SG Travels/CEB; Syria; North Korea; Mali; and more

SG Travels/CEB: The Secretary-General is in Switzerland on the second day of his European trip, where he spent the day in meetings of the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB). The CEB is the highest level of coordination within the United Nations System, and meets twice a year to bring together the heads of UN agencies under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General. It aims to help coordinate the work of these organizations and to ensure that the UN System can deliver effectively internationally, regionally and nationally.

: With at least one million people in need of urgent humanitarian help in Syria, the immediate priority for humanitarian organizations is to obtain unhindered access, especially to people in areas which have seen heavy fighting, the United Nations humanitarian chief said today.

“It is extremely important that negotiations to enable humanitarian organizations in Syria to deliver aid remain separate from other efforts to resolve the crisis,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, in a statement.

North Korea:
  The UN Security Council on Friday “deplored” North Korea’s attempted rocket launch, but stopped short of using tougher language. The U.S. ambassador to the top UN body, Susan Rice, said the council “deplored this launch” as a violation of UN resolutions. This was more moderate than stronger condemnations issued separately by Western powers. Rice said council members “agreed to continue consultations on an appropriate response” to North Korea. However, she gave no indication of the timing or nature of possible responses.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the launch “defies the firm and unanimous stance of the international community” and threatens regional stability, according to statement issued by his spokesperson.

The U.N. Security Council condemned on Friday an apparent coup in Guinea-Bissau and urged a return to civilian leadership in the small, impoverished former Portuguese colony that has a history of bloody coups and barracks revolts.

Council members said in a unanimously agreed statement that they “strongly condemn the forcible seizure of power from the legitimate Government of Guinea-Bissau by some elements of its armed forces. The Members of the Security Council firmly denounce this incursion by the military into politics.” “They (the Security Council) call on these elements to ensure the safety and security of interim President Raimundo Pereira, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and all senior officials currently detained and demand their immediate release,” the statement said.

The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy today voiced grave concern over reports of recruitment of child soldiers by Tuareg rebels and Islamist militias in northern Mali, stressing that both groups have a responsibility to comply with their obligations under international law. Reports also suggest that women and girls are being abducted and raped and hospitals looted, Ms. Coomaraswamy said in the statement.

Amid the escalating humanitarian crisis in Mali, more than 200,000 people, including many children, have fled conflict northern Mali, and the volatile security situation and limited access to the region have prevented the UN from fully investigating the reported human rights abuses.

More than 180,000 people have been displaced by an ongoing military campaign in north-western Pakistan, the United Nations refugee agency said today, adding that an inter-agency relief operation is under way in support of the country’s efforts to provide relief to those affected.

In the Jalozai camp, 72 registration desks have been established to keep pace with the flow of new arrivals, a spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva, adding that some 10,000 people are being registered daily.

UNHCR has distributed more than 37,000 humanitarian relief kits, while other UN agencies are providing assistance in the areas of mother and child heath, child protection, water and sanitation, primary education, distribution of food rations and vaccinations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today said she was “disturbed” by the recent decision by Suriname to pass an amendment to an existing law that grants immunity for human rights violation committed during the 12-year period in which the country was, for the most part, under military rule.

According to the OHCHR, one case which involves the former and current President Desi Bouterse may be affected, and could potentially be halted altogether. Mr. Bouterse, along with 24 other people, is accused of taking part in the arrest of 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and a trade union leader, in December 1982, and their subsequent summary execution.