Israel/UNDP; Somalia; DR Congo; Cameroon; and more

Israel/UNDP: For the first time in history, Israel became a member of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Program on Thursday, reports Haaretz. As part of the organization, Israel will be a full partner in formulating the organization’s strategy and determining how resources are allocated to developing countries. Haim Waxman, the deputy head of Israel’s delegation to the UN, said on Thursday in a speech to the UNDP board that Israel’s membership in the group represented an “important landmark.”

“We are proud to be members of the UNDP’s Executive Board and to take an active role in the international effort to provide aid to developing countries,” he said. “This is an expression of Israel’s journey from being a developing to a developed country.” The move, he added, signaled Israel’s increased involvement in the global agenda on issues that extend beyond the Israel-Arab conflict.

: The United Nations declared an end to famine conditions in Somalia today, but warned that the crisis in the Horn of Africa is not over and requires continued efforts to restore food security and help people resume normal lives. The number of people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in Somalia has dropped from 4 million to 2.3 million, or 31 per cent of the population, according to a new report by the United Nations and the United States Government. Additionally, 325,000 children are acutely malnourished.

DR Congo:
The UN refugee agency said today it is alarmed by recent reports that displaced people have been tortured and killed in their camps by armed elements in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The agency reported that since the last quarter of 2011, armed groups have been intruding on camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North Kivu province, violating their civilian character. The ongoing violence is also hindering humanitarian access to the camps and preventing aid workers from protecting and assisting the displaced people.

The United Nations is backing a mass vaccination campaign under way in northern Cameroon, where a new outbreak of yellow fever has killed at least seven people. The vaccination campaign, which began late last month in eight districts, aims to eventually protect more than 1.2 million people considered at high risk of contracting yellow fever, which has no cure and is spread by mosquitoes.

South Sudan:
A UN official was wounded while trying to mediate an end to fighting between two ethnic groups in South Sudan’s Warrap state that killed 78 people, mostly women and children, and wounded 72, the UN said.  A team of UN officials had to be evacuated after they came under fire during the meeting on Feb. 1 in the adjacent Unity state, Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, told reporters yesterday. Grande said that the UN will continue to support reconciliation efforts in the wake of the attack.

Cote d’Ivoire
: The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire said today that he hopes to decide next week on the partial certification of parliamentary elections held in the West African country near the end of last year. Bert Koenders, the SG’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and the head of UNOCI, held a meeting today in Abidjan with the chairmen of the Constitutional Council and the Independent Electoral Commission. Mr. Koenders, who is tasked with certifying the polls after their conclusion, said the partial certification would take place with a view to moving the electoral process forward in Côte d’Ivoire.