Amos Visits Israel and Palestine, Sudan Panel of Experts Mandate Renewed, International Day Against Homophobia

Israel and Palestine: USG for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos completed a four-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel today. While visiting Sderot, she was told about the fear and uncertainty facing the local community as a result of rocket attacks from Gaza, which Amos condemns and said has to stop. On Gaza, she said that the blockade has resulted in a stifling of economic activity and a serious decline in education, healthcare, water and sanitation services. She called for an end to the manmade and protracted humanitarian situation through a lifting of the blockage on Gaza.

Libya: UNHCR reported that hundreds of people who had fled from Libya to Tunisia and Egypt are returning to Libya to board boats headed for Europe. More than 1,200 are unaccounted for since late March. Many have been living in Libya and have come from Somalia and Eritrea and safe return is proving to be difficult now. UNHCR calls on vessels in the Mediterranean to consider all boats departing Libya to be in need of assistance.

Human Rights: Speaking at a conference today in Geneva, High Commissioner Pillay stressed the role played by national human rights institutions in ensuring rule of law, preventing violations, and providing assistance to victims of human rights breaches, especially in light of the ongoing turmoil in the Mideast and North Africa.

Security Council: Today, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Sudan until February 19, 2012 and was expected to read a press statement on Haiti. The Council was also poised to discuss its upcoming Africa trip and receive political development updates from USG for Political Affairs Pascoe.

Sudan: Today, UNAMID reported that the Sudanese government ordered that UNAMID and UN agencies and NGO working in South Darfur be restricted to Nyala, affecting movement at the Kalma IDP camp. Military operations and security threats were cited as the reason for these latest restrictions.

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia: Michel Sidibé, ED of UNAIDS, noted that the world is faced with stigma and discrimination that can lead to violence and block the response to AIDS. He called on governments to create social and legal environments that ensure access to HIV prevention, treatment, and support. Navi Pillay said in a message that homophobia and transphobia are too often overlooked.