Joint statement by heads of UN humanitarian agencies on Syria

(New York, Geneva, Rome) April 23, 2014 — One year ago, as leaders of UN agencies struggling to deal with the growing human impact of the Syrian crisis, we issued an urgent appeal on behalf of millions of people whose lives and futures hang in the balance: Enough, we said, enough!

That appeal has gone largely unanswered. The war escalates in many areas. The humanitarian situation deteriorates day after day.  And for the civilians remaining in the cities of Aleppo and the Old City of Homs, as well as other parts of the country experiencing heavy fighting, the worst days seem yet to come.
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Haiti braces for Tropical Storm Emily

(UNITED NATIONS) August 3, 2011 — Nearly 12,000 United Nations peacekeepers are on emergency standby in Haiti as tropical storm Emily barrels towards the impoverished Caribbean country, which is still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.3 million others.

Some contingents of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which comprises 8,500 troops and 3,000 police, have already been deployed as a precautionary measure in regions that are most at risk from the storm, which is expected to hit the country overnight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Security Council underscores need for timely, credible Sudanese referenda

(October 14, 2010) UNITED NATIONS – The two referenda on self-determination slated for January in Sudan must be held on time, in a credible manner and in line with the 2005 peace pact that ended the long-running north-south civil war, members of the Security Council, who are just back from a visit to the country, said today.

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.

The referenda will be the final phase in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of conflict between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.

“The purpose of our visit was to underscore that the UN Security Council is united in its desire to see Sudan’s referenda on self-determination carried out in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, who led the southern Sudan leg of last week’s mission, told a meeting of the Council.

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Pakistan in urgent need as floods displace millions of people

(UNITED NATIONS) The response from donors to a request to assist millions of people affected by floods in Pakistan is encouraging, with nearly half of the $460 million required having been received, but the contributions are far from sufficient given the magnitude of the disaster, the United Nations reported yesterday.

Some $227.8 million or 49.6 per cent of the total amount requested by UN agencies and NGO partners in the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP) has so far been received, while another $42 million has been pledged, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“We thank donors for their generosity, and ask them to keep up this accelerated pace of donations. The road ahead remains long. We should all also be ready for any increase in requirements,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Watching this disaster unfold, the world increasingly understands its immense magnitude,” said Mr. Holmes. “I am glad that we now see a more positive response to the calls of the Secretary-General and the humanitarian community for increased and faster funding,” he added, referring to the visit by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Pakistan on Sunday.

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UNHCR praises Canadian response to Sri Lanka refugees

(United Nations) – The United Nations refugee agency said yesterday it is encouraged by the way Canadian authorities have handled the situation involving 490 Sri Lankan nationals of Tamil origin who arrived by boat to the country last week and have claimed asylum.

The group, which includes men, women and children, were passengers of the cargo ship MV Sun Sea that docked at Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia on Friday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted that the reception site for the arrivals was well designed, and that needs in terms of information gathering, food and water have been well anticipated.

“Based on what we have seen thus far, we commend the exemplary work of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in coordinating the arrival and reception of the MV Sun Sea passengers,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Kidman visits Haiti, advocates greater protection for women and girls

Actress Nicole Kidman, wrapping up a visit to Haiti Saturday in her role as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, stressed the need to tackle gender-based violence and support initiatives that advance women’s livelihoods as the country rebuilds after the January earthquake.

Accompanied by Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Ms. Kidman visited with people affected by the disaster, which killed more than 200,000 people and caused severe destruction and damage in large swathes of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other areas.

They met survivors of violence living in a temporary camp, Haitian and UN officials, and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to support women’s needs as part of the recovery efforts.

“During this trip I saw first-hand how this humanitarian disaster is impacting women and girls. The lack of shelter and security makes them more vulnerable to violence, in particular sexual violence,” said Ms. Kidman.

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UN: Don’t force refugees back to Somalia

The United Nations again appealed to governments worldwide not to forcibly return refugees to Somalia, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and some two million displaced by years of fighting, as the situation deteriorates even further in the Horn of Africa country.

“We are appealing to all States to uphold their international obligations with regard to non-refoulement,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva, citing the principle in international law on protecting people from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be in danger. Read the rest of this entry »