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Soualiga Newsday Focus (1395)

Health City, Cayman Tourism partner to promote medical travel

CAYMAN ISLANDS - The Caribbean's newest healthcare facility is venturing into a new partnership to strengthen its identity as the region's premier destination for world-class healthcare and medical tourism.

Shomari Scott, marketing director of Health City Cayman Islands, said that the international hospital's strategy to attract more travelers seeking medical attention has been given the thumbs up by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

"We are encouraged to embark on a partnership that positions Health City Cayman Islands as a leading tertiary care hospital in the Caribbean," said Scott, who previously served as the director of tourism in the Cayman Islands.

"Destination healthcare is intriguing," noted Rosa Harris, Cayman Islands' current director of tourism, who was pleased to embrace the department's "new budding partner."

"(This partnership) gives us an opportunity to promote the destination and have a different conversation," said Harris, who described the facility and the vision of Health City Cayman Islands as extraordinary.

Impressed also with Health City's long term commitment to the Cayman Islands, Harris described Health City as "multifaceted".

"It's not just a hospital. It will become a training center, assisted living facility, and also (offer) hotel accommodations. So, in our mind there will be many (levels and types) of partnership,” she noted.

Harris disclosed that Health City and the tourism department have already started to integrate marketing efforts, and she is enthusiastic about the potential for collaboration.

Health City Cayman Islands, the vision of top heart surgeon and humanitarian Dr Devi Shetty, is supported by two major healthcare organizations, Narayana Health and the US-based Ascension which is one of the nation's largest faith-based and non-profit health systems, providing the highest quality care to all with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Health City Cayman Islands provides compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare services for all in a world-class, comfortable, patient-centered environment. Offering healthcare to international, regional and local patients, Health City Cayman Islands delivers excellence in adult and pediatric cardiology, cardiac surgery, medical oncology, orthopedics, pediatric endocrinology, and pulmonology. (CaribbeanNewsNow)

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Carnival’s US$85 Million Dominican Republic Cruise Port to Open in October. Expected in first year 250,000 Cruise Passengers

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced it will begin welcoming guests at its newly developedAmber Coveport in theDominican Republic beginningOctober 2015. Six of Carnival Corporation's nine brands will call on Amber Cove along the country'sAmber Coast to give cruise passengers another exotic location to explore as part of their vacation experience.

The port will open with a visit from Carnival Victory from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand onOctober 6, 2015. Following this inaugural visit, five additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove -- including Cunard's Queen Mary 2 onNovember 22, P&O Cruises' (UK) Azura onDecember 5, AIDA Cruises' AIDAvita onDecember 11, Costa Cruises' Costa Deliziosa onDecember 31and Holland America Line's ms Eurodam onJanuary 19.

Additional ships from the company's brands are scheduled to call on the port in late 2015 and through 2016 including Carnival Cruise Line's Fantasy, Splendor, Valor, Sunshine, Conquest and Breeze and Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. These visits will consist of 57 calls by 13 different ships across the six brands taking place betweenOctober 2015andApril 2016, accounting for more than 155,000 guests during this period.

With the opening of the new Amber Cove port, passengers will be able to make stops along theDominican Republic'snorthAmber Coast, which has not been regularly visited on cruise itineraries since the 1980s. It will open expanded itinerary options in theCaribbean, the world's most popular region for cruise vacations1, and will pair with the company'sGrand Turk Cruise Centeronly 100 miles to the north to anchor new centralCaribbeanitineraries for Carnival's nine global brands. In looking to the future, the port is strategically located to be incorporated into itineraries featuring potential stops inCuba.

The new US$85 millionfacility represents the largest cruise industry investment ever made in theDominican Republic, and will feature a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. Carnival Corporation has monitored the various stages of the port's construction progress with the use of drones, an innovative development that is being used for the first time as part of the company's port development process. The facility, a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. It will provide approximately 430 local jobs.

"The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as theCaribbeanregion as a whole," said Francisco Javier, tourism director of theDominican Republic. "Carnival Corporation's investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port  will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of theDominican Republic, ourAmber Coast, which hasn't been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development."  

This new port facility in theDominican Republicunderscores the company's focus on creating great vacation experiences, as passengers sailing theCaribbeanwill have an exciting new destination to visit. It will also give Carnival Corporation's nine global cruise brands the ability to create more diverse itineraries, another important part of the cruise experience. More than 60 percent of cruisers are repeat passengers, and offering robust itineraries keeps the experience fresh and engaging for them.

The opening of Amber Cove adds to the portfolio of cruise destinations Carnival Corporation has developed in theCaribbean. This includes the Grand Turk Cruise Center in theTurks & Caicos Islands,Puerta Mayaon the Island ofCozumel, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan,Honduras. It is one of roughly 60 ports Carnival Corporation's brands visit in the region.

Amber Cove will feature a waterfront welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments. The port will also include a recreational area featuring amenities such as a pool, splash zone and green space areas. The transportation hub -- the single largest component of the port -- will provide visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.

The new port will host one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in theCaribbean, offering roughly 40 different landside experiences including beaches, water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Many of these excursion offerings will come from well-established local operators. Nearby Ocean World, one of the region's largest marine adventure parks, offers guests popular ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

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U.S. State Department Issues ‘Critical’ Advisory on Crime

SINT MAARTEN/THE BAHAMAS/U.S.V.I. – The United States State Department has issued a “critical” advisory for the New Providence Island of The Bahamas where the threat of crime is considered to be of that nature.  The aforementioned island has sustained high levels of violent crime and armed robberies.

Last year Sint Maarten experienced a number of serious armed robberies of financial institutions, casinos and jewellery stores.  Some of the perpetrators have been caught by law enforcement.  On the Northern side of the island – St. Martin – there was also an armed shoot-out between French National Police (Gendarmes) and jewellery store robbers. There are no special crime advisories from the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairs.  The country is considered a safe destination for vacationing.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force issued their 2015 Crime and Safety Report last week and it says that violent crime remains above 2013 levels over 2014.  The Police Force has implemented armed-checkpoints along with a crime reduction plan in tourist areas.

The Police have noticed a significant increase of violent armed crimes in areas heavily patronized by U.S. citizens.

According to the Crime and Safety Report, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, has received an increase of reports of assaults including sexual assaults at residents, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels and on cruise ships, and as a result the U.S. Embassy issued five security messages in 2014.  

The U.S. Virgin Islands has also been dealing with an alarming increase in violent crime.

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp has proposed a wide-range of measures that includes increasing police presence by hiring more officers and using the military police from the National Guard, if necessary, and sending large numbers of offenders out of the island to the U.S. mainland prisons.

One of the plans is to have the U.S. Federal Government prosecute all crimes involving firearms so that those convicted will be sent to federal prison.

Another plan of Governor Mapp is to transfer 50 to 60 per cent of the prisoners now incarcerated in the U.S. Virgin Islands to U.S. mainland facilities.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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British Foreign Office Issues Warning of terrorism in Denmark

INTERNATIONAL - The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its advice today February 19 to say there is a general threat of terrorism in Denmark.

It says attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners, following two shooting incidents last weekend.

Two civilians were killed and five police officers were wounded in shooting incidents on February 14 and 15 in the Østerbro and Krystalgade areas of Copenhagen.

The FCO said Danish authorities consider both incidents to have been linked and terrorist-related.

However it also added that there is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

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Emil Lee: CHTA Names Vanessa Ledesma-Berrios Chief Operating Officer

SINT MAARTEN - Emil Lee, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), announced that long time employee Vanessa Ledesma-Berrios has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) making her the first female to hold such a commanding position within the CHTA headquarters staff.  

Ledesma-Berrios will work along with CHTA's new executive team comprised of Frank Comito, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Matt Cooper (Chief Marketing Officer), to execute the association's strategic plans and serve the membership of 32 National Hotel Associations and over 600 hotels and 300 allied members. 

"In developing our new team of executives to lead CHTA, we knew that Vanessa Ledesma-Berrios was the right person to be the COO having managed all of the Association's events for the past 16 years as well as the day-to-day operations for the past two years when she was last promoted to Director of Operations and Events," said Lee.  "The appointment of a female to the position of COO is an important milestone for CHTA," Lee added.

Ledesma-Berrios has been with the Association 16 years serving as Director of Operations and Events prior to her appointment as COO.  Previously she was CHTA's Conferences and Events Director.  She joined CHTA following her work with Maritza Negroni & Associates as a meeting planner and then conference organizer from 1995 until being hired by CHTA in 1999.  

Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association

The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) facilitates the full potential of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving members' needs and building partnerships in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.  CHTA is the voice of the Caribbean hospitality industry for the development of the region in the highly competitive and sophisticated environment of international tourism. Today, tourism is widely recognized as a pivotal industry in the economy of the region - and CHTA functions as the common denominator for this industry in a region of diverse nationalities, languages and styles, identifying mutual problems and marshaling the resources of the active and allied members to devise solutions. CHTA represents all facets of the hospitality industry with more than 600 member hotels and over 300 allied members.

CHTA, including the events staged by the association, is supported by Strategic Partners MasterCard, Interval International, OBM International, HVS, Tambourine and TravelZoo.

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Hawaii Tourism Authority wooing high spending Chinese golfers

HAWAII - The Hawaii Tourism Authority has started a partnership with a golf course membership company to lure high-spending Chinese golfers to the Aloha State.

HTA has partnered with Pacific Links, whose COO Micah Kane says would like to bring 200 to 300 Chinese players to Hawaii each month.

Historical data revealed that Chinese golfers spend an average $550 per day, more than double the average visitor spend in Hawaii.

Pacific Links operates five courses in Hawaii and also owns golf clubs in California, Nevada, West Virginia and China.

Vice president of brand management at the HTA David Uchiyama says it is the first time the agency has partnered with a private company to promote Hawaii golf to Chinese visitors.

In the past it has worked with Hyundai and Sony to lure golfers from South Korea and Japan respectively.

The Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, Honolulu tees off on Thursday, January 15 with Chinese golfers Liang Wen-Chong and Liu Yan-Wei among a field of 144 of the world's best golf pros, which is hoped will boost exposure of Hawaii golf in China. 

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Dominican Republic Golf Show returning to Casa de Campo

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Following 2014's successful inaugural event, the Golf Travel Exchange for Dominican Republic will again be bringing together golf tourism leaders in the Caribbean.

The 2015 event is slated for September 5-10 and will again take place at the upscale Casa de Campo Resort in La Romana.

The resort features luxury accommodations and three championship courses.

Golf tour operators, sports media, golf course directors, hoteliers, and DMC's will have the opportunity to network and do business.

"Based on the overwhelming positive response and attendance of the 2014 Golf Travel Exchange, we are thrilled to be able to bring it back for a second year and continue to promote our world-class courses like Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore, Punta Espada and more," said Teddy De Lara, director of the DR Golf Travel Exchange.

Attendees will also be able to participate in a golf tournament at the on-site Dye Fore golf course.

The Travel Exchange is again endorsed by Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism, the National Association of Hotels & Restaurants and the London based International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).

IAGTO president Peter Walton is also expected to attend again this year.

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Children face ‘new generation’ of crises, UNICEF warns launching record $3 billion appeal

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations today launched its biggest ever humanitarian appeal to fund globe-spanning responses to emergencies and threats “stalking children in ways never before seen” and putting them in extraordinary danger of violence, hunger, disease and abuse.

The $3.1 billionHumanitarian Action for Children 2015appeal is $1 billion larger than last year’s requirements and aims to reach 62 million children at risk in 71 countries around the world from increasingly complex and destructive conflicts, natural disasters and other threats, including the Ebola epidemic.

“Children across the world are facing a new generation of humanitarian crises,”saidAfshan Khan, Director of Emergency Programmes for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Whether in the headlines or hidden from view, emergencies sparked by social fracture, climate change and disease are stalking children in ways we have never seen before.”

A total of $903 million from the appeal will be directed to the regional response to the conflict in Syria, protecting children at risk and delivering life-saving assistance like immunisations, safe water and sanitation, and education. Ms. Khan said the lives of children in Syria were “torn apart” by war there.

“For the past four years, these children have been witnessing violence and death daily and have been missing out on the very basics in life,” said Ms. Khan. “This appeal will help secure a future for not only the children of Syria but all children around the world who are impacted by humanitarian crises.”

Conflicts in Ukraine and Nigeria have also caused humanitarian crises and displacement, requiring almost $60 million in funding through the appeal, while “hugely underfunded and forgotten crises,” including Afghanistan, which received only 35 per cent of the resources required in 2014, the occupied Palestinian territorty, which received only 23 per cent, and Niger, which got just 35 per cent, are also targeted by the new appeal.

UNICEF is also trying to accelerate its work in the heart of Ebola-affected communities and has appealed for $500 million in order to do so. The money will be used to scale up efforts to rapidly isolate and treat every case, prevent further outbreaks, and continue to promote healthy behaviours to prevent the spread of the disease. The goal for 2015 is to get to zero cases and support the revitalisation of basic social services.

The 71 countries targeted by the appeal are highlighted because of the scale of the crises, the urgency of their impact on children.

“This appeal will reach the most vulnerable children, wherever they are,” emphasized Ms. Khan. “Where a child is born should not determine his or her destiny.”

She also discussed how funds raised will help UNICEF in its work with partners to prepare countries for future disasters by reinforcing national systems and equipping communities to help themselves.

“We must get vital services and care to children in acute need now, to provide the building blocks that will allow them to create peaceful futures,” she said. “This is not just about immediate humanitarian action as these short-term investments will have long-term gains.”

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FACT SHEET: Fostering a Cleaner and More Sustainable Energy Future in the Caribbean

CARIBBEAN/WASHINGTON DC - In follow-up to the launch of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) in June 2014, the Vice President, Secretary of Energy Moniz, other senior Administration officials, Caribbean Heads of Government, multilateral development banks, and other international partners participated in the Caribbean Energy Security Summit January 26 in Washington, D.C. to work together in support of Caribbean energy security.

The Summit highlighted ongoing efforts under the CESI, including support for improved governance, enhanced access to finance, and increased donor coordination. Caribbean leaders highlighted goals for their energy sectors and discussed how the United States and other partners can better support the Caribbean in pursuit of alternative sources of energy. Caribbean leaders agreed to pursue comprehensive energy diversification programs, including actions to facilitate the introduction of cleaner forms of energy.  

The World Bank presented a proposal to create a Caribbean Energy Investment Network to improve coordination and communication among development partners and to empower Caribbean nations to direct and align external support with their own national goals. Governments and multilateral development partners welcomed the proposal as an initial step to a build upon existing efforts to improve the effectiveness of donor-supported energy programs.

At the Summit, co-hosted by the Department of State, the Council of the Americas, and the Atlantic Council, partner countries discussed comprehensive energy diversification strategies, such as the U.S.-Grenada pilot program that was launched in September, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on August 27, 2014. This program is based on a model that was successfully implemented in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Hawaii and that seeks to identify tailored, comprehensive energy solutions for island jurisdictions.

The United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will intensify its focus on developing clean energy projects in the Caribbean. OPIC and the Department of State have identified a team with specific responsibility for identifying and arranging financing for Caribbean projects. OPIC announced January 26 it will disburse the first tranche of approximately $43 million in financing for Blue Mountain Renewables’ 34 MW wind project in Jamaica. When construction begins in June, this project will be a tangible example of public and private sectors in both countries working in harmony—and nearly $90 million of investment in Jamaica’s economy, which also will ease Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuels. 

Additional U.S. Assistance to Promote a Cleaner more Secure Energy Future in the Caribbean:

The U.S. government continues to deepen its technical assistance and capacity building programs to the Caribbean under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) initiative and other mechanisms:

Improving Governance: The U.S. Department of State is supporting technical assistance in Saint Kitts and Nevis to support development of their geothermal resources. Work includes competitive procurement processes, electrical system analysis, environmental review, project management, and technical and commercial island interconnection studies. Under the Haiti Energy Policy and Utility Partnership Program, funded by USAID, the U.S. Energy Association is supporting power sector reform in El Salvador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Facilitating Development of Cleaner Energy Sources: Through the Department of State-funded Caribbean Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Project, the Organization of American States (OAS) is providing project development support to Caribbean governments and utilities for sustainable energy projects. The U.S. Department of Interior, together with State, is working with Jamaica to facilitate commercial renewable energy on public lands. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Improved Cooking Technology Project in Haiti resulted in more than 50,000 biomass and LPG stoves sold to reduce charcoal use and is encouraging the widespread adoption of this technology. The OAS, with Department of State funding, is assisting Trinidad and Tobago in the Closed Loop Cycle Production project to promote cleaner production methods among small businesses.

Developing Collaborative Networks on Clean Energy:  The Department of Energy, in partnership with the Government of the United States Virgin Islands and Caribbean-Central American Action, will host the Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium March 24-27, 2015 in St. Thomas, USVI. The Symposium will be the first in a series of regional stakeholder engagements to formulate concrete goals, sharing best practices, and addressing implementation strategies for clean energy adoption. Working Groups will create networks to address Caribbean clean energy issues, including energy education, efficiency, renewable energy and electricity diversification, and climate change. Based on the USVI experience, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will publish an Energy Transition: Islands Playbook that will facilitate the implementation of CESI elements in a specific island setting with a focus on improving energy security, boosting economic growth, and advancing environmental sustainability across the region. 

Financing Clean Energy Projects: USAID will support a multi-year regional Caribbean program to promote energy efficiency and integration of renewables into island energy grids. The Jamaica Clean Energy Program, which will be the largest portion of the overall effort, aims to establish the pre-conditions for clean energy development, optimize renewable energy integration, and accelerate private-sector clean energy investment. In the Eastern Caribbean, USAID’s support will emphasize the development of new financial tools for energy efficiency and renewables with a particular focus on the hotel and tourism sectors.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has provided grant funding for three projects in the Dominican Republic that will support the development of clean energy:  a feasibility study and pilot project to assess the viability of modular electric generators, technical assistance to analyze new smart grid options and technologies for improving system reliability, and technical assistance to develop financial tools for commercial users to acquire solar photovoltaic power systems for self-generation.

Increasing Energy Efficiency: DOE, OPIC, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) Program. CHEER will provide technical assistance, training, and attractive financing to hotels that commit to reduce their energy and water footprints through efficiency and renewable technology solutions. Through the Department of State’s Sustainable Communities in the Caribbean and Central America project, the OAS is promoting clean energy and efficiency in Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic.

Expanding Access to Electricity, Information and Technology: USAID is working to rehabilitate a 4MW power plant in Northern Haiti. The Peace Corps, together with the Department of State, is increasing access to environmentally friendly energy technologies as well as educating communities on conservation, climate mitigation, and adaptation, in countries where it is present. DOE is providing technical support to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to design and carry out a Caribbean-wide Regional Energy Research Center. The Department of State, through the OAS, is catalyzing regional technical cooperation on renewable energy, air quality and greenhouse gas measurements through the Inter-American Metrology System. 

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'We are being tested again,' Ban warns as UN marks 70 years since Auschwitz liberation

INTERNATIONAL – Seventy years ago today, January 27, allied forces liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon said, urging renewed vigilance to eradicate the deep roots of hatred as anti-Semitic attacks continue and vulnerable communities around the world bury their dead while living in fear of further violence.

“More than a million inmates, primarily Jews, were brutally and systematically killed in the place where the Nazis introduced the monstrous concept of 'industrialized murder.' Among the other victims were non-Jewish Poles, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, disabled persons and Jehovah's witnesses,” Mr. Bansaidin his remarks on the day.

“Unprecedented in human history, this mass killing was motivated by the perverse, race-based ideology of the Nazis, who sought to track down and kill every last Jew and any others they considered to be inferior,” added the Secretary-General.

TheInternational Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaustis marked every year on 27 January, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. This year's observance, on the theme 'Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors', coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War's end and the founding of the UN.

“Humankind united to overcome the Nazi menace. Today, we are being tested again. Minorities everywhere often face bigotry. Sectarian tensions and other forms of intolerance are on the rise,” Mr. Ban emphasized as he pledged the commitment of the UN to protecting the vulnerable, promoting fundamental human rights and upholding the freedom, dignity and worth of every person.

The overall mission of the United Nations was shaped by the tragedy of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the Secretary-General explained. Both the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrine the principles of human rights for all peoples around the world.

“The violence and bias we see every day are stark reminders of the distance still to travel in upholding human rights, preventing genocide and defending our common humanity. We must redouble our efforts to eradicate the deep roots of hatred and intolerance. People everywhere must unite to stop the cycles of discord and build a world of inclusion and mutual respect,” Mr. Ban declared.

For the past decade, the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme has mobilized students and educators around the world to help us achieve these goals, the UN chief said. “We are grateful to our many partners including Holocaust survivors who have contributed to this work, which spanned 42 countries in the past year alone.”

This year'seventsinclude the annual ceremony, exhibits, a film screening, discussions and a special exhibit that recognizes the work of the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme since its creation 10 years ago by the UN General Assembly.

With UN Headquarters closed today due to inclement weather, the annual General Assembly commemoration of the International Day has been rescheduled for Wednesday, 28 January. The event will feature remarks from, among others, the Secretary-General, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, a Holocaust survivor, and a Soviet Army veteran. Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, will deliver the keynote address. Grammy-award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari and The Jewish Chapel Choir of the United States Military Academy at West Point are set to perform.

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