Former AAP Cong leaders pledge to campaign for Narendra Modi

first_imgNew Delhi: Former leaders of AAP and Congress joined hands with BJP declaring their support for Narendra Modi’s 2019 election campaign in all seven seats of Delhi at a presser in the party’s state head office. Jitender Chaudhary, Hemant Jha, and Pushpa Sharma, formerly of AAP, pledged that they would full fledgedly campaign for BJP in the capital city in an effort to make sure undemocratic parties such as Congress and AAP do not come to power.Former youth wing leader of Congress Ayush Chaudhary, who also declared his support for BJP in the upcoming polls, said that the dynastic politics within Congress becomes very frustrating for party workers. “Now we will chant Bharat Mata ki Jai instead of Rahul Gandhi ki Jai,” he said. Addressing media personnel, State BJP President Manoj Tiwari said that schemes like Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Jandhan Yojana have benefited crores of citizens across the country. He also added that the nation’s trust in Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has constantly increased because of his positive policy-making, which will result in the party’s resounding victory.last_img read more

A new narrative

first_imgIt indeed came as a surprise when Shah Faesal announced his very early retirement from bureaucracy and articulated his reason for venturing into politics. As the first Kashmiri to have ever aced the Civil Services exam for 2011 batch, Dr. Shah Faesal’s popularity only took off with his celebrated selection. What held him in high esteem, however, have been his clarity of thought and expressions with respect to crucial matters of governance and political functioning. His comments and opinions regarding matters pertaining to Kashmir are known to be insightful and have a generally satisfactory extent of comprehensiveness which happen to holistically present an otherwise partial, chipped-off snippet of information. His critical comments on the functioning of the NDA government were as appreciated. His departure from bureaucracy came with a very compelling reason: To raise the concerns that were previously not possible while within the limits of official conduct and protocol. After some prolonged speculation about his possible affiliation to the valley’s prominent party National Conference and contesting from Baramullah, the former IAS officer launched his political party on Sunday amid grand fanfare. This was quite a marked turn-around from the notion he advocated previously that launching a new party would only add to the existing system in terms of numbers and not necessarily quality; what is needed on the contrary is a platform within the existing system which will allow fresh opportunities to the multitude of youth brimming with the urge to bring a constructive change and accomplish. Also Read – A compounding difficulty Articulating further his motivation behind launching his party, he emphasised the necessity of having civic needs met foremost: roads, electricity, safe drinking water, changing lives of people by making a much-needed overhaul of basic functioning at the very grassroots and not by propagating sensational ideas that mobilise masses that eventually fizzle out. But the hindrance to materialising this objective is the state of constant fear that an average Kashmiri lives in; the stepping stone to greater developments has to begin with addressing this fear. Shah Faesal’s march into mainstream politics has, however, is not been met with absolute support and many still continue to label him as ‘agent’ of the Army. In spite of all criticism, his resolve to end the state of mental slavery and siege is pursued undeterred. Promotion of sustainable development strategies, building progressive, gender-sensitive political institution with traditional values and modern sensibilities, uplifting the marginalised communities like the Gujjars and the Bakerwals (especially after the Kathua rape case), working for a transparent, clean corruption-free politics in J&K are some of the highlighted agendas of this new party. The objectives of JKPM are stated to be working for an inclusive and pluralistic society with adequate political representation for underprivileged communities. Also Read – An askew democracyIndeed, this is a refreshing set of objectives for a region that has been roiling in a political mess to the extent that the society and the social sector development took a back seat, and was only occasionally visible on the national front. There is no doubt that Shah Faesal has lifted the hopes of the common Kashmiri youth but it is still too early to predict the outcome with as much excitement as the ushering in of JKPM.last_img read more

Bengals Panchayat system a model for entire nation says CM

first_imgKolkata: On the national Panchayat Raj Day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the three-tier Panchayat system in Bengal is the model followed by the country.”Today is National #PanchayatiRaj Day. The three-tier #panchayat system in #Bangla is a model for the rest of the country. #Bangla is No. 1 in rural road construction under 100 Days’ Work scheme,” Banerjee tweeted on Wednesday. After coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave maximum emphasis on the construction of rural roads and from then till now, over 13,571 km of rural roads connecting different villages with state or national highways have been constructed. It may be recalled that during the Left Front regime, only 10,239 km of rural roads had been built between 2001 and 2011. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaDuring Left Front’s time, the Centre used to fund the entire construction cost of rural roads. From 2015-16, the Centre reduced its percentage and now it is providing 60 percent of the cost of construction. The state government has to give 40 percent of the cost of construction, along with maintenance of the roads. The Panchayat and Rural Development department has started construction of 8,000 km of rural roads and the department proposes to complete 35,000-odd rural roads by December 2019. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe improvement of rural connectivity has improved the standard of living of the rural populace. Because of better roads, business has gone up in the rural belts. More state-run buses have been deployed along with private buses in these areas. Because of road accessibility, the number of school dropouts has been reduced. Many resorts and hotels have also come up to promote eco-tourism, thanks to better connectivity. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Bengal has done a remarkable job not only in the construction of rural roads, but also in strengthening rural economy. The Panchayat and Rural Development department has also chalked out various schemes to make the Self Help Groups (SHGs) self-reliant. In the construction of rural roads, bricks made of fly ash which are manufactured in brick kilns run by the SHGs, have been used. The department has also excelled in making 19 out of 23 districts open defecation free (ODF). It may be recalled that the three-tier Panchayat system was introduced by the Left Front government. But during their rule, the condition of the villages had turned from bad to worse and the economic condition of the people had reached rock bottom.last_img read more

ICMR develops costeffective diagnostic test for blood disorders

first_imgNew Delhi: In a major medical development, the ICMR-NIIH, Mumbai has developed a cost-effective point-of-care (POC) rapid diagnostic test for severe Hemophilia A and von Willebrand disease (vWD).According to a senior ICMR official, the development of the rapid diagnostic test would prove to be a great boon for poor patients in general as the working cost of these kits is less than Rs 50 in comparison to existing conventional test for the diseases that cost around Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000. India has become the world’s first country to develop POC test for specific diagnosis of any common bleeding disorder, the official said. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghHaemophilia A and vWD are the commonest among bleeding disorders. As per the Western data, the incidence of Haemophilia A is 1 per 10,000 male births and that of vWD is around 1 per cent of the general population. “In India, there is no epidemiological data and with translation of this data with respect to the population, the country may have roughly 80,000-1,00,000 severe haemophilia cases, but the total number registered with Haemophilia Federation India (HFI) is only around 19,000,” the official said, adding that lack of awareness, lack of diagnostic facilities, high cost of tests are some of the factors for the underdiagnosis of bleeding disorders in the country. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”Both haemophilia A and vWD are underdiagnosed disorders in our country and there are only a handful of comprehensive diagnostic centres for bleeding disorders,” the official said. “The newly developed rapid test kit could be used for the diagnosis of undiagnosed patients/menorrhagia cases/post-partum haemorrhage (PPH), gynaecological complications with bleeding history, recovery of factors in the transfused Haemophilia A patients and also for differential diagnosis of both the diseases,” the official said.last_img read more

UK Muslim Baroness Warsi Resigns over Gaza

Meknes- Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim to serve in British Cabinet, resigned on Tuesday over Cameron’s government policy on Gaza.The senior minister in Britain’s Foreign Office tendered her resignation to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, over his government stance towards the conflict between Israel and Palestine.Warsi confirmed her resignation in a tweet that she posted on her official twitter account early this morning. With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 5, 2014Her tweet has been re-tweeted by more than thirty thousand twitter users and has gained the support of many twitter users.@SayeedaWarsi Respect to this brave lady. #SavaGaza #SavePalestine— Dr Sanjay Gangwani (@GangwaniSanjay) August 5, 2014@SayeedaWarsi At last someone in the Tory party standing up against genocide.— Darryl Collins (@darrylxxx) August 5, 2014A twitter user, who introduced himself as an Israeli, thanked the British minister for this move, admitting that his “government is committing crimes against humanity in #Gaza with UK government complicity”.@SayeedaWarsi Thank you from an Israeli citizen! My government is committing crimes against humanity in #Gaza with UK government complicity— Ofer N (@ofer_n) August 5, 2014In an interview with the Huffington Post after the announcement, Warsi said she “couldn’t sit silently by as the Israeli military committed acts that have been described by (U.N. Secretary-General) Ban Ki-moon as ‘moral outrages’ and ‘criminal acts’”.Warsi is not the first British politician who voiced their support for the people of Gaza who were under Israeli shelling for more than four weeks.British Liberal Democrat MP David Ward created controversial debate after his tweets in favour of Gaza.The MP was under fire for tweeting “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes” read more

Morocco no Ebola case detected watch and response level raised Health

Rabat – No case of the Ebola virus was detected up till now in Morocco, said, on Monday in Rabat, Health Minister Houcine El Ouardi, announcing the setting up of a national watch and response plan against the epidemic.Among the measures included in the said plan is the raising of the health watch and response in the different access points to the Kingdom, said the official at a meeting co-chaired with Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad.

Recent Terrorist Acts in Region Have Little Impact on Moroccan Tourism

Rabat – The terrorist acts committed recently in some countries in the region had a little impact on the Moroccan tourism, said communication minister, government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi.The despicable terrorist acts in some brotherly countries had affected tourism in our country but the impact remains very little, said El Khalfi at a press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting in Rabat, under the chairmanship of head of government Abdelilah Benkirane, adding that the Kingdom succeeded in keeping its image as an attractive country with a very competitive touristic product.He said that a communication plan was set up to proactively deal with the impact of these attacks against countries that are considered as tourism markets for Morocco, notably in Europe, underlining that government’s efforts touch also on a continued follow-up to curb the negative repercussions of these terrorist attacks. read more

HappyNass A Moroccan NonProfit Distributes Food to the Poor for Iftar

New York – In a program called “Ftouri Ftourek,” meaning “my breakfast is your breakfast,” the Casablanca-based non-profit collects and distributes basic Iftar food items to the city’s needy dwellers.In the video below, watch as a traveler named Charlie, on his Walk for Water from Denmark to Tanzania, films members of the HappyNass (Nass means people in Moroccan Arabic) distributing food out to poor and homeless people in Casablanca.In the video, members of HappyNass explain that their funding mainly comes from family and friends as well as fundraising on social media. The non-profit currently has nearly 11,000 likes on Facebook, where the group routinely posts updates on food preparation and distribution. One volunteer in the video, when asked why she volunteers with HappyNass, said that it was both because it is a part of her religion and because it feels good to help others.Though the “Ftouri Ftourek” program currently occupies most of the organization’s time, HappyNass helps the nation’s poor all year long through a variety of different programs and fundraising initiatives. read more

Peladeau may be interested in restarting Teo Taxi if industry rules changed

MONTREAL — The head of media conglomerate Quebecor Inc. has confirmed his personal financial interest in restarting insolvent electric transportation firm Teo Taxi, provided that certain rules about the industry are changed.Pierre Karl Peladeau tweeted his interest Tuesday, saying that as one of the service’s original customers, he has always believed in electric mobility and its potential for Quebec.However, he later warned that rules surrounding pricing should change, pointing to how Uber doesn’t operate according to the same rules as taxi companies.Some 400 drivers have been unemployed since Teo Tax ended its service because the company was not profitable and the shareholders didn’t want to inject new funds.Teo Taxi is part of Taxelco, which also owns Teo Techno as well as Taxi Diamond and Taxi Hochelaga. One of the founders, Alexandre Taillefer, says he hopes the company can be relaunched.According to a Friday court filing by the National Bank, one of the creditors, the debts of Taxelco and Teo Taxi are nearly $25 million, including almost $10.2 million tied to the bank.The Canadian Press read more

Expedia stops selling to Venezuela amid turmoil

CARACAS, Venezuela — Travel websites like Expedia and Orbitz have quietly stopped selling airline tickets for Venezuela amid recent political turmoil, further isolating the socialist-run country after years of declining flight service.On Thursday, it was impossible to find on the popular websites any Venezuelan cities in the drop-down list of booking options for hotels and flights to the South American country.The Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia Gorup said that the company was acting on behalf of travellers’ wellbeing and in accordance with recent travel advice by foreign governments about crime and civil unrest.“Once governmental advice reaches a certain level of travel concern, we take action to close off destinations on our sites,” spokeswoman Sarah Gavin told The Associated Press.Orbitz didn’t respond to a request for comment.Joshua Goodman, The Associated Press read more

Israel to Release Palestinian Teenager Ahed Tamimi on Sunday

Rabat- Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old teenager who became an icon of Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank, will be released from prison Sunday.Tamimi was sentenced to 8 months in prison after a video emerged showing her shoving two Israeli soldiers and slapping one of them in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She and her cousin appeared yelling at and pushing two armed soldiers from her family’s front yard.She was convicted of assaulting an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier. In addition to the 8 month prison sentence, Tamimi had to pay a fine of $1,437. The Palestinian teenager was arrested on December 19, 2017. Her mother, Nariman, and cousin were also arrested for the same incident.According to the Times of Israel, Tamimi said the soldiers shown in the video had shot her 15-year old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, in the head with a rubber bullet an hour before.“Then I saw the same soldiers who hit my cousin, this time in front of my house. I could not keep quiet and I responded as I did,” Tamimi added.Her father, Bassem Tamimi, wrote a post on his Facebook page on the day of her arrest. “The IOF [Israeli occupying forces] raid my home and arrested my daughter Ahed Tamimi after the Israeli media attaks (sic) here after she stop the solder (sic) in front of our house when he shot child on his head.”A spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service told the Times of Israel Wednesday that Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman will be released on Sunday.“They are then planning to hold a press conference at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which is slated for demolition by Israeli forces,” the same source added.Ahed’s father told Haaretz that he has been notified that his daughter will be released this Sunday, and family members will wait for her at the Jabbara checkpoint south of Tulkarm Sunday morning.Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky said on Thursday, “Tamimi’s long detention stemmed from political motives than from legal reasons.”“Legal proceedings are not intended to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and instead of sending minors to prison for resisting the occupation, the time has come for a courageous leadership to free us all from the chains of the occupation.”The 17-year old Palestinian’s case has drawn the attention of many people around the world.  Tamimi has had great support and sympathy from Palestinians, Arabs, and the international arena.They considered her a symbol of bravery standing up against Israeli aggression and occupation. read more

Senegal and Morocco Reaffirm Support for African Security Uphold Bilateral Ties

Rabat- Delegations from the two countries met at the 11th African Union summit on reforms in Addis Ababa. Saad Eddine El Othmani, Morocco’s head of government who led the Moroccan delegation at the summit, met with Mbagnick Ndiaye, Senegal’s minister of African integration.Discussions between the two delegations centered on finding ways to commit more African countries to the 3S initiative, a 2016-launched platform which Senegal and Morocco pioneered from the outset.Standing for “Sustainability, Stability, and Security” in Africa, 3S aims to help the AU achieve its most urgent goals, especially food security and irregular migration, according to Dakar and Rabat. As it expects to collect funds and other economic resources from both African governments and international partners, the 3S initiative seeks to create over 2 million jobs on the African continent.Within the context of stemming irregular migration among the continent’s youth—especially from rural areas— Dakar and Rabat have also pledged for more coordinated action to curb desertification.The move would entail restoring about 10 million hectares of cultivable land. The two countries hope that more job prospects and sufficient food will markedly decrease the urge among Africa’s youth to leave the continent.Senegal and Morocco’s push for an African platform to ensure security, stability, and sustainability is part of the AU’s broader reforms initiative that has been calling for structural reforms for nearly two years.Since the launch of the reform process in January 2017, Paul Kagame, the AU’s chair, has repeatedly noted the continent’s need for more financial autonomy.Achieving financial autonomy, African representatives have maintained, will allow for greater ownership of African policies on critical issues like security, migration, corruption, stability, and accountability of African governments vis-à-vis their own people rather than foreign aid donors.Senegal is Morocco’s foremost ally in sub-Saharan Africa. Dakarspearheaded Rabat’s return to the AU in January 2017 and has been a vocally favorable voice for Morocco’s aspirations to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).During their meeting in Addis Ababa, El Othmani and Ndiaye also upheld their nations’ historical and cultural ties. They insisted on greater bilateral relations and economic integration. read more

Last grants coming for endangered Route 66 program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Final grant season for an endangered federal program that’s helped preserve the historic Route 66 Highway for two decades is ending next month.The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is accepting grant applications until April 12 and it’s not clear if Congress will continue the project.At risk are millions of dollars in grants aimed at reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns.The program has helped finance projects like the El Vado Motel neon sign restoration in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Station restoration in Kansas. It’s administered by the National Park Service.Decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985, Route 66 went through eight states, connecting tourists with friendly diners and motor lodges in small towns.Russell Contreras, The Associated Press read more

Union Pacific Canopy move higher but Alcoa Skechers fall

NEW YORK — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily on Thursday:Alcoa Corp., down $1.06 to $26.66Lower prices pushed the aluminum products maker to a first quarter loss and the results fell short of forecasts.United Rentals Inc., up $10.24 to $136The equipment rental company’s first quarter profit and revenue beat forecasts on gains across geographic regions.Skechers USA Inc., down $3.68 to $31.60The shoe company’s first quarter sales fell short of forecasts and it issued a weak revenue outlook for the year.Union Pacific Corp., up $7.38 to $176.66The railroad reported better-than-expected first quarter profit as higher prices mostly offset lower freight volume.Sleep Number Corp., down $8.87 to $39.16First quarter sales fell just shy of forecasts for the seller of beds and mattresses and it warned of cost pressures throughout 2019.Snap-On Inc., up $10.23 to $168.07The tool and diagnostic equipment maker’s first quarter profit beat forecasts and it reported growth in its U.S. franchise network.Atlassian Corp., down $9.25 to $101.94The software company’s fourth-quarter profit forecast fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.Canopy Growth Corp., up $1.71 to $44.56The cannabis company signed a deal giving it the right to buy Acreage Holdings Inc. if the U.S. government legalizes the drug.The Associated Press read more

Haiti major gang leader arrested in capitals slums

8 May 2007A long-hunted Haitian gang leader accused of assassinations, kidnappings and extortion was arrested today in a joint operation by Haitian National Police and United Nations peacekeepers in Cité Soleil, the notorious slum area in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The arrest of Torchon Jean Eoldy, alias Blade Nasson, who terrorized the neighbourhoods of Ti-Haïti and Linteau, is a part of “the joint efforts of the blue helmets and the PNH to return a lasting peace to Cité Soleil,” according to the UN Mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.“It will, in particular, allow the population of Linteau and Ti-Haiti to get back little by little to normal life,” the mission noted in a press release.In addition to being the leader of violent criminal activity in his own right, Mr. Eoldy was also known as the right-hand man of another recently arrested gang leader, Bélony Emalyse, who has been accused of attacking MINUSTAH troops in Cité Soleil.In recent months, MINUSTAH has stepped up efforts to crack down on criminal gangs in violence-ridden Haiti; since the start of the year, more than 400 gang members have been arrested. read more

At UN debate Singapore calls for gradual evolution of key global institutions

28 September 2007A gradual evolution in global governance is necessary to make the world’s leading institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, mirror today’s “multi-polar reality,” Singapore’s Foreign Minister has told the General Assembly. A gradual evolution in global governance is necessary to make the world’s leading institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, mirror today’s “multi-polar reality,” Singapore’s Foreign Minister has told the General Assembly.Addressing the annual high-level debate, George Yeo said it was time for the key institutions to reflect the world of the current era and not that prevailing at the end of World War II, when so many were established.“The reform of the UN, including the UN Security Council, should take into account the weight of India, Japan, Germany and Brazil, and the growing importance of regional organizations,” Mr. Yeo said.“Selection for heads of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank should be widened. Membership of the G8 should be enlarged to include countries like China and India.”At the same time, Mr. Yeo stressed that it was important to still work with these institutions as they are, as not as States might wish them to be.“Unless there is another global conflagration, the improvement of global governance can only be achieved through gradual evolution, not revolution.”Brunei’s Foreign Minister, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, said civil society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), also deserved a much greater say in world affairs.“This means giving ordinary people a place in the consensus,” he said, adding he was encouraged by the statements so far of General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim regarding the need for multilateral solutions to the world’s most intractable problems.“We certainly agree with the need for the United Nations to strengthen its central position in the multilateral system.” read more

Ban Kimoon welcomes announcement of African summit on Zimbabwe

11 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is pleased that regional leaders in southern Africa are mobilizing to “help Zimbabwe overcome its post-electoral crisis through peaceful means.” Through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban congratulated the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for arranging a summit of heads of State in Lusaka, Zambia, on 13 April to discuss the situation. Earlier this week, Mr. Ban expressed concern that the results of presidential elections in Zimbabwe have not been released and urged the electoral authorities to do so “expeditiously and with transparency.”“The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate if there is no prompt action to resolve this impasse,” he added in today’s statement.In the presidential poll, the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, is facing Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. If a winning candidate does not win more than 50 per cent of the total votes, a run-off race is required. Mr Tsvangirai’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change, petitioned Zimbabwe’s High Court to demand the release of the election results. The electoral authorities have already announced the results of the Senate and parliamentary elections, which were held on the same day as the presidential vote. read more

Financial crisis threatens push to boost global health says top UN official

12 November 2008The current financial turmoil, exposing the high level of interdependence among countries, could threaten to derail the momentum towards improving global health, the head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warned today. The current financial turmoil, exposing the high level of interdependence among countries, could threaten to derail the momentum towards improving global health, the head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warned today.“It is not yet clear what the current financial crisis will mean for low-income and emerging economies, but many predictions are highly pessimistic,” Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. “In the face of a global recession, fiscal pressures in affluent countries may prompt cuts to official development assistance.”Further, the spectre looms of poorer nations potentially slashing social spending in areas such as health, education and social protection, she cautioned.The current crisis comes amid efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, which Dr. Chan characterized as “the most ambitious drive in history.”She noted that a 1978 drive to improve health to boost socioeconomic development was thwarted by a fuel crisis, soaring oil prices and a debt crisis.“In the international response to these crises, mistakes were made when budgets were shifted away from investments in social sectors, most notably health and education,” the statement said. “Many countries are still suffering the legacy of these errors.”Thus, it is essential to learn from previous mistakes and offset the current economic upheaval by enhancing investment in health and the social sector, the Director-General stressed.Stepping up spending is crucial to protect the poor, promote economic recovery, encourage social stability, generate efficiency in health expenditure and building security, she said.“We cannot afford, in this time of crisis, to squander our investments, to abandon our drive for greater balance in this world, which I firmly believe is a marker of civilized society,” Dr. Chan said, calling on all governments to press ahead with efforts to improve their health systems.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the summit of the so-called Group of 20 (G-20) nations later this week, said he will press upon world leaders the need to protect the world’s most vulnerable in the face of the turmoil shaking global financial markets.“We must do everything we can to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” Mr. Ban told reporters yesterday at his monthly news conference in New York. read more

Cypriot leaders agree to open new crossing point during UNbacked talks

26 June 2009Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed to open a new crossing point linking the two communities on the Mediterranean island, the United Nations envoy to the country announced today. “The two leaders decided to proceed with the opening of the Yesilirmak/Limnitis crossing point under normal rules of existing crossings,” Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, said in a statement read out after today’s meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Mr. Zerihoun said that the crossing of persons wishing to visit Erenköy/Kokkina will take place with the escort of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which has been in place on the island since 1964, after the outbreak of inter-communal violence. The visits will be made by minibuses every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Humanitarian issues, including travel by ambulances, fire engines and water tanks, were also agreed on during the talks. In May 2008, the leaders of the two communities committed themselves to working towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.” The partnership will comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which will be of equal status. read more

Same global resolve needed to fight organized crime as with terrorism –

“Our response must be global and integrated,” he told the Security Council at the start of a debate on the issue, citing efforts already taken to fight drugs and human trafficking and the so-called Kimberly process against blood diamonds to prevent the smuggling of illegally mined natural resources to arm and fund conflicts.“But there is so much more to be done against emerging threats like cyber-crime, money-laundering, environmental crime, and the dumping of hazardous waste,” he said. “Member States have united to fight pandemics, poverty, climate change and terrorism. We can and must do the same to counter organized crime.”At the same time, he warned that justice and human rights must be respected, with law enforcement never descending to the level of the criminals. “We cannot fight fire with fire. The criminals use ruthless and exploitative methods which we can never contemplate,” he said.He called for integration at all levels, nationally, regionally and internationally, noting that in West Africa lack of capacity has been overcome and vulnerability to drugs and crime is being reduced thanks to the work of the 16-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).The West Africa Coast Initiative involving the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) is also a good example of the “one UN” approach, he said.“I urge you to support similar regional initiatives, like the Santo Domingo Pact launched here at the United Nations today, which has the same aims for Central America and the Caribbean,” he declared. “With transnational threats, States have no choice but to work together. We are all affected, whether as countries of supply, trafficking or demand. Therefore, we have a shared responsibility to act.”UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa highlighted the dimensions of what is at stake, citing the profits of just the drug trade. “To put into perspective the massive proceeds from crime, think of this: the regular budget of UNODC is 1 per cent of the UN budget, that itself is less than 1 per cent of the yearly proceeds from the global drug trade – $320 billion,” he told the Council.“One line of cocaine snorted in Europe kills one square metre of Andean rain forest, and buys 100 rounds of AK-47 ammunition in West Africa. Multiply this by 850 tons of cocaine per year and you see that is a bigger mismatch than David versus Goliath.”He highlighted the interconnection between transnational crime and conflicts, development and endemic corruption. “International mafias exploit the instability caused by conflicts, they thrive in areas lost to insurgency, and take advantage of a government’s inability to provide security,” he said.“This creates a vicious circle… vulnerability attracts crime, crime in turn deepens vulnerability. In a chain reaction, humanitarian crises follow, development is stalled and peacekeepers are deployed,” he added, calling development and security key tools in eliminating vulnerability.“To illustrate all this, take a map of illicit trafficking routes and overlay it with a map of conflicts. Then juxtapose a histogram of per-capita incomes. You will see that crime, violence and underdevelopment overlap. And these regions, of course, coincide with UN peacekeeping operations.”Better knowledge of the ways of organized crime is also essential, he said, noting that smugglers, insurgents and terrorists operate in precisely those places that are out of government control and too scary for tourists or investors, running fleets of ships and planes, trucks and containers carrying tons of drug and weapons, unperturbed and undetected.Or if they are detected, it is most likely to be by pure chance, as in the case of a drug-trafficking Boeing 727 jet that crashed last year in the Gao region of Mali, an area plagued by insurgency and terrorism.In a presidential statement read by Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for February, the 15-member body cited the links between drug trafficking and financing terrorism, noted kidnapping and hostage-taking for political and fundraising reasons, and called on States “to increase international and regional cooperation on the basis of a common and shared responsibility.” 24 February 2010The United Nations today denounced organized crime as a threat to international peace and security, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on Member States to confront the scourge with the same unity and determination they have shown in fighting pandemics or terrorism. read more