‘We are being tested again,’ Ban warns as UN marks 70 years since Auschwitz liberation

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and his wife Yoo Soon-taek visit the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland in November 2013. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and his wife Yoo Soon-taek visit the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland in November 2013. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

New York, 27 January 2015 – Seventy years ago today, allied forces liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, urging renewed vigilance to eradicate the deep roots of hatred as anti-Semitic attacks continue and vulnerable communities around the world bury their dead while living in fear of further violence.

“More than a million inmates, primarily Jews, were brutally and systematically killed in the place where the Nazis introduced the monstrous concept of ‘industrialized murder.’ Among the other victims were non-Jewish Poles, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, disabled persons and Jehovah’s witnesses,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks on the day. Continue reading

South Sudan: UN welcomes demobilization of child soldiers amid signs of peace

Children in South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/Ilya Medvedev

Children in South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/Ilya Medvedev

South Sudan, 27 January 2015 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is celebrating the release of some 3,000 South Sudanese child soldiers today in what is being hailed as one of the largest ever demobilizations of children in a zone of conflict.

“These children have been forced to do and see things no child should ever experience,” UNICEF South Sudan Representative Jonathan Veitch stated in a press release. “The release of thousands of children requires a massive response to provide the support and protection these children need to begin rebuilding their lives.” Continue reading

World tourism tops 1.1 billion in 2014, contributing to global economic recovery – UN

Photo: UNWTO

Photo: UNWTO

New York, 27 January 2015 – The number of international tourists reached 1.13 billion in 2014, 51 million more than in 2013, on trend for the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced today.

“Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the opening of the Spain Global Tourism Forum in Madrid. Continue reading

Lack of funds forces UN agency to halt Gaza programme for repairs to destroyed homes

UNRWA expects and is preparing for some 65,000 to 70,000 Palestinians to stay in its Gaza schools as they have no homes and nowhere to return to. Photo: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

UNRWA expects and is preparing for some 65,000 to 70,000 Palestinians to stay in its Gaza schools as they have no homes and nowhere to return to. Photo: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

Gaza, 27 January 2015 – The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees across the Middle East announced today that a major funding shortfall has forced the suspension of its cash assistance programme that would have helped families in Gaza repair their homes and provide rental subsidies to people left homeless after last year’s conflict in the enclave.

Announcing the suspension, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a press release “virtually none” of the funds pledged by donors at an international conference in Cairo last year has reached Gaza, and that it will need some $100 million in the first quarter of 2015. Continue reading

Ukraine: Minsk peace accords must be revived, UN political chief tells Security Council

Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, addresses the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, addresses the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Ukraine, 26 January 2015 – Briefing the Security Council on recent developments in Ukraine, Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, called today for revival of the Minsk Accords and an immediate end to hostilities.

His call for a cessation of violence came with emphasis “particularly on the rebels” and he stressed the need for the trilateral contact group to reconvene to work towards a sustainable ceasefire and implementation of the Accords – an agreement signed under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to halt fighting in the Donbass region of Ukraine –prioritizing protection of civilians and reaching those in need. Continue reading

‘Vicious circles linking violence and hunger’ must end – UN agriculture chief

Quinoa - a highly nutritious crop from the Andes has become popular globally. Photo: FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

Quinoa – a highly nutritious crop from the Andes has become popular globally. Photo: FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

Geneva, 26 January 2015 – Agriculture and food security must be treated as essential components of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said during a special meeting of the UN Peacebuilding Commission held at Headquarters today.

“Food security is an important foundation for peace, political stability and sustainable development. In the history of humanity, time and time again we have seen vicious circles linking violence and hunger – and these are conflicts that are not restricted by national borders,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said to participants today. Continue reading

UN rights chief says world ‘haunted’ by suffering endured by millions during Holocaust

Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren participates in 'Learning about the Holocaust through the Arts' at the UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren participates in ‘Learning about the Holocaust through the Arts’ at the UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

New York, 26 January 2015 – Ahead of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, taking place tomorrow, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement to mark the “forever solemn day” when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp was liberated.

Seventy years since the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he bowed “both personally and as a representative of the United Nations” to every woman, man and child who was forced to endure terrible suffering at the hands of the Nazis. Continue reading

Libya: latest round of UN-mediated peace talks kick-off in Geneva

Libyan stakeholders gathered at UN Headquarters in Geneva for talks aimed at resolving the country's political crisis. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferr

Libyan stakeholders gathered at UN Headquarters in Geneva for talks aimed at resolving the country’s political crisis. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferr

Geneva, 26 January 2015 – Libyan parties have gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, today for a new round of United Nations-facilitated talks aimed at resolving the North African nation’s political crisis.

The latest gathering, hosted by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), is a follow-up to a meeting held in the Swiss city last week, when stakeholders expressed commitment to a united and democratic Libya governed by the rule of law and respect for human rights. Continue reading

UN experts say post-2015 negotiations must emphasize human rights, accountability

Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture Malcolm Evans. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture Malcolm Evans. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

New York, 26 January 2015 – As United Nations Member States start discussions to finalize the post-2015 development agenda, 10 top UN human rights experts have today stressed the need to anchor the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in international human rights standards and to ensure that strong means for ensuring accountability are employed to make sure they are met.

“We welcome the emphasis placed on accountability and call for this to be strengthened,” said a statement issued by the Chairpersons of 10 UN human rights treaty bodies as Member States began negotiating the framework for setting plans and policies to achieve sustainable development over the next 15 years. Continue reading

UN Security Council strongly condemns killing of Japanese civilian by ISIL militants

Security Council holds open debate on international cooperation in combating terrorism and violent extremism. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Security Council holds open debate on international cooperation in combating terrorism and violent extremism. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

New York, 25 January 2015 – The United Nations Security Council today deplored the “apparent murder” of Japanese citizen, Haruna Yukawa, by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – the latest atrocity to be committed by the militant group against a captured civilian.

In a press statement issued earlier today, the 15-Member Council strongly condemned “the heinous and cowardly act” and demanded the immediate release of Japanese citizen Kenji Goto, also detained by the Islamist extremists. Continue reading