67th PGA elected; WFP Funding; UNICEF; World Oceans Day; and more

President of GA: The UN General Assembly today elected Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic as the President of the upcoming 67th session of the Assembly. In the meeting to vote on the President-elect this morning, a total of 190 ballots were lodged, with Mr. Jeremic obtaining 99 votes, compared to the other candidate, Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania, who received 85 votes.

“We are a small developing country that belongs to no military alliance or political union,” Mr. Jeremic said at the Assembly podium upon his election. “It is therefore truly honoring to have received the confidence of so many nations from all over the world to preside over the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations.”

The President-elect also proposed that the theme of the high-level debate at the start of the 67th session of the General Assembly, in mid-September, be about the “adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means.”

WFP funding:
The World Food Program today stressed the need for sufficient resources as it strives to meet the needs of a growing number of people displaced by violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“With the conflict escalating in the past few weeks, WFP has been providing lifesaving assistance to Congolese who were forced to leave everything behind,” said WFP’s Regional Director for East and Central Africa, Stanlake Samkange. “But continued violence will lead to more people requiring help and it will be critical to ensure that WFP has sufficient resources to address the needs of the newly displaced,” he added.

Overall, WFP is currently providing assistance to a total of 532,000 Congolese refugees and IDPs in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Its operations in DRC, Uganda and Rwanda currently have a combined funding shortfall of some $46 million over the next six months.

World Oceans Day/Law of the Sea
: The SG today urged countries to boost their efforts to protect the world’s oceans, which are threatened by overfishing, toxic waste, and climate change.

“We must do more for our world’s oceans, which are threatened by pollution, depleted fishery resources, the impacts of climate change and the deterioration of the marine environment,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking World Oceans Day, which also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – the so-called ‘constitution of the oceans.’

Given the important role played by oceans for the planet’s food security, and the health and survival of all life, as well energy needs, the General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as ‘World Oceans Day’ to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

: An independent United Nations human rights expert today expressed deep concern over the fate of two Palestinian prisoners detained without charges by Israel, and called for their immediate release.

“These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, in a news release. “There is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results.”

The two prisoners are Mahmoud Sarsak, who is on the 82nd day of his hunger strike, and Akram Rikhawi, who is on the 58th day of his hunger strike.  According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israel currently has approximately 300 Palestinians detained without charges.

Preventing and treating pneumonia and diarrhoea – the two leading causes of death among children under five – can help save the lives of more than two million children, according to a report released today by UNICEF.

We know what works against pneumonia and diarrhoea – the two illnesses that hit the poorest hardest,” UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said in a news release. “Scaling up simple interventions could overcome two of the biggest obstacles to increasing child survival, help give every child a fair chance to grow and thrive.”

Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for almost one-third of deaths among children under five worldwide, and nearly 90 per cent of deaths from these diseases occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The report, Pneumonia and diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children, highlights how preventing and treating these diseases can have a significant impact in improving the child survival rate in the 75 countries with the highest child mortality burden.