South Sudan border; Iran; Security Council in June; UNEP; and more

South Sudan border: The United Nations refugee chief today warned of a sharply worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, where humanitarian agencies have been coping with a sudden increase in refugees arriving from a state in neighboring Sudan.

“This is a dramatic change in an already difficult humanitarian situation,” the UN Hugh Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said in a news release. “Not only are refugee numbers suddenly much higher, but the condition that many of these people are in is shockingly bad. Some have been eating tree leaves to survive along the way.”

Over the past three weeks an estimated 35,000 refugees have arrived in Upper Nile State, with many arriving from the Sudanese state of Blue Nile, according to the Office of the UN Hugh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is on top of an existing refugee population there of approximately 70,000, and it adds that the arrivals are continuing.

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog today called on Iran to fulfill its international obligations to ensure that its nuclear program is of an exclusively peaceful nature.

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, said in his introductory statement to a meeting of the agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna.

Mr. Amano also informed the Board of Governors (the IAEA’s policymaking body) that the agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, and that the next meeting between the IAEA and Iran would take place on 8 June in Vienna.

The UN top envoy in Iraq today condemned in the strongest terms an attack in central Baghdad, which reportedly resulted in dozens of deaths and injured many more.

“These atrocious crimes against the Iraqi people need to stop and the perpetrators should be brought to justice,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, said in a news release.

According to media reports, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi’ite Muslim office in the capital’s centre on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190.

Security Council in June:
China will have the presidency of the Council in June. An open debate is planned, a semi-annual open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, with likely briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, toward the end of the month.

Debates are also planned on the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, following a briefing by the two tribunals’ presidents and prosecutors; and on Afghanistan, following a briefing by Ján Kubiš, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

UNEP’s Champions of the Earth
: A country president, a banker, an aeronaut, a scientist, a renewable energy businessman and a conservationist were today named as the six winners of the United Nations Champions of the Earth 2012 award, given to those whose actions and leadership have had a positive impact on the environment.

“As the world heads to Brazil for Rio+20 later this month, these six individuals, deservedly named as Champions, demonstrate that committed, concrete action can have a transformative effect on countries, communities and businesses,” said Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, which organizes the awards.

The awardees are Mongolia’s President, Tsakhia Elbegdorj; Brazilian banker, Fábio C. Barbosa; renewable energy entrepreneur Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber from the United Arab Emirates; Swiss aeronaut Dr. Bertrand Piccard; Dutch scientist Dr. Sander van der Leeuw; and Kenyan Maasai conservationist Samson Parashina.

Partnerships/Youth employment:
UN officials today stressedthe need for partnerships across governments, the private sector and civil society to urgently tackle the challenge of job creation in post-conflict countries, especially for young people, who make up the bulk of these populations.

“Job creation, especially for young people, in all post-conflict countries is an essential part of peacebuilding and more importantly, conflict prevention or relapsing into conflicts,” the Chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Abulkalam Abdul Momen, said today.

He was addressing a joint event at UN Headquarters by the Commission and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), on the topic Partnerships for Job Creation for Young People in Countries Emerging from Conflict. The Commission was set up in 2005 to help post-conflict countries avoid slipping back into war and chaos by providing strategic advice and harnessing expertise and financing from around the world to support recovery projects.

The Deputy SG, Asha-Rose Migiro, noted that the role of the private sector is crucial, and that policies should encourage apprenticeships and entrepreneurship mentoring programs.