Middle East peace process; Lebanon; Iran; Somalia; Yemen and more

Middle East peace process: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today led a chorus of United Nations officials in stressing the need for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine and achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. “The establishment of a Palestinian State, living in peace next to a secure Israel, is long overdue,” Mr. Ban said, in a message marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is observed annually on 29 November.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has reaffirmed Palestine’s bid for UN membership, saying it should complement peace negotiations provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders. Abbas says the Palestinians are not seeking “to delegitimize Israel” by applying to join the United Nations “but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands.”

Lebanon:Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the firing of at least two rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon last night and joined the UN peacekeeping force in the area in urging maximum restraint by all parties. “There were no reports of casualties on either side and the situation is now calm,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with Lebanese and Israeli forces. UNIFIL added that there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Iran: The Security Council today strongly condemned the attacks against the United Kingdom’s embassy in the Iranian capital which resulted in intrusions into the diplomatic and consular premises and caused serious damage. Protesters in Tehran broke into the embassy compound during a demonstration against sanctions imposed by the UK, according to media reports. Students reportedly ransacked offices, burned the British flag and smashed embassy windows.

Insecurity and conflict due to insurgency is now one of the main causes for displacement in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, the United Nations refugee agency said today, warning that constant fighting is also hampering aid efforts in the country. Mr. Mahecic told reporters in Geneva that conflict and military activity were also affecting people’s access to food in other areas in the southern part of the country, where some 500 people, including children, have left their homes and are travelling by foot to the border town of Dobley, where a number of agencies are distributing food and providing assistance.

Millions of people in Yemen are facing a severe humanitarian crisis, a senior UN relief official said today, warning that the situation is likely to deteriorate over the next year despite the recent accord to restore peace and stability. ASG for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg undertook the visit to assess the intensifying humanitarian crisis in some parts of the country and to discuss ways of boosting the response to the growing needs with the UN’s partners. Ms. Bragg said that she impressed on the local authorities the need to find durable solutions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in schools and to ensure that humanitarian workers have access to all areas where civilians are being displaced. She also called on the Yemeni authorities and others involved in the conflict to protect civilians and ensure their access to basic services.

Temperatures this year are the tenth highest on record since 1850, and the highest ever in a year which experienced a La Niña event, a meteorological phenomenon which is supposed to have a cooling influence on Earth’s atmosphere, a UN agency reported today. The findings are among the highlights of the provisional UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement on the Status of the Global Climate, which provides an annual snapshot of weather and climate events around the world. The report was released today at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, where thousands of representatives from governments, international organizations and civil society are meeting to advance ways to cut global carbon emissions and pollution.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended Egyptians for the enthusiastic and relatively calm conduct of voting in their country’s first elections since the long-standing regime of Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. Egyptians went to the polls yesterday and today for the first stage of voting for members of the 508-member People’s Assembly, or lower house of Parliament, with further stages of voting to be held between now and early next year. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban praised both the authorities and the public for their enthusiastic participation and for the “generally calm and orderly manner in which voting took place.”