WFP issues emergency appeal to provide food assistance to people fleeing violence in Libya, China presents Council program of work for March and more from UN Direct

Libya: The UN has called for a mass humanitarian evacuation of people fleeing Libya for Tunisia, stressing that the border situation is at a “crisis point” where thousands upon thousands continue to overcrowd at the border and wait desperately to cross it.  UNHCR and the IOM are urging other countries to open their borders to those who seek refuge, as there is a concern that overcrowding is worsening by the hour. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Congress today not to cut funds needed to deal with crises abroad, forecasting that, “In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war. The stakes are high…And this is an unfolding example of how we use the combined assets of diplomacy, development and defense to protect our interests and advance our values.” The U.S. is still considering a no-fly zone, though Clinton has acknowledged the drawbacks that exist through such an implementation. Traveling to the Tunisia border yesterday to meet local authorities, aid organizations and people who have fled Libya, WFP’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran said that it’s clear that the world must step up action.  WFP has launched a 3-month $38.7 million emergency appeal to assist people fleeing Libya.  It is estimated that the appeal would feed 2.7 million people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.  WFP will purchase food from the region to ensure that recovery can begin immediately. Sheeran has called for safe humanitarian access, stressing that cutting off food supplies shouldn’t be used as a weapon.  Sheeran also met with Pope Benedict today about the Libya crisis.  More than 75,000 people – mostly Egyptian nationals – have crossed into Tunisia since late last month.  Today in Geneva, UNHCR and IOM held a meeting on the humanitarian situation in Libya, at which U.S. Ambassador Betty King spoke, commending Tunisia and Egypt for maintaining open borders.  The U.S. is providing $10 million to support international and non-governmental organizations in the humanitarian response, in addition to a $2 million contribution made to IOM yesterday to support emergency evacuations and repatriations for third-country nationals.  USAID and State are also sending humanitarian teams to the region to assess conditions and coordinate with the UN on the ground.

Security Council: This afternoon, Ambassador Li Baodong of China briefed the press on the Security Council’s Program of Work for the month of March. On March 3rd, USG for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy will brief the Council on the current situation in Côte d’Ivoire. On March 17th, there will be a debate on Afghanistan and the Council will review reports by the SG on UNAMA, as well as hear a briefing by the SRSG on Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura.  UNAMA’s mandate adoption is scheduled for March 22. On March 22nd, the Council will discuss the Middle East peace process, which will take place after the Quartet holds a high-level meeting on the 15th. In addition to continuing to closely monitor developments in Libya, the Security Council will follow the situation in Haiti, as it is scheduled to hold a run-off presidential election this month (March 20). Other concerns that the Council will formally discuss include: Somalia’s comprehensive strategy on peace (in a debate March 10), Cyprus, Liberia, Lebanon, sanctions in Sudan and Iran, as well as the topic of non-proliferation.

UK foreign assistance: yesterday, DFID released its Multilateral Aid Review, which has serious implications for the UN.  Specifically, the Review assesses multilateral organizations according to the “value for money” they offer to UK aid – the top of the list includes UNICEF (the UK will double its assistance from 21 million GBP annually to 40), while those who received a “poor” rating include UNESCO, UNIDO and ILO.

UNODC/DPKO: Today, Alain Le Roy and Yury Fedotov launched the UNODC and DPKO Joint Plan of Action, designed to strengthen the agencies’ partnership in order to work together on integrating drugs and crime control into peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions. In December 2010, they launched the West Africa Cost Initiative and UNODC has been able to mobilize $4 million for this initiative.  DPKO and UNODC are also working in Sudan. Judicial training of officers, prison models, and prison guidance are among the efforts that the two UN agencies work on together.

Côte d’Ivoire: On the Belarus helicopter situation, Alain Le Roy stated today that UNOCI made a false report and, on behalf of DPKO, issued a deep apology to Belarus. DPKO is now conducting an investigation on how the mistake occurred. Tomorrow, DPKO will brief the Security Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire to clarify the helicopter situation.

Pakistan: The SG has strongly condemned today’s tragic assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, a prominent advocate for minority rights and a promoter of interfaith understanding. The SG extends his condolences to Bhatti’s family as well as the Government and the people of Pakistan. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also condemned the assassination, stating, “These murders are a tragedy for Pakistan and those who envision a future for the country centered on human rights.”

Sudan: Haile Menkerios, the SRSG for Sudan, has deplored the recent fighting in Abyei, and is urging the parties to commit themselves to the full implementation of the Agreements, including the establishment of the agreed HL Implementation Committee as a mechanism to contain such incidents and prevent their recurrence. UNMIS stands ready to assist the parties in this endeavor. Menkerios further urges the two parties to expedite agreement on the settlement of the Abyei issue, as promised by the Presidency last month.