SG to travel to Nigeria and Ethiopia to highlight implementation of Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, Council leaves for Africa, and more from UN Direct

SG Travel/Focus on Women’s and Children’s Health: The SG leaves tomorrow for his four-country trip to Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and France. On Saturday, he will attend meet with Ouattara and attend his presidential inauguration. He will meet with UNOCI peacekeepers and staff as well as IDPs at a camp in Abidjan. Nigeria and Ethiopia will focus on global health efforts under the Every Woman, Every Child effort that was launched last September.  In Nigeria, a country with one of the highest maternal mortality burdens in Sub-Saharan Africa, the SG will visit a hospital and a primary healthcare center to see major improvements underway. While in Nigeria he will also meet with President Jonathan, the Cabinet, and provincial governors to accelerate MDG implementation efforts. While in Abuja, the SG will also meet with the FM and Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission. In Ethiopia, the SG will visit a rural health extension program that trains young women to serve their communities’ health needs, which is seen as a model for the continent. In addition, he plans to meet with women and children in their homes and at a health post and hospital as part of the Every Woman, Every Child observation. Also, the SG will meet with the PM and other leaders attending the India-Africa Forum Summit. After his Africa visit, the SG will travel to the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, to meet with leaders and continue to push for a sustained focus on women’s and children’s heath as a cornerstone of the development agenda. In addition to meeting with G8 leaders, the SG will meet with the African leaders to discuss regional issues as well as the security, development, and human rights agenda in Africa.

Global Health: Today, 16 new commitments to the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health were announced at the World Health Assembly.  Additionally, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, presented an advance copy of its report, entitled “Keeping Promises, Measuring Results”, to the WHA. The report makes recommendations to increase the likelihood that pledges for women’s and children’s health will be honored and that resources will be spent effectively. This Commission is co-chaired by President Kikwete of Tanzania and PM Harper of Canada.

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Mideast Peace Process, briefed the Security Council today on issues such as the reconciliation agreement and the clashes between Israel security forces and Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon, and the OPT. As protests and political change continue to sweep the Arab world, Serry reiterated the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be immune to these dramatic differences. There remains a genuine lack of trust and no credible initiative has yet been taken to overcome the impasse.

Security Council Mission: The Council will send a mission to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to deal with peace and security issues. The mission leaves from New York today and will first travel to Addis Ababa in a visit led by Ambassador Géraud Araud of France. They will meet with PM Meles Zenawi and AU leaders. Afterwards, the mission will head to Sudan to meet with the CPA parties and UNMIS, which will be led by U.S. Ambassador Rice and Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation. Then in Nairobi, the Council plans to work on issues relating to Somalia. Ambassadors Mark Lyall Grant of the UK and Baso Sangqu of South Africa will lead that part of the trip. The Council will be back in NY May 26th.

CERF: Today, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) surpassed the $2 billion mark in funds disbursed to aid agencies in natural and conflict-related emergencies.  The SG highlighted the CERF’s importance, noting that “When people are hit by disaster, there is no time to lose. CERF is a proven lifesaver.”

Iraq: Ad Melkert, SRSG for Iraq, condemned today’s attacks targeting security forces in Kirkuk, which killed dozens and injured more. He urged all parties to work together to expedite the settlement of all pending issues in order to find stability and security in the country. Melkert reiterated the UN’s readiness to help the parties in these efforts.

Upcoming Briefing: John Prendergast will join Francis Deng to discuss genocide prevention starting at 10 AM tomorrow going on throughout the day.