisheries law could stem loss of stocks, biodiversity: supporters

Significant changes could be coming to the way fisheries are managed in Canada, giving hope for the rebound of some species and the protection of others, says an ocean conservation group.Josh Laughren, executive director of Oceana Canada, said proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act would prompt the government to rebuild stocks that fall below sustainable levels.And while the changes still include an “off ramp” for government to make decisions in the interest of short-term economics over longer sustainability, they would require those decisions to be made public, which Laughren said is a step toward ensuring past mistakes aren’t repeated.“We’ve kind of slept walked through this incredible decline in abundance and it’s been hidden by some of the economics of it,” Laughren said in an interview.More than half of the entire value of Canadian fisheries now comes from Atlantic invertebrates like lobster, crab and shrimp, he said, pointing to a 2015 report by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.Not only does that make the industry more vulnerable to pathogens and disease, but the profitability of those fisheries have obscured the depletion of others like groundfish. Since 1970, Canada has seen fish biomass decline by 55 per cent, an expert panel convened by the Royal Society of Canada found.In the United States, fisheries laws have more bite because they clearly define “overfishing,” and when it occurs, action to stop and reverse the impacts is required within months. Forty-five stocks have been recovered since the law was introduced and 28 of the most successful ones were generating 54 per cent more revenue than when they were overfished, he said.Bill C-68 was introduced a month after the Liberal government was sworn in and had its second reading in the Senate in December.Laughren said he’s very hopeful the bill could improve biodiversity in a way that also creates more economic opportunity.“Abundance provides options, abundance makes allocation a hell of a lot easier and provides more value. I think we’ve kind of forgotten about how important that is,” he said.Others are more wary.Paul Lansbergen, who represents commercial fisheries as president of the Fisheries Council of Canada, said that beyond protecting fish stocks the law should also protect “sustainable” fishing rights.“The most significant policy issue facing the sector is a concern of stability of access to the fishing resource,” he told the Senate standing committee reviewing the bill.  “The use of fisheries is missing in the current wording of the bill.”Lansbergen said the council will reserve an opinion on the law until accompanying regulations are revealed. But he told the committee it represents a significant change that will have long-standing implications for the sector and the health of the oceans and fish resources.Canada’s seafood industry employs 80,000 people and accounts for $7 billion in exports to more than 130 countries.  Lansbergen said Canada is already a “global leader” in sustainable fisheries management, noting that 80 per cent of wild seafood production is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.He warned against forcing commercial fishermen to give up their licences.“Taking away long-standing licences and quotas does not respect past investments and has eroded the sector’s confidence to invest and could undermine conservation efforts,” he said.Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said he’s hoping the bill passes without too many hiccups, adding most fishermen associations in Atlantic Canada support the bill.Mallet said the union particularly likes the way the bill would enshrine an existing owner-operator policy into law so it can be better enforced.It would give stronger protection to East Coast fishermen against unaffordable quota costs that have made fishing more expensive than it’s worth in some other jurisdictions, he said.“The West Coast fisheries are an example of what could happen if you don’t have this type of regulation. You end up having companies and investors basically buying the rights to the fish,” he said, with fishermen then leasing the quota from them.It can mean less economic benefit funnelled into local communities, he said.Bill C-68 also provides new authorities for Indigenous participation in the fisheries along with their co-management.Terry Teegee, regional chief with the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, said he generally supports the bill but would like even stronger protection for First Nations’ inherent and constitutionally protected rights.Many of the sections regarding Indigenous participation use language like “may” instead of “shall,” which means it doesn’t compel action, he said.Teegee said Indigenous knowledge systems should be recognized on a level playing field with government science. Committing to rebuild fish stocks and habitat restoration could be seen as an act of reconciliation, he said.“I think the bill itself is better than it was but certainly I think there can be improvements and more commitments to Indigenous people,” he said.The clock is ticking on the bill head of the federal election this fall but Teegee said fisheries protection shouldn’t depend on who holds power.“Right now we’re seeing climate change and we’re seeing fish stocks declining. We need to really fix things and make some interventions,” he said.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press read more

Continue Reading →

First crossborder transport of urgently needed aid reaches Somalis – UN

26 January 2007A truck was allowed to cross the Kenya-Somalia border to deliver much needed aid supplied by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the small town of Dobley where thousands of Somalis are taking refuge from recent fighting. The border between the two countries has been closed since earlier this month, prohibiting Somalis from reaching refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs have been assisting 160,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia. Many of those unable to cross the border have taken refuge in Dobley, close to the northeast border of Kenya.Basic household items supplied by UNHCR included 1,760 sleeping mats, 810 plastic sheets and 1,000 kitchen sets. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the NGO Oxfam contributed mosquito nets, blankets, fuel containers and soap.Thousands were in line hoping to receive supplies, which were distributed by the Kenyan NGO Wajid Social Development Alliance, which has been working with village communities in Somalia, according to UNHCR.There has been heavy fighting in southern and central Somalia, where the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) drove the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC) out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu and most of the rest of the country last month. The fighting has resulted in 400,000 Somalis being internally displaced, and of that number, approximately 6,000 are trapped near the country’s border with Kenya. Security for aid workers remains a top concern, as there have been reports of harassment and detention at the hands of the Ethiopian forces within Somalia. While most seeking sanctuary in Dobley fled the fighting, others lost their homes when floods, affecting almost a half million people, ravaged the region late last year. These floods further exacerbated the food shortage crisis in the country. read more

Continue Reading →

Terrorism drugs and crime thwarting Afghan development warns Ban

“They are obstacles to development,” Mr. Ban said in an address to the Special Conference on Afghanistan, convened in Moscow under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “They bring violence into people’s daily lives. They undermine justice and human rights. They are a grave threat to public health, to governance and a democratic future. “These interconnected ills are sapping public confidence in the institutions that so many people have worked so hard to reinforce,” the Secretary-General told the meeting, attended by representatives from Russia, the Central Asian countries, Iran, Pakistan, China, India and many regional organizations. Mr. Ban stressed that Afghanistan cannot face these challenges alone, and that all countries have an interest in countering them with “sustained and robust” action. “The problems harm not only the Afghan people,” he noted. “They pose a major danger to the region and the world at large. And all of us must be involved in helping to solve them.” In the area of illicit drug trafficking for example, he emphasized the shared responsibility in reducing demand abroad, reducing supply in Afghanistan, and tightening security along trafficking routes. “Cooperation must be our watchword as we respond,” he said.The Secretary-General also noted that the country’s security situation is at a “delicate juncture,” and while conditions have deteriorated in recent months, indications of “new thinking and new commitment” from Afghanistan’s international partners are reasons for cautious optimism. Current political, security and development issues in the country will also be discussed at the International Conference on Afghanistan to be held in The Hague on 31 March. The meeting, which will be opened by Mr. Ban, follows similar events held previously in Bonn, London and Paris. During a meeting today with Afghan Foreign Minister Dadfar Spanta, Mr. Ban said that today’s meeting and next week”s conference showed how strongly the international community was committed to Afghanistan. He added that he hoped the Afghan Government would seize this opportunity and move forward on stability, security and social and economic development. The Secretary-General stressed that it was important for Afghanistan to maintain improved relations with neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan. The two also touched on the drug situation in Afghanistan and the need for transparent, democratic and fair elections later this year.In his meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Secretary-General said he was horrified by today”s bombing at a mosque in north-west Pakistan, and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. He noted that Pakistan has a crucial role to play in the Afghan peace process. A military solution is not enough in Afghanistan a political and economic surge, and a comprehensive approach were needed, he said. He also thanked Pakistan for its contribution to UN peacekeeping.Mr. Ban also met today with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and they discussed ways of further strengthening relations between the UN and Russia. They also talked about a range of international issues where Russia can play a leadership role, including Somalia, Sudan, climate change and the financial crisis. Yesterday evening, he participated in a working dinner with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that focused mainly on Afghanistan, but also included discussion on, among other topics, Gaza, the Democratic People”s Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Georgia/Abkhazia, climate change and nuclear disarmament.While in Moscow, the Secretary-General also delivered a wide-ranging lecture at an event organized by “International Affairs,” the journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry, in which he highlighted the need for a “new global solidarity” at this time of global crisis.Issues such as the global financial crisis, climate change and nuclear proliferation, are “big challenges, requiring big powers to cooperate more than ever before,” he stated. 27 March 2009Terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime are seriously impeding progress in Afghanistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, calling for greater international cooperation to help the country tackle these challenges. read more

Continue Reading →

Myanmar international help still urgently needed for postcyclone rebuilding – UN

30 March 2009People in Myanmar affected by last year’s devastating Cyclone Nargis need considerable help in restoring their lives, the United Nations-backed group assisting the reconstruction of the South-East Asian nation said today, appealing to the international community for continued support .“Experience from natural disasters of similar scale of destruction has shown that recovery support will be required for years to come,” said Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.He added that recovery efforts in the wake of the massive 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are only beginning to be phased out now.International assistance, therefore, is urgently required for early- and medium-term recovery efforts outlined in the three-year Post-Nargis Response and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), which was launched earlier this year by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG), comprising the Myanmar Government, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN. That plan, which has a price tag of nearly $700 million, provides the blueprint for the reconstruction of communities devastated by the cyclone, which battered the country last May, leaving around 140,000 dead or missing and displacing 800,000 from their homes.The need for funds – particularly for the shelter and agriculture sectors – is especially acute since the monsoon season will begin in just four weeks.Over 1,000 families are still taking shelter in vulnerable buildings that provide minimal protection from possibly severe weather conditions, while small, poultry and draught animals must be re-stocked to assist vulnerable and landless households.Assistance to farmers is essential to jump-start the local economy and restore agriculture-based livelihoods. Other areas needing boosts include education, especially for girls, and health.The UN is currently arranging for another donor meeting to discuss needs in Yangon this week. read more

Continue Reading →

Ban urges coordinated global response to food poverty climate crises

30 April 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a “closely coordinated” response to the interconnected crises of food insecurity, extreme poverty and climate change that are being “exacerbated by global financial and economic turmoil of unprecedented proportions.” In a message to the Ministerial Meeting of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations (NAM), held in Havana, Mr. Ban called the group to “play a strong, constructive role in forging consensus among developing countries and to continue to deepen global cooperation in the difficult times ahead.”Although poorer countries have had no part in creating the crisis, they are likely to feel some of the worst of the consequences, he said in the message, which was delivered on his behalf by Haile Menkerios, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.Developing countries are likely to suffer from declining growth, credit, development assistance, remittances and trade, warned the Secretary-General. “Indeed, the crisis raises the risk of social unrest and political instability.”He noted that weakened governments are unlikely to be able to deliver on their responsibilities and to meet popular expectations, and underscored the importance of lending strong support, in particular, to countries emerging from conflict.“We must make the most of upcoming opportunities to strengthen collective action, including the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development to be held at the United Nations in early June.”Turning to climate change, Mr. Ban pushed for a move towards a “green economy” which can stimulate growth and create jobs while addressing global warming at the same time. “I urge the NAM to contribute to this effort, including the sealing of a deal at climate change talks later this year in Copenhagen.”In the wide-ranging speech, he also urged leaders to continue demonstrating their commitment to peace and security efforts by helping deploy a full-strength peacekeeping force in Darfur, promoting peace in the Middle East, and supporting the economy in Haiti. read more

Continue Reading →

Nepal has mixed record in transition from war to peace UN report

17 August 2009The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stressed the importance of deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law in Nepal, in a report on the country’s transition from war to peace, released in Kathmandu today. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stressed the importance of deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law in Nepal, in a report on the country’s transition from war to peace, released in Kathmandu today. “Nepal is in transition from conflict to peace and from authoritarian rule to democracy, and has the chance to redefine both the nation and the State,” the 2009 Nepal Human Development Report says. “It is an opportunity for political ‘transformation’, to root out age-old practices by ensuring equality, justice and a greater voice for excluded groups. Deepening democracy and strengthening the rule of law are critical in order to give peace a chance of success.” The report notes that the underlying causes of 10 years of conflict in Nepal have not been resolved, and nor have the consequences been addressed. It calls for efforts to deal with the effects of this divided past, which include poverty and discrimination on the basis of caste and ethnicity, and an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 displaced people who have not yet returned home. The report adds that while Nepal has made some gains in human development, the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged regions and caste or ethnic groups is widening or remains the same. Literacy rates for Dalits remain significantly lower than those for Brahmins and Chettris. Similarly, the survival chances of children aged under five from the Dalit and other marginalized communities are lower than those of children born to advantaged castes. “Successive Human Development Reports have documented Nepal’s profoundly uneven development patterns,” said UNDP Resident Representative Robert Piper as he launched the report. “Today’s report indicates these patterns remain largely intact despite important progress on a number of nation-wide indicators. The message in this report is that the ‘absence of war’ will alone neither assure a lasting peace nor deliver prosperity. Nepal’s ambitious post-conflict transformation must successfully address centuries of discrimination and exclusion so these patterns are broken for ever.” The 2009 Nepal Human Development Report is the fourth in a series of reports that have provided an analytical framework for Nepal’s progress on key human development indicators and the challenges that the country faces in improving the quality of life of its people. read more

Continue Reading →

UN programme addresses underlying causes of hunger in Uganda

14 April 2010The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching a new livelihood programme designed to address the underlying causes of food shortages in Karamoja, the poorest and most marginalised region in Uganda which has not had a successful harvest in five years and where more than 80 per cent of the population lives in poverty. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching a new livelihood programme designed to address the underlying causes of food shortages in Karamoja, the poorest and most marginalised region in Uganda which has not had a successful harvest in five years and where more than 80 per cent of the population lives in poverty.“Karamoja needs to find a way out of the almost continual need for food and other assistance and WFP is a vital part of the solution,” said WFP Uganda Country Director Stanlake Samkange.Under the leadership of the Government of Uganda, and with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration, the Karamoja Productive Assets Programme will target moderately food-insecure households in the north-east region of the East African country. Participants will grow cash crops and develop better farming techniques in the arid region known for its lack of rainfall, and acquire skills through food or cash-for-work schemes.The projects will include the cultivation of cassava, the production of cash crops such as gum Arabic and onions, and the creation of water-harvesting assets including low-technology dams. In addition, WFP will support fuel and soil conservation, energy-saving technology including cooking stoves in schools, and tree planting.While the new programme is a shift from traditional relief operations in the region, the UN agency will continue providing rations to the country’s 1.2 million people. As part of an emergency operation that will start next week and run until the end of the year, WFP will distribute monthly food rations to 300,000 people, particularly vulnerable households and homes with malnourished children. “Continuous longer-term food distributions cannot on their own end hunger in Karamoja,” said Mr. Samkange.WFP said the new livelihoods programme combined with the emergency operation will benefit some 400,000 people. The agency needs $25 million to run the livelihoods programme until the end of the year, of which $5.2 million has been raised. “WFP urgently needs more support from donors. Without it, we will be unable to seize the development opportunities facing us,” said Mr. Samkange. read more

Continue Reading →

European trio agree to enforce jail terms imposed by International Criminal Court

1 June 2010Three European countries today signed an agreement with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to enforce the tribunal judges’ sentences of imprisonment, taking the number of countries that are willing to detain people convicted by the ICC to five. Three European countries today signed an agreement with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to enforce the tribunal judges’ sentences of imprisonment, taking the number of countries that are willing to detain people convicted by the ICC to five.Representatives of Belgium, Denmark and Finland signed the agreement during a ceremony in Kampala, Uganda, where the review conference of the Rome Statute – which set up the ICC – is taking place.Judge Sang-Hyun, the court’s President, said that “having sufficient options in place to ensure the enforcement of judicially ordered sentences is an important element in the overall credibility of the judicial process at the ICC,” according to a press release issued by the ICC.Austria and the United Kingdom have previously entered into similar agreements with the court to enforce sentences.A permanent court, the ICC is based in The Hague in the Netherlands and tries people accused of the most serious international offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Currently investigations are ongoing into five situations: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), the Darfur region of Sudan and Kenya.Four suspects are in the court’s custody and another eight suspects are at large, while two trials are under way. read more

Continue Reading →

UN chief calls for justice and freedom for slain and detained journalists

4 May 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for justice for journalists who have been killed because of their work and freedom for those detained, deploring impunity for those responsible for the murders and repression, as well as lack of official concern for the protection of media professionals. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for justice for journalists who have been killed because of their work and freedom for those detained, deploring impunity for those responsible for the murders and repression, as well as lack of official concern for the protection of media professionals.“On this Day, we call for justice – and freedom for those detained,” Mr. Ban, speaking at a formal observance at UN Headquarters to mark World Press Freedom Day, which falls on 3 May each year.“The rights to freedom of expression, information and association are not abstract principles; they are rights that States have an obligation to fulfil,” said the Secretary-General at the event, organized jointly by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).Mr. Ban praised the creative use of new media – such as the Internet, social media and blogs – by populations to bring about changes in their societies, giving the example of North Africa and the Middle East, where the Internet and social media have been used this year to mobilize action to demand democratic rights.He cautioned that new media also have their downside in that they can be used to disseminate hatred and incite violence. Some States have also resorted to extending traditional censorship of the media to the Internet, the Secretary-General said.“States have found them very handy as tools of cyber-surveillance. The very public nature of the new media means that authorities can easily monitor what is being said, and who is saying it,” said Mr. Ban.He cited figures by the Committee to Protect Journalists which show that at least six of journalists killed last year worked primarily for online outlets. In 2008, there were more online media reporters in jail than those working for traditional news outlets, according to the figures.“I attach the highest importance to press freedom and to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the right of all people to ‘seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’,” said the Secretary-General.“When governments repress their people, press freedom is among the most powerful vehicles for exposing misdeeds. When people face discrimination, access to media can give them voice.“And in an era of pressing global challenges, the free exchange of information and ideas through the media can connect people and countries in networks of common cause.”Mr. Ban also called for greater efforts to bridge the “digital divide” to enable even people who live in poorer regions to benefit from access to the new media and communications technologies.The General Assembly also paid tribute to the reporters who have lost their lives in the course of their work and called for better protection of media professionals.“We, the General Assembly, are constantly striving to promote the fundamental values of the United Nations Charter, and in doing so we hope we hope that our global village will continue to show unity and resolve in stating that no one, no journalist, no citizen, should be harassed, threatened or killed, as they attempt to do their work,” said the Assembly in a message delivered by its acting President, Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan.He said that there can be no international security and development unless human rights are respected and those who violate them punished.Speaking at a separate luncheon to mark the Day, Kiyo Akasaka, the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said the world body is increasingly using the Internet and social media to inform and update journalists on its work, and to build informed and inclusive online communities and coalitions for change.“As we at the United Nations move forward in modernizing our own communications, and in embracing new and social media more and more, we look forward to strengthening our partnerships with you in an effort to better inform, and engage, peoples everywhere about the aims and work of the United Nations,” said Mr. Akasaka. read more

Continue Reading →