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NEW YORK, August 18, 2018 (MENA) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mourned the death of former UN chief Kofi Annan saying that he "was a guiding force for good".

"It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination", ABC News quoted Guterres as
saying on Saturday.

Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. He served two terms from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the UN were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

NEW YORK, August 18, 2018 (MENA) - Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, has died aged 80, his aides said on Saturday. He passed away on Saturday after a short illness, the foundation named after him said.

Annan was the first black African to take up the post of the world's top diplomat, serving from 1997 to 2006.

He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In a statement announcing his death, the Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a "global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world".

"Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did."

The diplomat, who was originally from Ghana, died in the Swiss city of Geneva, where he had been living for several years.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 2001 for helping to revitalize the international body.

His tenure as UN secretary-general coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Annan described his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals which - for the first time - set global targets on issues such as poverty and child mortality.

 

 

GENEVA, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - The United Nations has invited the Yemeni government and the Houthi movement that controls most of the north to peace talks in Geneva on Sept. 6, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is trying to negotiate an end to the three- year conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the verge of starvation.

"I can confirm the office of Special Envoy has sent invitations to the government of Yemen and to Ansarullah," UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told a Geneva news briefing.

 

 

GAZA, August 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Schools teaching half a million Palestinian refugees will reopen across the Middle East as planned later this month, a UN agency said on Thursday, despite funding cuts by its biggest donor the United States.

The opening of the schools on August 29 had been in doubt after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said it lacked funds to pay the 22,000 teachers in its educational network in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Jordan and Syria.

UNRWA said students will return to its 711 schools on time though it still did not have enough money to fund them for a full school year.

UN officials said the agency needed more than $200 million from other contributors to cover its deficit after the US aid cuts.

US President Donald Trump said in January he would scale back aid to the Palestinians unless they cooperated with his plans to revive peacemaking with Israel. Those peace efforts stalled in 2014.

At a specially convened session of the UNRWA Advisory Commission in Amman, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said that since the beginning of the year the agency had received $238 million in additional contributions after a funding drive but was not "out of the woods".

"We currently only have funding to run the agency's services until the end of September," Krahenbuhl said in a statement. "We need a further $217 million to ensure that our schools not only open but can be run until the end of the year."

UNRWA was founded in 1949 after the first Arab-Israel war, which led to 700,000 Palestinians being forced to leave their homes or flee. It helps around 5 million Palestinian refugees, a figure that includes descendants of those displaced by the fighting.

In January, Trump tweeted "we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel." The US State Department has said the agency needed to make unspecified reforms.

BEIRUT, August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - The UN children's agency says a battle for Syria's Idlib province between government forces and the rebels could affect the lives of more than 1 million children, many of whom live in refugee camps.

UNICEF says food, water, and medicine are already in short supply in the largely rural northwestern province, now home to over 1 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes by government offensives across the country.

The agency says a battle for Idlib, the last major bastion for Syria's political and military opposition, would exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation, and potentially displace 350,000 children.

Syria's government dropped leaflets across the province Thursday urging residents to reconcile with its rule. Officials have warned that government forces will take back the province by force if necessary.

 

 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, August 9, 2018 (News Wires) — The United Nations’ Mideast envoy is expressing his concern about the latest escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special envoy who is involved in Egyptian efforts to broker a truce, said in a statement on Thursday that he’s “deeply alarmed” by “multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel” the day before.

Mladenov’s statement came amid the latest surge in violence this week, in which Hamas fired over 150 rockets at Israel which in return, out over 140 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Mladenov says that for months, he has warned the “humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risks a devastating conflict that nobody wants.”

He added that “if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”

Israeli warplanes hit struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip early this morning and three people were reported killed there, while Palestinian gunmen from the territory fired scores of rockets into Israel in a fierce burst of violence overnight.

The flare-up comes as Egypt is trying to broker a long-term cease-fire between the two sides.

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