International AIDS Conference; Special Envoy for HIV/ AIDS; Iraq; Syria;Côte d’Ivoire

International AIDS Conference: UN officials have called for a renewed commitment to tackle HIV/AIDS and end the epidemic once and for all, as over 20,000 delegates from all over the world gathered in the United States capital for the XIX International AIDS Conference.

“This conference will stand as a historic milestone on our journey to end this epidemic,” the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, said as the conference opened in Washington, D.C. yesterday. “We are entering a new era in the AIDS response.”

Delegates will spend the next few days participating in a series of discussions focusing on mobilizing governments and communities to achieve the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS: The Secretary-General has appointed
Michel Kazatchkine as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, one of only two regions in the world where HIV is continuing to grow.

Mr. Kazatchkine is an internationally-recognized physician who has devoted 30 years of his professional life to the AIDS response, most recently as the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to the announcement issued by Mr. Ban’s office.

Iraq: The United Nations mission in Iraq today strongly condemned the wave of attacks that started yesterday in the Middle Eastern country, killing dozens and injure many more.

According to media reports, a coordinated string of bombings and shooting in 13 cities, including Baghdad, the capital, killed at least 91 people and injured nearly 200 more, targeting security forces and Government officials.

Syria: In its latest humanitarian bulletin, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, up to one million people have been internally displaced since the conflict began.

Asked about reports that rebels in Syria are being funded externally, the Deputy Spokesperson said that any further militarization of situation is counterproductive. The Secretary-General has said violence has to come to an end and that there needs to be political dialogue led by the Syrians themselves.  The Deputy Spokesperson added that UNSMIS is currently suspended but if the violence in the country reduces the mission will resume.

Côte d’Ivoire: A United Nations top official today strongly condemned the attack carried out by some 300 individuals against a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Côte d’Ivoire, which resulted in seven deaths and injured 13 people.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Bert Koenders, called on the local and national authorities to “assume their responsibilities by making more effort to ensure, by all appropriate means, the security of the people and their possessions, with the required professionalism and while respecting human rights,” according to a statement issued by UNOCI.

The attack, which occurred in Nahibly, near the prefecture of Duékoué in the western part of the country on Friday, led to the displacement of more than 5,000 people who had already been forced to flee their homes following the violence of the post-electoral crisis of 2011.