Russia calls for calm in Sudan

first_imgMoscow: Russia on Thursday called for calm in Sudan and expressed hope that close bilateral ties would not be threatened, irrespective of who was in power. Huge crowds of Sudanese demanding the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir massed in the centre of Khartoum as the army promised an “important announcement” after months of protests. “We are monitoring this situation very carefully,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “And we are hoping that first and foremost there won’t be an escalation that could claim human lives,” he said, calling the protests an “internal affair”. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”We expect that whatever the outcome, Russian-Sudanese relations” will be a priority for Khartoum, Peskov said. Russia has been trying to expand its footprint in Africa and said in January that it had sent “instructors” to Sudan, following reports of sightings of Russian-speaking soldiers in Khartoum. Putin met Bashir last July in Moscow where the Sudanese leader said Russia was playing an important role in “preparing Sudanese military personnel”. The protests, which erupted in December over the government’s tripling of the price of bread, have become the biggest challenge to Bashir’s iron-fisted rule spanning three decades.last_img read more

US dollar falls amid weaker manufacturing data

first_imgNew York: The US dollar decreased in late trading on Friday, as investors digested a mixed batch of US economic data, amid worries over slowing activities in the manufacturing sector. In late New York trading, the euro increased to $1.1194 from $1.1175 in the previous session, and the British pound rose to $1.3164 from $1.3027 in the previous session, Xinhua news agency reported. The Australian dollar was up to $0.7014 from $0.6997. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraThe US dollar bought 111.09 Japanese yen, lower than 111.49 Japanese yen of the previous session. The US dollar fell to 1.0174 Swiss franc from 1.0193 Swiss franc, and it decreased to 1.3427 Canadian dollars from 1.3470 Canadian dollars. The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index declined to 55.5 per cent in April, 0.6 percentage point down from 56.1 per cent in March, which marks the slowest reading since August 2017, said the not-for-profit professional supply management organization on Friday. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 days The reading fell far short of an estimate of 57.5 per cent by economists polled by MarketWatch. The disappointing data has partially offset robust US job statistics in April. US total non-farm payroll employment increased by 263,000 in April, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 per cent, said the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, pointing to a bullish labor market. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, decreased 0.31 per cent at 97.5208 in late trading.last_img read more

Morocco Ranks Second in Cyber Security in MENA Region report

first_imgCasablanca – Right behind Oman, Morocco is second in the North African and Middle Eastern region in terms of Cyber security, based on a project that has identified 17 performance indicators in 5 categories.Morocco has been ranked second behind Oman in the Cyber Security Global Index (GCI), on the sidelines of the International Telecommunication Union congress (ITU), held in Bangkok, Thailand, under the theme “A conversation that matters.”With a total score of 0.559 points, Morocco came second after Oman (0.765 points). The kingdom, which has the highest rate of connectivity, comes ahead of its North African neighbors, namely Egypt and Tunisia, whereas Sudan ranks fifth. The ranking takes into account 17 performance indicators in five categories that are legal, technical, organizational, as well as capacity building and cooperation. According to the GCI, the goal is to publish five other regional indexes to eventually constitute an overall index.“The GCI project is a joint effort between ITU and ABI Research, a market intelligence company specializing in global technology markets,” stated representatives of the organizations.As stated in the joint agreement, the Telecommunication Development Bureau (TDB), responsible for supporting developing countries in ITU, ABI Research and Ibra College of Technology (ICT), are developing mechanisms of classification, performing primary research and national reference capacities.The purpose of the GCI is to promote government strategies at the national level and ensure their implementation in all industries and sectors.It is also aimed at integrating security into the base of technological progress and promoting a global culture of cyber security. In this sense, some countries like Morocco have in recent years developed strategies to enhance computer security.According to Daily LaVieEco, only 11 African countries currently have what is called a CERT, Computer Emergency Response Team, an organization that “handles computer security incidents.”Morocco, along with Tunisia, Sudan and Egypt, are the only Arab countries to have a CERT team.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

UK New AllGirl Muslim School Opened its Doors Encourages Academic Excellence

Taroudante- A new all-girl Muslim school opened its doors in the city of Coventry, West Midlands, England, encouraging students to aspire to high positions in the country by joining top universities, according to the local Coventry telegraph.For now, the school serves students in temporary buildings on Lincoln Street, Foleshill while permanent premises are still under construction.The school hosts 153 students so far.  All girls are aged 11 to 13 years, and the school aims to eventually host high school students up of to 18 years old. During her speech in the first assembly of the newly opened Eden Girls School, Asiyah Ravat, head of the school, encouraged students to aim for “best universities to become a lawyer or surgeon, or even running the country as Prime Minister.”In the same speech, (If you are referring to the “source” as the speech. If not, clarify the source), Mrs Ravat said: “We are aiming to be a non-selective grammar school. At the first assembly, we talked about aspirations.”“I said that standing in front of me might be a future British Prime Minister as well as future surgeons and lawyers.The new all-girl school has set certain strict rules that every pupil must respect.While the headscarf, mandated to be purple, is optional, the school does not allow students to wear trousers, and applying make up or wearing jewelry is strictly forbidden.The uniform is a navy blazer with purple piping, an ankle-length navy skirt, a white blouse, and bags must be black.All lessons will start and end with a special prayer.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed. read more

Ryan Giggs is the Best Replacement for Van Gaal Rio Ferdinand

Rabat – Rio Ferdinand, English former Manchester United’s center-back, is of the opinion that Ryan Giggs is the best option to replace Louis Van Gaal when the Dutch manager leaves the club at the end of his contract in 2017.As United’s manager, Van Gaal might, has reportedly decided not extend his contract at Old Trafford any further than the following season, the former Red Devils defender has suggested Ryan Giggs to be the perfect man for the job, reported UK’s Express.Ryan Giggs, 41, is the assistant manager at Manchester and he is tipped to be promoted to take Van Gaal’s place. “He grew into where he is now. Towards the end of my time there you could see it more. So it’s a natural progression,” commented Ferdinand to The Sun.Ferdinand, 36, has known the Welsh coach for a long time as they shared the pitch for 12 years as teammates at the British club.The English star had good words for his friend: “You can see that he [Giggs] loves the game and is a student of the game by taking all of his coaching badges”.“Ryan was in and around the coaching staff” when Scottish manager David Moyes coached the club, Ferdinand, who played with the Red Devils from 2002 to 2014, said according to the same source.It remains to be seen if Giggs will take the job and become United’s main man when Van Gaal leaves Old Trafford. read more

Banque Populaire Inaugurates Representative Office in Washington DC

Washington D.C. – The President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurated on Tuesday in Washington, a new representative office in Washington D.C., making BCP the first ever Moroccan financial institution to open a representative office in the United States.The President and Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, Rachad Bouhlal, together cut the ribbon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the new office on Connecticut Avenue. The event was, attended by Ambassadors from six other African countries, hi-level officials of BCP, members of the Moroccan community in the greater Washington area, New York, Texas, and other states, as well a number of American business leaders.Speaking during a celebratory dinner held afterward at the Mayflower Hotel, Mr. Benchaâboun said that the Representative Office, which received approval by the U.S. Federal Reserve in March 2014, “will facilitate the business relationship of the Moroccan community with Banque Populaire and put at the disposal of all of its customers the necessary information on financial products and services offered by the bank in Morocco.” Noting that the Moroccan community had clearly expressed its “wish to see a first class Moroccan financial group established” in the U.S., he said, “Well — we listened.”“Through the services offered by our Representative Office in Washington,” he continued, the 450,000 Moroccans in the U.S. “now have access to the banking, financial services, and benefits offered by the entire Banque Centrale Populaire network in Morocco.“Our office serves as an intermediary between you and your bank in Morocco to open checking and savings accounts, apply for loans, use multiple investment instruments that are available in Morocco, and access Banque Populaire’s banking expertise to develop financing solutions for either your personal business or your business projects in Morocco. This is the primary purpose of our Representative Office and its fundamental mission.”He went on to add that BCP will also take the necessary steps to establish agreements with the major U.S. financial institutions to make available to Moroccans “in the very near future” the means to make secure money transfers are faster and at reduced cost. “I know how important this is to you,” he said, highlighting the fact that money transfers received in Morocco from the United States had exceeded $500 million in 2014.Mr. Benchaâboun pointed out that one of the group’s primary goals is to continue to play its role of “link” between Moroccans living abroad and their country of origin.“The opening of the representative office is also part of our strategy to further strengthen our relations with the Moroccan diaspora wherever it resides, and enable its members to be close as possible to their regions of origin,” he noted.Another important function of the Representative Office is to facilitate investment from the U.S., an area in which he said, “Our Representative Office in Washington has an extremely important role to play.” The office will “give potential American investors a better window on opportunities available” under the bank’s programs, and “allow us to bring all of the Group’s expertise to bear on implementing those opportunities,” he said.“But that is not all,” he continued. The representative office in Washington has also been assigned the mission of identifying, promoting, and facilitating the “huge, as yet unexploited” opportunities of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Morocco and the United States in 2004.Noting that establishing the Representative Office had not been easy, Mr. Benchaâboun sincerely thanked Ambassador Bouhlal for his “unfailing and constant support” of the project, especially during the “long and arduous” Federal Reserve approval process.President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurating Banque Populaire’s office in Washington D.CAmbassador Bouhlal, also offered some brief remarks, stressing that the inauguration of the new Moroccan banking platform of BCP is part of the spirit and letter of the “exceptional partnership between Morocco and the United States, particularly after the historic visit by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in Washington in November 2013, and the summit meeting at the White House between the Sovereign and President Barack Obama.”He noted that such a move carries “promising prospects” for the development of economic and business relations, particularly in a tripartite approach that engages U.S., Moroccan, and sub-Saharan Africa business, in line with the ambitious partnership that tops the African strategy implemented by King Mohammed VI.In a surprise move at the end of the dinner, the Moroccan community expressed its appreciation to BCP’s management, and presented engraved plaques to Mr. Benchaâboun, to the General Manager of BCP in charge of the project, Mr. Läidi El Wardi, and to Samira Hadri, the first head of BCP’s Representative Office in the U.S. read more

Royal Air Maroc Honored for Serving Liberia During Ebola Epidemic

Rabat – The Liberia Airport Authority honored last Thursday at the Firestone Staff Club in Harbel Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines for continuing service to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak.During the height of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and other West African countries, nearly all airlines cancelled their flights to those affected countries except for Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s national carrier.Gbehzohngar Findley, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Airport Authority, said, “Because of the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, Liberia was nearly isolated from the international community for fear that the country could further spread the virus.” “The two airlines remained faithful to continue their services in the midst of the challenges,” he added.The chairman expressed his government’s gratitude and thanked for the airlines’ services during the Ebola period, “when the country needed to bring in specialists, drugs, and the necessary equipment that were needed.”Wil Bako Freeman, the Liberia Airport Authority Managing Director, said, “Royal Air Maroc has been a reliable partner since it started servicing Roberts International Airport and through the Ebola outbreak.”Loudyi Mohammed Amine, the Country Manager for Royal Air Maroc, thanked the government and the people of Liberia for the recognition, promising that the airlines would increase its services to the country in the coming years.In an exclusive interview with the magazine Jeune Afrique last month, Driss Benhima, CEO of Royal Air Morocco, unveiled plans for the national airline’s expansion by first setting up in West Africa. read more

Morocco Wins 33rd Tunisia International Cycling Tour

Rabat – Moroccan cycling team won the 33rd Tunisia International Cycling Tour, held on May 21-24 May, while Moroccan cyclist Essaid Abelouach got the green jersey for the best climber.The Moroccan squad led the team standing, followed by the continental team “Al Marakeb,” while the Emirati team of Sharjah ranked third.Nearly 70 cyclists representing 12 teams from Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Morocco took part in the 33rd Tunisia International Tour, a leg of the UCI Africa Tour. With MAP

Morocco Launches Initiative for African Agriculture to Adapt to Climate Change

By Soumaya El FilaliRabat – The Moroccan government, at COP22 Climate talks in Marrakesh, launched a new initiative to help African agriculture adapt to climate change. Under the name of Triple A, the initiative aims to determine factors and carry on actions that will not only transform and strengthen African agriculture but also help it adapt to changing climate.Knowing that six of the ten countries most affected by climate change in the world are in the African continent, the initiative proved to be more crucial than ever. Bruce Campbell of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change said, “This event was a crucial step towards a mutual goal: finding ways to adapt to climate change and finding the funds to make it happen.”The Ambitious Triple A initiative seeks to mobilize $30 billion for Africa to adapt its agriculture global warming.While global efforts being at rest untill May 2017 will not make this task an easy one, many view this as an opportunity for Africa to take the lead in integrating agriculture adaptation in its climate change strategy by showing strong regional efforts and actions.Mohamed Ait Kadi, president of the General Council of Agricultural Development in Morocco, said: “We have billed this COP as a COP for Africa, providing a unique opportunity to showcase action for Africa, in Africa. The Paris Agreement explicitly refers to safeguarding food security. In my view, the willingness to address agriculture and food security finally appears to be having some impact.”If  proved to be successful, the Triple A initiative carries promising results of not only an increase in production from $280 billion to $880 billion by 2030, but also an increase in average crop yields as well as  significant decrease in drought and greenhouse gas emissions.Many praised and encouraged the initiative, such as Eduador Mansur, Director of the Land and Water Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.“The AAA initiative touches our heart, because of the opportunity it gives for South-South cooperation – there is so much to learn…we need to let this knowledge flow from one country to another,” he said. read more

RedOne and Daddy Yankee in a Recreation Trip in Marrakech

Rabat – After visiting the blue city of Chefchaouen, Moroccan music producer Red One and Puerto Rican musician Daddy Yankee arrived in Marrakech on September 11, making their stay in the red city known to their fans on social media.The singer of the global hit “Despacito” posted on his Instagram account several pictures and videos of his stay in the red city.Together with Red One and free-fight champion Abou Azaitar, Daddy Yankee made a tour of the Jamaa El Fna square, taking pictures by a juice shop and at a clothing store in the city’s old medina. “Enjoying great times with my people in Morocco, loving Morocco!” wrote Daddy Yankee in one of his Instagram pictures in English, Arabic, and Spanish.The Moroccan artist and the Puerto Rican singer are currently working on a duo project. read more

French Counterterrorism Agency Fails to Communicate Crucial Information about Trèbes Attacker

By Hajare El KhaldiRabat – The head of the Moroccan counterterrorism agency has declared that France did not warn the kingdom about the Moroccan origins of the gunman responsible for the Trèbes attack, despite suspicion of potential radical ties.   The Director of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, Abdelhak Khiame, told the U.S-based news agency the Associated Press on Tuesday that the bureau was not properly notified of the attacker’s radical positions.  This came as a surprise to the counterterrorism agency and the French authorities, who usually maintain an active information exchange about individuals with dual French-Moroccan citizenship. Although French authorities had been monitoring the attacker, identified as Radouane Lakdim, before Friday’s deadly incident, they failed to alert the Moroccan bureau.“His [Lakdim’s] country of birth should have been notified that its [a Moroccan] national was under surveillance by French security,” said Khiame.According to police investigations, the 25 year-old suspect of the attack in Trèbes was born in Morocco on April 11, 1992, but moved to France with his family in 2004 and consequently obtained French citizenship.Following the attack in Trèbes, the Moroccan counterterrorism agency investigated Lakdim’s family, but found no signs of alarming radical beliefs. Khiame added that throughout all of Lakdim’s visits and vacations in Morocco (the last of which was in 2012), the police never uncovered any suspicious evidence about him.French media and opposition politicians have put Moroccan authorities’ competence into question, considering that the suspect was being monitored, but went unnoticed. The French Counterterrorism prosecutor, Francois Molins, even stated that Lakdim has been on police’s radicalization watch list since 2014, and was still being monitored by French intelligence in the days up leading to the attack.  However, even the prosecutor maintained that the surveillance could not discern any signs of violent intentions or a desire to join the Islamic state extremist group, which claimed responsibility for the terrorist act.  Khiame has claimed that the counterterrorism agency has furthered its efforts to monitor Moroccans abroad in Europe and cooperate with European countries in identifying persons suspected of extremist religious beliefs. However, the French authorities evidently did same not exhibit the same degree of collaboration toward its Moroccan counterterrorism partnership.Lakdim’s 18 year-old partner, identified as Marine P., and one of his underage friends, have been held in police custody in order to “determine the origins of the gun the terrorist used, and the circumstances under which he [Lakdim] obtained the weapon, as well as eventual complicities.” On Tuesday, Marine P., who denied involvement in Lakdim’s plans, was preliminarily charged with associating with a criminal terrorist, while the perpetrator’s 17-year-old male friend was released due to a lack of evidence for the conviction. read more

CAF President Not Sure Cameroon Is Ready to Host CAN 2019

Rabat – The head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has questioned whether Cameroon is ready to host Africa’s biggest football event next year.Ahmad Ahmad has questioned Cameroon’s ability to host in 2019.Ahmad Ahmad also opened the door of speculations that the location of the  Africa Cup of Nations might be changed. “I am not sure Cameroon is ready to host the AFCON,”  Ahmad told KweséESPN on Monday, August 27.He added that “there are many things which are still wanting and yet there is little time left.”In 2017, Ahmad had asked the African country to make more efforts to convince the confederation that they were able to host CAN 2019.Ahmad also said CAF now sends experts to inspect the host country selected as the host of the competition.CAF’s experts were sent in August 2017, but it is unclear what their decision has been.The experts, however, do not seem to be satisfied with what Cameroon has offered so far.“It would be dangerous to risk African players, especially the professionals plying their trade in Europe and other continents, to play under difficult conditions and facilities,” Ahmad said in his recent statement to KweséESPN.There were speculations that Morocco was interested in hosting the tournament. Head of Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports both  denied the rumors, emphasizing that Cameroon would host the tournament, and Morocco had not thought about replacing it.The CAF president also said in an interview with Cameroon outlet Camfoot published August 9 that the competition “will be held in Cameroon … until proven otherwise.” CAN 2019 will boast the participation of 24 national teams, up from the usual 16. For the qualifier games, Morocco will play against Malawi September 8 in Casablanca, Comoros on October 10, and Cameroon on November 17.Despite its difficulties preparing for the continental tournament, Cameroonian presidential candidate Joshua Osih wants his country to present its candidature as a potential host for the 2030 World Cup. read more

The end of a fantastic era – a look back on the

The speed and elegant appearance of the Concorde inspired awe. Its ear-rattling sonic booms irritated people on the ground and led to restrictions on where the jet could fly.The Concorde’s maiden flight was 50 years ago this month. Although the plane went out of service in 2003, its delta-wing design and drooping nose still make it instantly recognizable even to people who have never seen one in person.The Concorde was the world’s first supersonic passenger plane. It was a technological marvel and a source of pride in Britain and France, whose aerospace companies joined forces to produce the plane.Its first flight occurred on March 2, 1969, in Toulouse, France. The test flight lasted 28 minutes. British Airways and Air France launched passenger flights in 1976.With four jet engines and afterburners, the plane could fly at twice the speed of sound and cruised at close to 60,000 feet, far above other airliners. It promised to revolutionize long-distance travel by cutting flying time from the U.S. East Coast to Europe from eight hours to three and a half hours.Depending on the layout, the plane could seat up to 128 passengers, far fewer than on many other planes flying the trans-Atlantic routes. The relative scarcity of seats and the plane’s high operating costs made tickets expensive — typically several thousand dollars — so it was mostly reserved for the wealthy and famous, occasionally royalty.In the U.S., the plane flew mainly to New York and Washington and attracted quite a buzz. In the mid-1980s, men dressed as Union and Confederate soldiers to re-enact a Civil War battle in Virginia paused in mid-skirmish to gaze up at a Concorde flying into nearby Dulles Airport.A Concorde captain raved that the plane flew beautifully, and that the only indication of its speed came from looking down at other jets far below that seemed as if they were flying backward — the Concorde was moving about 800 mph faster.Jamie Baker, an airline analyst and aviation enthusiast, took the plane from New York to London in 2002. Perhaps because it was a morning flight, the mood was more dignified than festive, Baker says. The ride was so smooth that there was hardly any sensation of flight.“No turbulence. No sense of motion, save for the clouds passing by below us,” Baker says. “Concorde was a tool devised to outwit time.”Former Boeing engineer Peter Lemme recalls his 1998 flight as a delight, but cramped.“The seats were more like what we flew domestically in coach,” he says. “The food was excessive,” including caviar, and there was a duty-free cart piled with very expensive items.However, the Concorde never caught on widely. The plane’s economics were challenging, and its sonic booms led it to be banned on many overland routes. Only 20 were built; 14 of which were used for passenger service.As time went on, flights were disrupted by mechanical breakdowns including engine failures and a broken rudder. Reviewers complained about the small cabin, noise, and vibrations that started during takeoff and continued once airborne.The plane’s darkest day came on July 25, 2000, when an Air France Concorde crashed into a hotel and exploded shortly after takeoff in Paris, killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground.Investigators determined that the plane ran over a metal strip that had fallen off another jet on to the runway, damaging a tire. A piece of the tire crashed into the underside of the wing, shockwaves caused a fuel tank to rupture, and the fuel ignited.The planes were grounded for expensive modifications. After 18 months, BA and Air France both resumed flights, but traffic never recovered.It was determined that a more intensive and expensive maintenance schedule would be required to keep the fleet flying. In 2003, BA and Air France both stopped Concorde service.BA’s chief executive called it “the end of a fantastic era in world aviation,” but added that retiring the planes was a prudent business decision.Supersonic transports could yet make a comeback. Several companies are working on models and hope to test them soon.The Associated Press read more

Energy and financials help lift TSX higher US stock markets mixed

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index crept higher in late-morning trading, boosted by gains in the energy and financial sectors.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 11.99 points at 16,514.19.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 6.14 points at 26,446.52. The S&P 500 index was down 2.66 points at 2,904.40, while the Nasdaq composite was up 2.24 points at 8,002.47.The Canadian dollar traded for 75.04 cents US compared with an average of 74.84 cents US on Tuesday.The June crude contract was down 12 cents at US$64.07 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down 4.5 cents at US$2.53 per mmBTU.The June gold contract was down US$1.50 at US$1,275.70 an ounce and the May copper contract was up 4.4 cents at US$2.97 a pound. The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) read more

Health Canada changes cannabis licensing process in bid to cut wait times

OTTAWA — Health Canada says it is changing its process for issuing cannabis licenses in a bid to reduce wait times and better use the agency’s resources.The Ottawa-based agency says new applicants for licences to cultivate, process or sell cannabis must now have a fully built site that meets the regulations when they submit their application.Prior to this, cannabis license applicants could submit an application with their plans and get approval before building.The agency says a “significant” amount of resources has been used to review applications from entities that are not ready to begin operations, contributing to wait times for “more mature applications” and “an inefficient allocation of resources.”Health Canada says over the past three years, more than 70 per cent of licensing applicants which passed its initial paper-based review have yet to submit the required evidence to demonstrate they have built a facility that meets the regulatory requirements.The change comes as cannabis retailers across the country continue to face supply challenges, more than six months after Canada legalized pot for recreational use.The Canadian Press read more

UN tribunal for Rwandan genocide details progress towards completing trials

In a progress report to the Security Council on its efforts to meet the Council-imposed completion strategy, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) estimates that the trials and judgments in the cases of 65 to 70 people should be finished by December 2008.Under the completion strategy, that is the date by when both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), set up in the mid-1990s, are supposed to complete all of their trials, excluding appeals. All work is scheduled to be completed by 2010.So far the ICTR has issued judgments in the cases of 33 people, ICTR President Erik Møse writes, with judgments expected soon in the cases of five other persons. Trials involving 22 further accused are also in progress and eight detainees await trial.Mr. Møse says the 65-70 trial estimate depends on sufficient funds being made available to the Tribunal; the courtroom capacity at Arusha, Tanzania, where the ICTR is based; and the progress of current and future trials.“The Tribunal is committed to bringing to justice those persons who were most responsible for genocide and violations of international humanitarian law that were committed in Rwanda in 1994,” he states, adding that the ICTR “will also leave a legacy of international jurisprudence that can guide future courts and deter the future commission of these grave crimes.”But he also writes that many cases are extremely time-consuming, in part because of their legal and factual complexity and because of the difficulty of ensuring that witnesses are always available.Eighteen indicted persons remain at large, and the report notes that Tribunal prosecutors plan to request the transfer of most of these persons to national jurisdictions for trial. 14 June 2007The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1994 Rwandan genocide says it expects to double the number of completed trials by the end of next year, leaving only a handful of trials remaining involving detainees in its custody. read more

250000 Kenyans displaced by postelectoral violence UN estimates

Some 250,000 Kenyans are now estimated to have been displaced by post-electoral violence, United Nations humanitarian officials reported today, as the world body’s independent human rights experts voiced deep concern at the ethnic dimension of the conflict. Overall, between 400,000 and 500,000 people have been affected by the conflict. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone today with both President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, and called on them to resolve their issues through dialogue. The violence, which has reportedly claimed more than 300 lives, erupted after Mr. Kibaki was declared the winner of last week’s poll. Mr. Ban also spoke with Ghanaian President John Kufuor, current chairman of the African Union. Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that virtually all movement of food for both western Kenya and the entire region, including Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was frozen for days due to the insecurity. The 14 human rights experts, covering issues ranging from racism to sexual violence to freedom of belief, deplored the growing inter-ethnic conflict, citing the deaths of dozens of civilians, including children and women, after a mob set fire to a church where they had taken sanctuary. “We are profoundly alarmed by the reports of incitement to racial hatred and the growing frictions between the different ethnic groups,” they said in a statement calling on the authorities, political, ethnic and religious leaders to put an end “to what may become the dynamics of inter-ethnic killings… in the light of historical precedents in the region.” Rwanda, to the west of Kenya, was the scene of genocide in 1994, when ethnic Hutu extremists massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis has also killed hundreds of thousands of people over the past four decades in Burundi, Rwanda’s southern neighbour. In a litany of “great concern,” the experts said the massive displacement, especially in the Rift Valley, threatened the right to food, health, housing and education. They also cited reports of gang rapes and the attendant likelihood of HIV infection and reported curbs on free expression, in particular a ban on live coverage of events. “While we recognize the prerogative and duty of the Kenyan authorities to maintain public order, we are, however, alarmed by reported instances of use of excessive force by Kenyan security forces against demonstrators and other civilians,” they added. “We urge the incumbent Kenyan authorities to take all necessary steps and measures to bring an end to the present situation, including by addressing appropriately questions raised with regard to the latest election results. We also call upon the leaders of political parties to show restraint and control over their followers and supporters.” WFP will shortly provide food through the Kenya Red Cross for 100,000 people displaced in the Northern Rift Valley, but it said: “The biggest problem is the difficulty for trucks carrying WFP food to reach areas in western Kenya.” Some 200 trucks were loaded with WFP food in the Kenyan port of Mombasa from a ship that arrived over Christmas carrying 30,000 metric tons – enough to feed 1.5 million people for a month – for Uganda, southern Sudan, Somalia and the eastern DRC. The food for Somalia will be sent by sea, but the rest has to go by land, WFP said. Some trucks left Mombasa but then were stranded due to insecurity on main roads and checkpoints set up by vigilantes in western Kenya. Fifteen trucks are stranded in or near Nairobi, 60 in Mombasa and others in Eldoret, near the site of the church massacre. Each truck carries 34 tons of food. “WFP is holding urgent talks to resolve this issue and get food to those who need it in Kenya and elsewhere,” the agency said. Kenyan security forces recently escorted 20 WFP trucks carrying food for north-western Kenya, southern Sudan, Uganda and the DRC, but the insecurity and roadblocks are still hampering humanitarian access. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is trying to establish so-called “safe spaces” for displaced mothers and children, provide water and sanitation to over 100,000 people, and distribute family kits to supply up to 100,000 people with blankets, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, soap and jerry cans. 4 January 2008Some 250,000 Kenyans are now estimated to have been displaced by post-electoral violence, United Nations humanitarian officials reported today, as the world body’s independent human rights experts voiced deep concern at the ethnic dimension of the conflict. read more

Tackling corruption crucial to Afghanistans future stresses UN envoy

18 December 2008The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today called the fight against corruption one of the single most important issues for the future of the young democracy, and urged all of its citizens and its international partners to combat the scourge. “Every Afghan citizen and every international stakeholder must commit to fighting corruption,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Kai Eide, said during an event in Kabul that was attended by President Hamid Karzai and other senior members of the Government.“We must all demonstrate – every day and at all levels that we reject corruption. The example we all set will shape the future. It can restore trust. It can bring development. It can meet the most basic human needs. It can turn resignation into hope.“By loudly and stubbornly rejecting corruption, it is possible to remove an obstacle to the future that all Afghans want and deserve,” said Mr. Eide, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).The Special Representative emphasized that Afghanistan is not alone in facing this global scourge. “It can be seen in so many countries with weak institutions, countries in conflict or in post-conflict situations. And it can also be seen in the most developed Sates,” he pointed out.A survey earlier this year by Integrity Watch Afghanistan, the average Afghan household pays an estimated $100 in petty bribes every year – this in a nation where around 70 per cent of the population survives on less than $1 per day. In addition, in only three years, Afghanistan has dropped from 119th out of 159 in Transparency International’s corruption perception index to the fifth last in the world. “In the words of a recent World Bank report, corruption has become widespread – even pervasive,” noted Mr. Eide. He stressed how important fighting corruption is for a country like Afghanistan which is trying to promote peace and development. “We all know that corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development. It means taking money away from the most needy, fuelling their frustration and anger. “It undermines the credibility of the State by damaging its ability to provide basic services. It undermines the building of much needed infrastructure and of strong institutions. It diminishes confidence in democracy. It undermines confidence in government and those who govern at every level of society. It keeps investors away instead of attracting them.“It is a matter of civic duty – and religious command – to contribute to the fight against corruption whenever and wherever we see it,” he stressed. Mr. Eide applauded the steps taken by Afghanistan so far to help it “turn the corner,” including ratifying the UN Convention Against Corruption, elaborating the Anti-Corruption and Administrative Reform strategy, and establishing the High Office of Oversight to coordinate national anti-corruption efforts.At the same time, he noted that real progress will require further efforts. “Only the first steps have been taken. More will be required – to ensure the confidence of Afghans in their future and the continued commitment of public opinion in donor countries.” read more

Latrine shortage could worsen public health in Haiti UN agency says

9 February 2010Sanitation has become a pressing need in Haiti and the lack of it could pose health problems for the nearly 1 million people living in temporary settlements ahead of the rainy season, United Nations officials warned today. “Some 18,000 latrines are needed in Port-au-Prince for 900,000 people. Less than 5 per cent of the need for latrines has been met,” Paul Garwood, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson in Geneva, told journalists. The need is calculated on the basis of one latrine per 50 people.There are more than 1.2 million people are living in spontaneous settlements, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today, and nearly 480,000 have left Port-au-Prince for neighbouring areas, putting additional stress on the rural population in those towns to support the displaced persons. Despite the high numbers of people and the need for greater sanitation, Mr. Garwood noted that there has not been a notable increase in infectious diseases so far. He said that acute respiratory infections are the most commonly reported infectious disease, accounting for up to a quarter of consultations. Diarrhoeal diseases represent up to 12 per cent of cases. The next serious category is trauma injuries, such as broken bones sustained during the quake. While slowly decreasing, they still account for more than 10 per cent of cases.Clinics are in need of supplies. UN agencies and donor countries provide medicines to various health partners on a daily basis through a large-scale coordinated effort run out of Haiti’s pharmaceuticals hub in Port-au-Prince known by its acronym PROMESS (Program on Essential Medicine and Supplies). The warehouse was recently reorganized to make it more effective.Mr. Garwood said that more than 22 containers with some 200 types of medical supplies have now arrived. The containers also included 1,000 beds, more than 200 stretchers and other items such as wheelchairs, crutches, bed sheets, blankets and pillows. Outside of Port-au-Prince, more than 1.5 tons of essential drugs were delivered this month to Les Cayes, Jérémie, Port-de-Paix and Gonaïves. WHO is expected soon to send basic emergency medicines that can treat 705,000 people for the next month.UN officials are concerned about the rainy season that is due to start in April. Mr. Garwood warned that the rains could increase morbidity rates for childhood diseases, such as acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea. read more

UN agency begins airlifting food aid for refugees uprooted from DR Congo

12 March 2010The United Nations today started to airlift urgent food aid for tens of thousands of people who have fled ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and are seeking refuge in neighbouring Republic of Congo (ROC). More than 120,000 Congolese have fled violent clashes in the DRC since October last year and crossed the river westwards into the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a news release issued by the World Food Programme (WFP).WFP has been distributing food to Congolese refugees since the end of November, providing assistance to more than 59,000 mainly women and children. Today’s airlift – from Pointe Noire to Impfondo in the Republic of Congo’s Likouala province – will allow the agency to replenish food stocks with 600 metric tons of maize, pulses and salt, enough to distribute emergency rations for two weeks to some 100,000 refugees.WFP has been moving food along a road corridor from the CAR, as well as dispatching hundreds of tons of relief supplies on barges along the Congo and Oubangui rivers from Brazzaville port. However, it had to contend with low water levels on the Oubangui and insecurity which have posed significant challenges to the operation.“Getting regular food supplies to such a remote area has been a major logistical challenge, and we had no other resort than to start airlifts from Pointe Noire to beef up our food stocks,” said Alix Loriston, WFP Representative in the Republic of Congo.Since 15 February, WFP has been flying humanitarian partners from Brazzaville to Impfondo, and airlifting supplies from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other agencies. Earlier this week, the UN and its partners launched an appeal for just under $60 million to help some 110,000 DRC refugees in the Republic of Congo, the vast majority of whom are women and children, as well as 58,000 host families for a six-month period. read more