Ambassador Rice condemns Syrian violence, circulates draft text for HRC Special Session, WHO launches report on NCDs and more from UN Direct

Syria: this afternoon USG Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the situation in Syria. On Tuesday, the SG said that he would have Pascoe provide more detail about the latest developments in Syria as the Security Council considers its response.  At the meeting, Ambassador Rice condemned the violence in the “strongest possible terms”.  On Friday, the HRC has scheduled a special session to consider the situation in Syria, at which Council members will consider a draft resolution circulated by the U.S. condemning the violence and calling for an international inquiry.

Peacekeeping: This morning, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolutions to extend two UN peacekeeping mission mandates: 1) UNMIS until July 9, 2011; and 2) MINURSO until the end of April 2012.

Côte d’Ivoire: OCHA reports that thousands of people face enormous humanitarian needs. Their vulnerability is aggravated by a lingering lack of security in certain places, as well as by the difficulty in obtaining access to essential health, education, and sanitation services. Thus, in order to identify and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable people, the UN has deployed an UNDAC team to Abidjan and the western part of the country since April 19th. UNDAC has confirmed that the western part of Côte d’Ivoire is in greatest need. In Abidjan, the team has assessed the need to help the government in areas of civil protection, health, education, and public hygiene.

Libya: Today, the three-person team sent by the HRC arrived in Libya to investigate and assess human rights conditions there. The team is made up of Cherif Bassiouni, Asma Khader, and Philippe Kirsch. In regards to support for rebels in Libya, the Spokesperson said that the UN was focusing on obtaining an immediate ceasefire and trying to expand humanitarian access in the country.

Darfur: Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, launched a large-scale project to aid IDPs on their return to Darfur. UNAMID will manage the effort to distribute high-capacity rolling water containers to eight returnee villages. Gambari officially launched the project in North Darfur, home to 3,000 returnees. He noted that one of the major sources of conflict in Darfur is access to water.

NCDs: Today, the WHO launched the first global status report on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which proves that these diseases are the leading killer today and are on the rise. In 2008, 36.1 million people died from conditions such as heart disease, stroke, chronic lung diseases, cancers, and diabetes. Roughly 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. WHO DG Margaret Chan stated, “The rise of chronic noncommunicable diseases presents an enormous challenge. For some countries, it is no exaggeration to describe the situation as an impending disaster; a disaster for health, for society, and most of all for national economies. Nevertheless, WHO explains that policies that promote government-wide action against NCDs such as stronger anti-tobacco controls and promoting healthier diets should be implemented.