SG travels; Myanmar; Energy access; Syria/Unesco; and more

SG travels: The Secretary-General is in Lebanon today. Tomorrow he will also visit the United Arab Emirates, where he will convene his High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All and attend the World Future Energy Summit. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser will also attend the Summit, before traveling to Bahrain for an official visit.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the authorities in Myanmar on the long-awaited release of political prisoners today, as well as other important efforts being made to advance democracy and national reconciliation.

Mr. Ban called the release – reportedly of 651 prisoners in all, including a number of key, prominent figures – “the most significant release to date” in a statement issued by his spokesperson.  Mr. Ban also noted the important efforts being made by the Myanmar authorities for renewed peace with the armed ethnic groups, including yesterday’s preliminary ceasefire between the authorities and the Karen National Union as well as the initial peace agreements with other groups.

Energy access
: Supermodel and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen has visited Kenya to experience firsthand the reality of energy poverty and to see how lives are being transformed in the East African country by making sustainable energy accessible to those not connected to the national grid.

within the overall theme of a Green Economy, with a special emphasis on Africa, and Kenya in particular. The new UN office complex in Nairobi, which Ms. Bündchen visited and which houses UNEP and the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), has 6,000 square meters of solar panels and generates as much electricity as its 1,200 occupants consume.UNEP is working to realize and to accelerate the use of renewable energy

The head of the United Nations agency defending press freedom today condemned the recent killing in Syria of French television reporter Gilles Jacquier and called on authorities to ensure the safety of journalists working in the country.

Mr. Jacquier, a reporter for French public television France 2, was killed on Wednesday by unidentified gunfire while on a press visit to the troubled city of Homs. Six Syrian nationals were also killed in the incident, and a Dutch photographer was severely injured. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, urged the Syrian authorities to investigate the killing and ensure safer working conditions for journalists in the country, which has been beset by bloody unrest since early last year.

Somali Refugees:
The UN refugee agency said today it is increasingly concerned about insecurity in and around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa.

“The situation is particularly worrying, complex and tenuous in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya where the threat of improvised explosive devices, kidnappings, vehicle hijackings and banditry remains high,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

He added that, along with killings of police officers and kidnappings of aid workers, the agency is also witnessing the targeting of refugees. Two refugee leaders who had volunteered to help maintain peace and safety in the camps were murdered at the turn of the year.