New Delhi: Estranged partners McDonald’s and Vikram Bakshi Monday told the NCLAT that they are working towards an out-of-court settlement to end their over five-year-old dispute. Counsels for McDonald’s India Pvt Ltd and Vikram Bakshi told a two-member National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) bench, headed by Chairperson S J Mukhopadhyay, that they are trying to work out a settlement. The bench directed that either of the parties may file an affidavit including the terms of the settlement being arrived at on the next date of hearing on May 13. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra”… parties submit that they are negotiating for settlement but the impugned order may come in their way of settlement. In the facts and circumstances, we allow the parties to reach settlement uninfluenced by any of the order passed by the Tribunal or this Appellate Tribunal,” said NCLAT. The Tribunal also gave them additional time to file the affidavit. “Post both the appeals ‘for orders’ on 13th May, 2019 and earlier date (8th May) fixed stands modified,” it said. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysThe bench also said: “In the meantime, if any settlement is reached, any of the party may file affidavit giving the date of settlement.” McDonald’s and Bakshi in 1995 had signed a partnership agreement to open outlets of the US fast food chain in India. It was for a period of 25 years. The two partners had formed a 50:50 joint venture — Connaught Plaza Restaurant Ltd (CPRL) — which was responsible for outlets of the fast-food chain in the country’s northern and eastern regions through the franchise route. In 2017, McDonald’s terminated CPRL’s franchise agreement citing non-payment of royalties. A long-winding legal tussle and battle for control of the business ensued afterwards with Bakshi keeping around 165 McDonald’s branded outlets operational in northern and eastern regions of the country. In southern and western regions, McDonald’s outlets are run by Amit Jatia-led Westlife Development. In August 2017, McDonald’s had told the NCLAT that settlement of dispute with its estranged partner Bakshi was not possible. The tussle started after Bakshi was ousted as the managing director of Connaught Plaza Restaurants (CPRL) in 2013, following which he approached the NCLT, which reinstated him to his position. McDonald’s has challenged the same in the appellate tribunal NCLAT.
New Delhi: Rain brought a much needed respite from the scorching heat on Wednesday and this spell of pleasant weather is likely to continue for another couple of days. Several parts of the national received morning showers which made the weather pleasant. The minimum temperature was recorded at 24.3 degrees Celsius, a notch below the season’s average and humidity was recorded at 82 per cent at 8.30 am. The Safdarjung observatory, recording for which is considered official for the city, recorded traces of rainfall, while Palam and Lodhi Road observatories recorded 1.8 and 1.5 mm rainfall respectively. The weather man predicted a windy day with the possibility of thundershowers, light rain accompanied by lightning. The maximum temperature is likely to settle around 34 degrees Celsius. According to a MeT department official, light rain is predicted for the next two days.
Casablanca – Casablanca Finance city (CFC) has moved up by eleven positions in the 16th Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI 16) to rank 51st.Casablanca and Johannesburg, the two African centers in the GFCI, both did very well, climbing 11 and 12 places respectively, the Z/Yen Group notes in a report published Monday.According to GFCI 16, Casablanca is ranked second among African financial centers, behind Johannesburg and ahead of Mauritius. In the reputational advantage, Casablanca topped the ranking, ahead of Wellington, Busan, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.Stability and rising economic power, Morocco has ambitions to be the leading business and financial gateway to Africa, offering unique access to the continent’s untapped potential, the report says.The report added that the kingdom holds a strong position as a hub thanks to intrinsic advantages: political stability, solid macroeconomic fundamentals (it is an investment grade country), unshaken commitment to reforms, ambitious sectorial strategies, privileged historical ties with African countries, unique geography at the crossroads of the continents, unparalleled air connectivity, world-class infrastructureAccording to the report, the second financial hub in Africa capitalizes on the kingdom’s robust financial sector which is considered a benchmark in the region, and relies on Moroccan companies with their sound presence and leadership.Casablanca Finance City (CFC), a flagship initiative launched in 2010 is instrumental in accomplishing this vision, notes the report, adding that by offering openness to trade and investments, streamlined administrative procedures, strengthened legal and regulatory frameworks, attractive corporate and income tax incentives, skilled talent pool and premier real-estate offer, CFC answers the need for an entry point to Africa.
Rabat – An Englishman subject to an international search warrant by the International Police Organization (Interpol) for digital fraud was arrested in Tangier on Wednesday, the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported.The 49-year-old was the subject of an Interpol red notice, a request to locate and provisionally arrest individuals ahead of their extradition.The General Directorate of National Security (DGSN), Morocco’s national security agency, said that his arrest is in line with the efforts made Moroccan security services to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation to fight transnational crime.DGSN added that competent Moroccan judiciary authorities will decide on the extradition procedures, noting that coordination in this regard is under way between Morocco, Interpol headquarters, and its bureau in Washington.According to the security agency, Interpol distributed a red notice to its member states against the man in question on July 17. An international arrest warrant has also been issued against him by United States judiciary authorities for digital fraud.
Rabat – Venezuelan president Nicolas Madoro arrived in the Algerian capital on Sunday for a two-day visit.The Algerian presidency said in a statement that Madoro’s trip to Algiers is an opportunity “to evaluate bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.”Madoro was greeted at the city’s Houari Boumediene airport by Abdelkader Bensaleh, the president of the Council of the Nation, the upper house of the country’s parliament. As the Algerian online media outlet TSA pointed out, the agenda of Madoro’s trip is not known. The news website described the visit as seemingly having been scheduled at the last minute.The embattled Venezuelan leader landed in Algiers following his participation in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Astana, Kazakhistan, where he took part as the serving president of the Non-Aligned Movement.AFP said that Algerian officials did not exclude the possibility of a meeting between Madoro and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.However, the health of the Algerian president continues to deteriorate. The last time he received a foreign official was in March, when he he met with Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.Caracas and Algiers entertain good relations. Both countries are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and both share a similar stance on the question of Western Sahara.Along with Cuba, Venezuela is the Polisario Front’s biggest supporter in Latin America, which has often led to verbal clashes between Omar Hilale, Morocco’s permanent representative to the United Nations, and the Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramírez.Madoro’s visit to Algeria takes place at a time where the South American country is still divided between the president’s supporters and his opponents.The Venezuelan government met anti-Madoro protests with oppression, accusing them of serving a foreign agenda to topple the regime.On Monday, the United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad al Hussein stated that crimes against humanity had been committed in the country.
Rabat – Despite Polisario’s attempts to block the Euro-Mediterranean agreement on air transport between the European Union and Morocco, the European Parliament adopted the agreement by a large majority of 511 votes in a plenary session this Tuesday.The EU-Morocco air agreement gives European airlines “unrestricted freedom, landing, take-off, passenger and cargo, between the EU and Morocco,” including the region of Western Sahara.Under the agreement, Moroccan airlines also enjoy the same rights in all EU countries. Prior to the adoption of the agreement, the Polisario Front’s representative in Europe, Mohamed Sidati, issued a statement calling on the European Parliament to postpone the vote until the European Commission “provides legal clarity on the territorial scope of Western Sahara.”However, his objection was not taken into account.“The EU’s decision to include the Western Sahara in the aviation agreement it signed with Morocco is a hard blow to the Polisario and its statehood claims,” said Morocco World News senior analyst Samir Bennis.“Not only does the agreement represent a tacit recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory, but it shows also that the EU is not ready to sacrifice its strategic relations with Morocco at all levels to accommodate Algeria and the Polisario’s ambitions to establish an independent state in southern Morocco.”The agreement entered into force temporarily in December 2006. In February 2014, the European Commission proposed some amendments following the admission of three new countries to the EU and the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2017.Sidati denounced the adoption of the agreement, saying that it strengthens Morocco’s “illegal occupation” of Western Sahara.The agreement also coincided with a lawsuit the Polisario Front filed against Transavia Airlines over its new line between Paris-Orly and Dakhla in Western Sahara, which opened October 26, 2017.While the Polisario called for the ban of the line and for EUR 400,000 in damages, “the lawsuit will be overruled because it has no legal basis now,” said Bennis.
TORONTO — Netflix says it shouldn’t be forced to pay into funds that are designed to support the creation of Canadian content, arguing that the country is better served by market competition than by regulating foreign online services.The California-based company makes the argument in a submission to a government-appointed expert panel that will make recommendations for changing Canada’s laws governing broadcasting and telecommunications.A 30-page submission by Netflix, made public Friday, says it’s on track to “significantly exceed” a $500-million commitment to fund original content made in Canada under a five-year agreement announced in 2017. The paper, dated Jan. 11, is one of many submissions to the expert panel, which is expected to complete its review by Jan. 31, 2020.Netflix argues that foreign online services like it would face unfair discrimination if it’s forced by law to pay into the Canadian Media Fund, which currently restricts some rights to Canadian-owned broadcasters and distribution companies.It also noted that it faces increased competition from other Canadian video-on-demand services, including Bell Media’s Crave subscription service, and the newer ad-supported CTV Movies and CTV Throwback. The Canadian Press
Rabat – 2017 was an impressive year for Morocco’s aviation sector and the aerospace business. Morocco’s national airport authority (ONDA) announced last month that more than 20 million passengers passed through one of the kingdom’s 17 airports in 2017.The growth was most dramatic at Tangier’s Ibn Battuta Airport where passenger traffic was up by 26 percent compared to 2016. Saiss Airport in Fes opened its stylish new terminal. With thousands of soccer fans from across Africa having traveled to the kingdom for the recently completed African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament, Morocco may have another busy year at its largest airports.So, some interesting facts and figures about aviation, airplanes in Morocco and the kingdom’s aerospace industry. 1. 54 – The number of aircraft in the Royal Air Maroc (RAM) fleet. The flag carrier of Morocco has a fleet that mixes short-haul (Brazilian-made Embraer E-90s), medium-haul (Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s, 767s), and long-haul jets (Boeing 787 Dreamliners).Read Also: Morocco Becomes International Hub of the Aerospace Industry2. RAK – The Marrakech Menara Airport terminal has received numerous awards for its unique design and passenger experience. Skytrax named the facility the fifth best airport in Africa (2017). An Italian news website, TGCOM24, named the airport one of the 11 most “beautiful and futuristic” in the world, also last year.3. 850 – The number of monthly scheduled RAM flights within Africa. Morocco’s airline flies to more than 30 African countries. It’s nearly 5,000 miles from Casablanca to Cape Town, South Africa. There are currently no nonstop flights between the two destinations.4. 11,000 – The number of aerospace jobs in Morocco. French aviation sector manufacturer Daher just opened its new Tangier plant, dedicated to production of metal and composite aircraft components.5. 4,671 miles (7,518 km) – The distance of Royal Air Maroc’s longest nonstop flight: Casablanca (CMN) to Sao Paulo (GRU), Brazil.6. April 1975 – Royal Air Maroc becomes the first airline based in the Arab world to fly a commercial flight to New York City.Read Also: Morocco’s Aeronautics Sector to Create 23,000 New Jobs by 20207. 747-400 – RAM has one Boeing 747 jet. Nicknamed ‘The Queen of the Skies’, 747 jets are increasingly being phased out as commercial passenger jets, but the cargo transport version is still popular. The iconic jet will still be used by heads of state, including King Mohammad VI of Morocco, the American president, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.8. Royal Air Maroc history (RAM) – Formed by a merger between Air Atlas Company and Compagnie Chérifienne de Transports Aériens Maroc in 1953, the new entity later took the name Royal Air Maroc in 1957.9. Mohammad V Airport (CMN) – Morocco’s largest airport welcomed about 9 million passengers last year. Last spring, Emirates began Dubai-Casablanca service using the double-decker Airbus A380. It was the first airline to have scheduled air service to North Africa using the largest passenger jet in service.10. Marche Verte – The Royal Moroccan Air Force aerobatic and demonstration team was formed in 1988 and performs for air shows and national celebrations. Like the US Air Force Thunderbirds and Spain’s Patrulla Aguila, they represent the nation’s finest military pilots.
Rabat – Juventus of Turin will have its first academy in Morocco. The Italian club is set to open its own training club in July in Casablanca. The Italian club also plans to open additional clubs in El Jadida and Rabat in the future.Juventus Academy will give players aged 4 to 15 the opportunity to learn the technical and tactical aspects of football with the methodology that Juventus has been developing for years.“After having multiplied the experiences of football schools with British and Spanish schools such as Arsenal and FC Barcelona, I thought it was time to give Moroccans the chance to train and benefit from the know-how of Juventus,” said Gabriel Hicham Guedira, general director of the Juventus Academy in Morocco. “We are very happy because Morocco has many fans of Juventus and the club is even more followed since the arrival of Mehdi Benatia at the club,” he added.The summer courses and annual program will be hosted at the Paradise Club in Ain Diab. The enclosure, with 10 football fields, will be the headquarters of the new academy, conveniently located in Morocco’s economic capital.
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Latest on the Alaska budget (all times local):12:55 p.m.Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal includes deep cuts to public education, the university system, Medicaid and Alaska’s ferry system.The budget plan also eliminates state support for public broadcasting and proposes changes in petroleum property tax collections that will benefit the state but affect areas like the North Slope Borough.Dunleavy says sacrifices are needed to resolve a deficit that’s been forecast for the coming year at $1.6 billion.His proposal includes cuts to the K-12 school funding formula and eliminating a $30 million, intended one-time boost to schools previously approved by lawmakers.The University of Alaska system president calls proposed cuts to that system devastating. Dunleavy’s plan would cut state support for the ferry system, with hopes that another management option will be found.Changes to Medicaid reimbursement rates also are proposed.___11:10 a.m.Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveiled a pared down budget Wednesday that he says will impact every Alaskan.Dunleavy is proposing a budget to cover a projected $1.6 billion deficit. Areas of impact include the University of Alaska system, K-12 public education and health and social services.Dunleavy spoke in generalities during a news conference in Juneau before his budget team planned to outline specific proposals later Wednesday.His budget director anticipated a potential loss of about 700 jobs though it wasn’t clear if all those positions are currently filled.Dunleavy says there’s nothing currently in the budget that will do away with Medicaid expansion, but he says there could be further discussions on that.The Associated Press
A Minnesota environmental group filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday, seeking to force it to make public the concerns its specialists have expressed about a copper-nickel mine in the northeast of the state.Environmentalists worry PolyMet Mining’s planned $1 billion mine, which would occupy 19,000 acres in the St. Louis River basin, will create a permanent pollution source from the river into Lake Superior. More than 900 acres of wetlands would also be destroyed, the lawsuit from WaterLegacy alleges.WaterLegacy attorney Paula Maccabee has said documents she obtained through an open records request showed regional EPA staffers said last fall they had “substantial questions” about the project, before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued final water and air permits for the mine in December. Maccabee said the EPA never filed formal comments about the project, even though they had expressed a desire to do so.Environmentalists say they have been unable to obtain the EPA’s finalized comments that weren’t submitted, despite a Freedom of Information Act request. The lawsuit pushed for the release of those documents.The EPA said in an emailed statement that it does not comment on pending litigation.Maccabee said the permits issued “would not limit toxic pollutants that would then be discharged into the headwaters of the Lake Superior basin.”The Maryland-based group Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment, also known as PEER, filed Tuesday’s lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of WaterLegacy, which wants to use the EPA’s unpublished objections in its litigation challenging the permits for the project, known as the NorthMet mine.“EPA apparently wants to ensure there is no paper trail evidencing the very real concerns of career professional staff,” said Kevin Bell, an attorney for PEER.Environmentalists say that since President Donald Trump’s election, EPA officials have been forbidden from submitting written comments to state regulators about approving air and water permits. The EPA staffers now read their comments over the phone, according to notes taken during calls by employees at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.The EPA is concerned about excess mercury discharge and inadequate monitoring, among other things, according to the MPCA notes, the lawsuit states.Last month, the matter captured the attention of Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, who issued a statement saying she found it “remarkable” that the EPA did not formally weigh in before the MPCA issued the water and air permits. McCollum, who chairs an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA, said last month she would ask the EPA to publicly release any PolyMet-related comments.Construction on the project could start as early as this spring. However, the water and air permits that were granted are being appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.Ivan Moreno, The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — A Republican state senator says Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal is the perfect tool for asking Alaskans if they want a budget that goes to extremes or if they are open to broader discussion.Sen. Peter Micciche (mih-CHIK’-ee) says Alaskans can help decide if they want to “live essentially like cavemen” without services they count on or want to find a different balance.Dunleavy has proposed addressing Alaska’s deficit with sweeping cuts and tax collection changes that would benefit the state but pinch some boroughs and municipalities.He also has proposed a full payout to residents this year from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.Micciche says if his constituents want a full dividend, he’ll push for that. But he says the effect of the current budget plan is to shift costs locally.Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Rabat – The National Meteorological Directorate (DMN) predicts thunderstorms and rainy, overcast conditions in Morocco on Monday, January 21.Saiss, the Mediterranean, the northern coasts, the High and Middle Atlas, and north of the Oriental, will experience rainfall and thunderstorms today.Cold weather is in store for the oriental, the reliefs, the Highlands, and the southeastern regions. Cloudy skies and scattered rain will sweep all of the Phosphates Plateaus, Oulmes, the coasts, and the central plains, on Monday morning especially.The High and Middle Atlas, and the eastern highlands will also experience snowfall of approximately 1 meter and 6 centimeters. Meanwhile, the southern provinces will witness blowing dust and sand.Read Also: Cold, Rainy Weekend in Store for Morocco, Snow to Fall in AtlasModerate to strong winds are ahead in Saiss, the Atlas region, the western and northern areas of the Oriental, the Mediterranean, and the southern regions.The temperature lows are between -4 and 1 degrees Celsius in the reliefs of the Atlas and south of the Oriental; 1 and 7 degrees Celsius in Saiss, the Rif region, the southeast, Oulmes, the eastern highlands, and the Phosphates Plateaus; 7 and 13 degrees Celsius in Souss, the northern and central plains, the Mediterranean, the northeastern regions, and the interior areas of the southern provinces; and 13 and 17 degrees Celsius in the western part of the southern provinces.The temperature highs range from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius in the reliefs; 8 to 14 degrees Celsius in Saiss, Tangier, the Oriental, Oulmes, and the Phosphates Plateaus; 14 to 20 degrees Celsius in the central and northern plains and coasts, Souss, the Mediterranean, the southeast, and north of the southern provinces; and from 20 to 26 degrees Celsius in the southern provinces.
Rabat – On June 4, on the eve of Eid Al Fitr, King Mohammed VI pardoned 755 people, sentenced by courts of law across Morocco, and either currently incarcerated or serving their sentences outside prison.Of those pardoned, 60 are Rif Hirak activists who were sentenced following mass protests in 2016 and 2017 in the northern Rif province. Forty-seven are Jerada Hirak activists, who were sentenced following protests in Jerada in western Morocco in 2017.“In consideration of the family and human circumstances of the people condemned following the events in Al Hoceima and Jerada […], the King has pardoned a number of people who were sentences but did not commit crimes or grave acts during these events,” states an press release from the Ministry of Justice. The Hirak protests started in 2016, when a fishmonger from Al Hoceima was crushed to death by a rubbish lorry as he tried to protect his fish, which had been confiscated by police. His death led to a wave of anger, with thousands protesting and accusing authorities of “abuse of power and corruption.” Similarly in Jerada, two deaths in a mining accident catalyzed protests against the government, amidst accusations of neglecting the area.During the Hirak protests, hundreds were arrested, and many were sentenced to prison time for “conspiracy aiming to undermine state security,” and “participating in unauthorized protests.” In August 2018, for Eid Al Adha, the King pardoned 188 Rif Hirak activists. However he did not pardon the leaders of the protest, including Nasser Zafzafi, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Zefzafi appealed the sentence but his appeal was rejected in April this year, sparking protests across Morocco and overseas.It is unclear whether Zafzafi is among the Hirak activists pardoned by the King this year.For Eid Al Fitr, the King has also pardoned people convicted for terrorism and extremism, but who have since participated in a “Moussalaha (reconciliation) program”, and “officially announced their rejection of all forms of extremism and terrorism, as well as their attachment to the Nation and national institutions,” adds the press release.
NORMAN, Okla. — The Latest on the trial in Oklahoma’s lawsuit against drugmakers, blaming them for contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis (all times local):2:35 p.m.Drug companies being sued by the state of Oklahoma for fueling the state’s opioid addiction crisis say the products they manufactured were heavily regulated by state and federal agencies and addressed an important need for pain management.Attorneys for Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson delivered opening statements Tuesday in the nation’s first state trial against drugmakers blamed for contributing to the opioid crisis.Janssen attorney Larry Ottaway told a Cleveland County judge that the company represents only a small part of a vast supply and distribution chain for opioid products that is extensively regulated by various federal agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says the powerful painkillers led to the “worst manmade public health crisis” in U.S. history.___10 a.m.The nation’s first state trial against drugmakers blamed for contributing to the opioid crisis is underway in Oklahoma.Opening arguments started Tuesday with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter saying powerful painkillers led to the “worst manmade public health crisis” in U.S. history.Drugmakers deny those claims.Lawyers for consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and several subsidiaries are expected to start making their case later Tuesday. Two other pharmaceutical companies have settled with Oklahoma.The trial could bring to light documents and testimony that show what the companies knew, when they knew it and how they responded.The outcome could also shape negotiations on how to resolve the roughly 1,500 opioid lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. Those have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.The Associated Press
The emergency kits will support a Government request to increase the supply of essential medicines that the medical teams are bringing to the temporary settlement of the displaced population, WHO Country Representative Soe Nyunt-U said.Thirty-four villages have been affected by the fighting, with more than 7,050 families displaced. Although relief goods, compact food, chlorine granules, vaccines and medicines have been provided to the affected areas, there is a serious lack of medicines and medical supplies such as instruments for treating trauma.“WHO will support the Government’s efforts to ensure access and availability of health services to the displaced population,” said Hendrik Bekedam, Director, Division of Health Sector Development of WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. A WHO regional and country office team visited Davao City in Mindanao to meet with the Secretary of Health of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Tahir Sulaik, to discuss the situation and plan further support for the emergency.Provincial health officers present at the meetings with WHO reported on the difficulties of reaching communities affected by the conflict. 19 September 2007The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is providing emergency medicines and supplies people displaced by the escalation of fighting between the Philippines army and the Moro National Liberation Front in the southern island of Mindanao.
19 October 2007Humanitarian workers in Somalia – where the local head of the United Nations food agency was abducted earlier this week by Government forces – are impeded in their efforts to deliver aid and operate in a climate of “suspicion,” a world body official said today. “The situation is always difficult in Somalia, has always been difficult and is probably going to be still difficult for some time,” said Eric Laroche, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, told reporters in New York.He said that an upswing in violence among the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and other parties has resulted in “suspicion” from all sides towards the work of the humanitarian community in the Horn of Africa nation, which has had no functioning central government since Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.Mr. Laroche pointed out that the most recent example of this occurred on 17 October, when Idris Osman of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was taken from a UN compound in Mogadishu.According to WFP, dozens of uniformed and armed members of the country’s National Security Service (NSS) stormed the Organization’s compound, seized Mr. Osman and took him to a cell at NSS headquarters, where he remains captive.So far, the WFP has not received any explanation for why Mr. Osman – who told two agency officials over the telephone yesterday that he is unharmed – is being detained.Negotiations, Mr. Laroche said today, are at a “standstill,” stressing that this is a particularly difficult period to hold discussions with the Government because Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi is currently out of the country and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and also because of a possible vote of confidence at the Parliament in Baidoa.WFP has suspended its operations in Mogadishu following Mr. Osman’s abduction, after only having resumed delivering food to 75,000 on 15 October. The agency had shut its operations down on 25 June after several fatal shootings.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the incursion and called for Mr. Osman’s “immediate and unconditional release,” noting the Somali Government’s actions are in violation of international agreements.The head of WFP today also deplored Mr. Osman’s detainment.“It has become extremely difficult for us to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people in Mogadishu and throughout Somalia. We are operating in an environment which is fraught with insecurity: piracy, banditry and widespread violence. We need the government to protect humanitarian workers,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.Several months ago, the Coordinator visited Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of the capital Mogadishu, where the UN estimated that 100,000 people had been forced to flee the violence.“The Government was saying that that was not acceptable and that was probably a wrong statement which meant that we were not telling the truth,” he said at today’s briefing. “But unfortunately we are saying the truth.”Mr. Laroche said that during his assessment of the area to visit the internally displaced persons (IDPs), he was constantly harassed and told by pro-Government parties, “you should not be here.”Furthermore, he said he was trailed all the way back to the airport at the conclusion of his visit by the intelligence services.Upon visiting the director of the country’s intelligence service, Mr. Laroche said that he was told that “if we go into zones that are not under the TFG control, we are feeding the terrorists.”But, the Coordinator noted, the IDPs he met with in Afgooye – who were mostly women and children – included an orphaned eight-year-old girl who had lost not only her parents and sister, but also her arm. He stressed that “she is not a terrorist.”
7 January 2008United Nations agencies are providing emergency supplies, including heating, for some 3,000 people who were displaced in a New Year’s Day earthquake in southern Kyrgyzstan and are now living in summer tents under outside temperatures ranging from -15 to -20 degrees Celsius. In support of Government assistance to the victims, the agencies have offered over 200 mattresses, 200 sleeping bags, 400 blankets, nearly 500 kitchen sets, almost 2,000 pieces of soap, shoes for over 700 children, nearly 450 children’s winter sweaters and 20 bails of clothing, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today. As the country is short on winterized tents, heating oil and fuel, crucial for supporting the affected persons, OCHA offered over $30,000 for the purchase of additional heating devices as well as petrol to transport the relief items. Unfortunately, the heating devices might need to be brought from outside the country as those available in Kyrgyzstan are not suitable for distribution in the affected area near the city of Osh. OCHA has secured 120 winterized tents, donated by the Norwegian Government, and these should be dispatched shortly from the UN warehouse in Brindisi, Italy. Currently, winter tents and heaters still remain priority needs. The Kyrgyz Government has requested 500 winterised tents, 500 charcoal stoves, 2,500 warm jackets, 1,000 adult winter footwear, 22 tonnes flour, 3,000 litres of cooking oil, over 11,000 cans of meat, 4.5 tonnes of sugar, 2.25 tonnes of spaghetti, and 150 kilos each of rice and tea, OCHA said. The Government has also requested nearly 4 tonnes of construction materials such as cement, roofing slate, bricks and paint.
10 April 2008Local committees tasked with monitoring, investigating and reporting on human rights violations in Sierra Leone will now be able to work out of new resource centres provided by the United Nations mission in the West African country and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The district-level human rights committees were set up by the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), with financial support from OHCHR, in an effort to strengthen the national systems to protect and promote human rights. The mission also provided them with training on the protection of human rights, rule of law and strengthening democracy.“Building and strengthening the capacity of human rights civil society organizations is a compelling necessity for the consolidation of peace and respect for human rights in any country emerging from conflict,” the mission stated in a news release issued in the capital, Freetown.UNIOSIL will formally hand over the resource centres for the committees in Kenema, Bo, Bonthe and Matru Jong on Friday and Saturday.Under its Programme of Assistance to Sierra Leone, OHCHR will pay the rents for the resource centres for one year, and provide furniture, computers, printers, stabilizers, generators, motorbikes and stationeries. It will also ensure that the centres have enough staff to remain open to the public on a daily basis. UNIOSIL was set up in 2006 to help the Government consolidate its hard-won peace following a brutal, 11-year conflict, and address a myriad of challenges related to good governance, security, human rights and development.
3 October 2008The General Assembly today wrapped up a special high-level meeting with Member States renewing the pledge made five years ago to help the world’s 31 landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) overcome the problems caused by their lack of territorial access to the sea and their remoteness and isolation from world markets. In a declaration adopted at the end of the two-day meeting, participants acknowledged that landlocked and transit countries have registered some progress in carrying out the actions agreed in the 2003 Almaty Programme of Action, which set out specific measures to compensate LLDCs for their geographical handicaps with improved market access and trade facilitation. They also expressed concern that the share of global trade of these countries has remained “small.” According to United Nations figures, although LLDCs represent about 15 per cent of States, their share of world exports has remained well below 1 per cent. The declaration also calls for a series of future actions by LLDCs, donors, development partners and institutions to accelerate the implementation of the Almaty Programme, including promoting inter-railway cooperation, facilitating road transit and making full use of available technology to enhance trade and transport. Donors and multilateral institutions are called on to provide landlocked and transit developing countries with the required technical and financial assistance to help them in their efforts to overcome their handicaps. Participants also welcomed the proposal to set up a global think tank in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to assist these countries in their efforts to implement the Programme, as well as achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets agreed to by world leaders in 2000 to slash poverty, hunger, preventable illness and a host of other socio-economic ills. “Over the past two days we have been assessing the multi-faceted efforts to ensure that landlocked developing countries have efficient transit transport systems to access international markets,” General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto said as he closed the event. Mr. D’Escoto pledged that the Assembly “will use all its authority to ensure that the commitments of donor countries to provide funding and needed technology transfers are honoured.” The work outlined in the declaration is “ambitious,” he added. “But inspired by our sense of solidarity with the peoples of these landlocked countries and their neighbours, the way is clear and the possibilities endless.”