SG’s travels; DSG’s travels; Yemen; Syria; Transnational organized crime; Day of the Iraqi child

SG’s travels: The Secretary-General will leave New York later on Monday for a visit that will take him to China and to Southeastern Europe. In Beijing, he will take part in a ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and in an online conversation with young people and in an event to recognize the role of Chinese people in the “Future We Want” campaign for sustainable development. Later in the week, he will travel to Southeastern Europe, where he will promote the strong partnership between the United Nations and the countries of the region.

DSG’s travels: Jan Eliasson made his first trip as Deputy Secretary-General to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, and he addressed the plenary of that summit on Sunday, saying that Africa will always be a high priority and special concern in his work at the United Nations. Today, he is seeing some of the work to empower youth firsthand by visiting a UNICEF-supported youth centre outside the Ethiopian capital.

Yemen: SG Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the official launch of the preparatory process for the national dialogue conference in Yemen, his spokesperson said today. The outcome of the national dialogue conference will feed into the constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling general elections to take place in February 2014.

The UN has been providing support in Yemen’s transition in four key areas: political facilitation; technical support; capacity-building; and a public information and awareness campaign.

Syria: UN observers who entered the Syrian village of Tremseh on Saturday confirmed that an attack took place there two days ago, involving the use of artillery, mortars and small arms.

The attack on Tremseh “appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” said a statement issued by the spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

The humanitarian response for Syria is facing a critical shortage of funds, a top United Nations relief official warned today, calling on the donor community to scale up their contributions to enable aid agencies to help those affected by the escalating crisis.

Transnational organized crime: The annual turnover of transnational organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking, counterfeiting, illegal arms trade and the smuggling of immigrants is estimated at around $870 billion, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said today, as part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the issue’s financial and social costs. In addition to the financial costs involved, the agency’s awareness-raising campaign seeks to highlight the human costs of these criminal activities to societies. Each year, countless lives are lost to drug-related health problems and violence and firearm deaths, among other causes. In addition, some 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking.

Day of the Iraqi child: The United Nations today reaffirmed its commitment to protect and promote the rights of 16 million Iraqi children, on the occasion of the Day of the Iraqi Child, which commemorates the deaths of dozens of children who were killed by a car bomb on 13 July, 2005.

According to the UN’s monitoring and reporting mechanism for grave violations of children’s rights in Iraq, 49 children have been killed and a further 169 injured in various incidents across Iraq this year alone. Thirteen grave violations affecting children’s access to health and education have also been confirmed.

To tackle this issue, UNICEF is supporting the Iraqi Government to develop a Child Protection Policy and Child Law, with a nationwide consultation process being initiated to enable children, families and communities to participate in their development.