Central African Republic: Security Council boosts UN mission presence as tensions continue

MINUSCA peacekeepers on patrol in the Central African Republic. Photo: MINUSCA

Central African Republic, 26 March 2015 – The Security Council has agreed to boost the United Nations peacekeeping presence in the Central African Republic (CAR) amid the country’s continuing instability and simmering sectarian tensions.

In a unanimous resolution adopted earlier this morning, the 15-member Council agreed to increase the number of ‘blue helmets’ serving in the UN mission in the CAR, also known by the acronym MINUSCA, by 750 military personnel, 280 police personnel and 20 corrections officers. Continue reading

Bringing the trophy home South African learners win awards at Model United Nations conference in the USA

The 11 South African Model UN students in the chamber of the United Nations Security Council, New York,   17 March 2015 (Photo: Sudeshan Reddy)

The 11 South African Model UN students in the chamber of the United Nations Security Council, New York,
17 March 2015 (Photo: Sudeshan Reddy)

Pretoria, 26 March 2015 –  “We are bringing this home” enthused an excited Ketho Tshipala, a Grade 12 learner from Atteridgeville, a township outside Pretoria. Ketho holds a plaque proclaiming that the South African Schools team at the Washington Model United Nations Conference had won the award for Outstanding Small Delegation.

Ketho is a member of a group of 11 high school learners from all nine provinces of South Africa, from resourced and under-resourced schools, who joined 1300 other students from around the world as they simulated a series of debates in Washington DC earlier this month. In addition to the Outstanding Delegation award, four of the South Africans were awarded the title of Best Delegation in their individual committees. Continue reading

UN unveils permanent memorial to victims of transatlantic slave trade

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre left) and Sam Kutesa (centre right), President of the General Assembly, cut the ribbon at the unveiling ceremony of “The Ark of Return,” the Permanent Memorial to honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

New York, 25 March 2015 – United Nations officials today welcomed the unveiling at the world body’s New York Headquarters of a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade which they acknowledged was one of the most horrific tragedies of modern history.

“This memorial stands as a strong and permanent reminder – not only of this gross injustice but of the goals that the UN set for itself 70 years ago,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the unveiling. “This poignant and powerful memorial helps us to acknowledge the collective tragedy that befell millions of people. It encourages us to consider the historical legacy of slavery and, above all, it ensures that we never forget.” Continue reading

Libya: new UN report documents targeting of human rights defenders

A girl looks out of her house window in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: UNSMIL

Libya, 25 March 2015 – Armed groups across Libya have targeted human rights defenders seeking to shed light on abuses, according to a new United Nations report that outlines a litany of violent attacks and threats against defenders in the country, and in some cases even after they are forced to leave.

The joint report produced by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), documents attacks, including killings, abductions, torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful deprivation of liberty and death threats by phone and on social media since the escalation of fighting in May 2014. Continue reading

Lowest weekly total of Ebola cases in 2015 reported, UN health agency says

The remains of more than two-thousand persons cremated during the height of the Ebola outbreak were brought to an enclosed Palava Hut in the Liberian National Cemetery in Disco Hill, and will stay in this special place until national consultations determine how the remains can be buried in a dignified and proper way. Photo: UNMEER/Samuel Shilajiru

Monrovia, 25 March 2015 – The first case of Ebola in three weeks was found in Liberia, prompting heightened vigilance, while the United Nations health agency noted some improvements in Guinea, where the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Guinean Scouts held campfire sensitization sessions as part of its efforts to overcome community resistance to health interventions.

“Investigations into the origin of the newly reported case in Liberia are ongoing,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update. “Heightened vigilance is being maintained throughout the country” along with efforts to reinforce surveillance networks and cross-border controls. Continue reading

Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

New York, 25 March 2015 – To mark this International Day, I will unveil a permanent and fitting Memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade at the United Nations in New York.

The “Ark of the Return” Memorial will bring home to visitors from around the world, the terrible legacy of the slave trade. It will enable them to reflect on a core goal of the United Nations: the promotion and preservation of the dignity, freedom and equality of all human beings Continue reading

Secretary-General’s message on the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violation and for the Dignity of Victims – 24 March 2015

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

New York, 24 March 2015 - Earlier this year, I had the honour of paying my respects at the gravesite of Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered in El Salvador on this day in 1980. Monsignor Romero was an icon for human rights and social justice.

Every year, the United Nations marks the anniversary of his death by honouring the memory of the victims of gross human rights violations and promoting the importance of the right to truth and justice. Continue reading

Central African Republic in ‘urgent need’ of agricultural assistance, warns UN agency

Women process cassava for food preparation in Mbaiki, Central African Republic. $6.2 million is urgently needed to prevent further worsening of the food security situation. Photo: FAO/Riccardo Gangale

Women process cassava for food preparation in Mbaiki, Central African Republic. $6.2 million is urgently needed to prevent further worsening of the food security situation. Photo: FAO/Riccardo Gangale

CAR, 23 March 2015 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched an urgent appeal to help provide farmers in the Central African Republic (CAR) with seeds and tools for the country’s upcoming planting season, warning that without additional assistance vulnerable populations risked a further deterioration of their livelihoods.

In a news release issued today, the UN agency reported that some 1.5 million people in CAR remain food insecure amid ongoing hostilities throughout the country and cautioned that the figure was likely to rise should immediate support not be provided. Continue reading

The Secretary-General’s message on World Tuberculosis Day

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

New York, 24 March 2015 - With some 37 million lives saved between 2000 and 2013 through the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, it is clear that we are within sight of one of the great global health victories. We have the opportunity not just to reverse the spread of TB but, by 2035, to end this epidemic that continues to bring suffering to so many families worldwide.

But victory is not guaranteed. An estimated 9 million people fell ill with TB in 2013, and 1.5 million died. So, on this World Tuberculosis Day I urge governments, communities affected by TB and health workers around the world to intensify their efforts in line with the ambitious strategy established by the World Health Assembly in 2014 to end the global epidemic within two decades. Continue reading

New UN-backed report finds ‘far too high’ levels of elephant poaching across Africa

African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in Central and West Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated. Photo: CITES

African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in Central and West Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated. Photo: CITES

New York, 23 March 2015 – An ongoing decline in overall elephant numbers remains likely as the poaching of African elephants continued to exceed population growth rates throughout 2014, a new United Nations-backed report warned today.

“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in Central and West Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Continue reading