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UN: 16 April 2008 – With over 10 million women and children in developing countries still dying every year from largely preventable and treatable causes, a new report by United Nations agencies and their partners calls for scaling up health care systems to reduce maternal and child deaths.

Tracking Progress in Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival” finds that few of the 68 developing countries that account for 97 per cent of maternal and child deaths worldwide are providing the necessary health care to save lives.

The 2008 report was released today as leading global health experts, policy-makers and parliamentarians convene in Cape Town, South Africa, to address further efforts to slash maternal and child mortality by 2015, part of a set of internationally-agreed targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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UN: 15 April 2008 – A United Nations-backed group of over 400 scientists are calling for a radical change to the way the world grows food to better serve the poor and hungry and to protect the planet’s resources.

Modern agriculture has brought significant increases in food production, but its benefits have been uneven and have come at a high cost to small-scale farmers, workers, rural communities and the environment, according to a new report by the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development.

The group, which is sponsored by several UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as the World Bank, proposes putting measures in place that will boost production while also protecting and conserving precious resources such as water, forests and biodiversity.

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UN: 14 April 2008 – A mechanism under the United Nations-backed Kyoto Protocol that allows industrialized countries to generate credits through investment in emission reduction projects in developing countries reached a milestone today, approving its 1000th clean energy project.

The project in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 34,000 tons annually, according to a news release issued by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent treaty of the Kyoto Protocol.

To be registered with the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and then earn Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, projects must pass a rigorous process of approval and independent third-party monitoring designed to ensure that emission reductions claimed by a project are real, verifiable and additional to what would have taken place without the project.

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Washington: (Agencies: 14/4/2008): The rapid rise in food prices could push 100 million people in poor countries deeper into poverty, World Bank head, Robert Zoellick, has said. 

His warning follows that from the leader of the International Monetary Fund, who said hundreds of thousands of people were at risk of starvation. 

Mr Zoellick proposed an action plan to boost long-run agricultural production. 

There have been food riots recently in a number of countries, including Haiti, the Philippines and Egypt. 

His proposal for a "new deal" to tackle the international food crisis was endorsed by the World Bank’s steering committee of finance and development ministers at a meeting in Washington.  

The World Bank and its sister organisation, the IMF have held a weekend of meetings that addressed rising food and energy prices as well as the credit crisis upsetting global financial markets.

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UN: 11 April 2008 – Food, energy and other basics of life in the Gaza Strip, where severe restrictions by Israel on the movement of people and goods have been in effect since Hamas’ takeover in June 2007, continue to be in short supply, the United Nations reported today.

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), only 2,400 trucks entered the coastal enclave last month, down from more than 10,000 trucks that entered in March 2007.

The agency added that a scarcity of animal feed is causing meat prices to skyrocket and it has had to expand its school feeding programme to meet the needs of some 110,000 Gazan children in around 110 schools everyday.

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UN: 11 April 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is pleased that regional leaders in southern Africa are mobilizing to “help Zimbabwe overcome its post-electoral crisis through peaceful means.”

Through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban congratulated the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for arranging a summit of heads of State in Lusaka, Zambia, on 13 April to discuss the situation.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ban expressed concern that the results of presidential elections in Zimbabwe have not been released and urged the electoral authorities to do so “expeditiously and with transparency.”

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UN: 10 April 2008 – The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today wrapped up his four-country tour of the Gulf region by calling for closer coordination between Gulf nations and the world body in tackling both humanitarian crises and longer-term challenges such as rising food prices and the impact of climate change.

Speaking in Doha, Qatar, at the end of a six-day trip that also included stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, Mr. Holmes said he was encouraged “by the clear evidence of common goals and shared principles” between the Gulf countries and the UN.

“There is a real opportunity for strengthening collaborative efforts between the Gulf countries and the international humanitarian community to achieve a more systematic, organized and prioritized approach to delivering emergency relief,” he said.

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Warning that soaring food prices could lead to increased poverty and unrest, several senior United Nations officials have called for urgent measures to tackle the global crisis, which threatens to hit the world’s poor the hardest.

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) Deputy Executive Director has warned of the rise of a “new face of hunger” that will require the combined efforts of governments, the private sector, and humanitarian organizations to overcome.

“Food prices are now rising at rates that few of us can ever have seen before in our lifetimes,” John Powell told the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (DIHAD) Conference.

He expressed particular concern about the fact that markets are full of food, but large numbers of people simply cannot afford to buy.

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UN: 8 April 2008 – The top United Nations humanitarian official has lauded the contributions of Persian Gulf countries to relief efforts around the world, and called for boosting ties between them and the world body to better meet today’s growing challenges.

“In many countries across the globe, the combined humanitarian efforts of Gulf countries have made a life-saving difference, reaching communities that, at times, the UN and other aid actors could not,” stated Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who is currently on a four-nation tour of the region.

In his keynote address to the fifth annual Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) conference, Mr. Holmes pointed out that member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have given nearly $500 million and pledged a further $320 million in humanitarian aid over the past three years.

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UN: (7/4/2008): In 2008, World Health Day focuses on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.

Displaced people from Sudan’s Darfur collect water in the Gassire camp in Eastern Chad. Lower precipitation due to climate change causes water scarcity and reduced food production, increasing the risk of displacement and conflict, as in Darfur.

Ecologists believe that recent years have shown that shifts in rainfall can bring down governments and even set off wars.  The African Sahel, just south of the Sahara, provides a dramatic and poignant demonstration.

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