U.N. Round-Up

    Many camps for those who have fled violence in Darfur are full as thousands more civilians are driven from their homes in the western Sudanese region, the UN said June 5. UN spokesman George Somerwill also told reporters that 67 vehicles belonging to the world’s largest aid operation in Darfur had been hijacked or attacked so far this year and voiced concern at the increasingly violent nature of those attacks. “Nearly 140,000 people have been identified as newly displaced since the beginning of the year, with at least 10,000 on the move in May,” he told a news conference in Khartoum. “A very visible consequence of the continued displacement is the swelling population of … camps – many of which can no longer absorb any new arrivals,” he added.

    Meanwhile, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official said rates of pregnancy-related deaths in south Sudan are the highest in the world. “Rates are actually at 2,030 per 100,000 births, the worst in the world,” UNFPA’s South Sudan head Dragudi Buwa said. A 2005 peace deal ended more than two decades of civil war between the north and the south, and created a semi-autonomous southern government. But the south has few medical facilities for its population, estimated at about 10 million. In north Sudan, rates of maternal mortality are 509 deaths per 100,000 births, according to the UN.

    The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow report was launched June 4 by the UNEP to mark World Environment Day on June 5. It argued that an estimated 40 percent of the world’s population could be affected by the loss of snow and glaciers on the mountains of Asia. Many Asian rivers begin in the Himalayas and less ice and snow would mean less water for drinking and agriculture. Melting ice and snow are also likely to increase hazards including avalanches and floods from the build-up of potentially unstable glacial lakes. Rising temperatures and the thawing of permafrost, or frozen land, is triggering the expansion of existing lakes, and the emergence of new lakes and rivers in places like Siberia.

    A senior official from the UN Development Program (UNDP) has outlined a series of measures from financial disclosure to standardizing information available on the Internet to improve management at the agency. “As we work in increasingly more dangerous and challenging environments, the need for stronger oversight and accountability has even become more important,” said Ad Melkert, Associate Administrator of UNDP. He pledged that “a number of categories of staff” would be required to file financial disclosure statements, including senior-level personnel and those involved in procurement activities.

    The UNDP this week also launched the MDG Carbon Facility, a mechanism designed to make the most of the carbon market to bring long-term sustainable development to developing countries. The UNDP also named European banking and insurance giant Fortis as the financial services provider for the program.

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