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12 Oct
2019

Housing sales down 5 in JanMar 2019 on changes in GST rates

first_imgNew Delhi: Housing sales dipped by 5 per cent to 75,706 units in nine major cities during January-March period because of transition in GST rates, according to a report by property brokerage firm PropTiger. The company, which is part of News Corp-backed Elara Technologies that also owns Housing.com and Makaan.com, Monday released its ‘Real Insight Report’ for Q4 2018-19 that tracks housing sales and new launches in nine major cities — Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Gurugram and Noida. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra”Housing sales in India’s nine key property markets declined 5 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) and new project launches fell 32 per cent annually during Q4 2018-19,” the report said, adding that the unsold housing stock numbers declined by 10 per cent. PropTiger attributed the decline in home sales numbers to changes in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) transition rules. In contrast to PropTiger report, real estate consultant Anarock recently said housing sales rose by 58 per cent to 78,520 units in seven major cities during January- March period of 2019. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysData analytics firm PropEquity said sales saw a 5 per cent rise at 56,146 units during January-March 2019 over the year-ago quarter in the nine major cities. As per the PropTiger data, housing sales rose maximum in Hyderabad by 26 per cent at 7,059 units in the January-March quarter of 2019 from 5,618 units in the year-ago period. Gurugram witnessed 10 per cent rise in sales at 5,764 units from 5,220 units in the corresponding period of the previous year. Sales in Kolkata were up by 8 per cent at 3,623 units. Pune saw 5 per cent rise in sales at 14,348 units from 13,712 units during the period under the review, while Mumbai reported 4 per cent increase in sales at 23,718 units. However, housing sales declined by 23 per cent in Bengaluru to 8,402 units. Chennai, too, witnessed 13 per cent dip in sales at 4,197 units. Ahmedabad reported 10 per cent dip in sales at 4,739 units. The maximum fall in was in Noida, with sales dropping by 50 per cent at 3,856 units. “While there might not be any significant improvement in new launch and home sales numbers in the first quarter of 2019-20, things may start to change after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are announced. “In fact, as more clarity emerges pertaining to GST issues, these numbers might see improvement in the quarters that follow. Property rates would also see an upwards movement in the times to come,” Elara Technologies Group Chief Operating Officer Mani Rangarajan said. In late February, the GST Council decided to cut GST rate on affordable homes to 1 per cent from earlier 8 per cent. The GST on under-construction flats, which are not under the affordable housing segment, was reduced to 5 per cent from 12 per cent earlier. The new GST rates were made effective from April 1. The developers were also denied input tax credit.last_img read more

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12 Oct
2019

Morsis family not to attend trial session

first_imgCAIRO  – The family of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi said on Sunday the deposed leader is unfazed by what it described as “trumped up” charges against him, and asserted they would not attend the first session of his trial, due on Monday.In a statement sent exclusively to Anadolu Agency, the family cast doubts on the authenticity of statements that the Egyptian daily Al-Watan claims that Morsi had said during his meetings with visiting politicians and rights groups from his unknown detention place since July 3.The paper said it obtained leaked recordings of Morsi’s meetings at his detention place, which is still being kept secret. The family said releasing the statements one day before the trial’s first session aims to influence the public.The statement was signed by Morsi’s elder son, Osama, who identified himself as the official spokesman of the “abducted legitimate Egyptian president”.“The president is steadfast despite months of violations against his rights as a president and a citizen and despite all the smear campaigns launched against him by a people of no value,” Morsi’s family wrote in the statement.It said the ousted president would not be brought down to his knees by “trumped up” charges or “kangaroo courts.”Morsi is due to appear for the first time since his July 3 ouster in court to face charges of inciting the killing of demonstrators outside the presidential palace in Cairo in December when he was a president.At least 14 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders and ex-presidential aides are due to appear with him in court as well.The families of seven of the defendants in the case already said they would not attend the trial because they don’t recognize the court’s legitimacy.– RecordingsAccording to al-Watan newspaper, Morsi said during a meeting with Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, that he was illegally detained and this should not happen to a head of state.He called on the European Union and the United States to intervene for his reinstatement, promising to redress the mistakes he had committed during his one year of rule, according to the newspaper, which said it has video and audio recordings of Morsi’s statements.It said Morsi expressed objection to holding a public referendum to decide whether he should stay in office or hold early presidential elections, saying the Egyptian constitution did not contain articles that make this possible.Al-Watan said it would post the video and audio recordings of Morsi’s statements to prove the authenticity of what it marketed as a “scoop.”It said Morsi insisted during his meeting with another political delegation to describe his ouster as a “military coup”, saying that he is still the president according to the constitution.Morsi, however, said he was being treated well at his detention place.He said he rejects his trial, saying the president should have different grilling procedures according to the constitution, the newspaper said.“If I go to the court I will defend myself before the judges,” Morsi was quoted by the newspaper in its report as saying. “I am not involved in the killing of demonstrators. I will say this to the judges.”By Hussein al-Qabanilast_img read more

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12 Oct
2019

China Russia Veto UN Action to refer Syria to ICC

Tangier – On May 22, 2014, the United Nations Security Council was unable to adopt a resolution to transfer the issue of serious human rights abuses in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because Moscow and Beijing both used vetoes to oppose it.More than 10 days after the Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Representative on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned, there is still a failure at the UN to agree upon a resolution to the ongoing human rights abuses in Syria.  After more than two years of tireless diplomatic efforts to come up with a political solution to the heartbreaking civil war in Syria, the Security Council is trying to step forward and change the status quo by referring the issue to another entity.The failed resolution would have referred the situation to the ICC in order to investigate the serious crimes alleged to have been committed during three long years of bloody conflict in Syria.  Although the resolution was supported by 13 members of the UN Security Council, it was blocked by two permanent members, Russia and China. According to the official United Nations website, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, prior to the vote in a statement delivered on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The Syrian people have a fundamental right to justice. The United Nations and its Member States have a fundamental duty to defend that right.”He also stated that, “Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, I have persistently called for accountability for perpetrators of grave human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The recent attacks against humanitarian convoys and personnel, which may constitute war crimes, add to the urgent need to see action now on accountability in Syria.”  Finally stating, “The Security Council has an inescapable responsibility in this regard. States that are members of both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have a particular duty to end the bloodshed and to ensure justice for the victims of unspeakable crimes.”According to The Guardian, the US Ambassador, Samatha Power immediately responded to China’s and Russia’s opposition by saying, “the Syrian people will not see justice today.  They will see crime, but not punishment. The vetoes today have prevented the victims of atrocities from testifying at The Hague.”On February 2013, according to the same source, the UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that the ICC is the appropriate body to closely follow the Syrian crisis and bring those who fight against impunity in Syria to justice.Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson warned that, “If members of the Council continue to be unable to agree on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and of the entire Organization will continue to suffer.”Sixty-five countries had appealed to all 193 UN member states to agree on the resolution, under which the ICC would be authorized to investigate allegations of the alleged monstrous crimes by the Syrian regime and armed extremist-opposition groups. read more

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12 Oct
2019

US uses Tomahawk Cruise Missiles against ISIS in Syria

Marrakech – The US is launching Tomahawk Cruise Missiles  against ISIS targets in Syria. The Washington post reports that the missiles were probably launched from naval ships or submarines in the eastern Mediterranean.Cruise missiles were used against Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan after 9/11 and in the first Gulf War in 1991 and during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and against Libya in 2011.Since President Obama authorized air attacks against ISIS in August, official statements have recorded 190 air attacks by fighter bombers, bombers and missile bearing drones. The use of Tomahawk missiles in Syria has not been recorded so far and is significant. It confirms that General Lloyd Austin has been given a free hand to strike ISIS targets in Syria using whatever force is required.The Washington Post reports that cruise missiles were in position in August 2013 to strike at the Assad regime following its use of chemical weapons. They were never used because President Obama decided to seek congressional approval for the action.The Tomahawk Cruise Missile is a fearsome long range guided weapon made by Raytheon. It is 18 feet long and  usually carries a 1,000 pound warhead and has a range of up to 1,000 miles. It is a precision guided missile and is used against stationary targets. It’s against ISIS installations in Syria and will help reduce the risk to U.S. pilots should the Assad government choose to use its antiaircraft missile systems.The Assad government said it had been warned by the US prior to the attack launched last night. read more

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12 Oct
2019

Morocco Five People Arrested for Prostitution During Ramadan

Rabat- Five young Moroccans, three men and two women, were arrested in a brothel during the day yesterday.According to the Moroccan daily news outlet, Assabah, the five defendants, including a drug dealer and a pregnant woman “out of wedlock”, were arrested after a police raid on a suspected house in the Najma neighborhood in Benslimane.The first investigation reveals that one of the defendants is a 23-year old drug dealer who rents the house as a hub for illegal activities including prostitution and drug trafficking. Among items found in the suspects’ house during the police raid were thirty pieces of cannabis, five mobile phones, condoms and a hookah.The defendants are set to appear before a public prosecutor today at the court of first instance in Benslimane, about 60 kilometers from Rabat.The three men are reported to have originated from Benslimane while the two women had come to the brothel from Casablanca. The suspects are reported to have been hosting sex parties and drug deals, having been under police surveillance during this month of Ramadan, a month particularly characterized by piety and devotion to God.Edited by Marwa Al Omami© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

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12 Oct
2019

Anwar El Ghazi Cristiano Ronaldo Advised me to Opt for the

Rabat – Anwar El Ghazi has opted to play for the Netherlands after consulting Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. The Ajax Amsterdam player of Moroccan origins has revealed that Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has advised him to pledge his allegiance to the Netherlands and not Morocco.The 20-year-old is included in Danny Blind’s 28-man Netherlands preliminary squad to play the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Czech Republic next month. El Ghazi, who has scored seven goals for Ajax so far in the season, said he was persuaded by the three-time Ballon d’Or winner to represent the Netherlands at international level.“I have thought about it for a long time. My parents, my family, my personal trainer and also Cristiano Ronaldo have advised me. I have included everything in my choice,” El Ghazi told Ajax’s official website.“It came up with Ronaldo. He asked how I stood on the Netherlands. He said if he were me, he would opt for the Netherlands. He said I had to decide it myself and that people always have an opinion.“Choose Netherlands and Moroccans will say I’m not a real Moroccan, opt for Morocco then the Dutch say ‘Hey, you’re born and raised here, what the hell is that?’”El Ghazi added: “I’m going to do my best. I’m going to give everything for the country because I was born and raised here.”© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

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12 Oct
2019

Trump says trade deal with China could very well happen

WASHINGTON — As trade talks between the U.S. and China move to Washington later this month, President Donald Trump is hopeful that the economic powers can find a way to end a costly tariff fight.Trump tells reporters that “we’ve really had a very extraordinary number of meetings and a deal could very well happen with China.”U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (LYT’-hy-zur) and China’s economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, are expected to hold talks at the end of January.Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) agreed on Dec. 1 to suspend further tariff increases for 90 days while they negotiate. The two sides have imposed tariff increase of up to 25 per cent on billions of dollars of each other’s goods.The Associated Press

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12 Oct
2019

Rio Olympics 2016 Bulgarian Silvia Danekova Fails Drugs Test

Sofia – Bulgarian runner Silvia Danekova has tested positive for a banned substance in Rio. She has been temporarily suspended pending a B sample test.The 3,000-metre steeplechase athlete tested positive for banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) on her arrival in Brazil on July 26 to compete in the Olympic Games.The Bulgarian Olympic Committee’s Secretary General Belcho Goranov told reporters: “Unfortunately, we have a positive test.” He declined to name the competitor. The athletics programme at the Rio Olympics begins today.

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12 Oct
2019

Russian Ambassador Kings Visit to Russia Boosts MoroccanRussian Relations

Rabat – Russian Ambassador to Morocco, Valery Vorobiev, stated that the Moroccan Monarch’s visit to Russia in March 2017 gave new impetus to Cooperation Between Rabat and Moscow.  The comments were made during the April 6 ceremony held to promote the Honorary Consul of Russia in the Souss-Massa region, Abdellatif Abid, to the rank of Honorary Consul General.The ambassador of the Russian Federation in Rabat, Valeri Vorobiev, said that the official visit of King Mohammed VI to Russia in March 2016, gave new impetus to bilateral relations between the two countries at all levels. “Following the historic visit of king Mohammed VI in Russia and the talks with His Excellency President Vladimir Putin, the Moroccan-Russian relations witnessed a notable development in various fields,” said the Russian diplomat. Vorobiev also seized the opportunity to hail the Moroccan-Russian economic forum, which contributed to boosting bilateral cooperation in various fields, including agriculture, tourism and fisheries.Ukrainian agricultural consultant, UkrAgroConsult, revealed last month that Morocco’s imports of wheat from Russia have increased by 300 percent over the last season. This indicates a new level of economic cooperation between Morocco and Russia. Morocco’s agricultural exports to Russia also increased, with 60 percent of the agricultural products coming from the Souss-Massa region.On the tourism level, Russian tourists have begun exploring Morocco as an emerging tourist destination. Nearly 90 percent of travelers choose Agadir as a holiday destination.After King Mohammed VI visited Russia in March 2016, several cooperative agreements between the two countries were signed. At the time, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, told the press that the agreements would further strengthen the existing strategic partnership between Morocco and Russia. read more

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12 Oct
2019

Moroccos Real Estate Transactions Increased 12 in 4th Quarter of 2018

By Carolina McCabeRabat – In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Real Estate Price Index (IPAI) in Morocco fell by 0.4 percent, according to data released by Bank Al-Maghrib and the National Agency of Conservation, Land Land Records, and Cartography (ANCFCC). The fall in IPAI allowed transactions to increase by 12 percent from the third quarter of 2018. The IPAI is a statistical tool used to measure the relative change in real estate prices over time. Within the calculation, the data takes into account residential, commercial, and agricultural real estate purchases. The data from the central bank demonstrated a fall in real estate prices by 2.4 percent as well as a 1.2 percent price drop in assets for professional use. The price decrease of assets for professional use is attributed to the decline in the prices of commercial land by 0.5 percent and offices by 3.3 percent. In turn, transactions in the category grew by 18 percent, with a 17 percent increase in sales of commercial land and 31 percent in offices.At the same time, residential prices rose by 0.8 percent. The prices of apartments increased by 0.6 percent, houses by 0.8 percent, and villas by 5.9 percent. Despite higher prices, the number of transactions increased in each category as well by 15 percent, 31 percent, and 40 percent, respectively.Read Also: Morocco to Install 550 New Speed Cameras to Reduce AccidentsQuarter on quarter in 2018, the IPAI rose by around 0.3 percent, in turn causing the amount of transactions to increase by 11 percent. However, in the fourth quarter, the IPAI fell by 0.4 percent. Over the year, within cities, residential prices increased by 0.7 percent and agricultural land prices rose by 2.9 percent. However, the prices of land within the commercial sector fell by 17.4 percent.In Casablanca, residential prices fell by 0.4 percent and land prices fell by 3.2 percent. There was an increase in prices of commercial assets by 6.2 percent, and overall, sales grew by 7.4 percent.In Tangier, prices increased by 0.8 percent for residential real estate, 0.9 percent for agricultural land, and 3.4 percent for commercial land use. Attributed to an increase in apartment transactions, sales increased by 8.5 percent.In Marrakech, prices increased by 1.1 percent for residential assets and declined by 0.5 and 2.0 percent, respectively, for agricultural land and commercial land. Correlating with an increase in land sales, transactions in the region increased by 19 percent over 2018. read more

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12 Oct
2019

EU agrees terms for limited trade talks with US

BRUSSELS — European Union countries have approved the conditions for negotiating a new and strictly limited trade deal with the United Sates, paving the way for talks to begin.EU headquarters said Monday that the agreement will focus on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods only, and would not include agricultural products despite U.S. demands they be on the table.European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met President Donald Trump last July to head off a looming trans-Atlantic trade war after Trump slapped tariffs on imports of EU steel and aluminum.EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom welcomed the agreement, saying: “We are now ready to move ahead into the next phase of EU-U.S. relations.”Malmstrom says this is separate from a previous trade negotiation, known as TTIP, which is officially “in the freezer.”The Associated Press read more

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12 Oct
2019

Trump administration seeks to boost Opportunity Zones

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is proposing new regulations aimed at making it easier for investors to take advantage of tax breaks for investing in ‘Opportunity Zones’ in low-income areas.The proposed regulations issued by the Treasury Department seek to clear up questions that were keeping some investors from using the tax incentives.President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House conference to promote the program, says that governors in all 50 states and U.S. territories had designated 8,700 neighbourhoods as Opportunity Zones, making these economically depressed areas eligible to be used for the federal tax incentives.“Nobody thought it was going to catch on like it’s caught on,” Trump says.The program was included in the $1.5 trillion tax cut legislation that Trump pushed through Congress in 2017.Martin Crutsinger And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press read more

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12 Oct
2019

Butchers in the Border City of Oujda Face an Uncertain Future

Rabat – In the border city of Oujda, Morocco, butchers have passed down their trade, from father to son, for decades. Once a center for trade between countries, Oujda is located less than 10 kilometers from neighboring Algeria. In the heart of Oujda’s medina sits a series of stalls where local butchers have gathered to ply their trade for generations. As the largest city in Eastern Morocco, Oujda’s market thrived, especially on weekends when shoppers travelled in from Algeria to stock up on goods. A butcher selling bones at the market in Oujda. More affluent customers feed the bones to their pets. Poorer customers use them to make stock to feed their children.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Ann SeymourThe closing of the border between Algeria and Morocco in 1994 shut down overland trade between the two countries, impacting the local economy. Since then, Oujda’s market relied in part on smuggled consumer goods to fulfill local demand. Butchers in Oujda’s meat market selling meat cut from whole carcasses. When business is slow, the butchers may not be able to afford to purchase full carcasses from the abattoir to sell at the market.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Ann Seymour“In the early 2000s, the black market trade carried on largely unabated,” said Professor of International Relations Anouar Boukhars. “The government, fearing unrest due to lingering high unemployment and poverty, continued to heavily subsidize commodities, maintaining the allure and incentives for border residents to smuggle.” A butcher stall at the meat market in Oujda’s medina. Some butchers, like Hassan on the left, have inherited their stalls from their fathers. Others rent them out from the owners, adding to the cost of running their business.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Ann SeymourWith the rise of Islamic extremist groups, drug trafficking in the Maghreb, and the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, Algerian and Moroccan authorities tightened border security and cracked down on smuggling.Customers linger at the butcher market in Oujda’s medina. Locals said the market attracts far fewer shoppers than in years past.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Ann SeymourThe black market dried up and Oujda’s economy continued to suffer. The butchers said the once bustling medina now barely provides them with enough income to support their families. These men, some of whom are third generation butchers, said they are encouraging their children to learn new skills instead of following in the footsteps of their fathers.Aziz, who has worked as a butcher in Oujda for over 20 years, says he is still struggling to pay back the debts he accrued when he was out of work for a week from a back injury months ago. He says he encourages his young children to study a new trade in school.Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Ann SeymourWith economic prospects in decline, the butchers of Oujda see themselves as the last generation in their families to carry on their family trade. read more

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12 Oct
2019

Malaysia should boost education through strengthened human rights UN expert

The Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, visited Malaysia from 5 to 14 February, and attended 40 meetings in the capital of Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bharu, both in Peninsular Malaysia, and Kuching across the South China Sea on the island of Borneo. He held consultations with over 150 people, ranging from Government officials, teachers, students, parents, trade union representatives to civil society groups. Upon concluding his official visit, Mr. Villalobos pointed out that there is a disparity between the Government’s level of investment in education and the institutionalization of human rights. He praised Malaysia’s stated target of creating a “world class” education system, but said that there is a corresponding need to “need to strengthen educational institutions which will permit the mainstreaming of human rights in all aspects of national life.” To this end, the Special Rapporteur recommended that Malaysia ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), two UN treaties based on the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr. Villalobos also said the Government should adjust its laws pertaining to education to conform to international standards. He expressed concern that a law exists which curtails university students’ right to freedom of association and expression, among other civil and political rights, and asserted that this law should be revoked. The expert was informed by students and teachers that corporal punishment in schools is a common practice. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which expressly bans the measure in schools, Malaysia must take stronger measures to eradiate the practice, he said. Three groups, the Bumiputera, Chinese and Indians, comprise the Malaysian population, yet the groups do not have equal access to education. For example, according to several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), despite a surge in the Chinese population in the last few decades, they are serviced by proportionately fewer state schools. The schoolchildren of the country’s indigenous populations such as the Iban community have encountered numerous roadblocks – including limited access to higher education and inferior schools – in their attempt to realize their right to education. To ameliorate this situation, Mr. Villalobos recommended the creation of a department within the Ministry of Education which would oversee the educational needs of indigenous peoples. Despite almost reaching gender parity in school enrolment, he said that the Malaysia must enhance educational policies in regards to the rights of women through “affirmative action” which would in turn invigorate the labour market and economy as a whole. To reach this goal, he recommends that teachers be trained in gender studies and human rights. A 2005 joint study by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that in recent years, the number of students in tertiary or higher education has almost tripled in Malaysia, thanks in large part to the 30 per cent boost in spending by the Government on education. Citing the Malaysia’s diverse population as its greatest assets “to general good educational practices,” the Rapporteur stated his belief that the country “has the resources it needs to respond creatively and comprehensively to all the challenges it faces.” 20 February 2007Malaysia should bolster its education system and human rights mechanisms simultaneously, a United Nations expert has said following extensive consultations in the country, which he praised for its efforts to provide “world-class” schooling. read more

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12 Oct
2019

Closure of Gaza crossings draws concern from Ban Kimoon

13 July 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for all crossings into the Gaza Strip to be re-opened to allow humanitarian supplies, relief workers and commercial goods to pass through, voicing increasing concern over the territory’s deteriorating economic situation. “The continued restrictions on Gaza will have a severe humanitarian impact and can only cause further suffering to the people there,” Mr. Ban said in a statement released by his spokesperson.UN humanitarian officials warned earlier this week that the restrictions are threatening the economically sustainability of the territory, where more than 1.4 million live in a 360-square-kilometre area.In today’s statement, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson cited new World Bank figures showing that, in the last month alone, the closing of nearly 3,200 businesses in Gaza has left over 65,000 people unemployed.“If what is left of Gaza’s economy is allowed to collapse, poverty levels, already affecting an estimated two-thirds of households, will rise further and the people of Gaza will become near totally aid-dependent,” the statement added.Mr. Ban is calling for the Karni crossing to be opened immediately to allow commercial imports and exports to pass through, as well as the Rafah crossing, so that over 4,000 Palestinians stranded in Egypt can re-enter Gaza.In a related development, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) working for Palestine refugees called today for aid to be rushed to Gaza.“The violence in Gaza, coupled with the tight closures, has led to a deteriorating humanitarian situation,” the agency’s Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd said at a meeting in Cairo with Amr Musa, the Arab League’s Secretary General.“We have identified nearly $30 million worth of emergency projects for which we need urgent funding and I make a special appeal to Arab donors to contribute,” she said, adding that almost half of the money will be put towards job creation initiatives while the rest will fund assistance programmes and shelter repair and reconstruction.Ms. AbuZayd noted that high unemployment and poverty rates – 36 per cent and nearly 90 per cent, respectively – reflect Gaza’s economic deterioration.UNRWA will provide employment opportunities, creating approximately 640,000 days of work in the agency’s facilities as well as with community-based organizations and the private sector, to assist the most needy refugee families in the area.The agency also appealed for almost $8 million for emergency cash assistance to allow refugees to meet basic needs and to bolster food aid, as well as for $9 million for shelter repair and reconstruction.“People are living in dire conditions,” the Commissioner General said. “The recent violence has damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings and there is an urgent need to have these repaired.” read more

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12 Oct
2019

UN Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond spotlights problem of human trafficking

A Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ormond told a press briefing on Thursday that the problem is not widely understood. Although trafficking is chronic in South East Asia, much of Africa and the Indo-European areas, human trafficking is “something that is in all countries and in most trades [and] is the largest growing global crime,” said Ms. Ormond.“The problem is bigger, is more widely spread and is more violent than commonly thought,” echoed Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNODC.In response, legislation needs to be carried out not only by developing countries from where victims originate, but also by developed countries from where a majority of demand stems, he said.Ms. Ormond urged UN Member States to devote more resources to addressing the scourge, which she said is linked to the problem of terrorism.Because “it’s enormously profitable… terrorists are using trafficking as a financial resource…the same people who do trafficking in drugs and weapons do trafficking in people,” she said.Pointing out that human trafficking “undermines States and transcends national situations,” British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said countries have a “moral imperative” to fight it.All three participants at the briefing called for measures improving education, fighting poverty, and striving to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to deal with the root causes of trafficking.There must be solidarity and avoidance of shaming particular countries, Ms. Ormond emphasized. “None of us have done enough.”Although more and more governments are acknowledging the reality of the situation in their own countries, Dr. Costa added that “we can all do more.” 20 July 2007United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and renowned actress Julia Ormond has called for global efforts to combat human trafficking, highlighting the need to address the root causes that drive the problem. read more

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12 Oct
2019

UN reiterates call on Guatemala to back proposed body to probe armed

31 July 2007The United Nations today reiterated its call on Guatemala to “seize this opportunity” to set up a proposed independent body to investigate illegal armed groups in the Central American country on the eve of a vote in the national legislature tomorrow. A UN commissioner and experts would work with Guatemalan prosecutors to combat organized crime and impunity as part of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (to be known as CICIG, its Spanish acronym). The Commission will have an initial mandate of two years under the proposal.Speaking to reporters, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe reiterated a statement by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month urging Guatemala to take the opportunity “to use international assistance to strengthen its national judicial institutions in the fight against impunity in a way that is fully respectful of Guatemalan sovereignty.”Ms. Okabe added that the UN was committed to doing everything it could to make CICIG a success.The Commission will be able to conduct its own investigations and also help local institutions, particularly the Office of the Public Prosecutor. While it will be an independent, non-UN body, its commissioner will be appointed by the Secretary-General and report periodically to him. One of its tasks is to recommend public policies and any legal or institutional measures for eradicating the illegal armed groups and preventing their re-emergence. The costs are expected to be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community. read more

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12 Oct
2019

UN agencies assist thousands affected by Georgian conflict

11 August 2008United Nations agencies have begun providing emergency aid to thousands of people affected by the escalating conflict in Georgia, as a senior UN official told the Security Council today that Russian forces have now entered Georgian areas outside the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The World Food Programme (WFP) said it has begun providing critical humanitarian aid to more than 2,000 people displaced by the violence in South Ossetia, where the fighting first erupted last week. In response to a request from the Georgian Government, WFP distributed a 10-day food ration to more than 1,900 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in shelters in the capital, Tbilisi, with more distributions taking place today. “The number of people in need of our help is rising by the hour,” said WFP Georgia Country Director Lola Castro, adding that so far, 2,750 IDPs had been registered in Tbilisi alone. Many more people were living with relatives or in unofficial shelters. WFP said today’s distributions are mainly targeted at people outside the capital. However, access to them is restricted by continuing Russian air raids, making it extremely dangerous for WFP staff trying to reach them. In addition to food aid, the agency is also offering its logistical support to other humanitarian organisations.Heavy fighting began on Thursday night between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, leading to a large number of casualties and the displacement of thousands. Russian forces have since become involved in that region, and in Abkhazia in the northwest, where a UN observer mission (UNOMIG) monitors a separate 1994 ceasefire accord.The crisis has led to an international outcry from senior UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has voiced grave concern at the mounting humanitarian toll and called for an immediate end to the fighting. Mr. Ban has discussed the issue over the past few days with European Union High Representative Javier Solana, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The violence has also prompted the Security Council to meet five times since Friday morning. At a closed-door meeting today, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed Council members on the latest developments.Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said Mr. Mulet informed the meeting that Russian troops had entered areas of Georgia outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia.WFP reports that tens of thousands of people have fled South Ossetia over the past four days, most of them to other parts of Georgia. Russia says about 30,000 people have crossed the border into neighbouring North Ossetia, Russia, where the Government says it will take care of the humanitarian needs. A joint assessment carried out on Sunday by WFP and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Gori, which has also been affected by the conflict, found the Georgian town – with a population of about 40,000 – to be almost deserted. Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, today welcomed reports that two humanitarian corridors out of South Ossetia – one reportedly to North Ossetia and one to the south to Georgia proper – will be established for civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict. Mr. Guterres said humanitarian access and safe passage for uprooted civilians and the aid workers trying to help them was now crucial. “The conflict has caused civilian casualties and more are at risk,” he said. “Many people need help and many are seeking safety elsewhere. It is essential that humanitarian agencies be able to reach the affected and the displaced, and that those trapped in conflict areas be granted passage to safer areas as soon as possible.” The number of IDPs is expected to rise to as many as 20,000, according to UNHCR, while about 5,000 South Ossetians have already fled to the neighbouring North Ossetia-Alania region.UNHCR, which has an office in the North Ossetian city of Vladikavkaz, said it stands ready to provide humanitarian support should Russian authorities request it. The agency has some aid stockpiles in both Georgia and Russia.Some 300 of the most vulnerable new arrivals from South Ossetia, including women and children, were transferred over the weekend from Gori to safer quarters near Tbilisi, where they received immediate assistance from UNHCR, WFP and other humanitarian agencies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is also working closely with UN agencies on the ground, assessing the situation and immediate needs. The agency added its voice to those calling for an immediate end to hostilities and appealed to all parties to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians, particularly women and children. read more

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12 Oct
2019

UN agency monitors mass expulsion of Congolese living in Angola

UNFPA said yesterday that it had launched a joint project with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas Congo to monitor the movements of the expelled population. A contingency plan to help the affected Congolese as they return to their homeland is also being prepared by the humanitarian community.Nationals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), many of whom have lived and worked – often illegally – in neighbouring Angola for years, have been expelled by Angolan authorities in large numbers since late 2003.Since the current wave of expulsions began in late May this year, around 85,000 people have been sent over the border, mainly to Kasaï Occidental and Bandundu provinces in the DRC. This figure includes over 20,000 Congolese in the past month.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that there is insufficient infrastructure in the returning areas of the DRC to handle the sudden influx. It added that another 80,000 Congolese may be affected in the coming months. 22 August 2008The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is probing the mass expulsion of Congolese nationals from northern Angola, with as many as 85,000 people being forced across the border by authorities in the past three months alone. read more

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12 Oct
2019

Assembly President terms Doha call for aid to developing countries remarkable

“It was also agreed that the United Nations is the uniquely representative forum where major changes in the international financial and monetary architecture can be discussed to make the system more stable and equitable,” Mr. D´Escoto said in a statement issued by his spokesman.He stressed that the declaration issued at the end of the meeting in Doha, Qatar, called for the convening of an inclusive international conference under the General Assembly President to review the international financial and monetary architecture.“This key meeting should take place in the first half of 2009,” he said. “Doha marks the last rites of the so-called Washington Consensus and represents a call to greatly expand the narrow representation of institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he added, referring to the 10-point reform agenda for international financial institutions adopted in 1989.“It is now very clear that the confluence of crises affects all countries and the G-192 [the total UN membership] must be involved in finding the global solutions that meet every country’s needs and concerns, not just the traditionally dominant interests of groups like the [industrialized] G-8 or, more recently, the G-20 [that includes both industrialized countries and emerging economies].”The four-day Doha meeting ended on 2 December with a declaration in which nations affirmed that the commitment made at the 2002 global partnership agreement for development in Monterrey, Mexico, for developed countries to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to official development aid (ODA) must be maintained, despite the current financial crisis.“The Doha consensus sets the basis for an inclusive, democratic and transparent process to rebuild trust of all nations in the international financial, monetary and trade institutions,” Mr. D’Escoto said. “Only with the participation of all nations can we ensure that these policies truly benefit all people, especially the most vulnerable and poorest among us.” 5 December 2008United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D´Escoto today hailed the outcome of the recent Doha global finance meeting as “remarkable,” noting that it urged donor States to maintain their aid commitments to developing countries despite the global economic crisis. read more

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