Washington DC – The Mayor’s office of the City of Alexandria is hosting a spectacular four-day festival beginning this weekend featuring Moroccan culture, music, and cuisine as well as a handicrafts exposition, showcasing artisans from Morocco. The Moroccan Artisans’ Festival is the culmination of months of organizational effort on the part of City of Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and his staff working with Moroccan local businessman, Mohamed Elhajjam, whose brainchild the event is, and the Moroccan government.Mayor Euille latched onto the project as the City was looking for opportunities to diversify the City’s revenue base in this very competitive region of the country, recognizing that “success for any city is to be part of the global economy,” according to the Mayor. As part of his global vision, since he became mayor in 2003, Mayor Euille has travelled on mayoral delegations to numerous countries in Europe, as well as to Turkey and Taiwan, to learn about best practices, and to establish dialogue and exchanges.At a program hosted by the Turkish American Council, he met Elhajjam a resident of Alexandria who hails originally from Casablanca, who invited the Mayor to “come to my city,” see the country, and especially the artisans, according to the Mayor.Mayor Euille then took a small delegation to Morocco hosted by the Moroccan government and the Minister of Arts and Culture, where they were welcomed with open arms and given the red carpet treatment. The Mayor also met with U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Dwight Bush. Impressed not only with the hospitality, cuisine and “especially the people,” but also with “the Moroccan government’s commitment to the people and the artisans to promote talent and products, Mayor Euille felt it would be worthwhile to establish a relationship, and grew to like the idea of hosting a Moroccan festival. Of course, he had to convince City Hall.Fortunately, the project was received with great enthusiasm and excitement within the City government, and the rest, as they say, is history.Morocco, the crossroads of many cultures — Amazigh (Berber), Sephardic, European, Arab-Islamic, and African — has over thousands of years become a melting pot of diverse artistic influences. Artisanal products are a major contributor to the economy of the country, with more than 2.3 million artisans generating 8 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product. The sector creates sustainable jobs that benefit many families in urban centers, as well as in rural areas where work opportunities are in short supply.The festival will showcase the rich cultural and artistic traditions of Morocco through music, dance, cuisine, and handicrafts. Moroccan oud player Mohamed Zyat will perform traditional Andalusian music at the Festival as well as a new song, written especially for the festival.“I like to think of Alexandria as an arts destination,” said the Mayor. “You cannot have too much art.” Although the expo this time features only 10-12 artisans “ just to get a flavor” of Morocco, the Mayor hopes to host a larger event in the fall and to bring 30-40 artisans from Morocco.There will also be opportunities for B2B (business to business) meetings, and an exchange of tourism back and forth. The Mayor noted the great potential for establishing a sister-city relationship with a city in Morocco. Alexandria already has four sister-cities in Scotland, Armenia, Sweden, and France.The opening ceremony takes place on Monday, April 27, at noon, and will feature remarks by Mayor William D. Euille, and by Minister Fatima Marouan, Morocco’s Minister of Handicrafts & Social and Solidarity-based Economy.The Moroccan Artisans’ festival runs Sunday through Wednesday at Market Square, 301 King Street, in Old Town Alexandria, and admission is free.For more information, call the City’s Special Events Hotline at 703.746.5592 or visit alexandriava.gov/Recreation.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Rabat – Morocco and Saudi Arabia stressed Wednesday in Rabat that the settlement of the Syrian crisis necessarily goes through a political transition led by the Syrian people.The two countries “consider that the settlement of the Syrian crisis can only be achieved by allowing the Syrian people lead a political transition, while maintaining the State’s institutions and ending the cycle of violence, terrorism and the humanitarian crisis in Syria”, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said at a joint press briefing with his Saudi peer Adel Al-Joubeir following their meeting in Rabat.Morocco’s top diplomat stressed that Morocco and Saudi Arabia categorically reject any use of communitarianism and any intervention in the internal affairs of the countries, adding that this is a “fundamental and immutable principle.” Saudi Foeign minister noted that his country “ready to provide the necessary aid to the brotherly people of Syria in order to find a solution to this crisis and build a new future for Syria without Bachar Al-Assad.”“We are willing to maintain the institutions of the Syrian state and putt an end to war in Syria,” the Saudi top diplomat added.“There will be certainly a plan B in case of failure of the political process in Syria, but we currently cannot talk about this plan and its details,” Adel Al-Joubeir pointed out.He recalled that his country is always ready to dispatch ground troops to Syria if the coalition against ISIS agrees to send ground troops.As for Yemen, Mezouar said that the two sides consider that the Operation Decisive Storm was triggered to “defend legality in this brotherly country and restore peace and security.”
Casablanca – Moroccan employers’ association CGEM and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) signed, Tuesday in Casablanca, a partnership agreement to reinforce the Moroccan-Japanese cooperation.The agreement, signed during talks at CGEM’s headquarters between Faiçal Mekouar, CGEM deputy CEO, and Yasushi Akahoshi, President of JETRO, will give new momentum to investment and trade between Morocco and Japan.Under this agreement, CGEM and JETRO commit to sharing information and experiences, discussing common interests and representing them at relevant bodies and bilateral summits. The agreement is aimed at developing economic, business and partnership relations between Moroccan and Japanese economic stakeholders. It will also set up an adequate framework for cooperation to join efforts and establish a profitable synergy for economic operators from both countries.With MAP
By Safaa KasraouiRabat – The Blue City of Chefchaouen will host the 32nd annual National Festival for Modern Moroccan Poetry on April 7 and 8.The two-day event will bring together emblematic figures of the world of poetry to celebrate the literary art within the mountainous atmosphere of the city of Chefchaouen. The festival will provide poetry lovers with a unique opportunity to meet with some of the most notable figures of poetry in Morocco.The event will be organized by Friends of Al Mouaatamid association in coordination with the Ministry of Culture, the urban community, the provincial council and prefecture of Chefchaouen, the council of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region and the cultural center of Chefchaouen .This edition will be dedicated to Moroccan songwriter and journalist Abderrafi Jouhari, whose works have enriched the national cultural heritage. Jouhari is the composer of many well-known works, including Rahila, which was famously sung by Mohammed Al Hayani, Al Qamar Al Ahmar, performed by Abdelhadi Belkhayat and Ya Jar Wadina, by Rajae Belmalih.“Through this choice, the Friends of Al Mouatamid association aims to pay tribute to Abderrafi Jouhari for being a symbol of literature and poetry in Morocco. It is an acknowledgment to his pioneering role as a creator,” said the association in a press release.Jouhari attempted to give a living and tangible image to this genre of art, and his writings have marked contemporary literature in Morocco.Abderrafi Jouhari was born in 1943 in Fes. As a journalist, he is best known as the author of Nafida.
Rabat – Israeli and Palestinian news outlets have alleged that two Palestinians killed Sunday in Algeria’s capital were assassinated by Israel’s intelligence agency, known as Mossad. The two men were from Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. Suliman al-Farra, aged 34, and Mohammed Albana, aged 35, were both scientists studying in Algiers. The original death report states they died of gas inhalation or by a short circuit.The allegation that Mossad organized the killings comes after another Palestinian scientist, Fadi al-Batsh, was killed in Malaysia earlier this year by Mossad in front of a mosque. In 2016, Mossad allegedly killed a Hamas engineer, Mohammed Zawari, in the capital of Tunisia. Zawari was known for innovations in drone technology.Read also: Moroccan-French Intellectual Says Mossad Operates in MoroccoHistory of Mossad’s assassinationsMossad was formed in 1949, a year after the State of Israel was created. In 1951, Mossad signed a secret agreement with the United States intelligence body, the CIA. Mossad’s first operation captured Adolf Eichmann in 1960 for killing Jews in Europe as a Nazi war criminal. After the Munich Massacre in 1972, when a Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September” held 11 Israeli Olympians hostage and killed them, Mossad retaliated and came after people suspected of being involved with the Munich Massacre. However, in a case of mistaken identity, Mossad killed an innocent Moroccan man named Ahmed Bouchiki in Norway in 1973. In 1980, Yahya al-Mashad, an Egyptian nuclear scientist and the head of the Iraqi nuclear program, was killed in his Paris hotel room by Mossad. Mossad’s main targets continue to be Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syrian officials, and Iranian nuclear scientists. Since 2005, Israel has carried out at least 800 organized killings of Hamas civilians and military leaders.In 2010, 27 Mossad operatives with stolen passports and identities participated in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the co-founder of the military wing for Hamas and supplier of arms. Al-Mabhouh was wanted by the Israeli government for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers and for purchasing arms from Iran to use in the Gaza Strip.By Maria Kuiper
BALTIMORE — American manufacturers expanded at a slower rate in February, as the pace of new orders, production and employment each slipped.The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, says that its manufacturing index fell to 54.2 last month, down from 56.6 in January. Readings above 50 signal growth in manufacturing and the sector has been expanding for the past 30 months.The companies surveyed for the index suggested that the U.S. economy is healthy, although concerns exist about the trajectory of the global economy and any lingering impacts from the import taxes imposed by President Donald Trump.Josh Boak, The Associated Press
Rabat – An explosion targetting a tourist bus near the Grand Egyptian Museum in the city of Giza, neighboring Cairo, injured at least 17 people on Sunday.According to undisclosed security sources, Reuters reported that most of the wounded are foreign tourists, including South Africans.Sources added that a device went off close to the museum fence as the bus was passing. The victims are suffering from minor to serious injuries, however no deaths have been reported.It is the second bombing in six months in Egypt. In December 2018, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured in a similar incident.
Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (16,480.53, up 81.06 points).Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA). Energy. Up 51 cents, or 5.33 per cent, to $10.08 on 11.5 million shares.Crescent Point Energy Corp. (TSX:CPG). Energy. Up 28 cents, or 5.22 per cent, to $5.64 on 10.7 million shares.Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Up six cents, or 2.11 per cent, to $2.90 on 9.2 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down two cents, or 0.17 per cent, to $11.83 on 5.2 million shares.Toronto-Dominion Bank. (TSX:TD). Financials. Up 79 cents, or 1.07 per cent, to $74.47 on 4.9 million shares.Power Corp. (TSX:POW). Financials. Down 30 cents, or 0.95 per cent, to $31.32 on 4.3 million shares.Companies reporting:Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.B). Up 48 cents to $33.05. Lawyers for Bell Canada and rival Quebecor Inc. were in court Friday, battling over three French-language sports channels that Bell TV subscribers haven’t received since the NHL playoffs began this week. Bell lawyer Francis Rouleau told Quebec Superior Court judge Claude Champagne that Quebecor planned well in advance to cut the signal on Wednesday as the National Hockey League playoffs began. Rouleau said Quebecor’s action breached their contract and flouted Canada’s Broadcasting Act. Quebecor’s lawyer responded that the company believes the CRTC rules are invalid.Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED). Up $2.86 or 5.3 per cent to $56.31. Canopy Growth will soon join the S&P/TSX 60, making it the first cannabis company to be added to the index of Canada’s large-cap stocks. S&P Dow Jones Indices says Canopy’s stock will replace Goldcorp Inc. and the change will take effect before trading on April 18. Goldcorp is set to be delisted once its merger with Newmont Mining Corp. is complete, and the combined company will apply for a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Canopy Growth was first went public on the TSX Venture exchange in 2014, and graduated to the main TSX board in 2016.Air Canada (TSX:AC). Down 26 cents to $32.53. Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu enjoyed a leap in total compensation to $11.5 million last year, up 28 per cent from $9 million in 2017. Total compensation for the carrier’s top six executives reached $24.9 million in 2018, a 24 per cent jump from $20.1 million the year before, according to the proxy circular ahead of Air Canada’s May 6 annual meeting. Rovinescu’s direct compensation amounted to $8.9 million, with a raise to $10.4 million planned for 2019. The pay bump came amidst record revenues of $18.07 billion in 2018, despite a plunge in net income to $167 million from $2.03 billion a year earlier.The Canadian Press
LONDON — The British government is making a final push to do a Brexit deal with the opposition Labour Party, amid mounting outrage from May’s Conservative Party at the prospect of compromise.Senior Conservative and Labour lawmakers are meeting to see whether they can reach a compromise. Several weeks of talks have so far not produced a breakthrough.Almost three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the date and terms of Brexit remain uncertain because lawmakers have repeatedly rejected May’s divorce deal with the bloc.That has led her to seek a deal with Labour — to the fury of pro-Brexit Conservatives, who are demanding May’s resignation.The head of a powerful Conservative committee is due to meet May Tuesday to deliver a demand for “clarity” about her departure date.The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska has awarded a contract to study whether the state can become the first in the nation to change its Medicaid program into a block grant system.Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday that the state Department of Health and Social Services issued a notice May 29 of its intent to award the contract to analyze the prospect of implementing block grants for federal Medicaid payments, work requirements for Medicaid enrollees, and shifting some Alaska Medicaid recipients to private insurance.The $100,000 contract calls for Boston-based Public Consulting Group to draft a paper by June 30 studying whether the initiatives will save Alaska money.Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent a letter to President Donald Trump March 1 that discussed Medicaid block grants.Alaska House Democrats have denounced the idea.___Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, http://www.alaskajournal.comThe Associated Press
The Kenya Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan 2008, presented today, includes some 63 projects to be carried out in the coming months to provide key services and supplies which have been identified by 22 aid partners, among them the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the participation of the Kenyan Government. The single largest part of the funds requested is $10 million for food aid, followed by emergency shelter, early-recovery projects and protection of civilians, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said at the launch of the appeal in New York.“This is to a large extent a protection-of-civilians crisis,” said John Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, adding that “what we’re talking about here is not physical protection.”Mr. Holmes said protection issues include treating those who have been traumatized by the violence, particularly children, and gaining an accurate picture of the displaced.Also included are documenting, treating the victims of and preventing gender-based violence, he added, noting that sexual violence was a “very unfortunate but prominent feature” of what has happened in the aftermath of the elections. Nearly 600 people have been killed and some 255,000 displaced during the crisis which began after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the country’s recent polls. Another 6,100 Kenyans have fled to neighbouring Uganda.“What we want is a return to normality, a political solution as soon as possible, and also every effort by all leaders to prevent violence, to extend protection to civilians and to stop any kind of downward spiral into ethnic violence,” Mr. Holmes said. The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) estimates that up to 500,000 people may be affected by the post-electoral violence, in which the western provinces of Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western, as well as the slum areas of the capital, Nairobi, have been impacted the most.The crisis continues today, with the start of three days of opposition rallies. The UN Country Team reports that the capital Nairobi, the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret and towns along the Kenyan coast, including Mombasa, are all now theatres of clashes between security forces and youth gangs, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.Since the crisis broke out, UN agencies having been assisting those affected, along with the Kenya Red Cross Society, national and international NGOs and faith-based groups.Assistance from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has so far reached almost 228,000 people, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has distributed family kits and continues to monitor the protection needs of the displaced. In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided medical, nutrition, water and sanitation and other supplies amounting to more than $650,000.Last week, the UN authorized $7 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support immediate relief activities included in the Kenya Response Plan. As a result, the current funding requirements stand at $34.8 million. The disbursement is the first in 2008 from the Fund, which has committed over $619 million to some 751 projects in 60 countries since it was established in March 2006. 16 January 2008In the aftermath of the violence that tore through Kenya following last month’s elections, the United Nations has asked for $42 million to provide some 500,000 people with food, water, shelter and other priority needs over the next six months.
5 March 2008The United Nations and its partners are clearing a road in Katanga province in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after two anti-tank mines were discovered on a key route, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country said today. Led by the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), the operation focuses on demining eight kilometres of the road linking the towns of Kabalo and Katutu, which was shut down in December after local residents came upon the explosives.The non-governmental organization (NGO) Danish Church Aid and the South African mine clearance company Mechem are part of the joint effort.Meanwhile, the peacekeeping mission – known as MONUC – reports that 25 former Rwandan rebel troops and their 13 dependents were repatriated to Rwanda in February, as part of the renewed drive to disarm and reintegrate members of armed groups spurred by the Nairobi agreement reached between Rwanda and the DRC in November last year.
The international commission will hold a two-day meeting in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, starting on 20 November to examine education, youth, women and climate change in relation to employment and implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed targets for eradicating poverty and other social ills by 2015. Convened by Denmark and consisting of a number of prominent politicians, business leaders and experts, the Commission is charged with presenting innovative strategies to improve international development cooperation with Africa, focussing on young people and employment. While in Addis Ababa, the Deputy Secretary-General will also address the Sixth African Development Forum, with remarks centred on gender equality and the elimination of violence against women.The 19 to 21 November conference, jointly organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), aims to identify practical and concrete action for members to take on gender equality, women’s empowerment and ending violence against women. 18 November 2008Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro leaves for Ethiopia today to attend the second meeting of the Africa Commission, focussing on the creation of jobs to further economic growth in Africa.
According to media reports, some 10,000 protestors have massed in the capital, Chisinau.“The Secretary-General strongly believes that any disagreements regarding election results should be resolved by peaceful means and calls on all parties to refrain from violence and maintain calm,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson. 7 April 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern over violent protests that broke out today in Moldova, following the European nation’s Parliamentary polls on 5 April.
The certification of the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) yesterday comes on the heels of the separation and formal disarmament of its armed wing, including the separation of children associated with the group.The FNL’s rejection of violence “paves the way for its participation in the democratic process in Burundi,” Mr. Ban said in a statement.The small Central African nation is rebuilding after a brutal civil war between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority that killed hundreds of thousands of people. In September 2006, the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement was signed between the Government and FNL, the last major hold-out group.The Secretary-General noted the decisions made by the Burundian Government and the FNL on 8 April, under the leadership of a South African facilitator, to set up a mutually accountable roadmap for the finalization of the peace process.He urged both parties to “continue their enhanced cooperation” to complete the last phase of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.In today’s statement, Mr. Ban also commended neighbouring countries for their ongoing efforts to support the implementation of the pact, calling on the international community to “continue to lend the necessary support for the timely conclusion of the peace process in Burundi.”Burundi was one of the first countries to receive support from the UN Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up in 2005 to help post-conflict countries determine priority areas for reconstruction out of the vast array of challenges they face. 22 April 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the accreditation of a former armed opposition group in Burundi as a political party, lauding its renunciation of armed conflict.
28 October 2009At least five United Nations staff members were killed today in an attack on a guest house in Kabul that has drawn widespread condemnation from top officials, as well as a pledge that the world body will continue its vital work in the country. “This is a very dark day for the UN in Afghanistan,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN mission in the country (UNAMA), said in a statement.Several UN staff members were also injured in the attack, which was reportedly carried out early this morning by three Taliban militants with suicide vests, grenades and machine guns. The UN said it could not at this stage provide the names or nationalities of the victims. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his outrage at the “cowardly attack” and conveyed his deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims.“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the despicable and brutal killing, for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility in an apparent effort to disrupt the second round of the presidential election,” he said in a statement. Afghans are scheduled to go to the polls on 7 November for the presidential run-off between incumbent Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah.“No one underestimates the difficulties, especially in the aftermath of today’s attack,” Mr. Ban told a news conference in New York. “At this point, I would simply say that all operational preparations are being put in place to minimize fraud.” The run-off was announced last week after the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) found evidence of fraud in the first round of voting conducted on 20 August.“I urge Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Karzai to uphold the law and the Constitution, to encourage participation of the Afghan people, and, after the vote, to work to unify the country around an agenda for progress,” said Mr. Ban.He added that the men and women who gave their lives today came to Afghanistan armed not with guns or bullets. “They came with a more powerful weapon – hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future.“We will not be deterred from this noble mission,” he vowed. “We will continue our work, particularly on helping the Afghan Government and people, carrying on this second presidential election… while ensuring and strengthening the safety and security of our premises.”The UN Volunteers (UNV) programme confirmed that two of its staff members were among those killed in the attack, while another was wounded. Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri expressed condolences on behalf of the organization’s 8,000 volunteers and staff to the families of the victims.The two volunteers were supporting the work of UNDP/ELECT, the project run by the UN Development Programme through which the international community supports Afghan elections. Also voicing her outrage at today’s attack was the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who expressed the agency’s grave concern about a colleague who was in the guest house and is presently unaccounted for. “UNICEF is working in Afghanistan to assist women and children in urgent need of our support especially in health and education. Attacks like this one set our work back and inflict further damage on an already fragile State,” Ann M. Veneman said in a statement.Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), decried the “murderous assault” on humanitarian staff in Kabul. “Our thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured in the attacks, as well as with our colleagues at partner agencies in Afghanistan who must now find the strength to carry forward the crucial work of the United Nations,” said Ms. Sheeran, whose own staff are still recovering from the 5 October attack on the agency’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan, which killed five staff members and critically injured others. Also speaking out against today’s attack was the Security Council, which “strongly condemned the attempts in particular by the Taliban to disrupt the electoral process and destabilize the situation in Afghanistan.”In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Viet Nam, which holds the Council presidency this month, the 15-member body Council reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
1 July 2010The United Nations is closely following reports that four Palestinian legislators have received orders for their forcible transfer from East Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities, a spokesperson for the world body said today. Israel is reportedly considering revoking the residency permits of Muhammad Abu-Teir, Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad Totah, and Khaled Abu Arafeh, all current or former members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and long-time residents of East Jerusalem.The Israeli High Court of Justice is scheduled to consider their case on 6 September.“We are concerned at all measures which may heighten tension in the city and at the potentially broad consequences for Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem,” Richard Miron, spokesperson for UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem.“We call on Israel to respect its obligations under international law,” he added.On Tuesday independent UN human rights expert Richard Falk warned that population transfers in or from occupied territory, if carried out, would violate international law, with certain actions potentially amounting to war crimes. He said it was “particularly shocking” that Israel appeared ready to forcibly transfer the four Palestinian legislators based on their supposed lack of loyalty to the State of Israel.“Israel, as an occupying Power, is prohibited from transferring civilian persons from East Jerusalem, and is prohibited from forcing Palestinians to swear allegiance or otherwise affirm their loyalty to the State of Israel,” said Mr. Falk, who serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.Last week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that planned moves by Israel, such as demolishing existing homes and constructing new settlements in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem, are contrary to international law, and to the wishes of Palestinian residents.“The current moves are unhelpful, coming at a time when the goal must be to build trust to support political negotiations,” his spokesperson said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“Governments alone will not be able to deal with the challenges,” said Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), at the latest meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group.“We need a commitment from all sectors of society, including the private sector, academia and civil society, as well as from international organizations and NGOs [non-governmental organizations],” he added.The meeting in Mexico City was hosted by Carlos Slim Helú, Mexican businessman and one the world’s wealthiest people, who is also a member of the Group, set up by Mr. Ban last year and comprising 20 business leaders, academics and representatives of the UN and civil society.In April, the Group launched a report calling on nations to commit themselves to two complementary goals.First, it urged universal access to modern energy services that are reliable, affordable, sustainable, and, if possible, from low-emissions sources by 2030.It also underlined the need to slash global energy intensity, measured by the quantity of energy per unit of gross domestic product (GDP).Currently, some 3 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, resulting in adverse health effects if used in inadequately ventilated buildings, with 1.6 billion having no access to electricity.“This is why we are looking at launching a worldwide campaign to ensure that access to modern energy services no longer represents a barrier to development,” Mr. Yumkella said. “A reliable, affordable energy supply is the key to economic growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.Private companies, he pointed out, already have the technology needed to make global energy systems less dependent on fossil fuels, while many governments are offering financial incentives and support for this transition.“What we need today is to forge strong public-private partnerships to tackle these goals,” the UNIDO chief, who chairs the Advisory Group, said.Today’s meeting, co-hosted by Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel Martínez, drew top UN officials and business executives, while representatives of Sharp and other corporations presented some of the latest renewable technologies.In a related development, a new report launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) found that the United States and Europe have added more capacity to their electricity supplies from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, for the second consecutive year.In 2009, renewables accounted for 60 per cent of newly-installed capacity in Europe and more than 50 per cent in the USA.“The sustainable energy investment story of 2009 was one of resilience, frustration and determination,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.The sector was able to weather the global financial downturn, but faced setbacks given that last December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, did not achieve the targets that had been hoped for, he noted.“Yet there was determination on the part of many industry actors and governments, especially in rapidly developing economies, to transform the financial and economic crisis into an opportunity for greener growth,” the official said. 15 July 2010The potential of new public-private partnerships to enhance energy access and efficiency topped today’s discussions by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s high-level advisory group on the nexus between energy and climate change.
26 July 2010Top United Nations officials have strongly condemned the attacks targeting the offices of the regional satellite television channel Al-Arabiya in Baghdad, while urging Iraqi authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the safety of media professionals. Four employees were killed and two bystanders were wounded when a car bomb exploded this morning outside the television station, which had reportedly been targeted several times in the past. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, both condemned the attack.“Journalists in Iraq have again turned out to be prime targets for insurgents and all parties should act to counter this impunity in the targeting and killing of journalists,” said Mr. Melkert, who is head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). “The attack of this morning shows once more that an immediate response is needed through an effective agreement on the formation of a new government that will be dedicated to the protection of citizens and freedom of the press.” The head of the UN agency tasked with defending press freedom also condemned the attack, and stressed that journalists must be able to go about their work freely, without fearing for their lives.Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called on the Iraqi authorities to do everything within their ability to ensure that the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.
10 October 2010Days after the United Nations issued new guidelines to facilitate treatment of depression, alcohol abuse, epilepsy and other common mental disorders, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on world governments to step up to the plate and deliver the necessary services. “Many countries fall far short in treatment for those suffering with mental illness – even though it is relatively inexpensive and easy to deliver,” he said in a message to mark World Mental Health Day, observed annually on 10 October. “The vast majority of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders do not receive even the most basic care. Yet such services are essential if we are to offer hope to some of the most marginalized people in the world, especially in developing countries, to live their lives in dignity.” The UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 75 per cent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders, including nearly 95 million people with depression and more than 25 million people with epilepsy, living in developing countries do not receive any treatment or care. The evidence-based guidelines in the Intervention Guide the agency issued on 7 October are presented as flow charts to simplify the process of providing care in the primary health-care setting by non-mental health specialists, including doctors, nurses and other health providers. Placing the ability to diagnose and treat them into the primary health care system will significantly increase the number of people who can access care. An estimated one in four people globally will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. People with mental, neurological and substance use disorders are often stigmatized and subject to neglect and abuse. Mr. Ban called on all countries to fulfil the WHO’s mental health Gap Action Programme seeking to scale up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries, especially with low and lower middle incomes. “With proper care, tens of millions of people could be treated for depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy and other illnesses,” he said. “We must break down the barriers that continue to exclude those with mental or psychosocial disabilities. There is no place in our world for discrimination against those with mental illness. There can be no health without mental health.” WHO stresses that the resources currently available for treatment are insufficient, inequitably distributed and inefficiently used. In the majority of countries, less than 2 per cent of health funds are spent on mental health. As a result, a large majority of people with these disorders receive no care at all, it notes.The issue is a serious one in Afghanistan, where more than 50 per cent of the population, most of whom are women, suffer from psychosocial problems or mental disorders. “Yet only a fraction of the health budget is spent on mental health,” the WHO office in the country points out. “As a result of this lack of investment, which has also led to a chronic shortage of trained mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, psychiatric social workers and counselors mainly in rural areas, a large majority of people with these disorders receive no care at all.”WHO has pledged its readiness to provide technical assistance to national health authorities to implement and further develop basic mental health services.