World Population Day; Millenium Development Goals; Cholera upsurge; ICC; Kyrgyzstan; Malian Refugees

World Population Day: The theme for this year’s Day is ‘Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services,’ aimed at highlighting the essential part that reproductive health plays in creating a just and equitable world.

According to UNFPA, reproductive health problems remain the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide. Some 222 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning, while nearly 800 women die every day in the process of giving life.

Executive Director of the UN Population Fund said helping meet the needs of those 222 million women would help prevent 21 million unplanned births, and help prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths.

Millennium Development Goals: A group of United Nations independent experts today urged States to intensify efforts towards realizing the anti-poverty targets known as the MDGs, stressing that there is no room for complacency with only three years before the 2015 deadline to achieve them.

A study published last week – the 2012 Millennium Development Goals Report – highlights the progress made, with three important targets on poverty, slums and water met three years ahead of 2015. It added that meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.

The group of UN experts pointed out a number of areas that must be addressed urgently, asking for Governments to strengthen their efforts to achieve the MDGs, while also ensuring that the post-2015 development agenda  be based on human rights obligations.

Cholera upsurge: UNICEF today warned that a recent upsurge in the Sahel of cholera – which has already killed more than 60 people and sickened about 2,800 there this year – is putting more and more people, especially malnourished children, at risk. In response to the threat posed by the spread of cholera in the Sahel, UNICEF and its partners are urgently ramping up their operations to prevent the emergence of new outbreaks across the region.

ICC: The International Criminal Court (ICC) today sentenced Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former Congolese warlord, to 14 years of imprisonment for his involvement in child soldier recruitment. In March, the ICC found Mr. Lubanga guilty of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into FPLC militia, and using them to participate in hostilities in the Ituri region in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, between September 2002 and August 2003.

Mr. Lubanga was the commander-in-chief of the FPLC at the time and is the first person to be tried at the ICC since it came into being on 1 July 2002.

Kyrgyzstan: The United Nations human rights chief today called on Kyrgyzstan to boost its efforts to address corruption and discrimination, adding that they are severely hampering the nation’s economic growth and social prosperity. During her visit to Kyrgyzstan – her first time in the country – Ms. Pillay met with President Almazbek Atambaev and other Government officials, as well as with human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations in Bishkek and Osh.

Malian Refugees: The operation to support Malian refugees is threatened
by a critically low level of funding, the UN refugee agency said today, adding that it and its partners are struggling to provide a basic level of humanitarian standards for the displaced.

“Meanwhile, two UN independent experts warned that the recent destruction of various religious sites in Mali signals a “dark future” for the local population, and called on the country’s Government and international community to join efforts to protect the population’s cultural rights.