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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: October 17, 2014

*Keywords: SG=Secretary-General, DSG=Deputy Secretary-General 

Syria: The UN Special Representative for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met today in Beirut with the head of Lebanon’s Future Parliamentary Bloc, Fuad Siniora. Talking to the press, Mr. de Mistura emphasized the UN’s concern about the stability of Lebanon and the urgency to move ahead with the political process in Syria. Meanwhile, UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos is expected to meet senior Turkish officials, local authorities, humanitarian partners and refugees in Ankara and Gaziantep from October 18 - 20.

Ebola: The WFP and its partners announced the beginning of a food distribution in the outskirts of the capital of Freetown, Sierra Leone to 265,000 people, marking the biggest one-off food distribution in the country since the start of the Ebola outbreak. The aim of the distribution is to stabilize quarantined families by giving them enough to eat so that they do not have to leave their homes to look for food.

South Sudan: UNMISS and the WFP condemned the abduction of their staff in Malakal. On October 10, three contractors employed by UNMISS were seized by an unidentified armed group of men in uniformed and civilian clothes. The following day, two workers were released while the third worker is still missing. Yesterday, a staff member of the WFP was similarly seized by a group of armed men at the same airfield while he was boarding a UN flight. The staff member is still missing.

CAR: WHO called last night on armed groups to respect the safety and integrity of medical facilities in the country’s capital Bangui. More than 159 wounded people have been received in medical facilities since the violence flared up in Bangui a week ago and more than 3,000 people have been displaced since October 14, including many children.

Nigeria: Amid an intensifying campaign of violence committed by insurgent groups in north-eastern Nigeria, the number of refugees fleeing the conflict into the neighboring States has steadily increased significantly, the UNHCR warned today. The ongoing refugee crisis has seen more than 62,000 people spill over into Niger’s Diffa region since the beginning of 2014, while Cameroon is currently also hosting some 44,000 Nigerian refugees. According to authorities, another 1,600 have fled to Chad.

DRC: The Head of the UN Mission in the DRC, Martin Kobler, condemned recent attacks against the population in North Kivu. He met today with the families of the twenty people killed in Beni overnight between October 15 and 16. This extremely violent attack followed the death of several civilians in Oicha a week ago. Both attacks were allegedly committed by elements of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group. Mr. Kobler reiterated the common determination of MONUSCO and the Congolese forces to neutralize all armed groups in Eastern DRC, including the ADF.

Refugees: UNHCR today reported a sharp increase this year in the number of migrants and asylum seekers who have died in attempts to go to Yemen, mainly from the Horn of Africa. More people have died in 2014 than in the last three years combined. The latest tragic incident happened earlier this month, when 64 migrants and three crew members died when their vessel was sailing from Somalia, and sank in the Gulf of Aden.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: In his message marking the Day, the SG noted that despite reaching the MDGs’ target of halving the number of people living in poverty ahead of time, 2.4 billion people still live on less than $2 a day. He thus called on the world to recommit to act together against extreme poverty and warned that “entrenched poverty and prejudice can undermine the fabric of societies and lead to instability”.

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