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UN officials call for boost in solidarity and funding to meet growing humanitarian needs

27 June 2016 – The international community must act with urgency and solidarity to deliver on the commitments generated at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, this past month, in order to adequately respond to and prevent crises and build resilience on a global scale, senior United Nations officials emphasized today.

"There is no room for delays; every day and week counts," Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said at the opening of a UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Humanitarian Affairs Segment on the World Humanitarian Summit at UN Headquarters in New York today.

"During the five weeks since the Summit, thousands of people have been killed in conflict," he added. "Tens of thousands have been forced from their homes. Thousands of farmers and pastoralists have given up hope of making a living on land destroyed by drought, floods or sea level rise, related to climate change."

The annual ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment provides a platform for Member States, UN entities, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector and affected communities to discuss emerging and pressing humanitarian issues, as well as activities and issues related to strengthening the coordination of the UN's humanitarian assistance.

This year's session – which starts today and runs through Wednesday – follows the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, which brought together between 23-24 May representatives from some 180 Member States, 55 Heads of State and Governments, 350 private-sector representatives and more than 2,000 people from civil society and non-governmental organizations, and culminated in some 3,000 commitments to action for improving the humanitarian system and alleviating the suffering of millions.

Moving towards action on World Humanitarian Summit commitments

At today's meeting, the Deputy Secretary-General recalled that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said that global commitment to humanitarian action is one of humanity's highest moral achievements, and that upholding compassion and human dignity is one of the greatest global challenges of our time – and perhaps more urgent than ever in today's world.

"Record numbers of people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. At the same time, there is a tangible sense of fatigue, even resignation, manifested in the greatest shortfalls ever in the funding needed," Mr. Eliasson said.

Partly for this reason, the UN official said, the Secretary-General had convened the World Humanitarian Summit and presented his Agenda for Humanity, which outlines five areas for collective action – including preventing and ending conflict; respect for the rules of war; leaving no one behind; working differently to end needs; and investing in humanity – to reduce humanitarian needs.

Noting that the Summit marked a clear demonstration of leadership and political will, the Deputy-Secretary-General encouraged leaders to continue along that path, and to not be complacent.

"Despite many affirmations, there were few concrete commitments on preventing and ending conflict. We must work to turn words into action, if we want to make a real difference for millions of refugees and civilians caught up in conflict," he said.

Among the next steps to be taken – including by the UN family – include the implementation of commitments, the development of initiatives and alliances, and the turning of pledges of support into action, the Deputy-General said, adding that all actors should be prepared to engage for the long term.

"We aim to strengthen your understanding of the solutions outlined in the Agenda for Humanity, and to work with you to secure your continued commitment. The country ownership is a central concept," Mr. Eliasson said.

"It is vital that we continue to champion the five core responsibilities and to concretely live up to them. Limited improvements will not be sufficient for the scale of change that is needed," he added.

The Deputy-Secretary General also emphasized the necessity to "break out of our silos," such as by finding new levels of cooperation and working together for change.

In that regard, he indicated that the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July, the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and the Habitat III Conference in October are opportunities to build on the Summit's achievements.

The Deputy Secretary-General also emphasized that periodic assessments will be important as a follow-up to the Summit, and to fulfil the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind.

Mr. Eliasson noted that the Secretary-General, in his upcoming report on the Summit, will propose ways to maintain the momentum and to advance the Agenda for Humanity and its core responsibilities, and urged participants to actively cooperate in that regard.

New report provides global humanitarian overview

Also speaking today was the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O'Brien, who underscored that, since December 2015, humanitarian needs have soared even higher, with 130 million people in 40 countries now needing assistance just to survive.

Presenting the Global Humanitarian Overview Status Report for 2016, Mr. O'Brien, who also serves as the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that the UN-coordinated inter-agency humanitarian appeal is calling for $21.6 billion to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable 95.4 million around the world.

"In other words, since the beginning of the year another 5.5 million people's lives have been torn apart, their survival and safety thrown into jeopardy," he said.

The Under-Secretary-General attributed the spike largely to two sudden onset disasters: the cyclone in Fiji in February and the earthquake in Ecuador in April, as well as to the repercussions of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has led to droughts in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Despite increase in donations, humanitarian funding gap remains

Noting the generosity of donors, Mr. O'Brien said that appeals in 2016 had generated $5.5 billion in funding thus far – the highest amount ever received in mid-year. Nonetheless, a funding gap of $16.1 billion remains.

"The grim truth is this: this appeal is just one quarter funded," he said, adding that demographic growth, protracted conflicts and an increase in the intensity of natural disasters linked to climate change will inevitably continue to drive up needs.

Pointing to crises in the Lake Chad Basin, the Central African Republic and Myanmar, the Under Secretary-General called on leaders to support the funding appeal.

"This appeal will support millions of mothers to feed their malnourished children. It will help doctors give lifesaving care to children injured by bombing. It will help pastoralists keep their cattle alive. And it will help protect women and girls from sexual abuse and violence," Mr. O'Brien said.

"Human organizations are committed to bringing relief to people in critical need but they cannot do it alone: they need predictable, flexible and adequate funding," he added.

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UN humanitarian wing and partners respond to unprecedented suffering in 2015

21 June 2016 – The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its 2015 annual report, articulating its response to the humanitarian challenges and human suffering, in all corners of the world that have overstretched the UN relief arm.

The report recalls the humanitarian response and the work undertaken by OCHA in five level-three emergencies in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, as well as in two sudden onset natural disasters in Nepal and Vanuatu, many protracted crises, including the complex mixture of violence and environmental degradation in the Lake Chad Basin that continued to require intensive advocacy, coordination and resource mobilisation.

It also recaps the work undertaken in the wake of the 2015 El Niño, one of the most powerful to date and marked by severe droughts in parts of Central America, the Pacific, and Southern and Eastern Africa. The complex climate system contributed to devastating food insecurity, particularly in Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi and Zimbabwe, catalyzing OCHA to mobilize funding and raise an alert.

The report further looks back at the work in preparation to the World Humanitarian Summit through regional and business consultations in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Pacific, and South and Central Asia. The consultations channelled the views of affected people, civil society and non-governmental organizations, Governments, UN agencies, academia, and analysts into the core responsibilities for action that will shape the Summit and humanitarian action for years to come.

OCHA also discusses the management and administration role in guiding and supporting the work on the ground, and on the support and contributions from donors as well as challenges brought on by some of the worst exchange rate and market fluctuations in recent years.

In his foreword to the report, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’ Brien applauded the efforts of OCHA staff and thanked them for their committed work at a time when the office is “grappling with unprecedented scales of need and some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity.”

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General Assembly Elects 18 Members of Economic and Social Council, Also Adopts Texts, Including One Designating 29 June International Day of Tropics

The General Assembly, in a secret ballot vote held this afternoon, elected 18 members of the Economic and Social Council to hold three-year terms beginning 1 January 2017.  Those elected today were Andorra, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chad, China, Colombia, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

The 18 outgoing members were Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Finland, Georgia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo and the United Kingdom.  Of those, China, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and United Kingdom were re-elected.

The new members were elected according to the following pattern:  four from African States; four from Asia-Pacific States; three from Eastern European States; three from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and four from Western European and Other States.

As of 1 January 2017, the remaining States making up the 54-member body will be Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United States, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

In other business, the Assembly adopted draft resolution A/70/L.53 without a vote, deciding to designate 29 June as the International Day of the Tropics.  By the terms of the text, it invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, to observe the day in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national priorities, in order to raise awareness of the tropics, the specific challenges they faced and the emerging opportunities they presented.  It further stressed that the cost of all activities that might arise from the implementation of the resolution should be met from voluntary contributions.

The representative of Australia, introducing the resolution, recalled that the tropics were home to 40 per cent of the world’s population and much of its biodiversity.  The tropics also faced a number of challenges, including infrastructure and service delivery demands and the complexity of managing resources and protecting fragile ecosystems.  The state of the tropics was linked to sustainable development, in particular poverty eradication, health, urbanization and the health of the oceans.  “The health of the tropics is a significant contribution to our global success,” she said in that regard, adding that designating 29 June as the International Day of the Tropics would help to deepen global awareness of the tropics and crystalize the fact that “tropical problems require tropical solutions”.

The Assembly then adopted a resolution of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, contained in a report of the same name (document A/70/498/Add.1), deciding that the Special Committee would continue its efforts for such a review, as well as review its previous proposals and consider any new proposals to enhanced the United Nations’ capacity to fulfil its responsibility in that field.  It requested the Special Committee to submit a report at the Assembly’s seventy-first session.

The Assembly will reconvene in plenary on Friday, 17 June, at 3 p.m. to elect members of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and consider other matters on its agenda.

Voting Results

The results of the balloting were as follows:

African States

Number of ballot papers:

185

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

2

Present and Voting:

183

Required majority:

122

Number of votes obtained by country:

Cameroon

183

Chad

175

Swaziland

173

Benin

163

Senegal

1

Republic of Congo

1

Botswana

1

Togo

1

Asia-Pacific States

Number of ballot papers:

185

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

0

Present and Voting:

185

Required majority:

124

Number of votes obtained by country:

Tajikistan

183

China

182

United Arab Emirates

180

Republic of Korea

179

Cambodia

3

Yemen

1

Latin American and Caribbean States

Number of ballot papers:

185

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

2

Present and Voting:

183

Required majority:

122

Number of votes obtained by country:

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:

179

Colombia

178

Venezuela

177

Eastern European States

Number of ballot papers:

185

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

1

Present and Voting:

184

Required majority:

123

Number of votes obtained by country:

Azerbaijan

176

Bosnia and Herzegovina

173

Russian Federation

169

Romania

10

Croatia

1

Belarus

1

Western European and Other States

Number of ballot papers:

185

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

7

Present and Voting:

178

Required majority:

119

Number of votes obtained by country:

Norway

177

Sweden

176

Andorra

174

United Kingdom

172

Finland

1

Switzerland

1

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UN-backed fund expands wildlife protection plan to 19 countries in Africa and Asia

10 June 2016 – A United Nations-backed partnership fun has approved an additional $40 million to expand its support of a global programme fighting against illegal trafficking to a total of 19 countries in Africa and Asia.

The expansion for the Global Wildlife Program was approved by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and includes contributions from the Asian Development Bank, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank Group and the World Wildlife Fund.

&#8220The victims of wildlife crime are not only the animals and ecosystems that are devastated by poaching and trafficking, they are people as well. The human cost of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife is measured in lives lost to the criminal networks involved and livelihoods destroyed by the erosion of a natural economic foundation,&#8221 said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

&#8220Ending the illegal trade in wildlife requires a concerted and cooperative effort between all sectors. These new projects will further these efforts and help bring us closer to ending wildlife crime once and for all,&#8221 he added.

Specifically, the Global Wildlife Program was established to address the growing poaching crisis and an international call to action. The value of illegal trade has been estimated at between $10 and $23 billion per year, making wildlife crime the fourth most lucrative illegal business after narcotics, human trafficking and weapons, UNEP said.

The new $131 million agenda is expected to leverage $704 million in additional co-financing over seven years. The national projects aim to promote wildlife conservation, wildlife crime prevention, and sustainable development in order to reduce adverse impacts to known threatened species from poaching and illegal trade.

Additionally, a global coordination grant from the GEF will strengthen cooperation and facilitate knowledge exchange between national governments, development agency partners and leading practitioners, UNEP said.

&#8220Poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking are reaching unprecedented levels, robbing the livelihoods of local communities and eroding the global commons,&#8221 said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson. &#8220In response, the GEF has launched a major international effort to help tackle the supply, trade and demand for wildlife products. Importantly, the project is not only about stopping the slaughter of animals in the forests and savannas of Africa; it also aims at reducing the demand in Asia.&#8221

This past month, at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi, GEF joined other partners to support the launch of the Go Wild for Life campaign, a UN-led campaign that urges politicians, celebrities and business leaders to help bring global attention to the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.

&#8220Wildlife poaching and the illicit trade of wildlife and forest products are abhorrent. This multi-billion dollar worldwide trade is a security issue, an environmental issue, and a development issue,&#8221 said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

&#8220It is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction. The illicit trade is also fuelling corruption and conflict, destroying lives, and deepening poverty and inequality. If not addressed decisively, illicit poaching and wildlife trade will have significant national economic impacts,&#8221 she added.

In June 2015, the GEF approved 10 national projects from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia. Today's announcement expands that program to strengthen the capacity of Governments to combat poaching and trafficking of wildlife, and wildlife products in key range and transit countries that are in the front lines of combatting wildlife crime.

The nine additional countries include Afghanistan, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Activities in the Global Wildlife Program in the source countries will include enhancing anti-poaching tracking and intelligence operations, increasing the size of conservation areas and improving their management, and providing opportunities for development through nature-based tourism and other agriculture, forestry and natural resource projects that benefit local communities.

In transit countries, the Global Wildlife Program will support anti-smuggling and customs controls, while in demand countries, it will initiate targeted awareness-raising campaigns to help increase legal deterrents for purchase of wildlife and wildlife products.

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UN Gender Focus: reproductive rights, women police officers and solar energy

9 Jun 2016

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Annah Sango. UN Radio/L. Jarriel

Zimbabwe activist champions sexual reproductive rights for women

Young girls in Zimbabwe struggle with issues ranging from early pregnancy to accessing sexual reproductive services, a young activist has said. Annah Sango, advocacy officer for Africa Young Positives, is in New York to attend a High-Level event in the UN General Assembly on ending AIDS. A political declaration was adopted on Wednesday, setting new time-limited targets to end the epidemic as a public health threat, by 2030. A motivational speaker and life coach, she started her own community-based support group for women affected by HIV. Speaking to Jocelyne Sambira, Ms Sango began by explaining why the conference was important to her and the young girls she works with.

Priscilla Makotose speaking to Daniel Dickinson. Photo: UN Radio

Countries urged to send more women police officers to Darfur

More women police officers are needed in Darfur to help protect millions of people displaced by conflict. The appeal has been made by Priscilla Makotose, Police Commissioner at the hybrid UN-African Union mission there, known as UNAMID. She said although women comprise the majority of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur, women police officers make up just two per cent of the mission's Formed Police Units (FPUs). Daniel Dickinson caught up with Ms Makotose during her recent visit to UN Headquarters to attend a global summit of police chiefs. She began by talking about what it is like to work for peace in Darfur.

Abze Djigma. Photo: UN-OHRLLS

Solar energy: A catalyst for transforming lives in West Africa

Solar energy is lighting the pathway to a better future for rural youth and women in West Africa; that's according to an engineer from Burkina Faso who attended a recent UN conference in Turkey devoted to the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The young people are being trained to install and maintain solar panels, water heaters and other items through a project called MAMA-LIGHT for Sustainable Energy.Princess Abze Djigma, founder of Abze Solar which produces the MAMA-LIGHT line of products, is behind the initiative.Princess Abze spoke to Reem Abaza who began by asking her if there was a conflict between the need for companies to be profitable as well as socially responsible.

Presenter: Jocelyne Sambira
Production Assistant: Ana Carmo
Duration: 10’00″

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UN Daily News 09 June 2016

9 Jun 2016

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Listen to a bulletin of news and features from United Nations Radio, with Jocelyne Sambira and Matthew Wells.

In today’s programme: UN Chief Ban Ki-moon says he stands by his report on the plight of children caught in conflicts including in Yemen; and, an activist from Zimbabwe advocates for women affected by HIV.

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