Rabat – King Mohammed VI said on Monday that the 50th anniversary of the Moroccan parliament is a “historic moment” in the political evolution process of Morocco, which, thanks to this institution, has succeeded in consolidating the foundations of a representative democracy.In a message addressed to members of the House of Representatives and of the Chamber of Advisors, the Sovereign said the establishment of the parliament, 50 years ago, had “embodied the shared will of the king and the people”, just like other major events and causes that punctuated Morocco’s history since independence.The Royal message, read out by speaker of the House of Representatives, Karim Ghellab, further said that the anniversary “is a historic moment in the process reflecting the political evolution of the State and the Moroccan people, at large and the Moroccan political elite, particularly”.The Sovereign further underlines that the Parliament has accomplished, during half a century of existence, its mission of law-making and control, while emerging as a space for the training of national political elites and a framework of debates, exchange and diverging viewpoints, both with the Government or between the majority and the opposition. The King also recalled that the 2011 constitution has granted the Moroccan parliament a privileged status among the national institutions as a full-fledged legislative power, increasingly open to women’s participation in political life and in public affairs management , in keeping with the Sovereign’s will to increase women contributions in all walks of life, particularly in the political field.
By Mohamed AmmarCAIRO– Egyptian security forces have rounded up massive numbers of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters since Morsi’s ouster on July 3A total of 107 people were arrested across Egypt on Wednesday, including 27 university students. In a statement, the Interior Ministry said that 80 people in three provinces had been detained on assault and incitement-to-violence charges.According to the statement, 19 people were arrested in the southern province of Minya, 59 in the central Fayoum province and two in Giza.On Wednesday, 21 students were arrested during clashes with security forces near Al-Azhar University’s Cairo campus, bringing the total number of detained Al-Azhar students to 49, a security source said.Six students were also detained during clashes at Cairo University, bringing the total number of detained students from that university to 24, the source said.According to the source, 11 policemen sustained birdshot injuries during the violence.Egyptian security forces have rounded up massive numbers of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters since the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military.Most have been charged with “inciting violence” – allegations the Islamist group says are politically-motivated.
Meknes – King Mohammed VI warned against any religious influences from elsewhere.“Do not accept anyone’s invitation to embrace a different rite or faith,” the King said on the occasion of Throne Day on July 30.Faced with the threat of terrorism, many countries have focused on the security aspect. While in Morocco arrests of supporters of the so-called Islamic State are increasing every day, the religious discourse on the fight against radicalism has also become more important as the country realizes the threat is ideological. In this new “Jihad Generation,” youths are brainwashed through social media and online propaganda. Thus, the inciting proselytism discourse on the internet becomes more important and becomes a tool of recruitment of our youths into terrorist groups.Other than for a political agenda, terrorism is used to indoctrinate weak souls and divide those who do not remain faithful to their principles.“I want you to reject any attempt to sow the seeds of division, and to remain – as always – deeply committed to the unity of your rite and to your sacred values. [I want you] to be proud of your faith and of belonging to this nation,” said the sovereign.In Morocco, Islam as taught is clearly understood and communicable. It does not mean that we can talk of an “Islamization” of Moroccoin the same way the media and books have publicized a so-called “Islamization of France” in January 2015. Islam is peace. It is one. But when it comes to interpretations, it shows several ways of thinking and understanding.“Safeguard your identity and remain committed to the Sunni, Maliki rite that the Moroccan people have inherited from their forefathers,” the sovereign said.His interpretation is worthy of analysis. Islam, as seen in Morocco, is more than ever a source of peace, serenity and tolerance, based on the respect other divine religions. All components of Moroccan society (especially Muslims and Jews) are living in peace and harmony. It is a Moroccan “tradition,” a “religious obligation,” or even a “national duty” to perform and to maintain the upkeep of these components.“Today, in keeping with the same values, we are fighting against extremism and terrorism,” he continued.The Moroccan way of interpreting Islam gained ‘credibility’ in Africa and in the world. The Moroccan constitution shows clearly the harmony between Islam and other divine religions. The Kingdom is also known, on an international level, as a crossroads of peace. This is what led hundreds of sub-Saharans to learn this religion according to the Moroccan interpretation and has encouraged them to preach tolerance among them.It is in this context that the King launched the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulemas to show the Moroccan religious model.“Is there any reason why we should give up our traditions and forsake our cultural values – which are rooted in tolerance and moderation – in order to embrace a different doctrine that is contrary to our ethics or the way we were brought up? Of course not! Therefore, let no one outside the country give you lessons on how to live your faith,” the King concluded.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
Before you tackle lofty financial resolutions like paying off debt this year, do yourself a quick favour and freeze your credit reports. It’s free, doesn’t affect your credit score and helps protect your financial future.Credit reports summarize your payment history with creditors and are automatically generated by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Freezing them prevents fraudsters from opening a new line of credit using your personal information.Data breaches may feel like an annoying fact of life, but the 2017 Equifax breach dramatically increased the likelihood that your personal information is out there, waiting to be misused.“The Equifax data breach exposed the critical financial information of more than half of the American adult population,” says Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, a non-profit advocacy organization. Data exposed includes Social Security numbers, names, birthdates, addresses and some driver’s licenses. If the Equifax breach or any others have put your information in the hands of scammers, they could get a credit card or loan in your name, rack up debt and wreck your credit.WHY YOU SHOULD FREEZE YOUR CREDITChoosing to place a credit freeze — or not — boils down to how you think about your personal information being exposed. You could ignore it and hope nothing bad happens, or you could take action now to prevent damage.In a world where data breaches are commonplace, freezes aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity. As a millennial building your financial life, you’re better off protecting your credit as soon as possible.Think of it as adding a deadbolt on your front door. You hope no one will be able to get through your existing lock, just as you hope personal data like your Social Security number stays private. But by adding the deadbolt, you have an extra layer of protection in case that first lock is picked.HOW FREE CREDIT FREEZES WORKThe process for placing a freeze differs slightly at each credit bureau, but you can do it online or over the phone. The freeze then blocks lenders from accessing your credit reports. If a bad actor applies for credit in your name, the lender can’t see your reports to make a lending decision and won’t approve the application.When you want to apply for credit, you unfreeze one or more of your reports by logging in to your account. (Experian gives you a special PIN to unfreeze the report). “It’s something you can do with your phone even as you’re walking into your lender’s office,” says John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who has worked at Equifax and credit scoring company FICO. You can also designate a period of time to temporarily lift the freeze, such as when shopping for a mortgage, Wu says.Your credit score — the three-digit number that is based on information in your credit reports — is not affected. (You can check your own credit reports with no consequences to your score, whether you have a freeze or not.)Freezing and unfreezing your credit reports is now free, thanks to congressional action after the Equifax breach. Parents also have the right to have credit reports created for their minor children and freeze them for free, Ulzheimer says. Freezing your children’s credit helps protect them from identity theft.WHAT A CREDIT FREEZE DOES NOT DOPROTECT AGAINST SOME FORMS OF IDENTITY THEFT. A freeze stops new credit from being opened, but if someone has the details of your existing credit card, they could make fraudulent charges on it. If they have your Social Security number, they could file a fake tax return or claim Social Security benefits in your name. It’s still essential to monitor your credit card transactions and other financial accounts and to report any suspected identity theft immediately, Wu says.PREVENT EXISTING CREDITORS FROM SEEING YOUR REPORTS. Lenders with which you already have a relationship can still see your credit reports. Debt collectors can also access them.STAY VIGILANTIt’s a good idea to check your credit reports and credit score regularly so you can act quickly if you spot an anomaly.Many personal finance websites, banks and credit card issuers offer a way to check your credit. Look for one that offers both credit score and credit report information, updates routinely and is free._______________________________________This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ajbombay.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet: How do I get a free credit freeze? https://nerd.me/pros-cons-freezing-creditFTC: Report identity theft https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/report-identity-theftAmrita Jayakumar, The Associated Press
Rabat – Photos of singer Cheb Faudel, who was originally Algerian, bowing to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI recently caused an uproar among Algerian media.The singer bowed to King Mohamed during his performance at the closing ceremony of the sixth annual International Festival Jawhara on August 6 in El Jadida, about 96 km south of Casablanca.During a press conference, prior to his performance, Faudel had expressed his pride in being a Moroccan citizen holding up his Moroccan ID card to show the audience that he now has Moroccan nationality. He had also praised the monarch, saying “Our King Mohammed VI, May God bless him and prolong his life – he granted me many things – he is the King of Africa.” Faudel also stated during the press conference that Algerians love King Mohammed VI, and urged that the border between Morocco and Algeria be opened up.At the height of his performance on stage, Faudel turned to a large photo of King Mohammed VI and bowed in front of it for a few seconds just before dedicating one of his songs to the king.Echourouk Online, an Algerian online publication, asserted last Thursday that Faudel had disappeared after Algeria closed its doors in Faudel’s face due to his performance in Dakhla, a city in the south of Morocco described by the publication as “occupied.”The publication reported that Faudel’s bow to King Mohammed VI had aroused the resentment of Algerians. It asserted that Faudel is a “failure” because he had not lately emulated his previous successes by producing any blockbuster songs.Echourouk Online added that in showing his Moroccan ID card to the audience, Faudel was simply trying to win the hearts of “the Makhzen” just so he would be invited to perform at other festivals in Morocco even though his artistic career is “in decline.”In a video posted on YouTube last Wednesday by Algerié Vidéo, the commentator called Faudel’s bow to the Moroccan King a “scandal,” and deplored Faudel’s “obedience to his master King Mohammed VI.”Edited by Elisabeth Myers
BERLIN — A government-appointed panel is recommending that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.The so-called Coal Commission reached agreement in the early hours of Saturday, following months of wrangling that were closely watched by other coal-dependent countries.Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.The 28-member panel, representing mining regions, utility companies, scientists and environmentalists, suggests a review in 2032 could bring forward the deadline to 2035.The plan also foresees billions in federal funding to help affected regions cope with the economic impact, and to shield industry and consumers from higher electricity prices.The decision still needs government approval.The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Greece has launched a 5-year bond auction, the first time the country has tapped international capital markets for financing since it emerged from its bailout programs in August.State-run ERT television said the initial guidance for Tuesday’s bond sale was a yield of 3.75-3.85 per cent. Authorities are hoping the rate to be as low as 3.5 per cent, raising 2.5 billion euros ($2.87 billion).The government is planning a cautious return to bond markets after Greece ended its third international bailout last summer with a cash buffer aimed at covering financing needs for around two years.The bond sale was ordered following visit to Athens by bailout inspectors and after the government survived the departure of its junior coalition partner over disagreement on a deal to normalize relations with Macedonia.The Associated Press
Rabat – Morocco’s Prince Moulay Hicham called King Mohammed VI to thank him for his support of his daughter, Faizah Alaoui, who recently graduated from Yale University.The first cousin of King Mohammed VI announced his daughter’s graduation on Twitter on May 24 and thanked a number of parties, including the King, for their support.In its today’s edition, Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum reported that the prince called the King to thank him for his interest in his daughter’s graduation. Quoting a source close to Prince Moulay Hicham, the newspaper added that the King recently congratulated Faizah after her graduation from Yale. In his tweet, the prince wrote: “Faizah has graduated from college. My wife and I give everlasting thanks to Yale University for providing a world-class education.”“We are indebted to all of our countrymen and women in New Haven, who have contributed along the way: in particular, Samira and Younes for being insightful mentors, Adil for his delicious creperie treats on the way to class, and Hind Karim for her presence” wrote the prince.pic.twitter.com/caq4R7GT4u— Hicham Alaoui (@HichamAlaouiSW) May 25, 2018The prince also addressed a message of heartfelt thanks to the royal family. “Last but not least, we thank our family, especially King Mohammed VI and my sister Lalla Zineb for their unwavering support as second parents to my daughter.”The prince has also expressed gratitude towards the US.“Finally, my deepest gratitude to our adopted country and home, America, which has given us everything we have wished for and more.”The prince’s tweet is accompanied by a set of photos of him and his family.
Rabat- King Mohammed VI has addressed a message to the president of the northwestern African Republic of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca, to congratulate him on his country’s July 5 independence day.The monarch expressed immense congratulations and wishes for good health to the president and prosperity to the country.King Mohammed VI also articulated his contentment with the friendship tying Morocco and Cape Verde, conveying hope that the two African countries will continue to strengthen their bilateral cooperation to become an example of regional brotherly cooperation. The day before, the king addressed a congratulatory message to US President Donald Trump to congratulate him on the country’s July 4 Independence Day celebrated.In the royal message, the king expressed satisfaction with the historic and solid ties of friendship, mutual esteem, and fruitful cooperation between the two nations.Reiterating his determination to continue to work with the president to develop the diplomatic ties linking the two countries, King Mohammed VI welcomed strategic dialogue between the US and Morocco.
Toronto-Dominion Bank increased its dividend as it reported a 2.4 per cent uptick in first-quarter profits to $2.41 billion.TD Bank increased its quarterly payment to common shareholders by seven cents to 74 cents.The bank’s profit for its first quarter amounted to $1.27 per diluted share, up from $1.24 for the quarter ended Jan. 31 last year.The lender said the quarter included a $607-million charge related to the long-term loyalty agreement with Air Canada, which had an impact of 24 cents per share.On an adjusted basis, TD earned $2.95 billion, relatively flat compared with the same period a year earlier.That amounted to $1.57 in adjusted earnings per diluted share, up from $1.56 a year earlier, but below the $1.72 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters Eikon.“TD’s retail segments in both Canada and the U.S. had a strong start to the year, with continued revenue growth and solid earnings,” chief executive Bharat Masrani said in a statement.“However, market volatility and lower client activity impacted our Wholesale segment in the quarter.” Companies in this story: (TSX:TD) Companies in this story: (TSX:TD)The Canadian Press
By Mohammed Amine BenabouBoeing announced on February 12 that it struck a deal with Royal Air Maroc (RAM), agreeing to equip the latter with cutting-edge technology tools to boost RAM’s aviation services, planning and operations.The Boeing and RAM agreement makes Morocco the first in Africa to adopt advanced optimization technology. These features were powered by Boeing AnalytX through its subsidiary Jepessen.Boeing, one of the global leaders in the aerospace industry, will provide three advanced technology solutions: crew pairing, crew rostering, and crew tracking.The crew Pairing feature helps in work duties enhancement, to improve crew efficiency and optimize performance and services geared to meeting customers’ needs while keeping costs at minimum. Crew rostering is a system that ensures seamless duty assignments to crew members, ensuring a fairly distributed workload among crew members, while crew tracking help keep monitor, resolve, and track fatigue risks.Read also: Royal Air Maroc to Launch Casablanca-Boston Direct Flight in JuneVice President of Commercial Sales & Marketing for The Boeing Company, Ihsane Mounir, stated that “we are quite enthusiastic about providing cutting-edge data analysis technology for our company.”He added “the range of solutions we provide have been designed to deliver optimum operational performance for our crew members to ensure to meet the preferences of our clientele across all fleet”This agreement makes Morocco the first country to adopt the Boeing advanced tools with the possibility of adding more in the future.
Rabat – The trial of Brahim J, accused of murder, began yesterday before the Val-d’Oise criminal court in Paris, according to le Parisien. The French-Moroccan man is facing life imprisonment. He is accused of murdering his wife in 2015, in the Paris area, before throwing her body into a canal.The 37-year-old confessed to killing his wife, Hafida, after an argument that turned out badly. “She pissed me off. So I hit her, and I killed her. I strangled her. That’s it,” he explained. He then backed down and said it was an accident. He said his wife tried to strangle him, that he defended himself by strangling her and he did not want to kill her.Brahim went on to admit that he wrapped the body, kept it in the trunk for a few days before throwing it into the canal.His Moroccan wife’s body was then found by a passer-by a few weeks later. The passer-by discovered black garbage bags with adhesive tape around, with the shape of a human foot. DNA tests would later confirm the woman’s identity.Testimonies from the husband’s family describe him as jealous, authoritarian, and often violent. The woman had filed a complaint against her husband in Morocco. She had even initiated divorce proceedings before she changed her mind, the Parisian newspaper adds.
Rabat – Morocco has issued an indirect warning against Iran’s foreign policy at the 36th Arab Interior Ministers Council in Tunis.Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit, the head of the Moroccan delegation, said on Sunday that Iranian “manoeuvers are fuelling ethnic rivalries and internal conflicts to destabilize Arab countries, in a bid to promote its ideology.” The Moroccan minister added that “these threats are not just limited to a single Arab country, but extend to the entire Arab nation … to sow discord.”Laftit also said that Morocco has been a target of “these abject manoeuvers threatening national security and terrorizing Moroccan citizens by supporting the separatists and the opponents of Morocco’s territorial integrity.”Laftit did not explicitly mention Iran in his speech.Laftit’s comments add to a series moves aiming at easing tensions between Morocco and Saudi Arabia, a fierce opponent of Iran, following a recent diplomatic spat between the two monarchies. Last month, Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Laayoune in Western Sahara for a private visit. The same month, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said that Morocco maintains strong diplomatic ties with all Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE.Read also: Interior Minister Laftit: Fighting Terrorism is a Long-Term ProjectIn February 2014, Morocco and Iran planned to re-establish diplomatic ties. Four years later, a fresh dispute surfaced between the two countries.In May 2018, Morocco severed diplomatic relations with Iran one week before the United States announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Morocco said it was cutting ties over Iran’s supplying weapons to Polisario through Hezbollah.Facebook in February said it identified and took down hundreds of fake accounts linked to Iran which were disseminating pro-Iran narratives to influence political discourse in many countries, including Morocco.
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks were moving lower early Tuesday, dragged down by big communications companies after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported a slowdown in revenue growth.Alphabet is one of many huge U.S. companies to report their results this week, giving investors plenty to focus on. For the most part, the first-quarter earnings, while mixed, have come in better than the modest expectations analysts had.The few sectors to post gains in early trading included safe-play companies like utilities and makers of consumer products, which investors tend to favour when they’re feeling fearful. Energy and health care and companies were also higher.General Electric, which has taken a beating in recent years, rose sharply in heavy trading after delivering surprisingly good earnings. That helped lift other industrial stocks.Energy companies gained ground as the price of oil rose.Health care stocks moved broadly higher. Merck rose after reporting that its profit quadrupled in the first quarter, easily beating Wall Street’s forecasts. Pfizer, another huge drugmaker, rose after higher sales of prescription drugs helped it report a 9% jump in profits, also easily beating forecasts.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 0.3% as of 10:35 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%, or 27 points, to 26,527. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.7%.BAD SEARCH: Google parent company Alphabet slumped 8.4% in heavy trading after disappointing advertising sales held back revenue growth during the first quarter.The search engine’s revenue fell short of analysts’ forecasts because advertising revenue only grew by 15%. The company is in tight competition for digital ads with Facebook and Amazon.MORE POWER: Industrial conglomerate General Electric rose 3.6%, also in heavy trading, after beating Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts for the second straight quarter.The company has been shedding units and reorganizing as it tries to increase growth. Solid results from its struggling power unit helped lift its results during the most recent quarter.ROADHOUSE BLUES: Restaurant operator Texas Roadhouse fell 11% after profit fell because of higher labour costs. Both profit and revenue fell short of forecasts.The company, which operates about 580 Texas Roadhouse and Bubba’s 33 restaurants, doesn’t expect those costs to fall. It raised prices earlier this year to try and offset the higher costs.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press
Rabat – In an interview earlier today with MAP, Morocco’s state-run news outlet, Katsuhiko Takahashi, the chief of the MENA division of the Japanese foreign affairs ministry, reaffirmed his country’s “constant and immutable” support for the UN agenda in the Western Sahara diplomatic stalemate.To the question of whether Japan identifies with the Polisario Front’s separatist agenda, the Japanese diplomat was particularly insistent that his country does not recognize the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and has “no intention of changing” its position.In October 2018, Japan made headlines in the Moroccan media for the Asian giant’s perceived solidarity with the Polisario Front’s self-determination aspirations for Western Sahara. The media controversy revolved around the presence of a “high-ranking Polisario delegation” at the Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD) meeting.Takahashi’s interview with MAP comes as Japan prepares to host this year’s iteration of the TICAD forum scheduled to run from August 28-30, and the contention around last year’s forum was particularly topical.In response to any perceived Japanese sympathy for the Polisario agenda, however, the Japanese official was adamant that his country is a strong Moroccan ally and has never been receptive of the front’s separatist aspirations.“Japan does not recognize Western Sahara as a state. This is Japan’s constant and immutable position and we have no intention of changing it,” Takahashi said when asked about Tokyo’s relationship with the Polisario Front.He added: “For Japan, this question [Western Sahara] should be resolved in a peaceful way through dialogue between concerned parties. Japan continues to support the UN’s mediation efforts.”On the Morocco-Japan relations, the Japanese diplomat stressed “Morocco’s important role” in the MENA region. He said Morocco’s significance for stability and development in its region is part of the North African country’s appeal to its Japanese partners.“Japan greatly values its partnership with Morocco,” Takahashi said as he recalled Morocco’s unique status in international exchanges as “a gateway to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.”Morocco is currently home to 69 Japanese companies, and Takahashi expects the number to increase in the coming years.The upward trend in the Morocco-Japan commercial and diplomatic connections, he argued, is rooted in the “geographic advantage” Morocco offers as a gateway to three continents as well its “economic potential” as a regional and continental investment hub.Takahashi’s comments on Japan’s Western Sahara stance come as a further instance of the perceptible desire among Japanese diplomats to bury last year’s controversy and salvage the country’s strategic relationship with Morocco.Tokyo views cementing its ties to Rabat as a not-to-miss opportunity to position itself in what some observers are calling “the second scramble for Africa.”Earlier this month, Takuji Hanatani, Japan’s ambassador to Morocco, also highlighted the “importance Japan attaches to its friendship with Morocco” by reiterating Tokyo’s wish to distance itself from reports of Japan’s recognition of the Polisario-claimed Republic.Like Takahashi, Ambassador Hanatani said that Japan “has never supported or recognized” Polisario’s statehood claims, while its support for the UN-led settlement imitative and Morocco’s proposal has “always been constant and unchanged.”
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The rapid melting of glaciers due to climate change has created a new market for Alaska’s tour operators.The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday that operators of several tour companies are experiencing an increase in customers booking trips to see the receding glaciers of the nation’s only Arctic state before they lose access to them.A new review of glacier research data published in the Journal of Glaciology predicts Alaska’s 25,000 glaciers will lose between 30% and 50% of their mass by the end of this century.One tour operator says there is “more awareness” of the receding glaciers among tourists.Operators say they have seen interest from places like Australia where glaciers do not exist, as well as visitors from emerging tourism markets like China and India.___Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.comThe Associated Press
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has welcomed the Security Council’s call for an immediate end to all acts of sexual violence against women and girls in conflict situations.Calling the resolution, adopted unanimously last week, “a historical achievement,” the Fund’s Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said it would go a long way to protect the dignity of women and girls.“While sexual violence against women in conflict has often been ignored and considered a marginal concern, it in fact cuts to the very core of the existence of the women who are victims of this crime.”The resolution, which says sexual violence against civilians is often a tactic in war, demands all parties to conflicts take concrete measures to prevent and respond to violence, such as by training troops and upholding military discipline procedures.It also says sexual violence crimes should be excluded from any amnesties reached at the end of conflicts, and calls on States to strengthen their judicial and health-care systems to better assist victims.Ms. Obaid said the resolution is “a strong reminder to the international community to recognize the need to address sexual violence in a quick and efficient manner, and to realize that as long as women and girls are threatened by such violence, there can be no real chance for peace and security.” 25 June 2008The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has welcomed the Security Council’s call for an immediate end to all acts of sexual violence against women and girls in conflict situations.
“The poorest people will be hit the hardest by the crisis that is likely to get worse next year,” World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said. “Our Global Economic Prospects report projects developing country growth will be 4.5 per cent next year, down from 7.9 per cent in 2007. We want to help countries manage this downturn with rapid financing to help minimize its impacts and by assisting them in designing supportive policies.” The facility will quickly make available an initial $2 billion of the $42 billion International Development Association (IDA) Financial Crisis Response Fast-Track Facility resources to 78 of the poorest countries over the coming three years.It will foster rapid Bank response to the pressing needs of IDA countries based on more swift World Bank analysis of those needs. It will finance expenditures needed to maintain economic stability and sustain growth, address volatility, and protect the poor. Operational responses will include funding budget expenditures in infrastructure services, education, and health and social safety nets.“We cannot afford business as usual. We need a human rescue package, not just a financial rescue package – and we need a new rapid response capability to make sure the money gets quickly to where it is most needed,” Mr. Zoellick said. “Already 100 million people have been driven into poverty as a result of high food and fuel prices, and we estimate that a 1 per cent decline in developing country growth rates will trap 20 million more people in poverty.” The full impact of the global financial crisis will hit IDA countries later than higher-income countries, but the development costs will be higher there. In low-income countries the financial sector is less well integrated into global financial markets, so the direct effect on the financial sector will be significant only in countries with plans to access markets and those with high foreign bank presence. A new World Bank report, Global Economic Prospects 2009, predicts that global gross domestic product (GDP) growth will slip from 2.5 per cent in 2008 to 0.9 percent in 2009. Growth in rich countries next year will likely be negative.“We see that the global economy is transitioning from a long period of strong growth led by developing countries to one of great uncertainty as the ongoing financial crisis has shaken markets worldwide,” World Bank Global Trends Manager Hans Timmer said. “The slowdown in developing countries is very significant because the credit squeeze directly hits investments, which were a key pillar supporting the strong performance of the developing world during the past 5 years.”With tighter credit conditions and less appetite for risk, investment growth in the developing world is projected to fall from 13 per cent in the 2007 to 3.5 per cent in 2009, deeply significant because a third of GDP growth can be attributed to it.In East Asia and the Pacific, GDP growth slowed to an estimated 8.5 per cent in 2008 and is expected to drop to 6.7 percent in 2009. Growth in Europe and Central Asia is expected to slow to 5.3 per cent in 2008, falling to 2.7 per cent in 2009. In Latin America and the Caribbean, growth, expected to be 4.4 percent in 2008, is at risk, pressuring private sector investment. The Middle East and North Africa region appears to have held up well in 2008, growing at an unchanged 5.8 per cent in 2008, but growth is expected to be just 3.9 percent in 2009. In South Asia GDP growth eased to 6.3 per cent in 2008 from 8.4 percent in 2007 and is expected to slip to 5.4 per cent in 2009.In Sub-Saharan Africa, growth expanded to 5.4 per cent in 2008, and is expected to ease to 4.6 per cent in 2009. But the contribution of net exports to African GDP growth may fall, and many countries are exposed to terms-of-trade shocks. Higher food and fuel prices have also widened the poverty gap, raising the risk of social unrest. The report also noted that recent sharp declines in oil and food prices marked the end of what has been the greatest commodity price boom of the past century. Like earlier booms, this one was driven by strong global economic growth and has come to an end with the abrupt slowdown in the global economy precipitated by the financial crisis.But despite the decline, concerns persist about long-term demand and supply, and about the impact of high commodity prices on poor people, but the world in not necessarily heading into a prolonged period of insufficiency with, as some fear, dwindling supplies of oil, metals, and food grains, and ever-increasing prices. “We find that speculation about looming shortages of food and energy is not well founded, and that the world won’t run out of key commodities given the right policies,” Andrew Burns, lead author of the report, said. “How things actually play out over the next 20 years depends on governments taking steps to reduce oil dependence, promote alternative energy, combat climate change, and boost farm productivity.”A separate report by UN Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted that while the percentage of the population living in poverty in the region dropped to 33.2 per cent or 182 million people in 2008 from 34.1 per cent pr 184 million the previous year, the actual number of people living in extreme poverty rose to 71 million (12.9 per cent) from 68 million people (12.6 per cent). 10 December 2008The World Bank has created a $2 billion fast-track facility to speed up grants and long-term interest-free loans to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the impact of the global financial crisis, noting a marked slowdown everywhere, including in formerly resilient developing nations.
More than a year after it was set up, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) still lacks critical logistical equipment, especially air power, and is only at some 60 per cent of its mandated strength, even as security in the war-torn Sudanese region worsens dramatically, the United Nations reported today.“The provision of outstanding equipment, in particular military helicopter assets, remains critical to increasing the mobility and operational impact of the mission,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report to the Security Council, calling on Member States who are in a position to provide these vital resources to do so without further delay.Reviewing UNAMID’s operations for the months of December and January in a region where more than six years of fighting between the Government, allied militia and rebel groups have led to over 300,000 deaths and uprooted over 2.7 million people, Mr. Ban puts the mission’s current deployment at some 18,300 personnel out of a mandated 31,544.Military personnel numbered 12,541 (64 per cent of the mandated 19,555) as of 31 January, police 2,639 (41 per cent of its mandated 6,432), and civilian personnel 3,129 (56 per cent of the mandated 5,557), with Government cooperation aiding a recent increase in deployment. Despite significant improvement in moving equipment with the aid of five chartered planes and a United States airlift from Rwanda, Mr. Ban repeatedly stresses the logistical shortcomings at a time when Darfur is wracked by rebel offensives and Government counter-attacks, including aerial bombardments, inter-tribal fighting, increasing violence against civilians, attacks on humanitarian workers, and crimes and carjackings against UN personnel.“The mission’s actual operational impact has been limited by logistical constraints, inadequate supply of critical equipment and the continued absence of key military enabling units such as the medium transport units, an aerial reconnaissance unit, a level-II hospital and 18 medium utility helicopters,” he writes.“One area of particular concern relates to the readiness to deploy personnel by troop- and police-contributing countries,” he adds, noting that a wide range of equipment still needs to be procured and personnel need to be adequately trained and prepared prior to deployment. “The state of maintenance of contingent-owned armoured personnel carriers is of particular concern and needs to be improved to provide robust mission force mobility.”Mr. Ban specifically calls on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Senegal, Thailand and Tanzania to deploy quickly their infantry battalions, which “would constitute a significant increase in the mission’s troop strength and thus its protection capability and ability to implement its core mandated tasks,” and urges donor States to provide necessary support for such deployment.Summing up the overall security situation, he highlights the “dramatic deterioration” across Darfur, a region the size of France. “The escalation in the level of violence in Darfur signals an investment in conflict rather than a serious commitment to peaceful negotiations,” he says, stressing the need for a concerted effort by all involved to reach a comprehensive settlement. He notes that during the reporting period, political progress was impeded by the military action of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), resumption of Government air bombardments, and the general sense that all concerned were waiting for the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the Prosecutor’s application for an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Some Sudanese officials have suggested that the Government may redefine its relationship with the mission should an arrest warrant be issued. “While recognizing the importance of both peace and justice to the search for a solution in Darfur, Member States have the responsibility to encourage the Government of the Sudan to react responsibly to the International Criminal Court decision, and to engage with the Sudan in a way that brings forward the possibility of a political solution to the conflict,” Mr. Ban writes.Beyond the conflict, he highlights the difficulties already besetting UNAMID, with carjackings increasing despite measures taken to reduce the problem, patrols being blocked by both Government and rebel forces, and restrictions on air operations preventing the free movement of life-saving assistance by the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Figures for 2008 show an almost doubling of the number of violent attacks on humanitarian aid workers, with 277 vehicles hijacked (compared with 137 in 2007), 218 personnel abducted (147 in 2007), 192 premises attacked (93 in 2007) and 36 staff wounded (24 in 2007). In 2008, 11 staff were killed, with four still missing (13 died in 2007).“These statistics are a stark reminder of the risks taken and the bravery shown by the aid community working throughout Darfur,” Mr. Ban declares, underscoring the positive role UNAMID has still managed to play.“With limited capability at its disposal, over the reporting period UNAMID has nevertheless been able to make a difference on the ground. I applaud the efforts of UNAMID and troop-contributing countries in reaching 60 per cent of military deployment on 31 December 2008 in the face of enormous difficulties, including the volatile security situation in Darfur,” he states.“The sustained cooperation of the Government of the Sudan during the past few months has been important in achieving this level of deployment.” 11 February 2009More than a year after it was set up, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) still lacks critical logistical equipment, especially air power, and is only at some 60 per cent of its mandated strength, even as security in the war-torn Sudanese region worsens dramatically, the United Nations reported today.
27 April 2009Following last week’s over $200 million pledge by international donors for Somalia, the top United Nations envoy to the Horn of Africa nation today voiced hope that resources will be mobilized quickly to promote peace and stability. At the donors’ conference in Brussels – under the joint auspices of the UN, the African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States – pledges of $213 were received for the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and for Somalia security.That amount surpassed the $166 million requested by the AU.Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, characterized last week’s international gathering as a “turning point” for Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991 but has witnessed several encouraging developments in recent months, including the election of a new President and the formation of a Government of National Unity.“While strengthening security, providing youth employment and delivering humanitarian assistance are essential, lasting peace and stability will come through continued dialogue as laid out in the Djibouti Agreement,” he said, referring to the last year’s UN-facilitated pact between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), in which the two agreed to end their conflict.Due to that Agreement, uprooted people are returning to their homes, the Parliament is more inclusive and Ethiopian troops withdrew in an orderly manner, the envoy said.“Now is the time for Somalis to show their people, their region and the international community that they are finally serious about peace and leaving behind the culture of ‘winner takes all’ and the ever-shifting alliances that are still devastating their nation,” he said. The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia last week stressed the importance of international assistance to stabilize the political situation in the country, noting that accountability and transitional justice initiatives are essential in Somalia, “where human rights is a victim of endless and myriad violations on a daily basis.” Shamsul Bari pointed out that there is a consensus among many that the “success of the security mechanisms will be judged on their capacity to protect the civilian population rather than abuse.” Thus, he stressed, to ensure that security forces are human rights-compliant, vetting processes, command structures and international disciplinary structures and independent oversight are essential.On the humanitarian front, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland to truck water to residents of areas hit by prolonged drought.Cases of malaria have dropped in Somalia, thanks to the stepped up distribution of long lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs), UNICEF said. The nets have been shown to provide the best protection against malaria in south-central Somalia, with a prevalence rate of just under 7 per cent for net users, compared to 17 per cent for those who did not.