The SG; Mali; Middle East; Palestine

The SG: At the Fifth Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna, Austria today, the SG emphasized the role of youth in ensuring a “prosperous, equitable and peaceful future.” He underscored “deepening” the UN’s youth focus in programs related to employment and entrepreneurship, political inclusion and human rights, and education and reproductive health. In his remarks, Mr. Ban noted that the world body’s “top priority” was to work with young people “to enhance your lives, the well-being of your communities, and the state of the world.”

Mali: John Ging, Operations Director of OCHA, briefed the press today on his recent trip to Mali. The people of Mali do not want to be aid dependent but need assistance to help rebuild their lives, especially in the agricultural sector, Ging said. Protection, security, and safety of Malians is the priority, but there is a shortage of medical supplies and an urgent need for food assistance. 37,000 people have fled from north and central Mali since January 11, 2013, bringing the total number of displaced people to 431,000. There is a humanitarian appeal for $373 million for Mali for 2013, but it is poorly underfunded. UNICEF announced today that it is issuing an urgent $45 million appeal to meet the immediate needs of children and women affected by the Malian crisis over the next three months. The appeal will cover emergency programs inside the country, in addition to humanitarian assistance for 170,000 Malian refugees in Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso. UNICEF has received less than a million dollars for 2013 thus far.

Middle East: USG for DPA, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the SC today on the situation in the Middle East. Feltman noted the continued frustration at the failure of negotiations between Israel and Palestine thus far, and said that it is now time for all of us to act decisively if we are to salvage the two-State solution. The UN was deeply troubled by Tuesday’s rocket attack into Israel and, on Syria, he noted that the SG strongly condemns the reported ballistic missile strikes in Aleppo as well as the series of bombings in Damascus.

Palestine:  SRSG for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, is in Palestine today, where she met with the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to discuss Palestinian resilience to disasters. Palestine is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, droughts and desertification. While there, Wahlström presided over the launch of the first national disaster loss database, announced earlier this week.