Spanish Media Claim Messi Guilty of Another Tax Fraud

Rabat – Barcelona key forward Lionel Messi used Leo Messi Foundation, the children’s charity he founded in 2007, to hide over EUR ten million of his income from Spanish tax authorities, Spanish newspaper ABC has claimed.The same source added that Messi hid “at least” EUR ten million of his income under the name of his charity foundation between 2007 and 2015 in order to evade taxes.In 2009, Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, inaugurated a new branch of the foundation in the Argentine city of Rosario. Given the association’s allegedly charitable aims, Argentina’s Ministry of Finance excluded the foundation from having to pay taxes. The Spanish newspaper claimed that Messi used the charitable foundation to evade taxes for personal financial gain. Both the athlete and his father were accused in May of defrauding EUR 4.1 million from Spain’s treasury through a series of tax haven-based companies.For this, Barcelona’s court sentenced Messi and his father each to a 21-month suspended sentence in prison for tax fraud.  The court decided to suspend Messi’s prison sentence if paid an additional financial penalty, and the court reduced his father’s prison term because he paid back some of the taxes.A report released by Forbes in early June showed Lionel Messi was the world’s third highest paid athlete, earning USD 80 million a year. read more

Akhannouch to AU Moroccos Agriculture Strategy Could Drive Sustainable Development in

Rabat –Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch led a Moroccan delegation at the Ministerial Session of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) of the African Union (AU) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and the Environment, for the first time since Morocco’s official return to the pan-African body.Meeting in Addis-Ababa October 5 and 6 for the second session of the STC, organized under the title “Improving environmental sustainability and transforming agriculture to ensure food and nutrition security,” the delegation consisted of of several experts including Moroccan Ambassador to Ethiopia, Nezha Alaoui M’Hamdi.Moroccan InterestsDuring this meeting, Akhannouch highlighted the important role agriculture plays in the development of nations, stressing that it should be “the engine of sustainable growth in the face of a double socio-economic and ecological vulnerability in rural areas.” Akhannouch also explained how agriculture often represents “an underexploited potential in Morocco, both economically – the sector accounts for almost 40 percent the job market and generates 15 percent of GDP – and socially, since more than 9 million Moroccans depend directly on agriculture for their livelihood.”For the minister, agriculture is “at the heart of sustainable development challenges,” as good management of soil, water, and crops contributes to adaptation and mitigation of the negative effects of climate change.On the basis of these findings, Morocco launched the Green Morocco Plan in 2008, which is in line with the detailed program for the development of agriculture in Africa, the minister noted.Akhannouch explained that this ambitious investment plan is based on two pillars: the modernization of agriculture and high-value-added investment in the agro-industrial sector, and the development of small-scale agriculture and social and solidarity-based investment to combat against agricultural poverty.“This is an innovative strategy based both on adapting to market opportunities and enhancing the agricultural, ecological and human diversity of the terroirs,” added Akhannouch, noting that this development plan was set up according to a pragmatic approach centered around the implementation of concrete projects.Agriculture: a global common goodFor Akhannouch, “agriculture is a global common good that we must all strive to preserve.” The minister explained that a first step in this direction was taken at the COP22 global environmental conference held on African soil last November, in Marrakech.Once the Paris Agreements are put in place, “it is crucial that African agriculture, including climate change adaptation projects, get a fair share of climate finance,” he said.“ It is in this spirit that we launched the African Agriculture Adaptation Initiative (AAA).”The AAA is a two-part program that is supported by 33 countries, important players in the private sector, civil society, the scientific community, and major donors including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and Food and Agriculture Organization.The first axis consists on procuring funding for the Adaptation of African Agriculture program through advocacy and negotiation, while the second concerns the de-risking and raising of funds for adaptation projects, through four program: sustainable management of soil resources and agricultural water, climate risk management, and solidarity financing for small project holders.“The program also constitutes a platform for capacity building and exchange of knowledge on climate resilient agriculture,” Akhannouch said. “Our goal with the 33 countries that are with us is to attract funding to support concrete projects.”The minister expressed the wish to see this AAA initiative become part of the major agricultural programs of the African Union, as well as “a real tool to defend the cause of African agricultural adaptation.” read more

Strategic messaging Russian fighters in Arctic spark debate on Canadas place

Recent Russian moves in the Arctic have renewed debate over that country’s intentions and Canada’s own status at the top of the world.The newspaper Izvestia reported late last month that Russia’s military will resume fighter patrols to the North Pole for the first time in 30 years. The patrols will be in addition to regular bomber flights up to the edge of U.S. and Canadian airspace.“It’s clearly sending strategic messaging,” said Whitney Lackenbauer, an Arctic expert and history professor at the University of Waterloo. “This is the next step.”Russia has been beefing up both its civilian and military capabilities in its north for a decade.Old Cold-War-era air bases have been rejuvenated. Foreign policy observers have counted four new Arctic brigade combat teams, 14 new operational airfields, 16 deepwater ports and 40 icebreakers with an additional 11 in development.Bomber patrols have been steady. NORAD has reported up to 20 sightings and 19 intercepts a year.Commercial infrastructure has kept pace as well. A vast new gas field has been opened in the Yamal Peninsula on the central Russian coast. Control and development of the Northern Sea Route — Russia’s equivalent of the Northwest Passage — has been given to a central government agency. Russian news sources say cargo volume is expected to grow to 40 million tonnes in 2020 from 7.5 million tonnes in 2016.Canada has little to compare.A road has been completed to the Arctic coast at Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories and work for a port at Iqaluit in Nunavut is underway. The first Arctic patrol vessel has been launched, satellite surveillance has been enhanced and a naval refuelling station built on Baffin Island.But most northern infrastructure desires remain unfilled.No all-weather roads exist down the Mackenzie Valley or into the mineral-rich central N.W.T. Modern needs such as high-speed internet are still dreams in most of the North. A new icebreaker has been delayed.Nearing the end of its term, the Liberal government has yet to table an official Arctic policy.Canada needs to keep pace if only because it can’t count on the current international order to hold, said John Higginbotham of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo.“If the globalized system fragments, we’re going to get a world of blocs. The blocs will have power to close international shipping channels.“It’s a dreadful strategic mistake for Canada to give up our own sea route.”Arctic dominance would also give Russia a potent card to play, said Rob Huebert of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.“It gives you presence,” he said. “Whenever there’s issues that happen to occur elsewhere, we’ve already seen the behaviour of the Russians — they start doing overflights of other countries to bring pressure.”Norway, the Baltics and the United Kingdom have all reported increased airspace violations, Huebert said.Few expect Russian troops to come pouring over the North Pole. The country is sticking with a United Nations process for drawing borders in Arctic waters and is a productive member of the eight-nation Arctic Council.“There’s vigorous debate over whether their posture is offensive-oriented,” Lackenbauer said. “The Russians insist this is purely defensive. It also offers possibilities for safe and secure shipping in the Northern Sea Route.“They’re not doing anything wrong.”Canada would be mistaken to ignore the awakening bear, said Ron Wallace of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute in Calgary.“It’s important for Canadians to be aware of their Arctic and the circumpolar Arctic and what’s going on in the North,” he said.Canada is unlikely to take much from Russia’s command-and-control style of development, Wallace said, but there are lessons to learn. Combining civilian and military infrastructure is one of them.“That’s the kind of thinking I haven’t seen here, but that’s the thinking the Russians are using,” he said. “They see the northern trade route as an excuse to put up military bases at the same time they’re working with the Chinese to open up trade routes for the export of their resources.”That would also help fulfil federal promises to territorial governments, said Wallace.  “Somewhere in the middle there is a better policy for northern Canada.”— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Press read more

14 Tons of Spoiled Dates 795 Kilograms of Rotten Meat Seized

Rabat- Morocco’s National Office of Food Safety (ONSSA) has revealed that authorities seized 14 tons of spoiled dates in Marrakech and 795 kilograms of rotten meat in Ain Atiq, near Rabat.Authorities also seized 500 kilograms of perished garlic and 500 kilograms of expired pastry products May 23-24 in the Safi-Marrakech region, thanks to monitoring operations during Ramadan in food markets, according to the ONSSA. The Al Karam Association, which manages dates and dried fruit in Marrakech, said that the seized dates were meant for animal feed, not for human consumption. ONSSA added that the association is working to provide refrigerators to store the dried fruit.Similar measures may need to be considered for meat storage in rural souqs or flea markets, as ONSSA also recorded the seizure of approximately 795 kilograms of white meat unfit for human consumption in Ain Atiq.Authorities found the meat stored in an unhealthy environment by an owner who supposedly paid no regard to the impact the meat could have on customers’ health.Dates are widely consumed during Ramadan in Morocco and in other Muslim countries, as people usually break their fast with several dates. While the fruit is high in sugar and calories, they are also a source of various vitamins, minerals and fiber. read more

Lack of Political Prospects Caused Tense Situation in PalestineIsraeli Conflict King

Rabat – The UN International Conference on Jerusalem, which kicked off Tuesday in Rabat,  was an opportunity for Morocco to reiterate its firm determination, support, and solidarity with Palestine.In the opening ceremony, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita read King Mohammed VI’s letter before the attendees of the fifth conference on Jerusalem.The King reassured Palestinians that Morocco will spare no effort to help Palestinian people regain their inalienable rights. The monarch said that this year’s event is different from previous ones, noting “serious developments, referring to the decision of the US administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy to the area.“We, in Morocco, immediately rejected this step and considered it to be incompatible with international law and with the relevant Security Council resolutions,” said the King.The King also recalled his letters to US President Donald Trump and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to denounce the US decision, emphasizing the importance of the historical status of Jerusalem.Realism can end conflictThe King said the conflict has lasted for “too long, causing a great deal of sorrow and pain? it has caused and is still causing far too many innocent victims and has ruined many opportunities not only for development, but also for a free safe life for many generations.”The King then called on the international community to make all efforts to reach a plan that would help end the decades-long conflict.“This should be achieved through an orderly process based on a realistic vision and a specific timeline, using the existing frame of reference to which the parties concerned would commit in a serious, proactive and responsible manner.”Tense situation The sovereign noted the “lack of political prospects in the Palestinian Israeli conflict, is the main reason for the tense situations that lead to acts of mutual violence and excessive use of force by the Israeli occupation forces.”The tension, according to the King, could be seen in protests throughout the “Great March of Return at the Gaza border, which were of a peaceful, symbolic nature.”The King also denounced the Israeli crackdown on demonstrations, rejecting “dangerous Israeli behavior which is incompatible with international law.”The symposium, which will continue until June 26, is being co-organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).The event, which is convening international political experts, is taking place under the theme “The Question of Jerusalem after 50 years of Occupation and 25 years of the Oslo Accords.” read more

Said Taghmaoui James Bond News is Fake News

Rabat – Said Taghmaoui has affirmed to Morocco World News that he will not play in the next James Bond movie. Several media outlets, including MWN, reported that the Moroccan-French actor claimed that he would play the villain in “James Bond 25.” A Scottish newspaper reported having an interview with the “La Haine” actor, who said that British filmmaker Danny Boyle contacted him for Bond antagonist and that he had already auditioned for the role. “I was cast by Danny Boyle, and just now he left the project, so of course there’s some uncertainty,” Taghmaoui allegedly said in his interview with the National.Following the news, Taghmaoui contacted MWN to dismiss the story. “It’s a fake news,” he said. Born in France to Moroccan parents, Said Taghmaoui became a naturalized US citizen in 2008 and established himself in the Hollywood industry. read more

Morocco Shut 2000 Illegal Mineshafts in Jerada in 2018

Rabat – Minister of Energy and Mines Aziz Rabbah announced Wednesday that authorities closed 2,000 “abandoned and illicitly exploited” mineshafts in Jerada, eastern Morocco.Rabbah promised to close the 1,500 remaining shafts by the end of 2019, AFP reported.Jerada, an impoverished city, witnessed multiple informal miners’ deaths and accidents during the last two years. In two separate mine accidents, four informal miners died in December 2017. Two of them were crushed while mining underground at an abandoned mineshaft in Jerada.Read Also: Morocco Sentences 9 People Protesting in Jerada After Mining DeathsAnother miner died while extracting coal from an illegal mine near the city when the walls of the mine collapsed and killed him on February 1, 2018.The death of miners sparked a wave of protests denouncing social inequality and unemployment.The protests also led to several arrests. A court handed down the first sentences for protesters on November 8 last year. Nine people received three to five years in prison.Early last year, the government promised to shut abandoned shafts, stop illegal mining in the region, and offer in return economic opportunities for the local population.Read Also: Second Miner Dies in Jerada Mining Accident in 4 DaysThe government said in February 2018 it would launch an industrial zone for Jerada to “provide young entrepreneurs in several business sectors with the opportunity to carry out their projects.However, the city’s informal miners have continued to venture into abandoned mineshafts and sell coal to local brokers, to earn a living.Due to lack of safety precautions, at least eight more accidental deaths occurred last year, including five in November alone.Minister Rabbah said Wednesday that Morocco granted 26 mining permits in 2018 to young miners in the region “attached to special cooperatives,” according to AFP.The state will invest $95 million in industry and agriculture projects by 2020, Rabbah added.In 1998, the government closed a coal mine employing 9,000 workers leading to a collapse in the city’s main industry. The mine, according to AFP, was judged uneconomical. read more

Moroccan Activists Rally in Solidarity with Palestine

Rabat – With the US-sponsored economic forum in Manama, Bahrain set to begintoday, tens of thousands of Moroccans have taken to the streets across the country in protest against the so-called “Manama betrayal conference.”On Sunday, May 23, Moroccan intifadists marched from the gates of Rabat’s medina to the square in front of the Parliament building. As Palestinian and Moroccan flags flew side-by-side above demonstrators, chants of solidarity with Palestine rang through the streets of the city.Read Also: Morocco Confirms Participation in US-Sponsored Economic Forum in BahrainTrampling torn Israeli flags and brandishing signs condemning the occupation of Palestine, protestors demanded that the US end its ongoing interference in the Middle East, and that Israel end its dominion over the Palenstinian territories. Moreover, as protestors burned Israeli flags in collective opposition to the American vision for the MIddle East, shouts of “Death of Israel” and “Death to the United States” became deafening cries of Moroccans’ solidarity with the Palestinian people.With recent events such as White House adviser Jared Kushner’s suggestion that the US would be abandoning plans for a two-state solution, protests against Israel have consequently become protests against the United States. This has become especially true following the reveal of Washington’s plan for achieving peace in the Middle East, with several protests over the last month being sparked from the announcement of the so-called “Deal of the Century.”Developed over the course of the last two years by the Washington administration, the Middle East Peace Plan has routinely been touted as a panacea for the complex issues currently facing the Middle East.However, the American dream of bringing peace to Middle East has been received as a nightmare by millions across the Arab world, who see the plan as a plot to further entrench the Israeli government as a regional influence, at the expense of the Palestinian people.The first stage of the so-called “Deal of the Century,” an upcoming economic forum in Manama, continues to be at the center of this controversy, over a month after initial plans for the forum were revealed in May.In an attempt to rally support for the plan and reduce opposition to the conference, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of American President Donald Trump, visited several Arab countries last month, including Morocco.Despite this, the Arab World remains firmly opposed to the forum, with reactionary protests against the Bahraini conference continuing to increase in both severity and frequency with each passing day.Condemning the proposed plan, as a “consecration” of Palestinian suffering, the Palestinian Authority vowed to boycott the forum, and encouraged other nations to follow suit.“The US ‘deal of the century’ is the consecration of our century-old ordeal: no independence, no sovereignty, no freedom, no justice,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.“And if they do not think that this situation will have an impact on the future of Israel and the region, one way or the other, they are the ones that are delusional, not us.”Standing behind the Palestinian Authority, hundreds of thousands of Moroccans have rejected the plan, viewing the conference as an attempt from the West to undermine the territorial legitimacy of Palestine.United under the slogan “For Palestine, against the deal of shame, against the treachery workshop in Bahrain,” demonstrators from several of Morocco’s civil organizations voiced their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for independence in the face of continued Israeli occupation.A “consecration” of Palestinian sufferingIt has been barely more than a month since Washington announced its long-awaited Middle East Peace Plan, spearheaded by American President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, on May 19.However, time has had little to no effect in raising support for the plan across the Arab World, which remains fervently opposed to the “Deal of the Century.”The first stage of the plan, beginning on June 25 with a forum in the Bahraini capital, is focused on improving the economic conditions in the Middle East. The conference is planned to promote investment and development in the West Bank and Gaza, funded by wealthier Gulf and Arab states.Despite a focus on improving the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh condemned the workshop, claiming that the Palestinian Authority had not been consulted during its planning.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ John Lystad“The cabinet wasn’t consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome nor timing,” Shtayyeh said on Monday.The Palestinian Authority has also protested against the exclusively economic focus of the conference, arguing that the meeting is merely an attempt to have Palestinians sell their independence to Israel.“We will inform Bahrain that we will not take part in such a conference,” said Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian State President Mahmoud Abbas. “We will not sell our country based on an economic project.”As a result, the Palestinian Authority has refused to take part in the workshop, and has encouraged other Arab countries to follow suit and oppose the so-called “Deal of the Century.”Protesters wearing masks to protest against Saudi Arabia, Israel, UAE, and US.“There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop,” said Ahmed Majdalani, Palestine’s Social Development Minister. “Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel.”Brotherhood with PalestineAlthough Morocco will reportedly be attending the conference, Moroccans continue to maintain strong, brotherly ties with the Palestinian people, which has driven thousands across the country to take issue with the government’s decision to participate in the forum.Last year, in response to Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Morocco condemned America for its support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In a letter to the American president, King Mohammed VI said: “The city of Al-Quds must remain a land of cohabitation and a symbol of coexistence and tolerance for all.”“The city is not only important for the parties of the conflict, but also for believers in the three Abrahamic religions, due to its unique religious characteristics, its ancient identity, and its great political symbolism,” he added.More recently, in May, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti, expressed his thanks to King Mohammed VI for his unyielding support for the Palestinian people and their struggle for independence.Morocco was also praised by Palestine earlier this year following a substantial donation from the king towards restoration work in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in East Jerusalem.With the brotherhood between Morocco and Palestine remaining among the strongest bonds in the Arab world, thousands of Moroccans will continue to oppose the US-Israeli “Deal of the Century,” so long as Palestine’s independence is not guaranteed as part of the plan.Meanwhile, as other so-called “Arab Traitor Regimes,” such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, plan to attend the conference, protestors remained adamant that every country in the Arab world stand with Palestine in opposition to the “Deal of the Century,” Morocco included.The self-styled “sons and daughters of the free Moroccan people” voiced their solidarity with the Palestine Authority in a statement condemning Israel and the so-called “Manama betrayal conference,”“We, the undersigned of the sons and daughters of the free Moroccan people, declare to the local and international public opinion our complete rejection of the terms of the Deal of the Century, and our boycotting of the Manama betrayal conference, which seeks to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” the statement read.The signatories also rejected “normalization with the racist Zionist entity” and called for Moroccans to “continue to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.”Concluding with “Long live free Palestine” and “Death to Israel, the enemy of the people, the warmonger,” the statement has sent an unignorable message to the world that Moroccans, in every corner of the country, continue to stand alongside the Palestinian people in their fight for independence. read more

Canadas stock index slips from last weeks record high loonie up slightly

Index and currency in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)The Canadian Press TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index was down slightly in morning trading after ending last week at an all-time high.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 18.07 points at 16,594.74.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 40.69 points at 26,518.85. The S&P 500 index was down 0.47 points at 2,904.56, while the Nasdaq composite was down 0.18 points at 7,997.88.The Canadian dollar traded 74.87 cents US, up from an average of 74.73 cents US on Thursday before the holiday weekend.The June crude contract was up $1.56 at $65.63 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was up 2.5 cents at US$2.52 per mmBTU.The June gold contract was up 90 cents at US$1,276.90 and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$2.90 a pound. read more

Uber Lyft drivers plan to strike in cities across the US

NEW YORK — Drivers for ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are planning to turn off their apps to protest what they say are declining wages at a time when both companies are raking in billions of dollars from investors.Organizers are planning demonstrations in 10 U.S. cities Wednesday, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.They’re timing their protests in advance of Uber’s initial public stock offering, which is planned for Friday. Uber aims to raise $9 billion from investors.It’s not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft’s IPO last month, although the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal. This time more cities are participating.Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press read more

Death penalty given in journalist murder case alarms UN mission in DR

31 August 2007The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today expressed serious concern at the death penalty verdict given to four men convicted of murdering a journalist working for a UN-sponsored radio station with the largest Francophone audience in sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today expressed serious concern at the death penalty verdict given to four men convicted of murdering a journalist working for a UN-sponsored radio station with the largest Francophone audience in sub-Saharan Africa. Two men were sentenced as the assassins by a military tribunal and the other two were convicted of sponsoring and organizing the killing of Serge Maheshe, which took place on 13 June in Bukavu in the far east of the DRC, as Mr. Maheshe and two friends were about to enter a UN-marked vehicle. His friends were not injured in the attack. In a statement to the press today in Kinshasa, the DRC capital, the mission (MONUC) said that while it respected judicial independence in the vast African country, it considered that the tribunal did not base its verdict on the results of the autopsy or on any ballistic expert testimony. “In fact, the tribunal noted that the confessions of the two principal accused contained contradictions and that certain allegations made by them cannot be corroborated,” the press statement said. “The tribunal itself underlined that doubts remained.” MONUC stressed the UN principle, enshrined in a 1984 resolution of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), that a verdict of capital punishment must be based on “clear and convincing evidence that does not leave room for any other interpretation of the facts.” The judicial proceeding must also offer all possible guarantees of a fair trial. Noting that an appeal had been launched by the convicted men, the mission said all guarantees of a just and equitable trial must be respected and all the pieces of evidence considered, and it pledged to provide legal authorities in DR Congo with any technical or logistical help they required. Mr. Maheshe had been a senior journalist with Radio Okapi, a partnership between MONUC and the Hirondelle Foundation, a Swiss non-governmental organization (NGO), since 2003. Aged 31 at the time of his death, he left behind a wife and two children. read more

Annual UN Day celebrations span the globe

In Addis Ababa, UN staff members are planting up to 2,000 trees in a national park above the Ethiopian capital and holding their traditional flag-raising ceremony as part of a series of events to observe the Day. Professors and students at Kabul University in Afghanistan held a question-and-answer session about the role of the UN in which the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative Christopher Alexander participated. In Bangkok, 22 UN entities and international organizations with offices in the Thai capital are taking part in a bilingual exhibition in CentralWorld, the city’s largest mall, to show the many ways in which the Organization tries to improve the lives of people in the region. Musical performances and other events will also take place during the life of the three-day exhibition. Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told a separate ceremony to mark the Day that for the UN to maintain its rightful place on the world stage, continuing reform was necessary.“But we the Member States also have to do our share,” he said. “We need to have the political will to empower the UN to take action as and when necessary. We need to provide the UN with sufficient resources.”In Vienna, the UN Information Service (UNIS) in the Austrian capital organized a student forum bringing together more than 80 students from universities in Austria and Slovakia. Classical music concerts were also held tonight in both Geneva and New York. In the Swiss city, Luigi Cherubini and Maurice Ravel performed at Victoria Hall, while the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra performed at the General Assembly Hall in New York.Speaking at the concert in New York, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said the music being performed, which included the works of Verdi, Puccini and Brahms, offered a reminder that the UN “must serve and preserve our highest human potential for centuries to come.”He said: “While it is essential that we respond to the realities of the day, the actions of the UN must be guided by longer-term wisdom, solidarity, and justice. Our work is for posterity, and we should be mindful of our legacy.”In his first UN Day message as Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that although the world was turning in favour of the UN, the world body needs to strengthen its ability to respond to key global challenges on peace and security, development and human rights. “More people and governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world,” Mr. Ban said in his message. “Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option.” He stressed that the demands on the UN were “growing every day,” and warned that “we will be judged in the future on the actions we take today – on results.” In a separate message, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste Atul Khare stressed that the UN peacekeeping mission in the South-East Asian country (UNMIT) was striving to transform the collective goodwill of the international community towards the small nation into practical action. “We are dedicated to accomplishing the mandate entrusted to us by the Member States of the United Nations: promotion of peace, democracy and human rights, while supporting efforts to secure food, clean water, health care and the right to education and employment for all,” Mr. Khare said. The UN Country Team in Myanmar issued its own statement saying the Day should serve as an opportunity to “reflect on the importance of ensuring development, prosperity, peace, security and dignity for all” and stressing that all peoples deserve to have these rights and freedoms. “In Myanmar, the peaceful demonstrations that followed the sudden hike in fuel prices on 15 August highlighted that many of these aspirations are not yet a reality for the people here,” the statement noted. Tamrat Samuel, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative in Nepal, said UN Day should be used in the Asian country as a time to reflect on what can and should be done in the year ahead to foster peace and development, regardless of any recent setbacks.In Sudan, a televised debate was held to discuss the UN and climate change, the theme of this year’s Day, while in Kenya more than 500 people attended a ceremony awarding the “UN in Kenya Person of the Year” to Abbas Gullet, Secretary-General of Kenya Red Cross Society.Many UN Information Centres (UNICs) around the world held their own activities, including an exhibition of the works of young painters in Bahrain and the opening of the “UN Alphabet” exhibition in Prague, the Czech Republic, in which schoolchildren contributed short stories, essays, drawings, photographs and other art works about issues from A to Z, ranging from AIDS and fair trade to land mines, refugees and climate change.Indonesian children took part in a quiz on UN activities and watched animated films on the work of the world body, while in Togo a ceremony was held to mark the symbolic destruction of arms and weaponry.In Haiti, UN peacekeepers organized a series of humanitarian activities in commemoration of the Day, including providing medical care, food and water to hundreds of orphans and others in need in various parts of the country.Elsewhere, special events were also staged in Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Congo, Romania, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.UN Day has been celebrated on 24 October every year since 1948, exactly three years after the UN Charter entered into force when China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories had ratified the document. In 1971, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that the Day be observed as a public holiday by Member States. 24 October 2007From the planting of some 2,000 trees in Ethiopia to the opening of an exhibition inside one of Asia’s largest shopping malls to a public forum in Afghanistan to the staging of classical music concerts in New York and Geneva, people around the world are marking United Nations Day, which celebrates the day in 1945 when the Organization was born. read more

More aid pledged for freezing earthquake victims in Kyrgyzstan UN reports

“The response to the Government’s appeal has been outstanding,” the head of the Dubai regional bureau for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Abdul Haq Amiri, said. “Everybody has played their part, and as a result the most pressing needs to protect the affected population against the harsh winter conditions have been met.” The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) today pledged over 400 winterized tents, and they are expected to be dispatched from the United Arab Emirates on Friday, OCHA reported. The Governments of Sweden, Norway, Austria, Slovakia and Bulgaria have already provided 275 winterized tents, which are currently being distributed, after the Ministry of Emergency Situations appealed for more than 670 such tents. Reports from the field indicate that there are outstanding needs for food and non-food items, including 3,500 winter jackets and trousers, 2.25 tonnes of rice and 3,000 litres of oil. A UN mission is on the ground to carry out assessment and monitoring. On 1 January, three separate earthquakes occurred in an isolated area some 30 kilometres from the southern city of Osh, causing severe damage to housing and infrastructure. According to Kyrgyz officials, over 960 families were displaced and the deteriorating weather conditions are making their situation even more precarious. 9 January 2008The international community is stepping up its efforts to rush winterized tents to Kyrgyzstan for nearly 5,500 people displaced in New Year’s Day earthquakes and now living in summer tents under temperatures ranging from -15 to -20 degrees Celsius, the United Nations reported today. read more

New hydrological station will help manage Afghan water resources – UN agency

26 March 2008The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has helped open a new hydrological station at a dam near the Afghan capital, Kabul, as part of its joint efforts with the country’s authorities to better manage water resources in Afghanistan. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has helped open a new hydrological station at a dam near the Afghan capital, Kabul, as part of its joint efforts with the country’s authorities to better manage water resources in Afghanistan.The station, at Qargha Dam, is one of a network of 174 hydrological stations and 60 snow gauges and meteorological stations being erected around Afghanistan to measure water levels, precipitation, temperature and water quality.The network of stations, a joint effort of FAO, the World Bank and the national Ministry of Energy and Water, is designed to assist in the planning of water supply, irrigation and hydropower projects, as well as in the mitigation of possible droughts and the operation of reservoirs.FAO engineers attending yesterday’s formal opening stressed that Afghanistan – which is slowly trying to recover after decades of war and misrule – can have no food security without water security. A lack of reliable water supplies hampers Afghanistan’s rural economy and can lead to increased rural poverty.FAO said that aside from the building of the new station, Qargha Dam itself went through partial reconstruction work. The dam serves as a popular recreation site for Kabul residents and also provides water for the western part of the city and for 2,000 hectares of land. read more

DR Congo UN mission supports calendar for electoral review process

The operation will kick off in the Kinshasa and Bas-Congo provinces in June and will expand in August to the rest of the vast African nation. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for DRC, Alan Doss, welcomed the move and assured the Electoral Commission of UN support in line with the mandate of the mission, known as MONUC. He said the review process for local elections will complete a national endeavour that began in 2005 with the identification and enrolment of all eligible voters.Meanwhile, MONUC reports that more combatants are continuing to leave the ranks of the ethnic Hutu militia known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), which has been the target of a joint military operation conducted by Rwanda and the DRC.From 1 January to 24 March this year, the mission has helped repatriate 640 fighters and 914 of their dependents. Just last weekend a senior member of the FDLR leadership as well as three other officers, 15 soldiers and their dependents decided to enter the process of voluntary repatriation. “This is a very good decision,” noted Mr. Doss. “By choosing to drop their weapons, they have chosen a better future.”The voluntary disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme for the ex-militia is managed by MONUC. The ex-combatants surrender to joint patrols of the mission and the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC), while civilians are repatriated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).The FDLR and other Rwandan militias have been a key factor in the resurgence of violence last August in North Kivu province, where some 250,000 civilians have been uprooted by fighting. 30 March 2009The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has welcomed the announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission of a timetable for the electoral review process for local polls. read more

UN confirms rising number of influenza AH1N1 infections in more countries

1 May 2009The United Nations health agency – the nerve centre for the global response to the recent outbreak of influenza A(H1N1) infections – today confirmed that over 300 people in almost a dozen countries have contracted the new flu strain. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) stressed that it is “prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention,” the agency considers the imposition of travel restrictions or border closures as ineffective in halting the spread of the virus.“The focus now is on minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally,” WHO said in its latest update concerning the outbreak.As of 14:20 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) today, laboratory confirmed cases of the virus rose to 331 worldwide, up from 236 yesterday, with Mexico reporting 156 infections and nine deaths, as well as the United States reporting 109 confirmed A(H1N1) cases and one death. According to WHO, the other countries reporting laboratory confirmed infections with no deaths are Austria (1), Canada (34), Germany (3), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (3), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (8).For the third consecutive day, WHO places its pandemic alert at Phase 5 – of a six-level warning scale – which means that sustained human to human transmission had been confirmed, with widespread community outbreaks in at least two countries in one WHO region. Acknowledging that there was very little chance that current vaccines used against seasonal influenza could be effective against the new A(H1N1) flu strain, Marie-Paule Kieny, Director of WHO”s Initiative for Vaccine Research, noted that the agency is in discussion with manufacturers to produce an inoculation as soon as possible. “We have no doubt that making a successful vaccine is possible within a relatively short period of time,” said Ms. Kieny. However, the first dosage to leave factories available for immunizing people will take four to six months. read more

UN agencies urge action by G8 leaders to support worlds hungry

Hunger is among the issues on the agenda of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, which comes just two weeks after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that there are now more hungry people in the world than ever before. According to FAO, the most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, it said.“The incidence of both lower incomes due to the economic crisis and persisting high food prices has proved to be a devastating combination for the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the agency stated in a background paper prepared for the summit, scheduled for 8 to 10 July.Meanwhile, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) is urging G8 leaders to boost long-term agricultural production while continuing to support immediate hunger assistance.“We learned a lesson last year when rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger leading to food riots in more than 30 countries. Without food people revolt, migrate or die. None of these are acceptable options,” said Executive Director Josette Sheeran. The Rome-based agency said that global food aid supplies last year were at a 34-year low, and food aid has dropped 35 per cent since 1995.“We cannot afford to lose a generation to malnutrition, starvation and despair,” said Ms. Sheeran. “Addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment in healthy, stable societies.”She added that it is a “false logic” for the world to say that it will either invest in tomorrow’s agriculture or today’s urgent food needs. “There is no question that we must do both,” she stated. 7 July 2009Two United Nations agencies have called on the leaders attending this week’s meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations not to forget the needs of the world’s hungry, whose number is expected to top 1 billion this year, and to take action to ensure food security. read more

DR Congo UN official visits new military operation to ensure civilian protection

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative in DRC Alan Doss met with the governor of North Kivu province, scene of some of the most fierce recent fighting, military and civilian officials of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, know as MONUC, UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the progress of the new operation, called Amani Leo, launched earlier this month.It replaces Operation Kimia II, supported by the UN with helicopter lifts, medical evacuation, fuel, rations and firepower to keep rebels in North and South Kivu provinces from reclaiming areas previously under its control, during which Congolese soldiers are alleged to have committed massacres and gang-rapes.In December, Mr. Ban said MONUC had suspended logistical and other support for national army units when there were sufficient grounds to believe their operations would violate human rights.“The protection of civilians and the means to reinforce this, particularly within the context of operation Amani Leo were at the heart of Mr. Doss’s talks with officials in Goma [North Kivu’s capital],” MONUC said in a news release.“Steps have been take to ensure that, within the execution of this operation, the aspects linked to this protection are in full conformity with the terms of Resolution 1906,” it added, referring to the Security Council resolution of 23 December last year, which called on UN peacekeepers to “use all necessary means” to protect civilians from threats from any party. The main target of both operations has been the mainly Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as FDLR, and a MONUC news release earlier this month said Amani Leo’s “principal objectives are to protect civilian populations, clear strategic areas of negative forces, hold territory liberated from FDLR control, and assist in restoring State authority in these zones.”Mr. Doss visited former FDLR fighters who have recently emerged from the forests and laid down their arms under a MONUC programme for demobilization, repatriation and reintegration. They told him many of their fellow rebels want to join them but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to desert because of the reinforced surveillance by their commanders.Mr. Doss assured them that MONUC would spare no effort in facilitating the demobilization of FDLR fighters and their dependents with Mani Leo’s multidimensional framework. So far 1,500 former fighters and 2,000 dependents have been repatriated.Since its inception 10 years MONUC, with a current strength of some 22,000 military and police personnel, has seen a return to relative stability in much of the vast country, culminating in the first democratic elections in more than 40 years. But fierce fighting has persisted in the east, particularly in North and South Kivu, where Hutu militants blamed for the Rwandan genocide of 1994 have fled, compounding hostilities in a region already beset by ethnic tensions. 19 January 2010The top United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been visiting the war-torn east of the vast country for talks on reinforcing the protection of civilians within the context of a new anti-rebel operation launched by the national army with UN support. read more

Ban stresses rights responsibilities in China address

“With China’s rise … comes great expectations and great responsibilities,” the Secretary-General told a roundtable discussion on global governance and harmonious society. “China’s voice and example are critical.”“The values embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are timeless and shared, yet unrealized in far too much of the globe,” he said. “We must continue to work together to make those rights real in people’s lives. That will take a global effort.”“In this respect, I welcome China’s commitment to building a rule-of-law society and its notable advances in that ongoing journey,” the Secretary-General added.Mr. Ban stressed that achieving the “shared goals of human rights around the world is more than an aspiration. It is a foundation of peace and harmony in our modern world. So too is respect for freedom of expression and the protection of its defenders.”On climate change, Mr. Ban thanked the Chinese government for hosting the latest round of talks in Tianjin and called for China’s further engagement and support. He said he had discussed the changing international situation in his talks with Chinese leaders, including the forthcoming referenda in Sudan. On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.“With the coming referenda… we are at a critical moment,” he said. “I asked your government’s help in assisting the two sides find their way to a peaceful future, recognizing their shared interests.” “We also recognized that China has a strong interest in strengthening its role in United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding. In this regard, Sudan represents an important passage in our growing partnership,” Mr. Ban added.On Myanmar, the Secretary-General stressed China’s critical role in supporting UN efforts to help its neighbour find a wary “toward a more open, democratic and inclusive political future.” He said there was great potential for China and the UN to work together to calm tensions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to revive the Six-Party talks with a view to gradually bringing DPRK to “a more open, mutually cooperative relationship with the international community.” 3 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underlined China’s responsibilities on global issues including human rights, climate change, global diplomacy and development, in a speech at China’s Central Party School in Beijing. read more

UN food experts call for increased agricultural investment to offset soaring prices

“Policy-related solutions are also required to increase the longer-term resilience of global agriculture to allow greater levels of supply to markets as demand grows,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Senior Economist Jamie Morrison told a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).“Particular attention is needed to increase smallholder productivity growth and to their increased integration into markets,” he added, noting that in many countries many smallholders are semi-subsistence producers but net food buyers. “Support to ensure more farmers are willing and able to generate marketable surpluses will be critical in meeting increased demands in the future. To achieve this increased investment is paramount.”He said public sector investment is needed to establish the basic conditions for productivity growth and this will require a reversal of the decline in aid flows to agriculture and increased national budget allocations, but most of the needed investment will have to come from the private sector in national economies.David Nabarro, coordinator of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security, cited under-investment among four challenges in the overall food security situation, along with the soaring prices, weather-related disasters such as droughts, floods and fires, and political changes and instability that are disrupting food supply chains.“A point that we’ve been maintaining now for the last 30 years [is] that there is systematic and serious under-investment in agriculture and food security and that’s a problem now, but it’ll be a much greater problem as we move towards 2015,” he later told a news conference.All speakers stressed that it was the poorest and most vulnerable who suffered most, with the higher prices taking an exponentially greater bite out of their already meagre resources and forcing them to eat less and less nutritious food and skimp even more on other vital needs such as health and education. But they suggested the situation was not as bad as the 2008 food crisis.The latest FAO Food Price Index averaged 231 points in January, up 3.4 per cent from December and the highest level since it started in 1990, above 2008. Another measure, the World Bank’s food price index, rose by 15 per cent between October and January and is now only 3 per cent below its 2008 peak. Whichever measure is used, the result is the same: 44 million more people thrown into extreme poverty.“The situation is extremely precarious,” said Paul Larsen, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Director of Multilateral Relations. “There is every reason for urgency, no reason for complacency. But this time, there will no ‘silent tsunami.’ The situation is different from 2008. The world is aware of the risks. The global community, the UN and Bretton Woods (global financial) system is fully engaged, more coherent and prepared to act.”Mr. Nabarro told ECOSOC that not all regions are reporting higher food prices and crop harvest and food availability are ample in several poorer countries with grain prices, especially for rice, remaining relatively stable.“This suggests that we are not in the midst of a world food crisis,” he said. “However, WFP’s assessments of which communities are vulnerable to price rises and supply shortages, and unable to access the nutrition they need, suggest that where prices are higher, the majority of poor families, especially if they lack social protection, are in difficulty.”He stressed the need to deal with the twin problems of volatility and the impact on the poor in preparing for a crisis response. Volatile prices that move up and down quickly without clear links to market fundamentals of supply and demand make it hard for farmers to make wise decisions about when and how to increase production. He said that speculation played a role in the price rise although it was not yet clear to what extent.As for those most affected by the price hikes, Mr. Nabarro underscored the need for expanded and improved safety nets enabling vulnerable people to access nutritious food and other basic needs, and cited other response measures such as advance purchases and pre-positioning of stocks. “It is clear that even if prices stay as they are this year, the need for safety nets will increase and if additional funds are provided now they can be used more efficiently than if they come in the midst of a crisis,” he said. 18 February 2011Faced with soaring food prices for the second time in three years, senior United Nations experts today called for greater investment in agriculture from both the public and private sectors to increase smallholder productivity. read more