Syria; ICC landmark ruling; Cote d’Ivoire; and more

Syria: Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria has received a response from the Syrian authorities on issues he raised when he visited the country to help find a peaceful solution to the ongoing violence, and is seeking further clarifications, his spokesperson said today.

Mr. Annan will brief the U.N. Security Council on Friday about his peace mission, which diplomats say could breathe new life into stalled talks on a resolution aimed at ending the escalating violence.

ICC landmark ruling
: The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty of recruiting child soldiers, in a landmark ruling hailed by United Nations officials as an important step in the fight against impunity.

The verdict is the first ever to be issued by the ICC, the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, since it was set up a decade ago.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need for the international community to continue with its efforts to put an end to impunity. He also urged the Congolese authorities to continue to strengthen their efforts to hold accountable all perpetrators of gross human rights violations.

Côte d’Ivoire:
The head of the UN peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire today congratulated the country’s new Prime Minister and the newly-elected president of parliament and assured them of the mission’s continued support. Jeannot Ahoussou Kouadio was yesterday appointed the country’s new Prime Minister, while the National Assembly on Monday elected his predecessor, Guillaume Soro, as the new president of parliament. In his letter to Mr. Kouadio, the UN envoy highlighted the multiple priorities for Côte d’Ivoire, including security, social cohesion, national reconciliation and economic recovery.

DR Congo:
A top Rwandan rebel leader has surrendered amid a joint military offensive by UN and DRC, a spokesperson has confirmed. Lieutenant Colonel Idrissa Muradadi, considered a “big fish,” and three of his bodyguards turned themselves in last Friday to the joint forces of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) and the Congolese national armed forces (FARDC).

“This is excellent news,” said Manodje Mounoubai, spokesperson for MONUSCO. Lt. Col. Muradadi was a former commander of the FDLR, which has been active since late 1994 mainly in the eastern DRC.  He was sent to a disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, rehabilitation, and repatriation camp after his surrender and will soon be sent to Rwanda, according to MONUSCO.

Food Security:
Almost five million Yemenis are unable to produce or buy the food they need, according to preliminary findings of a United Nations survey, which states that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity has nearly doubled since 2009.

The WFP food security survey, which was produced in collaboration with the UNICEF and the Yemeni Central Statistical Organisation also found that a further five million people are at risk of becoming severely food insecure as they face rising food prices and conflict. In urban areas, where civil unrest has hit hardest, more than a quarter of households said insecurity had reduced their ability to buy food.