Kolkata: In a major reshuffle in the IPS rank, the state government awarded posting to four IPS officers including the then Commissioner of Police(CP) of Kolkata and Bidhannagar who were removed by the Election Commission on Friday late night. Jayanta Kumar Basu, who was serving as Director, Directorate of Economic Offences, was appointed as ADG, Establishment. On Friday, the Election Commission had removed CP Kolkata Anuj Sharma and CP, Bidhannagar, Gyanwant Singh from their respective posts along with two IPS officers holding the post of Superintendent of Police (SP) in Bolpur and Diamond Harbour police district respectively. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to the order published on Saturday by the state Home & Hill Affairs department, Anuj Sharma has been posted as the Additional Director General (ADG), Operations, whereas Gyanwant has been posted as the Director of the Directorate of Economic Offences in the rank of ADG. Apart from the two top cops, SP Diamond Harbour S Selvamurugan has been transferred to the post of Commandant (CO) of State Armed Police (SAP), 6th Battalion. Avvaru Rabindranath who was posted in Bidhannagar Police has been made SP Birbhum replacing Shyam Singh who has been transferred to CO, SAP 13th Battalion. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayMeanwhile, as per the EC order, Rajesh Kumar took over charge as Kolkata CP and Natarajan Ramesh Babu assumed charge as CP, Bidhannagar on Saturday afternoon. Kumar, after taking over charge, said he would ensure conductance of free and fair elections in the state. “Kolkata Police is a prestigious unit and its system is unquestionable. Several steps have already taken by the Kolkata Police which are very good and effective,” he added.
It’s a rare feat and a rare sight too. Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni achieved a major landmark on Thursday to become the first-ever captain in IPL cricket to win 100 matches. “The history of the world,” wrote Thomas Carlyle, “is but the biography of great men.” And if his ideas have been discredited since, in sport, at least, they’ve still some truth to them. For the rest of his life as captain of the Indian cricket team, Dhoni has led India to victory in the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. He is the man who brought himself on to bowl for four overs in the Champions Trophy semi‑final against Sri Lanka, took off his gloves so that he could better carry out a run-out off the last ball to beat Bangladesh in the World T20 meet. He is also the one to promote himself up to No. 5 in the order during the World Cup final in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium though he had barely made a run all tournament long. Dhoni is the only cricketer who has been picked as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people on the planet. His aggression, attitude and captaincy have shaped the entire landscape of the modern game. He is a winner, a great mentor, charming and humble as always. But his recent feat was marred by a long debate. An emotionally-charged Dhoni, who had just been dismissed after a stunning performance, stormed on to the ground from the Chennai Super Kings’ dugout and confronted the umpires on why they had failed to call an above-the-waist delivery from Rajasthan Royals’ Ben Stokes a no-ball. Dhoni argued that Ulhas Gandhe, the umpire standing at the bowler’s end, had raised his arm to signal a no-ball. But he quickly realised that it was not his call and reversed his decision after square leg umpire Bruce Oxenford considered it a legal delivery. Oxenford stood his ground and refused to go upstairs to the third umpire which was kind of unfair. Dhoni was furious at Gandhe for backtracking after initially signalling it as a no-ball. However, CSK eventually beat Rajasthan Royals by four wickets in a last-ball cliffhanger. Dhoni has been fined 50 per cent of his match fees for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct. With the pressure getting to him, MSD totally lost his cool and the world finally got a glimpse of ‘Uncool Dhoni’. Whoever the player is, he is definitely not bigger than the game. The decorated captain set the wrong precedence and considering his level of maturity and composure, he will surely realise that he shouldn’t have done it in the first place.
The third phase of Lok Sabha elections today will mark polling in 117 constituencies spread across 13 states and two Union Territories. While all constituencies of Kerala, Gujarat, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu will vote in the third phase, some seats from UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam will join the fray with a solitary seat of Anantnag in Jammu & Kashmir witnessing second part of its three-phase voting. Due to security concerns, polling in East Tripura was deferred from the second phase to the third. A number of key constituencies feature in the third phase as stalwarts of the political spectrum fight it off to secure the maximum seats. A comprehensive win for either Congress or BJP in the third phase will be significantly beneficial in the cumulative tally with regional parties hoping to amass a significant share. In Gujarat, as many as 573 candidates are in the fray for 26 Lok Sabha seats. While the state campaigning in BJP’s bastion has been largely around Modi and his second term, making local BJP candidates irrelevant, there is no Modi from Vadodara this time. However, one simply cannot rule out party president Amit Shah making his electoral debut from Gandhinagar replacing senior leader LK Advani. BJP continues to maintain a strong hold on Gujarat’s urban constituencies – Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot – which means that it should not be much work for Shah. But same may not be the case in the Saurashtra region, North Gujarat and the tribal belt. Adding uncertainty on a certain land for BJP is the outcome of the December 2017 assembly polls where BJP won a closely fought battle by a whisker. Agrarian distress remains the single-largest issue in the state with Modi sure that Gujarat will provide a similar mandate as it did back in 2014 when BJP swept all seats. Kerala remains a battleground mainly between Left Democratic Front and Congress with BJP set to play spoilsport by dividing the vote. Congress and its allies will be hoping to better their 2014 tally with Congress fielding party president Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad. While Thiruvananthapuram rests in the capable hands of Shashi Tharoor, Pathanamthitta may see BJP score some brownie points due to Sabarimala row following its inclusion in their manifesto. But even so, it is likely that BJP draws minimum seats in the southern state while Congress and Left front fight it out for a majority. Goa’s two seats will see a traditional fight between BJP and Congress but it is Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) which will be instrumental in deciding whose way Goa goes. While BJP recovers from the setback of Parrikar’s demise, MGP has backed two of Congress’s candidates making it an opposite picture of 2014 when it aided BJP in winning the South Goa seat. It has been touted that livelihoods affected by mining ban will decide the fate of Goan politics. Maharashtra will see some of NCP strongholds voting today with NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule contesting from the party’s bastion in Baramati. Comprehensively, Maharashtra, across phases, is set for a BJP-Shiv Sena combine against NCP-Congress one. While Congress-NCP combine has been dominant in the state’s sugar belt, befitting challenge from BJP-Sena might change the narrative being the dominant force in the 2014 elections. Maharashtra faces a visible farmer discontent which may twist the outcome. Karnataka will see allies Congress and The Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) up against BJP who has a stronghold in most of the 14 constituencies that will poll today. Uttar Pradesh is set for a massive showdown with both BJP and Congress’s chances being reduced drastically by a strong SP-BSP-RLD, especially with the election being held in the Yadav belt. Samajwadi Party strongholds of Mainpuri, Badaun, and Sambhal will likely see an alliance victory, all the more since Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Akhilesh Yadav’s stage presence has given their alliance the much-needed boost. Mainpuri will be especially challenging for BJP which has never won there. Also Read – A compounding difficultyBJP’s Jaya Prada is contesting against SP’s Azam Khan in Rampur with the latter having served a 72-hour ban for controversial comments on his actor-turned-politician competitor. With mob-lynching and anti-incumbency influencing people’s mandate, BJP’s chances appear slim despite their landslide victory in the assembly polls in 2017. In Chhattisgarh, while BJP is all set to fight the anti-incumbency by removing all of its sitting MPs, it faces stiff competition from Congress owing to their recent victory in assembly polls and subsequent delivery of poll promises. The mood that marked Congress’s return to power after 15 years is likely to be carried over to the Lok Sabha polls. In West Bengal, a four-way competition between TMC, Congress, BJP and CPI will most probably split the results, though Congress and TMC are likely to share the spoils. In an ally-centric battle, Bihar will see BJP allies Janata Dal (United) (JDU) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) lock horns with Congress allies Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP). Lower Assam’s 4 seats will be eyed by Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) with both seeking favour over their abject objection to BJP’s rigid stance on Citizenship Amendment Bill. In the militancy-hit region of Anantnag, the second part of the three-staged poll will be held with security measures beefed up due to volatile districts – Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama – in the segment. Phase 3 will be crucial to the grand outcome and mandate will aptly reflect the underlying local issues. What is essential for today’s phase three is a greater voter turnout after Anantnag witnessed a comparatively low turnout with other states doing moderately better. It should not be forgotten than voter turnout can single-handedly change the narrative of mandate and hence it is important that every last citizen comes out to vote.
New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday censured Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his remarks in which he allegedly warned the Muslim community that efforts were on to divide their votes in Bihar, and barred him from campaigning for 72 hours. The ban comes into force from 10 am, Tuesday. The Punjab minister joins leaders such as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BSP supremo Mayawati, Union minister Maneka Gandhi and SP leader Azam Khan who faced similar campaign ban recently. “The Commission…strongly condemns the impugned statements made by him during election campaign held at Barsoi and Barari of Katihar District,” the order rapping Sidhu reads. It also “censured” him for the “misconduct” “The Commission, under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this behalf, bars him from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows and interviews, public utterances in media (electronic, print. social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections for 72 hours from 10am on April 23, 2019,” it said. Addressing an election rally in Katihar on April 16, the cricketer-turned-politician had stoked a controversy by urging Muslim voters of a Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar with sizeable population of the minority community to vote en bloc and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The comments by the former test cricketer came when he was canvassing in support of veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Tariq Anwar.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Joko Widodo on Tuesday for his re-election as the Indonesian president, saying he looked forward to working with him to further deepen the bilateral partnership. Widodo was re-elected as the leader of Indonesia, the third-biggest democracy in the world, on Tuesday. “Heartiest congratulations @jokowi on your re-election! As two large democracies, we take collective pride in successful celebration of democracy. We wish you and people of Indonesia all success under your dynamic leadership,” Modi said in a tweet. He added that as the two nations marked seven decades of diplomatic relationship, “I look forward to working closely with you to further deepen our bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”
Fez- Any person acquainted with Algeria’s rhetoric over the past three decades regarding the question of the Sahara would tell you that it has always been supportive of the Polisario and its “right” to establish an independent state in the Sahara. She/ he would also tell you that Algeria supports the Polisario because the principle of self-determination is one of the tenets of its foreign policy, that Morocco annexed the Sahara in 1975 and is illegally occupying the territory and violating the human rights of the Saharawis.Yet a video aired by Al Jazeera channel shows that the reality has not always been quite like that. Al Jazeera’s video shows a letter written in 1975 by Algeria’s current president Abdeliaziz Boutefliak, who was then his country’s foreign minister, where he states: “Algeria reiterates that it has no designs on the Sahara” but ” takes note with full satisfaction of the agreement between the two countries”. In the same document, Bouteflika says that “Both countries are convinced of the need to improve the coordination of their action in order to put an end as soon as possible, to the Spanish occupation” of the Sahara.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
Miami – Manchester United goalkeeper, David De Gea, is absent from the British club’s official marketing products this season due to his last-minute failed transfer on deadline day to Real Madrid.The Red Devils were allegedly forced to remove his image from several of the promotional materials where players’ names and photos appear, such as the club’s calendar.According to UK’s Daily Mirror, a former Man United employee declared that the British club was not sure if De Gea was going to remain with them. Therefore, they had to eliminate his image as a Red Devils player when he was about to sign with Real Madrid, because it was risky and it would have affected the fans.“The marketing department was running out of time, they were desperate to include De Gea, but thought he would end up leaving so they could not risk to have one of their former stars appear in the calendar that would hang on their fans’ walls,” explained the former club’s employee.The same source, who chose to speak on the condition of anonymity, said the Spanish star was also taken out of every other Manchester United official advertisement this season.David De Gea’s photo does not appear on the team’s souvenirs, such as books and notebooks, which were printed before the closing of the last summer transfer window.Ever since his transfer to Real Madrid failed, the 24-year-old Spanish international resolved his problems with manager Louis Van Gaal and both have been quoted as saying to be “delighted” to continue working together.De Gea is back to being the team’s main goalie after signing a new four-year contract with the Red Devils until 2019, with option for extension.Even if deleted from the team’s marketing, De Gea will still receive royalties from the sale of the club’s products.
SYDNEY, N.S. — A Cape Breton call centre that abruptly closed last month has hired back more than 90 per cent of its workforce, offering enhanced benefits and increasing entry-level wages.The Sydney Call Centre Inc. is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to thank the community and celebrate its official reboot — and the company’s first pay day. Owner Anthony Marlowe says about 480 workers have returned to the operation after being laid off by the previous owner of the facility just before Christmas. It reopened Jan. 2. He says the company now provides workers with free medical and dental benefits as well as life insurance, which he calls a small investment in the health and well-being of the loyal and dedicated workforce.Marlowe says he was met with applause today after workers cashed their first pay cheques in several weeks.Tanya Wilneff, a director at the call centre, says the company has received a “solid flow of resumes,” a stack which now sits at around 400, and plans to grow the workforce.Marlowe says the call centre may add training capacity to accelerate the addition of new workers, with plans to add 50 full-time equivalent positions by spring.The Canadian Press
Casablanca — King Mohammed VI attended the inauguration of the Ettedgui Synagogue and the adjacent El Mellah Museum in Casablanca on Friday, following their rehabilitation, according to a statement issued by the Maghreb Arab Presse (MAP).Serge Berugo, Secretary-General of the Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, tells the MAP that the restoration of the synagogue and the museum, “where are exhibited paintings retracing the history of Judaism in Morocco, will also preserve the authentic Moroccan identity.”The synagogue and museum’s restoration display the King’s commitment to conserving spaces of cultural dialogue and coexistence, Berugo added. These restorations were carried out as part of the second phase of the rehabilitation program of Casablanca’s old medina, which also restored the Sidi Allal Al Karaouani Mausoleum, the Dar Annassij (weaving house) and the July 9 Health Center. The program, so far, has invested 3.1 million dirhams in the rehabilitation of these important and historic cultural spaces.“All these projects,” adds the statement, “are part of the Grand Royal Plan for Casablanca Metropolis Development.”The Jewish community in Morocco has always been an important one, as they’ve been present in the country for over 2,000 years, and Morocco has always been a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews, and King Mohamed VI’s commitment to restoring these historic and cultural spaces is a symbol of that.
By Ayesha UlhaqRabat – New York Authorities Have Confirmed New Rules Allowing Sikh Police Officers to Wear Turbans and Grow Beards.The New York Police Department has changed its policy to permit Sikh and Muslim officers to grow beards of 1.27cm long and wear turbans for religious purposes with the aim of recruiting more minorities. The New York Police Department has stated that the turbans must be naval-force blue and have the NYPD symbol attached.Under the new rules, religious individuals on the police force are also allowed to grow beards up to half an inch long for religious reasons.Prior to this, Sikh officers have worn turbans under their police hats and beards have not been permitted.New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill declared the new rule on Wednesday after a graduation ceremony for new police recruits. Mr. O’Neill said the change was to encourage the recruitment of religious individuals from the community to apply.He told the New York Times, “We’re making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work in the greatest police department in the nation, to make sure we give them that opportunity.”Of the 557 volunteers who graduated at the ceremony, 33 are Muslims and two are Sikhs, the Times reported.The Sikh Officers Association, an advocacy group in the U.S. that works to protect the religious freedom, expressed gratitude to Mr. O’Neill in a tweet, including that it was a “proud moment” for the Sikh community. They also commented that they are “optimistic about what this announcement represents in the way of progress.”There was a similar change in the U.S. Army earlier this year. In May, a Sikh soldier who was forced to shave off his hair and beard in order to join the US Army won the right to wear a black or camouflage turban and grow his facial hair.
Rabat – German luxury automaker BMW will recall over 323,700 cars across Europe due to a malfunction in the exhaust gas recirculation module.After numerous BMW car engines caught fire in South Korea, prompting a South Korean government investigation and backlash from customers, BMW spokesperson Kim Hyo-Joon offered his sincere apologies to the government and consumers.“We offer our sincere apology with our heads down for causing concern and anxiety among customers, the public and the government due to recent fire accidents,” Kim said in a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, August 8. “We also offer a sincere apology to customers who suffered the latest fire accidents.” BMW said that it will launch a recall of more than 100,000 diesel vehicles in South Korea alone, mostly the 520d sedans. Similar cases have been reported in numerous European countries. In Germany 96,300 will be recalled, as well as 75,000 units in the UK, 23,500 in France, and 24,000 in Italy.The malfunction in the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) module that was initially aimed at reducing emissions from diesel engines, was revealed two years after the first cars caught fire. The company’s Korean customers expressed anger because BMW knew of the problems, and they urged the government to open an investigation into BMW’s alleged delay in announcing a recall.Read also: BMW Morocco Debuts Hybrid SeriesThe recall, expected to begin on August 20, aims to fix all issues related to the EGR that generated excessive sediment and caused fire.However, according to South Korean media, all BMWs including those with a gasoline engine, are prevented from entering parking garages for fear they will cause a fire.BMW says that it has not yet determined the cost of the recall as it will first examine how many cars require to be fixed.The German giant is the second most popular luxury car in South Korea after Mercedes. It sold more than 59,624 vehicles in South Korea this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
BARCELONA, Spain — Spain is preparing to hold its third parliamentary election in less than four years. But even though the exercise is familiar, uncertainty surrounds the election’s outcome.Polls indicate a substantial share of voters, about one-third, hadn’t decided by the final week of campaigning how they would mark their ballots on Sunday.Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is hoping for a strong mandate to stay in the office he assumed 11 months ago when a no-confidence vote ousted his conservative predecessor.A rising populist party also confounds confident predictions at the other end of the ideological spectrum. The Vox party is expected to give the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament its first lawmakers from the far right since the 1980s.___Aritz Parra contributed to this report from Madrid.Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Luckin Coffee, a fast-growing rival to Starbucks in China, jolted higher in its U.S. stock market debut Friday.The Chinese company, which opened its first store in Beijing less than two years ago, has 2,370 locations and plans to surpass the 3,700 stores Starbucks has in China by the end of the year. Unlike Starbucks, Luckin is losing money.Unlike Starbucks, Luckin is losing money.Most of its stores are small, have few seats and are used mainly as a place to pick up mobile orders.Through its app, customers can watch their coffee being made after making an order. It also offers delivery in 30 minutes or less, and says it gives customers refunds for any delays or spilled drinks.Luckin raised $561 million in its initial public offering Friday by selling 33 million American depositary shares at $17 apiece. The ADS, which is trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol “LK,” shot up 44% to $24.50 Friday.Luckin has never been profitable. It brought in $125 million in revenue last year, but spent much more than that on coffee beans, store rent and other costs. Last year, it lost $475 million.The Associated Press
PENDLETON, Ore. — The eastern Oregon city of Pendleton has stopped jailing people unable to pay fines, a city official said, following the settlement of a federal lawsuit contending city officials were running a debtors’ prison.The East Oregonian reports in a story on Saturday that city attorney Nancy Kerns said city court officials recently adopted new policies that ban the use of jail time for fines arising from minor violations.“No person shall be incarcerated for the inability and lack of financial resources to pay financial obligations to the Court, including fines, costs and restitution,” the policy states.The policy also requires the city court to consider defendants’ ability to pay and appoint attorneys to indigent defendants who face jail time.Anglea Minthorn spent nearly two months in jail in 2017 for owing about $1,000.She sued in early 2018, contending the city was violating the U.S. Constitution by incarcerating a debtor unable to pay the debt.Minthorn’s “experience is not unique,” the lawsuit said. “It is a reflection of how defendants operate a modern-day debtors’ prison in which people who cannot afford to pay court-imposed fines arising out of minor violations are arrested, incarcerated, and fined further.”The lawsuit described Minthorn as a low-income person with disabilities who struggled to get stable housing, medical care and food. The lawsuit said she was hospitalized for 74 days in 2016 because of stroke-like symptoms.Minthorn did not contest a 2014 judgment against her and afine for $873. The lawsuit questioned why the amount of that fine later rose to $2,493 with no reason given.Ultimately, the city settled with Minthorn in April, agreeing to pay her $130,000.Minthorn received about $80,000. Legal Aid Services of Oregon, a non-profit civil legal program that provides access to legal help, received $45,000. Some $4,300 went to a trust to administer the settlement payments, and the city received $1,033 for Minthorn’s outstanding fines.“This lawsuit should put all of Oregon on notice to take a look at their practices on this,” said Sarah Armstrong of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.___Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.comThe Associated Press
Israelis and Palestinians are currently engaged in the most intensive negotiations on issues pertaining to final status since the political process broke down almost eight years ago, a senior United Nations official told an open meeting of the Security Council today.However, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane warned the 15-member body that “the significance of this should not be underestimated, but neither should the grave risks to the process be overlooked.”She noted that there have been several major incidents of violence recently, particularly in and around Gaza.The area “has also witnessed heightened humanitarian distress, while conditions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem have not significantly improved despite continuing efforts,” Ms. Kane said in her briefing to the Council on the events of the past month.During the reporting period, Ms. Kane said, 69 Palestinians, including 15 children, were killed in operations of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and 95 injured, while six Israelis were killed by Palestinian militants and 27 injured.“We are deeply alarmed at the prospects of a further intensification of violence, given the terrible implications for civilians and the threat such conflict would pose to the security of all parties – the Palestinians, Israel and Egypt,” she said, calling on the latter country to continue its efforts towards bringing calm to Gaza.Following the 9 April attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal the Israeli Government is re-examining security mechanisms for secure commercial fuel delivery into Gaza.“Had Nahal Oz not been able to reopen today, the [Gaza] power plant would have shut down and most areas of Gaza would have experienced increased electricity cuts,” the Assistant Secretary-General said.Low levels of fuel have resulted in vehicular transport being brought to a standstill and 15-20 per cent of the Gazan population receiving water for 3-5 hours every four days.Some 60,000 cubic meters of raw and partially treated sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean Sea daily, and most fishing vessels have been grounded, meaning the sardine season will be lost, Ms. Kane reported.Humanitarian agencies are also being impacted. The fuel supplies of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will run out on 24 April, and in a bid to conserve fuel, it is prioritizing food distribution, solid waste removal and sewage projects.“As of tomorrow, unless petrol is allowed in, UNRWA will discontinue its food assistance to 650,000 refugees as well as its garbage collection services benefiting 500,000 Gazans,” she said, adding that a further 500,000 people in one dozen municipalities are living without any solid waste management capacity, mostly due to the lack of fuel.The Assistant Secretary-General welcomed the Israeli Government’s removal of obstacles in the West Bank. However, UN staff have found that only 44 have been removed, of which only five were significant.“We welcome these removals, but strongly urge further and more substantive progress to ease restrictions as envisaged in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access and is vital to Palestinian economic revival,” she observed.She also voiced support for the re-affirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative, “which remains a central element in the search for peace in the region. We encourage Arab support for President [Mahmoud] Abbas’ efforts to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel; Prime Minister [Salam] Fayad’s efforts to build the institutions of a future Palestinian state; and for Palestinian unity.”On Lebanon, Ms. Kane said the country is undergoing “an intense political crisis” that has prevented the presidential election, with the top office having remained vacant since late last November.Furthermore, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has noticed a sharp increase in the daily number of Israeli air violations, which surged from 282 in February to 692 in March and reached 476 in the first half of April alone.“The overflights constitute violations of Lebanese sovereignty and the Blue Line and continue to undermine the credibility of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces,” Ms. Kane stated.On 2 May, the principals of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – consisting of the UN, European Union, United States and Russian Federation – are gathering in London for a meeting chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to assess the process launched in Annapolis in November 2007.Mr. Ban, along with Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Robert Serry, are working with both sides, the regional partners and within the Quartet “to support the political process, encourage action to meet commitments and improve conditions on the ground, and address the grave humanitarian, political and security situation in and around Gaza,” the Assistant Secretary-General told the Security Council. 23 April 2008Israelis and Palestinians are currently engaged in the most intensive negotiations on issues pertaining to final status since the political process broke down almost eight years ago, a senior United Nations official told an open meeting of the Security Council today.
25 June 2008The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be supporting the reintegration of 180,000 Sudanese ex-combatants as they return to civilian life under an agreement signed today with the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be supporting the reintegration of 180,000 Sudanese ex-combatants as they return to civilian life under an agreement signed today with the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is an important component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan.The agreement signed today builds on the achievements of the disarmament and demobilisation pilot phase launched in 2006. The beneficiaries will include some 24,000 members of the Sudan Armed Forces and 26,000 others pre-registered by the Popular Defence Forces. Nearly 5,300 women associated with armed forces and groups, and 17,500 disabled combatants are also eligible. Under the four-year programme – which will be led and implemented by the DDR Commissions of North and South Sudan, with support from UNDP – ex-combatants will receive social, economic and psychological support as they make the transition back into civilian life and begin anew in their communities. “We welcome the Government of Sudan’s leadership in taking forward the DDR programme, and aim to assist the building of national and local capacities to support national ownership of the process,” said UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert.“The dividends of peace are long overdue. Employment generation and re-integration of former combatants is key to this process,” he added. The agreement was signed at a DDR Donor Conference in Geneva, co-chaired by UNDP and the Government of Japan, at which donors reiterated their full support to the Sudan DDR programme, requiring $430 million over a four-year period.Adequate funding will be key to ensuring the sustainability of the programme which is designed to help foster peace and security in Sudan. “It must be seen in a broader context of support to peace and national reconciliation, post–conflict stabilization, peace building and conflict reduction,” said Ameerah Haq, UNDP Resident Representative in Sudan. “The reintegration programme will thus complement existing Government and UN programming that focuses on building peace at the community level.”
UN Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah has also expressed his deep sadness at the deaths of some 20 Somali women in a bombing in the capital on Sunday.“These women were killed [while] trying to do their work and improve life in Mogadishu by cleaning the streets. Nothing can justify the deaths of innocent victims, especially wives and mothers such as these who were working hard to make ends meet,” he said.“After so many years of violence, Somalis should use this sad time to regain their sense of dignity through working together for lasting peace,” he added.Voicing concern over the current problems regarding the administration of Mogadishu, the Special Representative urged all Somalis to remain united in the quest for peace and reconciliation in the country, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.“The Somali people knew there would be challenges on the path to peace and they should not be discouraged,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said in a statement issued on Saturday. “As the end of the transition period is less than a year away, I call on the Somali people to remain united and solve their political problems.”Under the peace agreement reached on 9 June in neighbouring Djibouti, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled Horn of Africa country.He added that it was unfortunate that this situation came at a time when the parties which signed the Djibouti Agreement have just submitted the names of their participants in the two key committees.The envoy said the Joint Security Committee, which is tasked with following up on the implementation of security arrangements, and the High Level Committee, which will deal with political cooperation, justice and reconciliation, will be holding meetings shortly.“I welcome this important step by the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia and their continuing commitment to the Agreement,” said Mr. Ould-Abdallah. “We must keep moving forward to ensure the Agreement is fully implemented as soon as possible.”The political problems also come at a time when the country is facing a humanitarian crisis caused by conflict, drought, and price rises in basic commodities. Some 2.6 million Somalis – representing 35 per cent of the population – are believed to be in need of humanitarian aid. 4 August 2008The top United Nations envoy to Somalia has called on the people of the strife-torn nation to work together to overcome the political problems that are threatening to unravel a peace deal reached in June, amid reports that two-thirds of the country’s government ministers have resigned and the Mayor of Mogadishu has been fired.
The largest emergency relief response in history was prompted by the earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on 26 December 2004, which sent waves as high as 30 metres crashing into 14 countries, claiming nearly 230,000 lives and leaving around 2 million people homeless. The international community pledged over $14 billion in aid for the overall emergency relief and recovery operations, according to a recent UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report summarizing the results of its programmes, which have received almost $700 million to date.The report noted that communities whose livelihoods, homes, schools and heath facilities were destroyed have had opportunities to build back better health, education, water and sanitation services, as well as improve the security of areas vulnerable to natural disaster or violent conflict, and provide safer environments for vulnerable children.For example, the UNICEF-supported Darusada Children’s Centre in Aceh – a region on the northern tip of Sumatra with the closest major population to the epicentre of the 2004 earthquake – opened in 2007 and currently serves around 120 children who have been orphaned, abandoned or sexually assaulted.In addition, the court house in the regional capital Banda Aceh has added a juvenile court which is presided over by a judge who has been given special training by UNICEF. Changes in the juvenile justice system in Indonesia were also adopted after the tsunami to strengthen child protection provisions. The UNICEF report noted that the unparalleled international response to the tsunami created a unique opportunity to bolster the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the separatist Free Aceh Movement which resulted in the signing of a peace agreement in 2005 after 70 years of conflict.Recovery efforts in Thailand have been instrumental in building a model Child Protection Monitoring System, which was initially established in 2007 to identify and monitor children orphaned by the tsunami, as well as other at-risk children. The report also underscored some of the lessons learned from the relief and recovery operations, with efforts in Myanmar positively influencing preparedness and response to other emergency situations. Following Cyclone Mala and other emergencies in 2006, as well as Cyclone Nargis in 2008, for example, UNICEF was able to swiftly mobilize and deliver emergency relief supplies, including family and child survival kits, insecticide treated bednets, and essential drugs for local health centres, in the affected areas. In the Maldives, all the houses on the island of Dhuvaafaru are newly built, and construction to defend against rising sea-levels is ongoing. After years spent in temporary settlements on other islands, Dhuvaafaru has been transformed into a new home for an entire community displaced from nearby Kandholhudhoo by the tsunami, but with 4,060 people living in 600 homes, around 80 more houses need to be built.Expanded social services are also helping to protect and promote children’s right in the Maldives, and a UNICEF-backed non-governmental organization (NGO) is at the heart of the fight against the growing problem of intravenous drug use among adolescents since the tsunami.UNICEF noted that recovery programmes in some countries have now drawn to a close, with continuing projects handed over to the national authorities or integrated into existing programmes carried out by the UNICEF country offices. Due to the scale of the recovery required in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the agency said it will continue to support reconstruction activities through the end of 2010.The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has highlighted the power of community involvement in the reconstruction process, with shopkeepers, fishermen and women getting together to plan and build their new homes.“There was a great rush to get people back into permanent housing, but that rush could create problems, preventing a meaningful discussion with people and with the communities,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Thailand Hakan Bjorkman.“It took a little bit longer but the results were much better, and this is the essence of the ‘build back better’ concept – to have people involved in their reconstruction,” said Mr. Bjorkman.UNDP noted that since the tsunami governments, international agencies and civil society organizations have banded together to construct 250,000 permanent houses, over 100 air and seaports, thousands of schools and hospitals, as well as create national and regional tsunami warning systems by placing early detection buoys in the Indian Ocean. In collaboration with other UN agencies, national and international organizations and in cooperation with the Discovery Channel, UNDP has made a documentary telling the story of how community engagement has been successful in the mending and rebuilding lives affected by the tsunami in the hardest-hit areas of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives. The film shows that many formerly marginalized groups are playing increasingly more significant roles in their communities as a result of recovery initiatives, such as job training for women in fish processing, as well as marketing and business. 29 December 2009Five years after the massive Indian Ocean tsunami, which left a devastating trail of death and destruction, millions of people have benefited from the influx of aid by rebuilding stronger infrastructure, social services and disaster warning systems than existed before the catastrophe, according to the United Nations agencies at the core of the recovery effort.
Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, where the Conference is meeting, told members today that they were supposed to have made progress on a proposed international ban on weapon-grade nuclear material over the past four weeks.Instead, he said, that progress was “not even zero – it was minus,” with members unable to even agree on a programme of work.That was “not only intolerable in the Conference, but it was also becoming intolerable in international relations – with the most important United Nations body dealing with disarmament not able to do anything but even regressing,” Mr. Ordzhonikidze said. Mr. Ban had addressed the Conference at its start in January, saying 2010 could be an historic year for progress on disarmament and non-proliferation goals.The Conference is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday. 11 February 2010The Conference on Disarmament, the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, faces becoming irrelevant to international relations given its recent lack of progress, a senior United Nations official warned today.
29 April 2010The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission supporting the 2005 agreement that ended the decades-long north-south civil war in Sudan, stressing the need to complete all remaining tasks under the peace pact. The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission supporting the 2005 agreement that ended the decades-long north-south civil war in Sudan, stressing the need to complete all remaining tasks under the peace pact. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body decided to extend the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) until 30 April 2011, “with the intention to renew it for further periods as may be required.”The Council stressed the importance of the “full and expeditious” implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended 20 years of fighting between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) separatists in the south and the national Government in the north. The parties achieved a key milestone of the agreement – which ended a conflict in which at least 2 million people were killed and some 4.5 million more driven from their homes – with the holding of national elections earlier this month, the first of their kind in 24 years.In addition, referenda are expected to be held next year to determine whether the south secedes or remains as part of Sudan, as well as on the status of the disputed, oil-rich area of Abyei.The Council requested UNMIS to play a lead role in assisting in the preparations for the January 2011 referenda, and urged the international community to provide technical and material assistance as requested.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on UNMIS, said significant challenges remain in the preparation for the referenda. “Although the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have shown increasing political will to address referendum-related issues, they have made little concrete progress in establishing arrangements that would be required no matter the outcome of the referenda,” he wrote. The Council also today deplored the “persistent localized conflict and violence” and its effect on civilians, especially within Southern Sudan, while underscoring the importance of UNMIS making full use of its authority and capabilities to provide improved security to affected groups.In a related development, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters today that UNMIS is investigating a recent incident in the border area of Western Bahr El Ghazal and Southern Darfur states, where there was a significant, but still unconfirmed, number of casualties reported.While the mission is communicating with the parties concerned, verifying the reports on the ground has been difficult from both the north and the south, he said.“The mission calls on all parties concerned and in line with the mandate of the mission to ensure full access to the area, to help establish the facts and defuse tensions,” stated Mr. Nesirky, adding that the safety and security of civilians remains the primary responsibility of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.