SG Travels; Libya; Iran; MDGs in the Asia-Pacific; and more

SG Travels: The SG will begin a three-nation trip next week that will take him to the United Kingdom, where he will attend an international conference on the situation in Somalia, before proceeding to Zambia and Angola, where he will meet with senior officials. He will also attend the launch of a polio vaccination campaign and meet with young people at a project on water and sanitation.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked today’s one-year anniversary of the start of the Libyan revolution by calling on the North African country’s people to work together to transition to a democracy founded on justice, the rule of law, transparency and an inclusive political process.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said Libyans now stand “within reach of a democratic future which one year ago seemed only a distant dream.” He pledged the continued assistance of the United Nations, which has a political support mission (UNSMIL) in Libya, during the transition period, especially for the election of a national congress and the subsequent task of drafting a new constitution.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that Iran must disprove allegations that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons, but that diplomacy is the only way to resolve international concern about its program.

“All these issues should be resolved peacefully through negotiations, through dialogue,” the U.N. chief told reporters when asked if there was a “Plan B” — a possible alternative to diplomacy. I don’t know what you meant by ‘Plan B.’ But there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution to this issue.” Ban spoke after attending ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, a Vienna-based U.N. agency set up to detect secret nuclear weapons testing, and ahead of a crucial visit to Tehran by International Atomic Energy Agency experts.

Asia-Pacific MDGs:
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have made big gains against poverty and advancing towards other development goals, but need to redouble efforts if they are to meet globally agreed targets to reduce hunger and child and maternal mortality, the UN reported today.

The region — which has more than 60 percent of the global population and incorporates more than 50 countries — has already met the goal of halving the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day to 22 percent from 50 percent in 1990 due to strong economic growth. But the region continues to lose high numbers of children before they reach the age of five and thousands of mothers are dying in child birth unnecessarily. Over three million children died before their fifth birthday in 2010, said the report.

The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring sanctions imposed on Sudan in connection with the conflict in Darfur, voicing regret that some individuals affiliated with the Government have continued to commit violence against civilians and to impede the peace process. It also requested the panel to coordinate its activities with the operations of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID), and with international efforts to promote the political process in Darfur.

The United Nations refugee agency today voiced fears for the safety of thousands of people who have fled fresh violence near the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and urged all armed groups to ensure the safety of civilians.

In the last two weeks, over 7,200 Somalis have been forced to flee the Afgooye corridor, a 40-kilometre stretch of road just north-west of Mogadishu that is home to almost 410,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in sprawling settlements and makeshift camps, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). More than 5,200 of the 7,200 people who have fled did so in the past three days following new clashes that erupted on Tuesday.