March 26, 2007 | News covering the UN and the world

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New UN aid chief visits Darfur, issues warning

The United Nations' new top humanitarian official, John Holmes, warned Sunday during a visit to a Darfur refugee camp that humanitarian efforts in the region are at risk of falling apart. "The humanitarian effort is fragile. If the situation deteriorates, it could collapse," Holmes said. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German leader Angela Merkel both called for tougher action against Sudan to end the conflict and accompanying suffering.   International Herald Tribune/Reuters/Associated Press (3/25),   The Boston Globe/Associated Press (free registration) (3/26)

We are weary of being pushed around. I was never free under Saddam. Now the terrorists, insurgents and death squads want me to live in fear again. I will not.

Rafed Mahmood, manager of Sunni-Shiite TV and radio station. Read the complete story.

UN DISPATCH: "The United Nations Security Council has unanimously decided to tighten sanctions on Iran in response to the country's uranium-enrichment activities."

UN Dispatch

United Nation
Security Council strengthens sanctions against Iran
The United Nations Security Council on Saturday voted unanimously to beef up sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program, which much of the international community fears is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Members of the council said they hope the sanctions -- which focus mainly on Iran's arms exports and state-owned bank -- will pressure an increasingly isolated Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Read the UN News Centre's release.    ClipSyndicate (3/26), (3/25)
 Iran slams sanctions: Iran, insisting it is not developing nuclear weapons, said Sunday it will limit cooperation with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency in response to the new sanctions imposed by the Security Council. Iran also said it would continue its nuclear program, despite the threat of even more sanctions. France-Presse (3/26),   Los Angeles Times (3/25)

Development Health and Poverty
Health officials meet over sharing avian flu vaccines
World Health Organization officials, scientists and health representatives from poor countries were to meet Monday to try to resolve how to get bird flu vaccines to those who need it most. Indonesia raised the issue by withholding samples of virus strains from the WHO over questions of whether Indonesians, as well as people in other developing countries, would have access to affordable vaccines in the event of a pandemic.   AlertNet/Reuters (3/26),   The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (3/26)
Other News
 Ecuador wants to renegotiate debt to World Bank
Financial Times/Reuters (3/23)

Hot Topics
Top five news stories selected by UN Wire readers in the past week.
Female genital cutting declines in Senegal, thrives elsewhere (Los Angeles Times)
Kosovo should get independence, UN mediator urges (The Washington Post)
Investors lean on U.S. Congress to slow global warming (Environmental News Network)
UN stresses urgency on World Water Day (Mail & Guardian (South Africa))
In Liberia, all-women UN peace unit inspires locals (The Christian Science Monitor)
Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.

Development Energy and Environment
UNDP combats climate change in rural China
The United Nations Development Programme, China and Norway inked a deal Monday aimed at reducing the effects of global warming in China's rural areas. The effort will assist provincial Chinese governments in developing ways to respond to problems caused by climate change, including the melting of Tibet's glaciers.   International Herald Tribune/Associated Press (3/26)
Brazil: Rules on Amazon logging win careful nods
Environmentalists and loggers say they are cautiously optimistic that new rules rolled out by Brazil last week will allow for some logging of the Amazon without doing too much damage to the threatened rainforest. "Success or failure of this public policy will depend on monitoring and enforcement," Greenpeace's Marcelo Marquesini said.   CNN/Associated Press (3/23)
Sachs: Species trampled by humans
Back in 1992, the international community signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, vowing to rein in the damage humans are causing other species. Those goals remain largely unfulfilled, however, with logging, fishing and other human activities continuing to take a huge toll on the world's species, economist and United Nations adviser Jeffrey Sachs writes in this commentary.   The Daily Star (Lebanon) (3/26)
U.S. automakers to stress flex-fuel cars possible if fuel available
U.S. auto industry executives were invited to the White House to meet with President George W. Bush Monday to publicize the latest advances in burning biofuels in cars. The executives were expected to announce they could make half their new cars and trucks run on a gasoline/biofuel mixture as high as E85 ethanol by 2012 if there is enough availability and distribution of the fuel.   Forbes/Associated Press (3/25)
Other News
 Singapore invests millions for clean energy alternatives
AlertNet/Reuters (3/26)
 Argentina challenges Brazil goal to lead in biofuel exports
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)/Dow Jones Newswires (3/23)

Security and Human Rights
Nigeria: Female students face culture of harassment
Nigeria's education system appears rife with sexual abuse, with teachers commonly pressuring young female college students as well as younger school girls for sex, The Associated Press reports. With a strong tradition of respect for one's teachers and elders, the women and girls have a hard time finding support.   The Washington Post/Associated Press (3/25)
Egypt's proposed reforms seen as hit to democracy
Few Egyptians are expected to vote Monday in a referendum concerning constitutional amendments that would give Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expanded powers, including the right to single-handedly dissolve parliament, outlaw political parties and pave the way for his son, Gamal, to succeed him. Human rights groups and other governments have criticized the proposed amendments, while embattled Egyptian democracy activists have been increasingly silenced by the government.   The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (3/26)
Britain's slave trade recalled on ban's 200th anniversary
The weekend marked 200 years since Britain ended its trans-Atlantic slave trade, which brought death and misery to millions. People in several countries marked the anniversary, including Jamaicans holding symbolic funeral rites and Dominicans staging a ceremony at a building where slaves once were auctioned. (Canada)/Associated Press (3/25)
Other News
 Sudan refuses to discharge minister named by ICC
People's Daily (China) (3/26)

Security and Human Rights
U.S., UN look to revive Mideast peace effort
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both continued visits to the Middle East Monday with hopes of reviving stalled peace talks. Ban suggested the possibility Monday of inviting Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders to attend an upcoming meeting of the Quartet of Middle East mediators, which includes the UN, U.S., Europe and Russia.   AlertNet/Reuters (3/26)
 Arab leaders consider repackaging deal: Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal suggested Monday Arab leaders would be willing to consider changes to their 2002 peace offer to Israel in an attempt to bolster burgeoning efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.   USA TODAY/Associated Press (3/26)
In interview, Khalilzad shows pragmatism to diplomacy
The U.S.' outgoing ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in an exit interview in Baghdad Friday that he held talks last year with men he believed were Sunni insurgents to try to get them to embrace politics instead of violence. Khalilzad, who is the Bush administration's choice to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was given great diplomatic flexibility and his move is seen as an indication of his pragmatic approach, The New York Times reports. (3/26)
Sunni-Shiite partnership to offer message of hope
Two Sunnis and two Shiites aired the first broadcast of a new radio and television station Sunday in Iraq's Diyala province in the hopes of bringing an end to the province's bloody sectarian violence. Station manager Rafed Mahmood hopes to remind Sunnis and Shiites of their common ground.   The Miami Herald/McClatchy News Service (free registration) (3/26)
Analysis: Global arms race picking up speed
The global arms race is intensifying again, The Christian Science Monitor reports. China now sees itself as a major military power, and the U.S. is spending more on arms than all other countries combined.   The Christian Science Monitor (3/26)

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