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un-building-350-230The United Nations is the one organization with the vision and reach to address the world’s most pressing challenges. When disaster strikes, the world turns to one organization for hope, help, leadership, and coordi­nation: the United Nations. When there is peace to keep between warring factions, the world asks the UN to mobilize peacekeepers, oversee elections, and create stability. In the face of challenges such as climate change, disease or poverty, the United Nations provides the platform for international cooperation.

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UN Updates: April 28, 2016

SG Travel: The Secretary-General addressed both houses of the Austrian parliament in Vienna earlier today, becoming the first foreign leader to do so. In his speech, he said that the world urgently needed global citizenship to address the many threats it faces. He said that he recognized the generosity shown so far by the people and governments of Europe to migrants and refugees, not least in Austria. The SG added that he was, however, concerned that European countries were now adopting increasingly restrictive immigration and refugee policies. Policies and measures negatively affect the obligations of Member States under international humanitarian law and European law. The SG also said he was alarmed about growing xenophobia and that all of Europe’s leaders should live up to the principles that have guided the continent. He has spent much of the day chairing the UN system’s Chief Executives Board for Coordination that brings together the top 30 leaders from the UN system twice a year.

Syria: The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said the latest round of intra-Syrian talks have been overshadowed by a substantial and worrisome deterioration of the cessation of hostilities. Noting the Aleppo attack, among others, he said that in the previous 48 hours, there had been an average of one Syrian killed every 25 minutes and one Syrian wounded every 13 minutes. The parties have agreed on the urgent need for a true and credible political transition. They share an understanding that a credible political transition should be overseen by new, credible and inclusive transitional governance, which should include members of the present Government, the opposition, independents and others. They agreed that Syria requires a new constitution. Mr. de Mistura said that the next round of talks will be meaningful only if the cessation of hostilities is restored to the level we saw in February and in March. He urged the US and Russia to work together urgently to address that matter, before a new round of talks can be scheduled.

Today, the Security Council heard from the USG for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, who urged the members of the Council to explore every possible avenue to end the violence in Syria. He noted that, just today, the Syrian Government reportedly restarted aerial bombardment in Dara’a Governorate for the first time since the cessation of hostilities began. Speaking by videoconference from Vienna, O’Brien said that humanitarian access cannot be a one-off event and cannot be limited to certain types of aid. The current levels of access still leave civilians starving and without medical care. He noted that medicines and medical supplies continue to be removed from aid convoys. He drew particular attention to humanitarian needs in areas where access has regularly been denied.

Yemen: The Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, held several rounds of talks yesterday in Kuwait on a general framework for negotiations proposed by the UN to end the conflict in Yemen. The sessions included an overview of the proposal, together with its associated implementation and coordination mechanisms. The talks also addressed ways to strengthen the De-Escalation and Coordination Committee and the issues related to the withdrawal of armed groups, the handover of heavy weapons, the resumption of the political transition and the release of prisoners and detainees. The Special Envoy said that a positive atmosphere prevailed throughout the discussions despite the clear differences between the delegations on key issues. He said that, while divergences are to be expected, it is crucial that all parties make concessions for the sake of the country and its people, in order to reach a comprehensive political agreement and restore security and stability.

South Sudan: The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has strongly condemned the attack that took place on April 25 against its compound in Bentiu, where a rocket propelled grenade landed inside the perimeter of the compound and partly damaged one of the containers located in the humanitarian hub. Initial investigations indicate that the projectile, along with earlier small arms fire, was directly targeted at the Mission’s compound. The location of the compound is well known and there were no known armed forces in the vicinity of the base at the time of the attack. The UN reminds all South Sudanese actors of the sanctity of UN staff, equipment and installations, including the Protection of Civilians sites and their residents.

Central African Republic: The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reported that it has increased patrols and established a Temporary Operating Base in Koui following clashes earlier this week between anti-Balaka and Retour, Reclamations, Rehabilitation elements in Ouham-Pende prefecture. The Mission has also re-enforced patrols in Mambere-Kadé, in the south-west of the country, after anti-Balaka elements reportedly attacked other anti-Balaka elements yesterday near Amada-Gaza, wounding two people.

Croatia: Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is visiting Zagreb, Croatia today and tomorrow as part of preparations for his regular bi-yearly report to the Security Council. The Prosecutor is scheduled to meet with high-ranking Croatian officials to discuss the progress in the prosecution of cases transferred from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia. Brammertz will present his next report to the Security Council in June.

Georgia: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) are joining forces to eradicate an animal disease called Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), which strikes livestock, specifically goats and sheep. The first case of PPR has been reported in the Republic of Georgia recently, but the viral disease has been registered so far among the livestock of 76 countries, it’s been killing millions of animals each year significantly affecting the local economies. The outbreak in Georgia, near the borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan marked new territory for the disease, which is particularly lethal upon contact with unprotected animals. FAO and OIE experts recommend vaccination of 800,000 sheep and goats in the South Caucasus region.

Asia-Pacific: The latest Economic and Social Survey for Asia and Pacific says that increasing productivity remains the key to revive economic growth and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region. Produced by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the report stresses the need for higher, targeted fiscal spending, enhanced skills, better infrastructure, and improved agricultural productivity. Since 2007, the annual average productivity growth in the region has declined from 2.8% to just below 1%, according to the Survey. 

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