Cote d’Ivoire; Middle East peace process; Yemen; R2P; and more

Côte d’Ivoire: Côte d’Ivoire remains in great need of humanitarian assistance nine months after the end of the bloody post-election violence that displaced tens of thousands of people, Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said today, urging donors to continue their generosity to the West African country throughout this year. Ms. Bragg also stressed that the country’s 2012-2015 National Development Plan, which will soon be adopted by the Government, should also serve as an avenue for alleviating the humanitarian crisis.

Middle East peace process
: For the first time in the history of the Security Council, a UN humanitarian official alerted the Security Council, during a closed-door meeting, to the impact of the Israeli settlement activity on the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Valerie Amos, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters that she demonstrated to Council members the impact of increased settlement activity in the West Bank and the impact of the continued Israeli blockade on Gaza and on their economic development. She also stressed that her particular concern is about the dismantling of the Corning crossing, which will lead to a decrease in the commercial activity into and outside of Gaza, further “de-developing” the Strip.

The UN’s World Food Program is set to scale up its assistance in response to the growing needs in Yemen, which it said is in the midst of a full-fledged humanitarian crisis owing to civil unrest, soaring food and fuel prices and a breakdown in social services. WFP is preparing to feed 3.5 million vulnerable people in Yemen in 2012, it stated in a news release. The agency is especially prioritizing 1.8 million severely food insecure Yemenis living in the poorest 14 governorates, including 635,000 women and children under the age of five.

In an address to the Stanley Foundation Conference on Responsibility to Protect today, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of prevention – proactive, decisive and early action to stop violence before it begins – and called for making 2012 the Year of Prevention.

He pledged that during his second term as Secretary-General, which began earlier this month, that the UN will redouble its efforts at training, education and capacity-building on human rights, humanitarian law and democratic values and practices. It will also undertake development and peacebuilding in ways that reduce tensions among groups and strengthen institutional barriers to sectarian violence.

Violence against women and children:
Representatives from the United Nations and South-east Asian nations have teamed up to explore ways to address the multifaceted issue of violence against women and children in the region, holding a two-day meeting aimed at strengthening measures against the problem.

The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said today that he is encouraged by Bahrain’s announcement that it will implement reforms aimed at reconciliation and strengthening unity and stability.

Mr. Al-Nasser, who held talks with King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa in the capital, Manama, called the announcement “a step in the right direction,” his spokesperson, Nihal Saad, told reporters. He also stressed that the differences remaining between the Government and the opposition should be settled peacefully through mediation and dialogue.