Syria; Bahrain; Iran; UAE

Syria: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest escalation of violence in Syria despite the Government’s commitments to withdraw troops by tomorrow’s deadline, April 10, and called on authorities to immediately cease all military action against the Syrian people.

“The Secretary-General strongly deplores today’s fatal cross-border shootings from Syria into Turkey, as well as into Lebanon,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

Mr. Ban spoke today with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who conveyed his authorities’ utmost concern over the recent developments. According to media reports, Syrian forces opened fire across the Turkish border and at least two people have died and many others have been injured. In a separate incident, a Lebanese cameraman was reportedly shot dead on the Syria-Lebanon border.

UN agencies have mobilized emergency assistance to help the arriving refugees, and the Secretary-General pledged the Organization’s readiness to provide further humanitarian assistance.

: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Bahrain should consider transferring a jailed activist who is on a two-month hunger strike to Denmark for medical treatment on humanitarian grounds.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is a Danish citizen and has been refusing food since Feb. 8, is serving a life sentence for his role in last year’s uprising by the island nation’s Shiite majority against a Western-backed Sunni monarchy. The Bahrain News Agency said Sunday the Supreme Judicial Council refused to hand him over to Denmark because the law prevents transfers of “accused and convicted persons to foreign countries.”

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters today that “in cases where there is a hunger strike, the health and well-being of the person should be the foremost concern.”

: Iran’s Supreme National Security Council confirmed Monday it will meet with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France — plus Germany.  Iran wants a further round of talks held in Baghdad at a later date to discuss its controversial nuclear program.

There was no immediate response from the world powers. Iran has been balking at holding talks in Istanbul because it says Turkey has turned against its ally, Syria.

A top United Nations monitor will spend a week in the UAE in the first fact-finding mission on human trafficking in the Emirates.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, will be in the UAE – at the invitation of the Government – from tomorrow until April 17. She will also assess the country’s progress in stemming trafficking and the challenges it faces in doing so.