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Moroccos Net International Reserves Rise by 184 as of August

Rabat – Morocco’s net international reserves amounted to MAD 245.8 billion until August 19, 2016, recording a 18.4 % increase on an annual basis, Bank Al-Maghrib said.The reserves recorded a 0.2 pc weekly decrease, the central bank pointed out in its weekly indicators.During the week of August 18-24, 2016, the central bank injected MAD 21.5 billion. Over the course of this period, the interbank rate rose from 2.25% to 2.27 %, while the average daily exchanged volume fell from MAD 2.3 billion to MAD 2 billion.During the same period, the Dirham appreciated by 0.04 pc against the euro and depreciated by 0.06 pc against the dollar.With MAP

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MoroccanIvorian Consortium to Build Thermal Power Plant in Abidjan

Casablanca – A Moroccan-Ivorian consortium will join efforts with an energy firm to build a MAD 450 million thermal power plant in the Ivory Coast’s economic capital, Abidjan. The consortium, Vinci Energies Côte d’Ivoire / CGELEC Morocco, and the company, Starenergie 2073, signed an agreement on Friday, December 16 for the first phase of infrastructure construction associated with the Songon thermal power plant. The plant is set to be constructed in the northern suburbs of Abidjan, with an investment exceeding MAD 450 million.This thermal power plant will have an energy discharge capacity of 720 MW and 470 MW N1 safety, for an output of 372 MW ISO. The construction is scheduled to begin in February 2017. According to Starenergie 2073, which will be in charge of the construction of the thermal power plant, the infrastructure construction will last for 18 months and will include a high voltage section, which will supply around 150,000 inhabitants of Songon by 2025.The Ivorian Press Agency (AIP) quoted director general of Starenergie 2073, Venance Guessend, saying that the new project will be in two parts. The first phase, construction of the combined cycle 372 MW power plant, will be powered either by primary fuel natural gas delivered or by Ivorian block exploitation.The second phase will integrate the evacuation network, including the elevation and source stations, as well as the 225 KV lines from Songon to Akoupé-Zédjn, Dabou and other cities.The choice of the Vinci Energies-CI / CEGELEC Maroc consortium is justified for the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Starenergie 2073, Amon Richard, by the conformity of its technical and financial offer. “No country can emerge without energy,” he noted, inviting the government and donors to invest in the project.It is worthy to recall that on December 18, 2013, Starenergie 2073 signed an agreement with the State of Côte d’Ivoire authorizing it to build a thermal power plant at Songon. This future project will include two steam turbines with a capacity of 126 MW each and a third steam turbine of 120 MW. read more

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BJJ World Champion Despite Lack of Support I Want to Raise

Rabat – He started with shot-put and hammer throw, moving on to rugby and judo before finding his calling just six years ago: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).With his imposing physique and a hunger for success, the 28-year-old Moroccan athlete Seif-Eddine Hoummine has managed to rise to the top of the game, gaining two world titles.In conversation with Morocco World News interview, the Oujda native, now living in France, talks about his career, his dreams, and why he chose to represent Morocco. During the World Games in Wroclow, Poland, you the 94+ kg gold. This is your second gold medal in a major tournament after Abu Dhabi World in 2014. What does feel like to be a world champion for the second time?Honestly, it was a very special feeling to win the World Games which are organized by the Olympic Committee every four years and are similar to the Olympic Games. My dream was to make the national anthem resonate for the first time in this sport, knowing that I’m only Moroccan to have participated.You chose to represent Morocco in BJJ tournaments even though you could have represented France. Why did you made this choice?Honestly, France is a country that welcomed me with open arms. I benefited from its facilities for my trainings, where I train with French coaches and athletes. My choice to represent Morocco is innate. I love my country despite the obstacles [I encounter] and the lack of moral and financial support.The desire to represent the Moroccan flag has been engrained in me. I have had offers to play for other countries but [no], not without my Morocco. Only true Moroccans feel this. Despite difficulties, [I believe] I made the right choice.Still, it remains a hard choice. Several media outlets reported that you receive no support from Moroccan sports authorities. Is this true?It is a hard choice because France provides its athletes with trainings at INSEP (Institut national du sport, de l’expertise et de la performance), bonuses, the necessary equipment, and allowances, whereas [in Morocco] I find myself alwaysbattling with the Royal Federation of Judo to finance one tournament per year with a budget that does not exceed EUR1200. Everytime I have to contact the Ministry of Sports to intervene. With my participations in other tournaments, I finance them by myself.During the World Games,July 20 to30, I found myself alone, with no coach or official and [no] allowance from Morocco.Don’t you feel disheartened by all this? Doesn’t it make regret your choice?On the contrary. I strongly believe in change. One day or the other, things will change. I remain positive. We are forging the path for our children. If everybody does the same, people who misappropriate money destined to sports and sports men will be obliged to resign and vacate their places to true citizens who love their country.How much time and money is needed to prepare for a major tournament such as the World Games or Abu Dhabi World?For Abu Dhabi, I needed to go Rio de Janeiro for a month and a half to train with the best world [BJJ professionals]. You need four months of full preparation and a minimum budget of EUR6000 and juggle work and sports because one can’t make a living from this sport.What do you do to find both the necessary money and the will to keep up your sports career?I came to an understanding with my employer to work three days out of seven to be able to train. For money, one has to tighten his belt. As for the will, [I find it in the desire] to become the first Moroccan athlete to raise the Moroccan flag in this sport in order to motivate future generation to invest in sports despite financial difficulties.Talking about the future, what are Seif Eddine Houmine’s other ambitions? I want to continue my sports career till the end, win more world title and the World Games Beach. In the end, I want to found a club or severalin Morocco and teach [BJJ]. read more

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Worldwide Decrease in Child Marriage Over the Past Decade UNICEF

By Ahlam Ben SagaRabat – UNICEF released a data report on Tuesday, March 6, revealing that child marriage has seen a worldwide decrease over the course of the past decade.Child marriage has globally decreased by 15 percent as 25 million children under the age of 18 have been protected from entering wedlock in the last ten years, according to the UNICEF report. Child marriage saw reductions by an estimated 30 to 50 percent in South Asia over the past ten years, with marked increase in girls’ education in India.Meanwhile, child marriage decreased by a third in Ethiopia, one of the five Sub-Saharan African countries that experienced a significant reduction.Still, twelve million girls are married before the age of 18 each year worldwide.UNICEF’s Principal Gender Advisor, Anju Malhotra, acknowledged the good news regarding the decrease in child marriage in many parts of the globe, but also reminded the public that more progress needs to be made.“Given the life-altering impact child marriage has on a young girl’s life, any reduction is welcome news, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Malhotra concluded.UNICEF has taken into account the necessity of accelerating the efforts to end child marriage completely by 2030. Without increased efforts,“150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030,” UNICEF emphasized.UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) resolved to put an end to child marriage by 2030 through a global programme initiated on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, which also aims to support millions of girls who were already married at a young age in different parts of the world.“As part of this global programme, we will work with governments of countries with a high prevalence of child marriage to uphold the rights of adolescent girls, so that girls can reach their potential and countries can attain their social and economic development goals,” the United Nations stated, in line with the announcement of its initiative in 2016. read more

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Cold Weather Chilly Wind in Store for Morocco Tuesday

Rabat- Low clouds will sweep the Atlantic skies above the coast and Atlantic plains. The DMN expects foggy weather in the northern and central coasts. Gusts of chilly winds are ahead in every region of the country.The high temperatures for Tuesday vary between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius in the reliefs and the Oriental regions; 4 and 9 degrees Celsius in Saiss, Tangier, the northern and southeastern slopes, the Phosphates Plateau, and Oulmes; and 10 and 15 degrees Celsius in the far south. Read Also: First Snowfall Blankets Ifrane with 30 CentimetersLow temperatures range from 11 to 16 degrees Celsius in the reliefs and the Oriental regions; 16 to 21 degrees Celsius in Saiss and the northern, southern and southeastern plains; and 22 to 27 degrees Celsius in Souss and the southern provinces.The sea levels are stable to high in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic off Tan-Tan, Tangier, and the Strait of Gibraltar. read more

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Report National Enquirer paid 200K for private Bezos texts

SAN FRANCISCO — The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Enquirer’s publisher paid $200,000 to obtain intimate texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his mistress Lauren Sanchez. American Media Inc., the supermarket tabloid’s publisher, reportedly paid that sum to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother.The Journal’s finding, attributed to people familiar with the matter, parallels the conclusion reached by private investigators working for Bezos as of early February. Those investigators reportedly found that Michael Sanchez had leaked the texts to the Enquirer, although they didn’t appear to conclude who might have paid for them.Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges and publicly declared that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated.The Associated Press read more

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Full Text of Speech of King Mohammed VI Before Pope Francis

Here follows the full text of the speech:“Praise be to God,May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin Your Holiness,Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,This is an exceptional day for two reasons. It is exceptional because of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis. It is also exceptional because it reminds me of the historical visit the late Pope John Paul II paid to Morocco.Today’s visit falls within the framework of the longstanding relations between Morocco and the Vatican.I was keen to make sure the place and the date of the visit reflect the symbolic depth, the historical significance and the civilizational importance of this Meeting.The place where we are meeting today is an embodiment of openness, passage and cross-cultural fertilization; it is, in itself, a symbol of balance and harmony.Aptly located where the Bouregreg River meets the Atlantic Ocean, this place is aligned with the Al-Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech and with the Giralda in Seville – it constitutes a spiritual, architectural and cultural link between Africa and Europe.I also wanted this visit to coincide with the holy month of Rajab – a month that witnessed one of the most iconic episodes in the history of Islam and Christianity.It was in this month that, at the behest of Prophet Muhammad – may Peace and Blessings be upon Him – Muslims, fleeing persecution, left Mecca to take refuge with the Negus, the Christian King of Abyssinia.This was the first welcoming, during which Islam and Christianity made acquaintance with each other.Read Also: Days Before Visit, Pope Francis Sends Message to King Mohammed VIToday, we are commemorating that act of getting to know each other, for the sake of the future and that of the coming generations.Your Holiness,Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,Your Holiness’s visit to Morocco is taking place at a time when the Community of Nations – just like that of all Believers – is facing a number of challenges.We need to tackle these new ills which feed on treachery as much as on the instrumentalization of the Divine Message by advocating the denial of the Other and similar wicked theories.In a world in search of direction, the Kingdom of Morocco has never stopped proclaiming, teaching and experiencing, on a daily basis, Brotherhood among the Sons of Abraham. This is a founding pillar of the exceptionally rich diversity underpinning Moroccan civilization.The symbiotic relationship uniting Moroccans – beyond faiths – is an eloquent example in this regard.This symbiosis is a fact of life in my country. It is reflected by the mosques, churches and synagogues which have coexisted in the cities of the Kingdom since time immemorial.As King of Morocco and Commander of the Faithful, I am the Guarantor of the free practice of religion. I am Commander of all believers.And, as Commander of the Faithful, I cannot speak of the Land of Islam, as if only Muslims lived there. I am keen to ensure freedom to practise the religions of the Book and I am the guarantor of that freedom. I protect Moroccan Jews as well as Christians from other countries, who are living in Morocco.Your Holiness,Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,I have never ceased to seek God – beyond silence, beyond words and beyond the comfort of dogmas – so that our religions may remain crucial, illuminating bridges, and so that the lessons and messages of the Islamic enlightenment may live on.Given the reality of today’s world, it is clear the dialogue between the Abrahamic religions is insufficient. At a time when paradigms are shifting everywhere and concern all matters, inter-religious dialogue must evolve too.The dialogue centered on tolerance has been going on for a long time now; and yet, it has not achieved its goal. The three Abrahamic religions were not created to be tolerant of one another out of some unavoidable fate, or out of courtesy to one another.The reason they exist is to open up to one another and to know one another, so as to do one another good:“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you”. The Word of God is Truth.Read Also: ‘The Need Is High:’ The Rabat Migrant Center Pope Francis Will VisitRadicalism – whether it is motivated by religion or not – is due to failure to know one another, to ignorance of the other, and to ignorance pure and simple.Knowing one another eliminates radicalism – all types of radicalism. Knowing one another is precisely what is going to help us rise to the challenges of our tormented times.“To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues”. The Word of God is Truth.To tackle radicalism, the solution is neither military nor financial; that solution has but one name: Education.My plea for education is an indictment of ignorance. It is binary conceptions and the fact of not knowing one another well enough that are threatening our civilizations; it is certainly not religion.That is why, as Commander of the Faithful, I am advocating today that we give back to religion its rightful place in education.That is why I cannot speak to these young people without warning them against the phenomena of radicalization and of stepping into violence.What all terrorists have in common is not religion, but rather ignorance of religion.Today, religion should no longer be an alibi for ignorant people, for ignorance or for intolerance.That is because religion is Light; religion is Knowledge; religion is Wisdom. And because religion is Peace, it calls for diverting the energy spent on weapons and other misguided races towards loftier pursuits.For this reason, I set up the Mohammed VI Ulema Foundation.I have also responded favorably to requests from several African and European countries to take young people from these nations into the Mohammed VI Institute for the training of imams and male and female religious guides.Your Holiness,Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,In my capacity as Commander of the Faithful, I believe, just like the Holy Father, in an active spirituality that seeks to serve the common good.Spirituality is not an end in itself. Our faith translates into concrete actions. It teaches us to love our fellow human beings and to help them.One fact is essential: God forgives. “God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful”. And since God is mercy, generosity and kindness are at the center of my action.Because God is love, I have tried to make sure my reign is characterized by closeness to citizens as well as by assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable people.That is the spirit of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) which I launched 14 years ago to improve the lives of people in precarious or fragile situations, integrate those who are excluded, put a roof over the heads of the homeless and kindle faith in a dignified future.That is also the philosophy behind the immigration and asylum policy which I have instituted and which is fundamentally based on solidarity.It is in line with the Marrakech Compact, which the international community adopted on 10 December 2018.Your Holiness,Your Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,Our meeting attests to a mutually held belief that the values of monotheism contribute to rationalization, to reconciliation and to improving the world order.As Commander of the Faithful, and just like Your Holiness, I am against all forms of indifference and I wish, in this respect, to salute the courage of the Leaders who do not shy away from the defining questions of our time.I have been following with interest and appreciation Your Holiness’s efforts to serve peace in the world, as well as your regular calls to promote education and dialogue, to end violence, to combat poverty and corruption, to tackle climate change – to fight the ills plaguing human societies.As Commander of the Faithful and as Holy Father, we are called upon to be both idealistic and pragmatic, to be realistic and to set an example.Our messages do not concern our time only; they are eternal. They call upon people to embrace the values of moderation, to fulfil the imperatives of knowing one another and to raise awareness of otherness.By doing this, Your Holiness, you and I “will speak with one voice” – a voice which is not to be reduced to a mere consensus based on compromise.I see this – in my daily life – as a common message conveyed by Muslims, Christians and Jews to all of humankind.That is precisely what has brought us together today and what should unite us in the future.Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh”. read more

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VW recalls cars SUVs because rear springs could break

DETROIT — Volkswagen is recalling over 56,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. because the rear coil springs can break without warning and cause people to lose control of their vehicles.The recall covers certain 2015 through 2019 Golf hatchbacks, the 2017 through 2019 Golf Sportwagen, the 2019 Jetta sedan and 2018 and 2019 Tiguan SUV.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Thursday that a broken spring can damage a tire or become a road hazard. The documents didn’t mention any crashes or injuries.The safety agency says a parts maker used the wrong material or manufacturing process to make the springs.Dealers will replace the faulty parts. The recall begins April 19.The Associated Press

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G7 ministers hope to seal commitments on global challenges

DINARD, France — Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies are wrapping up a two-day meeting in the French seaside resort of Dinard where they hope to seal joint commitments on a range of global challenges and lay the groundwork for August’s G-7 summit in Biarritz.Diplomats from G-7 countries — which includes the U.S., France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.K. — want a joint statement by Saturday on the fight against trafficking drugs, arms and migrants in Africa’s troubled Sahel region, fighting cybercrime and stopping sexual violence against women in conflict zones, especially in Africa.But U.S. officials said that points of discord will also be discussed. Washington seems to be at odds with Italy over its stance on Venezuela and China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.The Associated Press read more

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Labgrown meat companies see opportunity for growth research in Canada

VANCOUVER — Canadian companies plan to serve up chicken, beef burgers and mouse-meat cat treats in the coming years, all without the need to slaughter a single animal.Entrepreneurs see an opportunity where there’s been a dearth of lab-grown meat startups that proliferated in the U.S.Cellular agriculture takes cells from animals and grows them to create milk, eggs, meat or other products. Proponents argue the method is kinder to animals and the environment.“There was an opportunity here in Canada, just because the field is still so undefined, to really create a presence here and to try to drive it forward,” said Lejjy Gafour, co-founder of Edmonton-based Future Fields.Gafour started the company in 2017 with his friend of more than a dozen years, Matt Anderson-Baron, who holds a PhD in cell biology.They’re working on creating two products: a serum that feeds the cells to help them grow, and chicken meat.Gafour estimates — conservatively — that the chicken is five to seven years away from being ready for public consumption, while the serum will be finished sooner.Future Fields wants to stock Canadian grocery shelves first, unlike many companies that eye the U.S. market for their debut. Gafour adds the caveat that the plan depends on how regulations unfold in both countries, as well as the company’s relationships with American partners and other companies.Appleton Meats in Vancouver wants to create a beef burger without cows.Sid Deen started the company at the end of 2017 and it’s conducting a lot of primary research that will lead to product development.“We are looking at the cell types, the ability to grow them, to expand them and to get viable meat out of it,” said Deen, who serves as CEO.Appleton is testing different prototypes and anticipates its product will be selling within three to five years — though, depending on how the research pans out, it could be something other than a burger.He would like to see the product sold domestically, but isn’t opposed to stocking U.S. stores.“I think it would be nice to have a Canadian company do this in Canada and provide it to a domestic market,” he said.Companies aren’t just focusing feeding humans.Two Torontonians started Because Animals, which is working to develop pet food using cellular agriculture, in 2016. Though it’s based in Delaware, the company conducts a lot of its research in Canada, CEO Shannon Falconer said.Because Animals recently announced its first prototype for a cat treat made of field mouse meat produced using cellular agriculture.“Now we have to work on scale,” said Falconer, as well as going through regulatory challenges in order to start selling the product, which makes it difficult to predict when it will appear on store shelves.Because Animals will debut a cultured protein dog treat, that uses nutritional yeast rather than animal cells, this May and a cultured protein dog kibble in the fourth quarter.Those products will likely launch in the U.S. first, Falconer said. That and the company’s decision to headquarter in the U.S. is partly due to the country being the largest pet food market, she said, though the company is working toward selling its pet food in Canada too.It can be more difficult to find investors as a Canadian company, said Gafour, as venture capitalist money tends to be concentrated in America. There also seem to be more investors with a lot of experience in the bio-technology industry in the U.S., he said.Deen thinks people tend to underestimate the value of Canadian entrepreneurship and many companies turn to the U.S. because they believe there’s more infrastructure there.Both Future Fields and Appleton are privately funded, with Future Fields looking for institutional and partner investors, and Appleton planning to start a funding round in a year or so.While Canada may not be as flashy as its southern neighbour, said Deen, the country does provide a lot of support.And, at least for Gafour, the lack of population density and other companies doing similar work in the country isn’t necessarily a bad thing.“Absence of things is both an opportunity and a risk,” he said, adding it may be easier to acclimatize a smaller population to the notion of eating lab-grown meat.“We definitely have the talent here to be able to create an industry such as this and to also own it.”Follow @AleksSagan on TwitterAleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press read more

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Federal government boosts loans for canola farmers amid tensions with China

OTTAWA — The federal government is rolling out changes to a payment program for canola farmers to help those affected by China’s decision to ban the Canadian product.Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says the maximum loan limit through the program will be boosted to $1 million from $400,000, and the portion that will be interest free is rising to $500,000 from $100,000.The government’s announcement comes after China barred Canadian canola from two of the country’s biggest exporters in what is considered retaliation for the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.China imported $2.7 billion worth of Canadian canola seed last year, which ensures any prolonged blockage will hurt farmers, the industry and the broader economy.Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr says he will lead a canola trade mission to Japan and South Korea in early June to help farmer find new markets for their product.He also says he will be promoting canola in all of his upcoming visits, including in France.The Canadian Press read more

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UN agency issues new locust warning for northeast Africa

28 March 2007In a new offensive against locusts, the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called on countries in northeast Africa to intensify surveys and control operations against the crop-devouring insects, particularly on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea and Sudan and in northwest Somalia. If the swarms are not controlled on the Red Sea coast, they are likely to migrate to cropping areas in the Tokar Delta on the coast of Sudan and to the Eritrean Highlands where it will be difficult to stop them from attacking pastures and crops. “Once the locusts invade the Highlands, there is a slight risk that some swarms could migrate towards the summer breeding areas in the interior of Sudan before the rainy season starts,” FAO Desert Locust expert Keith Cressman said. “In this case, they could continue westwards in search of favourable green vegetation in Chad, Niger and Mali. “Swarms could even reach Mauritania next June, in time for the beginning of the summer rains,” he added, recalling that a similar movement towards West Africa from the Red Sea occurred in 1993. FAO and the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) have already launched aerial control operations on the Red Sea coast near the Sudanese and Eritrean border to eliminate small swarms forming from a local outbreak that has been underway since the end of last year. Ground control operations against hopper and adult infestations have been in progress in both countries for several months. DLCO-EA aerial operations will also start this week on the coast of northwest Somalia near Djibouti. This new offensive against an old enemy is being conducted in close cooperation with local anti-locust teams.FAO urged all concerned countries to keep monitoring the situation carefully, especially in the coastal plains in northwest Somalia as well in neighbouring areas in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen.Small immature swarms that escape control operations in northwest Somalia could move in any direction – up the escarpment towards the Ethiopian border, northwest towards the Eritrean highlands, east along the coast, across the Gulf of Aden to southern Yemen, or simply stay on the coast and eventually breed once the long rains commence. So far, a few swarms have crossed the Ethiopian border and were seen near Jigjiga. FAO is also following the situation carefully in two other important areas, the Red Sea coastal plains of Saudi Arabia and in the spring breeding areas of Southwest Asia. Local breeding occurred on the Saudi coast south of Jeddah and, earlier this week, reports were received of small swarms. National teams have been deployed to the infested areas to conduct the necessary control operations. Unusually good rains fell earlier this month over a large area of northern Oman, southeast Iran and western Pakistan, and locusts are expected to increase due to breeding during the spring. There is a slight risk that if more swarms form in northwest Somalia, some could reach these breeding areas. Iran and Pakistan are conducting a joint ground survey on both sides of their border in Baluchistan during April to clarify the situation. read more

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SecretaryGeneral appoints Swiss physicist as new Rector of UN University

9 May 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today named Konrad Osterwalder, a Swiss physicist, as the new Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), which serves as the world body’s think tank. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today named Konrad Osterwalder, a Swiss physicist, as the new Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), which serves as the world body’s think tank.The decision to appointment Mr. Osterwalder was made after consultations with Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and an extensive international search process.Mr. Osterwalder, who will assume this position on 1 September, will be the fifth Rector of the UNU. He will succeed Hans van Ginkel, a Dutch geographer who has been serving in the position since 1997.Founded in 1973, the UNU is an international network of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training and the dissemination of knowledge to further the UN’s aims of peace and progress. Headquartered in Tokyo, the University has 13 research and training centres around the world and cooperates with more than 100 research institutions in various countries across the globe.Mr. Osterwalder “greatly values the importance of the UNU and intends to promote and enhance the collaboration of this key institution with leading institutions around the world,” according to a press release.A physicist by training, he is currently the Rector and President ad interim of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, located in Zurich.He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the same institution in 1970, and was appointed as a full professor there seven years later. He has held positions at New York University, Harvard University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundations, and has also been a visiting fellow at numerous universities and research institutes around the world.Mr. Osterwalder’s research has mainly focused on the mathematical structure of quantum field theory, elementary particle physics and statistical mechanics.He is a member of the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences and received an honorary doctorate from the Helsinki Technical University. read more

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UNbacked drive aims to boost birth and death registrations worldwide

29 October 2007A new initiative backed by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) aims to help countries know how many people are born and die each year and the main causes of their deaths – key information for well-functioning health systems. The programme was launched today by the Health Metrics Network, a global, WHO-hosted partnership established to address the lack of reliable health information in developing countries. The lack of civil registration systems – by which governments keep track of births, deaths and marital status of their citizens – means that every year, almost 40 per cent – or 48 million – of 128 million births worldwide go unregistered. The situation is even worse for death registration: globally, two-thirds – or 38 million – of 57 million deaths a year are not registered. In addition, WHO receives reliable cause-of-death statistics from only 31 of its 193 Member States. According to WHO, governments cannot design effective public health policies or measure their impact when deaths go uncounted and the causes of death are not documented. Information on births and deaths by age, sex and cause is the “cornerstone of public health planning,” the agency said. “No single UN agency is responsible for ensuring that births and deaths are registered, so it has fallen between the cracks. That is why we have failed to establish, support, and sustain civil registration systems over the past 30 years in the developing world,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said today at the Global Forum for Health Research in Beijing. “Without the statistics that these systems produce, we can only have a partial view of the impact of $120 billion spent annually in official development aid.” The drive to encourage countries to improve civil registration is launched today with a series of papers published in the medical journal The Lancet, entitled “Who counts?” The papers show that most developing countries have rudimentary or non-existent civil registration systems. They also underscore the challenges of establishing civil registration, including new legislation and governance structures. The Health Metrics Network has already started working with Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Syria to improve their civil registration systems, and three other countries are expected to be identified for assistance by the end of the year. read more

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Myanmar UN Human Rights Council condemns ongoing systematic violations

18 June 2008The United Nations Human Rights Council today condemned “ongoing systematic violations of human rights” in Myanmar and called on the Government to stop making politically motivated arrests and to release all political prisoners immediately. In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council also called on the Government of Myanmar to fully implement commitments it made to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that it would grant relief workers “immediate, full and unhindered access” to people in need in the wake of last month’s catastrophic Cyclone Nargis.It called on the Government to refrain from sending victims of the disaster back to areas where they would not have access to emergency relief, and to ensure that any returns are voluntary, safe and carried out with dignity.The resolution, introduced before the Geneva-based Council by the European Union, also condemned the recruitment of child soldiers by both Government forces and non-State armed groups and urged “an absolute an immediate stop of this appalling activity.”In addition, it called for an independent investigation into reports of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and forced labour, and called for those responsible for such crimes to be brought to justice.The resolution also called on the Government “to engage in a real process of dialogue and national reconciliation with the full and genuine participation of representatives of all political parties and ethnic groups who have been excluded from the political process.”Introducing the resolution on behalf of the EU, Slovenian representative Andrej Logar said previous resolutions had not been implemented by Myanmar and many political prisoners remained in detention.The recent constitutional referendum was conducted in complete disregard of basic standards on such issues as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, he said.Myanmar’s representative U Wunna Maung Lwin described the resolution as politically motivated and lopsided and said powerful States were trying to influence matters through political interference.The representative said Myanmar was working with the international community in the response effort to Cyclone Nargis, which struck the country on 2-3 May, and was also making efforts on the political front, such as with the recent holding of the constitutional referendum.Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the General Assembly today on his recent trip to Myanmar, saying that overall the relief effort there is continuing to improve and to be scaled up.More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result of Cyclone Nargis and the subsequent tidal wave, and as many as 2.4 million people were affected and now need humanitarian assistance.In his address to Assembly members, Mr. Ban stressed that the humanitarian tragedy wrought by the cyclone should not be politicized, and he plans to remain focused on the issue, drawing on the efforts of his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari.The Secretary-General also covered other issues in his remarks to the Assembly, including his latest travels, the most recent developments in the global food crisis and the situation in Zimbabwe. read more

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UNESCO online atlas seeks to save dying languages

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched an interactive electronic version of its atlas cataloguing some 2,500 endangered languages worldwide.The updated Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing can continually be supplemented, corrected and updated based on user contributions.It ranks the dying languages according to five levels: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct.Data shows that out of the 6,000 languages currently in existence, over 200 have died out over the last three generations, 538 are critically endangered, 502 severely endangered, 632 definitely endangered and 607 unsafe.According to the Atlas, unveiled on the eve of International Mother Language Day (21 February), nearly 200 languages have fewer than 10 speakers and 178 others have between 10 and 50 speakers.The language of Manx in the Isle of Man died out in 1974 when Ned Maddrell, the last speaker, passed away while Eyak, in Alaska, United States, met its demise last year with the death of Marie Smith Jones.“The death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, especially the invaluable heritage of traditions and oral expressions of the community that spoke it – from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.More than 30 linguists worked on the Atlas, which highlights how the phenomenon of disappearing languages is evident in every region and in varying economic conditions.Nearly one-third of all of the world’s languages are spoken in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is estimate that 10 per cent of them will disappear during the course of the next century. India, the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico are nations with great linguistic diversity, but also have the largest number of endangered languages.In France, 13 languages are severely endangered, 8 definitely endangered and 5 considered unsafe.However, the situation of languages is not equally dire worldwide. For example, Papua New Guinea, the most linguistically diverse with over 800 languages believed to be spoken there, has 88 – relatively few – endangered languages.Some languages classified as extinct, including Cornish in the United Kingdom and Sîshëë in New Caledonia, are being actively revitalized and could potentially become living languages again. 19 February 2009The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched an interactive electronic version of its atlas cataloguing some 2,500 endangered languages worldwide. read more

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UN prepares to feed Kenyas drought victims

20 May 2009The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun pre-positioning supplies in eastern Kenya to feed an estimated 3.5 million people who are facing food shortages as a result poor harvest caused by inadequate rainfall. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun pre-positioning supplies in eastern Kenya to feed an estimated 3.5 million people who are facing food shortages as a result poor harvest caused by inadequate rainfall.According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), trucks have begun rolling out of warehouses, filled with foodstuff in preparation for increased needs. Last month, WFP delivered food to selected health facilities in eastern Kenya and supported training to district health staff on supplementary feeding for children under the age of five and pregnant and nursing mothers, OCHA said.An inter-agency group of humanitarian organizations and government ministries is concerned that the delayed onset of the current long rains will affect crop yield in the grain basket areas of the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces, which produce over 90 per cent of the national food output.There is also increasing morbidity among livestock in the arid areas that is leading to loss of breeding stock, OCHA added. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting on health issues, including with assessments and the response to cholera outbreaks in northern and western Kenya. read more

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Cote dIvoire UN assisting in delivery of electoral materials for longawaited polls

28 September 2009The United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire has begun preparing for the delivery of electoral materials across the country ahead of the long-awaited presidential polls, which were to have been held as far back as 2005, and are now slated for 29 November. Today the mission, known as UNOCI, supervised and led the removal of voting equipment from the Abidjan seaport to the warehouses of the Independent Electoral Commission. This first batch of materials – which includes ballot boxes, polling booths and kits – will be distributed in the east and south of the country, with further deliveries for the central region and the capital Yamoussoukro expected on 1 October.UNOCI was established by the Security Council in 2004 to help ensure a ceasefire and pave the way for permanent peace and democratic elections after civil war split the country into a Government-ruled south and a rebel-controlled north.Headed by Young-Jin Choi, the mission has been providing technical and logistical support for preparations for the elections, including for voter identification and registration.The Security Council will be discussing the situation in Côte d’Ivoire tomorrow in a ministerial-level meeting attended by Mr. Choi. read more

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Antarctic fragility a reminder of importance of success in Copenhagen – Ban

1 December 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged action on two fronts ahead of next week’s United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen as he marked the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty and commended European ministers for their work with the UN. In a video address, the Secretary-General said that international cooperation in and for Antarctica provides an example for all. The Antarctic Treaty, signed by 47 countries, set aside the continent as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and banned military activity. “I urge you to do your part to ensure that this month’s conference in Copenhagen lays the foundation for a legally binding climate treaty,” said the Secretary-General.“Commercial activities, in particular unsustainable fishing, adverse impacts of tourism and biological prospecting, could jeopardize the integrity of the fragile Antarctic ecosystem. But the greatest threat is climate change,” he added.Meanwhile, at the ministerial council meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, the Secretary-General called the bloc “an invaluable partner of the United Nations” and urged ministers to do their part to make Copenhagen a success. “I look forward to new initiatives emanating from the long-standing cooperation among the OSCE, the UN Environmental Programme, the UN Development Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), under the umbrella of the Environment and Security Initiative.” In a statement delivered on his behalf by Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of UNECE, the Secretary-General added that the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia works with the OSCE to tackle climate change and manage shared resources, such as water.“The relationship between the OSCE and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has continued to be exemplary. By joining forces to promote cross-border economic and environmental cooperation, the two are addressing a variety of socio-economic drivers of potential conflict,” the statement read. read more

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Growing use of contraception saves lives in GuineaBissau – UN agency

30 December 2009A growing understanding of the role of family planning and the spread of contraception use resulting from greater access to reproductive healthcare is helping to save lives in Guinea-Bissau, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). A growing understanding of the role of family planning and the spread of contraception use resulting from greater access to reproductive healthcare is helping to save lives in Guinea-Bissau, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).Some 500,000 women die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, almost entirely in developing countries, leaving around 1 million children without mothers. According to UNFPA, 1 in13 women in Guinea-Bissau die from pregnancy-related causes, compared to 1 in 17,400 in Sweden, for example. The agency noted that providing access to modern contraception could prevent around 40 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide, saving the lives of many women in Guinea-Bissau. With 98 out of 114 health centres in Guinea-Bissau now offering family planning services, around 10 per cent of women use contraception which – while low – is an improvement, said Antonieta Martins, UNFPA adviser to the Ministry of Health.In Guinea-Bissau, UNFPA helps fund the provision of free contraception nationwide, trains health workers on family planning and reproductive health and advises the Health Ministry. read more