Syria: UN convoy crosses lines to reach children fleeing besieged Kobane

A UN truck with humanitarian supplies at the Turkish side of the border awaiting green light to cross to the Syrian side, in March 2014. Photo: OCHA

A UN truck with humanitarian supplies at the Turkish side of the border awaiting green light to cross to the Syrian side, in March 2014. Photo: OCHA

Syria, 21 October 2014 – Trucks carrying lifesaving supplies for Syrian children have managed to cross over the battle line in Aleppo for the first time in months, a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today in what was described as a “small but significant breakthrough” in the UN agency’s efforts to help children displaced by the fighting in Kobane.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNICEF spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac, explained that five trucks departing from the Government-controlled city of Aleppo succeeded in reaching the suburb of Afrin, a small district due north, where thousands of children fleeing the fighting in Kobane have taken refuge. The trucks were carrying a number of supplies including hygiene kits, blankets, water and high energy biscuits and would be distributed by volunteer teams from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Continue reading

‘Clock is ticking’ for Gaza; pledges for aid, reconstruction must be honoured – Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Security Council President for the month of October, María Cristina Perceval of Argentina, is at right. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Security Council President for the month of October, María Cristina Perceval of Argentina, is at right. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Gaza, 21 October 2014 – On the heels of last week’s visit to Gaza, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today that promises made at a recent donor conference on rebuilding the war-ravaged enclave must “quickly materialize” into concrete assistance on the ground, especially as winter approaches.

“Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Gaza. I saw mile after mile of wholesale destruction,” Mr. Ban recalled as he briefed the 15-member body on his first visit to Gaza since this past summer’s conflict.

The Strip, along with Jerusalem, Ramallah and southern Israel, was one of the stops on his recent trip through North Africa and the Middle East, which also included visits to Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, where in Cairo he attended an international donor’s conference on reconstruction in Gaza. Continue reading

As Ebola response accelerates, UN health agency prepares for arrival of trial vaccines

In early October 2014, with the help of the US Navy, a new mobile laboratory opened at Island Clinic, one of the WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: WHO/R. Sørenson

In early October 2014, with the help of the US Navy, a new mobile laboratory opened at Island Clinic, one of the WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: WHO/R. Sørenson

Geneva, 21 October 2014 – Amid positive developments in the global fight against Ebola, including a growing response to the Secretary-General’s appeals for the more funding to tackle the outbreak, the United Nations health agency today announced the expected delivery of Ebola candidate vaccines, as the UN system continues to ramps up efforts to quell the spread of the deadly virus.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman, Fadéla Chaib, told a press briefing in Geneva earlier today that the agency is expecting the arrival of a Canadian shipment of Ebola candidate vaccines to arrive in Geneva on 22 October where they would be kept refrigerated at the city’s Cantonal Hospital. Continue reading

South Sudan: UN Mission transfers internally displaced persons to protection site

Food Distribution to Internally Displaced in South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Food Distribution to Internally Displaced in South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

South Sudan, 21 October 2014 – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has opened new sites for about 28,000 internally displaced persons adjacent to its bases in three state capitals to improve living conditions of civilians who have been uprooted by the recent conflict, a senior UN official said in Juba today.

Speaking to the press today Derk Segaar, head of UN Resident’s Coordinators Office Relief, Reintegration and Protection (RRP), said the new sites have been constructed in Juba, Malakal and Bor. Continue reading

Ebola no longer ‘localized emergency,’ UN health officials tell regional summit in Cuba

A team of 165 Cuban medical doctors and nurses have arrived in Sierra Leone to support the Ebola response efforts. Photo: WHO/S. Gborie

A team of 165 Cuban medical doctors and nurses have arrived in Sierra Leone to support the Ebola response efforts. Photo: WHO/S. Gborie

Cuba, 20 October 2014 – Ebola is no longer a localized public health emergency, top UN officials said in Havana today as they commended Cuba for sending doctors and nurses to the affected countries in West Africa, and addressed regional leaders gathering to discuss ways to resolve the emergency and halt spread of the virus to regional States.

Speaking at the Summit of Heads of State of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our Americas (ALBA) on Ebola, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, said cooperation and solidarity are essential, and Cuba and Venezuela, with their contributions, have already demonstrated this. Continue reading

In Burundi, UN envoy lauds role of women, youths in bringing peace to Great Lakes

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Said Djinnit. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Said Djinnit. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Burundi, 20 October 2014 – Women and young people must play a central role in establishing a long-term peace for Africa’s Great Lakes Region amid the area’s renewed efforts to overcome a past scarred by conflict, a top UN official said today.

Following his visit last week to Burundi, where he met with the country’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, as well as key political figures and other civil society stakeholders, Said Djinnit, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, expressed his commitment to ensuring a regional peace through the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and by working with its 13 signatories. Continue reading

South Sudan at ‘crossroads’ as it seeks to combat sexual violence, says UN official

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura briefs journalists on her recent visit to South Sudan. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura briefs journalists on her recent visit to South Sudan. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

New York, 20 October 2014 – Sexual violence has become a key feature of the continuing conflict in South Sudan, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has declared, while affirming that the widespread use of rape could ultimately be stopped through greater political and legal efforts by the Government and civil society.

In a press conference today at UN Headquarters following her first mission to South Sudan to assess the situation of sexual violence in conflict in the country, Ms. Bangura explained that in her 30 years of experience she had never seen anything like what she witnessed in the northern town of Bentiu, where hundreds of civilians were massacred in April of this year and many more were raped. Continue reading

Venezuela: UN rights chief calls for immediate release of opposition leader, politicians

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Geneva, 20 October 2014 – Expressing serious concern at the detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in February during mass public protests that took place across the country, the United Nations human rights chief called on the authorities for the “immediate release’ of all those being held.

“The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protestors in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a press release. “It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country.” Continue reading

UN agency ramps up for Gaza reconstruction push

UNRWA estimates around 17,000 destroyed or damaged homes, rendering 100,000 people homeless in Gaza. Photo: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

UNRWA estimates around 17,000 destroyed or damaged homes, rendering 100,000 people homeless in Gaza. Photo: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

Gaza, 19 October 2014 – A week after a major conference in Cairo on the reconstruction of war-ravaged Gaza, and in the wake of recent visits to Gaza by the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the key UN agency on the ground there has begun scaling up its response to meet critical needs of people in the Strip.

In a press release, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced today that it is now focusing on providing food, water and sanitation services to over 40,000 displaced people in 18 of its installations, psycho-social support particularly for children, cash grants to the homeless for rent, as well as urgent repairs to 118 UNRWA installations, so that we can bring our services to full capacity. Continue reading

With Mali peace talks set to resume, Security Council urges ‘spirit of compromise’

A UN peacekeeper from Niger on patrol in Gao, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

A UN peacekeeper from Niger on patrol in Gao, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

Mali, 17 October 2014 – Welcoming the scheduled resumption on 19 October of the inter-Malian negotiation process in Algiers, the United Nations Security Council today called on all parties in Mali “to engage in good faith and in the spirit of compromise” in the talks towards the ultimate end of agreeing a “comprehensive and inclusive” peace deal.

The Council’s call on the Malian parties to fully respect a months-old ceasefire and to swiftly engage in relevant agreed confidence-building measures come as UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric announced earlier today that the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is currently in the Algerian capital for the for the talks. Continue reading