Dreary drought

first_imgMaharashtra reels under the scorching sun with well-known adversity that has repeatedly featured on the face of the earth – drought. Droughts have been a seasonal affair for this part of the Deccan region. This happens to be the sixth consecutive year that parts of Maharashtra have been facing severe drought situation and discounting the adversity from preceding numbers, six long years seem adequate time to prepare for droughts. Witnessing Odisha’s commitment and resilience to withstand cyclones and safeguard lives, Maharashtra and Karnataka are very much capable of setting up drought redressal systems and action plans in cases of exigency. The disaster management guidelines, to begin with, are apt for this sort of situation which definitely demands attention amidst the polling season. Notwithstanding the fact that Centre and state exchequers will be accessed towards remedial actions but sustenance of crops, animals and farmers is defeated in the face of annual occurrence. The fact that only 16 per cent water reserve is left in the dams in proximity stresses on lackadaisical approach despite imminent adversity. If droughts have been occurring in the parts of both the states forming a pattern which enables to predict future droughts then a lack of redressal system to tend to such calamities is simply a travesty of governance. Requesting whatever quantity of water from neighbouring states, scooping reserves and anticipating financial assistance from the Centre are all haphazard measures usually in place when preemptive measures have effectively either not taken up or failed. The Centre has released 4,562 crores while the state government has allocated 4,300 crores making a total of 8,862 crores to combat the unprecedented drought situation which has regions such as Marathwada, Yavatmal, Nagaon, Aurangabad, Amravati, and Nashik among others in its grasp. Scores of fishes floating lifeless atop the Godavari spotted by locals in Nagaon village does not augur well for the area. While the Centre and state progress to tend to this adversity is welcoming, it hardly makes any difference to locals who have been witnessing droughts for years and remain deprived of alternatives to counter the natural calamity with remedial measures initiated by state authorities being the only hope. Contemporary times have equipped us to predict rainfall and be aware of impending calamities like a drought but state government’s enthusiasm in anticipating and implementing exigency measures has remained an area of concern. It has to be understood that measures also take time to take full effect and not happen overnight. Tankers to water-deprived areas is an expected step to address the severe drought problem but even that will have to be on time and well-coordinated from before. Waking up to droughts and then drafting action plans, consulting and requesting neighbouring states and the Centre for help will delay the remedial measures and the most direct impact would be loss of life – human, animal, fishes – apart from the agricultural setback. Present numbers denote that 4,331 villages and 9,470 hamlets are being supplied water through 5,493 tankers. Arrangements made by the Maharashtra government draw a proactive picture to combat drought but this 2019 severe drought cuts a sorry figure for CM Devendra Fadnavis who had claimed to make Maharashtra drought-free by 2019. And, words of politicos rarely reverberate in the face of adversity because tending to a life-threatening crisis is more important than pulling up authorities for lack of emergency system and audacious promises. The promise was flawed since droughts are nature induced adversities which can be controlled by humans but not overcome entirely. Drought-resistant should be a better aim and efforts should be made to that effort. Hindsight tells a lot about the adversity and it helps us learn from our flaws. It urges us to improvise and reduce damage. It also aids us in predicting the grave consequences which right now parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka imminently face. Interestingly, Bombay High Court has pulled the Maharashtra government for not appearing in court over the prevailing severe drought situation. A petition which was filed two and a half years ago has come to haunt the state government where the petitioner alleges that the state government has not done much to provide relief. He also alleges that the absence of the state government lawyer, in this case, points to the government’s tactic to sit out the drought period till rainfalls hit the area so that damage is reduced and the situation is not as grave as it currently is. Agrarian distress has already been highlighted as a severe issue in the state and it can only be hoped that it was well reflected in the general election polling which has concluded in Maharashtra. While the court now will pass an order on May 20 irrespective of government’s presence for the matter, the state government hurriedly pursues to minimise damage and increase the ambit and outreach of its relief measures. Rainfalls will provide relief but what is the point of progress if the damage inflicted resembles primitive situations.last_img read more

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Satirists TV return angers both sides in polarized Egypt

first_imgCAIRO – Egyptians packed cafes Friday to watch the return of famed TV satirist Bassem Youssef, wondering if he would dare to mock the army that toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.After four months off the air, Youssef — known as ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’ after modelling his show on the US comedian’s popular fake news programme — returned after a summer break to an Egypt fiercely split between supporters of the military and Islamist backers of the ousted Morsi.A tide of resurgent nationalism has swept the country, with military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hailed by supporters as the nation’s saviour for driving Morsi from power and launching a deadly crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. Youssef, who had regularly mocked Morsi and was even prosecuted for insulting the then-president, might have been expected to cheer the military coup, which came amid massive protests against the year-long rule of Egypt’s first freely elected president.But in the 90-minute return of his show “Al-Bernameg” (“The Programme”), Youssef did not spare the military his barbs, provoking fury from some spectators.Youssef mocked the Egyptian media’s coverage of Morsi’s overthrow, particularly the exaggerated claims about the number of demonstrators who took to the streets on June 30 — local television stations said as many as 70 million — to call for the Islamist government’s resignation.He also touched on a highly sensitive question for Egyptians: was Morsi’s fall a popular revolution, as backers of the military claim, or was it a coup, as the ousted president’s supporters say?Referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, he said that “when you have been dreaming of power for 80 years and all of a sudden you lose it, then it’s a coup.”But looking at the other side, he mocked the idea of a gentle coup, acting out a scene in which soldiers hand Morsi a red rose, saying: “Morsi, baby, you’re not president any more … It’s not us, it’s you”.The ex-heart surgeon then turned his attention to the country’s military-installed interim government, in which Adly Mansour is the nominal president but Sisi is widely seen as calling the shots.“Sisi-mania” has gripped Egypt since the coup, with the general staring out from posters across the country and even looking up from chocolates named after him.Youssef soon found that mocking the Sisi craze is not to everyone’s taste.Sisi’s supporters view him as defending the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood, whom they deride as “terrorists,” and point to a string of deadly attacks on security forces since Morsi’s July 3 overthrow.Sameh Seif al-Yazal, a former strategy expert for the army, called Youssef’s act a “direct attack against General Sisi” that would “benefit the Muslim Brotherhood.”Within 24 hours of the broadcast, several legal complaints had been filed with the attorney general, including one by members of a group calling for Sisi to be president.In a cafe in the Moqattam neighbourhood, where the Muslim Brotherhood had its headquarters before the building was torched last summer, Cairo banker Ramy Adel came out to watch El-Bernameg with friends, but did not like what he saw.“It seems it has no objective or purpose except making fun of the current ruling regime,” he said.“He wanted to defame the prestige of Sisi and the army … This is awful.”Morsi supporters meanwhile criticised his swipes at the country’s Islamist leaders, virtually all of whom have been jailed since the president’s fall, including Morsi himself.Leila Ibrahim, who backs Morsi, said Youssef “isn’t a comedian, he is a clown.”“It was shameful that Bassem mocked the imprisoned Islamist leader,” she said, calling it a “cowardly action to make fun of those who can’t defend themselves.”Others, however, were please by what they saw as Youssef’s balance.Ahmed Abdel Aleem, who supports neither the army nor the Brotherhood, said “Bassem criticised all political players, including Sisi. No one dares to do that.”Egypt has a rich tradition of political humour despite having been ruled by autocrats for most of its history, and its comedies have drawn theatre-goers from across the Arab world for decades.But tensions are running high in the country, with more than a thousand people — mainly Morsi backers — having been killed in street clashes and militant attacks since the beginning of July.Social media lit up with widely varying opinions on Youssef’s return, with some Facebook groups even calling for his arrest.Youssef himself took to Twitter, responding drily to his critics: “Egyptians like jokes and irony, it’s true, but especially when they match their own ideas.”last_img read more

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Mortgage loans Morocco has put in place means to ensure transparency

first_imgRabat – Morocco has put in place the means to create the conditions to ensure transparency in the operations of mortgage loans, including the enactment of legislation to introduce measures for consumer protection, said Friday in Rabat, Minister of Industry, trade, investment, and digital economy, Moulay Hafid Elalamy.To restore some balance (between lender and borrower), law-makers had to step in to set rules to protect the consumer as the weaker party in the contractual relationship,” said Elalamy in a speech read on his behalf at a meeting organized by the Moroccan Institute of Law on mortgage loans and the new system of consumer protection.”For President of the Moroccan Consumer Foundation, Mohamed Laghdaf Rhaouti, regretted that the various actors lead to weak regulatory measures for consumer protection, calling on the various components of society to join their efforts to educate consumers about the costs and issues associated with borrowing. Rhaouti also emphasized the need to balance between the international and national laws with the aim to ensure optimal effectiveness of the legal framework in this area, calling for a comprehensive reform to ensure that real estate provisions are better implemented.Enacted in 2011, law 31-08 is aims to complement the legal measures on consumer protection by protecting fundamental rights, including the right to information, economic rights, representation, withdrawal, and choice.last_img read more

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Lebanon yet to receive invitation to Geneva II FM

first_imgBy Paula AstihBEIRUT– The minister confirmed that his country nevertheless planned to take part in the event.Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Tuesday that his country had not yet received a formal invitation to attend the Geneva II conference on the Syria crisis, slated for later this month. “Lebanon hasn’t received anything to this effect,” Mansour told Anadolu Agency.He confirmed, however, that his country nevertheless planned to take part in the event.The Geneva II conference, set to kick off on January 22, is ostensibly aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in violence-wracked Syria.Syria has been in the throes of conflict since 2011 when a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad escalated into civil war following a violent government crackdown.According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict to date.last_img read more

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Spain Arrests 15 People Seizes 3 Helicopters Smuggling Hashish from Morocco

Rabat – Spanish authorities have arrested nine Spaniards, seven French, and Moroccan nationals forming two international drug rings that relied on helicopters to smuggle hashish from Morocco into Spain.A press release issued on Thursday by Guardia Civil said the groups transported the hashish to remote farms in the southern province of Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol and then shipped it overland to other European nations.“The smuggling rings employed a veteran flight instructor who was an expert in mountain rescues and night flights,” the release said, pointing out that the flight instructor would recruit and train other pilots employed by the smuggling rings. The flying instructor smuggled hashish from Morocco to Costa del Sol in dangerous night flights at a low altitude in an attempt to avoid discovery.This man was detained when instructing another pilot on an overnight flight from Morocco. After their arrest, authorities discovered the haul of some 600 kilos of hashish.The investigation also uncovered the person who acquired, financed, and matriculated the captured helicopter.Of the 15 arrested, six are Spanish, seven French and two Moroccans, who will face charges of drug trafficking, belonging to a criminal organization, illicit possession of firearms, and receiving drugs.Among the items confiscated, Guardia Civil listed three helicopters worth an estimated €2.5 million, 810 kilos of Hashish, four cars, flight books, cash, and night vision, as well as navigation equipment and computers. read more

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King Mohammed VI Offers Condolences After Italy Earthquake

Rabat – King Mohammed VI sent a message of condolence and sympathy to Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, following an earthquake devastated a string of towns in central Italy, killing scores of people. In this message, the Sovereign expresses to the Italian President, to the bereaved families and to the Italian friendly people, His condolences and sincere feelings of compassion, imploring the Almighty to admit the victims into His spacious paradise and grant speedy recovery to the wounded and patience and solace to their relatives.The King also expresses to the Italian President His sincere feelings of compassion and solidarity in this painful ordeal. read more

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Morocco Example in Renewable Energy Mexican Official

Marrakech – Mexican Undersecretary for Environmental Policy and Planning, Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, said that his country considers Morocco “an example” to follow in development and use of renewable energy.“For us, Morocco is the best example to follow in the field of the use of renewable energy”, Tamayo told MAP in an interview on the sidelines of his participation in COP22, which is being held on November 7-18 in Marrakech.“We have the ambition to implement the Moroccan experience in this field in Mexico”, he said, adding that Morocco and his country have the same potential, especially in solar energy. According to Tamayo, his country is “very interested” in Morocco’s experience in this sector, adding that the actions carried out by Morocco are in conformity with the roadmap and Mexico’s plan of action.He also noted that COP22 is an important stage in discussing environmental issues, and other questions related to infrastructure, adaptation, sustainable development and strengthening of the economies based on “win-win” principle. read more

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Muslim Canadian MP Subjected to Death Threats Over Parliamentary Motion

Rabat – It doesn’t sound like Canada but nevertheless, Canadian Liberal MP, Iqra Khalid, has received more than 50,000 disturbing and hate-filled emails since tabling a motion in Parliament intended to deal with the presence of Islamophobia in Canada, according to CTV News. Canada, rightly so, prides itself on its welcoming and inclusive national character. There is, however, in all human societies, an ugly underbelly that occasionally attempts to pollute the fresh air it finds when it surfaces. It’s been a lesson learned for Liberal MP, Iqra Khalid, who has been championing the adoption of Motion 103 in Parliament.The motion addresses “systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamaphobia, in Canada.” It is the use of the word “Islamaphobia” that critics of the motion, mainly members of the Conservative party, are finding objectionable. They cite possible issues with free speech and that the word is not defined in the motion. Since tabling Motion 103, Iqra Khalid has been deeply disturbed at the level and volume of hate mail she and her staff have received from a certain segment of the Canadian public that, while in the minority, still deserve to be called out.Standing in Parliament on Thursday, Khalid read out a small but visceral selection of the emails she has received. Here is a small sampling of the more than 50,000 emails she has received, with a warning that the language will be difficult for some:“No need to debate her. Simply remind her that she is merely a woman and that she needs to sit the ____ down and shut the ____ up. She has to comply according to Sharia.”“Kill her and be done with it. She is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.”“Real Canadians will rise up and get rid of the nasty, ____ Muzzie stench in Ottawa. They should all go the ____ back to the hole where you belong. We will burn down your mosques draper head Muslim.”“Why did Canadians let her in? Ship her back.”“Why don’t you get out of my country?”“You’re a disgusting piece of trash and you are definitely not wanted here by the majority of Canadians.”While Khalid acknowledged that she has also received a great deal of positive feedback and support for the motion, she admitted that she has instructed her staff to lock the office after her for everyone’s safety. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so that they don’t have to hear all the insults, threats and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”While Conservative MP’s are calling for the removal of the word “Islamaphobia” from the motion, New Democrat Party MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault voiced his opinion that the emails themselves speak to the need for the word to remain.“That seems to bring to light certain aspects that some members [of Parliament] are having difficulty seeing, and are perhaps blinded by or hung up on certain terms, whereas it is evident in her [Khalid] speech that Islamaphobia does exist in Canada.”According to the same source, 69,000 Canadians signed a petition asking the federal government to do something to deal with the issue of Islamaphobia in Canada, prompting the creation of Khalid’s motion. When asked to water down Motion 103 by a Conservative MP, Khalid responded that she had no intention of dishonouring the 69,000 signatories by cutting out the very heart of the motion.Thursday evening, federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly told CBC’s Power and Politics that she had also received derogatory and threatening emails regarding the motion. “Since I’ve presented the governments’ response on this, I have myself been receiving emails and trolls of people that have been presenting such outrageous comments.”The government’s support for Motion 103 remains absolute. read more

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Carriage Horse Badly Injured After Crashing into Car in Marrakech

Rabat- A horse pulling a carriage was reportedly injured after ramming into a car near the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech on Tuesday.After a fight occurred between two horses, one of them nervously moved toward a passing car, according to Hassan, a member of an association of horse-drawn carriages in Marrakech. A video of the incident has circulated on social media, showing several people encircling the damaged vehicle where the horse’s legs were trapped. With the help of a few individuals, the driver of the carriage managed to pull the animal out of the car. However, the horse has been badly injured and is currently under the care of the animal welfare association.According to a tourism professional, carriage activity is in full swing right now, as the city of Marrakech experiences its peak season. The professional explained that all 146 of the Marrakech carriages are operating at full pace, which causes the horses to become tired and nervous, and thus, more prone to accidents. “There is currently pressure on the carriages–horses. Sometimes, they work from 8 a.m. to midnight. We should think about creating shifts, horses must get rest,” the same source added. read more

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Energy sector helps boost stocks in Toronto US stock markets push higher

Index and currency in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index was up in late-morning trading, boosted by gains in the energy sector as the price of oil pushed higher.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 29.12 points at 15,671.22.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 162.36 points at 25,588.12. The S&P 500 index was up 13.59 points at 2,758.32, while the Nasdaq composite was up 25.25 points at 7,439.87.The Canadian dollar traded for 75.58 cents US compared with an average of 75.48 cents US on Tuesday.The March crude contract up US$1.07 at US$54.17 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 10 cents at US$2.59 per mmBTU.The April gold contract was up US$4.40 at US$1,318.40 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 0.20 of a cent at US$2.77 a pound. read more

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JewishMoroccan Author Holocaust is New Religion to Justify Zionist Occupation of

Rabat – Moroccan-French author and activist Jacob Cohen has strongly criticized the Zionist strategy aiming to influence people around the world to justify the occupation of the Palestinian territories.The author, who was born in Meknes in 1944, criticized Zionism at a lecture under the theme “the Holocaust … and the Zionist Agenda” held in Rabat on Friday, January 4.Cohen referred to the Holocaust as a “new religion” invented by Zionists to influence the world to justify the occupation of Palestine. He added that the Zionist lobby made the issue of the Holocaust so “existential” and have “prevented  historians from talking about the issue unless it is done in a way that satisfies the Zionist agenda.”Read Also: King Mohammed VI Decision to Integrate Holocaust in Text Books, Unfounded Media HypeThe agenda, according to Cohen, aims to victimize Jews, and to show that nobody suffered more than them.The author added that Israeli governments have been presenting the Holocaust as a mean “to spread fear” since the 1970s to  turn a blind eye to its massacres against PalestiniansCohen also criticized the Aladdin project  initiated by  the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at introducing Muslims to the realities of the Holocaust.“Aladdin also set itself the task of highlighting the historical evidence concerning the role of Muslim rulers and citizens who helped the Jews during the Nazi reign of terror, said ProjetAladin.org.Commenting on the project, Cohen said that the Aladin program shows that “zionists only talk about peace and the ideal of this dream, and even the right to a two-state solution without condemning the occupation.”He also spoke about te “the evil genius of Zionist”  and the racist propaganda and deception, recalling the “arbitrary identification of the number of Jewish victims.” read more

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Mass Protests Swarm Algeria on Womens Day Police Arrest Nearly 200

Rabat – Algerian authorities suspended train services yesterday while huge numbers of protesters demonstrated in Algiers and other cities and towns across the country to pressure President Abdelaziz Bouteflika into stepping out of the 2019 election.Carrying Algerian flags, women and men from different backgrounds and ages chanted slogans “Peaceful, peaceful!” and held banners reading, “We’re making Algeria great again.”The day also marked the arrest of 195 protesters who were looting, according to the state television. On Thursday, Bouteflika had warned of individuals who try to cause chaos but also praised the majority of demonstrators for their discipline.Most of the people involved in the protests are young Algerians. However, as of this week, a number of influential people, including elders of the Association of Veterans of the War of Independence against the French between 1954 and 1962, lawyers, labor unions, and journalists have added momentum.Read Also: Algerians Launch New Protest, Flood Geneva Hospital with CallsThe wave of protests started on Friday, February 22, after the ailing Bouteflika, 82, announced that he would seek a fifth term as president in the election in April.The demonstration is the biggest in the North African country since the 2011 Arab Spring.On Tuesday, thousands of students from several campuses across Algiers marched, responding to Bouteflika’s offer to leave within one year if he wins re-election, saying that they “cannot wait a second” for him to leave. read more

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Drone sighting closes Frankfurt airport for an hour

Frankfurt’s busy international airport has had to halt flights for an hour after a pilot saw a drone, but has reopened.An airport spokesman said Thursday the airport was closed down from about 7:20 a.m. until 8:20 a.m. (0520 GMT until 0620 GMT) while German federal police searched for the drone and its operator with a helicopter.Police are continuing to investigate the incident.The Associated Press

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UN group targets obstacles that prevent poor from accessing financial services

14 May 2007A United Nations group that was formed to promote financial inclusion has released a series of key messages designed to remove the obstacles that prevent poor people from opening a bank account, taking a loan or buying insurance to protect their crops. The messages, which are targeted at governments, regulators, development partners and the private sector, were formed through a consultative process lead by the UN Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors. Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, a member of the Advisors Group and chairperson of the working group on advocacy, said she hopes the key messages clarify the role of the four different target groups. “We need to expand financial inclusion so that the poor can get access to financial services,” she said.“But let us be clear: microcredit can be a catalyst for growth but not a quick fix to the poverty problem. It takes a concerted development effort that calls on the private sector, governments, regulators and development partners alike to each play their natural role.”Richard Weingarten, Executive Secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), said the Advisors are fully engaged in advocacy efforts to address the obstacles that limit access to financial products and services. “The Advisors will bring these messages to governments, regulators, development partners and the private sector to underscore the constructive role each of those groups can play in broadening access to financial sectors.”Among other messages, the Group advises governments that inclusive financial sectors require building and supporting permanent, local financial institutions and embracing new technologies and systems that deliver a diverse range of financial products and services to the poor.It notes that governments’ vision for a well-functioning financial system should include access for all citizens to a broad range of financial products and services including savings, credit, insurance, and money transfers.Messages for Regulators include that their role is to establish environments that allow a diverse range of institutions to provide a wide variety of financial products and services.Regulators must be flexible in their approach; they must mitigate risks, without limiting access to financial services, the Group notes, adding that regulators must also exercise caution that anti-money laundering and related regulations do not block access to financial transfers that are critical for poor people.The Group points out that providing financial products and services to poor people represents a large business opportunity for the private sector. Providers of financial products and services should use their strengths to develop a range of products that better serve the needs of the poor, it says in messages to the private sector.Addressing development partners, the Group says development assistance for inclusive finance should complement private sector activities, not compete with them. Better information on the performance of development partner investment portfolios is essential, the Group says, noting that “what is not measured cannot be managed.”Created by the UN for a two-year term following the 2005 International Year of Microcredit, the Group’s principal role is to advise the United Nations system and member states on global issues relating to inclusive finance. The UNCDF, the UN organization that hosted the Secretariat for the 2005 International Year of Microcredit, also hosts the Secretariat for the UN Advisors Group in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. read more

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Bosnian leaders must seize this moment for reforms UN envoy says

With reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina blocked for over a year and agreements with the European Union (EU) on the table, the country’s leaders must “seize this moment” for progress, the United Nations envoy to the country told the Security Council today.“It is time for the Bosnian leaders to step up to the plate,” Christian Schwarz-Schilling, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement, told the 15-member body, noting that local ownership of reform was producing insufficient progress in the areas of police, constitutional issues and reconciliation.“That does not mean that the ownership path is wrong – but it is a warning we should not ignore,” Mr. Schwarz-Schilling said, stressing that Bosnian authorities must live up to their responsibilities to govern their own country, but also that “serious long-term international engagement must continue.”He said that Bosnia and Herzegovina has an historic window of opportunity to move closer to Europe, now that the EU has approved the text of a Stabilization and Association Agreement.“The Agreement is ripe to be initialled – but political conditions must be met,” he said, calling for leaders to overcome their differences on show real unity for that purpose.On the matter of police reform, he said party leaders came close to a compromise on two recent occasions, but were stalled by a lack of political will and vision.In the area of reconciliation, he said the fact that war crimes suspects like Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadžic remained at large was still an impediment to stability in the region and urged Serbia to carry out its obligations to help bring them to justice.Within Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addition, Mr. Schwarz-Schilling said that there has recently been “ruthless” political manipulation of the issue of the 1995 Srebrenica massacres. To improve the situation in that area, he said he had appointed former United States Ambassador Clifford Bond to coordinate action by local authorities.Concrete improvements in regard to Srebrenica, he said, involved justice and law enforcement doing their work, rights of returnees being upheld and livelihoods and social conditions restored in the region.In addition, he urged the UN to establish an international Day of Srebrenica to commemorate the tragedy and to pay respect to the victims of genocide and their families.While calling for stepped up reform in the areas of the economy, public information, public media and education, Mr. Schwarz-Schilling also noted that there had been much progress in the country.Such progress includes achievements in regional cooperation, the long-standing issue of police certification and the successful holding of last October’s election. Though the subsequent government formation was a long and frustrating process, he said it was carried out by the Bosnian politicians without international intervention. “Such are the painful learning experiences that accompany the lessons of ownership,” he commented. Nikola Spiric, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with the representatives from other interested countries, also spoke during the Council’s open meeting. 16 May 2007With reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina blocked for over a year and agreements with the European Union (EU) on the table, the country’s leaders must “seize this moment” for progress, the United Nations envoy to the country told the Security Council today. read more

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UN envoy advises against Myanmars return to precrisis status quo

Mr. Gambari and the new Prime Minister General Thein Sein had “open and detailed” discussions on ways to further improve Myanmar’s cooperation with the UN to address the country’s political, human rights, humanitarian and socio-economic challenges in the wake of the recent crisis, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. The Special Adviser “stressed that a return to the status quo before the crisis would not be sustainable, and suggested specific steps for Myanmar to meet international expectations in this regard,” she added. These include the need for dialogue with the opposition without delay as part of an inclusive national reconciliation process, as well as necessary confidence-building measures in the humanitarian and socio-economic areas, including the establishment of a broad-based poverty alleviation commission. The Prime Minister reiterated his Government’s full support for Mr. Gambari’s efforts on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and invited him to return to Myanmar in continuation of the good offices process. Mr. Gambari also briefed the diplomatic corps in Myanmar on his visit so far. Tomorrow he is scheduled to meet with pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as with members of the Central Executive Committee of her National League for Democracy party, officials of the National Unity Party, and other relevant interlocutors. He will also hold talks with the UN Country Team in Yangon. Mr. Gambari, who arrived in Myanmar last Saturday is scheduled to return to UN Headquarters by 12 November. 7 November 2007In a meeting with Myanmar’s Prime Minister today, the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari urged the South-east Asian nation’s leadership to begin a dialogue with the opposition without delay, stressing that returning to the status quo before the recent crisis broke out will not be sustainable. read more

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Iraqi officials visit Northern Ireland in UNbacked study tour

In selecting Northern Ireland, the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Article 23 Committee, which has been tasked by the Council of Representatives with finding a power-sharing formula prior to provincial elections in Kirkuk, recognized that every disputed situation has its own unique circumstances. At the same time, they felt that Northern Ireland’s experience over the past 12 years provides valuable lessons for resolving the issue of Kirkuk.Members of the Committee, several members of Kirkuk’s Provincial Council and top police officials from the province participated in last week’s four-day visit.The mission focused on three key areas of the experience in Northern Ireland: power-sharing between different communities, police reform, and the constitutional status of the province.Andrew Gilmour, Deputy UN Special Representative, said he acknowledges there are key difference between the two situations, notably that the United Kingdom and Ireland are two separate States, while the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is part of a single Iraqi State.“Nevertheless, there are certain principles common to both places, and close study of some aspects could be enormously beneficial to the people of Kirkuk,” Mr. Gilmour, who accompanied the delegation to Belfast, stressed.Participants met with the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Mayor of the city of Derry and other political and security officials.They were also briefed by Martin McGuiness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister and a former leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a paramilitary organization which fought the British and others for several decades. He shared his view on the importance of the role of leadership in bringing peace instead of provoking further tensions.The visiting delegation recognized Mr. McGuiness’ recent courageous statesmanship in which he publicly denounced a recent atrocity carried out by hard-line IRA renegade members.The Kirkuk officials visiting Northern Ireland repeatedly underscored the importance of accepting that maximalist goals, which do not take into account the concerns and historical narrative of the other side, can never be achieved and can even lead to further bloodshed.To achieve a durable peace, they emphasized, all sides must accept that no side can achieve all of its goals but all parties must feel as though at least some of their targets have been reached.The visit is “potentially a major stepping stone to achieving improved mutual understanding and an acceptable political solution for all communities living in Kirkuk,” said Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.Last month, after a year-long process, he submitted reports on disputed internal boundaries to Iraq’s highest officials, with the aim of initiating dialogue over the contested demarcations.They include a discussion paper on the future of the Kirkuk governorate, and UNAMI has analyzed four options – all of which treat the governorate as a single entity – which are based on the Iraqi Constitution, require a political agreement among the parties and some form of referendum. 14 May 2009A group of Iraqi officials have wrapped up a United Nations-backed visit to Northern Ireland in a bid to learn from its successful conflict resolution experiences and consider how they could apply to the Middle Eastern country’s province of Kirkuk. read more

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Security Council extends UN mission in Burundi for another year as elections

The Security Council today extended for another year the United Nations political mission in Burundi, calling for full support for next year’s elections in the war-scarred African country while voicing concern at continuing human rights violations, sexual and gender-based violence, restrictions on civil liberties and political violence.In a unanimous resolution, the 15-member body called on the Government to fight corruption and impunity, professionalize and enhance the capacity of the national security services and the police, and broaden the respect and protection of human rights.The UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), set up in 2006 to assist efforts towards peace and stability after decades of factional and ethnic fighting between Hutus and Tutsis killed hundreds of thousands of people, is now set to run until 31 December 2010.The Council called on the Office to “pay particular attention on supporting the electoral process, democratic governance, the consolidation of peace, sustainable reintegration and gender issues,” providing logistical support to the country’s national electoral commission if required. It called on the Government “to take the necessary measures to create an environment conducive to the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2010.”It also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “in particular through BINUB to play a robust political role in support of all facets of the peace process, in full coordination with sub-regional, regional and international partners.”It noted with concern “the continuing human rights violations and restrictions on civil liberties, including restrictions on the freedom of assembly and expression of the political opposition and representatives of civil society,” while “expressing equal concern for the reports of violence perpetuated by youth groups associated with some political parties.” In his latest report to the Council earlier this month, Mr. Ban voiced similar concerns and noted that while the peace process had witnessed significant progress in recent months, Burundi needed help to ensure successful elections and tackle challenges such as human rights abuses, corruption and weak institutions.Last week, the Council called on the international community to support the preparation of elections after Mr. Ban’s Executive Representative Youssef Mahmoud said a lack of funding was challenging the “significant advances” already made, warning that $3 million was needed by the end of December to help the electoral commission to carry out its most pressing tasks. 17 December 2009The Security Council today extended for another year the United Nations political mission in Burundi, calling for full support for next year’s elections in the war-scarred African country while voicing concern at continuing human rights violations, sexual and gender-based violence, restrictions on civil liberties and political violence. read more

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Security Council votes to expand mandate of monitoring group for Somali sanctions

Council members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution re-establishing the Monitoring Group for 12 months and to add three members to the five-member panel so that it can handle its extra workload.The panel, which has monitored compliance with embargoes on the delivery of weapons and military equipment to Somalia and Eritrea, is now also tasked with probing activities – financial, maritime or in another field – which generate revenue used to violate those embargoes.It is also now required to investigate “any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities” used to break the embargoes, and to also identify ways in which the capacities of the region’s States can be strengthened to better implement the arms embargo.Violent conflict between Government forces and Islamist militias continues to grip Somalia, almost two decades since the collapse of its last functioning national government. Much of the population remains either internally displaced or based in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.Today’s resolution, which condemns the politicization, misuse and misappropriation of humanitarian assistance by armed groups, follows a report from the Monitoring Group claiming that some local contractors used by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have diverted aid for military use.WFP has said it is ready to provide full assistance to any independent investigation into its food distribution operation in Somalia, and today the Council called upon Member States and the UN “to take all feasible steps to mitigate” any misuse of humanitarian aid. 19 March 2010The Security Council today agreed to extend the United Nations panel of experts monitoring compliance with sanctions related to the conflict in Somalia for another year and to expand its mandate to try to maintain the arms embargo imposed in the region. read more

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Longawaited Ivorian polls off to good start says UN envoy

“It is very encouraging because everything is going peacefully and in an orderly fashion,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Y. J. Choi, said after touring three polling stations in the Abidjan and Sud-Comoé region. Leading a high-level delegation composed of members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of observer missions, Mr. Choi voiced satisfaction with regard to the holding of the election, while admitting it was too early to give a definitive assessment.“I congratulate Ivorians who have mastered their passion and emotion and have come out massively to exercise their civil right, peacefully and with discipline after having been patient for so long,” he said. The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005, were repeatedly postponed, most recently from March. They are a major step in restoring stability in the country, which was split by civil war into a Government-held south and rebel Forces Nouvelles-controlled north in 2002. An additional 500 troops are in the country to reinforce the 8,650-strong UN peacekeeping force (UNOCI) and assist with security during the election period. A second round of voting is scheduled for 28 November if today’s poll does not produce a clear winner.Cote 31 October 2010The head of United Nations operations in Côte d’Ivoire said on Sunday that he is encouraged by the start of voting in the West African nation’s long-awaited presidential elections. read more

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