Syria; Guinea-Bissau; UNAIDS; Afghanistan; and more

Syria: Amid concerns from the international community over the prospects of a “full civil war” in Syria, the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, said today that the ongoing levels of violence and human rights abuses in the Middle Eastern country are unacceptable and the UN observer mission is possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize it.

“The levels of violence and abuses are unacceptable,” he stated, following a briefing to the Security Council in New York, via video-link, on the status of the implementation of his six-point plan to end the crisis in Syria. He added that it is clear that the presence of the observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) has had a calming effect in some situations.

The Council also heard a briefing behind closed doors from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, by Hervé Ladsous, who provided an update about the deployment of UNSMIS. It is estimated that all 300 observers will be on the ground by the end of this month.

As negotiations towards finding a solution to the political crisis in Guinea-Bissau continue, the Security Council today reiterated its readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those involved in last month’s military coup if the situation is not resolved.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their commitment to continue to follow closely the situation in Guinea-Bissau and reiterated their readiness to consider targeted sanctions against the perpetrators and supporters of the military coup, should this situation remain unresolved,” the 15-member body said in a statement issued to the press.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – a country with a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power on 12 April. Calls by the international community for the return to civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional order have so far gone unheeded.

The lead United Nations agency dealing with the global AIDS response today launched a campaign to help bring attention to the goal of ending new HIV infections among children by 2015 and ensuring mothers living with HIV remain healthy.

The campaign ‘Believe it. Do it.’ is part of a global plan of action that was adopted last year at the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, when world leaders committed to end new HIV infections among children by 2015. Through public service announcements, the campaign has three main objectives in relation to the public’s engagement on the issue: to raise awareness about the facts about ending new HIV infections among children, to send a message about the issue and the actions people can take, and to develop public support for mothers through organizations working with families.

The UN humanitarian chief today called on donors and humanitarian agencies to give continued support to the people of Afghanistan, stressing that there is still much to do during the country’s transition period.

According to a news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Ms. Amos, who arrived in Kabul today to assess the country’s humanitarian situation, emphasized that the period of transition will require careful management.

At least seven people are reported to have died recently while sailing from Libya to Malta, bringing the number of reported or confirmed dead among people attempting to reach Europe from the North African nation to 81 this year, the UN refugee agency said today.

Exhausted survivors from a boat carrying Somali refugees that landed on one of Malta’s most popular beaches this weekend told the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that five men and two women aboard perished during the voyage from Libya.