12 Athletes Who Honored Morocco in IAAF World Championships

Rabat – Since 1983, Morocco has won 27 medals in The World Championships in Athletics organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).On the occasion of 15th biannual global track and field championship that is being held in China, MWN remembers 12 athletes who have brought honor to Morocco through their achievements in the IAAF over the past 32 years.Said Aouita (1 Gold and 1 Bronze) The former Moroccan track and field athlete who lives now in Orlando, Florida, was the first Moroccan to win a medal in the World Championships in Athletics.At the 1983 World Championships in Athletics: Saïd Aouita won a bronze medal in the 5000 meter race in Helsinki, bestowing on Morocco its very first medal in the IAAF World Championships.Fouryears later in 1987, Aouita won the title for the 5000 meters at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics in Rome. Thanks to the Aouita’s gold medal, Morocco ranked in 9th place that year.Said Aouita is a former world record holder in the1500 meters (3:29.45 minutes), 2000 meters (4:50.80), 3000 meters (7:29.46), and (twice)in the 5000 meters (13:00.40 and 12:58.39).Hicham El Guerrouj (5 gold 1 silver)Often dubbed as the “king of the mile,” Hicham El Guerrouj won his first medal, a silver medal, at the IAAF World Championships in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden.Two years later, he won a gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1997 the IAAF World Championships in Athens, Greece.In 1999, Hicham El Guerrouj won his second gold medal for the 1500 meters at the IAAF World Championships, winning a world record score (3:27.65).The Berkane native who is considered by many to be “the greatest middle distance runner of all time,” also won another gold medal in 1500 meters at the 8th World Championships in Athletics, held in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001.At the 2003 World Championships in Paris, Hicham El Guerrouj won two other gold medals for both the 1500 meters and 5000 meters.Last year, Moroccan athlete Hicham El Guerrouj became the youngest man to be inducted in the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) hall of fame.Nezha Bidouane (2 gold and 1 silver)Nezha Bidouane who specialized in the 400 meter hurdles, became the first Moroccan woman to win a gold medal at the World Championships in Athens in 1997 when she defeated the then Olympic champion Deon Hemmings and the world record holder Kim Batten in a superb final race.Two years later, she won a silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.Nezha Bidouane won her second gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the 8th World Championships in Athletics held in 2001 in Edmonton, Canada.The 400 meter Hurdles World champion donated her 2001 World Championships winning competition kit to the IAAF’s Athletics “For a Better World” humanitarian project.Jaouad Gharib (2 Gold)Jaouad Gharib is one of the most successful Moroccan long-distance runners. He won the gold medal for his performance in Marathon at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Gharib launched his final attack just before the 30 km mark, bypassing Italian Olympic champion Stefano Baldini and winning his second gold medal in Marathon.Gharib has an easily recognizable running style; he looks around and behind him frequently and constantly fidgets with his shirt and shorts, tucking and untucking his shirt almost every minute.Salah Hissou (1 Gold and 1 Bronze)Born in 1972 in Kasba Tadla, Salah Hissou became one of the most famous Arab long-distance runners.Salah Hissou won his first medal in the IAAF World Championships in 1997, when he gained a bronze medal at the World Championships in Athletics held in Athens.Two years later, Salah Hissou won the gold medal in the 5000 meters race at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.Hasna Benhassi (2 Silver)Hasna Benhassi, the famous Moroccan middle distance runner participated for the first time in the world athletics championships in 1997, held in Athens, where she reached the semi-finals.The second time she participated was in 2005 in the Helsinki World Athletics Championship on, where she won a silver medal.At the 2007 World Championships in Athletics in Osaka she cemented her position with another silver medal.Khalid Boulami (2 silver)Born in 1969 in Safe, Khalid Boulami is a former long-distance runner from Morocco. He won two silver medals in the world athletics championships.He won his first medal at the 1995 IAAF World Championships held in Gothenburg, Sweden, and won his second silver medal two years later in the 5000 meters at the 1997 Championships in Athletics in Athens.Khlid Skah (1 Silver and 1 Bronze) Born in 1967 in Midelt, Morocco’s Khalid Skah established himself first as a good cross country runner by winning two medals in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.At the 1991World Championships in Athletics held in Tokyo, Khlid Skah won a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters.Four years later, he won a silver medal at the 1995 IAAF World Championships held in Gothenburg.In 1995, Skah was granted Norwegian citizenship, prompting the Moroccan Athletics Association to ban him from international competitions.Zahra Ouaziz (1 Silver and 1 Bronze)Born 1969 in Khémisset Province, near Rabat, Zahra Ouaziz was inspired by former Moroccan hurdler, Nawal El Moutawakel who won the inaugural women’s 400 meters hurdles event at the 1984 Summer Olympics.In 1995, Ouaziz won a bronze medal in the 5000 meters race at the IAAF World Championships held in Gothenburg.Four years later, Zahra Ouaziz won a silver medal in the 5000 meters at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.Ouaziz broke the 5000 meters African record in 1998, clocking in at14:40.19. The record was beaten in September 2000 by Leah Malot of Kenya, who beat her by less than a second at 14:39.83.Adil Kaouch (1 silver)Adil Kaouch is a Moroccan middle distance runner who was born in 1979. He won his only medal in the IAAF World Championships in 2005 in Helsinki.Earlier in 1998, Kaouch won the World Junior Championships in1500 meters. One year later he won the gold in a 5000 meters at the 1999 Pan Arab Games.Adil Kaouch was suspended in 2007 for failing a doping test.Ali Ezzine (2 Bronze)Born in Ain Taoujdate, Meknès in 1978, Ali Ezzine is a Moroccan athlete who specializes in the 3000 meters steeplechase.He won a bronze medal in the 3000 meters steeplechase at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.Two years later, he won his second bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships held in Edmonton.In 1999 he achieved the fastest ever time in the steeplechase for a non-Kenyan athlete (8:03.57).Moulay Ibrahim Bouteyab (1 Bronze) Moulay Ibrahim Bouteyab is a long distance runner from Morocco. He was born in 1967.At the 1991World Championships in Athletics held in Tokyo, Bouteyab won a bronze medal in the 5000 meters race.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more

Morocco to Take Part in 2016 Arabian Travel Market in Dubai

Rabat – Morocco will take part in the 2016 Arabian Travel Market (ATM), to be held on April 25-28 in Dubai, the ministry of Tourism said.The event will be an opportunity for Morocco to promote its tourist offers and consolidate its market share in the Gulf and the Middle East region, the ministry added in a statement.According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals in the Middle East are estimated to have grown by 3 million in 2014, increasing the total to 51 million. Over 26,000 visitors expected to attend Middle East’s largest travel trade event with 2,800 confirmed exhibitors, 64 national pavilions and over 50 seminar and technology theater sessions.With MAP

Paris Agreement Nears Threshold for Adoption

By Beryl KessioRabat – UN climate change negotiations will take place in Marrakech at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) from November 7 to 18.This conference is a follow up to the December 2015 conference that produced the Paris Agreement, an agreement that promotes increased sustainability practices that will pave the way for a low carbon future. Specifically, it aims to curb global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while striving for 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The pact will be enforced 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance to the United Nations. Currently, 61 countries have submitted their instruments of ratification, accounting for 47.79 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has made climate change a top priority during his tenure, called on world leaders to bring the agreement into force by the year’s end at U.N. headquarters last week.“I am confident that, by the time I leave office, the Paris Agreement will have entered into force,” he said. “This will be a major achievement for multilateralism.”“When this year ends, I hope we can all look back with pride, knowing that, together, we seized the opportunity to act for the common good, for a sustainable future and the protection of our common home,” the U.N. chief added.The Paris Agreement has drawn criticism from policymakers and environmentalists for not being a legally binding agreement. There are no sanctions for countries who don’t reduce pollution or enact economic policies to meet the goals of the agreement. Nations are only required to convene at global climate change summits, report how they are going to implement their targets while tracking progress towards the long-term goal through a transparent system.“The deal reached in Paris is weak, containing no concrete increase in the level of ambition to address climate change, and simply urges countries to do more over time,” Richard Chatterton, head of climate policy at Bloomberg Energy Finance, said.At COP22 meetings, the implementation of the Paris Agreement will be a central theme. Leaders will discuss countries’ specific plans to reduce emissions. Also to be discussed is the development of accountability systems so that nations who ratified the Agreement are more inclined to abide by it.“The leaders of the world recognize that the consequences of noncompliance are disastrous. We are looking at a wholesale transformation of our global climate,” executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, Mike Burger said. “The main incentive here for compliance is not the threat of some civil penalty?—?non-compliance would mean environmental disaster.” read more

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev to Visit Morocco in October

Rabat – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is due to make a visit to Morocco in October, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Moscow announced Monday.“We expect Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to make a visit in October, and hope that it will prove to be an important landmark as far as partnership between our countries goes,” Lecheheb told Russian press agency TASS.The Moroccan ambassador praised relations between Rabat and Moscow, expressing the Kingdom’s interest in doing business with Russia. “We are ready for co-production activities together with Russian companies and would welcome Russian investment.”He added that strengthening ties with Russia is a “strategic choice” for Morocco.TASS said that the Russian government’s press service stated that the prime minister might visit Morocco and Algeria.Russia entertains good military relations with Algeria, currently the major Arab and African buyer of Russian weapons.In recent months, Morocco has sought better relationships with Russia. In March 2016 King Mohammed VI visited Moscow and met with President Vladimir Putin.During his visit, the monarch expressed his desire to boost cooperation with Russia.The two countries agreed to extend cooperation to security. A key agreement was signed on mutual protection of secret information in the military and military-technical areas, in addition to a joint statement on counter-terrorism.Earlier in July, the sixth Mixed Moroccan-Russian Commission for Economic, Scientific, and Technological Cooperation was held in Moscow, during which the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, declared the kingdom’s ambition to become Russia’s major Arab and African partner. read more

Royal Navy Stops 136 Moroccan and Sub-Saharan Immigrants

Rabat- Attempts at irregular migration continue to pressure Moroccan authorities and make headlines in Morocco.In a patrol mission on Saturday, the navy rescued the irregular migrants, Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans sailing from Nador in northeast Morocco and Tangier together in makeshift boats, reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).The navy units successfully returned the migrants to Ksar Sghir in Tangier and Nador in the Rif region. Read Also: Morocco’s DGSN Seizes 493,700 Ecstasy Pills at Tanger Med PortAs the Moroccan government continues to fight irregular migration through road and sea to Europe, many Moroccan migrants are persistent in trying to leave the country.Since September, when a young woman named Hayat died from navy gunfire while on a migrant speed boat, Moroccans have protested the harsh measure and the government has reported on large numbers of intercepted immigrants.Late in October, the Moroccan navy intercepted four boats carrying 143 migrants off the coasts of Tangier and Nador.EU officials announced earlier in October they would seek to extend economic and logistic support to help Morocco curb irregular immigration. Authorities also stated that current irregular migration attempts had surged 150 percent along the western Mediterranean route from the levels recorded between 2003 and 2015. read more

How cutting-edge technology helps basketball players shoot

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As a freshman last season at Michigan, Isaiah Livers shot 36 per cent from 3-point range. Decent, but not great.In the off-season, he went to work.“I was shooting at like 37 to 40 on the angle, and that’s not good,” Livers said. “Now I’m at probably 45 to 48.”Livers was referring to the arc on his shots, an area he’s tried to improve using an innovative system from the data-service provider Noah Basketball. The high-tech setup at Michigan’s practice facility can give immediate verbal responses, so a player can hear how much arc was on the most recent shot. This season, Livers is shooting 45 per cent from 3-point range, the top mark in the Big Ten.As teams compete in the NCAA Tournament over the next few weeks, games will be won and lost from the 3-point line and the foul line. The Noah system is an attempt to blend old-fashioned repetition with analytics and technology as players strive to improve their shooting.John Carter, CEO of Noah Basketball, says there are 45 NBA and college customers that have the new version of the system. The Noah system, so named because of the company’s focus on the arc of shots, can actually measure a lot more than that .Teams can access seemingly endless amounts of data, tracking not only the arc, but where a shot was taken from and where it ended up in relation to the basket. The system can measure if a shot is too far to the left or right — or if it’s too short or long.The best shots, according to the folks at Noah, enter the basket at a 45-degree angle, 11 inches beyond the front of the rim.“Now that our database has grown to over 180 million shots, what we’ve found is the number one indicator of a great shooter is left-right consistency,” Carter said. “But a close second is arc consistency.”The 11-inch figure may seem surprising, since it puts the shot closer to the back of the hoop than the front.“Most people still think that the ideal depth in the hoop is 9 inches, because the hoop’s an 18-inch hoop. It’s not. It’s 11,” said Alan Marty, Noah’s founder and chairman. “If you hit the front of the rim, a lot of them miss, but if you hit the back of the rim and it goes down, they all score.”All this information might seem overwhelming to a college basketball player. Who has time to calculate the exact depth of a shot when lining up a crucial 3-pointer? But a player using the Noah system can take shot after shot — and use the system’s instant verbal feedback to make corrections and build muscle memory.Virginia is another school that uses the system. The Cavaliers are one of the nation’s top teams in 3-point accuracy. Associate head coach Jason Williford says aside from all the precise measurements, the system can be useful just for counting shots for each player.“We monitor how many shots they’re taking a day or a week,” Williford said. “Are they in there getting up extra ones on their own? It’s been good for that.”Williford said sensory overload hasn’t been too much of a problem.“Some guys don’t like to hear the feedback,” he said. “Like, it’ll say ’45’ or whatever the arc was on a shot, and some guys don’t like to hear that feedback, but they like it because it’s keeping total shots.”One player who is more lukewarm on the system is former Virginia star Malcolm Brogdon, who now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.“I used it for a little bit and then fell off it,” he said. “The more I watch the game, the more I watch old film, everybody shoots differently. Everybody has different arcs. You’ve got to find what works for you. I’m a firm believer in that and I don’t believe in the perfect shot. You’ve got to learn how to play the game your way, your style. If you perfect what you do, it’ll work.”In that sense, shooting a basketball can be like hitting a golf ball. It’s certainly possible for a highly skilled player to succeed using unorthodox methods. Each team can make its own decisions about what information from the Noah system is most useful.That information will continue to flow. Last week, Noah Basketball and the Pac-12 announced a partnership for the league to use the system at its conference tournaments this year, collecting data that could be useful for teams or broadcasters.It probably went unnoticed to fans in the arena, but that was another significant step — using the system to track shots for an entire tournament, instead of on a practice court.“We have a couple real small sensors that’s attached to the top of the shot clock. The sensor’s literally about the size of my thumb,” Carter said. “And from that, we can track all the information.”It’s all part of the ongoing effort to help teams learn more about the game’s most basic objective — shooting the ball into the basket.___AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz Jr. contributed to this report.___More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25Noah Trister, The Associated Press read more

Moroccan Police Arrest Security Guard for Raping, Robbing Woman with Baby

Rabat  – The National Brigade of Judicial Police (BNPJ) in Mehdya near Kenitra arrested on Thursday a night guard who, armed with a sharp weapon, robbed a woman and raped her in front of her baby.The 54-year-old man raped and abused the woman in a construction site he was guarding in Mehdya. On Thursday night, police received a call from an anonymous person who reported the rape. The guard, the primary suspect was arrested on the same night, reported the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) on Friday. Police immediately transferred the woman and her baby to a local hospital for emergency care. The baby was apparently not subjected to any form of violence, said DGSN.Police also seized the victims’ bracelet which the man had stolen during the robbery.The suspect is currently in custody pending investigations.Recently, Morocco has witnessed several shocking rape cases that became nationwide topics, including cases of sexual harassment and violence plaguing women.Read Also: Police in Tetouan Arrest Spanish Prison Escapee with International WarrantOne of the rape cases that made international headlines and fueled the activism of national and international NGOs who was of Khadija, a teenager who was allegedly kidnapped, raped, held in captivity, and forcibly tattooed last summer. According to an annual report issued by the King’s Attorney General, Mohamed Abdel Nabawi in 2018, there were over 1,600 rape cases reported in 2017 in the country.In hopes to eliminate sexual harassment and gender-based violence, Morocco enacted Law 103-13 in September 2018.But some women’s associations have expressed disappointment with the law. They say it contains loopholes because some offenders still receive leniency, which,  according to the Union of Women’s Action (UAF), a Moroccan feminist association, will not allow the elimination of the violence that “affects two-thirds of Moroccan women.” read more

Canada launches public consultations on tariff rate quotas for supply-managed goods

OTTAWA — Global Affairs Canada has launched public consultations on how it allocates and administers tariff rate quotas for a number of supply-managed poultry and dairy products.The government is looking to hear from both individuals and organizations via an online questionnaire found on its website.A tariff rate quota (TRQ) is an import mechanism that allows a certain amount of a specific product to be imported at a low or zero duty rate, while anything above that is generally charged a much higher rate.The survey allows Canadians to choose from two dozen products to comment on, including chicken, eggs, cheese and butter.It asks questions about what the preferred method of allocation would be for TRQs, whether new entrants should face different eligibility criteria, and whether there should be a cap on how much of the quota one allocation holder can receive.Survey takers can weigh in on whether a portion of the allocation should be reserved for specific demographics or other categories, like women-owned businesses; whether transfers should be allowed; and what, if any, restrictions should be considered for auctions.The Canadian Press read more

Japanese nuclear plant hit by quake shut down safely UN expert team

But physical stresses resulting from the quake could affect the long-term safe operation of some plant components at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant and the mission’s findings and Japanese analyses include important lessons, both positive and negative, that will be relevant to other nuclear plants worldwide, UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said. The six-member team, assembled by the IAEA at the request of the Japanese Government, found that damage appears less than expected, and in a statement Mr. ElBaradei welcomed the cooperation and transparency afforded by the authorities. The mission’s full report will be issued shortly. The team, which conducted a three-day physical examination of the seven-unit complex as well as an analysis of instrument logs and other records, concluded that plant safety features performed as required during the quake, supporting the Japanese authorities’ conclusion that the radioactivity released was well below authorized limits for public health and environmental safety. Damage appears to be limited to those sections that would not affect the reactor or systems related to reactor safety. Detailed checks and inspections by the operator and Japanese authorities are ongoing and significant work, such as detailed examination of the reactor vessels, cores and fuel elements, has still to be performed, the mission said. Additional engineering analysis of some components would be an important consideration for determining whether they should be replaced earlier than otherwise anticipated, the team of two IAEA experts and four other specialists added. The quake significantly exceeded the level of seismic activity for which the plant was designed, but as with most nuclear plants additional robustness in design, known as a design safety margin, had been incorporated into the structures, systems and components, probably explaining why damage was less than could have otherwise been expected. However, experts cautioned that conduct further technical analysis is essential to understand the precise design elements that resulted in the plant performance. 15 August 2007A Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by a strong earthquake last month shut down safely, and the very small amount of radioactivity released was well below the authorized limits for public health and environmental safety, according to a United Nations-sponsored fact-finding team of international nuclear safety experts. read more

Chad pledges full cooperation for new UN peacekeeping presence

Ahmad Allam-Mi told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate that the mission, to be known as MINURCAT, will help lighten the heavy burden that until now has been borne by Chadian gendarmes working to help alleviate the plight of refugees, displaced persons and others victimized by the conflict.He paid tribute to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and friendly countries which have been supporting Chadian forces who have been acting with courage in the face of a “sensitive and dangerous” mission.“The new operation can count on the support and cooperation of the Chadian authorities,” he pledged. “We dare to hope that it will create conditions that will foster stability and reconstruction in the eastern region of our country that have been devastated by incursions of the Sudanese Janjaweed and other armed men coming from Darfur.”According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the situation in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR), where MINURCAT will also be deployed, the humanitarian situation “has shown no signs of improving” since February, with more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the fighting and an estimated 700,000 others in host communities also affected. 2 October 2007The Foreign Minister of Chad today welcomed the recent creation of a United Nations-mandated, multidimensional presence in the country, pledging full support for its work on behalf of the thousands of people who have been uprooted by insecurity in the region, including the conflict-torn Darfur region of Sudan. read more

UN and AU envoys press forward with landmark Darfur peace talks

29 October 2007The United Nations and African Union (AU) envoys chairing historic talks aimed at resolving the crisis in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region today continued their substantive preparations in Sirte, Libya, in pressing ahead with the peace process. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim today met with representatives from the Sudanese Government, civil society, international partners and rebel groups, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York. The topics addressed in their discussions included security and the sharing of wealth and power. Preparations are also being made for a senior-level team to travel to Sudan to hold talks with those groups who are not attending the Sirte event. Addressing the press yesterday, Mr. Eliasson stressed that despite the absence of several parties in Sirte, “I refuse to state that the peace process is interrupted. The train has left the station for the road to peace. The question is how many passengers will get on the train.” Despite all sides not being in attendance at the talks, Mr. Salim stated that these sides “have made it clear to us their commitment to the process, that they would want to take part in the process so it is a question of how we make sure that they take part in the process.” Since 2003, over 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes in the violence-wracked Darfur region because of fighting among rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.On the humanitarian front, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes today voiced strong concern over alleged forced relocations taking place in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Darfur. “I am alarmed about the reports of forced relocation last night from Otash camp in Nyala, South Darfur, both about the manner in which the relocations were apparently carried out and the possibility that such action could contribute to more violence,” he said. Otash camp shelters over 60,000 IDPs, and during the incident, the new IDPs from Kalma camp, the largest in Darfur, were surrounded by the police. A team comprising personnel from the UN, the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was denied access to the camp by the representative of the Humanitarian Aid Commission. The team managed to enter the camp, and witnessed 10 vehicles with heavy machine guns surrounding a group of IDPs while eight large commercial trucks were being loaded with the belongings of IDP women and children. The police told the team that the people were being moved to Amakassara. “While the United Nations notes the Government’s concern about the security situation in the camps, it is imperative that any relocation be wholly voluntary, in agreement with the internally displaced,” said Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Emergency Relief Coordinator. “We have had many meetings with the Government of Sudan, stressing that any relocation should be voluntary and should adhere to the guiding principles of internal displacement,” he added. “Given that security forces where threatening the displaced with sticks and rubber hoses at Otash camp, the involuntary nature of this relocation is clear, and is contrary to agreements with the Government.” Relocation is covered by the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the UN, IOM and the Sudanese Government. IOM is concerned by the reported force relocation of IDPs from Otash camp and is preparing a formal statement following an investigation, expressing particular concern that they and other members of the international community were denied access to the IDPs during the relocation. Meanwhile in Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, met with the country’s President, Omar al-Bashir. Mr. Qazi reiterated the UN’s commitment to assist the parties in implementing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended a 21-year civil war between North and South Sudan. He emphasized that the CPA is the basis for sustainable peace and stability in the country, as well as a significant achievement for the Sudanese people. Agreeing to the significance of the CPA, President Bashir voiced hope that the relationship between his Government and the UN would continue to be characterized by dialogue and direct consultations. The Special Representative also noted that he plans to visit Juba in the coming days to meet with Salva Kiir, First-Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan. In another development, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan told a General Assembly committee that Darfur “remains a region where gross violations of human rights are perpetrated by all parties,” including arbitrary arrest, torture, illegal taxation, extortion, forced displacement, killing and sexual violence. “The conflict in Darfur has no military solution,” Sima Samar told the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural (Third) Committee. “Political solutions are urgently needed.” Also addressing the Committee, the Secretary-General’s Representative on the human rights of IDPs, Walter Kälin, said he would visit Darfur in the Spring of 2008 at the invitation of the Government. “The situation of roughly 2 million IDPs in Darfur remains one of the most serious in the world,” he said, calling on all concerned to “take full advantage” of the peace talks, as well as the deployment of a hybrid AU-UN force, to create conditions to end violence against the displaced, to allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and to facilitate sustainable return. read more

No consensus in Security Council on Zimbabwe sanctions

Permanent members China and Russia vetoed the text, with South Africa, Libya and Viet Nam also voting against the resolution.The draft received 9 votes in favor – the necessary number for a majority – from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Italy and Panama, while Indonesia abstained.Before the vote, Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe stressed that “political dialogue is ongoing between the contending parties” in the country, adding that in his inauguration statement, Mr. Mugabe “reached out to the opposition and said that it was now imperative for the nation to look forward to the future with a sense of unity.”But the United States, one of the resolution’s 9 co-sponsors, disagreed. “There are not serious, substantive negotiations underway between the Mugabe regime and the opposition,” Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States told the Council after the vote.Mr. Khalilzad said there is “no doubt” that the situation in Zimbabwe – where Mr. Mugabe was sole candidate in last month’s presidential run-off after violence and intimidation directed towards the opposition forces led to the withdrawal of opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – impacts peace and security in the region.The United Kingdom, which also sponsored the draft, emphasized that the resolution was not “an attempt to undermine ongoing mediation efforts,” Ambassador John Sawers said. “Precisely the opposite.”He also said that today’s text was “not a foray into the internal affairs of an African country,” citing previous Council actions taken on countries such as Sierra Leone, Sudan and Somalia.Zimbabwe’s problems “cannot be resolved by artificially elevating them to the degree of a threat to international peace and security. The Council’s application here of enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter has no foundation and is excessive,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said.Speaking to reporters following the open meeting, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said that adopting the resolution would have been “counterproductive to the initiatives and efforts now underway by the Africans to find a solution to the problem in Zimbabwe,” adding that negotiations are under way in South Africa.Echoing his comments, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa said that his delegation voted against the draft given his country’s membership in the African Union (AU) and the South African Development Community (SADC).He added that the AU Summit, which ended last week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, rather than call for sanctions against Zimbabwe, instead encouraged Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai “to honour their commitments to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace, stability, democracy and reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people.”Further, the AU voiced its appreciation to SADC for its efforts to reconcile the parties, Mr. Kumalo said.Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the Council that the crisis in Zimbabwe not only represents a “moment of truth” for democracy on the continent but also poses a “challenge to the world.”Briefing the body on the Sharm El-Sheikh summit, she said that “when an election is conducted in an atmosphere of fear and violence, its outcome cannot have a legitimacy that is built on the will of the people. Consequently, the principle of democracy is at stake.”Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also criticized the outcome of the run-off – which went ahead despite international appeals for a postponement given the violence and intimidation that preceded it – as illegitimate.“The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result,” his spokesperson said in a 30 June statement. “The Secretary-General has said repeatedly that conditions were not in place for a free and fair election and observers have confirmed this from the deeply flawed process.” 11 July 2008A draft resolution calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe, including a travel ban and assets freeze on President Robert Mugabe and 12 other individuals, was not adopted by the Security Council today. read more

SecretaryGeneral condemns deadly dual attacks in Istanbul

28 July 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned last night’s twin bombings in Istanbul that have killed at least 16 civilians and injured many others. “He deeply regrets the loss of life and conveys his sympathies to the families of the victims and the wounded,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement released today.Media reports say two explosions occurred within minutes of each other last night in the Gungoren residential neighbourhood of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

Martial arts actor takes on role of Goodwill Ambassador for UN health

Martial arts expert and international film star Jet Li was named today as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), which has lauded his efforts on global disaster relief and support for the well-being of young people.Mr. Li, born in Beijing, is expected to use his worldwide celebrity to raise attention on key health issues including public health responses to emergencies and mental health. “I am very pleased to appoint Jet Li as a Goodwill Ambassador for WHO,” said the agency’s Director-General, Margaret Chan, speaking from Sichuan, China, where she is attending an international conference on health response to natural disasters. Ms. Chan highlighted the actor’s commitment to promoting community involvement and young people’s participation in social and health issues as an asset to WHO’s work. After experiencing the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Mr. Li took a break from acting and set up a charitable foundation supporting international disaster relief efforts, which has been involved in the emergency response to earthquakes in China. He also set up programmes to help young people to cope with psycho-social challenges. “He has been personally involved in providing emergency response following natural disasters and has promoted mental health amongst youth. We are grateful that he is willing to use his energy and fame to promote health and well-being,” said Ms. Chan. In his first official function for WHO, Mr. Li will attend the 7 April launch of World Health Day in Beijing, where he will help spread this year’s message of making hospitals safe during emergencies. 3 April 2009Martial arts expert and international film star Jet Li was named today as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), which has lauded his efforts on global disaster relief and support for the well-being of young people. read more

UNbacked probe into Hariri killings seeks information held by Hizbollah leader

The prosecutor of the United Nations-backed court set up to try suspects in the murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others has asked the country’s authorities to hand over all information allegedly held by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah pertaining to the 2005 attack. Mr. Nasrallah held a press conference on 9 August during which he offered information to assist the investigation, and showed a video that he claimed implicates Israel in the attack. “In line with its mandate, the Office of the Prosecutor has requested the Lebanese authorities to provide all the information in possession of Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah,” the Special Tribunal for Lebanon stated in a news release. “This request includes the video material that was shown on television during the press conference, as well any other material that would be of assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor in unveiling the truth,” it added. The Office of the Prosecutor also invited Mr. Nasrallah to “use his authority to facilitate its investigation.” The Tribunal is an independent body that was set up in The Hague in the Netherlands, following a probe by an independent international commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing in February 2005 was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. The investigation of the murders continues under the guidance of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, who reported in December that the probe “is making progress and proceeding at full pace.” He stressed that the ultimate goal of the Tribunal, beyond finding out the truth and ensuring that justice is done, is to help Lebanon and its people in their continued efforts to further promote the rule of law and fight impunity. 11 August 2010The prosecutor of the United Nations-backed court set up to try suspects in the murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others has asked the country’s authorities to hand over all information allegedly held by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah pertaining to the 2005 attack. read more

UN confirms reported gang rape of women by rebels in DRC Congo

23 August 2010A United Nations human rights team has confirmed that members of two armed groups in the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) raped more than 150 women during an attack on a village in North Kivu province last month, a UN spokesperson said today. Victims of the attack, which occurred on 30 July in the village of Bunangiri, which situated in the Banamukira area of North Kivu, are receiving medical treatment and have also been provided psycho-social care, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General told reporters in New York.Perpetrators of the attack are said to be insurgents loyal to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of ethnic Hutu fighters linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and their accomplices believed to be members of a local militia known as the Mai-Mai Cheka.The UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, has a military company based at Kibua, some 30 kilometres east of the scene of the attack, but the assailants blocked the road and prevented villagers from reaching the nearest communication point at the time the crimes were committed.According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), more than 8,000 women were raped by warring factions last year in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.Although members of the FDLR, which who have been active in eastern DRC since 1994, are thought to be responsible for most of the rapes, soldiers serving in the national army have also been implicated in sexual abuse in North and South Kivu provinces, according to UN experts.In many cases, women are raped when they leave their villages or camps to collect firewood, water and other essentials. read more

UN welcomes accord signed between Sudan and Darfur rebel group

14 July 2011The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur has welcomed the agreement signed today between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), calling it a “significant step forward” in efforts to resolve the conflict. The protocol agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, indicates a commitment on the part of the Government and the LJM to the draft document that will form the basis of a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting that began eight years ago.“We are gathered here to witness and extend support to the building of a strong foundation for an inclusive and comprehensive resolution to the conflict,” Ibrahim Gambari, the head of the UN-AU mission (UNAMID), told the gathering.Mr. Gambari, who is the acting Joint Chief Mediator, urged the other armed movements of Darfur to sign up to the draft document, according to a news release issued by UNAMID. He also said that the mission was ready to prepare the ground for an internal political dialogue to involve the people of Darfur in any peace agreement achieved.“The challenge remains to determine how best to engage and persuade ‘hold-out’ groups that a military solution to the Darfur conflict is not the way to go, while encouraging them to make every effort to participate in a comprehensive peace agreement as soon as possible,” he stated. The gathering in Doha brought together several African heads of State, officials from the AU, League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as representatives of Darfur’s civil society.An estimated 300,000 people have been killed since the conflict between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen erupted in Darfur in 2003 and about 2.7 million others have had to flee their homes. Both sides have been accused of numerous human rights abuses. read more

RBC to hike mortgage rates on Tuesday

TORONTO — Royal Bank of Canada is once again boosting some of its home mortgage rates effective Tuesday.The increases will range from one-tenth to three-tenths of a point, depending on the type of mortgage.Royal Bank says its special discounted four-, five-, seven-, and ten-year rates are going up to 3.39, 3.69, 3.99 and 4.29% respectively.Royal increased some of its mortgage rates earlier this month following a plunge in bond prices in May.Scotiabank and TD Bank have also recently increased their special discounted rates.The Canadian Press

TSX lifted by earnings miners drag amid falling commodities

Canada’s main stock index was slightly higher Wednesday amid strong earnings reports from the two big railways and glum news from China’s financial sector.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 11.96 points to 13,260.02 at midmorning, following six straight advances for the Toronto market.The Canadian dollar, already down early in the session, dropped further after the Bank of Canada announced economic growth will be lower than expected through 2015.At midmorning, the loonie was down 0.74 of a cent at 96.45 cents US from Tuesday’s close. It had been down just 0.36 of a cent US shortly before the central bank’s announcement.U.S. indexes were also lower after a string of gains as traders took in positive earnings from Boeing and a disappointment from Caterpillar.The Dow Jones industrials lost 75.33 points to 15,392.33, the Nasdaq declined 33.96 points to 3,895.61 and the S&P 500 index was down 10.97 points to 1,743.7.Canada’s two largest railroads both reported strong earnings results that beat analyst estimates on several key measures.Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) said after the close Tuesday that quarterly profits climbed 6.1 per cent to $705 million.CN also posted adjusted earnings of $1.72 a share, a dime better than estimates. Revenue came in at $2.7 billion, against estimates of $2.64 billion and its shares ran up $2.85 to $112.60 after hitting a new 52-week high of $112.75.On Wednesday, Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) posted record earnings and the lowest operating ratio in its history in the third quarter as revenue rose by six per cent from last year to $1.5 billion.CP’s net income was $324 million or $1.84 per diluted share, up from $224 million or $1.30 per share in the third quarter of 2012. CP’s operating ratio improved to 65.9 per cent, down from 74.1 per cent. Its shares jumped $7.04 to $141.78.Electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. (TSX:CLS) reported an increase in third-quarter net earnings despite a decline in revenue as a result of last year’s loss of its manufacturing contract with BlackBerry (TSX:BB).Celestica says net earnings improved to US$57.4 million or 31 cents per share from $43.7 million or 21 cents in the prior-year period. Revenue slumped to US$1.49 billion from more than US$1.57 billion in the 2012 quarter and its shares gained 61 cents to $11.39.Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) says it had US$150 million or 20 cents per share in operating earnings in the third quarter, a big drop from $263 million a year ago but better than expected.The Canadian natural gas giant also said it is also reducing its 2013 target range for capital spending to between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion. Its shares were 17 cents higher at $18.96.It was a mixed bag in the U.S. where Caterpillar shares were down $5.17 or 5.8 per cent to US$84 after the maker of heavy equipment cut its 2013 revenue forecast to US$55 billion from earlier estimates of $56 billion to $58 billion.Caterpillar earned $946 million, or $1.45 a share, in the third quarter, down from $1.7 billion, or $2.54 a share, a year ago. Total sales and revenue fell to $13.42 billion from $16.45 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $1.68 a share on revenue of $14.29 billion.Aircraft maker Boeing reported third-quarter profit rose 12 per cent to $1.2 billion, or $1.51 a share. Ex-items, earnings per shares came in at $1.80 per share, up from $1.55 a year earlier. Revenue rose to $22.1 billion, from $20 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.51 a share on revenue of $21.7 billion.Boeing also raised its full-year 2013 earnings expectations and its shares rose $6.84 or 5.58 per cent to $129.32.Commodity prices were sharply lower amid speculation that the People’s Bank of China may tighten monetary policy to cool a hot property market.China reported Tuesday that house prices surged in some cities including Guangzhou/Shenzhen where prices jumped 20 per cent year over year, Shanghai jumped 17 per cent year over year while Beijing was up 16 per cent year over year.The PBoC reported Wednesday that outstanding real estate loans are up 19 per cent from a year ago.There was also a report that the amount of bad loans written off by China’s largest banks swelled in the first half of the year.The market was dragged down by a 2.4 per cent slide in the base metals sector as December copper lost six cents to US$3.28 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) fell 89 cents to C$28.83.The energy sector was down 0.8 per cent as the December crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped $1.57 to US$96.73 a barrel, its lowest level since late June. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) fell 55 cents to C$36.96.The gold sector slipped 0.26 per cent as bullion prices also headed downward with the December bullion contract down $8.90 to US$1,333.70 an ounce.European bourses were negative with London’s FTSE 100 index down 0.55 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX declined 0.38 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 fell 0.95 per cent.Earlier in Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.4 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei 225 tumbled two per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 per cent. read more

OmniTrax backs away from controversial plan to ship crude oil via Hudson

WINNIPEG — A rail company is putting the brakes on a controversial plan to haul millions of litres of crude oil across its northern rail line to the port of Churchill on Hudson Bay.Omnitrax Canada president Merv Tweed said the company, which operates the port in Manitoba, is expecting another record shipping season from grain and other commodities. That has shifted the company’s focus away from shipping crude oil, he said.“We’ve got a glut of grain on the market,” Tweed said Friday. “It looks like another great crop. We increased our volume last year. Our targets are higher this year and they’ll be higher again next year. I think it’s important that we focus on the grain side of it. That’s the direction that we’ve chosen.”Omnitrax had argued the plan to transport oil across hundreds of kilometres of remote rail line built on permafrost was safe and would help create much-needed jobs in the North. But the proposal was vehemently opposed by aboriginal groups, environmentalists and the government of Manitoba.Community consultations were “important factors” in the company’s decision to back away from the plan, Tweed said.“We listened to them. I share some of their concerns,” he said. “I’m not saying we can’t do it. I’m just saying right now, as the president of a company that’s looking to grow, we need to focus on the grain market.”The northern rail line has been plagued by derailments that have intermittently forced the suspension of both freight and passenger services. That bolstered the argument among detractors that shipping oil along the rail line was too risky to the environment and the safety of those who live in the region.The most recent figures from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada show there were 63 accidents on the Hudson Bay rail line between 2003 and 2012. All but 10 were derailments.Eric Reder with the Manitoba Wilderness Committee said Omnitrax has made the right decision. The rail line is bent and crooked because of the challenging terrain it covers, he said.“Trying to keep this train track straight is an incredible undertaking,” Reder said. “It’s hard to imagine that there could be a worse track to ship crude oil on.”The plan meant those living near the rail line would assume a huge risk with little benefit, he said. Cleaning up a derailed grain car is one thing but cleaning up a crude oil spill is quite another, Reder suggested.“When there is a grain spill, the grain is on the ground, but it doesn’t leave a mess and it doesn’t stay there for generations.” While Tweed said Omnitrax will look at other ways to diversify its shipments by possibly including potash and wood pellets, Reder said legislation banning the shipment of oil through northern Manitoba is the only way to guarantee the plan doesn’t get resurrected.Transportation Minister Steve Ashton had said Manitoba couldn’t support the plan in light of the deadly derailment in Lac Megantic last year. Any spill would jeopardize the livelihoods of aboriginal communities, pose a huge risk to wildlife and threaten tourism in Churchill, he said last year.Churchill, known as the “polar bear capital of the world,” is an eco-tourism destination for polar bear, beluga whale and bird watching. Ashton was not available Friday to comment on Omnitrax’s decision.“We have opposed shipping oil through the port of Churchill for environmental and rail safety reasons,” said Jodee Mason, a cabinet spokeswoman. “We believe that Omnitrax is making the correct decision by suspending their efforts to ship oil.” read more