In Washington, UN chief calls for immediate ceasefire by all parties in Yemen

On a visit to Washington, D.C., Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) is greeted by US Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, at the Pentagon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Washington, 16 April 2015 – During a speech delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. this evening, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the gravity of the situation in Yemen, saying the country in “in flames” and pointing out how the current crisis is multiplying the already high levels of suffering and insecurity faced by many in the population.

“Even before the latest escalation, two out of three Yemenis relied on humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Ban said. “Levels of food insecurity were higher than the in the poorest stretches of Africa.” Continue reading

Syria: UN agency continues to seek unhindered access to besieged Yarmouk camp

UNRWA distributes life-saving assistance to displaced civilians from Yarmouk in Yalda, Syria. Photo: UNRWA

Syria, 16 April 2015 – While ramping up assistance to Palestinian refugees and Syrian civilians that have fled a besieged camp on the southern edge of Damascus, the United Nations agency tasked with aiding Palestinians throughout the region said today that it is still seeking unhindered access to Yarmouk camp itself where thousands remain trapped by fighting among armed groups.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said that it carried out a fourth mission to Yalda, an area to the east of Yarmouk hosting displaced people from Yarmouk. Humanitarian activities also continued in Tadamoun, to the north-east. Continue reading

UN urges ‘clear commitment’ by States to save lives following latest Mediterranean tragedy

Medics carry a young man on a stretcher off the Italian Coastguard vessel Gregoretti when it reached Palermo in Sicily after rescuing people from the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/F. Malavolta

Geneva, 16 April 2015 – The European Union must intensify its efforts in placing the rights of migrants at the centre of its migration policies, a United Nations human rights committee affirmed today following the latest maritime tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea which may have claimed hundreds of lives.

“States of origin, destination and transit must also address the root causes that lead to smuggling and trafficking in persons,” the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers (CMW) said in a press release issued earlier this afternoon which added that the continual loss of life in the Mediterranean’s waters transcended the limits of natural calamity and was, in fact, “a human rights tragedy.” Continue reading

DOHA: At Crime Congress, UN spotlights ‘epidemic’ of prison overcrowding

At the Womens Prison in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, twenty to thirty detainees are crowded into each prison cell and women and girls, some as young as 14, often sleep on the floor in shifts. (File, 2012) UN Photo/Victoria Hazou

Doha, 16 April 2015 – With over 10 million people in prisons worldwide, prison overcrowding has reached epidemic proportions in many countries, a senior official from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said today at the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

“Prison overcrowding can also be considered as a symptom of a malfunctioning justice system, and the problems of overcrowding have to be dealt with by the prison administration, although the solutions are seldom within their reach,” Piera Barzano, Senior Regional Advisor of the Justice Section at UNODC, said during a side event at the UN Crime Congresscurrently under way in Doha. Continue reading

Libyan parties open new round of UN-backed political talks aimed at restoring ‘stability and prosperity’

Special Representative for Libya and head of UNSMIL, Bernardino León (at podium) holds press conference at the start of Libyan political dialogue in Morocco. Photo: UNSMIL

Morocco, 15 April 2015 – A new round of political dialogue on Libya, hosted by Morocco and facilitated by the United Nations Support Mission (UNSMIL) in the country began in Skhirat, Morocco, today, aiming to end the crisis in the country.

Since the last round of talks ended on 26 March, participants have had the opportunity to consult with their constituencies and key stakeholders on a proposal on a comprehensive solution to end the conflict in Libya and in Skhirat, parties are expected to present their remarks regarding the overall framework outlined in the Draft Agreement on the Political Transition in Libya. Continue reading

Mali: UN mission condemns ‘cowardly and heinous’ attack on compound

UN peacekeepers in Ansongo, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

Mali, 15 April 2015 – The United Nations in Mali condemned today’s deadly attack on its Gao area compound that injured nine peacekeepers, killed at least three civilians and injured seven others, calling it a “cowardly and heinous” act.

According to the UN, at around 11:30 a.m. this morning, a suicide vehicle exploded at the entrance to the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) camp in Ansongo, in the Gao region, as it tried to enter. The attack injured nine peacekeepers from the contingent of Niger, two of them seriously. Medical evaluations are underway. Continue reading

Somalia: UN envoy condemns terrorist attack against Ministry as ‘assault’ on country’s youth

A street scene in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Photo: AU-UN IST/Stuart Price

Somalia, 15 April 2015 – The top United Nations official in Somalia condemned yesterday a terrorist attack against the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education in Mogadishu city that resulted in the death and injuries of civilians, members of the security forces and Government workers.

“I condemn today’s terrible terrorist attack in Mogadishu in the strongest terms and am appalled by the complete disregard for the lives of innocent people shown by the attackers,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay. “An attack on the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education is an assault on Somalis’ brave efforts to build a brighter future for the youth of their nation.” Continue reading

Statement by the Secretary-General on the One-Year Anniversary of the Abduction of Schoolgirls in Chibok, North-eastern Nigeria

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

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

New York, 14 April 2015 - One year ago, over 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria. While some of the girls were fortunate to have escaped, the fate of many still remains unknown. We must never forget the kidnapped Chibok girls, and I will not stop calling for their immediate release and their safe return to their families.

Over the past 12 months, Boko Haram intensified its brutal attacks on boys and girls in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Hundreds of thousands of children have been displaced from their homes, and deprived of their rights to live and grow up in safety, dignity and peace. Boko Haram’s killing, abduction and recruitment of children, including the use of girls as “suicide bombers”, is abhorrent. Continue reading

Champions come together to announce strengthened efforts for an AIDS-free generation in Africa

Johannesburg, 13 April 2015—The Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation gathered together today to announce new efforts to ensure that all children in Africa are born free from HIV and that children living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment. Since young people continue to be deeply affected by the epidemic, the Champions also announced that they will add adolescents and HIV to their portfolio of work. Continue reading

Nearly 800,000 children forced to flee violence in Nigeria and region – UNICEF

Aisha pretends to draw at the tip of a pencil painted on a wall mural in a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, the capital of Adamawa. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0477/Esiebo

New York, 13 April 2015 – A new report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals that least 800,000 children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict in northeast Nigeria between Boko Haram, military forces and civilian self-defence groups.

Released a year after 200 girls were abducted in Chibok, UNICEF’s Missing Childhoods reveals that the number of children running for their lives within Nigeria, or crossing over the border to Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has more than doubled in just less than a year. Continue reading