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Ouarzazate to Host the 4th edition of the National Festival of

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Meknes- The 4th edition of the National Festival of Ahouach Art will take place from August 10 to 12.The festival aims at preserving Ahouach art as an immortalized heritage that reflects the region’s culture and fosters the development of Ouarzazate.The festival will include a conference which will operate under the theme of “immaterial heritage in Morocco and Ahouach as a Model”. The festival will also be hosting a series of theater productions, art exhibitions, and musical performances of folkloric troops from the region. Also, more than 250 artists from well-known bands across the Kingdom will be performing. Bands include “Tamnoukalt from Zagora,” “Ahouach Awaz Awaz from Taroudanet,” “Afouss Ghoufouss from Guelmim,” Ahouach Ahoudjin from Azilal,” “Ahouach Adelssan and Ahouach Ounebla” from Ouarzazate which will also take part in illuminating the magnificence of the culture in the region. There will be also poetry and entertaining activities for children.Ahouach is a type of folkloric music which is to be played to a dance from southern of Morocco, and performed by men and women who play drums and sing in Tamazight.Ouarzazate also known as the Moroccan Hollywood, is a city in the southeast of Morocco and is a popular destination for international filmmakers.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

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Qatar International Islamic Bank to Open Branch in Morocco

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Rabat – The Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier S.A. (CIH Bank) have reportedly signed an agreement to set up a bank in Morocco.According to Reuters, the Qatari institution said on Thursday that the bank is expected to launch in the next few months after receiving the necessary approvals from the competent authorities“QIIB will take a 40 percent stake in the new bank,” Qatari bank officials said, according to the same source.. No further details of the venture were released. After Morocco adopted a bill to regulate Islamic banks and bonds (sukuk), several Islamic banks from Gulf countries have expressed interest in doing business in Morocco.Abdul Latif Aljwahiri, Governor of Bank-Al-Maghrib, Morocco’s central bank, announced in November that Morocco was  set to begin issuing Islamic bank licenses in 2016.In a previous statement, Aljwahiri said that Bank-Al-Maghrib had received 15 requests from foreign financial institutions and three requests from Moroccan institutions requesting bank permits.The governor added that the central bank is currently in the process of studying these requests.In order to oversee the work of Islamic banks, also called participatory banks, Morocco created the “Sharia Board” for Participatory Finance.The board is composed of ten Islamic scholars and at least five financial experts, chosen by the president of the Supreme Ulema Council in Morocco.The “Sharia Board’s” main role is to make sure all the transactions of the Islamic banks are in conformity with Sharia laws. read more

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Over 18 Tons of Hashish Seized Northern Morocco

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Rabat – Moroccan authorities on Saturday seized 18.15 tons of Hashish (cannabis resin) aboard a TIR truck and arrested two suspects, the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said.According to the first elements of the investigation, the banned substance, which was carefully concealed in a shipment of agricultural products, was discovered upon inspection of the cargo vehicle that was about to embark to Europe, the same source pointed out, adding that the driver and his companion were arrested.The suspects, aged 30 and 39, were placed in custody pending the completion of the investigation.

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Moroccan Convicted in 11M Terrorist Attack to Be Released from Austrian

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By Julia CabreraRabat – Hamid Ahmidan, who planted the explosives used for the terrorist attack in Spain on March 11, 2004,  will be released from prison on March 21st, ten days after the 13th anniversary of the attack.Originally the Tangier native was sentenced to 23 years in prison, but according to the Spanish news outlet, El Español, the Supreme Court later changed the sentence to 10 years. Ahmidan’s cousin, Jamal Ahmida, was the leader of the group who placed the bombs on the trains the day of the attack. Due to their trustworthy relationship, Ahmidan was a key participant in very important ventures for the largest attack in Spain’s history, according to El Español. Aside from hiding the explosives, he guarded the house where the group prepared the explosives.Judicial authorities told El Español that Ahmidan is currently serving his sentence in an Austrian prison.The administration is still deciding whether or not he will be deported to his homeland of Morocco. According to El Español, Ahmidan can be expelled under the article 57 of foreign policy, which states that, “any person who is condemned of a crime that harms Spain, outside or within the country and serves a sentence that exceeds 1 year can be expelled to their country of origin.” read more

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Rif Protests Amid Tension Between Protestors and Police Brief Moments of

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Rabat – While Al Hoceima has seen increased tensions and clashes between protesters and security forces in the past week, videos posted on Youtube show that their relationship has not always been antagonistic.In the video, which was widely shared on social media, a riot policeman is seen talking in Darija (Moroccan Arabic) to a group of young protesters, trying to convince them to leave the place where they came to demonstrate.The protesters try to win the policeman’ sympathy, saying they had come to protest against “corruption” and ask for their “legitimate demands” to be met. The policeman responds, saying he is not the right person to which to air to their grievances, explaining that as a security officer he has to follow instructions.“I’m not a politician,” says the officer. “I’m a policeman. Please, try to understand.”Another policeman addresses the group, speaking in Tamazight, before the Arabic-speaking officer intervenes again, reiterating his request for the protesters to leave the place.Another video brings a more touching image, demonstrating the relative silence in the streets of Al Hoceima during iftar, the fast-breaking Ramadan meal.While demonstrations continued in Al Hoceima after iftar , protesters and riot police were urged to put their tensions aside. In the video, shouts are heard from windows and in the streets calling for “mosamaha” (forgiveness) in this holy month.Both parties submitted to the request, with some cheering for  the small moment of relief amid the high tension. read more

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King Mohammed VI Sends Condolences to John McCain Family

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Rabat – King Mohammed VI has sent a message of condolence and compassion to the family members of the late US Senator John McCain.McCain died on Saturday at the age of 81. He spoke out for the world’s longest-held POWs, Moroccan soldiers in Tindouf. In 2005, McCain called for the release of more than 400 Moroccan POWs who were still detained by the Polisario Front in Tindouf in western Algeria, years after an agreement had been signed to exchange POWs in 1991. On August 18, 2005, Polisario released the Moroccan POWs to the Red Cross. They were later flown to Agadir aboard a US piloted aircraft and were welcomed by King Mohammed VI.In the message, the sovereign expressed to the family members, friends, and relatives of the late senator his heartfelt condolences and sincere feelings of compassion, asking God to give them patience and comfort.In these painful circumstances, King Mohammed VI recalled with appreciation the human qualities, patriotism, and commitment of Senator McCain for world causes, pointing out that Morocco had “lost a great friend with whom the Kingdom had close ties based on mutual esteem and the common pursuit of humanistic ideas.”McCain was a prisoner of war (POW) in Vietnam for more than 5 years. During the war in Vietnam, McCain was a bomber pilot, and he was captured when his plane was shot down in 1967.McCain refused to be released from the Hanoi Hilton prison until his fellow prisoners were freed with him. It was an action that showed McCain’s selflessness and heroism in the eyes of many Americans.In 2008, McCain ran for president in the US as a maverick Republican. During McCain’s presidential campaign, he respected his opponent, Barack Obama. One voter told McCain, “I can’t trust Obama… he’s an Arab.” With characteristic integrity, McCain responded, “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s about.” read more

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The Latest Iran urges Europe to do more to keep nuke deal

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MUNICH — The Latest on the Munich Security Conference (all times local):11:30 a.m.Iran’s foreign minister says European nations need to do more than talk if they want to preserve a deal meant to keep Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the treaty.Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that a barter-type system known as INSTEX set up last month by France, Germany and Britain to allow businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran, and thereby evade possible U.S. sanctions, is not enough.Zarif says “INSTEX falls short of the commitments by the (European countries) to save the nuclear deal. Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against a dangerous tide of U.S. unilateralism.”___10 a.m.Iran’s foreign minister is blasting the United States’ “unhealthy fixation” with his country and condemning the Trump administration’s efforts to press European countries to pull out of the nuclear agreement with Tehran.Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, a day after U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence prodded European powers Germany, France and Britain to follow Washington in withdrawing from the deal and to “stop undermining U.S. sanctions.”The U.S. withdrew unilaterally last year from the 2015 agreement, which offers Iran sanctions relief for limiting its nuclear program.Zarif says “we have long been the target of an unhealthy fixation, let’s say obsession” from the U.S. He said Pence “arrogantly demanded that Europe must join the United States in undermining its own security and breaking its obligations.”___10 p.m. SaturdayGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn lengthy applause for her spirited defence of a multilateral approach to global affairs and her support for Europe’s decision to stand by a nuclear deal with Iran.U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence was not impressed, however, and he doubled down on American criticism of Europe.Merkel’s comments Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of world leaders and top defence and foreign policy officials, followed days of acrimony between the U.S. and Europe over Iran.Merkel told the group that she shared American concerns about Iranian efforts to increase its power. But she defended the nuclear deal as an important channel to Tehran, stressing the need for international diplomacy.Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to keep the 2015 deal with Iran alive since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of it last year.The Associated Press read more

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Alaska cannabis industry cites uncertainty with new governor

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JUNEAU, Alaska — Recent actions taken by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy have some in the legal cannabis industry confused about his intentions.Dunleavy made new appointments to the board tasked with regulating the industry even as he has eyed repealing the board. His appointment of Vivian Stiver, a marijuana critic, has riled industry members who have cast her as a prohibitionist. The board begins a three-day meeting Wednesday in Juneau.Industry leaders say language in one of Dunleavy’s crime bills would make it a felony to possess 25 or more cannabis plants, which they say could affect legal growers.However, a Department of Law spokeswoman says the provision is not directed at legal growers and the administration is open to clarifying that.Marijuana advocate Lacy Wilcox says Dunleavy should meet with the industry.Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press read more

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Eid Al Fitr King Mohammed VI Pardons 755 Convicts

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Rabat – On the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, HM King Mohammed VI granted his pardon to 755 people sentenced by the different Moroccan courts, said a statement by the Justice ministry.The detained beneficiaries of the pardon are 576 and are divided into:– 01 inmate who benefited from pardon over his remaining prison term. – 554 prisoners who had their prison terms reduced.– Sentences for 02 convicts were commuted from death penalty to life imprisonment.– 19 inmates who had their prison sentences commuted from life imprisonment to fixed prison terms.The free beneficiaries of the pardon are 179 and are divided into:– 48 prisoners who benefited from pardon over their remaining prison terms.– 05 inmates who benefited from pardon over their imprisonment terms while their fines were maintained.– 06 inmates who benefited from pardon over their prison terms and fines as well.– 120 prisoners had their fines annulled.On this happy occasion, HM the King has granted his pardon to 11 of those convicted in cases of extremism and terrorism who participated in the third edition of the “Reconciliation” program (Musalaha), which responds to the requests for pardon that these detainees submit to HM the king after officially announcing their rejection of all forms of extremism and terrorism, and their firm commitment to the supreme values and sacredness of the Nation and national institutions.The beneficiaries of this royal initiative are divided into:– 08 inmates who benefited from pardon over their remaining prison terms.– 01 inmate who had his prison sentence commuted from life imprisonment to fixed prison terms.– 02 prisoners who had their prison terms reduced.Furthermore, and in consideration of the family and human circumstances of the persons sentenced in connection with the events in the Al Hoceima and Jerada regions, and in fulfillment of the Royal will on all occasions, HM the King granted his royal pardon to several convicted persons who did not commit crimes and serious acts during these events, the number of whom is 107 and are divided into:-60 prisoners who were pardoned as part of the Al Hoceima region events.-47 inmates who were pardoned as part of the Jerada region events. read more

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Some of Detroits new streetlights dimming burning out

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DETROIT — Officials say some of Detroit’s new LED streetlights are prematurely dimming and burning out in parts of the city and thousands more could fail.The Detroit News reports a letter from the Public Lighting Authority’s law firm says problems were discovered last fall with units made by San Jose, California-based Leotek Electronics USA that were “charred, burned, or cracked.” The lighting authority sued Monday in federal court.Leotek made about one-third of Detroit’s new lights and they were expected to last at least a decade. It acknowledged problems in a letter to the lighting authority, apologized and pledged to work with Detroit to correct problems.The Associated Press left a message Tuesday seeking comment from Leotek.The last of Detroit’s 65,000 new LED streetlights were installed in 2016 as part of a $185 million program that was hailed as a success in the city’s turnaround efforts.___Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/The Associated Press read more

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A diminished Godzilla still bests Rocketman Ma

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NEW YORK — The latest iteration of the Godzilla franchise took over the top spot from “Aladdin” and roared louder than Elton John at the weekend box office, but it still left a notably smaller footprint on North American theatres than its city-wrecking predecessors.“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla,” was brought down to size by poor reviews and middling interest from moviegoers, selling $49 million in tickets, according to studio estimates Sunday.While still good enough for No. 1, that total was $10-15 million off industry expectations and close to half of the $93 million debut of the previous “Godzilla” movie.Still, the weekend, led by one of the most classic movie monsters, brought Hollywood’s summer season into full swing. Last week’s top film, Disney’s live-action, blue-Will Smith “Aladdin” remake, slid to second with $42 million in its second weekend. And a rush of newcomers, including the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” and the Octavia Spencer-led horror film “Ma,” swelled theatres with a variety of options.Dexter Fletcher’s fantastical Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” starring Taron Egerton, didn’t launch with the same bravado as last year’s Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But it opened solidly in third with $25 million. The weekend’s most profitable release, by percentage, was likely the Blumhouse Production thriller “Ma,” which made $18.2 million against a $5 million budget.Even with a toothless “Godzilla,” the weekend was up drastically — 62 per cent, according to Comscore — from the same weekend last year, when the swiftly forgotten “Solo” was in its second weekend.Part of the appeal of giant monster films from a studio standpoint is their popularity in Asia. This “Godzilla” fared best in China, opening there with $70 million. It made $130 million internationally overall.But in Godzilla, some see a flagging franchise of unrealized potential. In its three recent blockbuster iterations going back to Gareth Edwards’ 1998 Sony release, none have drawn much praise from fans or critics. This latest one, directed by Michael Dougherty, has a 40 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.Warner Bros. is developing a face-off movie between Godzilla and King Kong, who was last featured in “Kong: Skull Island.” That 2017 release opened with $61 million and went on to make $566 million worldwide. Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros., believes the $200-million budgeted “King of the Monsters” can keep drawing moviegoers to the studio’s ongoing monster franchises.“The avid fans of Godzilla came out Thursday and Friday,” said Goldstein. “The real key for us is how broadly can we expand over the next couple weeks? Can we hold on to an interest that’s wider than the regular Godzilla fans? I think we can.”In Godzilla’s shadow, counterprogramming thrived. Coming off its acclaimed premiere at the Cannes Film Festival , “Rocketman,” which Elton John executive produced, opened well if not spectacularly for Paramount Pictures. The R-rated biopic cost about $40 million to make.Aiming to capitalize on the British singer’s worldwide appeal, the stars of “Rocketman” have circled the globe ahead of release. It added $19.2 million internationally. In Russia, the film’s local distributor cut out scenes depicting homosexual activity and drug use. John and the filmmakers criticized the move as “a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in.”Though “Rocketman” shares much with “Bohemian Rhapsody” — including Fletcher, who helmed the Mercury film after Bryan Singer departed production — its makers have sought to distance it from last year’s Oscar-winning $900-million sensation.“That movie is a unicorn,” Egerton said in Cannes. “Our movie is a different animal.”“Ma,” fashioned by Blumhouse as the production company’s contemporary answer to “Misery,” reteams Spencer with “The Help” director Tate Taylor. Spencer’s first solo lead performance drew an especially diverse audience, 57 per cent of which was female.“The best news this weekend was for the industry itself,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Even if the top movie didn’t earn $100 million, we had a big up weekend and we need more of those to get out of this deficit that we’ve been in since basically the beginning of the year.”The news, though, wasn’t good for “Booksmart,” the acclaimed teen comedy starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. Amid its disappointing wide-release opening last weekend, director Olivia Wilde appealed on social media for fans to support a movie “made by and about women.” On its second weekend, “Booksmart” couldn’t turn it around, earning $3.3 million on 2,518 screens.Overseas, Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner “Parasite,” a social satire from Korean director Bong Joon-ho, opened with $24.6 million. That was driven largely by stellar sales in South Korea where Bong’s raucous thriller easily outpaced “Godzilla.”Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.1. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $49 million ($130 million international).2. “Aladdin,” $42.3 million ($78.3 million international).3. “Rocketman,” $25 million ($19.2 million international).4. “Ma,” $18.3 million ($2.8 million international).5. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” $11.1 million ($12.7 million international).6. “Avengers: Endgame,” $7.8 million ($8.6 million international).7. “Pokemon Detective Pikachu,” $6.7 million ($14.6 million international).8. “Booksmart,” $3.3 million.9. “Brightburn,” $2.3 million.10. “The Hustle,” $1.3 million.___Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:1. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $130 million.2. “Aladdin,” $78.3 million.3. “Parasite,” $24.6 million.4. “Rocketman,” $19.2 million.5. “Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle Of The Moon Exploration,” $18.4 million.6. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $17.2 million.7. “Pokemon Detective Pikachu,” $14.6 million.8. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” $12.7 million.9. “Avengers: Endgame,” $8.6 million.10. “Happy Little Submarine: Space Pals,” $3.4 million.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press read more

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Looking to Bali and beyond Ban Kimoon advocates new green economics

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3 December 2007As the curtain was raised on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders to create a global framework to promote green economics and development. Writing an Op-Ed in The Washington Post today, the Secretary-General said the Bali Conference is an opportunity for leaders to establish a road map for the future and agree on a timeline to conclude a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol – set to expire in 2012 – by next year so that it can enter into force in 2013.“Handled correctly, our fight against global warming could set the stage for an eco-friendly transformation of the global economy – one that spurs growth and development rather than crimps it, as many nations fear.”Like the Industrial Revolution, the technology revolution and the modern era of globalization, the Secretary-General observed that the world is on the cusp of a new age of green economics.Scientists report that human activities are driving climate change, but “largely lost in the debate is the good news,” he noted, citing examples including Brazil, which derives some 44 per cent of its energy from renewable fuels – compared to the 13 per cent global average.Although China is frequently touted as the successor to the United States in being the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, the Secretary-General pointed out that the country is making strides to combat key environmental issues by investing $10 billion in renewable energy this year. Premier Wen Jiabao recently pledged to slash energy consumption by 20 per cent over five years.Mr. Ban said that rather than suffer from a transition to a green economy, growth may in fact gain momentum through the creation of new jobs as investment in zero-greenhouse gas energy surges.The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that global investment in zero-greenhouse energy will reach $1.9 trillion by 2020 – a figure the Secretary-General called “seed money for a wholesale reconfiguration of global industry.”The private sector requires ground rules and is calling for policies on climate change, including regulation, emissions caps and efficiency guidelines, he said.“The scientists have done their job,” declared Mr. Ban, who is attending the Conference’s high-level segment next week. “Now it’s up to the politicians. Bali is a test of their leadership.”Some 10,000 participants from 187 countries are expected to attend the two-week Conference.Over the weekend, the Secretary-General spoke with the leaders of India and China on the issue, while last week, he conversed with the presidents of the Russian Federation, United States and Brazil, according to a UN spokesperson. read more

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Mines and unexploded ordnance taking heavy toll on Chads children says UN

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Some 95 people have been killed by mines and UXO this year in Chad, of whom 17 were killed and 78 injured, the majority of them children. In the most recent incident on 28 August, one child was killed and five injured when a UXO they were playing with exploded in the eastern Chadian village of Tine, on the border with Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region. Two of the five wounded children had limbs amputated.“This is one more occurrence, in a fatal wave of UXO explosions affecting innocent civilians and especially children,” said Jean-François Basse, Child Protection Specialist with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. Prior to that, four people were killed and 30 wounded when a UXO exploded in a crowded market in N’Djamena on 4 August. “This is just one of the dramatic aspects of continued civil warfare in this country,” Eliane Duthoit from the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad said. In a recent report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that children continue to be the primary victims of the conflict in Chad – where Government forces have been battling rebel groups – whether they are recruited as soldiers, killed or hurt by landmines or denied humanitarian access.The political, military and security situation in Chad remains “highly volatile,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote. “As a result, children are made to suffer.”“Most of the problems are in the east and south-east of the country, but also in other areas affected by the latest rounds of fighting, including indeed the capital,” said Eva Faye of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which is working to support the Chadian National Demining Centre in clearing the country’s territory of mines and UXO. UNOPS, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has been supporting the Chadian authorities since 1998 in devising mine action initiatives. In addition, UNICEF conducts awareness campaigns among refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and local communities on the dangers posed by mines and UXO. While Chad’s Humanitarian Appeal for 2008 includes three projects in the mine action sector, totaling just over $1 million, none of them are underway due to lack of funding. 30 August 2008Mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) are taking a heavy toll on Chadian civilians, particularly children who make up the majority of the victims of the deadly scourge in the African nation, according to the United Nations. read more

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Ban welcomes release of one of three UN staff held in Niger

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23 March 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the release of one United Nations staff member who was taken hostage in Niger late last year and reiterated his call for the freeing of two others, including an envoy to the country, Canadian Robert Fowler. “The Secretary-General is pleased to know that Mr. Soumana Mounkaila, one of the three UN staff members who was abducted in Niger on 14 December 2008, has been released unharmed,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.“The Secretary-General renews his call on those holding Robert Fowler and Louis Guay to release them both without any further delay,” the spokesperson added.Through the statement, Mr. Ban also expressed appreciation for efforts made by Governments and individuals in the region to help secure the release of the staff members, who had gone missing while driving near the West African country’s capital Niamey. read more

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At least seven dead in latest smuggling tragedy off Yemeni coast –

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23 March 2009At least seven Africans drowned over the weekend when the smugglers’ boat they were travelling in capsized shortly after docking in the Yemeni port of Aden, the United Nations refugee agency has reported, adding that 85 passengers survived thanks to rescue efforts by local officials and the French Navy. The incident occurred on Saturday as passengers tried to disembark from the boat, which had just been towed to the Yemeni coast by a French frigate that on Thursday had found it adrift and taking on water in the Gulf of Aden.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the French sailors stopped the leak and then towed the boat, which was carrying 104 people, to Aden. As it docked, “the frightened passengers all rushed at the same time to disembark, causing the vessel to founder because of the sudden shift in balance,” the agency said in a press release.French sailors and the Yemeni coastguard rescued 85 passengers, which included Somalis and Ethiopians, and four of the smugglers, who were later arrested. In addition to the seven that drowned, five people are missing and presumed dead.“We are grateful to the French Navy and the Yemeni authorities, including port officials and the coastguard, for the rescue operation,” said Leila Nassif, the head of UNHCR’s sub-office in Aden. “As soon as the boat overturned, we saw everyone jump in the water and no effort was spared to save lives.”According to UNHCR, some 260 boats and 13,250 people have made the dangerous voyage across the Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa to Yemen so far this year, with 54 people reported dead and 36 missing at sea. read more

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UN food agency mourns death of champion against hunger

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13 September 2009The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today mourned the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman E. Borlaug, thanking him for being the agency’s “great champion in the battle against hunger.” The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today mourned the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman E. Borlaug, thanking him for being the agency’s “great champion in the battle against hunger.” Mr. Borlaug, who died yesterday, “saved more lives than any man in human history,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement.Called the father of the Green Revolution, “his total devotion to ending famine and hunger revolutionized food security for millions of people and for many nations,” she noted. The agronomist and humanitarian from the United States won the 1970 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. “His heart was as big as his brilliant mind, but it was his passion and compassion that moved the world,” Ms. Sheeran said. read more

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Tango takes its turn on UN cultural bodys list of intangible heritage

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Together with dances of the Ainu in Japan, the Ashiqs in Azerbaijan and Korean and Tibetan ethnic groups in China, and others from Réunion island, India, Mexico and the Republic of Korea (ROK) it joined a host of cultural elements ranging from France’s Aubusson tapestries to Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia, to be added to the list.In all, 76 cultural elements were inscribed on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, chosen by the 24 Member States of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage at its fourth session in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.The list was inaugurated last November in accordance with UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to protect the world’s oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, craftsmanship and knowledge of nature.Today’s inscriptions ranged from religious ceremonies, like the Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, the Panagyr ritual on the feast days of Saints Constantine and Helena in Bulgari, Bulgaria, and religious ritual theatre in the Garhwal Himalayas, India, to lace making in Croatia, a masked end-of-winter carnival in Mohács, Hungary, and the Voladores (‘flying men’) fertility dance of ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America.The inscriptions comprise cultural elements from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the ROK, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. 30 September 2009The tango, spawned over a century ago in the lower class barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo before bursting on to dance floors worldwide, today danced itself on to the United Nations-endorsed list of the planet’s intangible cultural heritage. read more

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UNICEF supports efforts to immunize Rwandan children against measles

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6 October 2009The third Mother and Child Health Week, backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has kicked off in Rwanda with a twist, with the campaign immunizing children against measles for the first time in the African Great Lakes nation. The third Mother and Child Health Week, backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has kicked off in Rwanda with a twist, with the campaign immunizing children against measles for the first time in the African Great Lakes nation.Measles accounts for less than 2 per cent of deaths of children under the age of five in Rwanda, but “we have to ensure that children continue to remain protected from this life-threatening illness,” said Joseph Foumbi, UN Resident Coordinator ad interim and UNICEF Representative in the country.Rwanda has made strides in slashing by half the number of under-five child deaths from preventable causes, from 196 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 103 live births in 2007, UNICEF said in a press release issued in the district of Bugesera.The Health Weeks, which are held in several regions of the world, have proven to be an effective way to save lives at a low cost.During the drive in Rwanda this week, children under five will be vaccinated against measles and polio, with some also receiving Vitamin A capsules to boost their immune systems and mebendazole to fight parasitic infections.Over 45,000 people – volunteers, community health workers and local leaders – will fan out across the country to ensure that more than 1.5 million women and children are brought to vaccination sites and health centres to receive care. read more

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UN envoy calls on Somali Parliament to resolve internal disputes

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26 April 2010The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today appealed to members of the nation’s Parliament to put aside their infighting and to instead focus on meeting the population’s needs and bolstering security. “I am following, with great unease, the unhelpful debate about parliamentary issues now taking place in Mogadishu,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said in a press release.Although, he said, he recognizes the need to address the question of parliamentarians’ salaries, “at the same time, I deplore the time and energy wasted on arguments which could be devoted to resolving more pressing issues at hand,” which also include implementing the March agreement struck between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama, an opposition faction previously opposed to the transitional authority.Mr. Ould-Abdallah voiced hope that Government and parliamentary leaders will be able to patch up their differences and tackle tasks affecting Somalis both within and outside the country.He said that he plans to meet with Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, who chairs the UN sanctions committee for Somalia, when the body visits the region.The committee, the Special Representative said, will bring up the issue of impunity, “which has long been a devastating factor in the Somali crisis,” during its meetings with representatives from the Governments of Somalia and Kenya.He also took note of last week’s meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG), the United Nations-backed group supporting peace and reconciliation in Somalia, which welcomed efforts by the TFG to reach out to opposition groups willing to join the peace process.In a communiqué at the end of the gathering held at the headquarters of the League of Arab States (LAS) in Cairo, the body that it was particularly encouraged by the 15 March an agreement between the Government and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama.“The ICG recognises this agreement as a possible blueprint for future cooperation with other groups and calls for the TFG to intensify its outreach efforts to those committed to peace and stability,” the communiqué noted after the Group’s latest meeting, chaired by Mr. Ould-Abdallah.With 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), some 570,000 refugees in the region and nearly 3 million people dependent on humanitarian aid, Somalia – which has been devastated by factional fighting and without a functioning central government since 1991 – remains the setting of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. read more

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Number of global patent filings recovers in 2010 UN agency reports

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9 February 2011Strong growth from China, the Republic of Korea and Japan has helped to boost the number of patent applications filed worldwide last year, following the drop witnessed in 2009, the United Nations agency tasked with promoting the protection of intellectual property said today. Patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an agreement administered by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that provides a simplified method for international patent filing, increased by 4.8 per cent in 2010. Provisional data shows that 162,900 international patent applications were filed last year, as compared to the 155,398 filed in 2009, WIPO stated in a news release.“Overall PCT filings recovered from the economic crisis-induced drop in 2009, almost reaching their 2008 level,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “The fast growth rates from East Asia reflect acceleration in the geographic diversification of innovative activities. This trend has many implications, not least an increased linguistic diversity of the technology that patent offices use as a basis for determining whether an invention is patentable,” he stated.The agency also noted that, despite the 1.7 per cent fall in patents filed by the United States in 2010, the country remains the largest user of the PCT system with 44,855 international applications filed, followed by Japan (32,156) and Germany (17,171). The Panasonic Corporation from Japan kept the top spot in the list of PCT applications published in 2010 (2,154), followed by Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corporation (1,863), and Qualcomm Incorporated from the US (1,677). The University of California accounted for the largest number of applications published in the category of academic institutions (306). The top four university PCT users are from the US (University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas and University of Florida). The fastest growth in published applications was in the digital communication field, with an increase of 17.3 per cent in 2010 over the previous year, while almost every other field of technology experienced declines or modest growth. The sharpest decline in patenting was seen in the field of telecommunications, the agency added. read more

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