Damavand Mineral Water Company and UNICEF team up for Irans schoolgirls

19 April 2007The Iranian mineral water company Damavand and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have launched a new partnership to benefit thousands of schoolgirls in Iran. Under the initiative, announced on Wednesday in Tehran, Damavand will donate a portion of the revenues of its water bottle sales to UNICEF Iran to help finance girls’ education projects. This is the first time in Iran that a share of the sales of a product will benefit a charitable cause, UNICEF said in a news release. Under the one-year partnership, Damavand mineral water bottles now feature the UNICEF logo and describe how this partnership benefits Iranian children. Some 4,500 children will benefit from activities to include community-based school management and quality education. “This is a win-win situation,” said Jan-Pieter Kleijburg, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Iran. “It is good for UNICEF, as it helps us to expand important activities without relying too much on funds from abroad. It is good for Damavand Mineral Water Company, as it provides a channel for the company to fulfil its corporate social responsibilities. Above all, he added, “It is good for the children in remote parts of the country, who will benefit from quality education and a better chance to have a good future.” read more

Current global trade talks cannot afford to fail – Ban Kimoon

In a speech to the Seventh Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, held in the capital, Doha, Mr. Ban said globalization had made travel, shipping and communications much easier and made the benefits of trade “more evident than ever.”For this reason, he said there must be a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade talks. “The global trading regime needs to create opportunities for the poorest countries, instead of leaving them at a disadvantage.”Named after the city where they were launched in 2001, the Doha Round of trade talks stalled last year amid disputes between developed and developing countries over agricultural subsidies, but talks have resumed recently.Mr. Ban warned that if the latest talks fail, “serious damage will be done to those who can least afford it, to the multilateral trading system, and to multilateralism itself. Should this round of trade talks succeed, Doha will become synonymous not only with free trade, but also indelibly linked to development.”The Secretary-General told the Forum that while democracy was intrinsically valuable on its own terms, it also brought positive effects to trade and development, offering institutional certainty and stability and encouraging businesses to have greater confidence in a country’s economic outlook.“Democracy, development and free trade share a conception of men and women as free and autonomous individuals, capable of fulfilling their inner potential,” he said, stressing the closeness of the relationship between the three topics.He urged the world’s countries to work towards “truly free trade,” transparent governance and institutions based on the will of the people, and sustainable development and globalization that benefits everyone, and not just some of the world’s peoples.Earlier, Mr. Ban told reporters travelling with him on his four-nation official trip that he was frustrated by the pace of progress so far on the resumed Doha Round.While in Qatar, the UN chief has also met with the country’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and its Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani, as well as Finland’s President Tarja Halonen, who opened the Forum.His last stop on the trip, which began in Italy, will be Damascus, Syria, where meetings with senior Government officials, including President Bashar Assad, are expected.On Saturday in Geneva, Mr. Ban concluded the latest two-day meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), which brings together top officials from across the UN system.The CEB agreed to restructure arrangements for cooperation among UN entities to ensure a more transparent, cost-effective and coherent approach to developing common programmes, as well as to support the “aid-for-trade” initiative, which is designed to help poorer nations to take a greater role in the international trading system. 23 April 2007The current round of international trade talks must succeed, or the world’s poorest countries will slip further behind and the entire multilateral trading system will be in jeopardy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today in Qatar as he urged Member States to re-double their efforts to reach agreement. read more

UNESCO chief condemns latest murder of Iraqi journalist

Responding to the mounting death toll of media professionals in Iraq, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the killing of the latest victim: Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, editor of a new Iraqi weekly, al-Youm.Koïchiro Matsuura also condemned the murder of the unnamed chauffeur of a female correspondent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty whose body was found in Iraq on 22 October. The correspondent has been missing since that date. The assassinated driver and the kidnapped journalist have not been named, to protect the safety of the journalist.“Harassing, intimidating, kidnapping and killing journalists and those brave enough to work with them in extremely dangerous environments represents an attack on the human rights of entire societies,” said Mr. Matsuura in a statement released at the agency’s Paris headquarters.“The people of Iraq, like all of us, have a fundamental and inalienable right to inform one another about events and discuss them. Violence cannot be allowed to take the place of freedom of speech,” concluded Mr Matsuura, whose agency has a mandate to defend press freedom.Mr al-Hiti, 27, was last seen alive on 28 October when he left his house to go to the office of al-Youm, which was launched earlier this month. His dead body was found later on that day in the Ur neighbourhood of Baghdad. He is the 122nd journalist killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).The CPJ also reports that 42 media support staff have been killed in the country since the start of the war. 31 October 2007Responding to the mounting death toll of media professionals in Iraq, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the killing of the latest victim: Shehab Mohammad al-Hiti, editor of a new Iraqi weekly, al-Youm. read more

New cool initiative to slash UNs own emission of greenhouse gases

30 July 2008In a bid to have the United Nations lead by example, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today unveiled “Cool UN,” a three-pronged initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money. In a bid to have the United Nations lead by example, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today unveiled “Cool UN,” a three-pronged initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money. The new programme – which will begin this Friday – will raise the thermostats at the Secretariat building in New York by five degrees from 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in most parts of the landmark building, and will shut down the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems over the weekend. “We have succeeded in moving climate change to the top of the international agenda for action, and this means that the UN must take action itself,” said Mr. Ban. The one-month-long scheme during August is expected to cut the UN’s carbon dioxide emissions by 300 tons, a 10 per cent reduction in energy consumption for the air conditioning systems. This will also result in savings of more than $100,000 by cutting back on the use of steam by over 4,000 million pounds. As part of “Cool UN,” the Secretary-General is encouraging both personnel and delegates to dress less formally, including by having men leave their ties off. “Let us have some fun – while at the same time we make a contribution to reducing global emissions,” he said. Depending on how successful the scheme is, the project could be extended, with the thermostats being lowered 5 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. “We estimate that the monthly winter reduction would be somewhat larger than the monthly summer reduction,” Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), told reporters today. He said that the initiative could save the UN some $1 million annually and slash its carbon dioxide emissions by 2,800 tons. “Cool UN” will only go into effect in New York, given that climate conditions vary from duty station to duty station, according to Janos Pasztor, Director of Mr. Ban’s Climate Change Support Team. The UN’s Nairobi offices are not air-conditioned, while Geneva’s offices are cooled for only a few days out of the year, he said. Mr. Pasztor said that negotiations to conclude a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol must continue, “but we also need to reflect on our lifestyles and the way we live and the way we work.” read more

Ban welcomes outcome of LebanonSyria talks

14 August 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the results of the summit between Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which was held in Damascus. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban “notes positively the decisions to begin the process to establish diplomatic relations through an exchange of ambassadors, and to take steps towards the delineation and control of the borders between the two countries.”He encouraged both parties to begin implementing these decisions as soon as possible, in keeping with Security Council resolutions 1680 and 1701, both from 2006.Yesterday, both the Secretary-General and the Security Council condemned a deadly bombing in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, voicing hope that it will not impede recent political progress in the Middle Eastern nation.Mr. Ban “believes this attack should not hinder the positive steps that have been taken to return the country to normalcy,” according to a statement. read more

UN envoy begins fiveday visit to Myanmar

Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser on Myanmar, also held meetings with diplomats, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Tripartite Core Group, comprising the UN, the Government of Myanmar and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).In addition, he was briefed by the UN Country Team on the first day of his visit, his fourth since the Government’s crackdown on peaceful protesters last summer.“In accordance with his mandate, Mr. Gambari intends to meet with all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process, including all those whom he has met on previous occasions,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said in response to a reporter’s question about the Adviser’s schedule for the duration of his visit.On his last trips to Myanmar, Mr. Gambari met with detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s senior leaders.“This visit is the continuation of the Secretary-General’s good offices process that was led by led by Mr. Gambari over the past two and a half years, and follows the recent visit to Myanmar by the Secretary-General himself” in the aftermath of May’s devastating Cyclone Nargis, Mr. Haq said. 18 August 2008The top United Nations envoy to Myanmar kicked off his five-dray trip to the Asian nation today by meeting with Foreign Minister U Nyan Win. read more

UN releasing over 3 million to aid southern African flood victims

The United Nations has released over $3 million in emergency relief funding in response to the devastation caused by torrential rains in southern Africa, which have led to the deaths of over one hundred people and left tens of thousands homeless, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.The majority of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) disbursement, some $2.3 million, will go to a number of UN agencies providing urgent relief to victims of severe flooding in Angola, where the death toll has climbed to 60 since the beginning of the year.OCHA reported that in Angola alone the floods have affected an estimated 220,000 people, forced 81,000 from their homes, destroyed around 4,000 houses and inundated 231,000 hectares of cropland.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Word Health Organization (WHO) will use the money to finance the supply of safe water and provide public sanitation, support for displaced communities and health projects.Meanwhile, the President of the Comoros declared a national emergency after floods killed two people, and an estimated 500 households – roughly 2,500 people – have been affected in 41 villages that are underwater.In addition, water tanks have been polluted and toilets are overflowing, creating concerns for the spread of waterborne diseases. There is also significant infrastructure damage, especially to roads and bridges. The UN Resident Coordinator convened a meeting with development partners to discuss response measures.Namibia has also been hit hard by the flooding, which has killed some 92 people and displaced 54,581, while more than 350,000 people have been affected by the rising waters. Over 50 per cent of roads have also been damaged in the affected areas and at least 412 schools damaged and disrupted, including 159 closed, interrupting the education of over 56,106 pupils.The Namibian Government has allocated $11 million in response to the crisis, establishing 21 relocation camps in the affected regions and distributing non-food relief supplies, to go with a $2.7 million Flash Appeal launched by the UN – which includes a $1.3 million CERF component that has been fully funded.In Zambia, where an estimated 600,000 people are affected by flooding, an OCHA assessment report contains detailed recommendations on responding to urgent infrastructure, health, water and sanitation, agriculture, food security and shelter requirements. 30 April 2009The United Nations has released over $3 million in emergency relief funding in response to the devastation caused by torrential rains in southern Africa, which have led to the deaths of over one hundred people and left tens of thousands homeless, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. read more

UN refugee agency calls for protection of Somalis ordered to leave Kenya

5 November 2010With concern growing over the fate of more than 8,000 Somalis ordered out of northern Kenya, the UN refugee agency today reiterated its appeal for Somalis to receive international protection. Earlier this week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had called upon the Kenyan government to immediately halt the return of Somalis from a border camp in the Mandera area, in the country’s north-east. The Somalis had been at the camp since 17 October and were mainly women, children and the elderly – they had fled there to escape fighting between Al-Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna Wal Janaa forces in the Somali town of Bulla Hawa. Following the authorities’ orders, most initially moved into the no-man’s land between Kenya and Somalia and refused to go further. As of this morning it appears however that some have dispersed, while others are believed to have fled into neighbouring Ethiopia.“Our staff was in touch with some of the refugees yesterday by phone,” said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards at a press briefing in Geneva today. “They told us that they were reluctant to move back into Somalia for fear of insecurity, that people were living in the open in shelters made mainly of sticks, and that they were in urgent need of better shelter, food and water.”Edwards renewed the call made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, to the UNHCR executive committee in October, for Somalis to receive international protection in line with the updated eligibility guidelines that UNHCR issued earlier this year. UNHCR, in its advice to governments, had made clear that people fleeing central and southern Somalia were at substantial risk and that their international protection needs must be respected.Earlier this week, noting that Kenya has for many years generously hosted tens of thousands of Somali refugees, UNHCR said that to be forcibly returning people to Somalia now betrays that spirit, places lives at risk and contravenes the principles of non-refoulement – or non forced return – that are contained in Kenya’s Constitution, its Refugees Act and in international refugee law. read more

Ban calls on Central African countries to ratify treaty curbing small arms

15 March 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Central African nations to ratify as soon as possible a regional convention curbing light arms and small calibre weapons, pledging United Nations support for the measure in the furtherance of peace and stability. “I urge you bring an end to armed violence, to close down the trans-border trade in illicit weapons, and to fight against the looting and trafficking of raw materials,” he told the 32nd Ministerial Meeting of the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, taking place in Sao Tomé. In a message read out by the acting chef of staff of the UN Office for Central Africa, Bruno Mpondo-Epo, Mr. Ban hailed the holding of presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) in January and legislative elections in Chad in February, calling on other regional countries where polls are due to this year to ensure that they take place in a climate of peace and security.But he regretted that despite progress in recent months, armed violence continued to prolong a climate of insecurity in certain parts of the region.“In this respect I condemn once more the rapes and murder of civilians – women, men and children – in particular in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the eastern region of CAR,” he said.Mr. Ban also expressed concern at acts of piracy off the coasts of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. read more

Fracking fears rise in Newfoundland as junior explorers hunt for shale oil

CALGARY — As a junior energy explorer comes closer to finding out whether North America’s next big shale oil find lies beneath the western coast of Newfoundland, concerns are being raised about the environmental effects fracking could have in the remote region.Shoal Point Energy Ltd. spent the winter holidays hammering out a farmout deal with Black Spruce Exploration, a subsidiary of Foothills Capital Corp., that will enable as many as 12 exploration wells to be drilled over the next few years in the Green Point shale.After that, the companies aim to have a better idea of how much black gold can be coaxed out the narrow stretch of rock — and hopefully attract deeper pocketed investors to help scale up the discovery.“It’s not the big long-term solution yet,” Shoal Point chief executive officer George Langdon said in an interview.As in other shale formations throughout North America, tapping the Green Point will require hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to unlock the resource. The process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure in order to crack the rock.Fracking has unleashed huge supplies of natural gas and oil from shales across the continent, but it also brings with it controversy over its potential environmental effects.Bob Diamond, chair of the Bay St. George Sustainability Network, said fracking has become a hot topic in his community.Less than a dozen people attended his group’s first meeting on the issue, but that number swelled to 60 for a second gathering last week.“We’re not against oil or oil development or exploration,” Mr. Diamond said from Stephenville, N.L.“We want to ensure that it’s not going to have any significant impact on our health or our environment.”In addition to the safety of the fracking process itself, Mr. Diamond said he’s also worried about all of the trucks and heavy equipment moving around the area and the safety of drilling in a coastal region prone to wild weather.He also wants to make sure that other industries, such as tourism and fisheries, aren’t harmed.“I’d like to see a moratorium on gas and oil fracking,” said Mr. Diamond.“In Newfoundland, there’s actually no kind of regulatory structure in place yet to deal with fracking, which alarms a lot of people.”He said recent fracking guidelines set out by the New Brunswick government seem to strike the right balance, and he’d like to see his province follow suit.David Murray, CEO of Foothills Capital Corp., said although fracking is new to western Newfoundland, the technology has been around for a long time and has been safely used around the world.“We know that people will be concerned about it because they’re not as experienced in this area as to what’s involved. But do we see any real technical issues here? The answer is no,” he said.He said there are no groundwater sources at risk from the drilling.Shoal Point, a small Toronto-based outfit, set up a data room last summer where potential partners could access company information. Firms from around the world — some large and some small — took a look at what Shoal Point had to offer.Mr. Langdon had expected the potential size of the Green Point — one estimate pegs it as having 23 billion barrels of oil in place — would be enough to lure a big-name partner.But so far no major firms have been reeled in, likely because there is still a lot of drilling to be done before they’re convinced those barrels can be produced economically.“I think that it’s big enough now and they should be looking at it,” said Mr. Langdon.“It’s a new area. Maybe not many people are as familiar with the geology as we are. In any case, that’s the way they look at it and I think the time will come when we’ll be very, very interested in it.”Black Spruce brings shale oil expertise to the table and can help take operating costs off of Shoal Point’s shoulders.“These guys were having a tough time even though all the geological information seemed to be outstanding,” said Mr. Murray.Another Foothills subsidiary works in the Bakken shale, a massive oil deposit centred in North Dakota that’s producing enough oil to drastically alter the North American market.Black Spruce is arranging with other Foothills affiliates to bring drilling equipment and materials to the remote area of Newfoundland, where so far it’s been costly and logistically difficult to drill.“We felt that we could provide a solution for these guys that many other people couldn’t, where they’d have to go to many different places to shop,” said Mr. Murray.In the first phase of the partnership, Black Spruce has agreed to drill one well on each of Shoal Point’s three blocks for a 40% interest.Black Spruce will also have the option to drill a fourth well in a location of its choosing, enabling it to earn a 50% interest.Once the optional well is drilled, the companies can choose to enter their deal’s second phase, which involves drilling up to eight more wells, giving Black Spruce a 60% interest.The top priority will be to finish off a well on the southernmost block, where Shoal Point’s lease has already expired. The regulator, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, has been “patient” in allowing Shoal Point time to complete the work this year.“As the first company exploring for an unconventional play in offshore Newfoundland, they’ve given us a lot of discretion and flexibility to prove that this could be a commercial venture. And we are very appreciative of that fact,” said Mr. Langdon.Once Shoal Point and Black Spruce have proven that oil can be produced from the rock, they can apply to the board for a significant discovery licence.Shoal Point is by far the biggest landowner in the Green Point, having amassed more than 280,000 hectares across its three blocks. Shoal Point owns 100%of two of those blocks and 80% of another.Shoal Point’s activity so far has been at the south edge of the formation, which stretches north along the coast well past Gros Morne National Park.The Green Point extends into the offshore, but the wells are being drilled from on land into the formation.Recent fluid injection tests by Shoal Point’s Houston-based contractor showed promising results when it comes to the rock’s permeability.“Every time we turn over a stone, things look better on the technical side. We’re very, very happy about that,” said Mr. Langdon.Mr. Murray said there’s “no question” the Green Point holds a lot of oil, but it remains to be seen how much of it can flow to the surface on its own steam.“There’s only one way to determine that at this point from the technology that we have today, and that’s to actually drill.”The Canadian Press read more

BCE Inc to hike dividend by 53 following big increase in profit

BCE Inc., Canada’s largest telecommunications company, posted a near 10% increase in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday as gains in wireless results were buttressed by unexpected strength in BCE’s Internet-TV service.The Montreal-based company, which operates under the Bell brand, had a “great quarter and solid guidance,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose.While BCE’s forecasts for 2015 were largely in line with expectations, analysts said surprisingly strong wireline subscriber and revenue gains show the company is taking market share from its cable-TV competitors.BCE gained 34,126 net broadband, or high-speed Internet, customers in the quarter, while rival Rogers Communications Inc read more

WatchCanada takes softwood lumber battle with US to NAFTA appeal panel

OTTAWA — Canada is turning to the North American Free Trade Agreement in its bid to stop U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber.A letter from a Canadian lawyer was hand-delivered Tuesday to the American NAFTA secretariat in Washington, requesting a panel review “in regard to the final determination of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the countervailing duty investigation of softwood lumber from Canada.”In a written statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will “forcefully defend Canada’s softwood lumber industry.”“The U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision on punitive countervailing and anti-dumping duties against Canada’s softwood lumber producers is unfair, unwarranted, and deeply troubling,” she said.The challenge comes under section 19 of NAFTA, one of the sections in the crosshairs of U.S. President Donald Trump as the trilateral trade pact is renegotiated.Canadian softwood lumber producers have already laid down about $500 million in countervailing and antidumping duties since the U.S. Department of Commerce ruled last spring Canada was unfairly subsidizing its softwood industry and selling wood into the U.S. at unfairly low rates.The main issues stem from the fact that most Canadian softwood is on Crown land and producers pay stumpage fees, set by provincial governments, for the right to harvest the wood. The U.S. Lumber Coalition alleges these fees are deliberately set too low and represent an unfair subsidy to Canadian producers.Canada vigorously denies these claims and has won several NAFTA challenges over similar softwood issues in the past.Earlier this month, the U.S. government made final decisions about the amount of duty that would be charged on Canadian softwood, with the final total averaging about 21 per cent, down from almost 27 per cent in the initial decisions.Canada and the U.S. have battled over softwood for decades and the disputes have been before both NAFTA and the World Trade Organization multiple times. Canada has won almost all of those challenges, and even in cases where Canada was found to be subsidizing its industry, NAFTA panels or the WTO have said the subsidy was so minimal it had no effect on U.S. producers.Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has repeatedly said Canada has every reason to believe it would prevail in such a challenge again.However, until Tuesday it wasn’t clear whether Canada would take that route again in the midst of difficult NAFTA renegotiations, particularly given the American objective to eliminate Chapter 19 altogether.Chapter 19 establishes a panel of five arbiters, agreed upon by both countries, who will decide if the duties meet U.S. law. Without that mechanism, Canada would have to use the U.S. court system to make such a challenge.Canada likes Chapter 19 because it doesn’t trust the U.S. courts to be fair and timely in reviewing international trade challenges. The Trump administration believes the U.S. court system should determine if American laws are being properly applied; if the panel decides they aren’t, the U.S. would have to refund the money collected.A Canadian government official said Tuesday that Canada could decide to take its case to the WTO as well, in addition to the NAFTA challenge.Canada and the United States are attempting to negotiate a new softwood deal that would dictate how much wood Canada can sell to the U.S. The last deal expired two years ago.Thus far Canadian producers have been shielded from too much harm from the duties because of high market prices and the low Canadian dollar. read more

Dayasiri has not informed UNP

UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera has not informed the UNP that he is leaving the party to join the government, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said.Attanayake said the he had met the UNP MP and yet there was no such indication. He noted that on the contrary Jayasekera had dismissed media reports that he was planning on leaving the UNP. However Attanayake had one advice to give anyone thinking of joining the government.“That (the government) is part of a sinking ship. Sp anyone joining the government must be ready to sink,” he said. There were reports that Jayasekera had met President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week and may join the government to contest the upcoming provincial council elections. (Colombo Gazette) “There were some media reports that he was joining the government but he has not said anything to us. I saw some reports where he had said he will never join the government,” Attanayake said. read more

DMK welcomes Lankas efforts on fishing issue

“This brings much relief to the Indian fishermen. Following this positive announcement from the Sri Lankan President, the Centre, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, should make arrangements for bilateral talks involving fishermen to enable them arrive at a lasting solution for the long-standing problem,” he said in a statement. While Sri Lankan Navy regularly arrests fishermen from Tamil Nadu on the charge of poaching, the latter maintain they have traditional rights to fish in Palk Strait.Already three rounds of bilateral talks involving the fishermen have been held in Chennai and Colombo, but a solution has remained elusive so far. The Lankan President had assured to take steps to hold talks between fishermen of India and Sri Lanka to solve the fishing dispute in Palk Strait, a narrow sea strip separating the two countries, he said. Welcoming Sri Lanka’s efforts to solve the fishing dispute in Palk Strait, India’s DMK today urged the Centre to take steps for bilateral talks involving fishermen of the island nation and India and bring about a lasting solution to the vexed issue, the Press Trust of India reported.Referring to a meeting between fishermen association representatives from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena yesterday, DMK chief M Karunanidhi also welcomed Colombo’s decision to release 37 detained fishermen from the state. The former chief minister also welcomed the Centre’s move referring to a Joint Committee of Parliament, the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, which has faced stiff resistance from opposition parties and BJP’s own allies. read more

UNHCR pledges to continue to work with Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka said it recognizes refugee returns as vulnerable individuals who require government assistance for re-integration, and as such the Government provides assistance to returning refugees, especially in the sectors of livelihoods and housing in addition to the re-integration grant and non-food relief assistance provided by the UNHCR. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grandi, has said the UNHCR will continue to work on, the return of those Sri Lankans who want to return, solutions for internally displaced people and commendable work that the Government is doing for the statelessness.The High Commissioner made this observation, in response to the national statement of Sri Lanka delivered by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, at the 67th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, held in Geneva. Aryasinha said the Government is assisted in the resettlement process by the UN and other development partners, yet, Sri Lanka requires further assistance for the displaced and the Government hopes that the international community will be forthcoming in this regard.  (Colombo Gazette) A National Steering Committee on Refugee Returnees has also been established enabling those involved in the refugee returnee process to discuss challenges, find solutions and have regular follow- up. read more

Compensation assured to families of Jaffna shooting victims

The Minister went to Jaffna to visit these families as it has been one month since the death of the two students. Vice Chancellor of the Jaffna University and representatives of the student unions of Jaffna University were also present when the Minister met with the families of the deceased students. (Colombo Gazette) The Government has assured compensation to the families of the victims of the recent Jaffna shooting incident.Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M. Swaminathan visited the families of the two students of the Jaffna University who were killed in Jaffna during a police shooting incident. After inquiring about their wellbeing the Minister promised to build two houses for the deceased students’ families. He also promised to provide them with compensation and told them that he will be discussing the matter with the Cabinet to provide compensation. read more

Approximately 30 of dengue patients are children

Approximately 30% of dengue patients are children between the years of 5 -19 years, according to the National Dengue Control Unit of the Ministry of Health (MoH).Sri Lanka is reporting an increased number of dengue cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today. 301 deaths from dengue have been reported from the MoH for the year 2017. From 1 January to 28 July 2017, the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Sri Lanka reported 110 372 cases of dengue. WHO presented an intensified strategic and operational plan to rapidly reduce dengue morbidity and mortality in Sri Lanka. The Plan was accepted by the Minister of Health.The Entomologist and Technical Officer deployed by WHO SEARO have conducted trainings for entomologists and public health inspectors in vector control. A media workshop was held by WHO, MOH and UNICEF on 27 July to seek the continued support of the media in spreading awareness on the importance of vector control and personal protection in curtailing the spread of dengue.Approximately 44.5% of cases and 53% of deaths were reported from the Western province. The most affected areas are the Colombo district (23 574 cases) followed by Gampaha (19 046), Ratnapura (6583), Kalutara (6525) and Kandy (6475).The highest numbers of dengue cases thus far were reported during June 30, 2017 – July 7, 2017. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Singaporean detained with foreign currency worth over Rs 15 million

A Singaporean was detained at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) today with foreign currency worth over Rs 15 million.The Customs department said that the Singaporean was detained while attempting to smuggle the currency out of the country. The passenger had in his possession 50,000 Euros and 50,000 Brunei Dollars worth over Rs 15 million. (Colombo Gazette)