Many Languages, One Voice: Damian Oakes, South African winner of UN essay competition shares his experience

Damian Oakes, South African winner of UN essay competition at UN Headquarters, New York

Damian Oakes, South African winner of UN essay competition at UN Headquarters, New York

Pretoria, 30 July - UNIC is proud to announce that Pretoria-resident Damian Oakes was selected as one of the 60 winners of the “Many Languages, One World” (MLOW) essay competition, co-organized by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and ELS Educational Services, Inc.

The winners, who presented their essays at a Global Youth Forum in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York City in June 2014, were chosen from among more than 4,000 students who entered the contest from around the world. The Forum is one of many planned events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the UN next year. Continue reading

Citing humanitarian impact, Ban warns against further escalation in Gaza conflict

A young boy stands in the ruins of a house which was destroyed during an air strike in Central Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Photo: UNRWA

A young boy stands in the ruins of a house which was destroyed during an air strike in Central Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Photo: UNRWA

New York, 29 July 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly urged all sides to avoid any further escalation in the Gaza conflict, warning of the devastating humanitarian impact on civilians in the enclave who have already suffered immensely since the crisis started.

The United Nations chief made the appeal in a statement issued last night by his spokesperson, after leaflets were reportedly dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City. Continue reading

Ban lauds Nicaragua’s ‘forward-looking’ energy policy during day-long visit

Sustainable energy. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

Sustainable energy. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

Nicaragua, 29 July 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Nicaragua’s “forward-looking” energy policy as he arrived on an official visit to discuss how the United Nations and the Central American nation can work together in promoting peace and sustainable development.

“Renewable energy is important to promoting sustainable development – this is the golden thread in achieving sustainable development in the social, economic and environmental areas,” Mr. Ban noted in remarks at a press encounter with President Daniel Ortega in the capital, Managua. Continue reading

Marking World Hepatitis Day, UN appeals for boost in global momentum to tackle disease

Testing for hepatitis in Togo. Photo: IRIN/Isidore Akollor

Testing for hepatitis in Togo. Photo: IRIN/Isidore Akollor

Geneva, 28 July 2014 – With 1.4 million deaths every year attributed to acute and chronic liver disease, the United Nations health agency is marking World Hepatitis Day by calling on countries to intensify efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat one of the world’s most serious diseases.

“For years, viral hepatitis has been largely neglected,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in her remarks on the Day. “But now we are beginning to see greater awareness and global momentum building to tackle it.” Continue reading

Security Council: Ban urged to streamline cooperation with African Union

Security Council adopts resolution on enhanced peacekeeping role of regional organizations. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Security Council adopts resolution on enhanced peacekeeping role of regional organizations. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

New york, 28 July 2014 – With preparations underway for the United Nations to take over from an African Union-led peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to review what was done and how it could be done better in future transitions.

The request was made during the Council’s open debate on regional partnership and its evolution in UN peacekeeping, which focused on the Organization’s relevant cooperation with African regional groups, as well as with entities under the auspices of the European Union (EU). Continue reading

Secretary-General’s statement on Gaza – 28 July 2014

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

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

New York, 28 July - The Secretary-General calls on the parties to renew a humanitarian pause in Gaza and reiterates his demand for a durable ceasefire that could set the ground for the start of comprehensive negotiations. In this connection, he welcomes the Security Council’s strong support in its Presidential Statement earlier today for his call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Following a largely observed 12-hour humanitarian pause on 26 July, the Secretary-General called on all parties to prolong the suspension of the fighting for an additional extendable period of 24 hours to allow vital humanitarian efforts to continue, including relief operations. The parties have expressed serious interest in this request but have not yet agreed on the timing of its implementation. As people around the world mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan and a time for overcoming differences, the Secretary-General calls on parties to build on the current calm. Continue reading

Security Council, in emergency session, calls for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Palestinian children weep at the funeral for their loved ones in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (15 July 2014). Credit: UNICEF/El Baba

Palestinian children weep at the funeral for their loved ones in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (15 July 2014). Credit: UNICEF/El Baba

New York, 28 July 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today, meeting in an emergency session just after midnight, called for an “immediate and unconditional” ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

In a presidential statement, the 15-member body expressed strong support for the call by international partners and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for such a ceasefire, and urged all parties to accept and fully implement it into the Eid period marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and beyond. Continue reading

Nigeria: UN envoy condemns renewal of heinous Boko Haram attacks on civilians

Refugees and returnees who have fled Boko Haram violence in Borno State, Nigeria, sheltering in Niger's Guesseré village on the border. Photo: IRIN/Anna Jefferys

Refugees and returnees who have fled Boko Haram violence in Borno State, Nigeria, sheltering in Niger’s Guesseré village on the border. Photo: IRIN/Anna Jefferys

Nigeria, 24 July 2014 – The United Nations envoy for West Africa today strongly condemned the latest killing of civilians reportedly by the Boko Haram group in two Nigerian regions.

Said Djinnit, the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), expressed profound outrage at the attacks which occurred over the weekend and yesterday, resulting, according to initial reports, in the death of more than 130 people.

According to a statement released by UNOWA, the violence also forced some 15,000 people to flee to the Borno state capital of Maiduguri as well as to neighbouring towns of Biu and Goniri. Continue reading

‘Appalled’ by attack on UN-run school in Gaza, Ban urges halt to all fighting

Palestinian children weep at the funeral for their loved ones in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (15 July 2014). Credit: UNICEF/El Baba

Palestinian children weep at the funeral for their loved ones in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (15 July 2014). Credit: UNICEF/El Baba

New York, 24 July 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is “appalled” by the news of an attack on a United Nations-run school in Gaza where hundreds of people had taken refuge from the ongoing hostilities, adding that the incident underscores the need to stop all fighting immediately.

“Many have been killed – including women and children, as well as UN staff,” Mr. Ban said in statement issued in Erbil, Iraq, where he is currently on an official visit. “Circumstances are still unclear. I strongly condemn this act.” Continue reading

Security Council, UN officials welcome signing of Central African Republic ceasefire

A view of thousands of internally displaced people at Bangui’s airport, Central African Republic (CAR). Many of the new arrivals in eastern Cameroon say they fled from Bangui to escape clashes. Photo: UNHCR/B. Ntwari

A view of thousands of internally displaced people at Bangui’s airport, Central African Republic (CAR). Many of the new arrivals in eastern Cameroon say they fled from Bangui to escape clashes. Photo: UNHCR/B. Ntwari

New York, 24 July 2014 – The Security Council and senior United Nations officials have welcomed the signing of an agreement on the cessation of hostilities by the parties in the Central African Republic (CAR) and highlighted the need to follow this up with national reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.

The agreement was signed yesterday in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, at the end of a three-day forum that brought together heads of State, including CAR’s interim president Catherine Samba-Panza, representatives of civil society organizations, political parties and armed groups, as well as refugees. Continue reading