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UN, 11 September 2007The top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan today (11/9/2007) appealed for a total cessation of violence across the country on 21 September, marked around the world as International Day of Peace, and for days of tranquility ahead of that date to allow for vital humanitarian initiatives to be carried out.

At a press conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Tom Koenigs, called on all groups, all individuals, and institutions to support the peace effort in a country that has suffered nearly 30 years of war, and in the past 18 months has seen a rise in a Taliban-led insurgency. Although 21 September is marked worldwide, this year in Afghanistan, a special effort has been underway for nearly two months to promote support for an actual day of peace and non-violence.

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UN, 11th Sep. 2007-UNHCR welcomes a decision by the Chilean government to receive 100 Palestinian refugees who had been living in Iraq, and who have been forced to live in destitute conditions on Iraq’s borders over the past few years. 

The Palestinians are the first group of refugees from outside Latin America to benefit from the ‘solidarity resettlement programme’ under the Mexican Plan of Action. The Plan of Action was signed by 20 Latin American countries in 2004. It has so far mainly benefited Colombians.

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UN, 10 September 2007 – With one person taking their own life every 30 seconds, the United Nations is marking World Suicide Prevention Day today (Monday, 10/9/2007) by appealing for bolstered efforts to stem suicide rates among people of all ages.

Statistics also show that in adults, suicide is a leading cause of death, accounting for more deaths than those resulting from wars and homicide. In short, “more human beings kill themselves than kill others each year,” said Brian Mishara, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), which has partnered with WHO to improve national responses to prevent suicide.

While progress has been made in curbing suicides among youth worldwide, suicide rates among young adolescents under the age of 15 have surged while the elderly rate remains high, especially among men in developed countries, Dr. Mishara told reporters in New York.

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UN (10 September 2007)The United Nations appealed today for $55 million to reconstruct the Nahr el-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees in northern Lebanon, which was badly damaged during months of intense combat between the Lebanese army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Geir O. Pedersen told a donor meeting for Nahr el-Bared, being held in Beirut, that “thousands of displaced Palestinian and Lebanese civilians” now depend on the support of the international community to restart their lives.

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10 September 2007 – A senior United Nations official today called for action not only to tackle the causes of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also to cope with its effects such as the increasing vulnerability of agriculture which places developing countries especially at risk.

Abnormal changes in air temperature and rainfall and the increasing frequency and intensity of drought and floods have long-term implications for the viability and productivity of world agro-ecosystems, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director General Alexander Müller told over 140 world experts convened in Rome for a workshop on Adaptation Planning and Strategies.

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A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has highlighted the linkage between poverty and Labour productivity. 

According to the report, entitled "Key Indicators of the Labour Market," limited investment in training and skills is diminishing opportunities to lift people out of poverty.

In South and East Asia, Mr. Johnson pointed out that the ILO has seen a marked decrease in the "working poor," which he defined as "those individuals that are working but are unable to earn at least $2 a day for themselves and for their families."

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A warning from the World Health Organistion (WHO) says that the impact of depression should not be underestimated.

The WHO says depression has a far greater impact on public health than previously thought.

A WHO study has examined data on 250,000 patients in 60 countries, and found that on a scale of 0 to 100 – with zero indicating worst health and 100 indicating the best, sufferers of depression had an average score of 72.9.

To get the picture consider this, asthmatics scored 80.3, angina sufferers 79.6, arthritis sufferers 79.3 and diabetics 78.9.

The researchers asked people questions about their health, such as how they sleep, how much pain they have, and whether they have any problems with memory or concentration.

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31 August 2007 – The United Nations is using text messaging on mobile phones to alert more than 33,000 vulnerable Iraqi refugees in the Syrian capital, Damascus, of the launch of the first food distribution programme for them tomorrow (1/9/2007).

“We have found text messages to mobile phones are one of the most effective ways of communicating with the refugees who often do not have a stable address but either they or someone close to them in their immediate community has a mobile phone,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today.

Rations will be distributed on a monthly basis and are expected to benefit 50,000 refugees by the end of the year

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30 August 2007 – With Palestinians going through “one of the most dramatic and difficult periods of their troubled history,” micro-credit can play a vital role for survival and recovery in the occupied territory, a senior United Nations official said today (30/8/2007).

“Palestinian small businesses and micro-enterprises face formidable challenges as they operate in a state of economic and financial siege that is limiting their capacity for normal development and growth, with markets severed from customary trading partners,” said Filippo Grandi, Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for millions of Palestinian refugees.

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In a joint press statement by the UN Human Rights Council  and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) , the two organizations expressed deep concern with regard to news reports that aids victims are buried alive Papua New Guinea.  

The two organizations strongly supported the government’s decision to investigate the matter and called on the authorities there to take legal action against the perpetrators.

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