Sudan; Liberia and Angola; US health care law; Myanmar; Egypt

Sudan: The UN emergency relief coordinator today voiced concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan, and called for unrestricted access for aid agencies so they can assist people in need.

“Hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped in the conflict zone with little access to food, water, shelter and medical services,” said USG for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos in a statement.

Thousands of people are also crossing into neighboring countries each day after fleeing conflict and related food shortages in Sudan and, according to OCHA, the number of Sudanese refugees arriving in South Sudan and Ethiopia has more than doubled since April, amounting to 200,000.

Liberia and Angola: The UN has announced that, as of Saturday, people who fled the civil wars in Liberia and Angola and remain abroad will no longer be regarded as refugees by the world body and host governments, bringing to an end two of the most protracted refugee situations in Africa.

Cessation clauses will enter into force tomorrow for refugees from Liberia and Angola on the basis that these countries have both enjoyed many years of peace and stability after bitter civil wars, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“We are working with the governments of origin and of asylum to find solutions for those refugees who wish either to return home or to remain in their host countries due to strong ties there,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva today.

US health care law: The health care overhaul law in the United States, which was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday, can help close gaps in social security coverage that currently affect 30 million people in the country, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) said today.

“The new legislation can certainly help people who currently have no access to health care and is very much in line with our efforts to expand social protection throughout the world,” said Xenia Scheil-Adlung, the Health Policy Coordinator at ILO’s Social Security Department.

“The US was behind many other countries for social security coverage in health, especially at a time when the economic crisis has further increased these needs,” she said in a news release issued by the Geneva-based agency.

Myanmar: The UN refugee agency today said that it had begun redeploying staff members to Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, where violence has displaced thousands of people.

Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said more staff members had returned to Rakhine on Wednesday, joining an earlier team that had gone back on 20 June and others who were already there.

According to the Myanmar authorities, the violence, between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and thousands of homes destroyed. It also displaced more than 52,000 people.

Egypt: In a phone call on Wednesday, the Secretary-General congratulated Muhammad Morsi on his win in Egypt’s presidential election, and urged the President-elect to ensure that all Egyptians are able to realize their aspirations for greater democracy, the promotion of human rights, and a more prosperous and stable country, according to the SG’s office.  Mr. Morsi is reportedly due to be sworn in tomorrow, two weeks after he defeated ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the run-off election.