Over 550 people arrested within two days in Casablanca police

Casablanca – Casablanca’s security services arrested on Wednesday and Thursday 558 people during major operations in various districts for different crimes, said a police source.This 48-hour bust helped nab 283 people who were on the wanted list, some of whom were caught in the act, according to a statement from the police headquarters.During these two-day arrests, the traffic police in the city gave a total of 2,739 tickets, and impounded 448 cars, 610 motorcycles and 13 scooters.

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Moroccan Diplomacy in 2014 Governed by New Orientation FM

Rabat – The Moroccan diplomacy passed through tough tests in 2014, a year that saw the emergence of new orientation governing the Kingdom’s diplomatic action in tandem with the international developments, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said on Thursday in Rabat.This new orientation was outlined in the Royal speeches and mirrored by the postures taken by the Kingdom in the face of the crises to which it was confronted said Mezouar who was addressing members of the Lower and Upper Houses commissions on foreign affairs, national defence, Islamic affairs, Moroccans Living abroad, borders and occupied territories.Morocco’s diplomatic action is, therefore, based on four pillars: confrontation without passivity, moderation while taking into account principles and rights, flexibility without compromising on achieving objectives, the respect for international legality and the adoption of dialogue in conflict resolution. In this respect, Mezouar recalled that Morocco has firmly dealt with the diplomatic crises that emerged in 2014 by safeguarding its immutable values, legitimate rights and supreme interests, notably with regards to the Western Sahara issue, noting in that Morocco obtained guarantees on the way the issue is tackled by the UN.Concerning relations with Egypt, Mezouar noted that the visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister to Morocco on January 15-16 enabled the settlement of disagreements and opened new prospects for developing bilateral ties on the basis of a renewed strategic partnership.As for relations with France, Mezouar explained that the crisis between the two countries was resolved given the realism and the strategic dimension characterising the Moroccan-French relations as well as the permanent contact between HM King Mohammed and President François Holland.The Moroccan diplomacy in 2014 also sought to diversify and strengthen relations with other countries and regional groupings, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).At the regional level, Mezouar mentioned the special attention given to Mauritania and Africa countries with whom the Kingdom is keen to reinforce ties through the preservation of the shared spiritual identity and the promotion of peace, security, sustainable development and economic cooperation.MWN with MAP read more

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Syrian Refugee Appeals to King Mohammed VI to Grant Him Visa

Rabat – 10-year-old Syrian refugee Haider Jalabi has appealed to King Mohammed VI to allow him join his father in Morocco after he was declined a visa for a third time. According to the Middle East Eye, the Syrian refugee has been trying to join his father, 38-year-old Bashar Jalabi, a former soldier in the ranks of the Assad military, in Morocco since June.The father has legal residency in Morocco and is married to a Moroccan woman who had been living with him in Syria before the start of the revolution. Bashar travelled to Turkey to bring Haider, who had been living in the country, to Morocco. When they arrived at the Casablanca airport from Turkey they were told they could not enter the country because Jabali’s son does not have a Moroccan residency permit.After spending two days sleeping on the floor of Casablanca Airport, they were eventually deported back to Turkey. Bashar has since returned to Morocco to join his wife and three-year-old son, but Haider has been living in Istanbul while supporters try to get him a Moroccan visa.A hashtag on Twitter #MoroccoLetHaiderEnter has also been created to raise awareness about the campaign and help the Syrian child get a Moroccan visa so he can rejoin his father.Boutaina Azzabi, a Dutch-Moroccan journalist, has been looking after the boy in Istanbul since his father returned to Morocco in mid-July.“It’s not the easiest thing to take care of a child who has been through so much – moving from place to place like that is a lot for a 10-year-old,” Azzabi told Middle East Eye on Thursday.“He has nightmares in the evenings, and sometimes when we go out and have fun he cries and says he wishes he could do these things with his father.“I spend all my time with him because I don’t want him to feel lonely. He has no relatives in Turkey now, and I have been supporting him financially.“He isn’t going to school, so I’ve bought him books so at least he can learn new things. He’s a bright kid, and very well-behaved, but he needs his family.”Bashar had already tried to obtain his son a residency permit from the Moroccan embassy in Beirut, but was denied both times.In a letter dated 27 July, the office of the Turkish Prime Minister called on Moroccan authorities to grant Haider a visa as soon as possible owing to his “special” circumstances.According to the Middle East Eye, despite the letter, his visa application was refused on 11 August, and no reason was given.Morocco is home to around 3,000 refugees, according to UN figures. © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

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Saudi Prince Arrested After Being Filmed Beating Man

Rabat – Saudi authorities in Riyadh have arrested Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, on the orders of King Salman bin Abdelaziz, King of Saudi Arabia after a video circulated on social media, showing the accused prince assaulting a bloodied man.The video shows the prince cursing and beating a driver in the face for parking his car in front of the (prince’s) house.Saudi Arabian’s news TV news channel, El Ekhbaria, posted a tweet on its official Twitter account, saying that the arrest order was issued to block any similar violation acts in the country. “The royal order was issued to protect the rights of citizens and residents as well as in order to deter and prevent any deviant behavior,” Al Ekhbariya explained.The king has ordered the Saudi authorities to arrest all people who were with the accused prince. The same source added that the king ordered the police to not release those arrested people, including the prince, until they are sentenced.???? | ????? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ????????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ??????. #????????? #????_?????_???_???????— ???? ????????? (@alekhbariyatv) July 19, 2017Al Ekhbaria also asserted that the Saudi king said that he would punish anyone proven guilty for assaulting others “whatever his or her position, or rank was.”’???? | ??? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??????. #????????? #????_?????_???_???????— ???? ????????? (@alekhbariyatv) July 19, 2017According to international media reports, the prince has beaten at least three other people. The king has ordered the Saudi authorities to arrest all people who were with the ‘’accused’’ prince.???? | ????? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ????????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ??????. #????????? #????_?????_???_???????— ???? ????????? (@alekhbariyatv) July 19, 2017 read more

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Moroccan Football Fans Massively Celebrate Atlas Lions Victory over Gabon

Rabat – The scenes of Moroccan football fans, from different ages and walks of life, taking to the streets to celebrate the national football team’s victories have once again become more familiar.On Saturday the Atlas Lions made one step forward on their quest for booking a ticket for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after 20 years of absence.As they clashed with Gabon in a fully-packed Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, the Moroccan squad did not disappoint. Three goals netted by the team’s center forward Khalid Boutaib which crowned an amazing team work and a great over-all performance by all the team’s players made the night of millions of Moroccans. Footage of fans honking their cars, waving the Moroccan flag or chanting and screaming out of joy are all over the internet.The celebrations brought to mind glorious days when Moroccan football was in a good shape before suffering a setback in recent years.In Casablanca, Rabat, Tetouan and other cities fans unleashed their joy as gathered en mass to share their passion for football and love for the Moroccan team.In a county where football is a national addiction, the performances of the Atlas Lions can be a source of joy or disappointment.Yesterday, as was the case in September when the Moroccan squad crushed Mali 6-0, fans were amazed to see their team win with style, beating a very competitive rival.The hopes are high that the Atlas Lions’s win streak will continue when they clash with Ivory Coast in November or at least score a draw to secure qualification for the world cup for the first time since 1998.Hervé Ranard, the national team’s manager, is aware that a difficult task awaits his players. In an interview with beIN sport, he said that they will go to Abidjan to seek victory and offer a whole nation the qualification it is “waiting for”. read more

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Throughout Morocco 16000 Historic Sites Enrich the Countrys Heritage

Rabat – Appreciation of Morocco’s collection of intangible cultural heritage is steadily growing.The country is home to an impressive 16,000 historic sites, Minister of Culture and Cooperation, Mohamed Laaraj, said Tuesday in Rabat.Morocco’s cultural heritage is spread across all regions of the Kingdom, said the minister. Recently, eight new sites located in the cities of Oujda, Tangier, Youssoufia and Nador have been listed as national historic monument sites that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.The minister said that his department has been conducting several studies and surveys in order to better identify and promote the country’s cultural heritage.Through careful restoration of these historical sites, and by setting up several cultural partnerships with local associations, the ministry is planning to make these archaeological sites more open to public viewing.More than 20 annual festivals are organized across different regions of the Kingdom, with the aim of incrinching the cultural scene of Morocco.With the support of civil society organizations, these numerous cultural events and historic sites will likely encourage even more national and international tourism. read more

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Oh no Company owners can get a shock from huge tax bills

NEW YORK — Amy Baxter’s business took off after she appeared on “Shark Tank” with her device that blocks pain from injections — orders flowed in and she bulked up her inventory.But after sales hit a temporary speed bump, Baxter learned there was no tax break for the merchandise she hadn’t sold yet.“I remember sitting at my parents’ house, realizing there was no way out of this,” says Baxter, a pediatric emergency physician whose company, Pain Care Labs, sells Buzzy, a device that uses a combination of cold and vibration to reduce injection discomfort. “I was going to have the worst debt of my business.”Small business owners can be devastated when upon learning they owe the government thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars. It can happen at any stage of a company’s life, and can be the result of poor planning or not getting advice from an experienced tax adviser. But changes in tax laws can also leave owners with unexpectedly large bills, and tax advisers warn it can happen to more companies this year because of the many unknowns about the new tax law.Baxter appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” in 2014 with Buzzy and had her best year since starting the Atlanta-based business in 2006. She significantly increased her inventory, but sales to pharmacies didn’t take off as expected. Baxter thought she could write off the unsold inventory but learned from a fellow entrepreneur that the IRS doesn’t consider inventory to be a cost until it is sold or disposed of.“Our tax bill was so huge I had to liquidate my life insurance policy to pay it, and didn’t move the inventory until two years later,” Baxter says.Baxter ran into problems because her long-time accountant’s specialty was working with physicians, not manufacturers; without the right advice, Baxter couldn’t plan for a big tax bill.Unfamiliarity with the tax code has historically been a common problem leading to huge tax bills, and it’s one that’s likely to be more pervasive this year as owners and practitioners try to understand the new law, says Scott Berger, an accountant with Kaufman Rossin in Boca Raton, Florida. There’s still confusion in particular about a new 20 per cent deduction that’s available to some sole proprietors, partners and owners of what are called S corporations.But no matter how big their tax bills, owners need to file their returns on time and figure out how to pay their debt to the government.“Many clients say, ‘I don’t have the money and I’m not going to file.’ That’s the worst scenario,” says Berger. The penalties for not filing can run as high as 25 per cent of unpaid taxes.Predicting how strong business is going to be over the course of a year can be difficult, and owners who aren’t proactive about setting aside money for taxes can get quite a shock. Bobby Kittleberger was taken by surprise by how well his online magazine, Guitar Chalk, did in 2017 after breaking even in 2016.“We made a ton of money late in the year but also didn’t manage well enough to pay the IRS,” Kittleberger says. One problem: He hadn’t hired an accountant who could have talked to him about planning.“I honestly did not know what to expect,” he says.Kittleberger ended up owing the government $20,000 and had to get an installment payment plan with the IRS. He finished paying off the bill in January.Keeping good financial records is another way to help avoid a tax crisis, says Miguel Farra, a tax attorney and accountant with MBAF in Miami.“Good books and records are like a dashboard on your car. You need to know how fast you’re driving and how much gas you have and whether you’re overheating,” Farra says.Startup owners can run into tax problems because they’re trying to save money. Many try to handle tax planning and returns themselves but don’t understand the complexities of tax laws. Those owners are in danger of spending more than they save, Farra says. If owners underpay their taxes or need an installment payment plan, they’ll have interest and penalty charges that may cost more than a tax adviser’s fees.Some owners hire bookkeepers or accountants based on one person’s recommendation and find out the hard way they’re dealing with inexperience or incompetence.When Phil La Duke started a consulting business in 1992, he hired a bookkeeper at a colleague’s suggestion, and trusted her to make his quarterly estimated tax payments and compile his return. But she disagreed with the amount he wanted to pay the government and, when it came to tax filing season, became uncommunicative.When he got his return, La Duke discovered he owed the government $10,000.“I trusted her blindly, based on a recommendation,” La Duke says. “I could have asked her for references, but I didn’t.”La Duke was able to set up a payment plan with the IRS and got his tax bill reduced because of mistakes the bookkeeper had made. But it took him two years to pay the government back, and La Duke felt so traumatized he closed his business and went back to work full time. It took him 20 years before he felt secure enough to start another consulting firm._____For more small business news, insights and inspiration, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here: http://discover.ap.org/ssb_____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg Her work can be found here: https://apnews.comJoyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press read more

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Building at AlAqsa Mosque Compound Catches Fire During NotreDame Blaze

Rabat – A fire broke out in the guard’s room in the compound of the Dome of the Rock, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. The room was near the Marwani Prayer Room, also known as Solomon’s Stables.The room caught fire at the same time as Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.Firefighters rapidly put out the fire with no deaths or injuries reported. The cause of the fire has not been determined. The director general of the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, said the fire could have been caused by children who were seen playing in the area.طواقم الإطفاء تخمد حريقاً اندلع على سطح المصلى المرواني في المسجد الأقصى. pic.twitter.com/eMb59JGrsa— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) April 15, 2019Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. It was built on the top of the Temple Mount, known as Haram esh-Sharif in Islam. read more

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Indigo swings to near 40M yearly loss partly due to Canada Post

TORONTO — Indigo Books & Music Inc. widely missed expectations as it swung to a nearly $40-million net loss for its 2019 financial year, partly due to the Canada Post strike and less consumer spending in the final quarter.The Toronto-based company reported a net loss of $36.8 million or $1.35 per common share for the year ending March 30, compared with net earnings of $22 million or 82 cents per common share the previous year.Revenue for the year dropped $32.8 million or three per cent to about $1.05 billion from roughly $1.08 billion the previous year.Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters Eikon expected a net loss of $9.3 million or 34 cents per share on $1.065 billion of revenues.Comparable sales, a key retail metric, dropped 1.1 per cent.Revenue challenges arose from, among other things, a Canada Post strike, as well as a pullback in consumer spending on non-essential items in the fourth quarter.The company says net loss for the quarter amounted to $23.8 million, compared with a $10.7-million loss last year.Fourth-quarter revenues fell 7.5 per cent to $199.2 million, and comparable sales dropped 8.7 per cent.Indigo was expected to earn $3.7 million in the quarter on $210.7 million in revenues.CEO Heather Reisman says in a statement that “we have every confidence in the investments we have made, in our customers’ deep affection for our brand, and in our mission to enrich the lives of Canadians.” Companies in this story (TSX:IDG)The Canadian Press read more

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SecretaryGeneral thanks UN peacemaking official for quarter century of service

“During a distinguished career both at UN Headquarters and in the field, the diplomatic talents of Under-Secretary-General Alvaro de Soto were in high demand around the world,” Mr. Ban said in a statement released by his spokesperson.Mr. Ban also noted that Mr. de Soto’s work spanned the globe, “from El Salvador to Myanmar, Cyprus to Western Sahara, and most recently in the search for peace in the Middle East.”Since June 2005, Mr. de Soto has been serving as a Middle East envoy, a position to which he was named by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Prior to that, he was appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus in 1999.As the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for the Central American Peace Process, Mr. de Soto led the 1990-1991 negotiations that brought an end to the decade-long war in El Salvador.“The agreements he helped to broker in El Salvador not only brought a better future to the people of that country, but also became a model for UN peacemaking efforts elsewhere,” Mr. Ban said.“Mr. de Soto’s contributions to the development of UN practices in conflict mediation and resolution will be a lasting part of his legacy to the United Nations.”Before joining the UN, Mr. de Soto served Peru as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima, at UN Headquarters in New York and in Geneva. Mr. de Soto was the coordinator and spokesman for the Group of 77 and China in negotiations on the Convention on the Law of the Sea. 7 May 2007As the Peruvian Alvaro de Soto – whose peacemaking skills were put to use in the Middle East, Western Sahara and Myanmar, among other places – concludes a quarter century of service to the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his profound gratitude to him for his contributions to the world body. read more

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Kosovo plan is a practical and workable solution Ban tells Security Council

Addressing a Security Council debate on Kosovo, a week after unveiling plans to adjust the profile and structure of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Mr. Ban said he had rarely encountered such a delicate or divisive issue during his 40-year diplomatic career.“Legally, politically and morally, it is a landscape of enormous complexity and sensitivity that required the exercise of extraordinary objectivity and balance,” he said, adding that such developments this year as the declaration of independence in February and the Kosovo Serb community’s overwhelming rejection of a new constitution in Pristina have brought lasting changes to the situation.“It is my assessment that, taken together, these developments have created a profoundly new reality in which UNMIK is no longer able to perform as effectively as in the past the vast majority of its tasks as an interim administration. This needs to be acknowledged as a fact of life.”Under Mr. Ban’s plan, the UN is neutral on the question of Kosovo’s status. The European Union would also play an enhanced operational role in the area of rule of law under a UN “umbrella” headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and in line with the 1999 Security Council resolution that established UNMIK.A reconfigured and restructured UNMIK would continue to carry out many functions, including those related to a dialogue with Serbia on provisions in six areas: police, courts, customs, transport and infrastructure, boundaries and Serbian patrimony.To lead this new phase, Mr. Ban said he intends to appoint Lamberto Zannier of Italy to be his new Special Representative, succeeding Joachim Rücker.“He will help to carry forward the vision I have presented in my report, and to lead a new phase of dialogue, and he will be scrupulously balanced in his approach.”Mr. Zannier is currently on secondment from the Italian Government to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as director of its conflict prevention centre, and has worked closely with the UN system since joining the Italian foreign ministry in 1978.The Secretary-General stressed to the Council that his package of changes is aimed at finding “an operational modus vivendi to help move Kosovo a few steps back from the brink of further conflict.”He said he now awaited the reaction of Council members and the other participants in today’s debate, saying that dialogue was critically important for all of Kosovo’s communities.“The package is a practical and workable solution – a concrete and sustainable response to a complex and difficult situation. It is founded on the imperative, overriding need, as I said, to maintain international peace and security and stability in Kosovo and the region, while responding and adapting to changing circumstances on the ground.”UNMIK has been in place since mid-1999 after NATO forces drove Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, that year amid deadly inter-communal fighting. On 17 February this year, the Assembly of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government adopted a resolution declaring independence from Serbia. 20 June 2008The proposal to reconfigure the United Nations’ presence in Kosovo is “a practical and workable solution” to one of the world’s most intractable issues, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, warning that reaching a mutually acceptable settlement will not be easy. read more

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Jordan becomes first country to answer Bans call for more UN police

10 November 2008Jordan has become the first country to pledge an additional unit to United Nations police in Liberia, answering Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for extra forces to support their Liberian counterparts as the West African State continues its recovery from a disastrous decade-long civil war. Welcoming the decision to send the unit, which is due to arrive next month, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative Ellen Margrethe Løj today praised Jordanian police officers for supporting the Liberian national police in various ways, particularly in dealing with “mob violence.”Urging the Jordanian police officers to demonstrate the “patience and reserve” that was necessary to support their Liberian colleagues, Ms. Løj noted that there was a lot of peace building and development work to be done to ensure that Liberia did not slide back into conflict and chaos.“Development is crucial for sustainable peace and security; and to achieve development, Liberians must be empowered to control their circumstances,” she said at a ceremony where she awarded UN peacekeeping medals to 120 Jordanian officers already in the country.The strengthened police component will enhance the provision of strategic advice and expertise to Liberian officers in the rule of law and operational support to the police and corrections sector as well as react to urgent security incidents.Ms. Løj said September’s Security Council extension of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for another year “represents the continued commitment of the UN to be unwavering and vigilant in maintaining peace and security in Liberia.“We are working with Liberian security forces, as well as with those from neighbouring countries, to ensure that security is maintained at all times,” she added.UNMIL was set up in 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a war that killed almost 150,000 Liberians, mostly civilians, and sent 850,000 others fleeing to neighbouring countries. As of the end of September this year it comprised over 12,700 uniformed personnel, including 11,465 troops and 1,037 police. read more

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As winter nears in Kyrgyzstan UN aid officials voice fears on living

18 November 2008United Nations humanitarian officials are voicing concern for an estimated 700,000 people in Kyrgyzstan, with many lacking decent shelter and facilities as the often bitter Central Asian winter approaches. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Kyrgyzstan include 580,000 people classed as food insecure and 250,000 people at risk because of electricity and water shortages.Central Asian winters can be extremely harsh, particularly in the mountainous regions of southern Kyrgyzstan, which were also hit early last month by a deadly earthquake.OCHA said UN agencies and their non-governmental organization (NGO) partners are working together to complement Kyrgyz Government efforts to devise a winter response plan to ensure minimum standards of basic services throughout the winter season. The response plan requires some $18 million to be put into practice. read more

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Ban welcomes latest steps to improve interKorean relations

Mr. Ban was also pleased that the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday released four crew members of a Republic of Korea (ROK) fishing vessel who had been detained after accidentally crossing into northern waters.“He hopes that these steps will help create conditions conducive to improving inter-Korean relations and the peaceful resolution of outstanding matters, including the nuclear issue,” his spokesperson said in a statement.Encouraged by the “positive momentum in inter-Korean relations,” the Secretary-General also reaffirmed his readiness to offer assistance as appropriate.The latest moves follow the release just weeks ago of a ROK national who had been detained by the DPRK authorities since 30 March, as well as of two American journalists who had been found guilty of entering DPRK illegally in March and sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour.Earlier this month, Mr. Ban was in his native ROK for a 10-day private visit, during which he met with President Lee Myung-bak and discussed the nuclear crisis in DPRK and other global challenges, including climate change.The UN chief is currently on an official visit to Austria, from which he will travel to Norway and to the Arctic polar ice rim to spotlight climate change, which he has described as the “defining challenge of our era.” 29 August 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the latest steps to improve inter-Korean relations, including an agreement to resume cross-border reunions next month for hundreds of families separated since the Korean War. read more

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UN urges donors to boost aid to poor countries despite economic crisis

Facing possible shortfalls in funding due to the global economic crisis, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today called on donors to “continue, and ideally boost, their current commitments” to help the agency pull the world’s developing countries out of poverty.“I am concerned that we may not meet our income targets for 2009 and 2010, and that we will face a continuing imbalance between contributions to regular and other resources,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said, calling on the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized countries to fulfil their oft-stated pledge to commit 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to official development assistance (ODA).She stressed that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN-endorsed targets which seek to mitigate a host of social ills ranging from poverty and hunger to maternal and infant mortality to lack of access to health and education, all by 2015, remain at the core of UNDP’s Strategic Plan. “With 2015 now barely six years away, we need an enormous focus on the MDGs,” she told a session of the Executive Board of UNDP and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). “Nowhere is that more important than in Africa, especially in these challenging times when African nations and their peoples have been hit hard by the economic crisis.“As is well known, no country in sub-Saharan Africa was on track to achieve all the MDGs before the crisis. It would be a double blow if the global recession acted to reverse hard won progress towards the MDGs.”Many developing countries, facing reduced domestic revenue this year, need support to maintain budgets for basic services like health and education, vital ingredients in meeting the MDGs, Ms. Clark said. “If children are pulled out of school because of the effects of the crisis on their families and their countries’ budgets, they may never get a second chance in education. If children have poor nutrition because of the crisis, the long-term effects on their cognitive skills and productive potential are serious,” she added.“Profound economic crisis in vulnerable countries then may extend into a humanitarian crisis, and at worst precipitate instability and conflict. The consequences may take years or even decades to remedy, ultimately at a much greater cost to the international community than timely support right now.”Without secure and predictable funding, UNDP cannot plan ahead and be fully effective in helping countries reach their development goals, Ms. Clark said. “We will, however, spare no effort to meet our resource projections. We do deeply appreciate the ongoing support of our donors, and urge them to continue, and ideally boost, their current commitments. We can also consider how our donor pool could be expanded,” she added. 9 September 2009Facing possible shortfalls in funding due to the global economic crisis, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today called on donors to “continue, and ideally boost, their current commitments” to help the agency pull the world’s developing countries out of poverty. read more

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Talks over contested northern Iraqi boundaries make headway – UN mission

18 October 2009Talks on disputed internal Iraqi boundaries – in the oil-rich, ethnically mixed north – have made progress on measures to address concerns of local residents, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) announced today. Senior representatives of the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government met recently to address the needs of the people living in the areas being considered by the Task Force on Dialogue for follow-up to the UNAMI reports on the demarcations.UNAMI submitted a report to Iraqi authorities in April for each of the more than one dozen disputed districts. The mission says the reports are analytical, not prescriptive, and include a discussion paper on the future of the Kirkuk governorate, which proposes four options – all of which treat the governorate as a single entity – based on the Iraqi Constitution and requiring a political agreement among the parties, as well as some form of referendum.During recent discussions, both sides underscored the importance of maintaining the unity of the people of Iraq and the integrity of its territories, including identifying ways to resolve outstanding land and property disputes resulting from activities before and after the US-led invasion of 2003, as well as to guarantee the right of all Iraqis for the education of their children in their mother tongue.The Task Force also recognized the importance of ensuring transparent detention practices, transferring detainees to the governorates they originated from, and immediately investigating the status of missing persons. “Dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region remains critical for the stability of the country and for addressing numerous outstanding issues that are central to its functioning,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert.“The United Nations is committed to supporting dialogue among Iraqis, including through development and humanitarian support in these important areas, and remains encouraged by the positive discussions taking place,” added Mr. Melkert, who also heads UNAMI. read more

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SecretaryGeneral calls for stronger partnership for African development

8 February 2010The global food and energy crises and climate change, and coupled with the financial and economic crises, have eroded economic and social gains made in Africa over the past decade, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in a new report, calling for a stronger partnership for Africa’s development. In his report entitled Social Dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Secretary-General wrote that the adverse social consequences of these crises are likely to remain for much longer in Africa, even after the recovery gathers pace in advanced countries.“African economies will likely experience decelerated growth, high unemployment and poverty rates and diminished prospects for achieving NEPAD goals and other internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals,” the Secretary-General wrote.To mitigate these effects, the Secretary-General recommended that African countries bear the majority of responsibility for their own development by continuing to integrate and mainstream NEPAD priorities – such as infrastructure, agriculture and food security, science and technology, trade, and environment – into their national development plans. Governments concerned should also take advantage of North-South and South-South experiences and best practices.The report also called on Africa’s development partners to continue to integrate NEPAD priorities, values and principles into their development assistance programmes. In particular, the international community should assist African countries in addressing the challenge of climate change by raising the resources needed to support adaptation and mitigation actions. “For Africa to leapfrog dirty energy solutions, strengthen its adaptive capacity and pursue sustainable low-carbon growth strategies, it will need financial assistance and technology transfers. The region will need not only additional funding but also timely and predictable delivery on existing ODA commitments,” the Secretary-General wrote.The report noted that although African countries contribute the least to climate change and sea-level rise. Extreme weather phenomena results in a “growing numbers of climate refugees, social disintegration as a result of social and political instability and conflicts over land-based resources, and new health threats that emerge as a result of the changing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.” Adopted by African leaders in 2001, NEPAD lays out an agreed vision of social and economic development on the continent.The NEPAD report is on the agenda of the 48th session of the Commission for Social Development, which began last week in New York and continues until Friday. read more

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Mandate of UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara extended for another year

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council called on Morocco and Frente Polisario – the parties to the conflict in Western Sahara – to “continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.”The resolution was adopted after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on the peacekeeping mission (known as MINURSO), recently welcomed both parties’ commitment to the process of negotiations and their willingness to engage in the preparatory informal format.But he noted that two informal meetings under the auspices of his personal envoy Christopher Ross held in August 2009 and February this year produced no movement on the core substantive issues, and more work is needed before a fifth round can be held.Mr. Ross’ efforts to promote a settlement have been “laborious,” the Secretary-General said. “Their pace and substance have been heavily affected by the parties’ reaction to events in the region and their unyielding attachment to mutually exclusive positions.”Today’s resolution called on the parties to continue the dialogue under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions to achieve “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”Last week, the Secretary-General expressed concern about alleged violations of human rights in the Western Sahara conflict and vowed to continue to promote the rights of Sahrawis after meeting with Mohamed Abdelaziz, Secretary-General of the Frente Polisario.He reassured Mr. Abdelaziz of “the UN’s commitment to maintaining an active and balanced engagement in the search for a solution to the Western Sahara conflict that provides for the self-determination for the people of Western Sahara,” according to information released by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.“The Secretary-General stated that he remains very concerned about alleged violations of human rights. He said that his Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross, and the Secretariat will continue to work to promote the human rights of Sahrawis.”Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of Western Sahara ended in 1976. Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option. MINURSO was set up in 1991 to monitor the ceasefire reached in September of that year. 30 April 2010The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission tasked with organizing a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara for another year. read more

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Darfur UNAU mission concerned over Sudans military attack on armed group

10 December 2010The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today voiced concern over an attack reportedly carried out by the Sudanese armed forces against fighters of one of the armed opposition groups in the strife-torn region. The attack on Khor Abeche village in South Darfur against the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-Minni Minawi) sent some 500 civilians fleeing to the UNAMID camp in the area for protection.The Joint Special Representative, Ibrahim Gambari, “calls on all parties to refrain from hostilities and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to safeguard innocent civilians,” UNAMID said in a statement.The mission said it is investigating the incident and will continue to provide security to civilians in the area.UNAMID was set up to protect civilians and quell the violence in Darfur, where nearly seven years of fighting has killed at least 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million others from their homes. read more

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UN Human Rights Council mulls new probe into Syrian crackdown

“Let me conclude by emphasizing the importance of holding perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Council in Geneva as she presented the findings of an earlier mission by her Office covering the period from 15 March to 15 July, which was refused entry into Syria and based its report of first-hand interviews conducted with victims and witnesses. Ms. Pillay, who last week urged the Security Council to consider referring the “pattern of widespread or systematic human rights violations by Syrian security and military forces” to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, summarized a litany of Government abuses ranging from murder, enforced disappearances, deprivation of liberty and the torture even of children to an apparent “shoot-to-kill” policy against protesters with snipers posted on rooftops. “Former detainees cited cases of death in custody, including that of children, as a result of torture,” she said, noting that more than 2,200 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, with more than 350 people reportedly killed Syria since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan three weeks ago. “I wish to use this opportunity to once again call on the Syrian Government to immediately and fully halt its crackdown on peaceful protests and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all detained for their participation in peaceful demonstrations,” she declared. Syrian delegate Faysal Khabbas Hamoui said the earlier report included statements that misconstrued the truth, including the reference to crimes against humanity, and reflected the view of States hostile to Syria in a bid to terrorize the country and wage war against it.The draft resolution which the Council is debating calls on the Syrian authorities to fully cooperate with a new “independent international commission of inquiry” into alleged violations of international law, including possible crimes against humanity. The commission, to be appointed by the Council, would cover the period from July and report back no later than the end of November. It would call on the Syrian Government to immediate halt “all human rights violations,” including “the continued indiscriminate attacks” on its people. “The international community has the duty not to allow these violations to go unpunished and to assess whether some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity,” the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, told the Council. “If we are serious about combatting human rights violations, we should not turn a blind eye to these egregious acts. We believe that those bearing the highest responsibility for such violations should be referred to the highest instances to be prosecuted and judged,” he said, speaking on behalf of the heads of various Council bodies. Beside Mr. Méndez they were: the Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of special procedures, Farida Shaheed; the Chairperson of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Jeremy Sarkin; and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. They said they had been alerted to “some of the worst violations a State can commit against its people.” While promising reforms and enacting new legislation, “the Government has unfortunately continuously stepped up the crackdown against protesters,” they added, deploring the denial of access to the earlier mission to gather first-hand information on the ground. “We urge the authorities to grant such free and unfettered access. This would also send a strong signal that the Syrian authorities are willing to cooperate with the United Nations.” The session will continue tomorrow.A UN humanitarian mission, which has been allowed into Syria to assess such needs as food and medicine, went to the central city of Homs today, but was advised to leave for security reasons when protests started.The mission, which is separate from the earlier mission from Ms. Pillay’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), did not come under fire, as has been reported by some outlets. 22 August 2011The United Nations Human Rights Council met in special session today to debate the urgent dispatch of a commission to Syria to investigate possible crimes against humanity in the Government’s “brutal” crackdown on largely peaceful protesters seeking its ouster. read more

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