Malian president pays visit to Morocco

first_imgFez – Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, began on Tuesday evening a visit to Morocco to attend the 9th International Agriculture Fair in Morocco (SIAM) which takes place on April 24-May 3 in Meknes under the motto “Local products.”On his arrival at the airport of Fez-Saiss,  the Malian Head of State was greeted by Head of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane.Boubacar Keïta was also greeted by Minister of the Moroccan expatriate community and Migration Affairs, Anis Birou and the Wali of the Fez-Boulemane region,  Mohammed Dardouri. Upon his participation in Meknes on Wednesday in the 7th Symposium of Agriculture, organized under the motto “The family agriculture”, the Malian President will attend the official opening of SIAM, scheduled for Thursday.The Malian President is accompanied by a large government delegation including Ministers of Rural Development, Bocari Treta, Trade, Abdel Karim Konate, Industry and Investment Promotion, Mustapha Ben Barka, Crafts and Tourism, Berthé Aissata Bengaly, and Religious Affairs and Worship, Thierno Amadou Omar Hass Diallo.The President of the Republic of Guinea, Alpha Condé, arrived in Fes earlier in the day to attend the 9th session of SIAM.last_img read more

MINURSO Morocco Convenes Meeting With GCC Countries at the United Nations

United Nations – Morocco has called for a meeting with Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) at level of Ambassadors on Monday morning, a source from inside the United Nations told Morocco World News. The meeting comes to discuss the latest developments concerning the draft resolution that will be submitted to the Security Council for consideration on Tuesday.The same sources told Morocco World News that the United States, the penholder of resolutions on the Western Sahara has submitted the draft resolution it prepared over the weekend to the Group of Friends of the Western Sahara without informing Morocco of its content. In addition to the United States, the Group of Friend of Western Sahara includes France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Spain.In the past, the US had by practice previously consulted with Morocco before submitting the draft resolution to the other members of the Security Council.An UN expert who has been following negotiations on the draft resolution told MWN the US move might signal they text it prepared might include provisions that are not in favor of Morocco, such as the call for the return of the civilian component of the UN mission in the Sahara, MINURSO.The same said Morocco’s decision to request a meeting with GCC countries responds to the need to mobilize these countries and urge them to put on pressure on the influential members of the Security Council to avoid the adoption of any resolution that might go against Morocco’s interests.During the first Morocco-GCC summit last Wednesday, the six members of this regional block expressed their full support for Morocco’s sovereignty on the Western Sahara.“We stress our support to all political and security causes that are important for your brotherly country, mainly the Western Sahara,” King Salman of Saudi Arabia said during the opening speech of the Morocco-GCC summit. read more

Swedish Border Police 65 Moroccan Asylum Seekers Used False Documents

Rabat – Sixty-five Moroccans have applied for asylum in Sweden with false documents, reports Swedish news website Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).False identities are a major problem with Moroccan asylum seekers in Sweden, says the site,  adding that, based on a memo issued by the border police, out of a total of 77 Moroccan nationals who recently arrived in Sweden, 65 were proven to have false documentation.  Additionally, out of 50 who claimed to be underage, only two were found to be minors.In the first four months of 2017, 7,272 applied for asylum in Sweden, while 2016 saw a total of 28,939 applications. The memo says that border police in Sweden have for the first time been able to compare the identities of the persons to be deported and fingerprints that the person left at home, noting that many have forged documents coming to the border without documentation, providing the police with fake names and birth dates.“Although it is a small sample and of a specific nationality, and despite the limitations, it is the first time we have been able to verify the alleged identities and ages, thanks to the system of fingerprints found in Morocco,” police chief Patrik Engström wrote in the memo.Engström added that the authorities run into problems when asylum seekers who claim they are Moroccans do not show up in the fingerprint database.“It could be that the person is not Moroccan,” he continued. “Then we have to go back and make a new investigation of nationality, which can be lengthy and complicated.”Engström went on to add that false identification is an issue as migrants could commit crimes under someone else’s name. read more

HerouxDevtek beats profit expectations as acquisitions boost bottom line

Companies in this story: (TSX:HRX)The Canadian Press LONGUEUIL, Que. — Heroux-Devtek Inc. says it earned $7.4 million in its latest quarter as acquisitions boosted its revenue compared with a year ago.The aircraft parts company says its profit amounted to 20 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31 compared with a profit of $626,000 or two cents per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, Heroux-Devtek says it earned 26 cents per share for the quarter, up from 16 cents per share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings per share of 17 cents, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Revenue totalled $144.5 million, up from $97 million in the same quarter a year earlier.The company says its CESA and Beaver acquisitions together contributed $39.6 million, while it also saw eight per cent organic growth. read more

Bridge Collapses on a Car on A3 Highway in Casablanca

Rabat – A part of a bridge has collapsed on a car killing a woman and badly injuring her daughter.The bridge collapsed on the A3 highway in Casablanca near the Derb Sultan neighborhood on the way to Rabat, on Friday, October 19.The daughter, who was driving, was transported, in a state of shock, to Ibn Rochd Hospital while the mother was transported to the morgue. The most recent rain in Casablanca may have detached a large stone section of the bridge.Police in Casablanca have launched an investigation to determine the responsible persons for the bridge’s failure.Since Friday, drivers on the A3 in Casablanca have expressed their anger over the traffic jam caused by the repair of the bridge.Drivers have complained that there are no signs to inform them of the work in progress.“We don’t know what’s going on, there are no signs, there is nothing,” stated a motorist to 2M television channel. read more

European Powers Urge USIran Talks on Nuclear Deal

Rabat – The European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers warned that the landmark pact could collapse amid the US Iranian tensions. The group of states also called for the reopening of dialogue between Washington and Tehran in a joint statement released on Sunday, July 14.Britain, Germany, and France, who signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) four years ago in Vienna, stated that it could fall apart after the renewed sanctions on Iran by the United States. “The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions,” the joint statement released by the French president’s office said. “We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue.”The 2015 accord promised sanctions relief, economic benefits, and an end to the international isolation of the Islamic Republic in return for restrictions on its nuclear programme. But after the US withdrawal, the deal became fragile and the parties’ commitment uncertainTensions rose between Washington and Iran when the US President Donald Trump pulled out from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on Iran’s crucial banking and oil sectors, that had been previously lifted under the pact, causing the country’s economy to freefall.In response, Tehran announced in May 2019 that it would curtail its commitments to the deal, despite calls from the European parties to continue its full compliance. Since then, the Gulf country has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium above the agreed limit, and has begun to enrich uranium above the 3.67% permitted under the deal’s obligations.At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, July 15, the European actors will seek to defuse tensions in the volatile region.“The deal is on the brink; the message on Monday will be to show EU unity but make it clear to Iran that it needs to come back into line,” a European diplomat was said to Reuters news agency. “For now, nothing is reversible, so we have more room for diplomacy.”Speaking before the Brussels meeting, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Europe has to remain united in its attempts to preserve the deal and convince Tehran to shift its decision not to comply with parts of the accord.“The Europeans have to stay united on this issue,” Le Drian told reporters.Iran’s decision to reduce compliance with the deal that the United States abandoned last year was “a bad response to a bad decision,” he said.In the meantime, Iranian foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hinted at the Europeans’ reluctance to protect Tehran from the US sanctions.“There is a serious difference between doing something and announcing your willingness,” Iranian state TV quoted Zarif saying.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, July 14, 2019 that Tehran is open for dialogue if the sanctions are lifted and the US returns to the nuclear deal’s pact.“We have always believed in talks; if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.Matters were further complicated by Iran when it made any talks conditional on being allowed to export the same amount of oil as it did before the US withdrawal from the nuclear pact.Trump has shown no sign of backing down and said he would put yet more pressure on the Gulf country with more sanctions.“We’re putting additional sanctions on; some of them are already in place,” said US President Donald Trump in June 2019. “The sanctions have hit them hard.” read more

Ramadan in Mideast is for fasting and Facebook data shows

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Technology is reshaping the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with its long days of fasting and prayer meant to draw worshippers closer to God and away from worldly distractions.People in the Middle East spend close to 58 million more hours on Facebook during Ramadan and watching more YouTube videos than at any other time of the year, making the month also the prime time of the year for advertisers.For Facebook, which also owns Instagram, and Google, which owns YouTube, Ramadan brings a welcome boost of business.People stay up a lot more at night during Ramadan and have more downtime — especially before iftar, the evening meal that breaks the daylong fast, and the “suhoor,” when people gather to eat before another day of fasting.Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press read more

UN increases food deliveries in Somalia amid piracy

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began a distribution of food to 122,500 Somalis affected by violence while warning that piracy is hampering its operations. “We are expanding our distributions to the displaced – many of whom are women and children – with this round of distributions, which means WFP should be reaching 80 per cent of the 150,000 we plan to feed,” said Peter Goossens, the agency’s Somalia Country Director in Nairobi. “But just when we are reaching more people, incidents of piracy against ships off Somalia are again on the rise and are threatening to cut the fastest and most efficient way – by sea – to move large amounts of food assistance to the needy in Somalia during this crisis,” he said. Mr. Goossens charged that the pirates “are very cruelly playing with the lives of the most vulnerable women and children who had to leave their homes because of fighting” and appealed to the Somali authorities to act “before they cause more misery both to the crews of hijacked ships and to the people who rely on WFP food for their survival.” The recent distribution follows aid deliveries in late April and early May to 114,000 displaced people and returnees. The United Nations estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 people fled Mogadishu since 1 February. Somalia has recently experienced its worst fighting in 16 years between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian forces, and anti-TFG factions. 18 May 2007The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began a distribution of food to 122,500 Somalis affected by violence while warning that piracy is hampering its operations. read more

Southern Afghanistan remains heartland of opium production – UN

25 June 2007Afghanistan continues to monopolize the global industry in illegal opium and is increasingly capable on its own territory of processing the poppy into heroin and morphine, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned today. The more sophisticated drug production means there is also greater risk now that Afghans will become heroin or opium addicts, UNODC representative in Afghanistan Christina Gynna Oguz told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kabul. A day before the release of UNODC’s annual report on the narcotics situation around the world, Ms. Oguz detailed some of the findings about Afghanistan, which last year produced about 6,000 tons of opium poppy – or 92 per cent of the world total. She said opium cultivation is concentrated in the south of the country, with just one province – Helmand – accounting for 42 per cent of all the illicit production in the world. Many of the provinces with the highest levels of production also have the worst security problems. “There are close links between criminal networks that deal in drugs and the insurgents,” Ms. Oguz said. “Together they provide both the money and the environment for instability in this country.” Most of Afghanistan’s opium is trafficked out of the country and then processed into heroin and morphine, but Ms. Oguz said that more and more of that production is taking place within the country. “This indicates a sophistication that we did not have before and also that there is large illegal import of chemicals that are needed for the manufacturing of morphine and heroin.” She added that the increased heroin production inside Afghanistan means there is a rising risk of heroin abuse. At least 50,000 people are already addicted, and the numbers are rising in part because of returning refugees who used heroin elsewhere, mainly in Iran. The problem is not confined to heroin, Ms. Oguz stressed. About 150,000 people, mostly in rural areas, are addicted to opium, using it as a pain reliever or medicine because of the country’s poor health-care system. But Ms. Oguz added that the country is gaining some ground in the fight against illegal drugs. Cultivation has decreased in the central and northern provinces, where the security situation is also more stable. “This represents a window of opportunity for the Government in particular, but also the international community, to do something about the drug problem. It is possible to have success in areas where security is better and where there is good governance.” read more

Ban Kimoon advocates stronger UN for a better world

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened his first annual debate of the General Assembly this morning with a call to global leaders to back his efforts to bolster the United Nations in the interests of the world. “Our changing world needs a stronger UN,” Mr. Ban declared in a wide-ranging speech. “My vision is an administration focused on results – efficient, directed, pragmatic and accountable, an administration representing excellence, integrity and pride in serving the global good.” He acknowledged the need for a fresh approach, and, borrowing from the theme of a high-level event he convened yesterday to address the problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions, said: “We need an internal climate change at the UN.” The Secretary-General, who since taking office in January has emphasized results over rhetoric, called for more attention “to getting things done.” He pointed to early successes in re-organizing peacekeeping operations and pledged to “continue the effort by strengthening the Department of Political Affairs.” The stakes, he pointed out, are high. “Well-planned and executed preventive diplomacy can save many lives and forestall many tragedies.” Addressing global hotspots, the Secretary-General pledged to “leave no stone unturned to end the tragedy in Darfur,” calling on the Government of Sudan to honour its pledge to join comprehensive peace talks and implement a ceasefire. “The crisis in Darfur grew from many causes. Any enduring solution must address all of them – security, politics, resources, water, humanitarian and development issues. There, as elsewhere, we must deal with root causes of conflict, however complex and entangled.” On the Middle East, he called for an end to violence, an end to occupation, the creation of a Palestinian State at peace with itself and Israel, and a comprehensive regional peace between Israel and the Arab world. “With renewed leadership from the Arab world and the United States, coupled with the efforts of Quartet Representative Tony Blair, the elements for a renewed push for peace are being brought together,” he said. The Quartet comprises the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and US. “We also sincerely hope that the Lebanese people through national reconciliation will be able to restore political and social stability by electing their new president in accordance with their constitutional process,” said Mr. Ban. He said the UN has an important role in promoting political negotiation and national reconciliation in Iraq, as well as in providing humanitarian assistance to the country’s people. The Secretary-General also called for stepped-up efforts to deal with drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism in Afghanistan. He repeated his call on the authorities in Myanmar “to exercise utmost restraint, to engage without delay in dialogue with all the relevant parties to the national reconciliation process on the issues of concern to the people of Myanmar.” Pointing to recent progress on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mr. Ban, a former foreign minister of the Republic of Korea, voiced hope that the forthcoming inter-Korean Summit “will create a historic momentum, to bring peace, security, and eventually a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.” He voiced confidence in reaching a negotiated solution with Iran over its nuclear capabilities. “Our ultimate goal remains the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction.” The Secretary-General also called for global action to address climate change, noting that yesterday’s high-level event generated agreement on the need to move forward. “Now is the time for action,” he declared. Evaluating progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a series of anti-poverty targets set at the UN in 2000 – he painted a mixed picture and called for efforts to help those most in need. “Our Millennium Goals remain achievable – so long as we help the poorest nations break free of the traps that ensnare them.” The Secretary-General also said the UN Human Rights Council must “live up to its responsibilities as the torchbearer for human rights consistently and equitably around the world.” Mr. Ban, who since last week has been conducting intensive diplomatic activities on key global issues and crises, offered a ringing endorsement of multilateralism. “An increasingly interdependent world recognizes that the challenges of tomorrow are best dealt with through the UN. Indeed, they can only be dealt with through the UN,” he said. Some 193 speakers are expected to participate in this year’s general debate, including more than 70 heads of State and nearly 30 heads of government. The debate is scheduled to continue until 3 October.Today’s opening of the Assembly’s general debate follows high-level meetings in recent days on climate change, the Darfur conflict, Iraq, Afghanistan and the situation in the Middle East, and further meetings on critical issues, such as the permanent future status of Kosovo, are scheduled to be held this week.The Secretary-General is also expected to conduct bilateral meetings with over 100 heads of State or government or ministers during the next two weeks. 25 September 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened his first annual debate of the General Assembly this morning with a call to global leaders to back his efforts to bolster the United Nations in the interests of the world. read more

Recent arrests in Myanmar extremely disturbing says UN envoy

The reports “run counter to the spirit of mutual engagement between the United Nations and Myanmar,” Mr. Gambari said today at a joint press conference in Bangkok with Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram. “These actions must stop at once.” Thailand is the first stop on a six-nation tour for the Special Envoy, who was dispatched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to meet with Myanmar’s regional partners about the situation in the troubled South-East Asian nation.Mr. Gambari reiterated the UN’s call on the Myanmar Government to release all political detainees, including those arrested during the demonstrations, and to allow access by Red Cross officials to those in detention. He said during his trip he will raise with Myanmar’s regional partners the UN’s serious concerns at the continuing reports of human rights violations in the wake of the recent demonstrations, a point made by the Security Council in a statement issued last week strongly deploring the Government’s use of force.The envoy noted steps taken by the Government in recent days, including easing – though not lifting completely – the curfew currently in place, appointing a liaison officer to start dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and the removal of the military from the streets. At the same time, Mr. Gambari warned that these actions could be damaged by continued reports of actions “detrimental” to national reconciliation and to overall peace and prosperity in Myanmar. In seeking to change the behaviour of the regime, he stressed that “all those who have influence in that process ought to be engaged.”Mr. Gambari’s current diplomatic tour aims to achieve this ahead of his return to Myanmar next month. “The sustained and active support of the region, through the strong voice and engagement of regional partners, has to be there in order for Myanmar to move forward,” he stated.Following his visit to Thailand, the Special Envoy will head to Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and Japan. 15 October 2007The United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar today urged the Government to halt the use of force against dissidents, calling recent reports of arrests, interrogations and intimidation “extremely disturbing.” read more

UN tribunal postpones trial of Serbian security figure due to ill health

16 May 2008The United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the worst crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today adjourned the trial of a former high-level official with the Serbian secret service after ruling that he is not fit to stand trial on health grounds. Today’s decision overturns that of the trial chamber last month that ruled that Jovica Stanišić could stand trial. But the appeals chamber found that Mr. Stanišić has the right to be present in the court, deeming a video-conference link from the detention unit to be insufficient. The proceedings will be postponed for three months, at which time the defendant’s health condition will be reassessed to determine whether the trial should resume. Mr. Stanišić is accused of directing, organizing, equipping, training, arming and financing secret units of the Serbian State Security which murdered, persecuted and deported Croats, Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia between 1991 and 1995. read more

DR Congo new developments could pave way for uprooted to return home

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who returned from a visit to the country this week, cited as reasons for optimism the apprehension of Laurent Nkunda, who heads the mainly Tutsi group known as the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP) and the joint Rwandan-Congolese operation against the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR).The removal of this group, which has been in eastern DRC since 1994, “should allow other illegal armed groups to be tackled and therefore displaced people to begin to go home in significant numbers,” he told reporters in New York.Six months of clashes between the CNDP and the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) displaced some 250,000 people, on top of the 800,000 already uprooted in North Kivu province.While visiting Kibaki camp, near the provincial capital Goma, Mr. Holmes was told in conversations with internally displaced persons (IDPs) that they hope to return to their homes as soon as it is safe to do so.The presence of CNDP rebels and the operation against the FDLR preclude them from going back, but “they do see these things essentially in a positive light,” the official noted.Further, the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees is picking up, he said, with several hundred crossing back to their country on a weekly basis where they are looked after by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that while in the DRC, he also visited Haut Uélé in Orientale province, the scene of attacks by the notorious Ugandan rebels known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan have joined forces in an offensive against the group.“One of the unfortunate results or consequences so far of that operation has been a series of extremely brutal and deadly attacks by the LRA against the villages of the area,” the Under-Secretary-General said, adding that some 900 people have died in the violence since late last December.While in the region, he said he reminded the parties of the need to protect civilians as much as possible.Mr. Holmes said that roughly 150,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of the LRA attacks, and “we need to try to find ways to help them as quickly as possible,” given the uprooted live in a remote area and are relying on host families who themselves have limited resources. 13 February 2009Recent developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – including the arrest of a rebel leader and a large-scale military operation against another militia – have sparked a “new dynamic” that could lead to the start of large numbers of displaced people returning home, the top United Nations relief official said today. read more

Violence thwarts refugee return to Southern Sudan – UN

Last week, coordinated violent protests organized by war veterans from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) – who have not been paid their benefits for five months – paralyzed some towns in the Central and Eastern Equatoria region and disrupted lives for several days.After meetings with Southern Sudanese President Silva Kiir, from 19-20 March, the veterans lifted their blockade in the town of Yei, but the protests continue in Kapoeta, whose town centre is still occupied, UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.These disturbances have impeded the movement of refugees and aid workers, forcing UNHCR to temporarily postpone or stop five repatriation convoys carrying nearly 1,000 returnees from Uganda.In February, the agency suspended the repatriation of refugees from Ethiopia due to clashes between the SPLA and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in Malakal that left over 50 people dead and leading to widespread looting of UN warehouses and the subsequent relocation of relief workers.“UNHCR is also deeply concerned about the continuing conflict between the Nuer and Murle ethnic groups in the Jonglei region that has so far claimed the lives of some 750 people and caused significant displacement,” Mr. Redmond said of the fighting which was sparked by cattle rustling raids.The Governor of the Jonglei region held an emergency meeting with UN agencies last week to determine how to assist victims of these clashes.Nearly 155,000 Sudanese refugees have returned voluntarily to South Sudan and Blue Nile State with UNHCR’s help since December 2005. A further 157,000 refugees have also repatriated from neighbouring countries since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of north-south civil war in Sudan. 24 March 2009The deteriorating security situation in some parts of Southern Sudan is preventing the return of refugees from Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today. read more

Aid to Myanmar not enough to meet existing needs – UN relief

Last May, Cyclone Nargis battered the South-East Asian nation, leaving around 140,000 dead or missing and uprooting 800,000 from their homes. Bishow Parajuli, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator highlighted the urgent needs for the cyclone-affected communities in the Ayeryarwady Delta, the hardest hit region, as well as other areas of the country at today’s meeting. “Whilst steadily recovering from Cyclone Nargis-affected areas remains high on the agenda, the UN also addresses needs for funding to other parts of the country, where immense humanitarian and development challenges exists,” he told the gathering, which drew participants from diplomatic missions, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Mr. Parajuli stressed in particular the imminent need for sustainable shelter and agricultural support ahead of the upcoming monsoon season. Early- and medium-term recovery efforts are outlined in the three-year Post-Nargis Response and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), which was launched earlier this year by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) – comprising the Myanmar Government, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN – and has a price tag of nearly $700 million. During a visit to Northern Rakhine State earlier this week, Mr. Parajuli witnessed just how acute the needs were for many people. Among the issues faced by those he met were the need for employment and livelihood, access to education for children, and reproductive health and family planning. The UN, working with its partners and the Government, is working to scale up its activities in that region, the Humanitarian Coordinator said, stressing that increased donor support is crucial to these efforts. 3 April 2009The level of humanitarian assistance that is currently being provided in Myanmar is much lower than the actual needs of the people, a senior United Nations relief official said today at a donors meeting in Yangon, calling for increased support for cyclone-affected communities and others. read more

African UnionUN envoy calls for end to clashes along ChadSudan border

In a press release issued in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, AU-UN Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada urged the Governments of the neighbouring nations to “refrain from any act that may lead to a further escalation of tensions, which could exacerbate the suffering of Darfur’s civilians, particularly the many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in the region.” He urged Chad and Sudan to adhere to pacts they have signed, especially the 3 May Doha Agreement, facilitated by Qatar and Libya. Reiterating what he told the Security Council last month, Mr. Adada stressed that “the poor state of relations between Chad and Sudan constitutes one of the biggest threats to efforts to secure lasting peace for the people of Darfur.” He also echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement from earlier this week that there is no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and the problems between Chad, Sudan and opposition groups in both countries.“Dialogue is the only way forward,” the Representative emphasized. 20 May 2009The joint African Union-United Nations envoy to the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur today called for an end to fighting near the Chad-Sudan border and for the two nations to rein in mounting tensions. read more

UN environment team completes study of Gaza conflict damages

21 May 2009Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have completed field work on a study of the environmental impact of the recent heavy fighting on Gaza, the agency announced today. Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have completed field work on a study of the environmental impact of the recent heavy fighting on Gaza, the agency announced today. The team of eight UNEP experts spent 10 days in Gaza studying waste and waste water systems, the coastal and marine environment, and solid and hazardous waste management, including asbestos, and will make recommendations for rehabilitation this in the coming months. In the coming months, it will make recommendations which “will inform local planning and assist the planned reconstruction by the international community,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said last month when he announced he was dispatching the team to Gaza. The experts inspected 32 sites to assess environmental impacts and collect samples for laboratory analysis and also collected data for an economic evaluation of the cost of rehabilitation and restoration of the environmental damage in Gaza.Sites visited included residential areas, schools, industrial areas, sewage facilities, landfills and the coastline, where detailed sampling of water and sediments, bio-indicators, asbestos and waste water was conducted.Samples collected on the ground will be sent to an independent international laboratory and analysed in the coming weeks. The three-week Israeli offensive which began on 27 December, with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups, killed at least 1,300 Palestinians and wounded some 5,300. The heavy bombardment and fighting also reduced buildings and other infrastructure to rubble.Shortly after the conflict ended, UNEP sent a senior staff member to Gaza in late January as part of the UN Early Recovery Needs Assessment mission, which found that the fighting had created large quantities of building demolition waste, which is often contaminated with hazardous materials such as asbestos.Even prior to this most recent conflict, Gaza did not have an appropriate system for waste segregation and disposal. Consequently, the creation of such large quantities of solid waste, within such a short time, has overloaded the already inadequate infrastructure.During the May field mission, UNEP also ran two training workshops on handling asbestos and other hazardous substances in rubble management, and on health and safety practices for demolition and disposal of damaged buildings. The team members have extensive experience in assessing the environmental impact of conflict in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Middle East, and in making recommendations for action, according to the agency. They also have expertise in water and waste water management, asbestos and hazardous wastes monitoring, and coastal and marine issues, it added. read more

UN chief thankful for the release of kidnapped civilian staff in Darfur

13 December 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced deep gratitude today on hearing of the release of two civilian staff members of the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) after more than 100 days in captivity in the war-torn western flank of Sudan. The two staffers – one man and one woman – who were abducted at gunpoint from their residence in West Darfur state on 29 August are now free and in the care of UNAMID. “The Secretary-General commends the efforts of UNAMID and the Government of Sudan in securing the freedom of the abductees,” according to a statement attributable to his spokesperson.His statement underscored the importance of the peacekeeping and humanitarian work undertaken by UNAMID and reiterated that primary responsibility for the safety and security of all humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel lies with the host Government.Last weekend five blue helmets from Rwanda were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Saturday, bringing the total number of peacekeepers who have lost their lives in Darfur since UNAMID deployed at the start of 2008 to 22.The recent attacks follow the shooting and wounding of three other peacekeepers, also by unidentified gunmen, in West Darfur in October, and the killing of another in South Darfur in May.UNAMID was established in 2007 to try to quell the violence in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced as a result of a conflict pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen since 2003.Almost two years after being set up, UNAMID has still only reached 69 per cent of its authorized troop strength of 19,555, and 4,449 police. The operation also lacks key military elements, including two medium transport units, a level II hospital, an aerial reconnaissance unit, and 18 medium utility helicopters.Meanwhile, senior UNAMID officials attended a ceremony on Sunday to lay the foundation stone for a new ward to house female prisoners in Shallah Federal Prison in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. The accommodation ward was funded by a UNAMID Quick Impact Project (QIP) and is the first step in a five-part venture to help relocate female prisoners from nearby Kheir Khanaga Prison, which is in a state of disrepair. read more

Closing Bell TSX rises as traders look to US jobs data European

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher Wednesday amid hopes that stimulus measures are on the way to help the eurozone recovery and that the U.S. will rack up another month of strong job gains.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 14,796.79+62.10 0.42%S&P 500 —  1,927.88+3.64 0.19%Dow — 16,737.53+15.19 0.09%Nasdaq — 4,251.64 +17.56 0.41%The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 62.1 points to 14,796.79.The Canadian dollar was down 0.24 of a cent to 91.42 cents as the Bank of Canada announced it was keeping its key rate unchanged at 1% and indicated they will stay that low for some time to come.U.S. indexes registered minor gains despite a disappointing read on private sector job creation during May. The Dow Jones industrials climbed 15.19 points to 16,737.53, the Nasdaq gained 17.56 points to 4,251.64 and the S&P 500 index was 3.64 points higher to 1,927.88.Payroll firm ADP reported Wednesday that the U.S. private sector created 179,000 jobs during May, the fewest number in four months. That reading came in two days before the release of U.S. non-farm payrolls report for last month. Economists have forecast that about 219,000 jobs were created during May following a much stronger than expected 288,000 gain in April. Canadian job figures for May also come out Friday and economists expect about 21,000 jobs were created after the economy shed 29,000 the previous month.The employment news was somewhat offset by other data showing the American non-manufacturing sector expanding at a faster than forecast clip. The Institute for Supply Management said its index rose to 56.3, the highest level since last August and above expectations for a read of 55.5.Also, the Federal Reserve’s latest regional survey shows the U.S. economy strengthening over the past two months in areas from manufacturing and construction to retail sales and bank lending.Meanwhile, markets are counting on the European Central Bank to announce measures Thursday aimed at giving a lift to the eurozone’s weak recovery and saving the region from falling into a deflationary spiral that would choke off growth.Worries about deflation increased Tuesday in the wake of data showing that inflation in the eurozone came in at 0.5% in May, down from 0.7% in April.“I would actually use the word ’scary’ because growth has been very fragile at best and now you have disinflation. If that turns to deflation, we know the experience on this from Japan and it is not a pretty story,” said Luciano Orengo, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.The latest data also showed that gross domestic product in the eurozone grew by a paltry 0.2% in the first quarter.Analysts are looking at a variety of options for the ECB, including an interest rate cut.“I think the biggest wild card is whether it will do a form of quantitative easing,” added Orengo.The information technology sector was the biggest TSX advancer, up 1% as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ran up 25 cents to $8.40.The financial sector was ahead 0.64% and Laurentian Bank of Canada (TSX:LB) shares edged 48 cents higher to $48.06 as the bank’s adjusted profit came in at $1.29 a share, five cents ahead of estimates. Laurentian also upped its quarterly dividend by a penny to 52 cents per share.The gold sector was ahead about 0.2%, while August bullion lost early momentum and faded 20 cents to US$1,244.30 an ounce.The energy sector was up 0.63% while the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped two cents to US$102.64 a barrel.The base metals segment led decliners, down 0.27% while July copper fell four cents to US$3.09 a pound.TOP STORIESLoonie dives as Bank of Canada holds key interest rate, keeps outlook neutralCanada’s RRIF withdrawal rules forces seniors to outlive their savings, C.D. Howe findsToronto’s average detached home price closes in on $1-million as sales surge to fresh record in MayKeystone XL vulnerable to coordinated bomb attacks, says former U.S. Navy Seal who helped target bin LadenWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYCANADA8:30 a.m.Building permits (April): Economists expect 4.2% rise 10 a.m.Ivey Purchasing Managers’ Index (May):  Economists expect reading of 56, up from last month UNITED STATES7:30 a.m.Challenger layoff Report (May) 8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims:  Economists expect 310,000 new claims, up from last week CORPORATE NEWSCANADACanadian Western Bank    Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 61¢ a share Saputo Inc Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 74¢ a share Transcontinental Inc Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 43¢ a share UNITED STATESThe J. M. Smucker Company Q4 earnings: Analysts expect $1.16 a share read more

Closure of Crown asset allows Saskatchewan courier to hop aboard expansion bus

REGINA — A courier service has received approval to take over some of the bus passenger routes that were once operated by the now-defunct Saskatchewan Transportation Company.Starting July 10, Melville-based DiCal Transport will offer service to five communities, including Regina, Yorkton, Melville, Balcarres and Fort Qu’Appelle.Owner and operator Diane Smith tells Regina radio station CJME that the business plans to expand in the near future to other communities, such as Canora, Kamsack, Preeceville and Sturgis.She says her company’s website is being updated with information about schedules and fees.DiCal was one of a number of companies that applied to the province’s Highway Traffic Board to handle STC routes after the government shuttered the Crown-owned bus company this spring as part of cost-saving measures.Smith says she got word Thursday morning that her application had been successful.“We’re really excited. We’ve been anxiously awaiting for the final piece of paper so we can start operating this service,” she said. “I’m certain we’re going to have passengers and we’re going to be busy.”DiCal originally wanted to start operating June 1, just two weeks after STC service ended, but its permit was stalled and there were protests over the closure of the government-run bus company.“We were all subject to the same type of backlash from the same group of protesters,” said Smith. “All of us that applied for operating authority certainly were dragged into the political dispute and essentially chastised for wanting to fill a void.”Smith said the company needs to advertise but she’s already responding to calls and emails from people inquiring about the service.She noted that her Facebook page has received thousands of hits since news broke about the approval. (CJME) read more