Asia-Pacific Human Development Report; Syria; Horn of Africa; UNRWA

Asia-Pacific Human Development Report: Countries in the Asia-Pacific region must find ways to continue to grow economically and lift millions out of poverty while also responding to climate change and environmental concerns, according to UN report released today, which stresses that new methods of production are needed to meet this goal.

UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2012 argues that policies and actions in the region will have a global impact as it is home to more than half of the world’s population and half of the planet’s megacities. However, it stresses that countries in the region will need to change the way they manufacture goods, raise crops and livestock, and generate energy; shifting to greener, more resilient, lower-emission options that sustain the environment and offer employment opportunities for the poor.

These recommendations include increasing the use of greener agriculture, supporting cleaner energy generation, and providing access to modern services such as electricity and cleaner cooking fuels to the rural poor. In addition, the report stresses that a greater awareness and education among citizens about sustainable measures can have a significant impact in innovation and the creation of sustainable jobs for youth.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Security Council have strongly condemned deadly bomb attacks in Damascus today, calling for an end to the ongoing violence in the Middle Eastern country. According to media reports, there were two strong explosions in the Syrian capital – near what is reported to be a military intelligence building – on Thursday morning, killing or wounding dozens of people.

Mr. Ban also called for all sides to abide by Security Council resolution 2043 and the six-point plan. In a statement to the press, the Council President for the month of May, Ambassador Agshin Mehdivev of Azerbaijan, expressed a similar position.

Horn of Africa/The Sahel:
A major funding gap is threatening efforts to boost food security and development in the Sahel region of West Africa and in the Horn of Africa in the east, a senior United Nations official warned today.

The Horn of Africa, which includes countries such as Somalia and Djibouti, experienced a food crisis last year that left an estimated 13 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance. Currently there are 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes countries such as Niger and Mali.

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees today urged the Israeli Government to find an acceptable solution to the issue of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, noting their demands are generally related to basic prisoners’ rights as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions.

“Filippo Grandi reiterates the call of the Secretary-General of the United Nations that those under administrative detention be brought to trial or be set free, noting that two of the administrative detainees are in serious conditions after more than 74 days, and are in imminent danger of death,” an UNRWA spokesperson said in a statement.