South Sudan becomes 193rd UN Member State, UNICEF’s Lake in Kenya, High Commissioner for Human Rights opens Tunisia rights office and more from UN Direct

South Sudan: The GA this morning decided by acclamation to approve the admission of the Republic of South Sudan as the 193rd Member State of the UN. The Secretary-General welcomed South Sudan to the community of nations, and urged the leaderships of both North and South Sudan to deal with matters of borders, sharing of resources and migration as soon as possible. The flag of the Republic of South Sudan was raised outside the United Nations Headquarters for the first time afterward. Remarks by Ambassador Susan Rice at a GA meeting on South Sudan.

UNMISS: The SG’s Special Representative for South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, highlighted the mandate of the new UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in her first encounter with the press today in Juba.   She said the Mission had three main areas of activities under its mandate: peace consolidation; conflict management, conflict resolution and the protection of civilians; and support to the nascent state, including in the security sector, rule of law, justice, human rights, and abiding by international laws and standards.   The SRSG also stressed that, in the Security Council mandate given to UNMISS, human rights has been highlighted significantly.

Darfur: The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur has welcomed the agreement signed today between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), calling it a “significant step forward” in efforts to resolve the conflict. The protocol agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, indicates a commitment on the part of the Government and the LJM to the draft document that will form the basis of a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting that began eight years ago.

Libya : A UN humanitarian assessment mission to the Libyan port city of Misrata has found that high food prices, lack of money and shortages of medical supplies and other essential items have left residents in need of continued assistance. Misrata has seen some of the heaviest fighting between government forces and the armed opposition bidding to oust the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi. OCHA said in press release that although some normalcy had returned to Misrata, the city itself is still surrounded by Government forces and exposed to sporadic rocket attacks.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan experienced a 15 per cent increase in civilian deaths in the first six months of 2011, a new report released by UNAMA today. Nearly 1,500 civilians were killed in the reporting period from January to June, with 80 per cent of the deaths being caused by Anti-Government Elements, up by 28 per cent from the same time last year, the report added. A further 14 per cent of civilian deaths were attributed to Pro-Government Forces. The month of June also saw the highest-ever number of security incidents and attacks by Improvised Explosive Devices attacks in a single month.

Tunisia: The UN today opened its first human rights office in Tunisia, with the world body’s top rights official lauding the country for inspiring the quest for political reform and human dignity across North Africa and the Middle East with its own popular uprising earlier this year. “The whole world watched with amazement and growing respect as Tunisians kept demanding your rights, refusing to be cowed by the repression, the arrests, the torture and all the injuries and tragic loss of life that occurred,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, as she opened the office in the capital, Tunis.

Uganda: UNICEF has lauded the efforts of Uganda, which has become the 20th country since 2000 to have eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT).  A UN-supported program targeted 25 high-risk districts in Uganda and vaccinated close to two million women of child bearing age between 2002 and 2009, the agency said in a news release issued yesterday.

UNICEF in Kenya: The Executive Director of UNICEF Anthony Lake began a visit to Kenya today to enhance the humanitarian response to the crisis in the region, where some 10 million people are in need of assistance. The crisis is being fuelled by drought, soaring food prices and the conflict in Somalia.  Nearly 500,000 children in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are suffering from severe malnutrition, while more than 1.6 million others under the age of five are acutely malnourished, UNICEF says.