areas are off limits and burials by Ptcu8g


									                        THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                     Monday, 20 March 2006

          UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

         Sacred sites key to protecting species: UN (Reuters)
         UN will Artenvielfalt von Naturheiligtümern schützen (Deutsche Presse
         UN to launch biodiversity programme (Agence France Presse)
         ONU quiere salvar sitios sagrados para proteger biodiversidad (Vanguardia)

         Paying more for cholera (Sun Star)
         El siglo XXI será el siglo del agua (Indymedia)
         Río Bermejo: Apuntan a recuperar 600 mil hectáreas de desierto (Abierta TV)
         Skin-deep enforcement (New Straits Times)

         Local activists to talk about plastic problem (Marin Independent Journal)
         L'utilisation avisée des centres villes et le recyclage d'installations sportives
          parmi les pratiques à suivre pour des J.O. encore plus écologiques (TV5 Monde)
         UNEP head awarded honorary professorship by China (Xinhua)

               Other Environment News

       UN environmental forum aims to put the brakes on species loss (Taipei Times)
       Organismos autónomos, corruptos e irresponsables (La Cronica de Hoy)
       Exigen mantener el agua como bien de la humanidad (La Jornada)
       Advierten catástrofe si no corrigen manejo del líquido (El Universal)
       UK at risk as world heats up (The Independent on Sunday)
       Bush Picks Idaho's Kempthorne for Interior (Reuters)
       Trente ans après, Brigitte Bardot de retour au Canada (La Tribune)

               Environmental News from the UNEP Regions

       ROA
       ROWA

               Other UN News

       UN Daily News of 17 March 2006
       S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 17 March 2006

                  Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692,,
Reuters: Sacred sites key to protecting species: UN
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
[appears in Financial Express (India) + approx. 25 local news outlets in the USA]
NAIROBI (Reuters) - From skull caves in southern Kenya to Mexico's searing Chihuahuan
desert, preserving sacred sites is key to slowing the loss of animal and plant species,
environmentalists said on Saturday.
Experts have pinpointed a string of religious sites across the globe as pilot ecosystems where
local customs have helped safeguard troves of biological richness.
A new $1.7 million U.N.-led initiative aims to help protect those sites by documenting species,
conducting surveys with local communities and assessing potential for ecotourism.
"There is clear and growing evidence of a link between cultural diversity and biodiversity,"
Klaus Toepfer, U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) executive director, said announcing the
"Sadly, sacred sites are also under threat and there is an urgent need to help local, indigenous
and traditional peoples safeguard their heritage which in turn can do much to conserve the
biological and genetic diversity upon which we all depend."
The project will look at sites such as south Indian forest groves linked to agricultural and artistic
traditions, and the ritual site of Mount Ausangate in Peru, UNEP said.
Also targeted is the Boloma-Bijagos archipelago in Guinea-Bissau, where beaches and
mangroves are used for rituals and are home to fish, crocodiles and hippos.
According to strict local community rules, certain areas are off limits and burials, shedding of
blood and construction of permanent settlements are banned in some places.
"These traditional practices ... assist in the preservation of the sites for flora and fauna," said
Gonzalo Oviedo of the World Conservation Union.
Other sites listed include the Taita skull caves in southern Kenya, where the bones of male
members of the tribe are placed. Taboos surrounding the caves have led to small but important
relics of indigenous forest surviving.
Wirikuta in Mexico's Chihuahan desert, where locals believe the sun was born, is home to
around two-thirds of birds and mammals of the desert.
But it is under threat from uncontrolled tourism, agriculture, hunting and illegal trafficking of
Communities managing such sites had made efforts locally but global action had been woefully
inadequate, said Oviedo.
The "Conservation of Biodiversity Rich Sacred Natural Sites" initiative will be formally
unveiled at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil on March 20-31.

The meeting will review a world goal of slowing drastic acceleration of biodiversity by 2010,
set at a summit in Johannesburg in 2002.
"Conserving sacred sites and their biological richness can play a major role in achieving the
2010 target and perhaps act as beacons from where good and sustainable management practices
can be exported to nearby areas and beyond," Toepfer said.

Deutsche Presse Agentur: UN will Artenvielfalt von Naturheiligtümern schützen
[appears in approx. 40 local media outlets in Germany and Austria]
Curitiba/Nairobi (dpa) - Mit dem Erhalt von Naturheiligtümern wie Bergen oder Höhlen wollen
die Vereinten Nationen (UN) zum Schutz der Artenvielfalt beitragen. Kulturelle und
biologische Vielfalt hingen zusammen.
Das sagte der Vorsitzende des UN-Umweltprogramms UNEP, Klaus Töpfer, im Vorfeld der 8.
UN-Artenschutzkonferenz im südbrasilianischen Curitiba (20. bis 31. März). In gemeinsam mit
Organisationen und Regierungen vor Ort initiierten Projekten will das Umweltprogramm heilige
Stätten weltweit stärker schützen.
Zu den bewahrenswerten Naturheiligtümern gehört nach UNEP-Angaben die Chihuahuan-
Wüste in Mexiko, die nach dem Glauben der Ureinwohner der Geburtsort der Sonne ist.
Schutzprojekte soll es unter anderem auch für die Höhlen im Kakamega-Urwald in Kenia, die
majestätischen Ausangate-Berg in Peru, die heiligen Haine in Kodagu in Indien und eine Insel-
Gruppe in Guinea-Bissau geben, die ausschließlich für rituelle Zeremonien benutzt wird.
Die Ehrfurcht vor einem Stück Land sei oft eng verbunden mit einer Vielzahl dort lebender
einzigartiger Tiere und Pflanzen, sagte Töpfer. Indem man den ortsansässigen Gemeinschaften
beim Schutz ihres Kulturerbes helfe, schütze man gleichzeitig die biologische Diversität.
Zum Start der Initiative würden zunächst 1,7 Millionen US-Dollar (1,4 Millionen Euro)
bereitgestellt, teilte der frühere deutsche Umweltminister mit. Finanziert werden die Projekte
vom Fonds der UN zum Klimaschutz und zum Schutz der Biodiversität (Global Environment
Facility, GEF), von den Regierungen sowie von Organisationen wie der Menschenrechtsstiftung
der Friedensnobelpreisträgerin Rigoberta Menchu aus Guatemala.

Agence France Presse: UN to launch biodiversity programme
The United Nations Environment Programme on Saturday announced plans for a new
programme to protect the world's sacred historical sites.
Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said
there was an "urgent need" to help people protect their heritage.
"There is clear and growing evidence of a link between cultural diversity and biodiversity,"
Toepfer said in a statement announcing the launch of the programme.

"Sadly, sacred sites are also under threat and there is an urgent need to help local, indigenous
and traditional peoples safeguard their heritage which in turn can do much to conserve the
biological and genetic diversity upon which we all depend."
The Programme for the Conservation of Biodiversity-Rich Sacred Natural Sites will initially
focus on a few pilot projects, notably in Kenya's Kakagema forest, in Mexico's Chihuahuan
desert, in the Boloma-Bijagos archipelago in Guinea-Bissau and in the Vilcanota spiritual park
in Peru.
UNEP said it would need 1.7 million dollars (1.4 million euros) to get the projects off the
Details of the programme will be unveiled at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil
on March 20-31.
UNEP pointed out that at the 2002 world sustainable development summit, held in
Johannesburg in South Africa, the world's governments committed to reversing the trend
towards the destruction of the planet's biodiversity by 2020.

Vanguardia (Mexico): ONU quiere salvar sitios sagrados para proteger biodiversidad
NACIONES UNIDAS, MARZO 17, 2006 (DPA) .- Naciones Unidas lanzará una iniciativa
internacional para preservar antiguos sitios sagrados, entre otros en México, Ecuador y Perú,
como parte de los esfuerzos por salvar la biodiversidad del mundo.

El proyecto, apoyado por organizaciones que incluyen el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para
el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) y grupos indígenas locales como la fundación creada por la
premio Nobel guatemalteca Rigoberta Menchú, cuenta con la financiación de un fondo
conocido como Global Environment Facility.

Sus promotores, entre los cuales también se encuentran un amplio número de organizaciones de
conservación, otros cuerpos de Naciones Unidas y gobiernos como el de México, están ahora
recabando los 1,7 millones de dólares necesarios para comenzar a actuar.

En el proyecto figuran tres sitios sagrados de México. Uno es Wirikuta, en el desierto de
Chihuahua, donde se afirma que nació el sol y donde viven alrededor del 70 por ciento de las
aves y el 60 por ciento de los mamíferos del desierto.

La isla Tiburón, en el Golfo de California, famosa por su rica vida salvaje, es el último refugio
de los Seri, de cuya cosmogonía la isla es una pieza central.

También fueron incluidas las Cuevas Sagradas del Viento y la Fertilidad, veneradas por los
Tenek, Nahua y Pame de la región Huasteca en el estado mexicano de San Luis de Potosí.

El proyecto también contempla la protección del área Cayambe, en los Andes ecuatorianos,
donde vive el amenazado cóndor andino. La zona tiene un alto valor espiritual para los pueblos
Cayanpi y otros, que veneran sus montañas, lagos y ríos.

El Parque Espiritual Vilcanota, en Perú, reverenciado por el pueblo Q'ero, forma parte de las
montañas Vilcanota y alberga una serie de animales nativos, como vicuñas salvajes y pumas.

El lanzamiento público de la iniciativa se realizará durante la octava Conferencia de las Partes
de la Convención sobre Biodiversidad (CBD) en Curitiba, Brasil, entre el 20 y el 31 de marzo.

Se espera que más de 3.000 delegados y 100 ministros de medio ambiente asistan a la

El director ejecutivo del PNUMA, Klaus Toepfer, afirmó: "Hay una creciente y clara evidencia
de una relación entre la diversidad cultural y la biodiversidad, entre reverenciar la tierra y un
lugar y una extensión de plantas y animales frecuentemente únicas y especiales".c

Sun Star (Phillipines): Paying more for cholera
By Juan L. Mercado

Are we discovering belatedly what scientists call “the most underappreciated challenge of our
time”, namely: spreading water shortages?

The most crucial issue, in the years ahead, will not be coups or politicians, the mint-new
Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes said. It will be “water - and the lack of it.”

Are people finally waking up to what the UN Environmental Programme calls; “fall of the
water?” An alarmed Cebu Business Club is getting members together before faucets turn dry in
a city that pumps out twice the water it’s aquifers can recharge. In Metro Manila, salt water
seeps into aquifers where overdrawing drags down water tables.

Out of every 100 liters, 86 are used in farms. Parched irrigation systems, in critical food baskets,
like Central Luzon, crimp harvests in a country where the average rainfall of 2.36 meters is
unevenly distributed. The Southern Tagalog region has the most freshwater available; Western
Visayas the least.

We do not, however, have a monopoly of this problem. “In the Middle East, China, India, and
the US, groundwater is being pumped faster than their aquifers are recharged. Worldwatch
Institute’s Lester Brown writes. In Colorado, the Nile in Egypt and the Yellow River in China,
little water reaches the sea for part of the year.

“During the dry season, the Ganges River has little water left when it reaches the Bay of
Bengal,” Brown notes. India’s more than a billion people take the lion’s share of the water.
Little is left Bangladesh farmers during the dry season.

These cripple food production and set off bitter competition.

In central Asia, the Amu Darya was one of two rivers that fed the Aral Sea.

Today, it is a stark salt desert, dotted with the rusting hulks that once were fishing boats.
Farmers in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan drained it dry...As the Sea shrunk to half its original
size, rising salt concentration destroyed all fish.

This wiped out an industry that once landed 100 million pounds of fish yearly.

Rivers here - from Agno, Naguilian to Agus and Polangi - are now flowing at reduced volumes
with increasing pollution. “You can not wash filthy water,” an Arab proverb says. They’re
warning signals of trouble upstream, in denuded watersheds and eroded soils.

There are also more buckets dipping into the same wells. There were 19 million Filipinos in
1940. Today, there are about 84 million of us. And by 2025, there could be 118.4 million.
That‘d be comparable to five Malaysias lumped together.

UN projections foresee that population, despite declining fertility in many countries, will still
grow: from nearly 6.5 billion to 9 billion people by 2050. “Food demand is expected to double,”
the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes.

Over the same period, the demand for water - in homes, farms as well as factories - will balloon.
“Water use is expected to double over the next 30 years,” FAO points out.

“This puts huge pressure on fresh water systems, not only for agriculture, but other competing
needs, including clean water for human use, timber, biodiversity. Already, 30 percent of
irrigated lands are degraded.”

Yet, that need must be met. Or the country will simply shrivel for one reason: there is no
substitute for water.

Many among our “leaders” never heard, or care, about the “Millennium Development Goals”.
Yet, the Philippines and 180 countries, adopted the MDGs in 2000. Target 10 in Goal Number 7
reads: “To have by 2015 the proportion of people with our sustainable access to safe drinking

How are we faring by this yardstick?

Not too bad, if 2005 UN Human Development Report indicators are used. About 85 per cent of
Filipinos tap into improved water sources. That backslid from 87 percent in 1990. Still, that’s
better than Indonesia’s 78 percent. But it falls short of what Malaysian achieved: 95 per cent.

It’s when you go through provinces with a fine-tooth comb that the real-and worrisome-picture

Cebu prides itself as “the premier province.” Yet, 28 out of every 100 didn’t have “improved
water sources,” Philippine Human Development Report 2005 reports That’s far better than
Tawi’s staggering 82 or Masbate’s 79.

Provinces where one out of five lacked safe water included: Bohol, Laguna, Ilocos Nurte, Iloilo,
Capiz, Negros Oriental and Occidental, Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and Sur, the two
Zamboangas and Lanaos.

Lack of water translates into poor sanitation. Diarrhea is still a top killer, although it is
preventable. “We pay more for our cholera, says a Good Shepherd nun who ministers to the
poor in a city slum.

On the flip side, are the achievers in Pampanga, for example, only one out of 100, lack for safe

water. Other top performers include, among others: Nueva Ecija Ilocos Sur, Abra, Batangas,
Tarlac, Bulacan and Laguna.

The task head is to ensure “more bang for every drop.” The task requires policy to move from
the single track of locating more supplies. Conservation must get the priority it has been denied.
That requires protection of watersheds to tax breaks for those who conserve water.

As we mark World Water Day, it is good to recall the Chinese proverb: “Dig the wells before
you get thirsty.”

Indymedia (Colombia): El siglo XXI será el siglo del agua
Sólo el 1% del agua dulce está disponible para consumo humano. Existen 263 cuencas
hidrográficas internacionales, que constituyen el 45 por ciento de la superficie terrestre. Cerca
de un tercio es compartida por más de dos países. Ante este panorama, funcionarios de la
Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), del Fondo Mundial para el Agua y del Programa
de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) discutieron sobre el manejo y
administración del agua en América.
Aguas transfronterizas en las Américas fue el tema que convocó a funcionarios de Norte y
Sudamérica en el contexto del tema: Gestión Integrada de Recursos Hídricos (GIRH).

De acuerdo con los participantes, la gestión del agua en ámbitos locales es generalmente
deficiente. Existen esfuerzos lentos, limitados con la finalidad de administrar los recursos
hídricos de manera integrada.

Se presentaron estudios de caso entre Estados Unidos y Canadá y el caso de la Cuenca

El IV Foro Mundial discute "La Gestión Integrada de Recursos Hídricos", marco conceptual
que incluye un proceso de instrumentación para el manejo coordinado y rentable del agua, con
el objetivo de lograr su desarrollo sustentable. (PULSAR/AMARC-MEXICO/SIPAM)

Abierta TV: Río Bermejo: Apuntan a recuperar 600 mil hectáreas de desierto

Argentina y Bolivia gestionan recursos para construir la presa Cambarí en la alta cuenca del río
Bermejo. Junto a técnicos provinciales de Salta, autoridades de la Comisión Binacional analizan
proyectos de aprovechamiento.
Argentina y Bolivia gestionan la realización de nuevos trabajos en el Bermejo.
Argentina y Bolivia gestionan recursos para construir la presa Cambarí en la alta cuenca del río
Bermejo. Junto a técnicos provinciales de Salta, autoridades de la Comisión Binacional analizan
proyectos de aprovechamiento.

Cambarí será la presa con la cual los Gobiernos de Bolivia y Argentina darán el puntapié inicial
a la serie de obras de regulación que esperan concreción, desde los años '90, en la alta cuenca
del río Bermejo.

Así lo señaló el presidente de la Comisión Binacional del Río Bermejo (COBINABE), Julio
Argentino San Millán, quien el pasado lunes se reunió con el gobernador Juan Carlos Romero
junto con la gerente para América Latina del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio
Ambiente (PNUMA), Isabelle Vanderbeck; el jefe de la división latinoamericana de Desarrollo
Sostenible y Medio Ambiente de la OEA, Jorge Rucks, y otro referente de la organización de
los estados americanos en el país, Enrique Bello.

En ese encuentro el embajador San Millán y los referentes de los organismos internacionales
que apoyan las acciones de la COBINABE analizaron con el gobernador las iniciativas que se
priorizarán en los próximos meses dentro del Programa Estratégico de Acción (PEA) para la
cuenca binacional del Bermejo.

Como parte de este plan, que cuenta con asistencia financiera del Fondo Mundial para el Medio
Ambiente (FMAM) a través de recursos no reintegrables, se desarrolló en la localidad de Iruya
un exitoso proyecto de gestión de residuos urbanos. Ahora, a partir de un acuerdo de
cooperación, la COBINABE asistirá con 160 mil dólares a la Secretaría de Medio Ambiente de
la Provincia para que la experiencia se extienda a otras localidades norteñas.

El proyecto que se concretó en Iruya incluyó la construcción de un relleno sanitario para la
disposición de los residuos inorgánicos y una terraza de compostaje para los residuos urbanos
Para ello se realizaron talleres de capacitación y actualmente se realiza en el pueblo una
recolección diferenciada que abarca también a los desechos patológicos y a las contaminantes

En este contexto, desde la COBINABE se informó que -cumplidos los objetivos que se habían
trazado oportunamente con el PNUMA- quedó un remanente de fondos para ser aprovechado en
obras e iniciativas que encuadren con los objetivos del PEA. A partir de estos recursos
disponibles, la Provincia presentará nuevos proyectos para ser ejecutados en los municipios
ribereños durante los próximos doce meses.

El embalse de Cambarí es sólo un eslabón de una larga cadena de obras proyectadas para la
regulación y aprovechamiento de los caudales del Bermejo. Con ellas se abriría para Salta la
posibilidad concreta de recuperar unas 600 mil hectáreas desérticas de la zona chaqueña para ser
cultivadas, a futuro, con la disponibilidad de agua para riego. Según los especialistas, la cifra
legaría a 11 millones de hectáreas en toda la región una vez completadas las obras de regulación
con las cuales el Bermejo mantendría un caudal continuo de cerca de 250 metros cúbicos a lo
largo del año.

Hoy, sus caudales caen desde los 13 mil metros cúbicos que suelen causar desastrosas
inundaciones en la época estival hasta los 50 metros cúbicos que corren por su cauce en tiempos
de sequías.

En la audiencia del pasado lunes acompañaron a Romero el ministro de la Producción, Sergio
Camacho; el secretario de Medio Ambiente, Gustavo López Asensio, y el coordinador de
Relaciones Internacionales, Roberto Ibarguren.

En esa oportunidad, el titular de la COBINABE resaltó que los gobiernos de la Argentina y
Bolivia acordaron priorizar la construcción Cambarí, una de las tres grandes presas proyectadas

para regular los caudales de la alta cuenca binacional y generar energía hidroeléctrica. Las otras
dos son Las Pavas y Arrazayal.

Diferentes estudios técnicos determinaron que de los tres embalses, Cambarí -proyectado sobre
el cauce del río Grande de Tarija- es el que mejores condiciones ofrece para su materialización.
Y esto teniendo en cuenta tanto sus posibilidades para la generación hidroeléctrica y el control
de las crecidas como otros factores relacionados con el impacto ambiental y social.


New Straits Times (Malaysia): Skin-deep enforcement
Elizabeth John

THIS snake has no bite. It wraps its sleek, glossy self handsomely around your feet in the form
of boots.
Sitting high on a shelf in a closet-sized leather goods shop in a city centre departmental store,
the snake's poison has travelled from its fangs to the deceptively plain price tag. On the tag is
printed the eye-popping figure of RM800.

Made of gleaming black leather, the boot's uppers are covered in the unmistakable patterns of a
snake's skin, in the shape of flames. It is the only one on display not because it is expensive but
because it is illegal.

"For python or cobra skin, we need permit lah. So we don't put the boots on the shelf," says the
shopkeeper, showing an album of the latest fashions.

"You choose which one you like, we can make. Two weeks only."
It is that easy.

Simpler still is a purchase on the Internet where python skin ankle-high boots are advertised at
wholesale prices of about RM500 per pair for an order of a dozen pairs. There are also
snakeskin tote bags, ties, jackets, wallets, motorcycle seats, book covers and RM1,000 deck

Many a snake is skinned to meet such demand, especially the reticulated python. As with the
trade in live snakes and snake meat, not all the skins go through legal channels.

Last July, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) seized 1,500 pieces of
reticulated python skins, hidden among audio-player parts, in a lorry driven by a Malaysian
through the Woodlands checkpoint. The skins, weighing 563kg, were to be imported into
Singapore for re-export. A Singapore reptile skin trader paid S$80,000 (RM180,000) for the
confiscated skins when they were auctioned.
It was only the second largest seizure from Malaysia, says Lye Fong Keng, head of AVA's
Wildlife Regulatory Branch.

In 1991, the AVA confiscated 5,000 banded rat snake skins smuggled in from Malaysia. Such
seizures give an idea of the lengths to which smugglers go and the means they use. For although
snakeskin often end up as luxury goods, the reptiles' route to high fashion is anything but


In Malacca last May, Wildlife and National Parks department officers confiscated an illegal
shipment of 238 reticulated pythons. They were stuffed into sacks and tiny cages on a lorry.

In 2004, 1,034 pieces of python skins were found hidden in nine gunny sacks underneath Thai-
made floor mats and cushions in the back of a lorry crossing the Malaysia-Thai border at
Padang Besar.

In 2002, nine pythons were discovered in a sack in a lorry after it crashed into an express bus
near Kuala Krai.

In 1999, authorities detained a smuggler after a botched attempt to bring in 2,923 snakes. About
half the snakes, concealed under a plastic covering in transport, did not survive.

Snakes are also traded legally in large numbers, governed by rules of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The oft-skinned
reticulated python is classified under Appendix II of the CITES, which means it can only be
commercially traded with proper permits. Dealers harvesting and exporting python skin or meat
from the country must have a KPM20A licence from the Wildlife and National Parks

According to the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring
Centre trade database, countries reported exporting over 30,261 leather products made from
python skin to Malaysia between 2002 and 2004.

Can snakes continue to be traded, legally and illegally, at these levels without becoming
threatened? The answer: No one really knows. If no one can tell how many there are in the wild,
how are export quotas set? In the case of the reticulated python, they are set using inventory
data and average five-year trade records rather than actual figures from population surveys.

Despite its listing on the Appendix II of CITES - which has species that may become threatened
if trade in them is not strictly controlled to a level compatible with their survival - there isn't
even an estimate for python populations in the wild. For any species in trade, CITES requires
that non-detrimental findings have to be made.

This means if a country wants to export a species of wildlife, a study must be conducted on the
population of that animal and it must determine how much can be taken from the wild without
causing damage to the wild population.

In a written response to questions, the department states that the reticulated python is not
considered an endangered species here, therefore no intensive survey is carried out. Instead, the
population is estimated from inventories and complaints of conflict between pythons and
humans. The department, however, did not provide any population figures in its reply.

When it comes to limits, the department sets them only for live pythons (500) and python skins
(150,000 pieces). There is no quota for meat and no reason is given for this. A check on trade
figures recorded in the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation
Monitoring Centre database also shows that there is little control over the legal trading of the
snake. For instance, it is often not known which country the snakes being traded were taken


According to the database, Malaysia reported 112 transactions of exports of live pythons, its
skin, meat and leather products between 2002 and 2004. However, only in 32 cases was the
country of origin recorded. The discrepancies in data on legal trade also show how far the
authorities are from a clear view of the real situation. For example, countries worldwide
reported exporting 30,261 python leather products to Malaysia in 2002. A comparative table
shows Malaysia recorded importing 65.

A further problem is that these figures reflect only legal international trade, not even local
consumption. Exporters in the illegal trade count on authorities not being vigilant, says
TRAFFIC Southeast Asia's Chris R. Shepherd. They often get away with under-declaring and
falsely declaring shipments.

At other times, they hide shipments of valuable wildlife among fish and other legal cargo while
reptiles for the pet trade are constantly smuggled in suitcases. Some exporters prominently label
boxes "Caution! Venomous snakes!", counting on Customs officers to refrain from opening
such a box, he adds.

In Malaysia, says Shepherd, a wildlife smuggler is penalised for the entire illegal shipments,
unlike other countries where the penalty is per head of animal.

"This provides wildlife smugglers an incentive to send large shipments."

Authorities in many countries don't consider illegal wildlife trade a priority although it is a
crime. Often enforcement efforts and efficiency are low, says Shepherd. Unsustainable and
illegal trade threatens many animals but not all receive equal attention, he says. And that,
perhaps, is the snake's greatest predicament.

Not quite majestic or cute or fluffy, the plight of the python is easily ignored. Snakes, like all
wildlife, play an essential role in the environment. Among other roles, they help keep the
population of agricultural pests like rats in check, says Shepherd.

They certainly do more than make good boots.

Marin Independent Journal: Local activists to talk about plastic problem


PERHAPS YOU'VE SEEN a few people - old hippies, you think - using canvas tote bags for
their groceries. The vast majority of shoppers, however, rely on plastic bags, a habit it may be
time to change, activists say. Stuart Moody of Green Sangha, a nonprofit environmental group,
and others will discuss "The Hidden Costs of Plastic" March 30 in Novato.

Plastic bags, Moody says, consume growing amounts of energy and other natural resources,
degrading the environment in numerous ways. In addition to using up fossil fuels and other
resources, plastic bags create litter, hurt marine life and threaten the basis of life on earth.

Plastic waste pollutes our cities, he says. Even bags that are properly discarded, blow out of

trash bins, garbage trucks and landfill sites. The California Coastal Commission reports that 60
to 80 percent of the debris recovered each year on its Coastal Clean-Up Day is plastic.

The nation's use of more than 4.3 million tons of plastic bags and wraps each year consumes the
resource equivalent of more than 48 million barrels of oil, according to a report from
Californians Against Waste. At a time when the U.S. is trying to reduce its dependence on
petroleum, Moody says, the manufacture of plastic, a petroleum by-product, only hastens the
day when our supplies will be exhausted.

Recycling baskets in front of major grocery stores invite customers to return their plastic
shopping bags, but only a small percentage of customers do. Less than 5 percent of plastic bags
are recycled, and few of these contain recycled content.

Many communities now recognize the challenges posed by plastic bags. In San Rafael, a
volunteer program under the city manager's office, San Rafael Clean, identified cigarette butts
and plastic bags as the major sources of litter in the city. The United Nations Environmental
Protection Agency has stated that plastic bags should be banned outright.

Other countries are fighting back. Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and South
Africa have imposed plastic pollution prevention fees on plastic shopping bags. In Ireland, after
imposing a plastic pollution prevention fee of 15 cents, disposable plastic bag usage dropped by
over 900 million bags, roughly 90 percent. Bangladesh, Taiwan and several states in India have
enacted outright bans.

Green Sangha members will present a proposal on what Marin can do. The urgency of the
problem, says Moody, requires strong action. Peter Douglas, head of the coast commission, has
stated that the two biggest enemies of the environment are ignorance and apathy. Through
education both of these enemies can be dissolved.

To find out more visit www.greensangha.orgor call 457-0802.

TV5 Monde: L'utilisation avisée des centres villes et le recyclage d'installations sportives
parmi les pratiques à suivre pour des J.O. encore plus écologiques


Contrairement à ce qui a été dit, les Jeux d'hiver de Torino n'ont pas été organisés trop loin des
montagnes, mais pourraient en fait avoir montré la voie vers des Jeux olympiques encore plus
soucieux de l'environnement, le chef du Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement a
déclaré aujourd'hui.

« En aménageant au centre ville plusieurs sites clés, tels que ceux de patinage artistique et de
hockey sur glace, ainsi que les centres d'hébergement des athlètes et des médias, les
organisateurs ont ainsi amélioré significativement les chances que ces immeubles et structures
soient à l'avenir utilisés de manière viable, dans la pratique de sports et autres activités de loisir,
et comme logement, a déclaré M. Klaus Toepfer, Directeur exécutif du PNUE. »

« Au cours des deux semaines de compétition, cela a certainement augmenté le nombre de
navettes et de véhicules circulant entre les zones urbaines et les sites situés dans des lieux plus

ruraux et montagneux. Mais sur le long terme, l'impact environnemental sera sans doute
bénéfique, affirme-t-il. »

« En effet, l'installation de plus en plus d'épreuves olympiques loin de zones rurales vulnérables
et au coeur de villes à bons systèmes de transport public, surtout si cela contribue à un
renouveau urbain et à la rénovation d'immeubles et de structures désaffectés, pourrait être un
pas écologiquement judicieux pour les jeux futurs, ajoute M. Toepfer. »

Le PNUE oeuvre de concert avec le Comité international olympique (CIO) depuis plus d'une
décennie et a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec le Comité d'organisation de Torino
(TOROC) avant et pendant les Jeux.

L'organisation onusienne estime que les JO d'hiver de 2006 ont mis en exergue l'importance
grandissante que revêt l'environnement pour ceux qui organisent des événements sportifs et de
divertissement public.

Eric Falt, Directeur de la Division de la Communication et de l'Information du PNUE qui gère
le programme Sport et Environnement de l'agence, a déclaré : « Nous avons été particulièrement
impressionnés par les mesures et les engagements en faveur de l'environnement pris par le
Comité d'organisation de Torino (TOROC), que ce soient les initiatives relatives au transport et
aux changements climatiques, l'utilisation scrupuleuse de la pierre et du bois de la région ou
l'adoption de systèmes « verts » de gestion de l'environnement, tels que EMAS et ISO 14001. »

Il a révélé que le PNUE, qui a signé à Torino un accord de coopération avec la Fédération
internationale d'athlétisme (IAAF), souhaiterait à l'avenir travailler plus étroitement avec des
fédérations et des agences particulières afin d'assurer que l'environnement est pris en
considération dès la conception d'événements sportifs.

« Il est de plus en plus évident qu'incorporer au plus tôt des mesures de développement durable
dans la planification permet de réaliser des objectifs plus ambitieux et plus significatifs en
matière d'environnement. »

La fiche de score finale de l'héritage écologique des Jeux de Torino ne se fera certainement que
dans les mois à venir. Mais le PNUE estime que certaines leçons peuvent déjà y être tirées.

« Le recyclage des installations sportives est une des choses que le CIO pourrait revoir. Prenez
le bobsleigh par exemple. Le TOROC a fait de son mieux pour mitiger son impact
environnemental, mais toujours est-il que la construction, l'opération et le maintien de ce qui en
réalité n'est qu'un frigo énorme en pleine montagne posent de nombreuses questions
fondamentales liées à la durabilité, insiste M. Toepfer. »

Le Comité d'organisation estime que la construction de la piste ainsi que le matériel, employés
aussi lors des épreuves de luge et de skeleton, coûtent environ 70 millions d'euros.

La piste consiste d'un « ravin » de 1.435 mètres, à 19 virages, creusé dans le flanc d'une
montagne. Le système de congélation utilise 48 tonnes d'ammonium, une substance qui ne nuit
pas à la couche d'ozone mais dont les conséquences possibles d'une fuite sont inquiétantes.

La piste n'a accueilli que huit épreuves à médaille au cours des douze jours de compétition.

Le TOROC envisage de faire de la piste de bobsleigh à Cesana Pariol une école de bobsleigh.
En effet, le site a été conçu de façon à permettre aux jeunes et aux enfants de s'y entraîner.

Cependant, les coûts de maintien pourraient atteindre 100.000 à 1 million d'euros chaque année,
ce qui représenterait bien plus que le revenu généré par les visiteurs.

Ceci s'oppose singulièrement au site de saut à skis à Pragelato qui se fond dans le paysage grâce
à un design qui se marie bien aux courbes et lignes naturelles du lieu.

Parmi les autres mesures adoptées : l'usage de chauffage solaire passif, de systèmes
d'écoulement des eaux, de tissus spéciaux pour affermir le sol le long des pistes et la création de
couloirs écologiques permettant aux animaux sauvages de se déplacer.

Pour des épreuves telles que le bobsleigh, les comités d'organisation de Jeux futurs pourrait
envisager réutiliser ou réaménager des pistes et des stades existants plutôt que de construire de
nouvelles infrastructures alors que telles installations sont disponibles à proximité.

Les prochains Jeux olympiques d'hiver se tiendront à Vancouver (Canada) en 2010.
Le CIO pourrait par exemple considérer remettre en état les installations construites à l'occasion
des Jeux de 1998 à Calgary.

Xinhua:UNEP head awarded honorary professorship by China


Klaus Toepfer, head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), has been awarded an
honorary professor title by one of China's most prestigious universities in acknowledgment of
his great contribution to the environment protection efforts in China.

At a ceremony here on Friday, Toepfer was handed the Letter of Appointment from Tsinghua
University by Guo Chongli, China's permanent representative to UNEP and ambassador to

Honorary professorship is an honor of the highest ranking in Tsinghua University, which is
widely believed to be the best one in China, especially in terms of science and engineering.

|"I am greatly honored, on behalf of Tsinghua University, to inform you that we have just got
the approval from the Ministry of Education of China for conferring on you an honorary
professor title," said Gu Binglin, president of Tsinghua University, in a letter read on his behalf
by the Chinese ambassador.

"I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations and our appreciation of your outstanding
achievements made in academic studies, in administrative work, and in assisting environmental
protection and sustainable development in China," he said.

Toepfer, also the United Nations undersecretary-general and the director-general of the United
Nations Office in Nairobi, thanked the Chinese side for the exceptional honor, adding that he
will continue to work closely with the Chinese government in its endeavor to acquire a better

environment in the process of rapid economic development.

"The economic development of China can only be successful if it is integrated with environment
protection," said Toepfer.

The Chinese ambassador commended that Toepfer has devoted great enthusiasm and attention
to the cause of environmental protection and sustainable development in China, adding that
UNEP under his leadership has provided valuable support to China's environmental protection

Toepfer became executive director of UNEP in February 1998. He is known internationally for
his strong commitment to promote environment and sustainable development. His term as head
of UNEP expires at the end of this month.

                                    Other Environment News

Taipei Times: UN environmental forum aims to put the brakes on species loss

9.3.2006, Page 9
When the eighth UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begins in the southern
Brazilian city of Curitiba today much of the focus will be on the loss of species and the future of
the Earth.
A lot of alarm bells are sounding about the rate of extinctions, but at this CBD, officials say a
number of decisions are expected to be made that will put into practice several proposals that
for years have existed only on paper.
"Our motto is implement, implement," said Brazilian environmental minister Marina Silva, who
is expecting to host more than 100 environmental officials from around the world.
There are numerous international treaties that must be transformed into concrete action, she
"We find ourselves on the verge of the worst extinction crisis since the disappearance of the
dinosaurs millions of years ago," CBD executive secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf said.
The world must act immediately, he said, adding that the Brazilian conference could go down in
history as a seminal event in the effective implementation of convention agreements.

The world community has entered into such a decisive phase because never before has the Earth
experienced such a rate of decline in Greenpeace complained ahead of the meeting that the goal
of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de
Janeiro to reduce extinction rates by 2010 has not been a great success.
The speed at which plants and animal species are dying out is 1,000 times higher than in
prehistoric times. Scientists estimate that if the current tendency persists, the rate could increase
by 10-fold by the year 2050.
"Politicians must prevent massive extinctions around the world. Otherwise, future generations
will fail to experience the economic, social and cultural advantages of a healthy planet," said
Paulo Adaro of Greenpeace in Brazil.
A total of 3,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to take part in the 12-day
meeting in Curitiba, Brazil's foremost ecological city. The main declared goal of the meeting is
to give the CBD a boost and to agree on a variety of concrete measures and goals.

Brazil will begin a two-year presidency of the CBD, and during its term Brazil pledges to do
everything to ensure the international protection systems to be decided in Curitiba have a
"binding nature" among the 188 signatory countries, Silva said.
Brazil has 15 percent to 20 percent of the entire biodiversity of the world, and thereby a special
responsibility, Silva said.

"We must be clear about it. The loss of biodiversity affects especially developing countries and
the poorest people," she said. "Biodiversity can conquer hunger. This is something
governments, corporations, civil society and scientists must keep track of."
Silva knows what she's talking about. She grew up in the rain forest working as a rubber cutter.
She didn't learn to read and write until she was 18.
She stresses that Brazil, a country that often is denounced for its environmental protection
record, has increased the number of protected areas by 50 percent or 8.2 million hectares in the
three years since the left-leaning government of President Luiz Lula da Silva has been in power.
In Curitiba, Brazil wants to present to the world other good examples it has set, such as a
reduction in the destruction of the Amazon rain forest.
"About 50 percent of our GDP comes from biodiversity: agriculture, fisheries and the
exploitation of the rain forest. We must be especially careful," she said.

The three main goals of the CBD are protection of the diversity of species, sustainable
economic use of biodiversity and equitable distribution of the benefits and gains realized
through biodiversity. The last point will be heavily debated in Curitiba not only by politicians
and scientists, but also by indigenous people from five continents.
"Indigenous people have traditional knowledge about plants and roots. We want to share this
knowledge with modern science. But for it, our villages must be protected in consideration of
the sharing of resulting profits as well as the rights to the land," said Marcos Terena, coordinator
of the indigenous people attending the meeting.
Although the knowledge of the indigenous people has been recognized by the convention, clear
definitions are needed. Much discussion is expected over these matters as well.
Edna Marajoara, representative of small farmers and small populations of the rain forest,
meanwhile, had ominous words about the invasion of genetically altered crops.
"There is huge destruction of the Amazon rain forest because of the spread of arable land," she
said. "We are afraid genetic products will contaminate our sources of water and our plants."
This story has been viewed 82 times.

La Cronica de Hoy (Mexico): Organismos autónomos, corruptos e irresponsables
Rigoberto Aranda

El modelo de gestión del agua en México es inadecuado para un país donde 12 millones de
habitantes carecen de agua potable y 23 millones no tienen sistemas de alcantarillado, entre 30 y
50 por ciento del líquido se pierde en fugas y sólo 27 por ciento de aguas residuales es sometido
a procesos de tratamiento, afirmó el doctor David Barkin Rappaport, profesor investigador de la
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM).
Al participar en el Encuentro Internacional de Experiencias por el Agua, convocado por
instituciones de educación superior, Barkin Rappaport señaló que las instancias responsables de
la gestión del agua en México, como la Comisión Nacional del Agua (CNA), impulsan un

modelo tecnocrático y tecnológico equivocado, porque ponen énfasis en la modernización de
organismos operadores sin considerar la participación de las comunidades que son
determinantes en el cuidado de bosques y agua.
Recordó que desde hace algunos años la gestión del agua es facultad de los municipios; sin
embargo, dijo que a consecuencia de su "incapacidad", se ha optado por crear organismos
operadores "autónomos" que han caído en irresponsabilidades y corrupción sin rendir cuentas a
A ello, se agrega la Ley de Aguas Nacionales que está estructurada de tal manera que
imposibilita la participación social en la responsabilidad del manejo del recurso. Para la CNA,
criticó el doctor Barkin, la gestión se limita a recomendar a la gente cuidar fugas domésticas y a
establecer tarifas.
Lamentó que en las acciones de fomento a una cultura se excluyan a sectores que
tradicionalmente se han ocupado de su cuidado, como los grupos de campesinos o comunidades
forestales. Son ellos, agregó, los que a su consideración defienden el agua, los bosques y "no les
damos los derechos políticos, sociales y mucho menos económicos" sobre el manejo de los
recursos a los que tienen derecho.
El académico de la Unidad Xochimilco consideró necesario una nueva ética para la gestión del
agua y propuso establecer prioridades en cuanto a su uso: en primer lugar, consumo humano y
medio ambiente “que es demandante legítimo” y después los colectivos y sociales como
escuelas hospitales.

La Jornada (Mexico):Exigen mantener el agua como bien de la humanidad
Especialistas en el tema del agua e integrantes de comités internacionales en defensa del recurso
demandaron mantener este elemento como un bien común de la humanidad, y rechazaron la
intención de las grandes corporaciones y los organismos financieros internacionales de
privatizar la distribución del líquido.
Durante el segundo día de trabajos del Encuentro Internacional de Experiencias por el Agua,
organizado por el Gobierno del Distrito Federal (GDF), la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México (UNAM) y el Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), entre otras instituciones, David
Barkin, investigador de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, señaló que mientras en
México la Comisión Nacional del Agua (Conagua) pretende cargar la responsabilidad de pagar
el líquido a los consumidores domésticos, las empresas Coca-Cola y Modelo no lo pagan,
porque disponen de pozos por los cuales aportan 120 pesos anuales.
Barkin dijo que mientras nadie paga esa cantidad de dinero por el líquido que consume, y de
hecho las tarifas para los pobres son las más caras, la Conagua promueve una cultura en la que
responsabiliza a la población por el desperdicio del recurso.
Esa nueva cultura de la Conagua para la población es: "cuiden los impactos, por favor; pongan
nuevos empaques en sus grifos; ustedes son irresponsables porque tienen sanitarios que gotean;
sus fregadores no funcionan bien; sus mangueras no están bien conectadas; ¡ustedes son los
Sin embargo, agregó, una nueva cultura del agua no puede construirse sobre la base de
encarecer el líquido a los usuarios domésticos, porque éstos consumen menos de 10 por ciento
del total.
Agregó que una nueva cultura implica necesariamente establecer prioridades respecto de quién
tiene derecho al líquido y en qué orden: "la primera necesidad está entre los seres humanos y el

medio ambiente". Apuntó que en la actualidad no le damos agua al medio ambiente como un
demandante legítimo.
Indicó que el tercer uso importante son los usos colectivos y sociales, escuelas parques,
hospitales, "asegurar que el agua que está en nuestras instituciones sea limpia y adecuada, y que
sus baños no sean fuentes de infección". Y consideró que el crecimiento económico y "la
corrupción a costa del recurso deben quedar en cuarto y quinto lugares".
Al referirse a los sistemas de gestión mixto y privado del agua que se maneja en México, Barkin
retomó los comentarios que un día antes realizó el ex gobernador de Aguascalientes Otto
Granados, y soltó: "Vino aquí a decir que esto fue excelente (se refería al sistema de gestión
privada del recurso que se aplica en aquella entidad) y me citó diciendo que esto fue excelente.
¡Qué cabrón!, yo nunca he hablado con él, no lo conozco"; porqué dijo que yo señalé que es un
buen sistema el de Aguascalientes; ahí están destruyendo un sistema de gestión del medio
ambiente. En cambio, "Saltillo y Cancún están mejorando los índices de eficiencia".
Además, indicó que los verdaderos recipientes de agua no son los del Programa Oportunidades
o de la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, sino los de los campesinos que contra viento y marea
están cuidando los árboles.
Raúl Villegas Dávalos, investigador de la Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México,
manifestó que poco más de 2 mil 600 millones de personas, 42 por ciento de la población
mundial, vive en condiciones de grave carencia de agua.
Afirmó que la conceptualización del recurso ha sido pervertida por el interés comercial. Desde
el segundo Foro Mundial, celebrado en 2000, se ha venido afirmando "con desfachatez" que el
agua debe ser una mercancía que debe cobrarse para ser preservada, y los gobiernos de países
dependientes han renunciado a la defensa de la soberanía nacional y a sus responsabilidades
Durante el encuentro, Barbara Harmony, de The National Water Carried by the Hopi, presentó
la conferencia denominada Agua sagrada, e improvisó una terapia de relajación; pidió a los
asistentes que cerrarán los ojos y visualizaran un lugar con líquido cercano a su casa. Entonces
pidió que agradecieran el recurso cada vez que la beban. No hay aguas nuevas, dijo, pues el
proceso natural es un sistema cerrado que no debemos de alterar. Agregó que se oponen a la tala
ilegal de árboles, los cuales sustentan el ciclo hidrológico del planeta y a la sobrexplotación de
las cuencas. Asistentes al foro pidieron no fomentar el consumo del líquido embotellado.

El Universal (Mexico):Advierten catástrofe si no corrigen manejo del líquido
Angélica Simón
Viernes 17 de marzo de 2006
Ciudad, página 20

La ciudad de México está condenada a una catástrofe hidráulica si no se toman acciones para un
manejo adecuado del agua, aseguró Jorge Legorreta, director de Metrópoli e investigador de la
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana y del Politécnico.
El problema, dijo, no es la escasez de líquido, sino que no se ha sabido aprovechar los 48 ríos
que se tienen en el valle de México, ya que sus aguas terminan en el drenaje y lo saturan,
causando fracturas en la red, con la consecuente pérdida del recurso natural.
En el último día del Encuentro internacional de experiencias por el agua, los asistentes
demandaron hacer realidad en la práctica el derecho humano al agua.

Al respecto, la secretaria de Medio Ambiente del DF, Claudia Sheinbaum, reconoció que no
basta con decretar en la ley el derecho al agua, sino que es necesario contar con infraestructura
que garantice el abasto en cantidad y calidad suficientes a los habitantes.
Admitió que el rezago en la infraestructura hidráulica y los impactos ambientales por la actual
gestión del agua "son enormes".
Superar esta situación llevará al menos 15 años, debido a que son necesarias grandes obras para
las cuales no se tienen recursos.
Precisó que la inversión necesaria es de 4 mil a 5 mil millones de dólares para abatir la falta de
capacidad del Gran Canal, generar mayor volumen de aguas residuales tratadas y mejorar la red
de distribución, en la que actualmente se pierde más de 35% del agua que ingresa a la ciudad.
Admitió que se tendrá que discutir el asunto de la reestructuración tarifaria para garantizar
mayores ingresos, pero además será necesaria la aportación de recursos del gobierno federal.
La funcionaria avaló las demandas de las organizaciones e investigadores que participaron en el
primer foro alternativo que se lleva a cabo de manera paralela al IV Foro Mundial del Agua, que
pugnaron por que los gobiernos no eludan su responsabilidad de garantizar el derecho humano
al agua, lo que implica la no privatización, tarifas diferenciadas y sustentabilidad ambiental.

The Independent on Sunday (UK):UK at risk as world heats up
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Wildfires will break out in national parts and "stifling" temperatures in cities will hit café
culture as global warming takes hold, a new report has concluded.
The first major report of its kind, from Manchester University and the charity Sustainability
Northwest, refutes a popular assumption that climate change will boost tourism in a hotter,
sunnier Britain. It concludes that the extreme weather that would result would create as many
problems as opportunities.
It warns of an increased risk of wildfire in moorland areas such as the Peak District, and says
people may have to be prevented from going to national parks during very hot weather when
they would most wish to visit them. Some footpaths in the Lake District could become
At the same time, it says: "City centres are set to become hotter and more stifling, which could
have a negative effect on local economies."
Marc Etches, the chairman of the report's management board, said: "Our cities and our
countryside need help in adapting to wetter, stormier winters and hotter, drier summers."


Reuters: Bush Picks Idaho's Kempthorne for Interior
WASHINGTON — President Bush chose Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne Thursday to replace
Gale Norton as Interior secretary, saying his nominee had a "long and abiding love for nature."

If confirmed by the Senate, Kempthorne would become the 49th Interior secretary, whose job is
to oversee federal lands.

"As secretary of the Interior, Dirk will continue my administration's efforts to conserve our
land, water and air resources, reduce the maintenance backlog of our national parks, support
historic and cultural sites through our 'Preserve America' initiative, and develop the energy
potential of federal lands and waters in environmentally sensitive ways," Bush said.

Norton, the first woman to head the 156-year-old department and one of the original members
of Bush's Cabinet, resigned last week after a tenure in which she often clashed with

An unfinished item on Norton's agenda was the effort to convince Congress to allow drilling in
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, still a priority for Bush.

Kempthorne, first elected Idaho governor in 1998, pledged to reach out and build consensus if
confirmed to the post.

"One of the hallmarks of my public service is my ability to bring people to the table and to work
together to build consensus," he said, standing at Bush's side in the Oval Office. "I pledge to
you and to the American people that I will continue in that role of reaching out and finding

Kempthorne is also a former senator and one-time mayor of his state's capital, Boise. He had
announced already that he was not seeking re-election as governor.

"Dirk understands that those who live closest to the land know how to manage it best, and he
will work closely with state and local leaders to ensure wise stewardship of our resources,"
Bush said.


Some environmentalists said they were concerned about Kempthorne on environmental issues.

Bruce Hamilton, national conservation director at the Sierra Club environmental group in San
Francisco, was highly critical of Norton and said he did not think Kempthorne would be any
friendlier to environmentalists' causes.

"Although he is known as a very nice, personable, non-combative person, he has an abysmal
record on the environment," Hamilton said.

The Interior Department manages national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands, which
account for 1 out of every 5 acres in the United States.

"I consider it a great honor and accept your charge to be a responsible steward of the land and
the natural resources with which our nation has been blessed," Kempthorne said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist welcomed Kempthorne's nomination.

"Dirk is a strong nominee for Interior Secretary. He's an outspoken advocate for America's
parks and has a wealth of public service experience at both the state and federal levels. I look
forward to his swift confirmation by the Senate," the Tennessee Republican said in a statement.

Republicans are trying to push the plan to allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge through the Senate by attaching it to a budget now under debate. But that idea is
controversial among Democrats and many moderate Republicans and faces its stiffest resistance
in the House.

Kempthorne bonded with Bush when he played host to the president at his state's exclusive
Tamarack Resort.

La Tribune (France): Trente ans après, Brigitte Bardot de retour au Canada
Près de 30 ans après son dernier voyage sur le continent nord-américain, Brigitte Bardot y
reviendra la semaine prochaine: elle se rendra à Ottawa dans l'espoir de rencontrer le Premier
ministre canadien Stephen Harper. Sa fondation, dans un communiqué publié vendredi, précise
que l'ancienne actrice fera le voyage "malgré ses problèmes de santé".
La légende du cinéma donnera une conférence de presse mercredi, dans un hôtel de la capitale,
en compagnie de représentants d'associations de défense des animaux.
Mercredi, le ministre fédéral des Pêches, Loyola Hearn, a annoncé que les quotas de capture de
phoques au large de la côte Est seraient de 325.000 bêtes, en hausse par rapport à la limite de
320.000 fixée l'an dernier.
"Le troupeau canadien de phoques du Groenland est une réussite en matière de conservation",
avait déclaré M. Hearn depuis son bureau à Ottawa, au cours d'une conférence téléphonique à
laquelle prenaient part des journalistes canadiens, mais également européens.
"La population est d'un peu moins de six millions de bêtes, près du triple de celle des années
1970", avait ajouté le ministre.
Dans une lettre ouverte au Premier ministre Harper, envoyée le jour même, Mme Bardot avait
qualifié la hausse des quotas de "scandaleuse, irresponsable (et) révoltante".
Elle a même accusé le chef du gouvernement d'être "complice de ce génocide animalier qui
ensanglante et salit l'image du Canada"
."Vous me faites honte, honte d'appartenir à cette espèce bien incapable de la moindre
compassion, de la moindre humanité envers des êtres vivants, des victimes innocentes", a écrit
Brigitte Bardot au Premier ministre, en précisant qu'elle le "méprise".
Le mois dernier, la Fondation Brigitte-Bardot a remis une pétition de plus de 200.000 signatures
à l'ambassade du Canada à Paris pour protester contre la chasse aux phoques.
Au bureau du Premier ministre, un porte-parole a indiqué qu'on "considérerait" la demande de
rencontre de Mme Bardot, mais que Stephen Harper allait être "très occupé" la semaine
prochaine, à préparer la rentrée parlementaire notamment.


                               ROA Media Update 20 March 2006

                                          UN in the news
Un rapport sur les ressources en eau en Afrique lancé à Mexico
Mexico, Mexique (PANA) – La Commission des Nations unies pour l'Afrique (CEA) a lancé
dimanche à Mexico un rapport sur la gestion des ressources hydriques et ses principales
problématiques en Afrique, a constaté sur place la PANA. Le document de quelque 400 pages
lancé à l'occasion du 4ème Forum mondial de l'eau, ouvert jeudi dernier à Mexico, donne un
aperçu sur les ressources hydriques disponibles en Afrique et les défis socio-économiques qui
s'y rattachent. "Ce rapport, le premier du genre, porte sur l'accès à l'eau comme besoin essentiel,
les liens entre l'eau et la sécurité alimentaire ainsi que les questions du partage des ressources
hydriques communes", a précisé à la PANA Josue Dione, de la Division du développement
durable à la CEA. Il a indiqué que le rapport évoque "les problèmes de gouvernance liés à l'eau,
de détermination de la valeur marchande de l'eau vue sous l'angle économique, les questions
d'eau et d'urbanisation, d'eau et industrialisation, d'eau et d'énergie en Afrique". "Ce rapport
s'adresse en priorité aux décideurs africains. Un exemplaire a été remis ce matin (dimanche) à la
présidente en exercice de la Conférence des ministres africains de l'eau (AMCOW, en Anglais).
Nous n'avons pas le moindre doute que ce travail sur l'eau en Afrique, qui couvre la période
2006-20025, sera pris en compte par les décideurs africains", a ajouté M. Dione. L'Afrique
n'exploite que 10% de ses ressources en eau alors qu'elle est une des deux régions du monde qui
dispose du plus grand potentiel hydrique. Une forte délégation africaine est présente à Mexico
pour convaincre la communauté internationale d'aider le continent à sortir de la très faible
exploitation de ses ressources en eau.

Le Lac Tchad a perdu 90% de ses forêts, selon l'ONU
Mexico, Mexique (PANA) – Le Lac Tchad a perdu 90% de sa superficie forestière totale en
près de 45 ans, selon un rapport des Nations unies présenté vendredi au 4ème Forum mondial de
l'eau qui s'est ouvert la veille à Mexico. Le document intitulé "L'eau, une responsabilité
partagée" attribue la perte des forêts tchadiennes aux surpâturages et aux projets d'irrigation non
durables. "Le Lac Tchad en Afrique a perdu 90% de sa superficie depuis les années 1960,
principalement à cause du surpâturage, de la déforestation et des projets d'irrigation non
durables", indique le rapport. Il souligne en outre, pour l'Afrique de l'Est, une progression
"importante" de la sécheresse qui est la "conséquence d'abattages d'arbres à grande échelle dans
la région". "Les catastrophes naturelles sont la conséquence de la mauvaise utilisation des sols.
La sécheresse dramatique qui progresse en Afrique de l'Est où l'on a procédé à des abattages
d'arbres à grande échelle afin de produire à très grande échelle du charbon de bois et du bois de
chauffe est un exemple tragique", s'inquiète le rapport. Il précise que "les catastrophes naturelles
sont de plus en plus nombreuses et que 90% d'entre elles sont liées à l'eau". Fruit d'un travail
commun de 24 agences du système des Nations unies, le rapport appelle à un changement de la
gouvernance mondiale sur les questions environnementales. Il souhaite que la communauté
internationale manifeste plus de parcimonie et de rigueur dans la gestion des forêts et de l'eau
qui doivent demeurer "un bien public mondial".

                                 General Environment News
Africa needs $20bn annually to meet MDGs water target
Mexico City, Mexico (PANA) – Africa will need about 20 billion US dollars investment
annually to reduce by half the number of its inhabitants lacking access to safe drinking water by
the 2015 target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an official source said here
Sunday. "It's a considerable amount that includes the needs of the continent in the fields of

water conveyance, maintenance and irrigation. No initiative should be neglected in mobilizing
necessary resources to achieve that Millennium Development Goal," said Peter Akari, chief
expert on water policies at the African Development Bank (ADB). Speaking at a meeting on the
exploitation of water resources at the fourth World Water Forum, convening in Mexico city,
Akari revealed that the ADB had set up a programme called the "African Water Facility"
designed to help Africans to get drinking water. "The African Water Facility (AWF) is an
initiative decided by Africans for Africans and implemented by Africans to improve access to
water on the continent. Its multi-purpose character combining financing, assistance and advice
allows for hope that it provides a substantial contribution in the resolution of drinking water
problems in Africa," he observed. In addition, the ADB expert outlined the place given by the
AWF to local communities and NGOs, noting that they were significant actors in increasing the
number of Africans who have access to drinking water by 2015. "The AWF benefits the States,
which have reliable projects in the field of access to water. Some NGOs and local communities
can also benefit from it as they are important actors on the issues of water and sanitation," Akari
added. The access to drinking water by the bulk of Africans is one of the main themes of the
fourth World Water Forum that runs until 23 March in Mexico City.

500 millions USD de la BAD pour l'accès à l'eau en Afrique
Mexico, Mexique (PANA) – Environ 500 millions de dollars seront investis dans les deux
prochaines années par la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) pour améliorer l'accès à
l'eau potable par les communautés rurales en Afrique, a appris samedi à Mexico la PANA, de
source officielle. "Plus de 300 millions de dollars ont été déjà investis par la BAD pour
promouvoir le programme d'accès à l'eau et à l'assainissement en milieu rural africain. Cette
nouvelle enveloppe de 500 millions viendra conforter cet effort", a précisé à la PANA, M.
Kordjé Bedoumra, directeur de l'initiative "Facilité africaine de l'eau". M. Bedoumra, qui
s'exprimait au troisième jour du 4ème Forum mondial de l'eau, a indiqué que cette nouvelle
enveloppe ne prend pas en compte les sommes engagées par la BAD au titre de "la Facilité
africaine de l'eau". "Nous arrivons à un niveau de financement très important pour l'accès à l'eau
en milieu africain lorsqu'on met ensemble les financements directs de la BAD et les crédits
mobilisés au titre de la facilité", a affirmé le directeur de "la Facilité africaine de l'eau". Il a en
outre estimé que l'Afrique devrait engager "une politique volontariste pour atteindre les
Objectifs de développement du millénaire" en matière d'accès à l'eau potable. Près d'un milliard
et demi de personnes, la plupart en Afrique, n'ont accès à l'eau potable et à l'assainissement,
selon des chiffres présentés au 4ème Forum mondial de l'eau qui s'achèvera le 23 mars prochain.
Une journée spéciale sera consacrée dimanche aux problématiques d'accès et de financement de
l'eau en Afrique.

Africa to benefit from the creation of "water peacekeepers"
Mexico City, Mexico (PANA) – The president of the World Water Council (CME), Loïc
Fauchon, has announced in Mexico City of the creation of a group of "water peacekeepers" to
mainly intervene in Africa. "Water peacekeepers will be trained by a body of experts
specialized in water issues. These peacekeepers could, for Africa, intervene in droughts or
natural disasters under the aegis of the African Union,” Fauchon told a Thursday news
conference. Speaking after the opening of the fourth World Water Forum, he said that "these
peacekeepers could quickly assess the needs for reconstruction in the water sector." He affirmed
that the “water peacekeepers” that will intervene in Africa will exclusively come from African
countries that have, in some cases, a "good level of expertise in the area of water management."
He added: "It's no use going to look for peacekeepers elsewhere outside Africa. The expertise is

in place. It only needs to be used." "In the coming months, the World Water Council will take
the necessary measures for the implementation of this water peacekeepers initiative," he said.

Des enfants réclament à Mexico une meilleure gestion de l'eau
Mexico, Mexique (PANA) – Quelque 102 enfants venus de 40 pays du monde ont réclamé
vendredi à Mexico une meilleure gestion des ressources hydrauliques, estimant que leur avenir
en dépend. "Nous ne voulons pas avoir à payer demain pour la négligence des adultes dans la
préservation des ressources en eau. Nous voulons vivre dans un monde meilleur. C'est pourquoi,
nous voulons que les adultes fassent attention à l'usage de l'eau", a déclaré l'un d'entre eux. Les
enfants, qui s'exprimaient lors de l'ouverture de leur deuxième Forum mondial, ont mis en garde
la communauté internationale contre le gaspillage des ressources hydrauliques. "Nous ne
voulons pas être les spectateurs passifs du comportement des adultes dans la gestion de l'eau.
Nous avons notre part de responsabilité dans la gestion responsable de l'eau et nous souhaitons
l'assumer", a laissé entendre un autre enfant. Les expériences menées dans plusieurs pays du
monde, dont le Kenya et l'Ethiopie, en matière de gestion des ressources hydrauliques seront
évoquées au cours du forum des enfants. Leur rencontre devrait être sanctionnée par une
déclaration finale qui sera transmise, le 21 mars, à la conférence ministérielle prévue en marge
du quatrième Forum mondial de l'eau qui s'est ouvert jeudi à Mexico. Selon le Fonds des
Nations unies pour l'Enfance (UNICEF), dans le monde plus de 400 millions d'enfants n'ont pas
accès à l'eau potable et à l'assainissement, affirmant que chaque jour 4500 enfants meurent de
diarrhée et de maladies hydriques.

WHO acts on environmental related diseases among kids
Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Alarmed by the increasing global cases of infant mortality due to
environmental related diseases and conditions, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said
on Friday that it had now put in place measures to reverse the trend. According to Peter Eriki,
the WHO Kenya country representative, more than five million children die every year globally
from environmental related diseases and conditions such as diarrhea, respiratory illness and
malaria. “Over 40% of global burden of disease attributed to environmental factors fall on
children below five years of age who account for 10% of the worlds population,” Dr Eriki
observed. “As a result of this, the WHO had put in place measures to reverse this trend and
therefore reduce on child mortality the world over,” he added. Among the WHO's intervention
measures include the recently launched Healthy Environments for Children Alliance (HECA).
HECA is a worldwide alliance geared to intensify global action on environmental risks to
children's health “that arise from places where they live, learn and play by providing
knowledge, increasing political will, mobilizing resources and canalizing urgent action”.

Libyans Celebrate African Environment Day
Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - Libyan General coordinator of the popular and social commands,
Sayed Gheddaf Addam, on Sunday chaired the celebration of the African Environment Day in
the North African nation on the theme "No to Desertification". In a speech marking the
occasion, secretary of the People's Committee of the Libyan General Environment Authority, Dr
Abdelkrim Al-Waer, noted that the preservation of the environment was an endeavor that
required tireless and continuous efforts. Citing desertification, Dr Al-Waer emphasized that the
phenomenon could be explained by two factors -- nature and the hazardous activities of man.
He added that the problems facing some parts of the African continent, which are poverty,
disease and backwardness, could be attributed to the somewhat inevitable advance of the desert.
He cited the shrinking of the vegetal cover, the inexistence or weakness of the biodiversity and
the irrational attitude of men towards nature as being factors aggravating the phenomenon of
desertification in Africa. According to Dr Al-Waer, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to

Kenyan Wangari Maathai for planting 30 million trees is a basis for satisfaction for the African
continent. He also cited Libya's pioneering role in the fight against desertification using sub-
regional, regional and international organizations, including at the recent meeting of the
Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in Senegal to activate the "the Great Green
Wall"      project    in    order     to     stop     the     advance      of      the    desert.
Ethiopia: Fox Conservation Endemic to Ethiopia Becomes Priority: Bulletin
The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa): A major operation aimed at the conservation of the
Ethiopian red fox from threats arising from domestic dogs and the current decline in population
has become a critical priority, Farm Bulletin, a publication of the Ethiopian News Agency
(ENA) said. Swift action is needed to avoid the chance of extinction of the Ethiopian red foxes,
the bulletin, which is published in English, quoted the professional article of the UK and USA
researchers posted on a website, Africa Conservation, as saying. Farm Bulletin, which is
published by ENA for the benefit of higher learning and research institutions engaged in the
agricultural sector and other subscribers, said researchers from the Zoological Society of
London and the Virginia University underscored that Ethiopian foxes are under critical threat of
extinction. The Ethiopian foxes, which are elegant, long-legged red foxes endemic to the
Ethiopian afro-alpine ecosystem, would be extinct without swift intervention and help from the
international community, the bulletin said. It said the Ethiopian foxes are not found anywhere
except in the handful of scattered mountain pockets, fewer than 500 and are considered as
'critically endangered' by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The population of the
Ethiopian red fox has been declining critically due to increasing human pressure and
hybridization with domestic dogs as well as infectious diseases such as rabies, it said.

                          ROWA Media Update 17 - 20 March 2006

Environmental Award deadline is on September 2006
The Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment, and Wildlife in
coordination with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Countries Council announced
that the deadline for submission the best environmental work is on September 2006.
Contribution should be on: the best Environmental Research (this year is on Air pollution),
Environmental Awareness Award, Environmental Character Award, the best Industrial
Institution that is committed with the environmental standard and measures.

Ma’ameer pollution on the gauge soon
Finally, a mobile station will be set up to measure the levels of air pollution in Al Ma’ameer.
The station, to be set up in the first week of next month, will measure 13 parameters and analyse
the levels of air pollution under the supervision of the Environmental Affairs Department.
The station site was finalised during a meeting between the general secretary of Environmental
Affairs, Dr Ismail Al Madani, and the head of the health and environmental affairs committee of
the Central Municipal Council, Abbas Mahfoodh.
“The department has received five stations for as many governorates but it wanted to start with

Ma’ameer. They faced difficulties in identifying the site. In our meeting with Dr Al Madani and
the Ma’ameer Charity Fund chairman, Ali Abdulhassan, we discussed the matter.
“Two venues – the Ma’ameer Club and the Imam Ali School – were selected but the people
incharge were reluctant to handle and maintain the machine. We convinced the headmaster of
the school but he insisted on an agreement from the Ministry of Education before the station
could be installed at the school,” Mahfoodh said.
He said the station’s safety was not a major concern because after the school hours, Public
Security would stand guard to it.
“The mobile station can detect most of the gases and particles in the air. The Environmental
Affairs will check the machine daily. If they notice any increase in the level of pollution, it will
directly show on their computers at their departments. This is a good start to do something for
Ma’ameer residents and solve the issue of gas leakage. We have been requesting for the
machine for three years and are happy that finally it will be there in the village,” he said.
Gases in the air can still be smelt but no one is ready to own the responsibility. A parliamentary
probe panel is looking into the matter.
The rehabilitation of the Ma’ameer seashore and the two islands is progressing fast following
the visits of the Minister of Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture, Ali Saleh Al Saleh, and the
Undersecretary of the ministry, Dr Juma Al Ka’abi.

Gold workshops causing asthma, allergy in Manama
Some residents of Manama have been suffering from severe eye allergy and asthma because of
the leakage of acidic gas from two gold workshops.
One victim said that before the health complications began to show, the residents had seen
white smokes with a strong smell coming out of the workshops.
Senior environmental inspector Jaffar Ahmed Hassan said the workshops had temporary closed
down the control unit for the acidic pollution which had caused the leakage.
Hassan said the workshops had been fined and asked to relocate their chimneys on the western
side away from the residential areas.

Bahrain to fine, jail for anti-ecology offences
People involved in anti-environmental practices may soon face severe punishments, a fine of
BD50,000 along with three-month imprisonment.
All those involved in illegal reclamation or any anti-environment practices such as blocking
coastline or covering natural springs with sand will be considered as violators. The deputies
pointed out a number of incidents where individuals had blocked the coastline next to their
private property or springs were blocked stopping water, underlining that “damages to ecology
and to environment should not be tolerated.”
The punishments are part of a parliamentary proposal to include new articles in the penal code
law. The proposal that was recently approved by Utilities and Environment Committee will be
discussed on Saturday by the Chamber of Deputies during the extraordinary session. The
Ministry of Municipalities and Agriculture approved the punishments, but asked the Chamber to
include this article in any environmental law, instead of the panel code law.

Study tour for school pupils
A group of 100 students from government and private schools in the Muscat governorate will
set sail from the Sultan Qaboos Port here on a study tour to the Al Damaniyat nature reserve.
The trip, arranged by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water
Resources in association with the Ministry of Education and the Royal Navy of Oman, is aimed
at familiarising the students with Oman’s unique marine environment and threats it faces.

Forum on Environment and Effects of Pollution on Development
Ministry of Islamic Endowments (Waqf), in cooperation with the United Nations Development
Program (UNDP), held a forum in Damascus on Wednesday on the environment and effects of
pollution on development.
Deputy Minister of Endowments Dr. Mohammed Abdul Sattar al-Sayyed stressed the important
role of mosque and clergymen in bringing good to the man, particularly the environmental
development and combating pollution.

Al-Sayyed also pointed out to the link between Islamic religion and conditions of the economic,
political, culture and developmental life. He also pointed out to the existing cooperation
between his Ministry and the UNDP.
The participants in the forum talked about role of clergymen, mosques, churches, social and
culture clubs in supporting the economic and social process in Syria and role of the UNDP in
spreading environmental awareness, elimination of poverty, ignorance, pollution of the
environment, smoking and its bad effects on health, economy and society

Syria Advises to Use Natural Gas for Cars instead of Petrol and Fuel
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sofian al-Alaw on Thursday called on the
companies which use natural gas to study the possibility of using gas for cars and vehicles
instead of petrol.
“Using gas instead of petrol and fuel would achieve economic, technical and environmental
benefits as well as this would contribute to fulfilling sustainable development goals,” Minister
Alaw said during a meeting between the oil and gas companies and service contracts’ firms.
He reviewed the most important activities and works of his ministry represented by the project
of gas treatment in the central part of Syria where the documentary credit for this project was
The Project is expected to be launched during the coming two years. It will daily produce about
6 millions cubic meter of gas and this will help decrease the import of petroleum products.


Princess Basma calls for the adoption of Earth Charter
In her capacity as Earth Charter Commissioner, HRH Princess Basma addressed an audience of
UK opinion leaders from industry, business and environmental advocacy groups in London last
The event, titled "The Value of Values," was hosted at the Imperial College London, according
to a statement from the Princess' office released on Saturday.
Sharing the platform with Ruud Lubbers, former prime minister of the Netherlands, and
President of Green Cross International Alexander Likhotal, Princess Basma urged the adoption
of the Earth Charter and its application to promote intercultural dialogue.
The mission of the Earth Charter Initiative is "to establish a sound ethical foundation for the
emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature,
universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace," according to its website.

Arab Authority for Investment to Increase Yemen Projects
The Arab Authority for Investment and Agricultural Development is to extend its work in
Yemen to meet the needs of the agricultural sector, according to its Chairman, Abdul-Kareem

He said that the recent regional United Nations conference for the Near East region of the Food
and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Sana'a had allowed him to discuss with Yemeni
officials how to increase the authority's activities.
"We agreed with Yemeni officials to hold a meeting soon, to draw up a framework for
developing efforts of the authority in the country," he said.

He said that the authority wanted to apply a new technique of rain-irrigation project started in
Ibb governorate last year with positive results to other areas. The authority has made studies on
the economic advantages of mango and date farming, and the export of fruit and vegetables.
Al-Amari said the authority also wanted to develop Yemen's islands and set up projects with the
Yemeni government. He said that the FAO conference had been a good chance to learn about
the FAO and the authority.

He said the authority sets up joint projects with the private sector to develop agricultural
resources, increase trade exchange for agricultural products, and promotes agricultural
development in the region.
He said the volume of agricultural production in Arab countries had now reached US$79.6
billion, 5% of the total world agricultural production.

Road races to celebrate Qatar Environment Day
THE Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR) is to hold a series of
races as part of Qatar Environment Day celebrations.

Altogether, there would be six categories of races, Khalid Saleh, Environment Information and
Culture Centre Manager at SCENR, told Gulf Times.
The event is sponsored by Burger King, which will provide trophies and cash prizes to winners.
All participants will also receive T-shirts.
The race will be held on March 24 at 3.30pm from the Burger King outlet at the Al Markhiya
roundabout. Participants will run towards Hamad bin Jassim School at Duhail, in the direction
of Landmark.
The full distance is “about 3km” while those with special needs will race for about 1.5km, the
official said.

                            UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
                                    DAILY NEWS
17 March, 2006


The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear
ambitions topped the agenda of a closed-door meeting of the United Nations
Security Council today, the first time the issue has been formally
addressed by the 15-member body.

Following the meeting, a number of diplomats who attended the consultations
told reporters that the Council is close to agreement on elements of a text
reaffirming that Iran should comply with calls from the IAEA Governing
Board and seeking a report from the Agency Director-General on the matter.
They said consultations would resume early next week.

Council discussions today centred on an IAEA report requested by the Board
of Governors last month which points to outstanding questions about
Tehran’s activities. “Although the Agency has not seen any diversion of
nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the
Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there
are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran,” it states.

The report voices concern that “uncertainties related to the scope and
nature of Iran’s nuclear programme have not been clarified after three
years of intensive Agency verification.”

The report notes that under normal circumstances, drawing any conclusion
about a country’s nuclear activities would take time, and the duration
would be even longer in the case of Iran because of a number of factors,
including the “undeclared nature” of Iran’s past programme. In 2003, it was
discovered that Iran had carried out secret nuclear activities for 18 years
in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Before transmitting the report to the Council, Agency chief Mohamed
ElBaradei said the 15-member body “will lend its weight to the IAEA’s
efforts so as to make sure Iran will work as closely as possible with us.”



After receiving a warm welcome from the United Nations Security Council
today, Liberia’s newly elected President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, pled for

closure in the matter of alleged crimes committed by former President
Charles Taylor so that the country can get past the trauma of its long
civil war and proceed with its development agenda.

“I wish the attention of the media and the international community would
make the shift from one individual to three million people that desire a
chance for a new life,” Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected as
head of State in Africa, said at a UN Headquarters news conference where
correspondents pressed her on current reports that she has requested Mr.
Taylor be extradited from Nigeria where he is in exile.

In her earlier Council presentation, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf urged that the UN
stay engaged with Liberia to complete the work of peacekeepers who she said
had made great sacrifices to help her country emerge from chaos.

“We must consolidate the gains achieved during the transition of the last
two years so that the enormous investment made by the international
community in the peace and stability of Liberia and the region is not put
at risk,” she told an open meeting of the 15-member body.

With the assistance of the UN and other partners, Liberia was determined to
complete the reintegration of its war-affected refugees, internally
displaced persons and ex-combatants while starting to address the most
basic needs of Liberians, she said.

For that purpose, she said that she is seeking urgent contributions from
donor countries and organizations for Liberia’s recovery and development,
including debt relief.

“Liberia is still a fragile State,” she cautioned, urging the Council to
maintain its support for the UN peacekeeping mission in the country
(UNMIL), since the armed forces were being reconstituted and the
restructuring of the police service was not yet completed.

In regard to former President Taylor, she told Council members that she has
asked Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo to consult with colleagues in
the sub-region and the international community to help resolve the issue.

Taylor, who was indicted by a UN-backed court in neighbouring Sierra Leone
on charges of war crimes related to his support for rebels in that country,
was exiled to Nigeria as part of a peace deal three years ago that helped
bring an end to Liberia's decade of civil war, which killed some 200,000



Lesotho and Swaziland are “gasping for survival” amidst the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, the United Nations special envoy for the disease in Africa said
today, repeating his call for setting up an international women’s agency to
deal with the discrimination that has allowed the global scourge to ravage
the continent.

Briefing reporters in New York on his trip last month to both countries,
Stephen Lewis, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS
in Africa, said it was “impossible to traverse the continent of
Africa…without an enveloping sense of horror and despair at the carnage
amongst women.”

Describing himself as “frantic” over the slow response to the devastation,
Mr. Lewis said: “Things are changing on the ground so incrementally –
Lesotho and Swaziland are but symbols for the greater whole – that we’re
losing millions of young women in Africa. In the process, we’re creating a
generation of orphans whose lives are lives of torment.”

Swaziland continues to have the highest prevalence rate in the world at
42.6 per cent. In its recent antenatal survey of pregnant women between the
ages of 25 and 29, the prevalence rate was 56.3 per cent, Mr. Lewis said.
“That’s the highest prevalence I have ever seen registered in any age group
anywhere. The mind fractures at the thought of it.”

Mr. Lewis said that such a “terrifying” HIV prevalence rate among this age
group of pregnant women was a stark reminder of “the meaning of gender
inequality,” adding that these and similar grim statistics gave rise in
both countries to an overwhelming “deluge of orphans.”

He decried the “legacy of inequality which drives the virus and leads to
the devastation of the women and girls of the continent” calling it “an
omnibus catalogue of women’s vulnerability: rape and sexual violence,
including marital rape; domestic violence.”

An impassioned Mr. Lewis declared that “if there was a powerful
international force for women, we would not be in this galling predicament,
if there was an international agency for women.”

He called for an agency on the scale of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
arguing that while the current agencies dealing with women’s affairs –
including the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UN Population
Fund (UNFPA) – were performing well, a larger organization was needed.

“What we now have in place – whether it’s UNFPA or UNIFEM or the Division
for the Advancement of Women – cannot do the job that needs to be done.
This is not to disparage their good work; this is only to say that it has
to be combined and then enhanced a hundred-fold.”

However, he warned that the “United Nations doesn’t seem to understand this
truth,” citing as evidence the recent appointment of a 15-person high-level

panel examining the issues of development, humanitarian assistance and the
environment which now has only two female members.

Decrying this ratio, he urged efforts to expand the panel’s membership, and
to have “absolute transparency in its proceedings,” adding that it must
also be open for submissions from women’s groups.



On an official visit to Madagascar, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today
pledged continued United Nations aid in addressing such areas as
governance, education, AIDS and disaster prevention on the Indian Ocean
island, the world’s fourth largest.

“I know that sustainable development is one of this country’s central
concerns,” Mr. Annan told the Academie Malgache, which made him made a
member. “One can see that in your efforts to develop eco-tourism, to set
aside more of this country’s fabled landscape for conservation, and to
protect endangered species and ecosystems, in particular Madagascar’s
unique biodiversity.

“Such efforts are a key part of what it will take for Madagascar and other
countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” he added of the
targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 for slashing a host of
socio-economic ills ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to lack of
education and health care by 2015.

Accompanied by President Marc Ravalomanana and the First Lady, Mr. Annan
and his wife, Nane, toured the ruins of the Queen's Palace, a revered
hilltop complex overlooking the capital, Antananarivo, which burned down a
decade ago and which the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) is now helping to restore.

Also on Mr. Annan’s schedule today were meetings with the UN country team,
first with agency representatives and then with the staff at large, and a
visit to a rain forest in the eastern part of the island.

On a four-country visit that has already taken him to South Africa, he is
scheduled to leave Madagascar on Sunday for the Republic of Congo as well
as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the UN is fielding
over 16,800 uniformed personnel to back up a peace agreement while helping
to organize national elections to be held in June.



In the last five years, the number of asylum-seekers arriving in all
industrialized countries has fallen by half, according to preliminary
annual figures released today by the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), who said this trend should spark reflection in the
industrialized world about the fate of those in need of protection.

Asylum applications in 50 industrialized countries fell sharply for the
fourth year in a row in 2005, reaching their lowest level in almost two
decades, the agency said, attributing this to more stable situations in
many areas of the world but also to increasingly restrictive asylum

“These figures show that talk in the industrialized countries of a growing
asylum problem does not reflect the reality,” said High Commissioner
António Guterres.

“Indeed, industrialized countries should be asking themselves whether by
imposing ever tighter restrictions on asylum-seekers they are not closing
their doors to men, women and children fleeing persecution.”

UNHCR said that since 2001, applications for asylum in 50 industrialized
countries have declined by 49 per cent. Last year, 336,000 asylum
applications were submitted – 15 per cent fewer than in 2004.

It added that the total number of asylum-seekers arriving last year in the
38 industrialized countries for which comparable, long-term historical
statistics are available was the lowest since 1987, at 331,600. In the 25
countries of the European Union, as well as in Europe as a whole, the
number of asylum-seekers last year was the lowest since 1988.

“With the numbers of asylum-seekers at a record low, industrialized
countries are now in a position to devote more attention to improving the
quality of their asylum systems, from the point of view of protecting
refugees, rather than cutting numbers,” said Mr. Guterres.

“Despite public perceptions, the majority of refugees in the world are
still hosted by developing countries such as Tanzania, Iran and Pakistan.”

UNHCR chief spokesperson Ron Redmond said a combination of factors has
contributed to the downward trend in the number of asylum applications.

“Improvements in the situation in some regions of origin of asylum-seekers,
such as the Balkans, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, is an important
factor. But the imposition of ever more restrictive asylum policies in the
industrialized world has undoubtedly also played a role.”

“In this respect, we are concerned that the drive to keep the number of

asylum-seekers as low as possible may be resulting in some genuine refugees
being denied the protection they need,” Mr. Redmond added.

Despite a 15 per cent drop in asylum claims last year, France was the top
receiving country in 2005, followed by the United States, the United
Kingdom and Germany – the leading asylum country in Europe for much of the
1980s and 1990s – in fourth place.

The largest drop in the number of asylum seekers in the last five years was
recorded outside Europe. Canada and the United States received 54 per cent
fewer asylum requests in 2005 than in 2001, while asylum applications in
Australia and New Zealand plummeted by 75 per cent in the same period.

The largest group of asylum-seekers in 2005 was from Serbia and Montenegro,
including people from Kosovo; followed by the Russian Federation, including
those from Chechnya. China remained the third largest country of origin for
asylum seekers, followed by Iraq and Turkey.

Of the ten leading asylum-seeker nationalities, Iraqis and Haitians rose
the sharpest in 2005, both by 27 per cent, while the number of asylum
seekers from Afghanistan and Turkey continued to fall steadily.



United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appointed an experienced
Japanese diplomat, who has also held high-level posts within the UN system,
as the new Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs, a spokesman

Nobuaki Tanaka, who has been serving as Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan,
will take up his new post on 6 April, the spokesman said, adding that in
his career in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Mr. Tanaka dealt with key
security issues, including the Korean Peninsula leading into Six Party Talks.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1970, and is a seasoned diplomat with a
variety of experience, not only dealing with bilateral political and
economic issues, but also in working within the UN system.

Mr. Tanaka served as Assistant Director General of the UN Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (1994-1997) in charge of
Management and Administration as well as being an Information Officer in
the United Nations from 1980 to 1983.

He also has a broad academic background, acquiring an MA from King’s
College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom, as well as a Law Degree from
Tokyo University. He served as a Senior Research Fellow at the
International Institute of Peace Studies, Japan, and was a professor

teaching Security issues at Doshisha Women’s College, also in Japan.

During his assignment in Pakistan, the 59-year old diplomat endeavoured to
strengthen bilateral cooperation particularly in regard to Export Control
and non-proliferation of sensitive technology and goods.



A Congolese national accused of conscripting child soldiers has become the
first defendant arrested for trial by the International Criminal Court
(ICC) established to ensure the prosecution of individuals committing war
crimes, a United Nations spokesman said today.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the alleged founder and leader of the group known as
Union des Patriotes Congolais, was transferred by the authorities of the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the international agreement known
the Rome Statute, which established the court with its entry into force in
July 2002.

The 18 judges of the ICC have jurisdiction over the most serious
international crimes, including genocide, mass murder, enslavement, rape,
torture and war crimes, and the Court only steps in when countries
themselves are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute. States as
well as the UN Security Council can refer situations to the ICC for

The ICC Prosecutor initiated investigations in the DRC in 2004 after the
Congolese Government referred the situation in that country to the Court,
which issued a warrant of arrest against Mr. Lubanga on 10 February,
finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe he had conscripted
children under the age of 15 for active participation in hostilities, a war

The Congolese authorities then arrested him in Kinshasa, the capital of the

Because the ICC’s jurisdiction only covers crimes committed after its
establishment, it issued its first warrants of arrest in July 2005 against
five leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), also accused of
conscripting child soldiers and other crimes in Uganda.

An ongoing investigation is also focussing on the situation in Sudan’s
Darfur region, in which untold thousands have died and millions have been
terrorized and displaced, and which was referred to the ICC Prosecutor by
the UN Security Council in March 2005.



Delegations from Kosovo and Serbia today held their second round of direct
talks on decentralization in the Albanian-majority Serbian province, which
the United Nations has administered ever since the North Atlantic Treaty
Alliance (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid grave rights abuses
in ethnic fighting.

The talks in Vienna, chaired by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Deputy
Special Envoy for the future status of Kosovo Albert Rohan, focused on
local finance, inter-municipal cooperation and cross-boundaries

The talks are seen as an important start in the process of determining
Kosovo’s final status. Independence and autonomy are among options that
have been mentioned for the province, where Albanians outnumber Serbs and
others by 9 to 1. Serbia rejects independence and Kosovo’s Serbs have been
boycotting the province’s provisional institutions.

After the first direct talks in Vienna last month, Mr. Annan’s special
envoy for the process, Martti Ahtisaari, said he was using “a ‘bottom-up
approach,’ in other words starting the process by dealing with practical
and ‘status-neutral’ issues.

“Apart from decentralization, we will run parallel discussions on cultural
and religious heritage, minority rights and economy,” he added.

He has appealed to Serbian leaders to encourage Kosovo Serb leaders to
participate in the province’s institutions. “If you people don’t
participate, it will be very difficult for any administration to create
conditions where people can live together,” Mr. Ahtisaari told them during
a visit to the province earlier this month.


– UN

Slobodan Milosevic, the late President of Yugoslavia and accused architect
of genocide in the Balkans, does not appear to have been poisoned,
according to the interim toxicological report of Dutch experts released
today by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY).

In a letter released at the court’s seat at The Hague, the Senior Public

Prosecutor of the Netherlands, H.J. Moraal, said, “no indications of
poisoning have been found” following an autopsy. “A number of medicines
prescribed for Mr. Milosevic were found in the body material, but not in
toxic concentration,” he added.

The letter also notes that so far, no traces of rifampicine were found, but
notes that “rifampicine disappears from the body quickly, and the fact that
no traces were found implies only that it is not likely that rifampicine
had been ingested or administered in the last few days before death.” That
substance has been the subject of media speculation on the cause of Mr.
Milosevic’s death, which was ruled a heart attack by medical experts.

These are only preliminary results, the Public Prosecutor stressed, noting
that “the examination has not yet been concluded, and it will be continued
in the coming week, among other things on the basis of medical data
provided by the ICTY.”

In addition to the Dutch inquiry, the ICTY is conducting its own
investigation. Tribunal President Fausto Pocar today said that probe is
well underway.

And while voicing full confidence in the Tribunal’s detention unit, the
President said it, too, was being audited.

In releasing this information, President Pocar stressed that although it
was regrettable that Mr. Milosevic’s death had prevented a judgment, his
was not the only important case on the court’s docket. “We continue to try
the highest-level persons accused of perpetrating the most serious crimes
against Serb, Croat, Bosnian Muslim, Albanian and other victims in the
former Yugoslavia,” the President said.

“The Tribunal remains absolutely committed to fulfilling its critical
mandate to render justice in these cases as fairly and expeditiously as
possible,” he pledged.

At the time of his death on Saturday, Mr. Milosevic faced 66 counts of
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Croatia,
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999. The prosecution
put forward a wealth of evidence, including the testimony of 295 witnesses
and the presentation of 5,000 exhibits, in arguing its case.



In an effort to reduce the 1.7 million deaths caused by tuberculosis (TB)
every year, a new strategy to fight the disease in its varied incarnations
was launched today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Geneva-based agency said the new initiative underpins the Global Plan
to Stop TB 2006–2015, an ambitious $ 56 billion action plan launched in
January, which will treat 50 million people for TB, halve the disease’s
prevalence and death rates and save 14 million lives if carried out fully.

In that way, and by creating new partnerships and helping to strengthen
health systems, the new strategy is structured to help meet health-related
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a the set of targets for reducing
poverty and other global ills by 2015 – according to Mario Raviglione,
Director of WHO’s Stop TB Department.

“The Stop TB Strategy aims to ensure access to care for all TB patients, to
reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal for TB and to reduce the burden
of TB worldwide,” Dr. Raviglione affirmed.

The strategy, he said, builds on the TB-control approach known as DOTS,
promoted by WHO to treat over 22 million patients since 1995, while also
targeting the combined TB/HIV and drug-resistant MDR-TB strains of the

“DOTS remains central to TB control,” he said. “But with DOTS programmes
now established in 183 countries, the new Stop TB Strategy injects new
energies to make efforts more comprehensive and effective.”

The Stop TB Strategy, detailed in the 17 March issue of the Lancet medical
journal ahead of World TB Day on 24 March, was developed during a
consultation process involving international health partners over a
two-year period.



A new agreement signed today between the United Nations and the Government
of Spain paves the way for Madrid to boost its support for the world body’s
work in field of electoral assistance – widely viewed as crucial to the
process of democratic transition, especially for countries emerging from

A memorandum of understanding signed this morning in New York by
representatives of the Spanish Government and the UN establishes potential
cooperation in many areas, including support to election observer groups,
exchanges of electoral experts between the signatories, and technical
assistance for strengthening electoral systems within Member States
requesting support.

Similar agreements have been signed with other governments, including
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico and Panama.

Signing today’s memorandum was Maria Garcia Mahamut, General Director for
Domestic Policy of Spain’s Ministry of Interior, and the UN
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim A. Gambari.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs is responsible for
advising the Secretary-General on electoral requests from Member States,
and for ensuring consistency in the delivery of UN assistance.

Supporting this effort, the UN’s Electoral Assistance Division reviews
requests from Member States, undertakes needs assessment missions,
maintains a roster of international electoral experts and provides
technical assistance. It also collaborates with other UN agencies and
departments to help design electoral assistance projects and the electoral
components of peacekeeping operations.

Elections are widely viewed as vital to democratic transitions, the
decolonization process, and UN-supported peace agreements ending civil wars
around the globe. UN electoral assistance has supported landmark votes over
the past year in such countries as Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq and Haiti.



Pointing out that few people have been granted asylum in Greece in
comparison with its European neighbours, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today launched a country-wide campaign to
express its concern that Greek authorities are discounting over 98 per cent
of asylum applications.

“UNHCR accepts that many asylum applications are unfounded but at these
levels of rejection many genuine refugees are being left without a status
and are finding themselves in a very vulnerable situation in Greece,” said
Karen Farkas, the agency’s representative in the country, responding to the
Government’s assertion that the vast majority of these applications are not

Because of Greece’s location at the border of the European Union and at the
crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe, considerable numbers of
migrants enter the country every year, UNHCR said.

Most of those caught entering illegally are arrested and placed in
administrative detention, usually for the maximum legal term of three
months. In 2004, UNHCR said, Greece granted overall recognition, including
humanitarian status, to 0.9 per cent of applicants. The average equivalent
figure in other EU member states that year was 26.4 per cent.

These figures rose slightly in 2005, but, except for two cases that year,

virtually all asylum seekers were rejected at first instance, including
medically certified torture survivors, the agency maintains.

“States have a legitimate right to monitor their borders in view of growing
irregular migration and security concerns,” Ms. Farkas said. “But within
the large flow of people that come to Greece are a small number of men,
women and children who are seeking safety, some of whom have special

Ms. Farkas added that UNHCR is working with the Greek authorities to create
border control mechanisms that help identify people seeking asylum at the
earliest possible stage. “Some steps forward have been made with the
previous Cabinet and we hope that we will be able to continue building on
these in order to improve the situation in Greece and allow refugees to
live in safety and dignity,” she said.

The awareness campaign is using an image of a see-saw to illustrate the
fate of asylum seekers, which UNHCR said hangs in the balance between being
accepted as refugees by the authorities or rejected.



Nearly 2 million children in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region are threatened
by severe funding shortfalls, with only 11 per cent of the urgently needed
$89 million either committed or pledged, the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) reported today.

“Without significant and immediate funding, and given existing problems
with security and access, the humanitarian crisis that was averted only
last year will return,” country representative Ted Chaiban said.

“Conflict in Darfur has entered its third year and is no longer front page
news. UNICEF is sounding the alarm that lack of funding for essential water
and sanitation, health, education and protection programmes is an
additional threat facing children.”

With only $10.9 million committed or pledged, 89 per cent is still
outstanding of the total funding UNICEF needs to operate in the region for
the remainder of the year. These resources will run out in a matter of

“Nearly 2 million children depend on our efforts to protect them from
disease, from the effects of conflict and to provide opportunities for
schooling,” Mr. Chaiban said, outlining the serious consequences,

Without resources to maintain cold chain systems and fund special

campaigns, fewer children will be vaccinated, greatly increasing the
If maintenance and expansion of water and sanitation systems in rural areas
are halted, millions of people could face the threat of incresed
water-borne diseases that spread rapidly and lethally in close quarters.
Schools will be forced to close, leaving hundreds of thousands of children
without access to education. Some 382,000 children have benefited from
UNICEF programmes, including the provision of education supplies and
teacher salaries.
Increased insecurity has already prevented aid agencies from reaching over
a half million people; if the funding shortage continues, that number will
“In so many cases, people are still entirely dependent on humanitarian
assistance because the conflict has not been resolved,” Mr. Chaiban said.
“We must act now to keep, continue and encourage peace.”

Peace talks in the Nigerian capital of Abuja have so far failed to end the
conflict in Darfur, where fighting between government forces,
pro-government militias and rebels have led to the deaths of at least
180,000 people and uprooted more than 2 million others over the past three



In an effort to mitigate the serious regional impact of the 20-year-long
rebellion in Uganda by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in which
almost 2 million civilians have been uprooted, the United Nations top
relief official is to visit the east African country later this month to
outline a systematic multi-pronged approach.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, who is the
UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, will visit Uganda on 30 and 31 March, at
the invitation of the Government to discuss a proposal that all aspects of
the issue, including the humanitarian aspect, be more systematically

“This is an important first attempt by the UN to go beyond relief
assistance and to try and develop a comprehensive plan of action for the
northern Ugandan crisis,” the director of the Inter-Agency Internal
Displacement Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), Dennis McNamara, said today.

The delivery of humanitarian assistance in southern Sudan is seriously
affected by the activities of the LRA, which has been accused of grave
human rights violations, including the kidnapping of thousands of children
as fighters or “wives,” and is now estimated to have more fighters in
southern Sudan and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
than in northern Uganda.

The insecurity is threatening to disrupt the repatriation process of
Sudanese refugees from DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) to their
homes in southern Sudan, where only two days ago unknown intruders attacked
a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) compound in Yei, killing a
local guard and seriously wounding an Iraqi staffer and a second local

The LRA is considered responsible for the January attack on UN peacekeeping
troops in Garamba National Park in north eastern DRC, in which eight
Guatemalan peacekeepers were killed.

Mr. McNamara recently led a week-long multi-donor mission to Uganda,accompanied by
representatives of Canada, the European Commission, Norway,
Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States, meeting with senior
government officials, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
and community leaders, both in the capital of Kampala and in the
conflict-affected districts of Gulu and Kitgum.

He said the situation of the 2 million uprooted people was one of the
world’s most serious humanitarian crisis, with crude mortality rates among
displaced children in northern Uganda higher than those prevailing in
Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region and three times that of the rest of

The mission discussed with the Ugandan Government the need for a
comprehensive approach covering key areas of conflict resolution and
reconciliation, humanitarian assistance, return and reintegration of
formerly abducted children and ex-combatants.

UN agencies and NGOs “are scaling up their activities to meet the minimum
standards for displaced populations while facilitating voluntary return to
secure areas,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kampala, Martin Mogwanja,
said. Humanitarian agencies would soon launch a further substantial appeal
to ensure implementation of the scaled up response, he added.



A security and operations team from the United Nations refugee agency is
heading to southern Sudan to assess the situation after Wednesday’s attack
on an agency post in the town of Yei in which a local guard was killed and
an Iraqi staff member and a second local guard seriously wounded.

Non-essential UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff in Yei are
scheduled to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, today for debriefing on the
traumatic incident, which High Commissioner António Guterres said
underscored the difficulty the agency faces in south Sudan as it tries to

create a sustainable environment for returning refugees after two decades of civil war.

Meanwhile the two wounded men have been evacuated by air from southern
Sudan’s main city of Juba to a Nairobi hospital where they are now in a
stable condition, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva today.

“The UNHCR staff member evacuated - an Iraqi national - was shot three
times in the abdomen during the attack and underwent surgery last night
after arrival in Nairobi. He had previously undergone surgery in Juba to
stabilize his condition before being medevac-ed to Nairobi,” he said.

The guard suffered a bullet wound to the leg requiring surgery during the
attack by two armed intruders, one of whom was killed while the other was arrested.

Mr. Guterres is sending a team from the agency’s Emergency and Security
Service to assess the situation on the ground. Separately, Assistant High
Commissioner for Operations Judy-Cheng Hopkins and the director of UNHCR’s
Sudan-Chad operations, Jean-Marie Fakouri, will go to Yei, Mr. Redmond said.

There are 350,000 refugees from South Sudan in neighbouring countries and
some 4 million internally displaced people, uprooted by 21 years of civil
war between Government and rebel forces that ended in a peace accord in January 2005.

UNHCR, along with other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, has
been working since then to prepare communities to receive returnees,
building or rebuilding schools, hospitals, vocational training centres and water points.

Last week the agency launched a $63.2-million supplementary appeal for the
operation. So far it has received $8 million. The appeal noted that
security remained a concern in many parts of the south because of
inter-ethnic tensions and rivalries between various armed groups.



The human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire is causing deep concern with
virulent articles in the media encouraging violence and the resumption of
conflict in a country split between Government and rebel forces since 2002,
United Nations officials have warned.

In his latest report, the head of the Human Rights Division of the UN
Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Simon Munzu, said the tense political
climate was dominated by the controversy over the legitimacy and powers of
the president, which had serious effects on the enjoyment of basic rights
in Côte d’Ivoire.

The report underlined the virulence of political rhetoric and the ceaseless
calls by certain political sectors for the overthrow, even by force, of

President Laurent Gbagbo.

“In the context of the tense political environment and a constantly
deteriorating security situation, the Ivorian media abundantly relayed
messages encouraging violence, xenophobia, the resumption of internal
conflict and ethnic intolerance, through virulent articles likely to block
the peace process,” UNOCI said in a statement.

The report stressed that freedom of expression and opinion was threatened
and wrongly used in Côte d’Ivoire.

Earlier in the week, members of a UN Security Council Committee on Côte
d’Ivoire expressed “deep concern” at the situation in the western region
and at the media incitement.

In his report, Mr. Munzu noted that the rights of women and children
continued to be flouted and there was a marked increase in violence, with
female minors being subjected to rape and forced marriages.

Denouncing obstacles to the freedom of movement of the international
peacekeepers from supporters of both camps, Mr. Munzu challenged Government
authorities and the rebel Forces Nouvelles to ensure strict respect for
free movement in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

He appealed to the relevant authorities of the west and other zones for
diligent and appropriate measures to ensure the normal operation of justice
in the entire country and to fight the persistence of impunity.

Côte d’Ivoire was divided into a Government-ruled south and rebel-held
north after the failure of an attempted coup against President Gbagbo in
September 2002 triggered a civil war.

More than 7,500 uniformed UN personnel are at present in the country as
part of UNOCI's mission to monitor the ceasefire between the warring
parties as well as to help disarm and dismantle militias and support the
organization of free, fair and transparent elections.

Meanwhile, the International Working Group (IWG) for Côte d’Ivoire, which
the UN co-chairs, today held its fifth ministerial-level meeting in the
country’s main city, Abidjan, aimed at bringing about reconciliation and
paving the way for elections later this year.


       17 March 2006
       The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane
Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
       Good afternoon.
       **Guest at Noon
       Our guest today will be Stephen Lewis, who as you know is the Secretary-General’s
Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and he’ll be joining us to brief you on his latest trips to
Lesotho and Swaziland.
        I have an appointment to announce. The Secretary-General is today appointing Mr.
Nobuaki Tanaka of Japan as the new Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs,
effective 6 April 2006.
        Mr. Tanaka has most recently been serving as Ambassador of Japan to the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan. In his career in the Foreign Ministry of Japan, particularly during his
tenure as Deputy Director General in the Policy and North American Bureau, he dealt with key
security issues, including the Korean Peninsula, leading the inter-six party talks and the banning
of anti-personnel landmines.
        Mr. Tanaka is a seasoned diplomat with a variety of experience not only with dealing
with bilateral, political and economic issues, but also working within the United Nations system
in the past.
       And we have a biography available of him upstairs for those of you who are interested.
       **Secretary-General in Madagascar
       The Secretary-General is continuing his visit to Madagascar. Today in the capital, he
addressed and was made a member of the National Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters.
       In his remarks to the Academy, the Secretary-General noted the progress he had seen in
Madagascar, in terms of economic and social development. And he said he was particularly
impressed by advances in literacy, efforts to prepare for natural disasters, and the Government’s
commitment to sustainable development.
       He also said that the UN would continue to be a close partner to Madagascar in
addressing such areas as governance, education, HIV/AIDS and disaster prevention. And we
have his remarks available upstairs.
       **Security Council
        As you know, in the Security Council earlier this morning in an open meeting, Liberia’s
newly elected President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, addressed the Council, and Council members
also spoke of the situation in Liberia.

         And, at 3:30 this afternoon, the Security Council will hold closed consultations on the
letters the Secretary-General sent to the Security Council President, dated 6 February and 8
March –- both of which deal with the implementation of the safeguards agreement between Iran
and the International Atomic Energy Agency. And those closed consultations begin at 3:30.
       ** C ôte d’Ivoire
       Turning to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the International Working Group for Côte
D’Ivoire held its fifth ministerial-level meeting in Abidjan today, aimed at bringing about
reconciliation in that country and elections in the fall. The UN, as you know, is the co-chair of
the group.
         Also in Côte d’Ivoire, the Mission there has published its semi-annual report on human
rights, covering the second half of last year. The report labelled the situation “worrisome”
because of what the Mission called political deterioration, especially at the end of last year.
And that report is available upstairs.
        In Vienna today, delegations from Pristina and Belgrade are holding the second round of
direct talks on decentralization, under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for
the future status process of Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari.
       Chaired by Mr. Ahtisaari’s deputy, Albert Rohan, the talks are focusing on local finance,
inter-municipal cooperation and cross-boundary cooperation.
       An autopsy by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
has shown that Slobodan Milosevic died of a heart attack. That finding was supported by teams
of Russian and Serbian pathologists.
        The Tribunal has also released the provisional results of an examination by the Dutch
authorities, which show that there were no indications of poisoning found. And we do have
more information on that upstairs.
       **International Criminal Court
        Also from The Hague, the International Criminal Court says that the Congolese
authorities have transferred over to them Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese national and
alleged founder and leader of the group known as Union des Patriotes Congolais.
        Lubanga is alleged to have committed war crimes, and he’s the first person to be
arrested and transferred to the International Criminal Court since the entry into force of the
Rome Statute in 2002.
       And we have a press release from the ICC available to you upstairs.
       The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, today reports that the numbers of asylum
applications in industrialized countries fell sharply in 2005 for the fourth year in a row.

       In the last five years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in all industrialized
countries has fallen by half, according to the agency.
        The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said the figures show that talk
in the industrialized countries of a growing asylum problem does not reflect reality.
        He said industrialized countries should be asking themselves whether by imposing ever
tighter restrictions on asylum seekers they are not closing their doors to men, women and
children fleeing persecution.
       And we have much more from UNHCR available in my Office.
       **Central Emergency Response Fund
       According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Poland
yesterday announced a pledge of $250,000 for the new Central Emergency Response Fund,
known as CERF, which was launched last week by the Secretary-General, and which Mr. Jan
Egeland also briefed you on last week.
       The Polish pledge brings the total number of Member States supporting the Fund to 37
and increases the total pledges and contributions to more than $254 million.
       **WHO -– Tuberculosis
        Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a new strategy to
fight tuberculosis (TB), a disease that it calls “one of the world’s leading killers”.
        The strategy addresses the current challenges facing countries in responding to TB, such
as the spread of TB and HIV co-infection.
       According to the WHO, TB kills 1.7 million people every year.
       And we have a press release available upstairs.
       **Secretary-General Message
       One message to flag for you from the Secretary-General. Over the weekend, the Second
World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace will meet in Seville, Spain, and the Secretary-
General, in a message to that gathering, encourages that Congress to spread a message of
dialogue and peaceful coexistence among Muslims and Jews.
       He says the imams and rabbis can be powerful agents of change.
      The Secretary-General encourages them to help bridge the chasms of ignorance, fear and
misunderstanding, and to set an example of interfaith dialogue and cooperation.
      The meeting draws together some 150 religious leaders from the Middle East, Europe
and North America to promote dialogue and understanding between Jews and Muslims.
       And we have the statement available upstairs.
       ** Spain
        And lastly, the UN Secretariat and the Government of Spain today agreed to work more
closely together in the increasingly important field of electoral assistance.

        An agreement signed by Spain and for the UN by Under-Secretary General for Political
Affairs Ibrahim A. Gambari establishes potential cooperation in many areas, including support
to election observer groups, exchanges of electoral experts and technical assistance for
strengthening electoral systems within Member States.
       And that is it for me. Any questions?
       **Questions and Answers
       Question: I just wanted to ask you about Terje Roed-Larsen’s upcoming trip to Saudi
Arabia. Could you give us some details?
        Spokesman: He is going there as part of his regional consultations in the
implementation of resolution 1559 which deals with Lebanon. And obviously, he’s preparing
the report on 1559, which comes out next month. And as part of his reporting, he believes that
the regional players have something to bring to the discussion. So he’ll be discussing the
situation in Lebanon with the Saudi officials.
       Speaking of Lebanon. Sylvian.
       Question: What’s [inaudible] of the Secretary-General on the “Lebanity” of the Shaba
Farms. Shaba Farms are Lebanese.
       Spokesman: The Secretary-General’s position on the Shaba Farms is unchanged, and I
would refer you to the numerous Security Council resolutions on that issue.
        Question: I had asked you last week also about the transfer of powers of the Secretary-
General to the Deputy Secretary-General in order to divide some of the duties between them.
Lots of major functions had been given the new Deputy Secretary-General to be. What I’m
saying is that I had asked you whether the Secretary-General is authorized to do that. The
resolution that was passed creating the post in 1997 clearly says that the Secretary-General will
appoint the Deputy Secretary-General following consultations with Member States and in
accordance with Article 101 of the Charter. That’s what the resolution says.
        Spokesman: The answer I gave you last week stands. The Secretary-General has the
right to delegate authority as he sees fit. It’s the way any manager would manage. But
obviously, the ultimate responsibility for running the Secretariat remains purely in the hands of
the Secretary-General, and that responsibility does not change.
        Question: Also, can you tell me -- maybe you’ve answered this question before -- this
oil-for-food was supposed to end, I believe, at the end of March. Is that right? Has it already
handed over all the papers to the United Nations, and if not, is it going to?
        Spokesman: Not having yet reached the end of March, the Commission still is
continuing, just as a repository of the archives, to help out national authorities in their ongoing
investigations. I do expect to have something to announce as to what will happen to the papers
and the lifespan of the ICC in the next few days.
       Question: It’s nearing the end. That’s the thing.
       Spokesman: Nearing is exactly that. We still have two weeks, which is a lifetime.
       Question: How much more expense was incurred by this oil-for-food Commission?

       Spokesman: I think the last full budget -- total budget -- for the Commission’s work was
$35 million, if I’m not mistaken.
       Question: That was until December?
      Spokesman: I’ll check. I don’t have the exact figures in my head. I don’t want to
misspeak too much.
       Thank you very much. We’ll now turn to Mr. Lewis.


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