Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, held what was described as a “constructive” meeting in Ramallah with Yasser Arafat, the President of the Palestinian Authority. He also met with Abu Mazen, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Abu Alaa, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council.According to a statement issued in Beirut and Gaza, Mr. Roed-Larsen’s regional political and diplomatic efforts are being undertaken “amid the dangerous new situation resulting from the recent renewed violence, including action on different fronts.”Recent events have “widespread regional implications,” the statement said, noting that earlier Mr. Roed-Larsen had warned that the situation was close to a point where “the violence threatens to spin out of control.”At the same time, Mr. Roed-Larsen noted that there were grounds for optimism and that progress was possible. “We must all ensure that the talking continues,” he stressed, adding, “no one can afford a regional conflict.”The envoy is scheduled to meet tonight in Amman with Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Abdel Ilah Al Khateeb, before travelling to Syria. In Damascus, Mr. Roed-Larsen is expected to meet tomorrow with senior Syrian officials.Meanwhile, the Chairman of a key UN committee monitoring Palestinian rights has called for “prompt and decisive international action” to stop the current spate of violence and bring the parties back to the negotiating table.In a just-released letter to the Secretary-General, as well as to the Presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly, Ibra Deguene Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, calls attention to recent “harsh and disproportionate” Israeli military attacks. He urges the Secretary-General to intensify contacts with the parties concerned to help end the crisis and restart the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.”In view of a particularly tense and volatile situation on the ground, efforts within the United Nations to ensure protection of Palestinian civilians acquire special urgency,” Mr. Ka notes.
To mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that “human trafficking is a heinous crime that affects every region of the world” – especially women and children.According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), some 72 per cent of detected victims are women and girls, and the percentage of child victims has more than doubled from 2004 to 2016.“Most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labour, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse”, Mr. Guterres said in his message on the Day, marked annually on 30 July.Here’s our story.UNICEF budget must triple to fight DRC Ebola outbreak Updating the press on the deadly Ebola outbreak in the north-east region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jerome Pfaffmann, a Health Specialist for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the agency would have to triple its budget to respond to the crisis.The spokesperson underlined the complexity of the outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which are facing a public health emergency and a humanitarian crisis at the same time – including conflict and a major measles outbreak.UNICEF has already vaccinated more than 40,000 children against measles and plans to put in place a programme to address acute humanitarian and social needs.Execution of Bahrainis condemned by UN human rights office, amid allegations of unfair trial New UN report shows record numbers of children killed, maimed in conflict A new UN report has found that 2018 was the worst year on record for children caught up in armed conflict; the year saw the highest number killed or hurt since the United Nations began monitoring the violation.In the 20 conflict situations monitored in the 2018 edition of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, released Tuesday, more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed over that year.A “disheartened” Secretary-General António Guterres said that he was “particularly appalled” by the unprecedented numbers of grave violations committed against children.Children continued to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria: some 7,000 have been drawn into frontline fighting roles around the world during 2018. They also continued to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence: more than half of the 2,500 reported cases were in Somalia. Read about it here.Conflict, climate change among factors that increase ‘desperation that enables human trafficking to flourish’, says UN chief The execution of two Bahraini citizens on Friday has been strongly condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement released on Tuesday.The executions took place despite concerns of Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, that the men’s confessions were obtained under torture, and that they were denied due process and guarantees of a fair trial.The two men were tried in a mass hearing with 58 other defendants and convicted on charges of terrorism.A UN spokesperson said the High Commissioner is “very concerned” about the fate of other detainees at risk of imminent execution on death row in Bahrain and has called on the Bahraini Government to halt all pending executions.Spread some kindness, on International Day of Friendship The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is encouraging us all to brighten someone’s day, and spread a bit of kindness, on the UN’s International Day of Friendship.The call is part of UNICEF’s campaign to end violence in and around schools where, worldwide, around half of all students aged between 13 and 15, have reported experiencing some form of violence.The campaign includes a short video featuring K-pop superstars BTS singing their hit single “Answer: Love Myself”, showing young people confronting school violence. Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 30 July on SoundCloud: