World No Tobacco Day; Senior UN appointments; UN Refugees 2012 report; and more

World No Tobacco Day:  Today marks the annual World No Tobacco Day.  Top UN officials called on governments around the world to promote resistance against tobacco, which kills over 6 million people every year.  WHO’s theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is “tobacco industry interference,” which focuses on exposing the tobacco industry and its products.

“The interests of the tobacco industry and of public health are directly opposed.  While governments and the international health community try to implement effective measures to contain tobacco use and protect the health of people, their efforts are being aggressively opposed by an industry whose products kill people,” the Secretary-General said.


New senior UN appointments: The Secretary-General announced three new senior level appointments today: for the position of Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, the Secretary-General has selected Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal of Austria, who since 2007 is the Spokesman and Head of the Department for Communication and Information, of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.

For the position of Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the Secretary-General has selected Mr. Wu Hongbo of China, who since 2009 is Ambassador of China to the Federal Republic of Germany.

For the position of Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Secretary-General has selected Ms. Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan who until recently was the Vice President, Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, launched his office’s flagship book entitled “The State of the World’s Refugees” today.

The 2012 publication of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ The State of the World’s Refugees:  In Search of Solidarity states that the number of refugees will significantly increase over the next 10 years due to factors such as conflict, natural disaster, and climate change.

“The world is creating displacement faster than it is producing solutions, and this means one thing only: More people trapped in exile over many years, unable to return home, to settle locally, or to move elsewhere,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, in relation to the report.

“Global displacement is an inherently international problem, and as such needs international solutions – and by this I mainly mean political solutions,” he added.

:  Today, the UN Refugee Agency appealed for $153.7 million to assist Malian refugees that have fled to neighboring countries.  The sudden deterioration of Mali’s peace and stability has caused the sharp budget appeal.   Approximately 320,000 Malians have been uprooted from their homes due to the continuation of fighting between the Malian Government forces and the Tuareg rebels.  The refugees are already facing shortages on food and water due to recent droughts.

“The sharp degeneration of the situation in Mali, which has led to the flight and continued forced displacement of a huge number of Malians in such a short time, is totally unexpected,” UNHCR’s deputy director for West Africa, Central Africa and the Great Lakes region, Liz Ahua, said.

:  UN Special Representative of Somalia called for greater investment in the country today.  He stated that Somalia needs international partners that will support Somalia and allow them to continue to recover and transition politically.   He also stressed that Somalia is committed to finding access to cheaper and more sustainable energy.

A paradigm shift in international assistance will allow partners of Somalia to build the resilience of Somali households, communities and local institutions against crises in the medium and long-term,” said Special Representative Augustine Mahiga. “This will take real partnerships, strategic vision and integrated multi-sectoral approaches and reliable multi-year funding.”

DR Congo
:  UN humanitarian agency renewed its call for better measures to protect civilians, due to the recent violence in the North Kivu province of the DRC.  The agency was also concerned about the number of displaced civilians, with close to 100,000 people uprooted from their homes.