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Shining a light on sustainable power: how clean energy is helping to improve camps for displaced people

INTERNATIONAL, 14 June 2019, Climate Change - Hauwa, from Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, fled her home village of Adamari with her husband and four children in March, when violence struck. Now, she is in the relative safety of a UN-run camp but, with little electricity available at night, lighting is scarce, and darkness can mean danger. However, thanks to a solar-energy initiative from the UN migration agency IOM, that is beginning to change.

El-Miskin, where Hauwa and her family are sheltering, sits at the edge of the capital of Borno State, Maiduguri. It is one of several camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the region, victims of the fighting between armed groups and Nigerian forces that has persisted for almost a decade.

Newcomers to El-Miskin camp live in makeshift shelters made of straw, and energy is hard to come by. This means that safety is an issue, particularly for women and girls: without proper lighting, they often have to walk in the dark to use the latrines and other water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. For Hauwa, even the cost of batteries to power a small lamp is beyond her means, so when she, along with 1,405 others, was given a solar-powered lamp – donated by GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry – in early April, as part of the IOM initiative, her daily routine improved drastically. 

Hauwa recalls that during the distribution of the lamps, IOM staff assisted her and taught her how to use it. “I think it is very easy to use,” she says as she proudly shows IOM staff how to fix the lamp on her roof to charge it. With the lamp, Hauwa feels safe when she uses the latrines at night. “The lamp helps me see the path when it’s dark, but I still need to be careful not to step on a lizard!” she jokes.

Smart tech to keep refugees, and forests, alive

But safety is not the only advantage that renewable energy has brought to humanitarian camps, as Djamila Fatime Harine, a Nigeria-based IOM Programme Manager explains. “With solar lights, children can continue to learn without the health and safety risks of smoky firewood or kerosene lamps, which also pose health hazards such as burns and respiratory problems”.

Where there is a large-scale concentration of refugees, anything that can reduce the need to burn wood, would have a huge impact. In Bangladesh, near the border with Myanmar, for example, some 700,000 Rohingya refugees have few options other than firewood for their household energy needs. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, estimates that a staggering 820 tonnes of trees – equivalent to 4 hectares – are being cut down for firewood by Rohingya refugees every day.

This is causing tensions with local people, who want to protect their natural resources and livelihoods, and increases the risk of assaults on refugees. As for the health risks, the smoke created by around 191,000 families in such a densely populated area is having a negative effect on the whole population, especially those directly involved in tending fires and cooking.

Cases such as Bangladesh explain why UNHCR, IOM, and other humanitarian organizations, have a strong motivation to find ways to power refugee camps with cheap, clean energy. For example, at UNHCR’s two largest refugee camps, in Jordan, a solar plant has been providing clean, reliable electricity to over 100,000 Syrian refugees since 2017. Whilst it cost US$17.5 million, it is now saving the agency an estimated US$12.5 million per year in energy costs, and cutting carbon emissions by around 20,000 tons a year.

In South Sudan, where thousands of displaced people fled to a UN-protected base in Malakal, in the Upper Nile region, following attacks on communities in 2013, clean water was a priority. IOM initially trucked in water, and then began using diesel-run generators to pump in water from the Nile.

However, since last year, the camp’s supplies come from a solar-powered pump, providing some 29,000 residents, and around 300 humanitarian workers, with around 20 litres of water every day. The environmental footprint of the camp is now much smaller, as fuel consumption has dropped drastically. This also means that the pump will have paid for itself by the end of 2019, thanks to savings on transportation and diesel fuel.

With the costs of renewable energy installations continuing to fall, more and more humanitarian centres will be powered by clean power sources, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. To speed up the process, a group of UN-related bodies, led by IOM, have made the switch to clean energy a priority, and joined together to bring about a global sustainable energy plan of action, part of the aim to achieve Goal 7 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: safe access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services for all displaced people.


Ahead of 2020 elections, situation in Burundi shows encouraging signs but remains fragile

INTERNATIONAL, 14 June 2019, Economic Development - A UN Security Council meeting on the security and political situation in Burundi was held on Friday, as the country continues to grapple with a four-year-long crisis and is gearing up for new elections in 2020.

The situation deteriorated sharply in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a controversial third term, seen by many Burundians as a breach of the constitution. The announcement led to an upsurge of violence in the country, leaving hundreds dead and prompting around half a million people to flee the country.

Currently, close to 1.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Toward peaceful and fair elections?

“The Independent National Elections Commission (CENI) continues its efforts to sensitize the population on democratic values, in pursuit of peaceful and credible elections,” said Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.

In addition to a variety of recent encouraging developments, Jürg Lauber, the chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, told the Security Council that, during his recent trip to the country, he was assured that President Nkurunziza will not stand as a candidate.

“With regard to preparations for the peaceful conduct of the elections, the need for technical support, for instance in the areas of police training and security sector reform, was mentioned. I was informed that the [CENI] would invite observers from international and regional organizations to the elections,” Ambassador Lauber explained.

However, he noted that “a number of interlocutors voiced concerns over difficulties encountered by members of the opposition parties to gather freely” and some “expressed concerns over recent measures against of two foreign media that allegedly violated national regulations, according to the national authority.”

Continued reports of human rights violations

Although the Burundian Government claims that the security and human rights situation has improved, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) in Bujumbura, which was continuing to receive reports of gross violations – including arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detentions – was forced to close in February, after a 23-year presence in the country.

“The human rights situation remains worrying in view of many violations of fundamental civic and political freedoms as reported by political actors, some media and civil society organizations,” said Assistant-Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco.

This was supported by Mr. Lauber’s recent visit, as he explained that “a number of interlocutors voiced concerns about alleged violent incidents and human rights violations that are not properly investigated and prosecuted.”

He added however that “the Minister for Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender confirmed Burundi's readiness to engage in technical cooperation with international human rights bodies and highlighted the ongoing work on the implementation of the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review  of Burundi in the UN Human Rights Council.”

Humanitarian and socio-economic aspects

Despite a relatively satisfactory agricultural production this year, the Security Council was told that nearly 1.8 million people remain at risk of food insecurity “due to recurrent and devastating climatic hazards”.

In addition, it was noted that “increases in unemployment and the rise in prices of basic commodities and services have negatively affected the economic and socio-cultural rights.”

As there are still over 350,000 Burundian refugees in the region, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is assisting them as well as people who voluntarily repatriate to Burundi, primarily from Tanzania.

“The protection and assistance to refugees, the sustainable reintegration of those who choose to return as well as of internally displaced people remains a core concern and funding requirements remain acute in this area,” noted Mr. Lauber.

Funding for life-saving programmes remains a problem overall, as the humanitarian response plan is only 24 per cent funded to date. Mr. Fernandez-Taranco called on the international community to increase their contributions.


5G technology jeopardizes forecasting and early warning alerts, say UN weather experts

INTERNATIONAL (JUNE 14, 2019) - The UN weather and climate agency, WMO, has warned that the latest “5G” mobile phone technology jeopardizes early warning services which protect people from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones.

In a resolution expressing “serious concern at the continuing threat to several radio-frequency bands” of 5G, the World Meteorological Organization’s executive Congress insisted that forecasting and alert services operated by countries had led to a big reduction in the loss of life in recent decades.

WMO’s spokesperson Clare Nullis explained that “we use these radio frequencies in the meteorological community…there’s concern that because of growing competition from new technology we’re going to be squeezed out of these frequencies.”

Weather alerts are linked to radio sensors that feed information into forecasting systems to provide more accurate predictions with longer warning times.

Experts are concerned that failing to manage unwanted emissions from new telecommunication technologies “would have a significant impact” on current weather-forecasting practices. Consequently, they say, it might reverse many of the gains in our warning services for natural hazards.


19 new members elected to the UN’s economic and social body, ECOSOC

INTERNATIONAL (June 14, 2019) - The UN General Assembly elected on Friday 19 new members to the Economic and Social Council, one of the six main organs of the United Nations, which is mandated with tackling issues related to sustainable development, from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

The Council's 54 members are elected for overlapping three-year terms. Seats on the Council are allotted based on geographical representation with 14 allocated to African States, 11 to Asian States, six to Eastern European States, 10 to Latin American and Caribbean States, and 13 to Western European and other States.

The 18 newly elected members to take up functions on 1 January 2020 are:

  • Benin, Botswana, The Congo and Gabon for Africa.
  • Bangladesh, China, South Korea and Thailand, for the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Latvia, Montenegro and Russia, for the Eastern European region.
  • Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama, for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Australia, Finland, Norway and Switzerland, for Western Europe and other States.

In addition, Spain was elected to take over Turkey’s seat at the end of this year for just a one-year term.


Ebola in DR Congo and Uganda, still not considered an international health emergency

INTERNATIONAL (June 14, 2019) - The head of the UN health agency, WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus reconvened on Friday an Emergency Committee under International Health Regulations, to assess the status of what is now the second largest Ebola outbreak ever, in central Africa. Committee members decided that despite “deep concern” and the spread of the disease into neighbouring Uganda, the criteria for the declaration of an international health emergency were not met.

The Ebola outbreak is a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and for the region, but it is not yet a critical concern of international proportions, the committee noted.

"Although the outbreak does not at this time pose a global health threat, I want to emphasise that for the affected families and communities, this outbreak is very much an emergency," said Dr. Ghebreyesus in a press conference., he joined via teleconference from DRC.

This week, a cluster of four cases was identified in Uganda, after a Congolese family crossed the border from DR Congo. Two of them died shortly after, and the response and containment efforts in Uganda were subsequently scaled up. The head of the Committee, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, urged neighbouring countries to heed the recommendations issued by WHO, to strengthen preparedness and detection measures.

"Although the spread of Ebola to Uganda is tragic, it is not a surprise. We have said since the beginning of the outbreak that the risk of cross-border spread was very high, and it remains very high. The fact that it has taken this long is a testament to the incredible work of all partners on both sides of the border," stressed WHO's Dr. Ghebreyesus .

Referring to the funding gap of over US$ 54 million faced by humanitarian and health organisations working to tackle the crisis on the ground, both officals called on the international community to step up funding and support to strengthen preparedness and response in the DRC and in neighbouring countries.


Yemen: maternal and newborn health ‘on the brink of total collapse’, UNICEF alerts

INTERNATIONAL, 14 June 2019, Health - After more than four years of grinding conflict in Yemen, healthcare for mothers and their babies is “on the brink of collapse”, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Friday, in a report that highlights the difficulties of childbirth and parenting in a war zone.

According to UNICEF, one woman and six newborns die every two hours from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. The years of intense fighting in the country have contributed to limited access to crucial healthcare, with only three out of 10 births taking place in regular health facilities.

The results are part of a series compiled by the agency, Childbirth and parenting in a war zone, released this week.

Addressing the grim statistics, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that “bringing life into the world in Yemen, can all too often turn into a tragedy for entire families”.

Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East and one of the world’s most impoverished even before the war between the Saudi-led Government coalition and Houthi rebels, escalated early in 2015. The maternal mortality rate has risen sharply since then, from five maternal deaths a day in 2013, to 12 a day last year.

“Decades of underdevelopment and years of intense fighting have left essential public services, including crucial healthcare for mothers and babies, on the brink of total collapse”, Ms. Fore added.

With mothers and babies amongst the most highly vulnerable in Yemen, one in 37 new-born babies die in the first month of life and one out of every 260 women dies in pregnancy or childbirth, according to a UNICEF press release issued on Friday.

Recalling that access to quality ante- and post-natal health services is key to newborn and maternal survival, the agency warned that only 51 per cent of all health facilities are fully functional, and even these face severe shortages in medicines, equipment, and staff, putting lives at risk.

Home births on the rise as services collapse

According to accounts by women interviewed in an ongoing qualitative study on health services in Sana’a, Taiz and Aden, home births are also on the rise. Women reported that because families are getting poorer by the day, an increasing number of women are opting to have their babies at home, and only seek medical care if they experience complications.

Infants born prematurely receive treatment in Alsabeen Hospital, Sana’a, Yemen. Here, a UNICEF staff member (left) visits the hospital. Children born since the conflict escalated in Yemen face huge challenges in their physical, cognitive and social development. (2018)

In a country profoundly affected by humanitarian crisis, delivery of routine primary healthcare services has also been overshadowed by the urgency of responding to the cholera epidemic and the chronic starvation threat, leaving pregnant women and newborns with limited access to a broader range of maternal and child health services.

 “Antenatal care and skilled health attendance at delivery are essential to the survival of both mothers and babies,” Ms. Fore added. “As the world marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we renew our call for all children – in Yemen and elsewhere – to enjoy their full rights to health, education, protection and peace.”

The agency is calling on all parties to the conflict and the international community to focus resources on the poor, marginalized and internally displaced communities and to protect the health care system in the country, with specific attention to primary healthcare.


South Sudanese facing famine in all but name, warns UN food agency

INTERNATIONAL, 14 June 2019, Humanitarian Aid - Record numbers in South Sudan – some seven million people – face acute food shortages, while more than 20,000 are close to famine, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Friday.

The warning, which follows years of violent unrest and vicious rights abuses linked to mass displacement, food shortages and disease outbreaks, coincides with the release of updated data on hunger levels in the country.

“It is famine-like, but you cannot call it famine, because you can only call (it) famine if you have a certain number of criteria,” including the number of people affected, said WFPspokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “We are not at that number, that level, to use the word famine. We cannot use the word famine, but they live in conditions that are equivalent to a famine, if there was many more”

According to Friday’s food insecurity report, an estimated 21,000 South Sudanese will likely face a “catastrophic lack of food access” by the end of July, in the middle of the rainy season.

More than 1.8 million are set to endure “emergency” food shortages, while five million are expected to be in “crisis”.

Compared to forecasts made in January, the updated hunger estimates reckon on another 81,000 people facing “a highly stressed and critical lack of food”, particularly in Jonglei, Lakes and Unity states, WFP said in a statement.

Already in South Sudan, the UN agency noted that food and fuel prices have spiked, while trade and local markets have been disrupted, depleting the country’s food stocks.

Today, WFP assists more than 2.7 million people in South Sudan, but it plans to scale up aid to 5.1 million by December, to meet seasonal needs, using a combination of food and cash distributions.

For the first time in many years, WFP has also prepositioned 173,000 tonnes of food in some 60 areas ahead of the rainy season; some 66,000 tonnes more than at the same point in 2018.

This helps to “save lives” while also reducing delivery costs as the food can be transported by road - and not air - before the rains render them impassable.

Mr. Verhoosel stressed that the success of the operation depends upon the “effective implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan and political stability”, to allow urgent and scaled-up humanitarian assistance to protect livelihoods and boost agricultural production across the country and save lives.”


UN suspending handover of camps in Darfur, peacekeeping chief tells Security Council

INTERNATIONAL, 14 June 2019, Peace and Security - The joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), is suspending the handover of any more camps for displaced civilians to the Sudanese military, against a backdrop of worsening violence and insecurity across the country.

Briefing the Security Council on Friday, UN Peacekeeping chief, Jean Pierre Lacroix, said that the bloody 3 June military crackdown in the capital Khartoum, had highlighted the central role of the Darfur-linked Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are reportedly made up largely of former Janjaweed militia, which has been accused of serious human rights abuses.

During the Darfur conflict between the Government and their militiamen allies, and rebel groups, which began in 2003, the UN estimated that around 300,000 were killed, and around 2.7 million forced from their homes. Former president Omar al-Bashir  was indicted for war crimes including genocide, nine years ago.

Mr. Lacroix said that the ruling Transitional Military Council, which led the violent break-up of pro-democracy protests in the capital earlier this month, had decreed on 13 May, that UNAMID “hand over all ‘camps’ to the Rapid Support Forces, which is in contravention to the UN rules and proceedures.”

“Give these developments, we have had no choice but to suspend the handover of UNAMID sites to the Sudanese authorities until the TMC decree is rescinded”, he told members.

Peacekeeping ‘no longer the appropriate tool’

Mr. Lacroix said the mission’s leadership was doing its utmost to maintain normal contacts with the authorities, but in Darfur itself, the “political process is in a stalemate”. A prolonged humanitarian crisis means 1.5 million continue to live in camps, and the combined challenges means that a “comprehensive approach beyond peacekeeping” is needed, he added, noting that conventional peacekeeping “is no longer the most appropriate tool”, requiring UNAMID “to appropriately adjust its posture.”

He said the latest UN and AU report on the mission and its mandate, pointed to the continued drawdown of UNAMID in 2020, “reflecting the current realities”, subject to a review this November.

“We call upon the Security Council members to carefully consider the options for the drawdown and liquidation of UNAMID”, he concluded.

Many rights abuses ‘invisible and under-reported’: Gilmour

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, told members that though violence between militias had decreased, the human rights situation overall had got worse, “with increased reports of killings, abduction, sexual violence and other violations.”

The “ripple effect” from the killings and abuse in Khartoum was real, he said, noting that 47 had been killed, with 186 injured in various parts of Darfur in the past three months of national upheaval.

In the last two months, 163 civilians had been arrested and detained in relation to protests in Darfur, and the Human Rights Section of UNAMID “has received accounts of intensified harassment of civilians and looting of houses and livestock by Rapid Support Forces”, noted Mr. Gilmour.

“We believe that many cases in Darfur remain invisible and under-reported due to lack of access to some parts of the region”, he said, adding that in “an atmosphere of violence and uncertainty, upholding the priorities of the protection of civilians and of human rights in the mandate of UNAMID, is of paramount significance”.

A strengthened civilian presence in the mission “will have a positive impact on protection of civilians” he asserted, and it was vital to keep “positive collaboration” with national rights institutions intact.

Agencies race to ramp-up aid to Darfur

UN humanitarian aid coordinating agency OCHA, cautioned on Friday at a briefing for journalists in Geneva, that needs remain at crisis levels in Darfur.

“There is still a humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region which is impacted by what is happening,” said spokesperson Jens Laerke.

Violent communal attacks, destructive flooding, along with a civil disobedience campaign and the disruption of internet services and phone networks have all hampered operations in the vast western region, the OCHA spokesperson maintained.

On Tuesday, he said that a team from UNAMID visited Deleij in central Darfur, following reports of “tribal fighting”.

UNAMID “verified that 17 people had been killed, 15 (were) injured, and more than 100 houses (had been) burned,” Mr. Laerke explained, following reports that the fighting involved clashes between nomads and residents angered by price increases at the local market.

In northern Darfur, meanwhile, humanitarian partners have provided support to people affected by flooding in Tawilla, which has totally or partially destroyed some 1,300 households and affected hundreds of latrines, constituting an immediate health hazard.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), more than 70 per cent of planned prepositioned food has already been delivered to different states across Sudan.

This will enable the UN agency to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to some 740,000 people in inaccessible locations during the rainy season, which usually ends around September.
As WFP and other UN agencies and partners respond to ongoing needs, OCHA’s Jens Laerke said funding for Sudan was well below where it needed to be at this mid-year point.

“Overall, the whole of Sudan and the humanitarian operation there is struggling with lack of funding,” he said. “We are asking for a total of $1.2 billion to the response across the country. Now halfway through the year, we are just a little more than 22 per cent funded.”


Sudan: top UN official demands cessation of violence and rape against civilians by security forces

INTERNATIONAL, 13 June 2019, Human Rights - Following recent reports of attacks and rape by security forces and paramilitaries against the pro-democracy protesters in Sudan who have been holding a sit-in outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, expressed “grave concern” on Thursday and called for an “immediate and complete” end to the violence.

According to her Office, despite restrictions on communications in Sudan, reports of serious human rights violations have emerged since the beginning of the month.

These include reported rapes and gang rapes of protesters, women’s human rights defenders and women medical personnel working in hospitals near the sit-in perpetrated by the “Rapid Support Forces” or RSF – a paramilitary group run by the Sudanese Government, primarily composed of the Janjaweed, a party to the Darfur conflict – and other militias.

“I demand the immediate and complete cessation of all violence against civilians including sexual violence,” stated Special Representative Patten, noting that the RSF have consistently been listed in the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.

“[They] should take effective measures to prevent and punish sexual violence in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2467,” she added.

After the three-decade autocratic rule of President Omar al-Bashir ended in a military takeover in April, talks faltered in May between protesters and the ruling Transitional Military Council over a timetable for civilian rule.

On 3 June, security forces and paramilitaries fired on pro-democracy protesters holding a sit-in outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, leaving a number of people dead and many more injured. Three days later, the African Union suspended the participation of Sudan in all its activities until the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority.

Pending verification of the alleged incidents by relevant UN bodies, Ms. Patten highlighted the fact that “the weakness of the rule of law and a general climate of impunity” is further compounding a highly-volatile context.

“I urge the prompt investigation of all credible allegations of sexual violence and accountability for those responsible,” said the Special Representative, adding that she strongly supports the rapid deployment of a United Nations human rights monitoring team to examine the situation on the ground.

She also called upon the international community, including members of the UN Security Council, to use “all possible diplomatic channels with leaders of Sudan to pave the way for a swift transition to a civilian administration and an end to all forms of violence and intimidation against civilians”.

On Tuesday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), sounded the alarm over the killing and injuring of dozens of minors in the protests backlash.


UN cooperation with League of Arab States ‘pivotal’, UN chief tells Security Council

INTERNATIONAL, 13 June 2019, Peace and Security - Global problems require global solutions that rely on “essential” partnerships, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday, stating that “our cooperation with the League of Arab States is pivotal”. 

“Our two organizations share a common mission:  to prevent conflict, resolve disputes and act in a spirit of solidarity and unity”, he told the meeting on cooperation between the Council and the League (LAS). “We work together to expand economic opportunity, advance respect for all human rights and build political inclusion”, he added.

Responding to rising tensions in the Gulf, Mr. Guterres noted “with deep concern” the latest attack on oil tankers in the busy Strait of Hormuz on Thursday. “I strongly condemn any attack against civilian vessels”, he stressed.  “Facts must be established, and responsibilities clarified”.

Dozens of crew members were rescued from two oil tankers hit by explosions, following on from attacks against four tankers which were hit off the coast of the United Arab Emirates a month ago.

“If there is something the world cannot afford, it is a major confrontation in the Gulf region”, the Secretary-General spelled out.

New social contract

Mr. Guterres explained that people around the world today expect “a new social contract for education, jobs, opportunities for young people, equality for women, respect for human rights and a fair share in national wealth”. 

Within the challenges facing the Arab region, lie opportunities “to build on the words and intentions of the charters of our two organizations” to bring “real change”, the UN chief said.

The Secretary-General spoke about the UN’s commitment to a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the devastating toll on civilians in Syria after eight years of conflict; the impact of armed clashes in Libya; Sudan’s struggle to transition back to civilian rule; and the need to rebuild and overcome the trauma and impact of Da’esh, or ISIL, terrorist fighters in Iraq.

He also highlighted that Lebanon, “a country significantly affected by regional developments and the generous hosting of large numbers of refugees”, needs strengthening, in addition to underscoring that negotiations must be resumed to find a lasting political solution in crisis-torn Yemen.

Our two organizations share a common mission:  to prevent conflict, resolve disputes and act in a spirit of solidarity and unity – UN chief

In Somalia, he urged the international community to “remain united to support political progress and the development of security institutions”, calling the Arab League “a key partner, both as an organization and through its individual members, for political support and economic development”.

On these efforts and more, “we continue to invest in building our engagement with regional and sub-regional organizations, including through regular consultations and collaboration”, he maintained.

Mr. Guterres enumerated UN activities underway with the Arab League, which included biennial General Cooperation meetings, sectoral meetings, capacity building exercises and staff exchanges.

He announced that a new UN Liaison Office to LAS in Cairo would become operational this month and lauded Egypt for its support and hospitality.

“I fully expect this Liaison Office, the first funded by the UN regular budget, will improve the effectiveness of cooperation between our two organizations”, he said.

“I intend to continue this fruitful engagement and deepen our collaboration to advance the vision set out in the UN Charter, in the interest of the peoples we collectively serve”, the UN chief concluded, offering his “full and active support” moving forward.

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