Sri Lanka heavy fighting resumes after twoday pause – UN

The world body’s top relief official yesterday said that the 48-hour ceasefire in clashes between the Government and separatist Tamil rebels was inadequate in easing the plight of more than 100,000 civilians caught up in the conflict.“Unfortunately, it is also clear that not only did this not allow more civilians to get out, there seemed to be less civilians getting out during the pause than before,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told reporters in New York.Over 64,000 people have left conflict areas, with most of them sheltering in camps and some 800 others are seeking treatment in hospitals, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. The International Red Cross said it was able to evacuate close to 1,000 people from the no-fire zone, a 14-square kilometre area in the Vanni region, during the 48-hour ceasefire, bringing the number of people evacuated since 11 February to just over 9,000.A ship carrying more than 1,000 tonnes of humanitarian supplies bound for the no-fire zone is scheduled to depart in three days.In the camps in the Vanni region, efforts to construct shelter, clear sites and provide health care, among others, are continuing, but water and sanitation services have been identified as being inadequate.According to OCHA, the continued use of schools as sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs) continues to strain education services in the district, affecting both uprooted students and host students.Mr. Holmes, who said he would have preferred a longer pause in fighting, said yesterday that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) prevented civilians trapped in the no-fire zone from leaving during the ceasefire.“Civilians should not be used as pawns or human shields in this way,” he stressed, calling on the LTTE to allow safe passage out of the no-fire zone to those who wish to leave. 16 April 2009After the end of the two-day lull in fighting in northern Sri Lanka, intense fighting – including small arms fire, mortar fire and aerial attacks – has been reported in the so-called no-fire zone, the United Nations said today. read more

Darfur African UnionUN envoy concerned over surge in factional violence

AU-UN Special Representative Rodolphe Adada called on the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudanese Liberation Army/Minni Minawi wing (SLA/MM) to end hostilities, which flared up over the weekend in the North Darfur town of Umm Baru.Mr. Adada noted that the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, had transported 26 people injured in the fighting to the North Darfur capital of El Fasher for medical treatment at the military hospital. The Special Representative also held discussions today with the Under-Secretary of the Sudanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, and the Presidential Adviser, Mustafa Osman Ismail, during separate meetings in Khartoum.In a briefing to the Security Council in April, Mr. Adada estimated that around 2,000 civilians have been in killed in Darfur since UNAMID deployed last year. Some 15 peacekeepers have also lost their lives since the UNAMID force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed in total and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes in more than five years of fighting, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributing emergency food supplies for May in areas most affected by the Government’s expulsion of 13 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).The expulsion as well as the revocation of the permits of three local NGOs came after the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant in early March for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity.For food assistance beyond June, WFP is preparing to launch a special operation in Darfur, designed to compensate for the gaps in humanitarian relief aid left by the ouster of the NGOs. In North and South Darfur, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has entered into agreements with partner organizations to set up a health clinic and psychosocial activities formerly managed by expelled NGOs in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). However, in West Darfur three of the 13 therapeutic feeding centres formerly managed by expelled NGOs remain out of action, either due to insecurity or lack of alternative resources. 12 May 2009The joint African Union-United Nations envoy to Darfur expressed concern today over recent armed clashes between various factions in the northern part of the war-ravaged Sudanese region. read more

Urgent action needed to assist over 1 million Central Africans – UN

“It’s not like any other humanitarian situation I’ve run across,” Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, told reporters in New York.Ms. Bragg, who visited the country in late July, said the number of people affected directly or indirectly by the effect of conflict in CAR is estimated by the humanitarian community to be more than 1 million people – out of a population of 4 million. She added that the CAR is one of the most impoverished countries in the world – second only to Sierra Leone by one measure – and remains beset by violence and widespread displacement in the north. This is in spite of some progress made last year with the Government embarking on a national dialogue and the signing of a peace agreement with rebel groups. Most of the 1 million people in need of assistance are concentrated in the northern part of the country and amongst the affected population are 125,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 137,000 Central African refugees in Chad and Cameroon. A major concern is the lack of funding for humanitarian work, she stressed, noting that funding has decreased significantly in 2009, compared to previous years. Current requirements amount to $97 million, of which $48 million remains outstanding. “Urgent action from the international community is required to support the efforts of humanitarian organizations,” stated Ms. Bragg.The international community should also be encouraged to support the efforts of the Government to develop a legal framework to assist IDPs, she added. “I was actually struck by the lack of international pressure on the Government in terms of its responsibility to provide both humanitarian assistance and protection to displaced populations.”Another major concern, she said, is lack of access to those in need, not just because of a lack of physical infrastructure, but because many people have fled their villages into the bush, sometimes just a few kilometres from their villages, and they are dispersed. “This is a very traumatized population. Some of them have been displaced repeatedly in the past years,” said Ms. Bragg. “They live in fear of both the Government forces and any armed groups, and they live in totally deplorable conditions in the bush with very little basic necessities – no water, no food, no sanitation, no medical services [and] hardly anything to sustain themselves.”Access is also hindered by the “unpredictable and volatile” security environment and, more recently, outright denial of humanitarian access by the national authorities, which she said were accusing some of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of supporting the rebels through humanitarian activities. More recently, she added, humanitarian needs have increased due to attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-east and a rise in malnutrition in the south-western part of the country. The Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator met with some of the IDPs during her visit, which took her to the capital, Bangui, as well as the towns of Birao, Kabo and Paoua. She also met with President François Bozizé and Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera, and members of UN agencies, international and local NGOs and the diplomatic community. 10 August 2009Urgent action by the international community is needed to assist humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflict has left one-quarter of the population in need of assistance, a senior United Nations relief official said today. read more

TimorLeste praises UN for critical role in securing sovereignty

“It was through the United Nations that a solution was found for what was then tabled as the ‘question of East Timor,’” Timorese Foreign Minister Zacarias Albano da Costa told General Assembly.“It was the United Nations that shouldered the responsibility of finding a just solution to that question and was indeed able to do so with success,” Mr. da Costa said in a speech to the annual General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York.Mr. da Costa noted that the decision to employ the UN to resolve his country’s conflict through peaceful means and to defer to the UN Charter was a wise one.“The engagement with the United Nations continues to be the policy of Timor-Leste today,” he added. “Timor-Leste has benefited greatly from this engagement, through the dedicated work of successive UN missions and through the presence and work of the various United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.”Timorese turned out in huge numbers on 30 August 1999 to vote in a popular consultation on their future. The result – announced five days later on 4 September – was an overwhelming choice for independence over autonomy within Indonesia. UN administrators moved in soon after the vote, which was followed by widespread violence in which 1,500 to 2,000 people were killed, and helped shepherd Timor-Leste to its eventual independence as a State in 2002.“The UN’s current mission in Timor-Leste, UNMIT, is a testament to the need for a longer term engagement by the UN,” said Mr. da Silva, noting that the crisis in 2006 – when tensions within the security sector led to deadly riots – was a reminder of the fragility of peace when State institutions are still weak and need strengthening. 28 September 2009The Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste today paid tribute to the United Nations for the world body’s role over the past decade and more in supporting the South-East Asian nation on its path to independence. read more

New UNbacked scheme to turn trash into cash in AsiaPacific cities

22 February 2010Under a new United Nations-backed initiative launched today, cities in Asia and the Pacific, which are dealing with ever-increasing heaps of waste, will be able to transform ‘trash into cash.’ The scheme – unveiled by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Waste Concern, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organization (NGO) – seeks to help solid waste development strategies become decentralized, pro-poor, low-carbon and self-financing through the sale of carbon credits.Exploding urban populations and economies in the region have resulted in a surge in solid wastes that municipal governments are finding difficult to dispose of, as dumpsites fill up and land for new ones is becoming harder to come by.Even though local governments spend up to 60 per cent of their annual budgets to collect, transport and dispose of solid wastes, not all waste is collected and is often disposed in crude open dumps that pollute the atmosphere and water.The new programme, launched in Dhaka, Bangladesh, seeks to harness the potential of the informal waste collection sector, which has demonstrated that recycling trash can be extremely profitable.Millions make a living from recycling waste, both from inorganic recyclable waste and organic waste, which can be turned into compost and can generate initial start-up costs through carbon credits.Waste Concern was one of the world’s first organizations to acquire carbon credits for composting under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing developed countries to reduce emissions and meet global warming commitments by investing in carbon reduction projects in developing countries.Since 2005, the organization, ESCAP and local partners have tested and further refind the approach in Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. One compost plant serving some 1,000 households and treating 2-3 tons of waste daily has been built in each country, and both sites have financed themselves. read more

Ban issues call for religious leaders to foster dialogue between cultures

In a message to the two-day World Summit of Religious Leaders, which concludes today in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Mr. Ban said that “when we build a culture of understanding and uphold human dignity, we build a better world.” He noted that “we live in a changing and interconnected world,” where local events can have an impact globally and international events can also have a local impact. “Globalization continues to transform our societies, bringing gains for many but leaving too many others untouched and discontent. These 21st-century facts compel us to strengthen cooperation – to expand the space for dialogue.” The Secretary-General stressed that the entire United Nations system supports efforts to promote dialogue between cultures and religions, adding that the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative has part of those efforts since 2005. “As religious leaders, you have an essential role to play in ensuring that the values of equality, tolerance and mutual respect, which lie at the core of all the world’s greatest religions, are defended, promoted and used to truly enrich our societies. “You can encourage dialogue that respects the importance of tradition but also embraces change. You can foster contacts and create conditions that will lead to sustainable peace, social justice and cultural cohesion.” The World Summit of Religious Leaders was organized by the Inter-Religious Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). 27 April 2010Religious leaders have a vital part to play in promoting dialogue between different cultures and societies at a time when globalization has left many people feeling discontented, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told an international gathering of leaders. read more

Security Council to send more UN troops to Côte dIvoire ahead of

In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, which holds the Council presidency this month, the 15-member body took note of the certification on 24 September of the final voters list of 5.7 million that was agreed on by the parties.“The members of the Security Council urge the Ivorian stakeholders to meet their commitments to organise the first round of the elections on 31 October,” he stated. “They further stressed the need for the parties to ensure calm prior to, during and after the vote.”The UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has been providing logistical and technical assistance for the preparations for the presidential polls, which were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005 in the West African nation, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.However, the elections have been repeatedly postponed, most recently from March. In response to a recommendation by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Council agreed to deploy up to 500 additional uniformed personnel to UNOCI for no more than six months to reinforce the mission’s capacity to contribute to the security arrangements before, during and after the elections.Established in 2004, UNOCI is tasked with facilitating aspects of the peace process, including those related to elections, disarmament and the reunification of the country.Today’s statement followed a closed-door briefing to the Council by Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI, who told reporters that he did not think violence would be an issue since all the candidates are “committed to democratic principles.“I am confident that the 31 October first round will take place peacefully,” he stated.Under the country’s electoral law, a second round of voting could take place on 28 November if there is no clear winner in the first round. 28 September 2010The Security Council today urged parties in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure the holding of the country’s long-delayed presidential polls next month, and agreed to deploy up to 500 additional United Nations troops to assist with security during the election period. read more

At UN Holy See hails Millennium Development Goals document with reservations

“It is important to underline that the goals (MDGs) will not be attained without activating two great moral imperatives,” Secretary for Relations with States Dominique Mamberti told the General Assembly. “On the one hand it is necessary that rich and emerging countries fully realize their aid commitments for development and immediately set up a functioning financial and commercial network favourable to the weaker countries.“On the other all, rich and poor, must ensure an ethical turn in politics and economy that guarantees good government and eliminates every form of corruption. Otherwise, there is the risk of arriving in 2015 with only insufficient results, except perhaps – and that would be sad and paradoxical – in the fields of population control and promotion of minority lifestyles, which have been introduced in some paragraphs in the recent summit’s document.“In that case the MDGs will have become a veritable fraud for the integral human development of peoples.”He stressed that the major guarantee that the UN will continue to fulfil its historic mission of uniting all States for the common goals of peace, security and integral human development will be given by “a constant reference to and effective respect of the dignity of all men and women, beginning with the right to life – even the weakest like the terminally ill and the yet unborn infants – and of religious freedom.”He also welcomed the entry into force of the treaty banning cluster munitions and the new START nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia.Also speaking on MDGs at the Assembly was Abubakr Al-Qiribi, Foreign Minister for Yemen, who said that his country’s progress towards achieving the targets had been set back by the financial crisis.He pointed to low oil prices, which account for 75 per cent of Yemen’s national income, along with overpopulation, scarce water resources and limited help from development partners as serious challenges. 29 September 2010The Holy See today hailed the efforts to eliminate poverty at last week’s United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but voiced concern at paragraphs on population control and minority lifestyles in the outcome document. read more

SecretaryGeneral to address European security summit in Kazakhstan

23 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Kazakhstan this weekend to address the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations announced today. The meeting in the capital, Astana, will be the first OSCE summit in over a decade and brings together heads of State and government of participating States.During his visit to Kazakhstan, the Secretary-General will hold several bilateral meetings with top officials on the sidelines of the summit to discuss various issues, including UN-OSCE cooperation.With 56 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE forms the largest regional security organization in the world. It is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area. read more

UN refugee chief and European official begin joint visit to Yemen

During their three-day joint visit, High Commissioner António Guterres and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, will travel to the north, where they will press for greater humanitarian access to those affected by recurring fighting between Government forces and Al-Houthi rebels.Despite the February 2010 ceasefire signed between the Government and the rebels, nearly 300,000 civilians forced to flee their homes by successive conflicts since 2004 remain displaced.The two officials plan to meet with displaced Yemeni civilians as well as those who have returned home, according to a news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The joint mission also reflects international recognition and support for Yemen’s policy of granting refugee status on arrival to Somalis fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland, UNHCR pointed out. There are more than 170,000 registered Somali refugees in Yemen, of which some 16,000 arrived last year alone, often after making a perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.While in Yemen, Mr. Guterres and Ms. Georgieva will meet with top-ranking Government officials and representatives of UN agencies and partner non-governmental organisations. 13 January 2011The United Nations refugee chief arrived in Yemen today along with the European Union’s top humanitarian official to assess assistance to civilians displaced by conflict in the country’s north, as well as challenges posed by the continuing influx of refugees on its shores. read more

UN housing expert voices concern about violent evictions in Argentina

In a news release issued at the end of her week-long visit to the country, Raquel Rolnik said she heard countless testimonies about violent evictions, often carried out by the State and on public land and without the possibility of relocation or compensation for affected families. The evictions, she said, are increasing in both urban and rural areas and affect in particular the residents of informal settlements, as well as peasants and indigenous peoples. “I’m very concerned about violent evictions taking place in various regions of the country and the lack of more comprehensive promotion of adequate housing in Argentina,” said Ms. Rolnik, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.She said that the “informal occupation” of land has become the main form of access to housing in the country due to the lack of affordable housing. In addition, there is a growing phenomenon in various parts of the country of criminalization of people who occupy lands or buildings, and who are victims of growing stigmatization. “Despite the significant budgetary commitment adopted by the Government since 2003 in response to the housing crisis, and the participation of provinces and municipalities in this effort, the imbalance between supply and demand has continued to increase,” she noted. “This is partly due to State neglect of housing issues in previous decades. But the situation has deteriorated recently due to the economic growth that Argentina is experiencing and its direct effect on price increases for land, including urban land, housing and rents which have grown proportionately more than the income of most of the population.”She also voiced concern about the weakness of the allocation system of the social housing programmes, which opens the door to discrimination, and has made the issue the object of political disputes. 21 April 2011An independent United Nations human rights expert today voiced concern about the increasing rate of violent evictions taking place in Argentina and called for a comprehensive strategy to tackle the country’s housing crisis. read more

Palestinian unity deal must promote peace says UNs Middle East envoy

28 April 2011Reacting to reports of a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah, the top United Nations envoy for the Middle East today said that reconciliation between the two main Palestinian factions should take place in a manner that promotes the cause of peace. UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have been urging Palestinian factions for some time to put their differences behind them, put national interest first and find a way forward so they can address the many challenges they face. Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after ousting the Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that controls parts of the West Bank. On Wednesday, representatives of Hamas and Fatah announced that they struck a deal to form a national unity government and hold elections within a year. “Reunification is essential for achieving a two-state solution that should be reached through negotiations,” Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem. Mr. Serry “notes with much interest” the agreement announced in Cairo, the statement added. “He hopes that reconciliation will now take place in a manner that promotes the cause of peace and will continue to follow developments closely.” In a related development, a two-day UN seminar that opened today in Helsinki, Finland, is focusing on mobilizing international efforts in support of Palestinian State-building activities.In a message to the meeting, Mr. Ban noted that the Palestinian Authority has accelerated progress in improving its governmental functions in the limited territory under its control and despite constraints on the ground.“However, the institutional achievements of the Palestinian State-building programme are approaching their limits within the political and physical space currently available. Time is of the essence and serious efforts must now be exerted by all to bring the parties back to the negotiating table as soon as possible,” he added in the message, which was delivered by Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).He said that along with the continued impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, constraints on Palestinian urban development and obstacles to free movement and access in the West Bank remain among the most substantial impediments to Palestinian economic viability.“While Israel has taken measures to facilitate movement, it must roll back its measures of occupation and facilitate continued economic and institutional progress in order to match the Palestinian State-building achievements,” he stated.Abdou Salam Diallo, the Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, also remarked that the Palestinians are reaching the limit of what is realizable unless the measures of occupation are rolled back, noting that the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza, which was imposed after Hamas took over the territory, continues to impede economic development.Meanwhile, he added, in the West Bank, “onerous and highly unpredictable” movement and access restrictions, settlements, house demolitions and displacement of residents and the separation wall have put a “chokehold” on investment and opportunity.“The Gaza blockade must be lifted completely, and measures of the occupation in the West Bank must be reversed, including a complete stop to all settlement activity, to allow socio-economic development to take root,” stated Mr. Diallo. read more

UN official urges Senegal to review reported intention to extradite exChadian leader

Government of Senegal reportedly informed officials in Chad that the former Chadian dictator would be sent back to Chad tomorrow, according to a statement issued by the office of Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.“I urge the Government of Senegal to review its decision and to ensure that Habré’s extradition is carried out in a way that ensures his fair trial rights will be respected and he will not be subjected to torture or the death penalty,” said Ms. Pillay said.“As a party to the Convention Against Torture, Senegal may not extradite a person to a State where there are substantial grounds for believing he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. At the very least Senegal must obtain fair trial guarantees from the Government of Chad before any extradition takes place,” she added.Ms. Pillay said extraditing Mr. Habré in the present circumstances, in which those guarantees are not yet in place, may amount to a violation of international law.She stressed that it was essential that Mr. Habré faces a trial that is fair and adheres to due process. His physical safety must be ensured at all times, Ms. Pillay said.“Justice and accountability are of paramount importance and must be attained through a fair process in accordance with human rights law,” she added.Mr. Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, when he was overthrown and went into exile in Senegal, and it is alleged that during his rule thousands of Chadians were tortured and unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations took place. Although he was charged in February 2000 by a lower court in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, an appeals court later ruled that Senegalese courts did not have the legal competence to try such cases if they were perpetrated in another country.But then in April 2008, Senegal’s National Assembly adopted an amendment to the constitution that, along with previous changes, allowed the country’s legal system to deal with such cases.In May 2009 UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an order leaving former Chadian Mr. Habré in the custody of Senegal where he has lived under house arrest.Belgium had lodged a request to the ICJ in February 2009 to bar Mr. Habré from leaving Senegal while his trial is pending. It had also sought to have him extradited to face charges in Belgium, citing among other things procedural delays in Senegal’s handling of the case.In its order, the ICJ found that “there does not exist, in the circumstances of the present case, any urgency to justify” Belgium’s bid. 10 July 2011The United Nations human rights chief today expressed deep concern over an announcement by the Senegalese Government that former Chadian president Hissène Habré would be extradited to his country where he has already been sentenced to death in absentia. read more

UN and diplomatic partners urge Security Council to unfreeze Libyan assets

“We have decided to start a process to unfreeze the frozen Libyan assets in an expedited manner,” members of the Libya Contact Group said in their final communiqué after a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. “In that regard, participants urged the UN Security Council to pass the resolution currently under discussion,” they said.The Contact Group urged Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi and his “inner circle” to turn themselves in immediately to face justice to prevent further bloodshed and destruction of property. Media reports indicate that forces supporting the National Transitional Council (NTC) have taken control of most of the country.Members of the Group – the UN, European Union, NATO, the League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, Gulf Cooperation Council, and, by invitation, the African Union – declared that the NTC was, currently, the sole representative of the Libya people.“While expressing satisfaction for the ever ever-widening international recognition of the NTC, they underlined the need to empower the NTC with the legal, political and financial means necessary to form an interim government of Libya,” members of the Group said in their communiqué.They stressed that the reconciliation process in Libya should be based on the principles of inclusiveness and avoidance of retribution and vengeance and welcomed NTC’s commitment “to “win hearts and minds of the entire Libyan people and respect for human rights.”The group also agreed that the UN should lead all international efforts aimed at helping Libya in the post-conflict period.Earlier, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on post-conflict planning for Libya, Ian Martin, told the Group that delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially medical aid, is the most urgent priority, adding that the world body and its partners are finalizing a 30-day assistance plan.He said the that UN humanitarian agencies and their non-governmental organization (NGO) partners were striving to ensure quick delivery of medical assistance to the wounded and other vulnerable groups, as well as food aid and water to those in need.He also pointed out that the NTC had shown commitment to moving quickly towards democratic legitimacy through the drafting of a constitution and early elections.“We stand ready to bring the extensive experience of the United Nations has developed from so many post-conflict contexts to the unique challenge of a country which lacks living memory of an election, let alone electoral institutions and political parties,” said Mr. Martin.He stressed that any UN role would be in support of national efforts. “The purpose of initial deployment [of UN support] would be to engage with the Libyan authorities and actors regarding their needs and wishes, in order to design longer-term support where requested,” said Mr. Martin.He stressed the need for effective coordination of international assistance for Libya, in response to a common understanding of the country’s priorities.“The international community will do hard-pressed transitional authorities no favour if it presents itself in Tripoli as multiple interlocutors or assessment missions demanding their scarce time, or seeks their participation in multiple forums outside Libya, when their own country demands their leadership,” said Mr. Martin.He pointed out that the UN, the World Bank and European Union have an agreed process for tripartite post-conflict assessment and will be discussing with the NTC when and how the that process can best be applied in Libya.Meanwhile, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, urged the people of Libya, as well as international art and antiquities traders, to protect the country’s cultural heritage, warning that invaluable cultural property could be damaged or stolen in times of social upheaval.She stressed that the looting, theft and illicit trafficking of cultural property would contravene UNESCO’s Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.“The heritage of a nation is essential to the ability of its citizens to preserve their identity and self-esteem, to profit from their diversity and their history and build themselves a better future,” said Ms. Bokova.She warned that buying stolen artefacts or their fragments encouraged the looting of cultural property. “It is therefore crucial that the international antiquities market be particularly wary of objects from Libya in the present circumstances.”She offered UNESCO’s assistance in assessing reports of damage to some of Libya’s five World Heritage sites, adding that the agency would also prepare plans to safeguard the sites.The five heritage sites in Libya are the Archaeological Site of Cyrene; Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna; Archaeological Site of Sabratha; Old Town of Ghadamès; and the Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus. 25 August 2011The United Nations and its diplomatic partners seeking a resolution to the Libyan crisis today urged the Security Council to release assets frozen under United Nations sanctions to the country’s transitional authorities to help them set up a government in the North African nation. read more

Loonie up amid hopes for central bank action strong US factory orders

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar advanced Tuesday, supported by strong gains in commodity prices as traders looked to central banks to take action to keep the fragile global economic recovery on track.Prices for oil and metals also ran ahead following a strong report on U.S. factory orders.The loonie rose 0.54 of a cent to 98.76 cents US from the close on Friday before the Canada Day holiday.The U.S. Commerce Department said factory orders increased 0.7 per cent in May after two consecutive months of declines. Core capital goods, such as machinery and computers, rose 2.1 per cent. That’s better than the 1.6 per cent estimated in a preliminary report a week ago and is a good measure of companies’ plans to invest.However, manufacturing has slowed so far this year, hurt by declining consumer and business confidence and weaker global demand.Some analysts expect the European Central Bank to cut lending rates by 0.25 of a point later this week and the Bank of England to boost money in circulation. There are also hopes that Japan and China will announce new stimulus measures.Oil prices made a particularly strong gain as traders also closely watch the impact of tighter sanctions starting July 1 by the U.S. and Europe against Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, is finding fewer countries willing to buy its crude, which could pinch global supplies.The August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ran ahead $3.61 to US$87.36 a barrel.Copper futures jumped eight cents to US$3.55 a pound while bullion gained $22.90 to US$1,614.50 an ounce. read more

Kinross Gold hit with net loss after 32B mine writedown

TORONTO — Kinross Gold Corporation (TSX:K) is reporting a multi-billion dollar net loss in its fourth quarter after taking a $3.2-billion impairment charge, mostly on its Tasiast mine.The Toronto-based miner reported a net loss of $2.989-billion, or $2.62 per share for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared to a net loss of $2.79-billion, or $2.45 per share in the year earlier period.On an adjusted basis, Kinross reported net earnings of $276.5-million, or 24 cents per share — beating analyst estimates by a penny.Revenue for the quarter came in at $1.186-billion, compared with $919.8-million year over year.Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected revenue of $1.23-billion.For the full year, Kinross posted a net loss of $2.5-billion, or $2.24 per share, compared with a net loss of $2.1-billion, or $1.84 per share, year over year. Full-year revenue was $4.3-billion compared to $3.8-billion in 2011.Full-year adjusted net earnings were $879.2-million, or 77 cents per share.Kinross also said its cutting its capital expenditures for 2013 compared to 2012. It forecast total capital expenditures of approximately $1.6-billion for the year, down $325-million last year.Gold production for the quarter was 724,510 gold equivalent ounces, compared with 622,507 ounces in the year earlier period. Full-year production was 2.6 million gold equivalent ounces, which the company said exceeded guidance, compared with 2.5 million gold equivalent ounces for 2011.The company expects to produce approximately 2.4 to 2.6 million gold equivalent ounces in 2013 at a production cost of sales per gold equivalent ounce of $740 to $790.The Tasiast mine in Mauritania accounted for $3.09-billion of the $3.2-billion after-tax non-cash impairment charge and was due to several factors, including a reduction in the valuation multiple for Tasiast and industry-wide increases in capital and operating costs, the company said.The remaining $111.3 million impairment charge for its Chirano operation in Ghana was “related entirely to goodwill,” the company said.“While we recorded a non-cash impairment charge related to our Tasiast project, our pre-feasibility study work and recent exploration results continue to increase our confidence in Tasiast’s potential, and confirm its importance as part of our long-term future,” CEO J. Paul Rollinson said in a release.“Our planning and outlook for 2013 reflects our continued focus on cost control, margin improvement and free cash flow.”The Tasiast mine was acquired in 2010 as part of a US$7.1-billion deal for Red Back Mining.Last August, Kinross launched a company-wide cost cutting initiative.Then earlier this year, Kinross replaced chief executive Tye Burt with Rollinson in an effort to improve the company’s lagging performance. Rollinson had been executive vice-president of corporate development for the Toronto-based gold miner.Kinross has mines and projects in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Russia, Ghana, and Mauritania.Shares in Kinross, which reported after the close of markets, closed down nine cents to $7.91 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. read more

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would be disastrous Vancouver mayor

VANCOUVER — New evidence proves the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline presents a grave threat to the City of Vancouver’s health, economy and environment, said Mayor Gregor Robertson.The city commissioned expert reports on the potential impacts of the $5.4 billion proposal and the findings were presented to council on Wednesday.“Today we heard overwhelming evidence that the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal and the oil tankers associated with it are incredibly disastrous for Vancouver,” said Robertson outside council chambers after the meeting.“My mind is clearly made up. I think this is a bad deal for Vancouver.”The mayor entered a motion to reaffirm the city’s opposition to the project, but council agreed to defer the vote for two weeks after Coun. Elizabeth Ball requested more time to review the findings.The National Energy Board is considering Kinder Morgan’s plan to triple its bitumen-carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe near an existing line between Alberta and Burnaby, B.C.The city submitted its expert evidence to the energy board on Wednesday, including critical reports on the project’s economic viability, risk assessment and potential spill impacts.A Metro Vancouver-commissioned report on health and air quality concluded a spill could expose up to a million people to toxic benzene fumes and kill up to 100,000 birds.The report said benzene, a component of diluted bitumen, can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, respiratory problems, coma and even death. People on the Stanley Park seawall next to the water could suffer irreversible health effects, it said.Another report found that Vancouver’s “green brand” is worth about $31 billion and it’s economy could suffer a $1.2 billion loss in the event of such a disaster.Spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said Kinder Morgan shares the mayor’s concerns about spills and has proposed in its application additional measures for prevention and response.“The mayor has to remember that the Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tankers have been safely operating in this community and through this harbour for the past 60 years,” she said.“We believe the expansion will bring benefits to not only Vancouverites, but to all Canadians. Safety is a top priority. None of us want an oil spill.”She said public health is also a priority and the company will carefully review and respond to the city’s evidence, in particular examining whether the spill scenarios in the reports are credible.Hounsell said Kinder Morgan is open to sitting down with Vancouver to find common solutions, as well as with North Vancouver’s Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which vowed Tuesday to fight the project.Robertson’s motion seeks to reaffirm the city’s stance opposing the expansion, a declaration it first made in December 2013 before the expert evidence was collected. Several councillors said the motion should be passed immediately and only reluctantly agreed  to defer the vote.Coun. Kerry Jang, a professor of psychiatry at the University of B.C., said the pipeline expansion poses an urgent public health risk to Vancouver.“In my mind it’s absolutely clear that it’s an emergency,” he said. “This is something we need to make a very clear statement on.” read more

Canadians slightly less confident in finances heading into 2016

A majority of Canadians remain confident about their finances heading into 2016, but the percentage holding a positive view is down from a year ago, according to a new poll from one of the country’s big banks.The CIBC poll found that more than two thirds of Canadians, or 69 per cent, felt positive about their finances going into the new year. Still, that was down five per cent from a year ago, with the drop centred mainly in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.In fact, the survey found that Alberta, hard hit by trouble in the oilpatch, now is the least positive region in the country. Just 62 per cent of Albertans surveyed felt confident about their finances, down 21 percentage points from a year ago.Sentiment was also lower in Ontario at 68 per cent, down from 73 per cent going into 2015, and in Quebec at 71 per cent, down from 78 per cent. Sentiment in British Columbia declined marginally to 71 per cent from 72 per cent.Confidence improved sharply in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, up seven percentage points at 78 per cent, while those surveyed in Atlantic Canada were slightly more positive, up two percentage points at 67 per cent.Strapped for cash? — here’s how to get your TFSA saving started anywayFive financial resolutions for 2016, and how to (really) make them happenThe poll was conducted Dec. 7-8 among 1,508 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.While Canadians 55 and older remain the most positive about their finances, they also saw the biggest decline in this year’s survey, falling from 82 per cent a year ago to 74 per cent this year.That compared with confidence levels of 69 per cent (down from 70 per cent) for those in the 18-to-34 age group; and 65 per cent, down from 70 per cent, for those between 35 and 54.“While many Canadians remain positive about their financial situation, some are feeling less optimistic than they were at this time last year,” CIBC executive vice-president Christina Kramer said of the survey results.“Whether you feel positive or have concerns about your finances, the new year is an ideal time to make changes so you feel prepared for the year ahead,” she said. read more

MPs called CJ a mad woman lawyers

Bandaranayake and her team of lawyers walked out of the parliamentary select committee on Thursday evening after making a statement that she was not being given a fair hearing.“She will not attend future hearings,” a lawyer close to the case told AFP. Her lawyers said their repeated requests for documents supporting the 14 allegations against Bandaranayake were not provided by her accusers and the ruling party dominated PSC refused to allow witnesses to be cross examined.However, she was given over 1,000 pages of documents on Thursday evening and asked to respond in less than 24 hours, the lawyers said, adding that it was “obvious” that the majority of the PSC had no intention of giving her a fair hearing.There was no formal reaction from the government, but a ruling party law maker who declined to be named told AFP that they will proceed with the inquiry whether or not the 54-year-old chief justice attends the hearing on Friday afternoon. “At various stages of the proceedings of the PSC (parliamentary select committee), two (ruling party) members hurled abuse such as ‘mad woman’ at the chief justice,” her lawyers said in a statement a day after the hearing. The impeachment bid has led to a head-on collision between the judiciary and the legislature controlled by Rajapakse, who has consolidated his power after crushing Tamil Tiger rebels in a military offensive in May 2009. Sri Lanka’s top judge Shirani Bandaranayake stormed out of her impeachment hearing after government lawmakers called her a “mad woman” and displayed open hostility, her lawyers said on Friday.The move to impeach the country’s first female chief justice came after she scuttled several bills, including one that gave more powers to President Mahinda Rajapakse’s youngest brother Basil, the economic development minister. “It became evident that these members had been mandated to ridicule the head of the judiciary and the legal profession.” Bandaranayake infuriated the government last month when she said it was illegal for lawmakers to investigate her, but vowed she would defend herself against impeachment charges of professional and financial misconduct.Her case has raised fears that the government is trying to control the courts. She told the parliamentary select committee at its outset that there was not an “iota” of truth in the allegations against her. (AFP) read more

Hirunika steps down from politics

Hirunika Premachandra is currently studying law and she says once her law exams are over she will decide on her next step. She also expressed confidence in the judiciary to get justice for the murder of her father.Report by Indika Sri Aravinda “It is hard to do politics in Sri Lanka. I have spoken to my family and I will decide about my political future at the right time,” she said. Hirunika Premachandra has decided to temporarily step down from politics on the basis that the political climate is not favorable for her.Premachandra, the daughter of slain politician Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, said that she also needs proper backing to get fully engaged in politics. read more