New appointments by the SG; SG’s travels; Syria; Côte d’Ivoire; Haiti; Afghan women; Malaysia;

Today, the UN announced that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Dr.Asha-Rose Migiro as Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and Gordon Brown as UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

SG’s travels: SG Ban Ki-moon will depart next Monday for a 10-day trip that will take him to China and South-eastern Europe. In China, Mr. Ban will take part in the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. While in the capital, Beijing, he will also meet with the country’s leadership.

He will then travel to South-eastern Europe, “where he will promote the strong partnership between United Nations and the countries of the region,” according to an announcement issued by his office.

Syria: The Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, today strongly condemned the attacks on Thursday in a village in the central province of Hama which reportedly resulted in over 200 deaths, adding that this violates the Government’s commitment to the six-point peace plan.

“I am shocked and appalled by news coming out of the village of Tremseh, near Hama, of intense fighting, significant casualties, and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry such as artillery, tanks and helicopters,” Mr. Annan said in a statement released by his spokesperson.

According to media reports, the village was bombarded by helicopter gunships and tanks and then stormed by militiamen who carried out execution-style killings. The victims were mostly civilians and, if confirmed, it would be the worst single incident of violence since the conflict began 16 months ago.

Côte d’Ivoire: Some 600 small arms and light weapons have been wiped out in Côte d’Ivoire over the last two days by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) as part of the country’s first weapon destruction exercise since the 2011 post election crisis.

The two-day exercise is the result of close collaboration between UNMAS and the National Commission of Small Arms and Light Weapons of Côte d’Ivoire (COMNAT-CI), and is part of the celebration of the International Small Arms Destruction Day, observed on 9 July.

Haiti: The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern over the number of people from Haiti and other Caribbean countries who have risked their lives trying to escape by sea from difficult living situations in their homelands.

Continuing difficulties in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake are leading thousands of Haitians to flee their homeland each year, often in unseaworthy vessels,” said Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Although no firm statistics exist, it is estimated that hundreds of deaths occur yearly as a result.”

Afghan women: The head of the United Nations agency tasked with advancing gender equality has condemned the recent violence against women in Afghanistan and stressed the need to protect their rights.

Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, noted in a statement that recent weeks have witnessed cases of “extreme abuse and appalling violence against women.” They include the torture and rape of a young woman, Lal Bibi, by Afghan Local Police and the public execution of a young woman, Najiba.

Malaysia: The UN’s human rights office today welcomed the announcement by the Malaysian Government that it will repeal a 1948 law that curbed free speech and freedom of expression in the South-east Asian nation.

“We call on the Government to ensure the consistency of the proposed new law, the National Harmony Act, with international human rights standards,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.