Syria; Libya; Haiti; WFP/Horn of Africa

Syria: The United Nations and the League of Arab States are considering sending a joint observer mission to Syria, including a joint special envoy, to try to end the crisis engulfing the Middle East country, with SG Ban Ki-Moon warning yesterday that recent attacks against civilians in the city of Homs were “a grim harbinger of worse to come.”

Mr. Ban spoke yesterday with Nabil al-Araby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, about how to end the killings and start political negotiations between the Government of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition. The SG indicated that he had briefed the Security Council on the matter, and that they would consider it further before fleshing out details. “We stand ready to assist in any way that will contribute towards improvement on the ground and to the overall situation,” he said.

: The UN political mission in Libya today welcomed the country’s adoption of new electoral laws, calling the move “an important step in Libya’s transition to democracy.”  Media reports indicate that Libyan authorities yesterday finalized the laws, which set out details on the holding of elections later this year to choose a national assembly, which will have the task of drawing up a new constitution.

In a statement released in Tripoli, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) underlined that the electoral process, including the drafting of the new laws, is Libyan-led. The mission has provided technical assistance to the National Transitional Council (NTC) and is ready to assist the newly created Higher National Electoral Commission. “The first free election for over four decades will provide an opportunity for Libyans to exercise their democratic rights to participate in a process which will shape the future of their country,” the statement noted.

Haiti has made some progress in restoring the rule of law, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Haiti said today, citing as examples the appointment of the president of the highest appellate court and the upcoming establishment of the supreme council of the judiciary.

“During my last visit I received important and promising commitments from President [Michel] Martelly, namely the implementation of the rule of law,” said Michel Forst, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti. “Most of these promises were kept and major announcements are now a reality,” he said at the end of his nine-day visit to the country.

Mr. Forst said, however, that serious challenges remain. He stressed the need to deal with the problem of prolonged pre-trial detentions, as well as conditions in camps, calling for the adoption of a national comprehensive urban planning strategy that would allow internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their communities of origin in acceptable conditions.

WFP/Horn of Africa
: The rap star Curtis Jackson, known as 50 Cent, was able to see first-hand the food crisis in the Horn of Africa region during a field visit to Somalia and Kenya this week that was hosted by the WFP. Mr. Jackson, who last year made a public commitment to provide one billion meals for the hungry, has been visiting various sites with WFP such as a refugee camp in southern Somalia where thousands of women and children fleeing from drought and conflict have taken shelter.

“To meet those kids was so inspiring. They have nothing, yet they are so positive and optimistic. I want to do my part so they get food and an education. I hope more people will join me to help end this devastating situation,” he said.  As part of Mr. Jackson’s fundraising efforts, he is donating money to WFP from the sales of his new energy drink, Street King. For every unit sold, he has pledged to donate 10 cents, which covers the typical cost of a WFP meal.