SG on Syria; Social Protection; Sahel; Malnutrition; Afghanistan

SG on Syria: The SG is in France this week for the World Forum for Democracy and to meet with French officials. During his keynote address at the World Forum, as well as in meetings yesterday and today with French President Françoise Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the SG expressed his concerns over the situation in Syria, as well as rising tensions over the Syria-Turkey border. The latter must be met with “maximum restraint,” the SG said.

Social Protection: The two UN Special Rapporteurs on extreme poverty and the right to food today urged the creation of a Global Fund for Social Protection. In a news release, they stated that without such a program, chronic unemployment, food insecurity, and natural disasters would pose continuous impediments to those seeking to emerge from poverty and that two per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be enough to provide all the world’s poor with basic social protection.

Sahel:  The SG appointed Mr. Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy, as his Special Envoy for the Sahel today. As Special Envoy, Mr. Prodi will undertake good offices on behalf of the SG in support of national, regional and international mediation efforts in the sub-region, and regarding cross-border and transnational issues.  He will help generate, sustain and coordinate international engagement in support of national efforts of Sahelian countries to address this multifaceted crisis, with an initial focus on Mali.

Malnutrition: A report released by FAO, WFP, and IFAD today announced that almost 870 million people, or one in eight, are suffering from chronic malnutrition. Although there has been a sharp decline in the number of undernourished people over the past two decades, the report warned that immediate action is still needed to tackle hunger particularly in developing countries.

Afghanistan: This morning the SC extended the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and stressed the importance of increasing, in a comprehensive framework, the professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector.