Army tweets pictures of Yeti footprints

first_imgNew Delhi: The Indian Army will send pictures and videos of large “mysterious footprints” captured by its personnel in the higher Himalayas to domain experts, sources said on Tuesday, a day after its claim suggesting the presence of the mythical Yeti close to the Makalu Base Camp in Nepal earlier this month.On Monday, the Army claimed its mountaineering expedition team in Nepal found mysterious large footprints in the snow that they believe belong to the Yeti or the abominable snowman. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkIn Nepali folklore, Yeti is a mythical ape-like creature taller than an average human that is said to inhabit the Himalayas, Siberia, Central and East Asia. “For the first time, an #IndianArmy Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited (sic) Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32×15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past,” the Army tweeted on Monday night. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygenThe Army also released photos showing large footprints in the snow which they claim belong to the creature. An Army team of 18 personnel led by Major Manoj Joshi embarked on an expedition to Mount Makalu in Nepal on April 2. On April 9, the group spotted “mysterious footprints” measuring 32 X 15 inches to close to the Makalu base camp, the sources said. They said the pictures were sent by the team using satellite communication. “We will share the photos and videos with domain experts to understand more about this,” the sources said. They did not elaborate on which domain experts they will approach. The team is expected to be back in India next month. Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres. It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas, some 19 kilometres southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China. Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the 19th century. Given the lack of evidence of its existence, the scientific community has generally regarded the Yeti as a legend. In one genetic study, researchers matched DNA from hair samples found in the Himalaya with a prehistoric bear from the Pleistocene epoch. (With PTI inputs)last_img read more

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Brussels Chief of Protocol strips a Qatari princess of her Niqab

Fez- Qatar and Belgium are on the brink of diplomatic tensions after the Chief of Protocol of the city of Brussels was reported to forcibly removing the Niqab of a woman who happened to be a Qatari princess (Sheikhah) travelling to the Belgian capital.It all happened Last Thursday when the Qatari princess was making her way to the famous Grand Place in the center of Brussels with two other women. The three women had to ask someone with good knowledge of the city and they couldn’t be any luckier when thy addressed Jean-Marie Pire, the Chief Protocol of the City of Brussels himself.According to media reports, Jean-Marie Pire, who was not in duty at the time of the incident, refused to answer their question. In addition, he jumped in to tear the Niqab off the woman’s face, but little did he know that he had just stripped a Qatari princess of her Niqab in the center of Brussels. ‘I said I don’t talk to anyone if I can’t see their face, the 60-year-old said’. ‘With this reply, I wanted to make it clear that the veil is banned in Belgium.” “Because the person asking me a question didn’t seem to hear me, I lifted her veil. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but what she did wasn’t legal either,” he added.The Qatari princess filed a complaint in the court in Brussels against the Chief of Protocol for assault because her earrings were torn off in the process causing cuts and bruises.The Chief of Protocol of the city of Brussels also filed a counter complaint against the alleged princess on the grounds that she was wearing the Niqab, which is prohibited by law in Belgium.Other reports suggest that Jean-Marie le Pire was intoxicated at the time of the incident, something he denied categorically saying it was ‘three o’clock in the afternoon, besides I don’t drink much.” read more

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The origins of ISIS and Al Qaeda

Marrakech- To Western observers, ISIS seemed to emerge almost out of nowhere. All Arab states united to denounce Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he proclaimed himself caliph of the Islamic State.Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have all participated with the US in its air attacks on ISIS bases in Syria. In fact, the emergence of ISIS has united the Arab Sunni leaders.ISIS clearly bases its claim to establish a caliphate on Wahhabism, the 18th century teachings of the scholar Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. However, al-Baghdadi’s attempt create a new caliphate based on principles developed hundreds of years ago does not take into account the development of modern Islamic states and institutions and the true, peaceful nature of the Muslim faith. Just because a group claims to be reformist does not give it the right to commit barbaric acts and murder on a large scale. By trying to turn the clock back to when states were being created, ISIS is actually making war against Islam itself, using religion as a means of creating a caliphate based on the past.. Their firm stance against ISIS confirms that modern Islamic states have developed their own societies based on peace and an ordered structure.Unfortunately, ISIS has accumulated vast wealth through illicit sources, and experts are saying that it could take years to eliminate an organization that relies on foreign fighters. Those who will survive the US-led coalition against ISIS may try to return to their country of origin to commit further acts of violence and destabilization.This approach forms the basis of Al Qaeda’s philosophy. They use targeted violence to kill unbelievers and seek to overthrow and “redeem” Muslim states, which they believe have lost their true Islamic faith.Al Qaeda grew out of a radical tradition that believed Muslim states and societies have fallen into sinful unbelief, and embraced violence as a tool to redeem them. “Violence is part of their [ISIS’s] ideology,” says Bernard Haykel, a scholar at Princeton University in the US. He adds, “For Al Qaeda, violence is a means to an end; for ISIS, it is an end in itself.”ISIS believes that members of Al Qaeda are not true Muslims because they will not adhere to their proclaimed caliphate.In his latest New York Times column, Thomas L. Friedman says that the Islamic world has to rethink the current status quo, which has led to ISIS and Al Qaeda, and find a solution that will restore order and peace to the Islamic world, hopefully ending the long-running Sunni Shia confrontation. © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

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Moroccan athletes dominate podium of SanturceBilbao international race

Madrid – Moroccan female athletes dominated the podium of the Santurce-Bilbao International race which took place on Sunday.Hanane Ouhaddou won the 15.8 kilometer race in 54 minutes and 10 seconds followed by her counterywoman Kaoutar Boulaid who crossed the finish line in 54 minutes and 38 seconds. Majida Maayouf completed the Moroccan sweep of the podium by taking the third place.In the men’s race, Ugandan Moses Kibet came first in 46 minutes and 21 seconds, just 7 seconds ahead of Morocco’s Mourad El Bannouri who was followed by Kenya’s Yussuf Biwott. The fourth and the fifth places were taken by Morocco’s Jawad Tougane and Hassan Oubaddi respectively.

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ISIS Flag Foisted on Saudi Arabian Embassy in Berlin

Rabat – The flag of the so called Islamic State (ISIS) was projected onto the building of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Berlin yesterday along with the phrase “Daesh Bank.” Oliver Bienkowski, a German human rights activist, used the “guerrilla light project” to protest Saudi Arabia’s alleged relationship with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization of Isis.Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is a member of the international coalition fighting against Isis, many believe that Saudi Arabia is indirectly implicated in the creation of ISIS through the propagation of its Wahhabist version of Islam. The phrase “Bank of Daesh” implies that Saudi Arabia is behind the direct financial support of Isis, but the Saudi government has repeatedly refuted any such claims.The beaming of the projection is part of a campaign accusing Saudi Arabia of having links with the terrorist group. Oliver Bienkowski’s Facebook page shows another projection on the Saudi embassy in Berlin reading “10 years and 1000 lashes just for blogging #FREERAIF.”The projection is meant to draw attention to the imprisonment of blogger Raif Badawi. read more

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Thailand Bombings Kill 4 and Wound Dozens

Rabat – A series of bombings struck five provinces in Thailand, mostly at sites popular with tourists, on Thursday and Friday morning, in what a senior Thai official called a coordinated wave of attacks.Four people were killed and dozens wounded, the police said.Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, a deputy prime minister in Thailand’s military-run government, said the attacks were “absolutely conducted by the same network.” Another senior official later described the bombings as “local sabotage,” not terrorism. No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Two bombs went off at the Hua Hin resort in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province late Thursday evening, killing one woman and wounding 21 other people, the Thai police said. Hours earlier, a bombing near a market in Trang Province killed one person and wounded six.On Friday morning, more explosions struck in Hua Hin, killing another person and wounding three, and at the popular resort island of Phuket, where one person was wounded, the police said. Two bombs also went off in the province of Surat Thani, leaving one person dead, and two near a market in Phang Nga, a southern province, though officials said there were no casualties there.Police officials said several of the bombs were detonated by cellphone.The explosions Thursday night in Hua Hin, which occurred about a half-hour apart, were in an area of bars and nightclubs popular with foreign tourists. At least nine foreigners were wounded in the second explosion, which went off at a crowded intersection, according to Suthipong Klai-udom, a district official. read more

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Morgan Stanley buying Calgarybased Solium Capital for 11 billion

CALGARY — U.S. bank Morgan Stanley has signed a deal to buy Calgary-based Solium Capital Inc. in a cash deal valued at about $1.1 billion.Under the agreement, Morgan Stanley will pay $19.15 per share for Solium, which helps companies manage employee stock plans.Solium shares closed at $13.36 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.Solium CEO Marcos Lopez says the company’s leadership team is expected to remain in place.The deal is subject to the approval by a two-thirds majority vote by shareholders. All of the directors of Solium, who collectively control 19 per cent of the company, have agreed to support the purchase.Subject to regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019. The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:SUM)

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School Bus Accident Injures 3 Children in Meknes

Rabat- A school bus accident in Meknes has injured three primary school children.The bus, carrying 43 students of a private primary school, crashed on Wednesday morning near Zahwa neighborhood in Meknes, a city west of Fez, reported Moroccan news outlet Alyaoum24.The injured students are currently receiving treatment at Mohammed V Hospital in Meknes. Photos taken after the accident show two other vehicles caught in the traffic accident, a taxi which hit a streetlamp and another that swerved and hit a wall to avoid the crash.Photo credits: Alyaoum24Photo credits: Alyaoum24Photo credits: Alyaoum24Two deadly accidents in one week Today’s bus accident follows two fatal accidents last week.On Tuesday, October 16, Train No. 9 linking Rabat and Kenitra on the Casablanca-Kenitra line derailed near Bouknadel at 10:20 a.m., killing 7 and injuring 125.The cause of the derailment was speeding, according to the investigation.The public prosecutor of Sale’s Court of First Instance has blamed the driver for going 158 kilometers per hour when the speed limit on the stretch of track where the train derailed was only 60 kilometers per hour. However, some rail employees claimed the track was known to be faulty and the reduced speed limit was not properly communicated.Another tragic accident took place Friday, October 19, when a part of the bridge undergoing repair on the A3 highway in Casablanca near the Derb Sultan neighborhood collapsed on a car, killing a woman and badly injuring her daughter.Drivers on the A3 highway have expressed their anger and concern over the traffic jam, complaining that there are no signs to inform them of the work in progress.Read Also: Morocco Gives Free Counseling to Bouknadel Train Accident Survivors read more

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Sahrawi Family Protest Malnutrition Armed Blockade in Tindouf Camps

Rabat – A Sahrawi family has condemned malnutrition and lack of humanitarian aid for Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps in Algeria. The family has been conducting a sit-in since Tuesday in front of the MINURSO headquarters at Mijek, a town in Western Sahara near the Mauritanian border and 670 kilometers southwest of Tindouf.Anti-Polisario activist Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud shared a letter on Wednesday that Hamoudi Bshari Al Saleh, the father of the family, addressed to Horst Kohler, the personal envoy of the Secretary-General, to cry for help. Al Saleh said that his family had protested before, on October 17, 2018, against the situation of Sahrawis in Tindouf camps “after being surrounded by the Polisario forces who assaulted our comrades who fled from refugee camps on the Algerian soil due to the systematic restrictions.” Al Saleh said his comrades had fled Tindouf only to be assaulted by Polisario.Read Also: Mysterious Death in Tindouf Camps Creates PanicThe father added that the first sit-in was the preliminary step to “show the whole world that there is a marginalized third party in the Sahara issue,” which is oppressed and exploited by the Polisario leadership. He said Polisario has been serving its own interests in Algeria for more than 40 years.Al Saleh added that he and others committed to “spare no effort to defend the rights” of the “vulnerable majority in the camps, which are close to 80 percent of the refugees which the Polisario take advantage of.”Al Saleh said that they did not end their protest until they me Deputy Councillor Adam and the security advisor and the military adviser of MINURSO, who promised to convey their demands to the UN Secretary-General.According to the Sahrawi activist, the MINURSO officials promised that they would “study possible solutions with the competent authorities.”However, the Sahrawi said that nothing has been done for the families who contested Polisario’s exploitation.Read Also: Kohler to Brief Security Council on Western Sahara, MINURSO in JanuaryHe added that since the families had no one to resort to, he and his family decided to speak out and announce a sit-in at MINURSO’s Mijek headquarters to inform the public of their situation.“We appeal to all free people of the world to call for the relief of our family and children who have been displaced.”He added that he and his family have been in the desert region of Mijek for a year now, “besieged by the Polisario regime,” and suffering a “systematic siege of all kinds of humanitarian aid, donated by some international bodies.”Read Also: Western Sahara: Everything You Should Know About Morocco’s Autonomy PlanAl Saleh also cried for help, emphasizing that his family will be protesting in the open air and waiting for a “humanitarian gesture from the international community.”“We will continue to fight with all the peaceful means available,” waiting for the international community to “meet our demands and the demands of the silent and vulnerable majority like us.”In October 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed in his report to the Security Council “the lack of progress in the political process,” as well as “persistent difficulties, such as malnutrition, brought about by the steady reductions in humanitarian aid.”In the sixth section of the report, the UN chief spoke further about malnutrition. “Malnutrition and anaemia prevalence remained public health concerns,” he wrote.Read Also: Facts about Western Sahara Conflict that You Should KnowThroughout the years of the conflict, Sahrawis in Tindouf have condemned the embezzlement of humanitarian assistance directed to the refugees.Pro-Polisario news outlets, including Futuro Sahara, reported that Sahrawis were surprised to find popular aid products on display in Algerian grocery shops. read more

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How major US stock indexes fared Tuesday

Solid gains by banks and technology companies drove stocks broadly higher Tuesday, erasing the market’s losses from a day earlier.Financial, technology and health care stocks accounted for much of the rally. Banks got boost from rising bond yields, which let them charge higher rates on loans. Smaller company stocks did better than the rest of the market.On Tuesday:The S&P 500 index gained 20.10 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 2,818.46.The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.90 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 25,657.73.The Nasdaq composite added 53.98 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7,691.52.The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 15.30 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,528.17.For the week:The S&P 500 is up 17.75 points, or 0.6 per cent.The Dow is up 155.41 points, or 0.6 per cent.The Nasdaq is up 48.85 points, or 0.6 per cent.The Russell 2000 is up 22.24 points, or 1.5 per cent.For the year:The S&P 500 is up 311.61 points, or 12.4 per cent.The Dow is up 2,330.27 points, or 10 per cent.The Nasdaq is up 1,056.25 points, or 15.9 per cent.The Russell 2000 is up 179.61 points, or 13.3 per cent.The Associated Press read more

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Moroccan Government to Implement CustomerFriendly Pricing on Oil

Rabat ‒ Lahcen Daoudi, Morocco’s minister of governance and public affairs, has explained the rationale behind Morocco’s recent price-capping regulations for the energy sector, noting that the move had both economic and geopolitical motivations.Saving Morocco’s market attractivenessSpeaking at a parliamentary session on Monday, May 6, Daoudi said that he was aware that his decision to cap oil prices was unlikely to be implemented between the February and mid-March of 2019. He added, however, that the move was necessary for public utility. Reassuring members of parliament that he is doing his job, Daoudi argued that the decision to cap oil pricing was only a “card” he played “to put pressure on oil companies.” According to Daoudi, the reason the decision was not immediately put into force is that there was a necessity to paint Morocco in a positive light to potential investors. The move aimed to keep “Morocco’s positive image,” Daoudi elaborated, noting that some companies were considering leaving the Moroccan market.But market attractiveness was not the only reason for the move. Another motive, according to Daoudi, was the geopolitical atmosphere. The Moroccan minister especially  cited the current circumstances in Libya and Venezuela, as well as the tense relations with Iran. Responding to some of the criticisms of his treatment of the issue of price capping, Daoudi noted that the price capping is underway. But he did not provide an exact date for implementation, simply saying that the decision will come into force as soon as possible.  In response to questions on the price increase in vegetables, Daoudi said the government put hotline numbers at the service of citizens to report their complaints in this regard. He noted, however, that the government cannot monitor every street.Daoudi lamented the profit margin the oil companies enjoy, which is MAD 2 per liter.ControversyThe decision to cap oil prices came in response to serious concerns and controversy in the Moroccan energy market. According to MP Omar Balafrej, oil companies in Morocco make  “unreasonably and unethically” large amounts of profits off Moroccan consumers. Balafrej estimated companies’ profit margins to be standing at MAD 17 billion.Despite the price decrease in the global market, Moroccan companies did not reduce their price tags, angering many Moroccans, who boycotted a number of oil companies.Balafrej argued the “unethical” profits made by oil companies could have been invested in a number of projects, including free transport to all students, a railway connecting al Hoceima and Rachidia, 17 university hospitals, or 1,000 community schools. But the price-capping policy has not been unanimously welcomed. Driss Guerraoui, the newly-appointed president of the Competition Council, a body tasked to uphold free market rules and transparency, considers the decision to be both impractical and illegal. For Guerraoui, price-capping is an encroachment on Article 4 of the Law on Freedom of Price and Competition. He said a move to impose pricing directives on companies will yield no positive results for the Moroccan market as a whole.Under the law, Guerraoui argued, the administration may “take temporary measures against excessive price increases or decreases caused by exceptional, catastrophic or manifestly unusual market conditions in a sector after consulting the Competition Council.” read more

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Acquisitions insolvencies cited as drilling company count tumbles by 40

CALGARY — A research report by AltaCorp Capital shows the number of companies actively drilling in Canada has declined by 40 per cent since the oil price crash of late 2014.The analysis cites industry data which shows only 26 drilling contractors have been working so far in 2019, 17 fewer than observed in 2014.It says consolidation is the biggest reason companies have disappeared, with seven companies holding about 17 per cent of market share being purchased over the period, including CanElson Drilling in 2015, Savanna Drilling in 2017 and Trinidad Drilling in 2018.It says insolvency removed four companies — although the market share held by those firms was just one per cent. Two companies which together held about one per cent of market share in 2014 are simply inactive — they have rigs but aren’t operating them.One company left the Canadian market and the fate of four other missing names isn’t known. There is just one new entrant on the 2019 list.The report says the Canadian drilling market would benefit from more consolidation given recent declines in drilling activity but says acquisitions are unlikely given high debt levels in the larger players and the relatively unattractive assets available.“Ultimately, we expect that rig transfers out of Canada, smaller one-off asset sales and gradual atrophy of older and less relevant rigs, will be the primary drivers of further Canadian industry concentration over the near-to-mid-term,” the report concludes. The Canadian Press read more

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Survey predicts slower pace of economic growth

A survey of corporate economists predicts the economy will expand over the next year, although the pace of growth will decline and employers are facing pressure to raise wages, spend more on worker training and automate tasks because of the low unemployment rate.Just 53% of the economists polled for the National Association for Business Economics’ April survey, released Monday, expect the economy to grow by more than 2% this year, down from 67% who felt that way in January. The results from the survey released Monday suggest a sharp slowdown after the Commerce Department reported Friday that the economy grew at a strong 3.2% during the first quarter.The economy grew quickly during the first three months of 2019 because of a surge in company inventories and a shrinkage in the trade gap, temporary factors that are likely to fade.Businesses increased imports at the end of 2018 out of concern that President Donald Trump could further escalate tariffs against China, but the administration held off to conduct trade talks with the world’s second largest economy.However, the NABE survey found that the tariffs already imposed by Trump have been a drag. For economists involved in goods producing, 75% said the import taxes were a negative.Still, profit margins were rising in 32% of the corporate economists’ firms, up from 23% previously. More than half — 52% — say there was a shortage of skilled labour, a sign of possible wage pressures.Josh Boak, The Associated Press read more

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Aerospace industry at risk of further decline says report by Jean Charest

MONTREAL — A new industry report says the aerospace industry is at risk of being overtaken by foreign rivals if government doesn’t work with the sector.New funding commitments, Canada-first defence procurement and fresh talent amid a labour crunch are key to staunching the decline, according to the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada report, authored by former Quebec premier Jean Charest.The paper comes amid growing concerns about the state of the industry as Bombardier moves to exit its commercial aviation business and global aircraft production edges toward a duopoly dominated by Boeing and Airbus.Since 2012, aerospace employment and GDP contributions in Canada have declined five per cent and four per cent, respectively, according to the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.The industry furnished 213,200 jobs last year and injected $25.5 billion into the economy, but will need 50,000 more workers within the next few years, the report says.Charest invoked Canada’s history of aerospace manufacturing, which took off during the Second World War and continued with the supersonic Avro Arrow jet and the Canadarm for NASA’s space shuttle program. Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press read more

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QuickList May inflation rates for Canadian provinces territories

OTTAWA — Canada’s national inflation rate was 2.4 per cent in May, Statistics Canada says. Here’s what happened in the provinces and territories. (Previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador, 1.6 per cent (1.5)— Prince Edward Island, 1.2 (1.2)— Nova Scotia, 1.9 (1.3)— New Brunswick, 2.1 (1.7)— Quebec, 2.4 (1.8)— Ontario, 2.4 (1.9)— Manitoba, 2.8 (2.3)— Saskatchewan, 2.1 (2.3)— Alberta, 2.3 (2.2)— British Columbia, 2.6 (2.7) The Canadian Press

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States urge new measures to make UN website more thoroughly multilingual

1 May 2007Delegates attending the United Nations Committee on Information meeting in New York today called for new measures to make the world body’s website more thoroughly multilingual. Delegates attending the United Nations Committee on Information meeting in New York today called for new measures to make the world body’s website more thoroughly multilingual.Simon Pidoux of Switzerland said the UN Department for Public Information (DPI) should “continue its efforts to attain linguistic parity of the content of this Internet site in the different official languages of the United Nations.” In a speech whose text was made available in both English and French, he said his country, which has four official languages, naturally favours multilingualism.Boris N, Malakhov of the Russian Federation pointed to statistics demonstrating a growing level of interest in the UN among Russian speakers. He suggested that webcasts of UN meetings be made available in Russian to meet this increasing demand. “At present, webcasts of the Security Council and the General Assembly, which are made in the English language with the original language added later, do not cover the demand of the multilingual audience for immediate access to urgent information,” he said.Seeking a different kind of inclusiveness, Lee Do-hoon of the Republic of Korea said DPI should also “pay due attention to improving website accessibility for the disabled.”Indonesia’s representative, Triyogo Jatmiko, welcomed the fact that Bahasa Indonesia is one of the 29 non-official languages in which the local United Nations information centre (UNIC) maintains a website. “The website in Bahasa Indonesia is a great source of United Nations information to our people, and we are thankful for it,” he said.Speaking for Japan, Jiro Kodera voiced hope that UNIC Tokyo would continue to develop in the future, “as it is the only UN organization that provides information in the Japanese language.” He also announced that Japan would extend its voluntary contribution of 45.7 million yen to UNIC-Tokyo for 2007.Nepal’s representative, Narayan Dev Pant, stressed the importance of UNICs and said the one in Kathmandu “needs to be upgraded and further strengthened in order to ultimately convert it into a regional hub.”Hossein Maleki of Iran voiced appreciation for UNIC-Tehran for its good work despite budget constraints. “In this connection, we support the call for allocation of adequate resources to ensure the effective and efficient functioning and strengthening of all UNICs, including UNIC-Tehran,” he said.Angola’s representative, Estevao Umba Alberto, urged DPI to “continue its efforts for the opening of the Luanda Centre to serve the special needs of developing countries,” adding that the Government would provide premises rent-free.Other participants called for efforts to extend accessibility to technology in general. The Philippines called for efforts to bridge the digital divide. “We would like to see the DPI make full use of new technology to allow the public better and faster access to information about the UN,” said the country’s representative, Elmer G. Cato.Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz of Cuba, which chairs the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said “issues related to information and communications technology have an important place in the Movement’s agenda” and said NAM had set up a working group on the issue. read more

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Nepal UN agency delivers reproductive health services in conflict zones

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched a one-year to deliver reproductive health services to almost 25,000 people impacted by conflict in of Nepal.Health camps will be set up in six districts in the far-western and mid-western regions of the country, and will provide urgently needed services, including counselling, lab tests, treatment, referral and surgical care.Funded by the Government of Japan , the project “will address immediate reproductive health needs of women, men and adolescents in both peri-urban and remote areas of conflict-affected districts, while permanent services are being developed,” said Junko Sazaki, UNFPA Representative.“Bringing reproductive health services to conflict-affected villages and communities will not only improve the health status of the most vulnerable populations, but will also build hope and belief in the overall development, fostering confidence in the peacebuilding process,” she added.At the scheme’s launch, Japan’s Ambassador to Nepal Tsutomu Hiraoka underscored how the conflict in the mountainous country has aggravated problems regarding rural reproductive health resulting from modestly trained staff, shortages in equipment and drugs, limited support for staff and cultural and geographic barriers.Not only will patients benefit from the project, but local health service providers will receive training in delivering reproductive health services in crisis settings to bolster their skills.Through the project, greater access to these health services will contribute to the promotion of human rights and the empowerment of youth and of women. In addition, the scheme targets the achievement of several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), time-bound targets for slashing poverty and other ills by the year 2015. 21 May 2007The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched a one-year to deliver reproductive health services to almost 25,000 people impacted by conflict in of Nepal. read more

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Ban Kimoon calls on States to uphold pledges to fight terrorism in

Mr. Ban has “followed with concern the recent fighting in Afghanistan, in particular around Kandahar and in Farah provinces, where formed groups of Taliban have attempted to take and hold certain districts,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson. He underlined the crucial role that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan security forces are playing to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become “a host for terrorist and extremist groups.” “The Secretary-General notes that it is an unfortunate reality that such operations continue to be necessary in Afghanistan, but reaffirms that the hope for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region, and for a world without terrorism, depends on their success,” the statement added. While thanking those countries which have provided assistance, he appealed to all Governments involved in Afghanistan to maintain their existing commitments in order to ensure the success of the joint effort to rebuild Afghanistan, “so that it can offer hope and opportunity to its people, friendship to its neighbours, and an example to the rest of the world.” The situation in Afghanistan has also raised concern among UN Member States, which today strongly condemned the upsurge of violence in the country, including the rising trend of suicide attacks, owing to the increased violent and terrorist activity by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups. A resolution adopted by the 192-member General Assembly noted that such violence has led to increased casualties among Afghan civilians, Afghan National Security Forces, ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition, as well as members of aid agencies and humanitarian workers. The General Assembly called on the Government of Afghanistan, with the assistance of the international community, “to continue to address the threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups as well as by criminal violence.” Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that more than 350,000 Afghan refugees, most of them from Pakistan and some 6,000 from Iran, have returned home this year with the agency’s help.Despite the difficulties they face upon their return, “many of the people coming back are hopeful about the future,” UNHCR representative Salvatore Lombardo said today at a press briefing in Kabul. “Access to employment remains the greatest preoccupation of those returning to Afghanistan,” he stated, adding that land, shelter and lack of water are also prominent issues for returnees. Because of Afghanistan’s precarious security situation, difficult socio-economic situation and limited capacity to absorb the returnees, UNHCR has insisted on the importance of respecting the voluntary character of return and to make sure that returns are made in a gradual manner. Since 2002, the agency has assisted more than four million Afghans return home – over 3.2 million from Pakistan and 860,000 from Iran. Some three million registered Afghans remain in exile in the region today, including about two million in Pakistan and 910,000 in Iran. 5 November 2007Concerned about recent fighting in Afghanistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to all States assisting the violence-wracked nation to maintain their existing commitments to root out terrorism and rebuild a peaceful society. read more

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Uncertainty on Kosovos future status could lead to instability warns Ban Kimoon

3 January 2008The loss of momentum in making progress towards resolving Kosovo’s future status could result in instability in the Serbian province and the greater region, even potentially endangering United Nations staff, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in a new report made public today. The loss of momentum in making progress towards resolving Kosovo’s future status could result in instability in the Serbian province and the greater region, even potentially endangering United Nations staff, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in a new report made public today. “The parties are urged to reaffirm and act upon their declared commitments to refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the UN peacekeeping mission in the province, known as UNMIK. Last month, the troika – comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States – told the Security Council in a report that despite four months of intense and high-level negotiations, Belgrade and Pristina have been unable to reach agreement on Kosovo’s final status. The province’s Albanian leadership supports independence but Serbia is opposed. “Neither party was willing to cede its position on the fundamental question of sovereignty,” said the troika, which was established after a stalemate emerged over a proposal by Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for a phased process of independence for Kosovo. In his report, Mr. Ban said that expectations in the province, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, are still high that a solution will be reached quickly. “As such the status quo is not likely to be sustainable,” he noted. “Should the impasse continue, events on the ground could take on a momentum of their own, putting at serious risk the achievements and legacy of the United Nations in Kosovo.” The Secretary-General called attention to the readiness of the EU to play a larger role in Kosovo to bolster the province’s stability. “The European’s Union’s growing institutional commitment to Kosovo is important, as is its continuing provision of a European perspective to Kosovo,” he said. Although encouraged by the “free and fair manner” in which November 2007 elections were held in the province, the Secretary-General expressed concern over the low participation of Kosovo Serbs at the polls. “The elections highlighted, once again, that many members of the Kosovo Serb community, particularly those living in northern Kosovo, do not feel represented by Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions,” he pointed out. Mr. Ban appealed to both the Kosovo Serb community’s political representatives and Belgrade authorities to encourage Serbs in the province to take an active and constructive role in Kosovo’s institutions. At the same time, he encouraged Kosovo’s leaders to continue outreach efforts to Kosovo Serb and other m read more

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Ahead of International Day senior UN official urges support for mine action

Joint efforts by the UN and its partners in demining, mine-risk education and victim assistance have led to a reduction in the number of new casualties from 26,000 in 1997 to about 6,000 in 2006, said Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.“We in the UN would want the number of new casualties to be reduced to zero as soon as possible,” she told reporters on the eve of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, observed on 4 April.Ms. Bragg, who is also Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, noted that the number of survivors continues to increase, with an estimated 473,000 people who may need life-long medical care and rehabilitation services. According to the non-governmental Landmine Survivors Network, for each survivor, there are about four or five victims – members of families whose breadwinners may have lost limbs or eyesight. “That adds up to close to two million victims,” she said.In the decade since the landmark international anti-landmine treaty, often referred to as the Ottawa Convention, opened for signature, legal trade in anti-personnel landmines has been halted, tens of millions of stockpiled landmines have been destroyed and land has been cleared and returned to communities.A team of 14 UN agencies, programmes, departments and funds – comprising the UN mine action team – supports and manages programmes in 42 countries and territories. “The UN pledges its support to any State that requests it,” Ms. Bragg said. “But our goal is to put ourselves out of business as soon as possible by eliminating the threat and by equipping national authorities with the technical and human resources they need to address the problems on their own,” she added.The International Day is being observed globally through a number of events, including press conferences, mine-risk education theatre performances, art exhibits and film screenings. 3 April 2008While the number of victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war has dropped significantly in the last decade, continued support is crucial to eliminating the threat posed by these deadly devices and ensuring a mine-free world, a senior United Nations humanitarian official said today. read more

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