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World of business must play its part in achieving new Sustainable Development Goals – UN chief

INTERNATIONAL – Speaking at the Global Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the world’s business community to play its full role in helping to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to eliminate poverty, hunger and a raft of social ills, all within 15 years.

“I ask all the CEOs here today to help us. Your advocacy and example can drive action to achieve a life of dignity for all people,” he told business leaders at an event on the Global Compact, a 15-year-old UN initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

“You recognize that responsible businesses have enormous power to create decent jobs, open access to education and basic services, unlock energy solutions and end discrimination. I count on you to drive global progress,” said the Secretary-General.

Mr. Ban stressed that the UN has shown that multilateralism works when it comes to setting ambitious plans, citing Agenda 2030 and December’s Paris Agreement on climate change as “visionary and planetary,” with no time to lose.

“Our planet and its people are suffering too much. This year has to be the moment for turning global promises into reality. Governments must take the lead with decisive steps. At the same time, businesses can provide essential solutions and resources that put our world on a more sustainable path,” he said.

“I call Agenda 2030 our ‘declaration of interdependence.’ The world is coming to recognize more and more that problems in one country reverberate in another. A crash in one market can drive a crisis around the world. That is why it is so important to make the most of our collective strengths.”

Mr. Ban highlighted the vital need to engage with more companies to reach the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring that every one of those companies is committed to universal values and principles.

“You are already members of the UN Global Compact. You understand that doing business responsibly is the first step for any company that wants to contribute to sustainability,” he added.

“The Global Compact is already starting to translate the SDGs into business action and innovation. It has 85 Global Compact Local Networks and signatories in more than 160 countries. Right there, I see enormous opportunity to mobilize action.”

The SDGs build on the earlier eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which sought by 2015: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

But progress was uneven across regions and countries, leaving millions of people behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged due to sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location. This is where the SDGs come in.

They stress everything from zero poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy, to decent work and economic growth, innovation, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, unpolluted oceans and land, and partnerships to achieve the goals.


Half the population of Central African Republic faces hunger, UN warns

INTERNATIONAL – An emergency food security assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners has revealed that half the population of the Central African Republic (CAR) – nearly 2.5 million people – faces hunger.

This marks a doubling in the number of hungry people in a one-year period, as conflict and insecurity have led to limited access to and availability of food.

“Three years of crisis have taken a huge toll on the people of CAR,” said Guy Adoua, WFP Deputy Country Director in the country, in a press release.

“Families have been forced so often to sell what they own, pull their kids out of school, even resort to begging, that they have reached the end of their rope. This is not the usual run-of-the-mill emergency. People are left with nothing,” he added.

According to the assessment, one in six women, men and children struggles with severe or extreme food insecurity, while more than one in three is moderately food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“WFP is extremely concerned by this alarming level of hunger. People not only lack enough food but are also forced to consume low-cost, low-nutrient food that does not meet their nutritional needs,” added Mr. Adoua.

The report shows that the 2014-2015 harvest was poor and that food prices remain high as farmers have not tended their fields due to insecurity, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and abandon their land and livelihoods.

Further clashes erupted in late September as much of the food security data for the assessment was being collected. That violence fuelled more displacement as people were slowly returning home. Nearly 1 million people are still displaced inside CAR or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report recommends continued emergency food assistance to displaced families and returnees; food and technical assistance to farmers to recover; creating safety nets through programmes such as the school meals programme; and providing support to rehabilitate the infrastructure through food-for-assets activities.

Meanwhile, WFP is providing emergency food and nutritional support to those most vulnerable and plays a crucial role in supporting recovery efforts. The agency’s programmes focused on cash-based transfers and local food purchases going into school meals for thousands of children boost the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“We must help the most vulnerable, who need emergency food assistance to survive, yet we also need to focus on people across CAR so they can recover and rebuild,” stressed Mr. Adoua.

In December 2015, WFP provided food for nearly 400,000 people through general food distributions, cash-based transfers, nutrition support and school meals, as well as food-for-assets activities, but $41 million is required so that it can respond to urgent needs through to the end of June. To date, WFP’s operation is only 45 per cent funded.


Israel must immediately halt planned relocation of Palestinian Bedouin, say UN officials

INTERNATIONAL – Senior United Nations officials for the occupied Palestinian territory have called for an immediate end to Israeli plans to transfer Bedouin living in the Jerusalem area for a settlement expansion, long recognized as a violation of international law and an obstacle to realizing a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis.

“I am once again deeply alarmed to witness Israel’s relentless push towards removing Bedouin Palestine refugees from their homes, destroying their livelihoods and their distinct culture,” said Felipe Sanchez, Director of Operations in the West Bank for UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“The children in these communities should not be experiencing the trauma of displacement that preceding generations already experienced,” he added.

Mr. Sanchez and the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Robert Piper, issued their call after a visit with diplomats from 17 countries yesterday to the Palestinian Bedouin community of Abu Nuwar, site of recent demolitions and aid confiscations by the Israeli authorities.

Twenty-six Palestine refugees, among them 18 children, including four with disabilities, were displaced on 6 January following the destruction of their homes, and other basic structures. On 10 and 14 January, Israeli authorities confiscated eight donor-funded residential tents that had been provided to the families as post-demolition humanitarian response.

“We came to Abu Nuwar to hear first-hand what residents have been through,” Mr. Piper said. “We left with a strengthened resolve to continue our support to them.”

Abu Nuwar is located in the so-called E1 area, planned by Israel for the expansion of Ma’ale Adummim settlement, and is among 46 communities in the central West Bank, most of them Palestine refugee communities, slated for transfer to three designated sites away from their current location.

A forced relocation of Bedouin communities to urbanized townships would threaten their culture and livelihoods, the two officials said. Bedouin families that were already “relocated” in the 1990s lost their income sources while their communities’ social fabric was severely damaged.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already stated that the implementation of Israel’s proposed “relocation” would amount to forcible transfers and forced evictions, contravening its obligations as an occupying power under humanitarian law and human rights law.

“The destruction of property in this manner and the denial of donor-funded assistance to vulnerable Palestinian communities is unacceptable,” Mr. Piper said.

“Under international law, Israel is responsible for meeting the needs of Palestinians living under its occupation and for facilitating humanitarian assistance, not for obstructing aid and pressuring residents to leave so that Israeli settlements can expand. The international community must ensure that plans to transfer these communities are revoked, if the two-state solution is to be protected,” he said.

The two-state solution forms the main plank of efforts by the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States, to solve the Middle East crisis, with two states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.

Diplomats in yesterday’s visit came from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden as well as Switzerland and the United States.


UN agency calls on donors to support Syrian farmers in their hour of need

INTERNATIONAL – With the war in Syria now approaching its sixth year, agricultural production has plummeted and food supplies are at an all-time low, pushing millions of people into hunger, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stressed today, calling on governments to boost funding to help farmers keep their lands in production and prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.

The agency’s appeal comes ahead of a 4 February international donors’ conference in London being convened by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations to mobilize support for humanitarian work in Syria.

“The conflict has decimated the agriculture sector, which has had a major impact on food supplies and markets,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a press release.

“Currently over half of Syrians remaining in the country are food insecure, with one in three people unable to afford basic foods,” he warned.

As national food production has dropped, food prices in Syria have soared, he noted, with prices in some markets for wheat flour and rice jumping by as much as 300 per cent and 650 per cent, respectively, over the past 18 months.

With more than half of Syria’s population already in need of food assistance, Mr. Graziano da Silva further warned that without a surge in funding to support agricultural activities, more farmers will have no choice but to abandon their land and move within the country or across borders.

“Syria needs to produce as much food as possible itself, as aid alone cannot feed the country,” the Director-General said, adding that a “serious escalation” of funds to support farming in Syria is needed.

According to FAO, many farmers in Syria continue to produce but are struggling to access seeds and fertilizers. Livestock production is in jeopardy as herders cannot source or afford enough animal feed and veterinary services are no longer functioning. Food markets and distribution systems have been severely disrupted.

“Agriculture was, and will remain, the main source of employment in Syria. It is essential in order to feed the country's population now, and it will be key to its future recovery,” said FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, Laurent Thomas.

“We must not forget the farmers who remain in Syria and are struggling to keep their lands productive. These farmers are predominantly women – who now make up 63 per cent of the agricultural workforce – and are the backbone of Syria’s food supply,” Mr. Thomas said.

FAO is also highlighting that restoring Syrian agriculture wherever possible is significantly cheaper than importing food assistance. For example, $100 in support enables a farmer to produce 1 tonne of wheat, whereas the same amount of cereal is much more expensive to import.

Meanwhile, despite enormous constraints, the agency continues to support farmers and rural communities in Syria, operating in 13 of the country’s 14 governorates, including hard-to-reach areas in the north.

In 2015 alone, FAO significantly increased the number of people targeted, reaching 1.5 million. Among the farming families who have received wheat and barley seeds, it is estimated that they will produce 119,000 tons of cereal this summer – enough to feed almost half a million people for a year. In addition, over nine million animals also received veterinary care to reduce the risk of animal diseases and protect herds.

“While military operations continue to devastate urban centres, in rural areas farmers often have no other choice but to work in the field. For them, access to agricultural inputs is a main challenge,” noted Mr. Thomas.

To urgently expand its emergency operations in 2016, FAO has appealed for $87 million to support 3 million people within Syria, in addition to $53 million to assist refugees, host communities and other vulnerable groups in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Despite the sector’s importance, emergency agriculture interventions in Syria were over 70 per cent underfunded in 2015.


UN experts urge France to protect fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism

INTERNATIONAL – A group of United Nations human rights experts warned today that the current state of emergency in France and the country’s law on surveillance of electronic communications impose excessive and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

“As France debates the strengthening of measures in the fight against terrorism, and considers a reform of the criminal procedure, we call on the authorities to revise the provisions and possible reforms adopted to that end, to ensure they comply with international human rights law,” the UN experts said in a press statement.

In a list of concerns to the French Government, the independent experts stressed a lack of clarity and precision on provisions regarding several state of emergency and surveillance laws that relate to the legitimate rights of privacy and freedoms – of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

To guarantee the rule of law and prevent arbitrary procedures, the experts recommended the adoption of prior judicial controls over anti-terrorism measures. Since the recent terrorist attacks in France, the state of emergency law in force, which temporarily expands the executive powers in the fight against terrorism, only allows judicial review a posteriori.

The UN experts also noted that the November 2015 law on surveillance of international electronic communications expands the executive power over the collection, analysis and storage of communications content or metadata – without requiring prior authorization or judicial review.

“Ensuring adequate protection against abuse in the use of exceptional measures and surveillance measures in the context of the fight against terrorism is an international obligation of the French State,” they stated.

The UN experts also expressed alarm that environmental activists in France have been under house arrest in connection with the state of emergency invoked following the November attacks. “These measures do not seem to adjust to the fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality,” they said, highlighting the risks faced by fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism.

Calling on France not to extend the state of emergency beyond 26 February 2016, they said, that: “While exceptional measures may be required under exceptional circumstances, this does not relieve the authorities from demonstrating that these are applied solely for the purposes for which they were prescribed, and are directly related to the specific objective that inspired them.”

The independent experts – David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; and Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy – expressed their solidarity and deepest sympathy to the victims of the terrorist attacks committed in France and many other places in the world.

Special Rapporteurs, who are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization, are appointed by and report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.


Ban names ‘eminent advocates’ to propel achievement of new Sustainable Development Goals

INTERNATIONAL – A queen, a crown princess, a president, a prime minister, a Chinese e-commerce pioneer, and a player often ranked as the world’s best footballer are among eminent Advocates appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today to help achieve the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to eliminate poverty, hunger and a raft of social ills, all within 15 years.

The eminent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocates “will build on their unique standing and leadership to promote the SDGs as part of an ambitious and transformative global development agenda,” a UN spokesperson said.

“They are to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030,” the spokesperson added in a note to correspondents, which also listed the panellists.

The co-chairs are Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Members include Queen Mathilde of Belgium; Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden; Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Chinese Alibaba Group of Internet-based businesses; and Leo Messi, the world renowned Argentine-born footballer, who is already a UN Children’s Fund Goodwill Ambassador.

The 2030 Agenda, adopted unanimously by 193 Heads of State and other top leaders at a summit at UN Headquarters in New York in September, calls on all countries to achieve 17 SDGs, addressing the needs of people in both developed and developing countries.

They build on the earlier eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which specifically sought by 2015: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

But progress on these was uneven across regions and countries, leaving millions of people behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged due to sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location. This is where the SDGs come in.

They stress everything from zero poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy, to decent work and economic growth, innovation, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, unpolluted oceans and land, and partnerships to achieve the goals.

“The SDG Advocates will promote the universal character of the SDGs, including their commitment to leave no one behind; to promote the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation and financing of the SDGs; to encourage partnerships with governments, civil society and the private sector to share knowledge and resources; and to raise awareness for the integrated nature of the SDGs,” the spokesperson said.

The other Advocates are: Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Co-Founder of the Qatar Foundation; screenwriter, producer and film director Richard Curtis; Dho Young-Shim, Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Foundation; Leymah Gbowee, Director of the Gbowee Peace; Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development; Alaa Murabit; Founder of The Voice of Libyan Women; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Colombia University; Shakira Mebarak, Founder of the Pies Descalzos Foundation; actor Forest Whitaker, Founder of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative; and Noble Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank.


Overnight aid deliveries reach four Syrian towns while situation in east ‘extremely grave’ – UN

INTERNATIONAL – Overnight aid deliveries reached the Syrian towns of Madaya, Zabadani, Kefraya and Foah, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which today announced it is planning on delivering more assistance.

“It was slightly delayed due to several issues – one of them was the weather– it’s getting increasingly cold and difficult to move around in Syria so there are many, many obstacles to this, but the operation continues based on the so-called ‘Four Town Agreement’ which we do have,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

Regarding delays to the convoys destined for Foah and Kafraya, Mr. Laerke said they were due to reports from armed opposition groups who said they needed more time to finalize arrangements in areas under their control. “That piece of information and the delay meant that also the convoy going into Madaya and Zabadani had to be delayed,” he explained. “These convoys have to proceed at the same time. If there is a delay in one convoy, the other one will have to wait. It is a very, very finely calibrated operation.”

Fuel in particular was delivered to the locations during this third joint operation with UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in recent weeks, but a diverse range of aid is reportedly still needed, including food, nutrition and health services.

Asked how many civilians in Madaya had starved to death, Mr. Laerke said it was believed five people had died from starvation since 11 January when the first aid convoy arrived. He noted this is not a UN figure, but rather one recorded by health staff in the town.

He described the situation in the eastern part of Syria as “extremely grave” and “catastrophic.”

“If you are talking about Deir al-Zour for example, where we have the city under-siege by the Islamic State group, ISIL, we are extremely concerned about the plight of some 200,000 people in the western part of the town,” the spokesperson warned. “We do not have unhindered access to the place.”

Meanwhile in related news, UN human rights expert Hilal Elver today warned that some 400,000 people living in 15 besieged locations throughout Syria are trapped in desperate circumstances and in urgent need of emergency assistance. “An immediate and unconditional humanitarian pause in hostilities must be put in place to allow humanitarian aid and food to reach everyone in Syria,” Ms. Elver said.

“As the brutal conflict in Syria continues, the plight of those already living in constant fear of deadly and indiscriminate bombardment is now compounded by the threat of starvation, with parties on all sides of the conflict continuing to entirely or heavily restrict access to essential supplies,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food noted.

Turning to political development, reporters were informed that the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is “intensively occupied” with preparations for the Intra Syrian Talks, in order for them to start next week.

Yesterday, Mr. de Mistura briefed the UN Security Council by video link from Geneva, and was in touch with both Security Council members and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Special Envoy was reportedly also in contact with members of the International Syrian Support Group in an effort to find agreement on the list of participants for the meeting.


Fate of civilians in armed conflict ‘grim’ with thousands killed, hospitals under attack, Security Council told

INTERNATIONAL – With scores of civilians being killed in conflicts worldwide, tens of thousands facing starvation in besieged cities, and hospitals under attack, the United Nations Security Council held a day-long session today amid calls for greater accountability and expanded use of the International Criminal Court.

“The reality on the ground is grim and bleak,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliassontold the Council at the start of the session on the ‘Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.’ “In conflicts around the world, great numbers of civilians are deliberately or recklessly killed, maimed, tortured and abducted. Sexual violence is rampant,” he said.

“Hospitals must be sanctuaries in wartime. But recently we have seen a surge in attacks on hospitals and health centres. In Afghanistan, an airstrike destroyed a surgical ward with devastation everywhere. In Yemen, hospitals have been attacked and children, who have not been killed by bullets and bombs, are dying from the lack of medicine and health-care,” he stressed.

He noted that in 2014, 92 per cent of those killed or injured by explosive weapons in populated areas were civilians, with 19,000 civilians killed in Iraq between January 2014 and October 2015 and the “horrible reality” in the Syrian town of Madaya, where thousands of people have been denied food and medical treatment for months, leading to starvation and death.

“This carnage of innocent people must not continue,” he declared. “Let us remember that Madaya is just one place where this, shamefully, is happening – and this, today, in the 21st century,” Mr. Eliasson underscored.

“A siege that denies people access to the basic necessities of life is one of the gravest violations of international law and an affront to our shared humanity,” he continued, noting that UN Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon has recently condemned such violations, naming them war crimes. “These crimes simply must stop, end now,” he added.

Mr. Eliasson cited the new challenges presented by non-State extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram in West Africa. “These groups brazenly and brutally murder thousands of people, kidnap young girls, systematically deny women’s rights, destroy cultural institutions and undermine the peaceful values of religions,” he said.

In the face of such ubiquitous violations of human rights he called for enhanced efforts to prevent conflicts in the first place, and where this failed to ensure full accountability through the accession of all States to the International Criminal Court which was set up to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as by domestic adoption of robust criminal legislation.

Also briefing the Council, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Vice-President Christine Beerli warned that violations of international humanitarian law are occurring daily. “Explosive weapons are used indiscriminately in populated areas. Civilian populations and civilian objects are deliberately targeted,” she said.

“Civilian communities are forcibly displaced and trapped in lengthy sieges, deprived of means of survival. Women and men, girls and boys are regularly the victims of rape and sexual violence. Schools are attacked or used for military purposes, leading to their loss of protection against attack. Detainees are summarily executed, tortured and kept in inhumane conditions and denied due process of law,” she explained.


Harsh winter poses additional hazards to child refugees and migrants arriving in Europe – UN

INTERNATIONAL – With children now accounting for more than one in three of the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants flooding into Europe, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today voiced concern at the impact recent sub-zero temperatures and snowy conditions were having on them.

The children arriving into a harsh winter in south-eastern Europe are physically exhausted, scared, distressed and often in need of medical assistance, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told the regular bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva.

The conditions are exacerbating the poor physical condition of the children, as many lack access to adequate clothing and age-appropriate nutrition, a situation worsened by lack of shelter and inadequate heating in some reception centres, as well as on buses and trains, he said.

The proportion of children amongst refugees and migrants has continued to increase over the past three months. According to national sources, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the ratio in December was 37 per cent, compared to 23 per cent in September. In Serbia, the figures were 36 per cent in December compared to 27 per cent in September.

In December most children transiting through UNICEF spaces in Serbia were babies, infants and those between five and nine years old. In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean, arriving on Europe’s shores, of which an estimated 253,700 were children, one in four people.

In a press release, UNICEF’s Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, Marie-Pierre Poirier said that children are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections, digestive problems and diarrhoea. Non-controlled use of baby formula may also seriously affect babies’ health.

UNICEF warned that there remains insufficient cross-border information-sharing and follow-up on the most vulnerable children, mainly d to the speed of the population movement.

Ms. Poirier said UNICEF was engaging with its partners and counterparts to develop contingency plans for population movement slow-downs and an increasing number of people being stranded along the route.

In the past three months, UNICEF and its partners have provided 81,000 children with services in UNICEF-supported winterized child-friendly spaces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. In addition, nearly 18,000 babies and infants had received specialized services through UNICEF mother-and-baby care spaces.


Yemen: Ban urges all sides to commit to ceasefire and resume UN-brokered talks to end fighting

INTERNATIONAL – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Government and all parties in Yemen as well as States in the region to commit to a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire to enable the rapid resumption of already delayed peace talks which the United Nations is facilitating.

Meeting with Yemeni Vice-President and Prime Minister Khaled Mahfoudh Abdullah Bahah in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where he is attending the World Future Energy Summit, he reiterated his deep concern at the continuing conflict, mounting civilian causalities and alarming humanitarian crisis, despite repeated calls from the international community for an end to the hostilities.

In the face of ceasefire violations Mr. Ban's Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed adjourned peace talks in Switzerland in December to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a comprehensive ceasefire.

But the year-long conflict between various factions, which has already killed thousands of people, displaced 2.5 million and imperiled the food security of 7.6 million, has continued unabated, pushing back the calendar.

Mr. Ban exchanged views with the Vice-President on how to renew the ceasefire and prepare for a new round of political negotiations.

He also stressed the need for all sides to implement the confidence-building measures discussed in Switzerland last month, including the release of prisoners, and full and unhindered humanitarian access, including to the central town of Taiz.

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