Video US Ambassador Bush Wishes all Moroccans Happy Holidays

Video US Ambassador Bush Wishes all Moroccans Happy Holidays

Rabat – US Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush, released a new video in which he wishes Happy Holidays to Moroccans.While noting that Americans celebrate many of “our beloved holidays,” such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Hanukah, he pointed that this year’s celebrations are very special, as the holiday season coincides with the birthday of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), known in Morocco as Eid Al Mouloud.“This year is interesting because Eid Al Mouloud coincides with Christmas, a very rare occurrence over the centuries,” Ambassador Bush said. The US diplomat pointed out that while Muslims, Jews and Christians observe their holidays in different ways, they do many things in common, such as visiting family and eating special food.“Our holidays are observed in different ways. Yet the way we celebrate share many things in come, like visiting family and eating foods,” Bush said.While pointing out that many Americans volunteer their time during holidays to help people in need, he noted that he had the opportunity to work alongside many Moroccans in volunteering “our time, energy and support to projects that improve our shared world.”The US diplomat highlights the efforts made by the USAID to offer “its expertise” to complement the “good work the Moroccan government, civil society groups and citizens are doing.”He said that in keeping with the US tradition to make new resolutions and set new goals for the upcoming year, his resolution for 2016 is to “assist Morocco to develop its capacity and meet its potential.”He said that his second resolution is to visit other areas of Morocco he has never visited before.“I am eager to get out of the big cities, go to the country and meet with more people in rural communities,” the US Ambassador said. read more

Greys Anatomy Star Sandra Oh Poses in Moroccan Gandoura

Greys Anatomy Star Sandra Oh Poses in Moroccan Gandoura

By Myriam Ait MalkRabat – Actress Sandra Oh, famous for portraying Dr. Cristina Yang on the American television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” shared a photo of herself in a Moroccan gandoura in Marrakech on May 25 on Instagram.While visiting a clothing boutique in the Red City, Oh posted a photo of herself wearing a bright pink gandoura and a sunhat on her Instagram. She captioned the picture with the hashtag #Lovely. @noryaayron It was so nice meeting you too. #Boutique #LovelyA photo posted by Sandra Oh (@iam_sandraoh) on May 25, 2016 at 5:33am PDTThe Canadian actress is currently in Morocco to take part in a “Theatre Lab” organized by the Sundance Institution, an American NGO that works to promote independent cinema internationally.Along with four other actors, Oh is serving as a creative adviser to the participants in the Theatre Lab, sharing her experience and advice.Through its initiative in Morocco, the organization aims to support emerging Moroccan artists. The initiative is currently taking place in Marrakech May 8-29.The program is being supervised by Sundance Institute Theatre Program Producing Director Christopher Hibma and Artistic Director Phillip Himberg. read more

Spain Eyes Gibraltar Following Brexit Vote Ceuta and Melilla Next

Spain Eyes Gibraltar Following Brexit Vote Ceuta and Melilla Next

Rabat – The Brexit vote has left Europe in a state of confusion, as governments and citizens alike wonder what this means for the continent. While the majority of England and Wales voted Leave, London, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar all overwhelmingly voted Remain. Gibraltar in particular has an uncertain future.The small British enclave sits just below Spain, strategically located at the crossing of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, and Europe to Africa. The British have held it since the signing of 1713’s Treaty of Utrecht. During this time, Gibraltar has enjoyed some degree of self-governance, with notable exceptions in defense and foreign relations.As an EU territory, Gibraltar was somewhat shielded from political pressure placed upon it by the Spanish, who have aspired to retake it since its loss 300 years ago. Borders must remain open and easily accessible by EU law. The local citizens recognize the benefits of EU membership, and 95.9% of voters have accordingly chosen to Remain. An impressive 83.7% voter turnout among their 30,000 citizens was nonetheless far too small to bear significant weight among the overall United Kingdom decision. Spanish workers who commute daily to Gibraltar are likewise concerned about their future if border access becomes tighter. Minor diplomatic incidents in the past have affected border crossings and access to jobs, although those were small events compared to Brexit.The enormity of this decision is not lost on Spain. Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo said this morning that “The Spanish flag on the Rock is much closer than before.”Over the radio, he commented that this “complete change of outlook” now “opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time.” Garcia-Margallo advocated co-sovereignty, a somewhat vague power-sharing structure between the UK and Spain until the latter would eventually reclaim the enclave.Certain Moroccan hopefuls look favorably upon Spain retaking a foreign city on its mainland, expecting this to set a precedent for repatriating such foreign territories. This could provide Morocco a legal justification for taking Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish holdings on Morocco’s mainland. The three enclaves are linked by geography, political situation, and Spanish sovereignty claims. The Kingdom has invoked Ceuta and Melilla in the past when disputes arose over Gibraltar. However, Spain has shown no signs of relinquishing control of these territories.Both the governments of the UK and Gibraltar have flatly rejected any talks with the Spanish about co-sovereignty. There is as of yet no evidence that Moroccan attempts to open similar talks with Spain will meet a different response. The sovereign status of Gibraltar, and Ceuta and Melilla, is unlikely to change due to Brexit alone.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more

King Mohammed VI Launches Building Works of Mosque in Dar es

King Mohammed VI Launches Building Works of Mosque in Dar es

Dar es Salaam – King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, accompanied by HH Prince Moulay Ismail, in the presence of Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, launched, on Tuesday, the construction works of a new mosque in Dar es Salaam, which the sovereign named “the Mohammed VI Mosque”.This royal decision came as a response to a request by Mufti Sheikh Abu-Bakr Ibn Zubayr Benali, President of the National Muslim Council of Tanzania, who expressed the need for a mosque and its facilities in Dar es Salaam.The area of this religious and cultural landmark is 7,400 square meters; it includes a prayer room that accommodates more than 5,000 worshipers, a library, a conference hall, administrative facilities, a parking lot and green spaces. On this occasion, the King offered 10,000 copies of the Holy Koran to the National Muslim Council of Tanzania.Afterwards, the Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Tanzania, who is also a founding member of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema, gave a speech wherein he expressed his thanks and gratitude to HM the King for building a grand mosque in Dar es Salaam and naming it after him.Later on, a cooperation agreement in the field of religious affairs was concluded and signed between the Mufti and the Moroccan Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufiq.It covers traditional education, religious foundations, construction and management of mosques, exchange of experiences, and other forms of cooperation which aim to preserve authentic Islamic values and help prevent all forms of deviation and extremism. read more

Morocco Reinforces Cultural Ties With UAE

Morocco Reinforces Cultural Ties With UAE

Rabat – Morocco is consolidating its historic and fraternal ties and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).During “Morocco in Abu Dhabi,” which kicked off on December 5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the event’s officials will focus on ways to enhance economic, educational, tourism and cultural ties between the two countries and introduce Moroccan culture and heritage to the UAE.The first day of the event was attended by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Expressing the aim of the event, Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni, Member of the Federal National Council and Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee of Morocco in Abu Dhabi, said that “Morocco in Abu Dhabi offers a great opportunity for the UAE’s citizens and residents to learn about the Moroccan legacy and to educate the future generations on the importance of preserving its heritage.”“The event aims to instill the principles of tolerance and love, which are the cornerstone of the values set by our parents, grandparents and ancestors,” Al Yahbouni added.Morocco in Abu Dhabi is regarded as a unique opportunity for its visitors to explore the Moroccan culture and heritage by exhibiting Morocco’s architecture, to music, art and cuisine. read more

Driss El Ganbouri Moroccan Intellectuals Must Help Find Solution to Rif

Driss El Ganbouri Moroccan Intellectuals Must Help Find Solution to Rif

Rabat – Moroccan writer Driss El Ganbouri has stated that, as the crisis in the Rif  continues to grow, intellectuals must take action and help find a solution to the stalemate.In statement to Morocco World News, El Ganbouri said that after more than eight months of protests and police interventions in the Rif, the situation in the region has become dangerous.The former journalist and political commentator said that there is no “serious mediation” between demonstrators and the government. “Where are we heading to?” he writes. “Why do protests continue despite promises made by the state? Is the reason lack of trust? Is it the detentions of Hirak leaders? Why the state does not release the detainees to test this solution?”Amid this complex situation, El Ganbouri called on Moroccan intellectuals to step up and take a role in helping reaching a solution to the crisis.“Moroccan intellectuals should be concerned with what is going on even if their voices are not heard by decision makers. They have to have a say in this issue and be clear in siding with the homeland,” he said.Moroccan intellectuals, suggested El Ganbouri, previously expressed their opinions on far less important matters. Now, the time has come for them to raise their voices and “light the darkness that is about to swallow us all.”El Ganbouri warned that the situation in Rif has reached an unprecedented and dangerous levels that threaten “to deepen the gap between citizens and the state” in the region since the 1950s.“We run the first of losing the sense of belonging to one homeland and one state,” warned the writer, pointing to the danger of forfeiting the Moroccan state’s achievements in reconciling with the Rif.Facing this situation, intellectuals must take the initiative, said El Ganbouri, recalling that the nationalist independence movement, the left-wing movement, and Islamist movement were, in their beginnings, intellectual movements.As for today, intellectuals have to regain people’s trust “in their role in society in the face of what is going on,” concludes El Ganbouri. read more

Ramid Criticizes RNI Support for AntiPJD Remarks

Ramid Criticizes RNI Support for AntiPJD Remarks

Rabat – PJD’s Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid has described RNI’s support for Rachid Talbi Alami’s critical remarks of the PJD as “bad.”In an interview with Medi1 TV, Ramid said that the National Rally of Independents (RNI) “should not support and adopt” Alami’s comments. “The party should have told him that he went beyond the limits and that he did not respect the majority [coalition]’s charter, but instead chose to stand behind him,” the minister said. On September 21, Talbi Alami, the RNI minister of youth and sports, accused the Justice and Development Party (PJD) of “imitating” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and of wishing to “destroy the country.”The accusations incensed the PJD, which is in a coalition with RNI, and some members responded harshly to Alami’s remarks.Ramid said that when the former secretary-general of PJD, Abdelilah Benkirane, criticized RNI leader Aziz Akhannouch, the PJD did not “support Benkirane and explained that his statement in no way reflects the PJD’s position.”Ramid also expressed shock that the minister would criticize the PJD, whose leader, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, is Alami’s superiorTension between the parties has escalated as members of both parties have exchanged blame and accusations.Abdelaziz Aftati, a member of the PJD, called on RNI to withdraw from the government and urged Alami to resign from the cabinet.The deputy of the secretary general of PJD, Slimane El Omrani, also criticized Alami, describing his statement as “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”In response, the head of RNI, Akhannouch, said that he was “surprised by the exaggerated and unintelligible reactions that targeted a member of the political bureau of [RNI].” For his part, Head of Government and Secretary General of PJD Saad Eddine El Othmani told his party colleagues to ignore Alami’s statements after El Omrani’s response.News outlets reported that El Othmani will convene all secretaries-general of the six coalition parties on Thursday. read more

American Airlines suspends service to Venezuela indefinitely

American Airlines suspends service to Venezuela indefinitely

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines is indefinitely suspending flights to Venezuela as political turmoil and unrest continues to grip the country.Airline spokeswoman Martha Pantin said Thursday that the airline will try to resume service when conditions are right but has no timetable for doing so.On March 15, American announced it was suspending its two daily flights from Miami to Caracas and one from Miami to Maracaibo through April 1. The airline acted after its pilots’ union told members not to operate flights to Venezuela because of safety concerns.American was the last U.S. airline flying to Venezuela.The United States was the first nation to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, heightening tension with the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. U.S. diplomats left the country this month.The Associated Press read more

Journalist at site critical of Duterte arrested in 2nd case

Journalist at site critical of Duterte arrested in 2nd case

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine online news site critical of President Rodrigo Duterte says its chief executive officer has been arrested again, this time over an alleged investment violation.Rappler Inc. reported that its CEO and executive editor, Maria Ressa, was served a warrant by the police after arriving at Manila’s international airport Friday and was taken to a regional trial court to post bail. Ressa’s co-defendants have posted bail for the new charge.Rappler says the charges stemmed from a complaint by the National Bureau of Investigation that accused Rappler of violating the law by allowing a foreign investor to inject funds in the online news outfit.Ressa was arrested last month and freed on bail in a libel case.The Associated Press read more

Initial public offerings scheduled to debut next week

Initial public offerings scheduled to debut next week

NEW YORK — The following is a list of initial public offerings planned for the coming week. Sources include IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital, and SEC filings.Week of May 6.AGBA Acquisition – Kowloon, Hong Kong, 4 million shares, priced at $10, managed by Maxim Group LLC. Proposed Nasdaq symbol AGBAU. Business: Blank check company targeting the service sector in China.Applied Therapeutics – New York, 4 million shares, priced $14-$16, managed by Citi/Cowen. Proposed Nasdaq symbol APLT. Business: Phase 2 biotech developing therapies for diabetic cardiomyopathy.Avantor – Radnor, Pa., 154 million shares, priced $18-$21, managed by Goldman Sachs/JP Morgan. Proposed NYSE symbol AVTR. Business: An LBO’d lab provider of laboratory supplies and services.Axcella Health – Cambridge, Mass., 3.6 million shares, priced $20-$22, managed by Goldman Sachs/JP Morgan. Proposed Nasdaq symbol AXLA. Business: Developing therapies and food to trat metabolic dyregulation in the liver.ConversionPoint Holdings – Newport Beach, Calif., 6.2 million shares, priced $6-$7, managed by Oppenheimer & Co/GMP Securities. Proposed Nasdaq symbol CPTI. Business: Provides an AI-integrated SaaS platform for marketing and e-commerce services.Cortexyme – San Francisco, 4.4 million shares, priced $16-$18, managed by BofA Merrill Lynch/Credit Suisse. Proposed Nasdaq symbol CRTX. Business: Developing a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.HeadHunter Group – Moscow, 16.3 million shares, priced $11-$13.50, managed by Morgan Stanley/Goldman Sachs. Proposed Nasdaq symbol HHR. Business: Online job recruitment platform in Russia.Health Sciences Acquisitions – New York, 10 million shares, priced at $10, managed by Chardan Capital Markets/UBS Investment Bank. Proposed Nasdaq symbol HSACU. Business: Blank check company formed by RTW Investments to acquire a biopharma or medical technology business.Landcadia Holdings II – Houston, 25 million shares, priced at $10, managed by Jefferies. Proposed Nasdaq symbol LCAHU. Business: Blank check company formed by the CEOs of Landry’s and Jefferies to acquire an entertainment business.Mayville Engineering – Mayville, Wis., 6.3 million shares, priced $19-$21, managed by Baird/Citi. Proposed NYSE symbol MEC. Business: Manufactures components for commercial and industrial vehicle OEMs.Milestone Pharmaceuticals – Montreal, 5 million shares, priced $14-$16, managed by Jefferies/Cowen. Proposed Nasdaq symbol MIST. Business: Phase 3 biotech developing therapies for heart rate conditions.NextCure – Beltsville, Md., 5 million shares, priced $14-$16, managed by Morgan Stanley/BofA Merrill Lynch. Proposed Nasdaq symbol NXTC. Business: Clinical-stage biotech developing next-gen cancer immunotherapies.Parsons – Centreville, Va., 18.5 million shares, priced $26-$28, managed by Goldman Sachs/BofA Merrill Lynch. Proposed NYSE symbol PSN. Business: Provides technology-driven defence, intelligence and infrastructure solutions.Postal Realty Trust – Cedarhurst, N.Y., 5 million shares, priced $19-21, managed by Stifel/Janney Montgomery Scott. Proposed NYSE symbol PSTL. Business: Recently-formed REIT that manages and leases properties to the USPS.South Plains Financial – Lubbock, Texas, 3.4 million shares, priced $17.50-$19.50, managed by Keefe Bruyette Woods/Sandler O’Neill. Proposed Nasdaq symbol SPFI. Business: West Texas commercial bank with 21 full-service locations.Sonim – San Mateo, Calif., 3.6 million shares, priced $13-$15, managed by Oppenheimer & Co./Lake Street Capital Markets. Proposed Nasdaq symbol SONM. Business: Makes rugged mobile phones and accessories for industrial and public workers.Trevi Therapeutics – New Haven, Conn., 4.7 million shares, priced $14-$16, managed by SVB Leerink/Stifel. Proposed Nasdaq symbol TRVI. Business: Developing an extended-release version of an opioid for new indications.Uber Technologies – San Francisco, 180 million shares, priced $44-$50, managed by Morgan Stanley/Goldman Sachs. Proposed NYSE symbol UBER. Business: Operates on-demand ridesharing network.The Associated Press read more

US regulators under scrutiny as they look to punish Facebook

US regulators under scrutiny as they look to punish Facebook

WASHINGTON — Federal privacy regulators are under scrutiny in Congress as they negotiate a record fine with Facebook to punish the company for alleged user-privacy violations.Eyes are on the Federal Trade Commission as it also considers a rare action holding CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for Facebook’s failure to honour a 2011 agreement over privacy lapses. The agency also may limit how the giant social network targets advertising to its massive user base.Beyond a fine, which is expected to run as much as $5 billion, comprehensive action by the FTC could mark a watershed in government action against the tech industry to protect consumer privacy.FTC Chairman Joseph Simons and his four fellow commission members will appear before a House committee at a hearing Wednesday.Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press read more

Top UN envoy on Myanmar visits Singapore

Top UN envoy on Myanmar visits Singapore

Mr. Gambari is scheduled to meet with senior government officials at each stop on his itinerary, a UN spokesperson told reporters in New York.All of the Special Adviser’s consultations are taking place within the context of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate for Myanmar.In June, Mr. Gambari visited European and Asian capitals for talks with government authorities.When he was appointed Special Adviser in May, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said in a statement that Mr. Ban “looks forward to the cooperation of the Government of Myanmar and all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process, with a view to making tangible progress towards the restoration of democracy and the protection of human rights.” 6 August 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, today arrived in Singapore on the first leg of an Asian trip that will also take him to Bangkok, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Jakarta, Indonesia. read more

Top UN official hails adoption of missing piece in human rights protection

Top UN official hails adoption of missing piece in human rights protection

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will “provide an important platform to expose abuses that are often linked to poverty, discrimination and neglect, and that victims frequently endure in silence and helplessness,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said. “It will provide a way for individuals, who may otherwise be isolated and powerless, to make the international community aware of their situation,” she added, calling the adoption of the text by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council “a highly significant achievement.” Ms. Arbour noted that the lack of a complaint procedure for economic, social and cultural rights has been “a missing piece in the international human rights protection system,” since the Covenant – which has 158 States parties – opened for signature in 1966. “As we are celebrating the 60-year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Optional Protocol reaffirms our commitment to a unified and comprehensive vision of human rights, sending a strong, unequivocal message about the equal value and importance of all human rights,” she stated. The Protocol is expected to get the final approval by the General Assembly later this year. It will enter into force once it has been ratified by 10 States. The adoption of the Optional Protocol was among a series of actions taken by the Human Rights Council, which is scheduled to wrap up its eighth regular session today. It also decided to extend the terms of office of eight of its Special Procedures mandate holders – rapporteurs, experts and working groups which the Council can use to explore either specific country situations or thematic issues – and appointed 13 more. 18 June 2008The top United Nations human rights official has hailed the adoption of a new legal instrument which will enable people to submit complaints on violations of their economic, social and cultural rights to an international human rights body. read more

SecretaryGeneral urges Pakistanis to unite against terrorism after deadly attacks

SecretaryGeneral urges Pakistanis to unite against terrorism after deadly attacks

7 July 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all political forces in Pakistan to unite against the “scourge of terrorism” amid a series of recent bombings which have left several dead and many more wounded. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban strongly condemned yesterday’s suicide bombing in front of a police station near the Red Mosque in Islamabad. The attack reportedly killed almost 20 people, many of them police, and injured dozens more. There have also been reports today of a series of explosions in Karachi, that have resulted in more casualties. “The Secretary-General urges all political forces to unite against the scourge of terrorism and expresses his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Pakistan,” the statement added. read more

Return of displaced Pakistanis must be voluntary and sustainable – UN relief

Return of displaced Pakistanis must be voluntary and sustainable – UN relief

15 July 2009As families uprooted by the military operations in north-west Pakistan begin to make their way back home, it is vital to ensure that the returns are voluntary, that it is safe for them to repatriate and that basic services have been restored, the top United Nations relief official said today. More than 2 million Pakistanis have been displaced by the conflict between Government forces and militants in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and the vast majority are either sheltering in schools and other public buildings, with host families or in rental accommodations.The Government this week began a programme for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to some parts of Buner and Swat, among the areas hardest hit by the operations. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, who just returned from a four-day visit to the country, told reporters in New York that the issue now is how quickly and on what scale people will begin to return home. It was clear from his conversations with the IDPs that people are “desperate” to go home, he said.He noted that the Government is keen that the IDPs should go home in order to reduce the burden on host communities as well as the general financial burden.“We’re of course also concerned that they should be able to return home as quickly as possible,” added Mr. Holmes. “What we’ve also said is that this has to be a voluntary process; there must be no obligation to return before people are ready.” He emphasized the need for proper consultation with the people concerned and to ensure that the right conditions are in place for their returns. “There has to be basic security there… the power needs to be on, the water needs to be running, the police force needs to be there, the local administration needs to be in place. “The main point is that returns have got to be sustainable,” he stressed, adding that the worst scenario would be if people went back and were then displaced again.Mr. Holmes got a first-hand look at the site of the clashes when he visited the district of Buner last week. He noted that conditions there were in “reasonable shape,” with more half of the displaced having already returned to the district and life seems to be returning to “something approaching normality. “The shops were open, the bazaars were busy, there’s a lot of people moving around and trying to resume their normal activities,” he stated. An initial assessment is currently underway in Swat, where media reports say that people have started to return. Mr. Holmes also pointed out that when after people return to their homes they will need assistance for some months to come, and repeated his plea to donors and the international community for continued and increased support, including for early recovery efforts.“I sometimes have the feeling that the international community and the media have not given the depth and extent of this humanitarian crisis the attention that it deserves,” the UN relief chief said.He added that the UN and its partners have so far received about 42 per cent of the $543 million appeal launched in May to help those affected by the crisis.“We hope the donors will respond generously to what is a continuing and very large-scale humanitarian problem.” read more

SecretaryGeneral to travel to Haiti to show solidarity with quake victims

SecretaryGeneral to travel to Haiti to show solidarity with quake victims

15 January 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel on Sunday to Haiti, which was devastated by a massive earthquake earlier this week, it was announced today, to show solidarity with the people of the impoverished Caribbean nation, as the United Nations continues to rush aid to the victims. This afternoon, he spoke by phone with Haitian President René Préval and assured him the UN was fully mobilized to bring aid. Mr. Préval said that the biggest problem was coordinating all the aid efforts and that he would discuss the issue with Mr. Ban’s acting Special Representative in Haiti Edmond Mulet. Mr. Ban said United States coordination with the UN was also very important. Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake is said to have affected one-third of Haiti’s 9-million strong population. Many of the people in the hard-hit capital, Port-au-Prince, do not have access to food, water, shelter and electricity. UN emergency teams on the ground estimate that as many of half of the buildings in the worst-hit areas of the capital have been damaged or destroyed. “We are still in the search-and-rescue phase, and we are trying to save as many lives as possible,” Mr. Ban told reporters today. During a meeting with Haitian staff members this afternoon at UN Headquarters in New York, he offered his condolences and said that he will visit the country on Sunday to show his solidarity with UN staff, hundreds of whom are unaccounted for, and the people of Haiti. He also said that he hopes to assess the humanitarian assistance effort and the scale of the catastrophe for himself. With the top UN official in Haiti, Hédi Annabi, still unaccounted for, Mr. Ban dispatched Mr. Mulet, his former Special Representative to Haiti and current Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the country to assume full command of the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH).Upon arriving in Port-au-Prince yesterday, Mr. Mulet held talks with Haiti’s leaders, in which he stressed that MINUSTAH is in the process of building back its capacity and emphasized the Mission’s full support of the Government as it rebuilds the devastated capital. The Secretary-General announced that he is also sending Tony Banbury, Assistant-Secretary-General for field operations, to serve as Mr. Mulet’s deputy. A major humanitarian operation is under way, he said, and “although it is inevitably slower and more difficult than any of us would wish, we are mobilizing all resources as fast as we possibly can.” With the airport’s capacity limited, roads still blocked and the lack of transport and fuel within Haiti, the logistical situation, the Secretary-General stressed, is a very difficult one. “That said, the international community’s response has been generous and robust, and we are gearing up rapidly and effectively despite the challenging circumstances,” he said. The UN launched a flash appeal for some $562 million today, with a bulk of these funds to be directed to urgent needs, including food, water and shelter. UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky announced today that over 300 UN personnel are still missing or unaccounted for, with 36 military and civilian MINUSTAH personnel, as well as one staff member with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), having been confirmed to have died. The Christopher Hotel, which houses the UN headquarters in Haiti, and other buildings hosting the world body’s offices collapsed in the tremors. read more

Restoring damaged ecosystems can generate wealth and employment – UN report

Restoring damaged ecosystems can generate wealth and employment – UN report

Repairing forests, lakes and other types of nature reserves that have been damaged or depleted can generate wealth, create jobs and become a vital means of alleviating poverty, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), says in a report released today.The report identifies thousands of ecosystem restoration projects worldwide and showcases over 30 initiatives that are transforming the lives of communities and countries across the globe.Entitled Dead Planet, Living Planet: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development, the report underlines that far from being a cost on growth and development, many environmental investments in degraded, nature-based assets can generate substantial and multiple returns.“The ecological infrastructure of the planet is generating services to humanity worth by some estimates over $70 trillion a year, perhaps substantially more,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. “This report is aimed at bringing two fundamental messages to governments, communities and citizens on World Environment Day (WED) and in 2010 – the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Namely, that mismanagement of natural and nature-based assets is undercutting development on a scale that dwarfs the recent economic crisis,” Mr. Steiner said.“Well-planned investments and re-investments in the restoration of these vast, natural and nature-based utilities not only has a high rate of return, but will be central, if not fundamental, to sustainability in a world of rising aspirations, populations, incomes and demands on the Earth’s natural resources,” said Mr. Steiner from Kigali, Rwanda, the main host for this year’s global WED events. The Day will be officially marked on Saturday.Nature restoration activities include rehabilitating water flows to rivers and lakes, improving soil stability and fertility for agriculture and combating climate change by sequestering and storing carbon from the atmosphere.The report underlines that maintaining and managing intact ecosystems must be the key priority. However, given that more than 60 per cent of the ecosystems, ranging from marshes and coral reefs to tropical forests and soils, are already degraded, restoration must now be an equal priority.Rehabilitating ecosystems also generates jobs in a world where currently 1.3 billion are unemployed or underemployed, while supporting international goals to substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity, a key theme this year.The report cites evidence that well-planned, science-based, community-supported programmes can recover between 25 and 44 per cent of the original services alongside the animals, plants and other biodiversity of the former intact system.As an example, it points to a study on restoring degraded grasslands and lands around river systems in South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains. It estimates that the project will bring back winter river flows to communities amounting to close to 4 million cubic metres of water, cut sediment losses and store carbon.In Peru, the theme of ecosystem restoration underpins the Projeto Agua Limpa or Clean Water Project co-launched by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen and her father in 2008 in her hometown of Horizontina.The project is aimed at restoring the health of water supplies while boosting biodiversity by restoring forests and rehabilitating river banks and riverside vegetation in river basins.“UNEP’s report on ecosystem restoration spotlights the enormous opportunities for communities to invest in their future development,” said Ms. Bündchen after the report was released.“Restoring degraded environments is among the best gifts we can give and hand on to current and future generations – we need to bring to the attention of everyone the central link between forests, wetlands and other natural systems and our survival and prosperity in this extraordinary world,” she added.The report makes several recommendations, including urging overseas development agencies, international finance agencies and regional development banks to factor ecosystem restoration and long-term management assistance into development support, food security initiatives, job creation and poverty alleviation funding.It also recommends that one per cent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) be set aside annually for conservation, management and restoration of the environment and natural resources, with the precise figure linked to national circumstances.Ecosystem restoration should be guided by experiences learned to date to avoid unintended consequences such as the introduction of alien invasive species and pests, the report suggests. It also posits that infrastructure projects that damage an ecosystem have funds set aside to restore a similarly degraded ecosystem elsewhere in a country or community.Speaking in Kigali, Mr. Steiner urged the world to move towards a “common goal of a healthy, productive and well-managed planet that can give everyone the opportunity to flourish under the theme of ‘Many Species, One Planet, One Future’.” 3 June 2010Repairing forests, lakes and other types of nature reserves that have been damaged or depleted can generate wealth, create jobs and become a vital means of alleviating poverty, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), says in a report released today. read more

UN plans another gorilla rescue airlift

UN plans another gorilla rescue airlift

“Together, the orphaned gorillas are hoped to form a new ”family” of 10,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which recommended the airlift along with INTERPOL, said in a press release yesterday.The operation, planned for mid July, is the second to be conducted by the UN peacekeeping force in DRC as part of a wider effort to combat the illegal cross-border trade in baby gorillas, which has intensified in recent years with the proliferation of armed groups in the region.The first rescue was conducted by the peacekeeping mission on 27 May, when four eastern lowland baby gorillas, seized from poachers, were flown to safety by UN helicopters to a sanctuary in Kasughu in North Kivu province.The ultimate objective is to rehabilitate the gorillas and to reintroduce them back in their natural environment.According to a report by UNEP entitled “The Last Stand for the Gorilla”, unless urgent action is taken to strengthen the enforcement of environmental law and counter poaching, endangered gorillas may largely disappear from the Greater Congo Basin, in the next 15 years.Previous projections by the agency in 2002 suggested that only 10 per cent of the original ranges would remain by 2030.Those estimates now appear too optimistic, given the intensification of pressures including illegal logging, mining, charcoal production and increased demand for bushmeat, of which an increasing proportion is ape meat.The Greater Congo Basin, including the Virunga mountain range, is considered one of the world’s most resource-rich but troubled regions.In the context of recent wars and continued unrest, the environment remains the silent victim of conflict in the region.Natural resources are systemically exploited or illegally-harvested. Minerals such as diamonds, gold, cassiterite and coltan – used in laptops and mobile phones – as well as timber, end up crossing borders, passing through middle men and companies before being shipped onto countries in Asia, the European Union and the Persian Gulf. 5 June 2010In continuing efforts to preserve gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will next month carry out a second airlift of six baby gorillas to a sanctuary where they will be cared for before they released into the wild. read more

Some 180 nations and territories take part in UNbacked immunization drive

Some 180 nations and territories take part in UNbacked immunization drive

25 April 2011Some 180 countries and territories are for the first time carrying out simultaneous United Nations-backed immunization campaigns this week, targeting diseases such as influenza, measles, polio and tetanus. The Immunization Week, which began on Saturday, is taking place across the five UN World Health Organization (WHO) regions of Africa, the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Pacific. “I believe Immunization Week will have a significant impact on emphasizing the need to remain vigilant against vaccine-preventable diseases – even those that we do not see within our communities,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. Over the course of the week, outreach teams will visit communities with limited access to regular health services such as those living in remote areas, urban fringes and internally displaced people to administer vaccines.Vaccinations will be provided to protect against diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, rubella, whooping cough and yellow fever. Other activities include training sessions and workshops for health workers, as well as round-table discussions with political decision-makers, medical professionals, parents, and caregivers. Dr. Chan noted that even with all the positive cooperation, innovation and collaboration that exist, “we are at risk of losing many of the gains that have been made and forgoing the additional benefits that are within reach.”The recent outbreaks of measles, pertussis and polio in different parts of the world have highlighted the work that remains to be done, she said. Last week WHO urged European countries to work more closely together to combat measles – which is entirely preventable – after a surge in the number of cases across the continent since the start of the year. At least 6,500 cases have been reported already, with significant outbreaks observed in 30 countries, including Belgium, France, Serbia, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Spain. read more

UN spotlights role of midwives in improving maternal and childrens health

UN spotlights role of midwives in improving maternal and childrens health

17 June 2011The United Nations is set to unveil a report highlighting the vital work of midwives in ensuring that millions of women and newborn children do not die needlessly at a time when many countries still lack enough skilled staff to serve as birth attendants. The report, The State of the World’s Midwifery 2011: delivering health, saving lives, is the first of its kind and draws on data gathered from 58 countries. Co-authored by several UN agencies – including the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – and more than 20 international partners, it will be released on Monday at a global conference of midwives taking place in Durban, South Africa.The report will examine the progress made so far on boosting the numbers of midwives, which are particularly critical to the achievement of two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): boosting maternal health, and reducing child mortality.The world continues to lag behind its targets on both those goals, and last year Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to try to accelerate action on these issues.UNFPA, whose Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin will launch the report on Monday, has estimated that about 900 women die every day and more than 34,000 others experience problems as a result of complications while giving birth.But the number of midwives – most of whom are women – varies enormously between and within countries, and many regions with high maternal and newborn mortality rates suffer from a shortage of skilled staff.In some of the world’s poorest countries, as few as 13 per cent of all births are assisted by a midwife or a health-care worker with the necessary skills.Tomorrow about 3,000 midwives participating in the Durban conference are expected to march through the city as a sign of their commitment to improving standards of maternal and newborn care around the world. read more