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17 October 2012 Six United Nations peacekeepers and a local interpreter were wounded in a “cowardly” overnight ambush in the strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN Mission in the African nation reported today.
The six peacekeepers, part of the Indian contingent serving with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), and their interpreter were ambushed while returning from a patrol with 12 other peacekeepers near Buganza in North Kivu province after finding the bodies of four civilians, the Mission said in a news release.
“This premeditated, targeted and deliberate attack is inadmissible,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, Roger Meece. “We will work with the national authorities to identify those responsible for this ignoble deed so that they are called to justice.”
A UN Indian peacekeeper was killed in the same province in July when he was caught in a cross-fire in clashes between the DRC’s armed forces and a rebel group known as the March 23 Movement (M23).
The DRC’s eastern provinces of North and South Kivu have witnessed increased fighting between Government troops and the M23, which is composed of renegade soldiers who mutinied in April. The fighting has displaced more than 300,000 people, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, as well as within DRC.
MONUSCO, with 19,000 uniformed personnel, is the latest iteration of UN peacekeeping missions that have helped to bring stability and civilian elections to the vast country after it was torn apart by civil wars and rebel movements. Much of the country has achieved a measure of stability but fighting with various dissident groups has continued in the east where the bulk of the peacekeepers are deployed.
17 October 2012 The United Nations system and African countries must strengthen their partnership to advance the continent’s economic growth, development and participation in the global economy, the President of the General Assembly said today.
“Ensuring Africa’s development should be a strategic task for the entire United Nations system,” President Vuk Jeremic said in his opening remarks to the Assembly’s discussion of the world body’s engagement with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
The NEPAD initiative of the African Union (AU) was adopted in 2001, with the continent’s leaders pledging to pursue new priorities and approaches for the political and socio-economic transformation of Africa. The programme is intended to accelerate Africans’ efforts to extricate the continent from underdevelopment and exclusion from the global economy.
“To bridge the gap between the promise of Africa and the reality on the ground, I believe the United Nations must continue to give priority to the continent’s singular needs,” said Mr. Jeremic. “The UN’s agencies, programmes and entities need to become engaged as never before in the task of supporting African nations to unlock their potential.”
In a report on NEPAD, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that African countries have made good progress in the implementation of NEPAD sectoral priorities, in particular in the areas of governance, infrastructure, information and communications technology and agriculture, while progress has been made by the international community in providing debt relief, official development assistance and aid for trade.
“In an uncertain and slow global recovery, the main challenge for African countries is to consolidate their gains and thereby ensure that the current turbulent economic situation does not reverse the progress made,” he wrote.
As the second decade of NEPAD begins, African countries and the international community, including the United Nations, should strengthen their partnership for development on the basis of mutual responsibility and accountability, the Secretary-General said.
In addition, the UN should continue to accord priority to the special development needs of Africa, particularly in the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the follow-up to the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June.
In his remarks to the Assembly, Mr. Jeremic noted that a number of African countries are the hardest-hit victims of the global economic crisis.
“Despite this troubling reality, growth rates in many parts of the continent have been resilient. Over the past several years, trade and investment has expanded, the continental-wide internal market has been built up, and macro-economic indicators have improved. By any measure, this progress is remarkable and unprecedented,” he stated.
“Yet much more needs to be done in a number of areas. This includes finding solutions on how to lessen the difference in living standards between urban and rural populations, and properly addressing the increasing disparities amongst the continent’s economies.”
He added that to be even more effective, the various assistance mechanisms should more closely reflect NEPAD’s agenda, and that of the individual African Member States. “The voices of those in need must be heard loud and clear. What they say has to serve as a significant guidepost for moving forward,” he said.
17 October 2012 The United Nations top political official for Somalia today welcomed the endorsement by the East African country’s Parliament of the new Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, stressing that it signals an encouraging start of cooperation between two important arms of the Government.
“The approval of Prime Minister Shirdon by the Somali legislature is further incontrovertible evidence of progress in Somalia,” said the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga.
“The United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) recognizes that by approving the new Prime Minister the Federal Parliament has cast a vote of confidence in the new leadership,” he added in a news release from UNPOS, which he also heads.
Mr. Shirdon was endorsed by all of the 215 members of Parliament present at their meeting today.
After decades of factional fighting and lawlessness, the Horn of Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps in recent months that have helped to bring an end to the country’s eight-year political transition period. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the selection of a new President.
“I call on the new Prime Minister to appoint without delay a new council of ministers. There is much to do and little time to waste,” Mr. Mahiga added.
In the news release, UNPOS noted that Mr. Mahiga pledged to work in partnership with the new Prime Minister and his new Government on Somalia’s new priorities and urgent needs as expressed in the six pillars outlined by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
According to comments made by a Somali representative to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, President Mohamud’s six pillar policy aims to secure progress in the areas of stability, economic recovery, peacebuilding, service delivery, international relations and unity.