Syria; Sudan/South Sudan; Myanmar; Somalia; and more

Syria: The U.N. peacekeeping chief said today that U.N. military observers in Syria are reporting cease-fire violations from the government and opposition and he demanded an immediate halt to all violence.

Twenty-four observers were in Syria on Tuesday in five locations: Damascus, Homs, Hams, Daraa and Idlib– all hotspots in the 13-month uprising that by U.N. account has killed more than 9,000 people, UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous said at a news conference. He said the U.N. has commitments for about 150 observers, with new pledges coming in daily, and expects a rapid increase that will see the authorized total of 300 observers on the ground by the end of May. But Ladsous said this requires Syria to give visas to the observers and it has already denied visas to three observers without reason.

Meanwhile, the United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, today said she was alarmed by another wave of extreme violence which had resulted in the deaths and injuries of children across Syria and called on all parties to ensure their protection.

Thousands of people trying to return to South Sudan from Sudan have been stranded for months at the Kosti way station and are running out of “means of support,” a United Nations official said Tuesday. The concern for their plight comes amid reports of military attacks along Sudan’s hotly contested border with South Sudan.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 South Sudanese are at the Kosti way station, “many of whom have been waiting with their entire house holdings for months for transport to South Sudan,” a U.N. statement said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a symbol of hope for human rights worldwide as he met the Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader for the first time at her home in Yangon, Myanmar.  The UN chief congratulated Ms. Suu Kyi on her recent election, and commended her decision yesterday to take the oath and become a parliamentarian.

While in Yangon today, the Secretary-General also launched the UN Global Compact’s Myanmar network.

The United Nations and its partners in Somalia today warned individual groups against jeopardizing a roadmap for ending the transition in the east African country, adding that sanctions and restrictions could be imposed on those who seek to obstruct the peace process. UNPOS, AMISOM and IGAD emphasized that their statement was “both a warning and a final opportunity for those that stand against peace and progress in Somalia to cease immediately and desist any and all actions against the roadmap process.”

People and the Planet:
The world faces deepening challenges in the 21st century from an expanding population and limited resources, according to a new report from a British-based scientific group.

Nobel laureate John Sulston, a professor at the University of Manchester in England, said in a presentation at the UN on Tuesday that the 21st century is clearly a critical period as global population grows from 7 billion in 2011 to 11 billion or more by 2050. Developed countries will need to reduce their consumption if resources are going to be found to bring the world’s 1.3 billion poorest people out of extreme poverty, he said. And more funding is needed for family planning programs as well as education, he added.


Mexico: The United Nations human rights office today voiced alarm over the killing of a journalist in Mexico this past weekend, and condemned what it said is a “disturbing trend” of media professionals being murdered in the country, where more than 70 have been killed over the past 12 years.

“We strongly condemn the murder of Regina Martinez, and are concerned that this disturbing trend of murdering media workers … undermines the exercise of freedom of expression in the country,” said a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville.

“We call for a thorough independent investigation into this and other similar cases, and urge the Government to immediately implement protection measures for journalists,” he said.