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UN: 27 November 2007 – It is time to “abandon piecemeal approaches” to resolving the Middle East conflict and start final status negotiations that deal with all the issues in dispute, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an international meeting on the region being held today in the United States city of Annapolis.

Mr. Ban said final status talks must “begin in earnest” and deal with such issues as Jerusalem, refugees, the borders, West Bank settlements, security and water.

“The broad outlines of solutions to these issues are clear,” the Secretary-General observed, according to the text of his speech. “There is no reason they cannot be resolved in 2008.”

He called on the international community to help the Palestinian Authority “to rebuild, reform and perform,” and he also stressed the need for the situation on the ground to “improve, rapidly and visibly.

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UN: 26 November 2007 – United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Goodwill Ambassador and Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman became the first today to add her name to a new Internet campaign aimed at eliminating violence against women.

“One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime,” she said in a statement. “This is an appalling human rights violation, yet it remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.”

Despite the pervasiveness of the issue, Ms. Kidman said that “it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this.”

She urged people to add their names to the campaign – which will run until 8 March 2008, International Women’s Day – and say “no” to violence against women.

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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has declared 25 November 2007 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Even in the 21st century women in most parts of the world are still victims to violence. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "Violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. It is a threat to all women, and an obstacle to all our efforts for development, peace and gender equality in all societies."

Ban Ki-moon acknowledged that many countries had taken steps to eliminate violence against women, but still a lot needs to be done. He said "Many countries have made considerable progress in changing laws, policies, practices and attitudes which in the past helped create a patchwork of impunity for this despicable offence. But there is so much left to do to tear down the veil of tolerance which still sometimes surrounds it."

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Dhaka, Nov 24 (Agencies):  The UN increased its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocation to $14.7 million to pay for international relief aid for the cyclone hit victims in Bangladesh. This brings the total UN aid to about $35 million, which is likely to increase over the next few weeks, a UN statement said Friday night.

‘This funding will enable UN to provide drinking water, equipment and other vital assistance for communities at risk from water-borne diseases,’ said Renata Lok Dessallien, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

Dessallien also said the UN’s initial rapid assessment mission surveyed damages and needs in nine districts badly affected by the cyclone and made a set of recommendations to deal with the post-cyclone situation.

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UN: 20 November 2007 – The head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has underlined the need to make full use of the resources available to prepare for a possible influenza pandemic, warning that no country will be left unaffected should an outbreak occur.

“Vulnerability is universal,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said today at the opening in Geneva of the Intergovernmental Meeting on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness. “A pandemic will, by its very nature, reach every corner of the earth, and it will do so within a matter of months.”

Dr. Chan emphasized that this shared vulnerability calls for shared responsibility, and collective action to fulfil that responsibility. “In terms of the risk of disease, we really are all in the same boat,” she said.

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UN: 21 November 2007 – Removing barriers and making tourism accessible to the 650 million persons with disabilities around the world who represent a huge untapped market for the travel industry will be the focus of a three-day United Nations gathering set to begin tomorrow in Bangkok.

The meeting, organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in cooperation with Thai authorities and Disabled People International Asia-Pacific, brings together representatives of the travel industry, policymakers and people with disabilities to examine the growing market for accessible tourism in the region.

The recently adopted UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities promotes accessibility of persons with disabilities and their participation in leisure and sport as a matter of right.

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UN: 21 November 2007 – Hailing the more than 60-year partnership between the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Deputy Secretary-General has called for strengthening the ties between the two bodies to address development, climate change and other pressing issues.

“Climate change reminds us that we are a single, interdependent human family sharing one planet,” Asha-Rose Migiro said today in Geneva in her address to the Federation’s General Assembly.

“There are many other such reminders – health threats, volatility in the global economy, regional conflicts and instability,” she added. “In our increasingly globalized world, we must work together to tackle these complex, inter-linked challenges.”

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UN: 19 November 2007 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it is teaming up with Bangladesh’s Air Force to airdrop emergency food supplies to hundreds of thousands of people stranded after a deadly cyclone struck the country last week.

At least 2,400 people are known to have lost their lives as a result of Cyclone Sidr which hit Bangladesh on Thursday. In addition, thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, large tracts of cropland have been wiped and hundreds of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes and now depend on aid for basic necessities.

WFP said in a press release today that it has, along with the country’s Air Force, begun using helicopters to airdrop high-energy biscuits, which are considered crucial when people lack the means to prepare cooked food. So far WFP has delivered biscuits to more than 650,000 people in the worst hit areas by land, air and boat.

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BARGUNA, Bangladesh-Agencies: (19/11.2007) – The death toll from Bangladesh’s most devastating storm in a decade climbed to at least 2,400 on Monday and relief officials warned the figure could jump sharply as rescuers reach more isolated areas.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, said that it believed the toll could hit 10,000 once rescuers reach islands off the coast of the low-lying river delta nation.

Government officials defended the relief efforts and expressed confidence that authorities are up to the task.

The government said it has allocated $5.2 million in emergency aid for rebuilding houses.

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UN: 16 November 2007 – Tolerance is an important tool in tackling the growing threats facing humanity from conflicts to racism, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.

“Our world today is confronted with war, terrorism, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, discrimination against minorities and migrants, and a multitude of other abuses against human beings,” Mr. Ban notes in his message marking the International Day for Tolerance.

Even globalization, “while knitting our world together, can also lead to greater fear and turning inward,” he adds.

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