UN marks World Refugee Day, UNFPA and partners release report on the critical role of Midwives in saving women’s and children’s lives and more from UN Direct

Security Council: received briefings this morning on the situation in Sudan, from the Head of UNMIS, Haile Menkerios, as well as from the African Union envoy and former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Secretary-General: The Secretary-General delivered a statement on Sudan, welcoming the agreement on Abyei entered into by the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan today.  The SG calls on the parties to abide by its provisions to demilitarize the area, to establish an administration and police service, and to provide their full cooperation to the UN and Government of Ethiopia in deploying peacekeeping troops and police to the area. The SG called on the parties concerned to continue to provide their full cooperation to the African Union in reaching agreement on all outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and post-secession arrangements, to reach an immediate cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan State and provide their full cooperation to humanitarian agencies in meeting the needs of the affected population. Ambassador Rice also delivered the following Statement at today’s Sudan briefing.

Sudan: UNMIS is reporting that the security and humanitarian situations in Southern Kordofan do indeed remain of great concern, as the military build-up continues in various strategic locations. In Kauda, the Mission says that the Sudanese Armed Forces yesterday dropped at least seven bombs approximately 500 meters from the airstrip.  No casualties were reported.  Meanwhile, the UN and its partners have distributed food to 31,500 people in Southern Kordofan State.  However, access to all the affected areas remains critical to ensure urgent delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the displaced population.

Libya: The Secretary-General participated by videoconference on Saturday in the third high-level meeting with regional organizations on Libya.  He expressed strong concerns about the continuing violence and the humanitarian impact of the fighting in Libya and emphasized the importance of a coordinated international effort. While cautioning that a political agreement remains a long way from being concluded, the SG said the beginnings of a negotiation process are now under way under the auspices of his Special Envoy to Libya, Abdul Ilah al‑Khatib. On the humanitarian situation, the Secretary-General noted shortages of food stocks and fuel and growing concerns over access to water and medical care.  He also noted an outbreak of measles reported recently in the south-western city of Sabha and a lack of vaccines and other drugs in the country.

UNFPA: Every year, some 3.6 million newborn babies and 358,000 women die due to largely preventable complications, while nearly 3 million babies are stillborn every year. That’s according to the first report on the State of the World’s Midwifery, released today by UNFPA, which confirms the critical role of midwives in improving maternal and child health. The report adds that most of these deaths happen in low-income countries where women have no access to functioning health facilities or qualified health professionals, including midwives. The report also highlights the shortage of skilled midwives in many low-income countries, and the need to train and deploy them to all parts of a country, especially remote and rural areas

Nuclear Safety: In a message to the IAEA conference today, the SG said that nuclear safety is not a fixed condition, but an evolving process. He said that the lessons of Fukushima will help to move the process of examining nuclear safety forward, so that countries will reflect on their current system on nuclear safety and a renewed nuclear safety culture will be introduced.  The future of nuclear energy, he says, is critically dependent upon the maintenance of the highest safety standards. The SG’s report on the full implications of Fukushima accident is now in preparation and will be submitted to the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security to be held on 22 September during the sixty-sixth session of the GA.

World Refugee Day: A new report says that there is a deep imbalance in international support for the world’s forcibly displaced — with four fifths of the world’s refugees being hosted by developing countries. The report was released today by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on World Refugee Day, which also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the agency.  The 2010 Global Trends report shows that 43.7 million people are now displaced and that more refugees are stuck in exile for five years or longer than at any time since 2001. In a message to mark World Refugee Day, the SG asks people everywhere to spare a thought for the millions of children, women and men who have been forced from their homes.