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China faces ‘tentative’ ultimatum on blacklisting Masood Azhar

WASHINGTON, April 13: The United States, France and the United Kingdom are reported to have posted a deadline for China to lift its hold on their proposal for a UN Security Council body to blacklist Masood Azhar, founder of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, which has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in February.

The three powers want China to allow the UNSC designation of Azhar “tentatively” by April 23, or they will move to the next step by moving a formal resolution for discussion, vote and passage at the UNSC, according to a report, which could not be verified independently.

In response to a request for comment, the United States said, “We decline to comment”. A response was awaited from the permanent mission of France, which had taken the lead in introducing the fourth proposal yet to designate the JeM terrorist. The US and the UK jointly sponsored the proposal.

Moved before the 1267 sanctions committee of the UN Security Council after Pulwama, the proposal stalled after a technical hold was put on it by China, which blocked all three previous attempts acting on behalf of Azhar’s host country Pakistan. Under the rules, China could keep the hold in place for six months and then three more.

But, out of patience, the US, the UK and France are determined to force China’s hand this time by going around the sanctions committee, whose opaque operational rules of confidentiality and anonymity allowed China to block the designation without explaining its reasons or taking responsibility for it.

The three powers moved a draft resolution before the Security Council late last month to trigger “informal discussions” on the designation with the understanding amongst themselves that China cannot be allowed to take forever to decide. It had a choice now: relent, or protect a terrorist from designation in full view of the world.

Beijing bristled at being pushed and complained the three powers were setting a bad precedent by going around the sanction committee. But it was met with even more determination and resolve.

The United States said it was prepared to “utilize all available resources” to blacklist Azhar.

Discussions have been on since. And Beijing has claimed it is working hard to resolve the issue. Some progress has been reported indeed but the US, the UK and France and India, which is not a member of the UNSC, are unwilling to let Beijing “run the clock” on it, as it has done before.

The next stage of the plan put into motion by the three powers after China put the hold early March was to move a formal resolution before the

and seek an open debate and vote, in a rare move to blacklist a man whose outfit was designated a terrorist organization in 2001.

There has been no reaction from China yet to the reported ultimatum.

China against US move at UNSC to blacklist Masood Azhar

UNITED NATIONS, March 28: China on Thursday accused the US of undermining the authority of the UN anti-terror committee by "forcefully moving" a resolution at the UN Security Council to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. America's move only "complicates" the issue, said Beijing, which was seen as a hint by many that China would continue to block the move.

The US, supported by France and the UK, has moved a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to blacklist the Pakistan-based terror group's chief, two weeks after China put a hold on a proposal to list Masood Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing: "This is not in line with resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations. This has reduced the authority of the committee as a main anti-terrorism body of the UNSC and this is not conducive to the solidarity and only complicates the issue. We urge the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving forward this resolution draft."

The US has circulated a resolution - drafted with British and French support - to the 15-member council that will designate JeM leader Masood Azhar, subjecting him to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze.

JeM has claimed responsibility for a February 14 attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama that killed at least 40 CRPF personnel, making it the deadliest in Kashmir during a 30-year-long insurgency.

The United States, Britain and France initially asked the Security Council's ISIS and al Qaeda sanctions committee, which operates by consensus, to blacklist Masood Azhar. However, China prevented the move.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China had conducted a "comprehensive and thorough evaluation" but still needed more time to consider the proposal. China had previously prevented the committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.

JeM was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2001. In December 2001, Jaish fighters, along with members of another Pakistan-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, attacked India's parliament, which almost led to a fourth war between the two countries.

US move to blacklist Masood Azhar at UN

UNITED NATIONS, March 28: The United States, Britain and France stepped up a push for the United Nations Security Council to blacklist the head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on Wednesday after China prevented an earlier move two weeks ago.

The United States circulated a resolution - drafted with British and French support - to the 15-member council that would designate JeM chief Masood Azhar, subjecting him to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, diplomats said.

JeM said it was responsible for a February 14 attack that killed at least 40 CRPF soldiers, making it the deadliest in Kashmir in 30 years, increased tensions between Pakistan and India. The nuclear-armed neighbours both said they had shot down each other’s fighter jets last month.

The United States, Britain and France initially asked the Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee, which operates by consensus, to blacklist Azhar. However, China prevented the move.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China had conducted a “comprehensive and thorough evaluation” but still needed more time to consider the proposal. China had previously prevented the committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.

Instead of consensus, a resolution only needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by China, Russia, the United States, France or Britain to pass. It was not immediately clear when the draft resolution to designate Azhar could be put to a vote.

The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the draft text.

JeM is a primarily anti-India group that forged ties with al Qaeda and was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2001. In December 2001, Jaish fighters, along with members of another Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, attacked India’s parliament, which almost led to a fourth war between the two countries.

1 million children affected by Cyclone Idai, floods in Mozambique

By Deepak Arora

NEW YORK, March 23: We are in a race against time to help and protect children in the disaster-ravaged areas of Mozambique, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said at the end of a visit to Beira, one of the areas worst affected by Cyclone Adai.

According to initial government estimates, 1.8 million people across the country, including 900,000 children, have been affected by the cyclone which slammed into the country last week. However, many areas are still not accessible and UNICEF and partners on the ground know that the final numbers will be much higher.

“The situation will get worse before it gets better,” Fore said. “Aid agencies are barely beginning to see the scale of the damage. Entire villages have been submerged, buildings have been flattened, and schools and health care centers have been destroyed. While the search and rescue operations continue, it is critical that we take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases which can turn this disaster into a major catastrophe.”

UNICEF is concerned that flooding, combined with overcrowded conditions in shelters, poor hygiene, stagnant water and infected water sources, is putting them at risk of diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhoea.

Initial assessments in Beira indicate that more than 2,600 classrooms have been destroyed and 39 health centers impacted. At least 11,000 houses have been totally destroyed. “This will have serious consequences on children’s education, access to health services, and mental wellbeing,” Fore said.

In Beira, Fore visited a school which had turned into a shelter for displaced families. Classrooms were converted into overcrowded bedrooms with limited access to water and sanitation.

“We are particularly concerned about the safety and well-being of women and children who are still waiting to be rescued or are crammed in temporary shelters and at risk of violence and abuse,” Fore said. “We are also concerned about children who were orphaned by the cyclone or became separated from their parents in the chaos that followed.”

Fore also visited a UNICEF warehouse which was severely damaged in the cyclone, causing the loss of essential supplies that had been pre-positioned before the cyclone made landfall.

Cyclone Idai started as a tropical depression in Malawi, where it forced families from their homes into churches, schools and public buildings. Nearly half a million children are affected. After Mozambique, the cyclone moved to Zimbabwe where it caused significant damage to schools and water systems.

“For children affected by Cyclone Idai, the road to recovery will be long,” Fore said. “They will need to regain access to health, education, water and sanitation. And they will need to heal from the deep trauma they have just experienced. UNICEF teams are on the ground in the three countries helping children learn, play and heal, but our resources are overstretched. We will initially need $30 million in the first stage of the response and look to our public and private donors to be generous to the thousands of children and families who need support.”

China Blocks Move To Blacklist Masood Azhar As Global Terrorist Again in UNSC

UNITED NATIONS, March 13: : China on Wednesday once again blocked the proposal to blacklist Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist" by the UN Security Council by placing a "technical hold" on it.

The proposal was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after the Pulwama terror attack that increased tensions between Pakistan and India.

The listing would have put strict restrictions on Azhar, including the seizure of his assets.

In its first response, India said it was "disappointed" with the outcome but stopped short of naming China.

Members of the United Nations Security Council Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal moved by France, the UK and the US. The no-objection period deadline was set to end at 3 pm local time (New York) Wednesday (12:30am IST Thursday).

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and a self-described "all-weather ally" of Pakistan, has blocked India's proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee in 2009 and 2016. In 2017, Beijing also blocked a move by the US, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

Multilateralism must be people-driven

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, March 12: Multilateralism must be people-driven. The current rise of populism around the world is inextricably linked to a feeling of being excluded and kept out of decision-making processes broadly shared by ordinary people. These were the main conclusions of a joint event between the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue and the UNOG Library entitled Leadership in Modern Multilateralism. The debate was held on Tuesay at the United Nations Office in Geneva in the Library Events Room at Palais Des Nations.

At a time when the UN and other international organizations in Geneva are actively celebrating “100 years Anniversary of Multilateral Diplomacy in Geneva” to mark the Centenary of the founding of the League of Nations, multilateralism is under important strain. The effectiveness of global institutions and of global policymaking is constantly questioned whilst alliances are fraying. Against this background, the timely debate co-organized by the UNOG Library and the Geneva Centre discussed multilateralism as the most logical approach to the challenges the world is facing in our time of fast-paced globalisation. The panellists explored the principles and ideas underpinning multilateralism against a complex background of climate change, the rise of technology and the future of the global economy.

Often, in times of transition, drawing lessons from the past is a good way to find solutions and inspiration for the way forward. In this vein, the Geneva Centre and UNOG Library proposed an interactive discussion in light of the legacy of two great figures of multilateralism - Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Maurice F. Strong, as depicted in two publications issued by the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD) in 2018, entitled Remembering Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Remembering Maurice F. Strong respectively. The panel underscored the role of these eminent persons who shaped international affairs and discussed the changes in the nature of leadership in the 21st century, with the rise of modern multilateralism.

A book signing with Roberto Savio, coordinator of the publications, journalist; President Emeritus of Inter Press Service (IPS) and Chairman of IPS Board of Trustees, was arranged after the debate.

In his welcome remarks, Michael Møller, Director-General of United Nations Geneva, highlighted that, despite enduring grave challenges like climate change, pervasive inequality, health issues and ongoing conflict, the world is however in an overall better situation today than at any time in history.

Møller underscored that multilateralism was at a crossroad today. According to the Director General of UNOG, it was imperative to address the crisis of confidence affecting international institutions, and to better define the roles of International Organizations, of Nation-States, of the private sector and of Civil Society Organizations in the leadership of multilateralism.

Møller concluded his remarks by quoting Kofi Annan: “Whether our task is fighting poverty, stemming the spread of disease or saving innocent lives from mass murder, we have seen that we cannot succeed without the leadership of the strong and the engagement of all.”

The discussion benefited from the participation of the following experts:

Roberto Savio, Author; Journalist, President Emeritus of Inter Press Service (IPS) and Chairman of IPS Board of Trustees; Prof. Thomas Biersteker, Professor of International Security and Director of Policy Research, Graduate Institute; Ms. Hala Hameed, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva.

Ms. Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the Division of Conference Management at United Nations Office Geneva moderated the debate.

The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, delivered introductory remarks. Ambassador Jazairy reviewed the evolution of post-WWII multilateralism, taking the UN as an example. Ambassador Jazairy carried out this review through the prism of his own experience as an Algerian diplomat and Head of a UN specialized agency.

In this regard he also paid special tribute to former Executive Director of UNICEF, Jim Grant, who designated his Ambassador Audrey Hepburn to read the outcome document of the World Summit on the Economic Advancement of Rural Women, which Ambassador Jazairy organized as President of IFAD in Geneva, in February 1992 in the presence of Boutros-Ghali, with the involvement of 64 First Ladies and 20 Cabinet Ministers. The Summit was chaired by Queen Fabiola of Belgium.

Ambassador Jazairy emphasized that, whilst the multilateral climate in the 1970s was dominated by a cooperative spirit, the climate changed significantly afterwards. The Director of the Geneva Centre further discussed the concept of “Responsibility to protect” or R2P and the misuses that led to this concept being manipulated into a tool for externally imposed regime change. In this regard, he underlined that the “weaponization of humanitarianism was a wanton outgrowth of the responsibility to protect.”

Finally, Ambassador Jazairy insisted on the importance of understanding that multilateralism had to be people-driven. He noted that the current rise of populism around the world was inextricably linked to a feeling of being excluded of decision-making processes shared by ordinary people. As such, the Director of the Geneva Centre emphasized that the solutions for tomorrow’s multilateralism lay in, on the one hand, “breaking the logjam on Security Council reform”, and on the other hand, in empowering citizens worldwide, by involving credible civil society actors headquartered in the South as well as in the North.

Roberto Savio echoed Ambassador Jazairy in saluting the three heroes of multilateralism, Jim Grant, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Maurice F Strong, that in the 1980s, multilateralism went into crisis. He spoke of the legacy of Jim Grant who had saved millions of children from death and remained, however, largely unknown. Furthermore, according to Savio, Maurice Strong had been, throughout his career, mixing his abilities of management of private enterprises and his visionary skills as a UN leader. He saluted his pioneering engagement for the environment and the climate, and his crucial role in the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment, which initiated an inclusive process on environment that continued in Kyoto and Paris.

Furthermore, Savio reiterated that it was imperative that all countries accepted other countries’ right to an equal voice in international fora. In this sense, he remarked that the multilateral climate had suffered a change of direction that exacerbated inequality and opened the way to nationalist, populist and extremist political movements. He noted that “The two engines of history are greed and fear”.

Ms. Hala Hameed remarked that for a small country like the Republic of Maldives, multilateralism is an essential tool to ensure cooperation, to work jointly on peace, security, economic partnerships, as well as to promote and to protect human rights. According to Ambassador Hameed, small countries could gain a voice in the international arena only through multilateral cooperation.

In this regard, the Ambassador & Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives remarked that the Maldives had been very involved in the work of the UN Human Rights Council and particularly in the creation of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

Ambassador Hameed remarked that the Maldives, immediately after obtaining independence in 1965, became a member of the UN. She further emphasized the importance of dialogue for leaders in multilateralism, particularly for small countries, who needed to be persistent and to use diplomatic channels, both formal and increasingly, informal ones, in order to bring to the agenda matters that concern them.

Prof. Thomas Biersteker presented multilateralism today as a crisscross of formal intergovernmental organizations, informal intergovernmental organizations and transnational or trans-governmental institutions, the latter having known an exponential rise over the years. Whilst formal governance was driven by member states, based on international treaties, and grounded in domestic law, the world was witnessing, according to Professor Biersteker, the emergence of a “new governance”.

Professor Biersteker concluded that, whilst the first type of formal multilateral structures remained crucial, as it lies at the very foundation of multilateralism, it was important to acknowledge and work with the emerging informal networks and forms of government.

Professor Biersteker remarked that the world today was not necessarily lacking good leaders. He noted that new leaders were emerging among pioneers such as Malala Yousafzai or the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Referring to the characteristics that leaders today should have, he highlighted flexibility, including seeing the possibility of all forms of governance and operating simultaneously in formal and informal initiatives; as well as the capacity of listening to others.

During the ensuing Q&A session, a representative of UN Youth underlined the importance of participatory processes in multilateralism and of understanding the value of collective leadership versus traditional leadership, of connected networks instead of hierarchies, and of collaborative processes instead of top down approaches. Another member of the public underlined the importance of inclusive multilateralism and highlighted the need to bring more women leaders to the forefront of multilateral institutions and processes.

Empowering more women decision-makers essential: UN Chief Guterres

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, March 8: Under the theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, the United Nations hosted its flagship event celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday to recognize unsung women from across the world, and encourage innovation to transform lives.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the event by enumerating some of the world’s collective challenges, “from climate change…to the weakening of commitment to multilateralism,” stressing that “gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to addressing each of these”.

“We can only re-establish trust and rebuild global solidarity by challenging historic injustices and promoting the rights and dignity of all”, he maintained. “We can only achieve sustainable development and peace by drawing on all our assets and capacities.”

“Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power” he stated, saying that a still male-dominated world has “ignored, silenced and oppressed women for centuries – even millennia”.

Despite women’s achievements and successes, their voices are still routinely overlooked, and their opinions ignored, with everyone paying the price for inequality and oppression.

“Increasing the number of women decision-makers is essential”, Mr. Guterres remarked, adding that the UN has reached gender parity among its leaders around the world.

General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés told the event that she had mixed feelings about the Day.

“On the one hand, it is important that we celebrate the gains we have made”, she said, noting that Barbados, Ethiopia, Georgia, Romania and Trinidad and Tobago welcomed their first female leaders last year and, among other firsts, Uruguay saw its first conviction for femicide.

However, she regretted that nearly four decades after the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted and some 25 years after the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, “we are still not even close to equal”.

On pretty much any measure of development, women are behind, she said. “Every woman and girl knows that her lived reality is very different to that of her father or brother” Ms. Espinosa said, adding: These statistics are shocking”.

Noting that just 11 years remain to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, she spelled out: “We desperately need to close the gender education gap and get more women into science and technology”.

In a bid to push women forward, she encouraged the support of grassroots organization, “to take the fight into our communities and into the corridors of power”. To boost the number and diversity of women in leadership positions, on 12 March she will convene a high-level event on “Women in Power”.

Ms. Espinosa concluded her address by recalling “Audre Lorde’s powerful words: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’”

The Chair of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Geraldine Byrne Nason, recalled the early days of the UN, when “women were few and far between”.

“It took us quite some time for our voices to be heard and for our messages to register”, she stated, but today “we are sitting centre-stage and we have absolutely no plans to lower the volume”.

“Women are not simply consumers of prescribed solutions, they also design solutions for whole societies and they are equipped to address the issues that affect their lives”, she told the group.

She said her equality and empowerment agency was “injecting the gender lens in the DNA of innovation” adding: “Women and girls have a vital role to play in the fourth industrial revolution, shaping the policies, services and infrastructures that affect their lives."

Delivering the keynote speech, former Director of the Johnson Space Centre in the United States, Ellen Ochoa - the first female Latina astronaut - credits her education in science with propelling her into four outer space missions.

She said her mother had been a role-model who took one college course each semester for 20 years to earn her bachelor’s degree, underscoring to her family, the importance of education. Ms. Ochoa herself emphasized that it was essential that girls study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as STEM.

“Engineering, development and innovation is about curiosity, creativity, working with teams and solving problems,” she explained, saying “Girls love to do those things!”

But describing the uphill struggle for women to be admitted to astronaut training programmes, she credited activists working tirelessly to change the laws, adding that she was pleased now to serve as a role model for “girls around the world who are dreaming big dreams”.

UN rejects Hafiz Saeed’s plea on removal from terror list

March 7: The UN has rejected a petition by Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), to be removed from a list of sanctioned terrorists, with authorities concluding that he wasn’t able to prove he did not pose a threat to other countries.

The move comes days before the March 13 deadline for objections to a fresh move by France, the US and Britain to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, another Pakistan-based terrorist, at the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The UN has already designated JeM a terrorist organisation. Saeed, who currently heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) that was banned by Pakistan on Tuesday, petitioned the UN in 2017. He was listed on December 10, 2008 by the UN Security Council after a terror attack in Mumbai by a group of LeT operatives claimed 166 lives.

After he filed his petition through the Lahore-based law firm Mirza and Mirza, it was taken up by Daniel Kipfer Fasciati, the ombudsman for the UN sanctions committee. The UN conveyed its decision to Saeed’s lawyer Haider Rasul Mirza on Wednesay. Saeed’s lawyer contended his client was not found guilty by any Pakistani court, but the ombudsman concluded this was insufficient to conclude the JuD chief didn’t represent a terrorist threat to other countries.

The ombudsman’s report, noted, “From the reasonable decision by the Pakistani judiciary to lift the petitioner’s [Saeed] house arrest, the petitioner can only [say] that he does not represent a security or terrorist threat to Pakistan…”

It added, “The Pakistani court only had this question before it. The court did not pronounce itself – and in fact, neither should nor could pronounce itself – on whether the petitioner could pose a terrorist threat outside Pakistan. But if any, the latter seems to be the case.

The petitioner cannot deduce anything else from this other than the judicial exclusion of him posing a terror threat to Pakistan…” The report was also categorical that Saeed’s “argument of dissociation with LeT was not credible”. The report concluded, “He [Saeed] will continue as a listed individual.”

“The ombudsman’s report was endorsed by the UN sanctions committee,” an Indian official said on condition of anonymity. He added the ombudsman and the sanctions committee also “concluded Saeed was still the chief of the JuD, even after its ban”.

The US, Britain, France, Afghanistan and India opposed Saeed’s delisting in separate submissions. India has handed over to Pakistan several dossiers detailing the role of Saeed and LeT in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistan has responded by saying he had been cleared by Pakistani courts and that India needs to provide more evidence.

Officials said Pakistan, where Saeed lives and operates freely, did not oppose his petition and also refused to cooperate with the ombudsman’s office and to grant visas to a UN team to visit the country to question the JuD chief. The ombudsman conducted a video teleconference with Saeed through an interpreter.

The report said, “Interviews undertaken by video-conference restrict the ombudsperson’s holistic observation of the petitioner regarding important indices of credibility, such as body language, tone, facial expression and the like. Should a similar situation of non-issuance of visas emerge in the future…I will request the Committee to authorise travel ban and asset freeze exemptions to enable the petitioner to be interviewed in a third country.”

Islamabad’s silence was clearly not a sign of its opposition to Saeed’s delisting — “else they would have said so in writing as India and the others” — but one of acquiescence with his petition, officials said. “All this happened on the watch of the current government,” said a person, adding, “Imran Khan’s new Pakistan is no different from the old Pakistan.”

At the time of Saeed’s listing, the UN Security Council said he was involved in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating the activities of LeT and al-Qaeda. It added he was trained in Afghanistan and had been in touch with Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The US, which has offered a bounty of $10 million for Saeed, had warned Pakistan of “repercussions” after he was released from house arrest in 2017.

4 million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, March 6: The UN is calling for some $120 million to provide life-saving humanitarian aid, desperately needed by 3.8 million North Koreans, as it releases its 2019 Needs and Priorities Plan for the country.

Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities are prioritized in the plan: 90 per cent of nutritional aid, and 92 per cent of health assistance, go to children under five years old and women.

In a statement published on Wednesday, Tapan Mishra, UN Resident Coordinator in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the country is officially known, expressed particular concern over the fact that food production in the country dropped by almost 10 per cent between 2017 and 2018 – the lowest production in more than a decade – resulting in a significant food gap.

Arguing for adequate funding, the Resident Coordinator said that “the time to act is now,” in order to prevent a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in DPRK. Overall, some 11 million people in the country are not getting enough nutritious food, clean drinking water or access to basic services like health and sanitation, and one in five children are stunted due to chronic undernutrition.

Mishra said that, despite these alarming facts, humanitarian activities in DPRK are “critically underfunded.” Last year, barely a quarter of the requested $111 million was provided by donors, which meant that an estimated 1.4 million people went without the food they needed, and almost 800,000 people had not access to essential health services.

Because of the underfunding, many UN agencies have had to scale back their programmes, or even close projects that have served as a life-line for millions of people. Mishra described delays and challenges to programmes as “unintended consequences of sanctions,” which have a “real and tangible impact on the aid that we are able to provide to people who desperately need it.”

Mishra praised the generosity of those donors who have provided funding, noting the positive impact that humanitarian programmes are having on the lives of North Koreans; and the improved access and monitoring that agencies can engage in thanks to “continued, principled and robust engagement with the DPRK Government.”

The Resident Coordinator appealed to all potential donors and stakeholders to rise above political and security considerations, and prevent them from getting in the way of providing life-saving aid to the men, women, and children who need it the most, because “we simply cannot leave them behind.”

UNSC blacklists Osama bin Laden’s son

UNITED NATIONS, March 3: A UN security council committee added Hamza bin Laden, one of the sons of Osama bin Laden, to its list of terrorists on Friday, saying he is seen as the next leader of al Qaeda, the terrorist outfit founded by his father.

The UN designation, which came a day after the United States announced a reward of $1 million for information about his whereabout, will require UN member nations to freeze Hamza bin Laden’s assets, impose a travel ban on him and forbid them from selling arms to him.

In the announcement of the new designation, the UNSC committee said Hamza bin Laden is “seen as the most probable successor” of al Qaeda’s current head, Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian, who has run the group since Osama bin Laden was killed by American commandos in a raid on his hideout in Pakistan in May 2011.

The younger bin Laden is said to be around 30 or 33 years of age and is married to daughter of Mohammad Atta, leader of the al Qaeda group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Bin Laden has vowed to avenge his father’s death by attacking the United States and has repeatedly called for followers to target the US and its western allies.

He is said to be hiding in the region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Bin Laden’s listing was announced by the same 15-member UNSC committee that is currently considering a fourth proposal to designate Masood Azhar, the founder and leader of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad that carried out the recent Pulwama terrorist attack. China had blocked all three previous attempts.

 

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