Syria; Sudan/South Sudan; Women, peace, and security; IPO initiative; and more

Syria: Syria has failed to comply with a pledge to withdraw weapons from cities, and citizens who meet U.N. truce monitors may have been killed, international mediator Kofi Annan will told the Security Council on Tuesday, his spokesman said. As violence flared in the Syrian capital Damascus, spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said Annan would ask for a “stronger presence” of monitors to watch over the country’s ragged ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the United Nations food agency today announced it is stepping up its assistance to reach, by the ends of the month, a quarter of a million Syrians who have been affected by unrest in the Middle Eastern country, adding that it plans to double this amount in the coming weeks.  According to WFP, even before violence broke out in Syria, a food security survey found that 1.4 million people – especially those from areas hit hard by a drought in previous years – were struggling to feed themselves and that they were concentrated in areas that are currently affected by unrest.

Sudan/S. Sudan:
Some 35,000 people have been displaced by the recent fighting near the border between Sudan and South Sudan, the United Nations refugee agency said today, adding that new outbreaks of violence are putting refugees’ safety at risk.

UNHCR spokesperson, Mr. Adrian Edwards said UNHCR had registered an increase in the number of Sudanese refugees crossing the border, some of them “seriously malnourished.” In Yida, for example, more than 1,300 new arrivals were reported in the last four days, and average daily arrivals have tripled since February and March.

Women, peace and security:
The UN Security Council today held a meeting where it heard of the need to strengthen the role of women in the area of peace and security, such as through increased participation in politics.

“Elections are the key means for the legitimate entry of more women to public office and for bringing women’s issues into policy debates,” the head of UN Women, Michele Bachelet, told the Security Council meeting on women, peace and security.

Since January 2011, Ms. Bachelet told the Council, UN Women and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) have pursued a joint strategy on gender and mediation to increase the availability of gender expertise to mediation teams and the number of women as mediators, observers and negotiators in peace processes managed by the United Nations.

At the same Council meeting, the head of UN peacekeeping, Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, provided an update on security, protection and equal participation of women in countries hosting peacekeepers, with a focus on political participation and the protection of women.

IPO initiative
: A new UN initiative seeks to involve private businesses in helping developing countries tackle corruption and strengthen their ability to fight it.

Under the Integrity Initial Public Offering (IPO) initiative, to be launched during the session later this week, private companies and investors can contribute financially to support efforts to develop anti-corruption legislation and institutions in developing countries.

The initiative was created in partnership with other organizations, among them the World Economic Forum, as a way for the private sector to show their commitment to addressing corruption, which adds up to ten per cent of the costs of doing business in some parts of the world.

Atrocities Prevention Board: The Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck,
welcome the launch of the inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board by the United States.  In their view, the strengthening of national capacities constitutes an essential step towards increasing regional and global capacity to prevent genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. It will be recalled that the Secretary-General welcomed this initiative when it was initially proposed in August 2011. He stated then that innovative and sustained measures at the national level are essential for the full operationalization of the Responsibility to Protect.

Middle East peace process:
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s decision to grant legal status to three settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, describing the activity as illegal under international law.

The three outposts – Bruchin, Sansana and Rechelim – were built on land Israel declared “state-owned” in the West Bank, an area it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

More than 1,300 Palestinians living in Gaza’s Khan Younis camp will move into 223 housing units built by the United Nations agency assisting refugees in that area, with the financial support the Netherlands, it was announced today.

UNRWA received a $7.2 million donation from the Netherlands, which was used not only to build the shelters, but also to fund the construction of roads, water infrastructure, and an electricity system, which, the agency said, will dramatically improve the living conditions of the refugee families in Khan Younis, which are often hazardous.

SG Travel
: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will later this week head to Myanmar, which he said is at a “critical” moment in its transition, preceded by an official visit to India.

The visit to Myanmar, at the invitation of President Thein Sein and the third for Mr. Ban since he became UN Secretary-General in 1997, will follow an official visit to India that begins later this week.