Haiti; Iran; Lebanon; South Sudan; and more

Haiti: Two years after an earthquake flattened Haiti, the country’s children are slowly experiencing improvements in their living standards despite continuing challenges, a UN report announced today. According to the study, there has been healing and progress for children in the areas of education, health, nutrition and child protection. However, the report also warned that continuing gaps in the funding for recovery programmes will affect overall progress on child rights in 2012. As a result, UNICEF has launched a $24 million appeal for immediate humanitarian support to vulnerable children while another $30 million will be needed for longer-term development assistance.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog confirmed on Monday that Iran has started enriching uranium at an underground site and said all atomic material there was under its surveillance.
Diplomats in Vienna, home of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), earlier said Iran had begun refining uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent at Fordow near the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom.

A top Hezbollah official has said that United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon is not welcome in Lebanon, days ahead of a trip by the UN chief, but Ban’s spokesman shrugged off the implicit threat. When asked about the issue the spokesperson responded that the Lebanese are renowned for their hospitality, and that the Secretary-General sees no reason for this to be different on this trip.

South Sudan:
The head of the United Nations refugee agency, António Guterres today urged the international community to show greater solidarity with South Sudan as it strives to cope with enormous humanitarian challenges as tensions between communities cause internal displacement amid a refugee influx from Sudan. Mr. Guterres also commended the work of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the country’s Government in preventing an escalation in Jonglei State.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope today that the leadership of Guinea-Bissau will transfer according to the West African country’s constitution after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced deep sadness at the President’s death and offered his condolences to Mr. Sanhá’s family and to the people of Guinea-Bissau. Mr. Sanhá, 64, died earlier today in Paris, where he had been receiving medical treatment, according to media reports.

South Africa:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commemorated the centenary of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), hailing its successes as a key liberation movement in the country but also calling for its continued determination to defend the principles of freedom, justice and non-discrimination. He also highlighted the country’s robust economy and its growing influence in continental and global affairs.

UN Leadership camp:
Thirty young people from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the occupied Palestinian territory will participate in a United Nations leadership camp which kicks off today in Doha, Qatar, and aims to empower underprivileged youth through sports-based activities. The camp consists of 10 days of experiential learning activities addressing themes such as health, gender, disability, education and peace, and seeks to invoke greater change in communities driven by young leaders.