Pacific 

UN, world leaders, condemn Sri Lanka terrorist attacks targeting churches, hotels, which leave more than 200 dead

According to news reports, three churches were targeted, in the cities of Batticaloa, Negombo, and the capital, Colombo. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and another hotel, all in the capital, were also hit.   So far, no group has claimed responsibility for carrying out the likely suicide bombings, but police have reportedly arrested seven people in connection with the attacks.  The Secretary-General said in a statement that on what was “a sacred day for Christians around the world”, he recalled “the sanctity of all places of worship”. The statement issued by his…

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Pacific 

UN Security Council condemns Taliban offensive as a blow against ‘sustainable peace’

Recognizing citizens’ “strong desire for sustainable peace in Afghanistan”, the Council underscored that “calls for more fighting will not advance the goal of making a sustainable peace”. According to news reports, the announcement, which came as the UN lifted travel bans on the Taliban’s senior leaders to facilitate United States-led peace talks, signals that although negotiations are gaining momentum, fighting is likely to intensify around the country. “Seize the opportunity to begin an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that result in a political settlement”, the Security Council urged all parties to the…

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Pacific 

Millions of Bangladeshi children at risk from climate crisis, warns UNICEF

According to the study – Gathering Storm: Climate change clouds the future of children in Bangladesh – the country’s flat topography, dense population and weak infrastructure make it “uniquely vulnerable to the powerful and unpredictable forces that climate change is compounding”.  The threat is felt from the flood and drought-prone lowlands in the country’s north, to its storm-ravaged coastline along the Bay of Bengal, it explains.  Today, around 12 million of the 19.4 million children most affected by climate change live in and around the powerful river systems which flow through Bangladesh and regularly burst…

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Pacific 

UN agencies urge Brunei to repeal new ‘extreme and unjustified’ penal code

Underscoring that every person has the right to be “free from torture” and “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment”, UNAIDS, the agency dedicated to tackling the virus, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the sexual and reproductive health agency, warned the new penal code, which came into force in the south-east Asian monarchy on Wednesday, “will have a significant negative impact on overall health and well-being” there. “These extreme and unjustified punishments will drive people underground and out of reach of life-saving HIV treatment and prevention services,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive…

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Pacific 

Brunei’s new penal code would enshrine ‘cruel and inhuman punishments’ UN rights chief warns

In an appeal to the Bruneian Government to stop what she described as “draconian” revisions, due to come into force on Wednesday, High Commissioner Bachelet maintained that they “would enshrine in legislation cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach international human rights law”. According to a statement from Ms. Bachelet issue by her office, OHCHR, the death penalty would in theory be applicable for offences such as rape, adultery, sodomy; extramarital sexual relations for Muslim citizens; robbery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammad. Public flogging as a punishment…

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Pacific 

Asia-Pacific showing ‘decisive leadership’ on road to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, deputy UN chief tells key forum

Speaking at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in Bangkok, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed expressed her admiration for the development progress made within the vast region so far. “Your governments have taken on the challenge of the 2030 Agenda with decisive leadership…making significant investments to enhance data and statistical coverage, take partnerships to scale and promote people-centred policies, strategies and programmes,” she said in a keynote address. Such efforts to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), however, are facing “major obstacles” she added, pointing…

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Pacific 

UN’s Bachelet rejects Sri Lankan official’s ‘spin’ on Human Rights Council encounter, urges reforms

In a statement issued one week after the Human Rights Council’s 47 Member States heard the report, and passed a resolution giving Sri Lanka another two years to deliver reforms originally agreed in 2015, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet dismissed a newspaper story which quoted a senior Government official. “I am deeply disappointed by the spin that has been put on my discussion with the Sri Lankan Government delegation,” she said in her statement. “Either the newspaper misunderstood the Governor, or the Governor misunderstood – or misquoted – me.” According to…

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Pacific 

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

Mr. Guterres was addressing representatives of the press at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, to show his solidarity with the worldwide Muslim community, a week after the murder of some 50 Muslim worshippers by a gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. The UN chief spoke, with a “heavy and full heart,” of the grief and sympathy felt for the families of the victims, and the moving displays of “leadership, love and community from the people of New Zealand.” Around the world, we have seen ever-rising anti-Muslim…

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Pacific 

‘Growing alarm’ over Fall Armyworm advance, with cash crops ‘under attack’ across Asia

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has convened a three-day meeting of international experts in Bangkok and officials from affected countries, who on Wednesday began discussing what to do about stopping the onward march of the crop-guzzling insects, and limiting the devastation they cause.  “We are here today – together – because we share a growing sense of alarm – but also to learn from each other, particularly from those countries who’ve already been responding to their own infestations, said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and…

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Pacific 

UN chief expresses solidarity with Indonesian authorities after flash floods kill dozens in Papua

In a statement from his office, Secretary-General António Guterres said that he was “saddened by the loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of people’ due to flash floods and landslides in Sentani, Jayapura and Papua, and of the earthquake in West Nusa Tenggara Province.”  The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of Indonesia”, the statement continued.  According to news reports, rescue workers have struggled to reach the remote parts of Papua, and there are fears that the death toll may…

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