U.S. vetoes Israel settlement resolution, SG heads to LA for Global Creative Forum, health concerns mount in Cote d’Ivoire and more from UN Direct

Security Council: this afternoon the Security Council voted on the resolution condemning Israeli settlements, which received 14 in favor and was vetoed by the U.S.  Ambassador Rice was the first to make an explanation of vote after the vote was held, stating that the U.S. has been deeply committed to a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. She underscored the opposition to settlements and highlighted that the U.S.’ opposition to the resolution shouldn’t mean that the U.S. supports settlement activity. With this in mind, Rice explained that the only way to reach the common goal of bringing peace between both parties and establishing a viable, independent Palestinian state, is through negotiation between the parties with the active support of the U.S. and the international community. She said, “This draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage both parties to stay out of negotiations.” The hope is that the international community will redouble its efforts in resumption of direct negotiations.

SG Travel: On Monday, the SG will head to LA as part of the UN’s Creative Community Outreach Initiative, which aims to work with the global creative community to promote peace and raise awareness of critical global issues. As part of his two-day visit, he will attend a forum to discuss climate change, the environment, as well as the empowerment of women and protection of children.  The SG will also take part in a Facebook town hall via online video link to promote the use of social media as a platform to raise awareness and funding for critical global issues. The town hall will be an online live broadcast. He will be back in New York on Wednesday.

Côte d’Ivoire: WHO is concerned about the deteriorating health system in the country, which has been exacerbated by the post-election crisis. Several epidemics, including yellow fever, cholera, and measles, have flared up recently. In response, WHO has implemented vaccination campaigns to reach hundreds of thousands of people. UNHCHR has begun to relocate roughly 100 Ivorian refugees in Liberia from the border area to a newly-established camp. In the next few weeks, the Refugee Agency plans to move 15,000 refugees into the camp.  The Agency has registered more than 38,000 refugees in eastern Liberia to date.

Haiti: OCHA has reported that the infection rate in Haiti’s cholera epidemic appears to be slowing down. The epidemic has claimed 4,549 lives so far, with 231,000 recorded cases of cholera total. The mortality rate is now down 2%. OCHA wants to continue to ensure that people in remote areas continue to be treated.

Somalia/Kenya: Yesterday, Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, briefed the press on her recent trip to assess the humanitarian situation in Somalia and Kenya. She explained that Somalia is teetering on a much larger disaster due to the drought, which has created a severe water crisis and crop failures in most of the country.  She said the ongoing security situation in Somalia has also caused an increase in the displacement of people. Some have moved more than once – once from violence and another time because of the lack of resources due to the drought.  Additionally, malnutrition rates have increased – up to 17% in some parts of the country – in the last six months in Southern Somalia and 32% of the population remains in crisis. The UN is particularly concerned that displacement and conflict over resources will increase severely. Amos mentioned that she went to Puntland to assess the humanitarian challenges in providing aid to people in need, and stressed the importance of finding a political situation. In regards to Kenya, Amos looked into climate change preparedness, as the current drought is affecting the northern and eastern parts of the country. She noted the refugee influx in Kenya from Somalia, with approximately 30,000 refugees, noting that the UN has increased its assistance to accommodate for the growing numbers.  In response to a question on Pakistan and whether the Pakistani government is fully aware of the needs of the people and are able to utilize the aid properly, Amos explained that the UN issued a response plan for $1.9 billion for Pakistan last year to cover immediate humanitarian needs and help people to begin to establish their livelihoods. Amos noted that half was for immediate response and half was for early recovery. The big ongoing problem continues to be in Sindh province, where the aid takes longer to receive.

Week Ahead: On Sunday, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC Valerie Amos will head to Qatar. On Monday, UNEP will release its report “Toward a Green Economy: Synthesis Report for Policymakers”.  On Tuesday, the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women begins in New York, and will run through March 4 on the theme of “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”, which will essentially address the link between education and jobs.  The session’s “review” theme is on the “elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child” and the “emerging issue” is “gender equality and sustainable development”.