Dhoni moves SC seeking protection of ownership rights of property in Amrapali project

first_imgNew Delhi: Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni has moved the Supreme Court seeking protection of his ownership rights on an over 5,500-square feet penthouse he booked 10 year ago in a project of embattled Amrapali Group. Dhoni filed an application in the court through his lawyer, after receiving a notice from apex court-appointed forensic auditors seeking clarification on certain aspects of the purchase. “This application is being moved by the applicant (Dhoni) to protect his rights qua his ownership and possession of Penthouse apartment…in Amrapali Sapphire phase-1 which was agreed to be sold to him vide agreement dated August 31, 2009,” Dhoni said in the application, filed through advocate Shekhar Kumar. The apex court is scheduled to hear the Amrapali matter on April 30. Dhoni said the apex court had on December 5 last year directed the forensic auditors to issue individual notices to home buyers who booked the flats on a paltry sum. The former team India captain said his authorised representative has given a detailed reply to the notice sent by the forensic auditors. Dhoni said he has paid Rs 20 lakh for the property but only some work for the penthouse has been done and he has not been given the possession. “It is respectfully submitted here that the price paid by the applicant is certainly not a paltry amount,” he said, adding that because he was associated with the Amrapali Group as their brand ambassador, he got the penthouse at a lower price. This cannot be a ground to question the otherwise genuine agreement, he said. While the affidavit mention no market price for the property, it is estimated that it is worth over Rs 1 crore. Dhoni said that like other home-buyers and creditors, he has also been duped by the Amrapali Group. He sought direction from the court that the allotment of the penthouse is not questioned and he be allowed to take its possession. On April 9, the apex court had expressed annoyance over “circulation” of forensic auditors’ report among lawyers on the Amrapali Group before it was submitted to the court. The top court said it will hear from April 30 the pleas of home-buyers on whether the property titles can be given to them. It had said it will also look into the ways the money diverted to other ventures by Amrapali can be realised and the stalled projects be completed. The court had said that if anyone has to benefit from the Amrapali case it is the hassled home-buyers who invested their earnings but were not given the flats. The court had taken on record the final report comprising nine volumes submitted by the two court appointed forensic auditors and directed them to finish their work by April 28. The forensic auditors, Pawan Agrawal and Ravi Bhatia, had told the court that they have found that over Rs 3,000 crore of home buyers’ money was diverted by Amrapali promoters. They said over 100 shell companies were formed by the group to divert the money. On February 28, the apex court had allowed the Delhi police to arrest and interrogate in custody Amrapali group CMD Anil Sharma and two directors on a complaint that home-buyers of their various housing projects were cheated and duped of their funds. The top court, which is seized of several pleas of home-buyers seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in projects of the Amrapali group, also ordered attachment of personal properties of the CMD and directors — Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar. The trio, under detention of the Uttar Pradesh police and kept in a hotel at Noida since October 9 last year by the apex court for not complying with its orders, was in for a shock when the court ordered the arrest on a plea by Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police saying that it wanted to quiz them in a separate cheating case. The court had also appointed a valuer to ascertain the exact value of 5,229 unsold flats including those booked by Amrapali for just Rs 1, Rs 11 and Rs 12 and asked the valuer to submit its report.last_img read more

Sanjeev Dua takes over as HDC MD

first_imgNEW DELHI: MMTC Ltd Chief GM Sanjeev Dua assumed charge as Managing Director of National Handloom Development Corporation Ltd (NHDC) on May Day. An alumnus of St. Xavier’s School, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) New Delhi, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi, and Panjab University, Chandigarh, he holds educational qualifications of PG in International Trade, MBA, and MA in Economics. He has served as Trustee Board Member on the Marmugao Port Trust, Goa and has attended program of Strategic Leadership for Senior Managers at IIM Ahmedabad. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraHe started his professional career in 1983 having worked with DCM-Shriram and Birla Groups and with multinational Woolworth Overseas Corporation USA India office and is widely travelled in India and overseas. At MMTC he has held various challenging assignments at Corporate and at Regional offices and is recipient of Best Regional Award while posted at Goa. During his distinguished career at MMTC he has handled all facets of Management covering International Trade, Corporate Planning, Finance & Accounts, Administration & Personnel, Audit, Law and International Arbitration. He lives with his wife, former Assistant Professor, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), and his son who is pursuing his MBBS degree at AIIMS.last_img read more

Storm Alexa kills two, displaces 5,000 in Gaza

first_imgGAZA CITY – The Gaza government has estimated the damage left by the storm at $64 million.At least two residents of the Gaza Strip had been killed and 108 others injured as a winter storm coupled with torrential rain battered the enclave for four days, authorities said Sunday.The storm, called Alexa, has displaced around 5,250 people who were forced to resort to shelter camps across the Gaza Strip after their homes were weather conditions, Ashraf al-Qadra, a spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.He did not mention what caused the two deaths.The Gaza government has estimated the damage left by the storm at $64 million.Around 3,300 housing units had been submerged.The Gaza Strip has struggled to deal with cold winter temperatures in the absence of badly-needed heating fuel, which remains in short order due to Israel’s blockade of the enclave and an Egyptian crackdown on cross-border tunnels used for smuggling vital commodities.The strip’s only electricity plant stopped working several weeks ago after consuming the last drop of fuel, rendering the local energy authority incapable of providing power for more than six hours a day to the strip’s almost two million inhabitants.last_img read more

Latest Star Wars film reportedly to begin filming in Morocco

first_imgNew York – According to a Badass Digest report earlier this week, production and filming of Star Wars Episode VII will begin in Morocco this May.The director of the film, JJ Abrams, is rumored to have decided on Morocco for its desert-like topography as a backdrop for Star Wars planet Tatooine. “George Lucas originally shot some Tatooine scenes in Morocco for the original trilogy although most of them were filmed in Tunisia,” according to Badass Digest.The exact location in Morocco has not yet been announced, but the filming is set to begin on May 14. The film crews will reportedly spend the first two weeks filming on-set in Morocco and then move-on to another scheduled location. The Hollywood-studded cast has yet to be announced, but fans may have the chance to see some familiar Star Wars characters including R2D2 and Luke Skywalker on location in Morocco. This is not the first time Star Wars movie crews have set their eyes on Morocco as a premier filming location.Some scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, were reportedly filmed in Morocco back in the late 1970s. Other films such as Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Matt Damon-led The Bourne Ultimatum and more recently, Captain Philips, all included scenes that were shot in Morocco.The movie and film industry also brings a great deal of revenue to the country and provides a substantial amount of income for the local communities that play host to the foreign filmmakers.Due to some of the recent uprisings and conflicts taking place in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, many filmmakers have set their eyes on Morocco as a premier destination for filming.Morocco’s expansive stretches of desert and Mars-like topography make it an ideal environment to shoot science fiction and adventure films. Star Wars Episode VII is set to debut on December 18, 2015.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

Trash Collection Delays in Marrakech Spark Health Concerns

Marrakech – Over the last few weeks, large piles of unsightly rubbish have been accumulating in areas of Marrakech giving rise to concerns about public health in the extreme heat as trash collection is delayed while temperatures have soared into the 90s.Longs delays in trash collection are not normal in Marrakech, and the Moroccan authorities have made serious efforts to have regular rubbish collections. The problem seems to be due to a change of contractor from Techmed.Rubbish collection is a serious and difficult issue everywhere in the world. In London, private companies are now advertising trash removal services because local authorities are overwhelmed and bureaucratically stagnant. Urban trash, even with local landfills and incinerator plants, is a major challenge for most urban centers worldwide. One of the difficulties in managing trash is that it needs to be sorted.In Morocco, men with donkey carts, who rummage through the rubbish and remove recyclable materials, perform an important part in sorting the trash. However, the rubbish taken out of the bins typically is never put back in. Sometimes perhaps there are not enough bins.Individual citizens need to be responsible for how they dispose of their rubbish as well. Throwing it in plastic bags by the side of the street so that it builds into mounds of rubbish degrades the environment and is unsightly.Marrakech public buses have screens and show a jolly cartoon of a family who make it their mission to clean up trash in the streets and encourage drivers to service their vehicles so that the streets are not filled with fumes. They also clean up debris on the beaches.So the local administration in the red city is trying to raise the citizens’ awareness of the rubbish issue but it obviously is going to take time and effort. Plastic bags are a major cause of environmental pollution and are banned in many countries.Today new road sweepers are working in red and orange uniforms and new bins are being positioned on the streets so the mounds of rotting rubbish will hopefully soon be cleared up. read more

Marrakech Airport Receives over 4 Million Record Passengers in 2014

Marrakech   –  The international airport of Marrakech Menara has set a record in 2014 with over 4 million travellers, said a statement of the national airport office (ONDA).The number of passengers who used the airport last year stood at 4,034,410 against 3,828,518 in 2013 that is a 5.38 increase, ONDA said.This performance is ascribed to a 7% rise in domestic flights to Marrakech and 5.3% increase in international arrivals following the opening of new air routes from Europe by new airlines. Europeans continue to account for the majority of arrivals with 95% of total flights to Marrakech with France accounting for 42% of air connections.MWN with MAP read more

Moroccan Pilot in Yemen is Alive: Yemeni Source

Rabat – The Moroccan pilot whose F-16 warplane crashed in northern Yemen is reportedly alive and under protection of a Sunni tribe, according to news site Rassd.A lieutenant from the Saudi-led coalition told the Yemeni website that 26-year-old Air Force Lieutenant Yassine Bohti Moroccan is in safe hands with the Hamdan tribes allied to the Arab coalition in Ma’rib.Following the crash of the Moroccan F-16, a special Moroccan commando and a squadron of radar-equipped F-16 warplanes have been reportedly deployed to Yemen to help with the search effort. Brigadier General Ahmed Al-Assiri from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen said on Tuesday that a technical fault or human error might of have caused the crash of the Moroccan F-16 warplane.“We are definitely sure it was not shot down,” Al-Assiri told Agence France Press, adding that the Moroccan pilot was part of a formation and other fighter jets [which] “did not notice any firing from the ground.”The Iran-backed Houthis had claimed responsibility for the “downing” of the Moroccan warplane last weekend in the Saada region in the north of the country.On Monday morning, the Royal Armed Forces said in a statement they had lost track of one of the F-16s made at the disposal of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to restore the legitimacy in Yemen. read more

Austrian FM Asks Turkish Anti-coup Demonstrators to Leave His Country

Casablanca – Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration, Sebastian Kurz, has asked the Turkish community to leave Austria if they want to demonstrate in support of  the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdo?an against the failed military coup.According to German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, referenced in Al Jazeera, the Austrian government has summoned the Turkish ambassador to Vienna today to discuss the events and demonstrations organized by the pro-Erdo?an protestors in Austria.The minister stated in a television interview that the demonstrations in Austria in favor of the legitimate government are not at all worthwhile. He added that those who want to involve themselves in the internal affairs of Turkey are free to leave the country. Sebastian Kurz, who has been Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration since 2013, has distinguished himself as an ardent opponent of the security measures and the campaign of arrests of the coup plotters led by the Turkish government and Turkish Intelligence Services.Kurz has called upon the European leaders to stand firm against Turkey. He addressed a statement to the Turkish president claiming that they “will not allow a dictator state to emerge and grow in Turkey.”  The reaction of the Turkish government, Kurz continues, “is exaggerated and abusive … especially with respect  to reinstating the death penalty.”The same minister made a multiple-day visit to Egypt in May 2015 and met with the Egyptian president Abdelfattah Al-Sisi, who rose to power as a result of a coup against his predecessor, Mursi, who was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court.Edited by Elisabeth Myers read more

Morocco ‘Independent’ in Gulf Crisis, ‘Will Not Give Up’ on Allies:…

Rabat – Moroccan member of the House of Representatives Abdelatif Ouahbi has said that Morocco is not taking sides in the current crisis between the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC).In an opinion article sent to Morocco World News, the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) MP writes that the Kingdom’s decision to send food supply to Qatar following the embargo imposed on it by other Gulf countries “should not be interpreted as taking sides with this or that party.”“Morocco affirmed its support for the Gulf’s security, but at the same time it did not cut ties with Qatar,” writes Ouahbi. “Everybody knew that Morocco is independent its decisions.” The MP goes on to say that Morocco’s policy is based on constantly striving to achieve international peace and security, adding that at the same time Morocco “will not give up on its allies and friends when there are disagreements between them.”“This position does not mean siding with or against anyone. It is for everybody’s benefit,” explains Ouahbi.Morocco’s choice for non-alignment in the Gulf crisis, Ouahbi suggests, is a wise decision taken by King Mohammed VI.He states that not taking sides in such a crisis is in the interest of Arab countries, explaining that the Kingdom’s position serves all at a time where conflicts and tensions between Arab states will expose them to more dangers and manipulations by regional and international powers.Earlier in June, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, along with other allies from the Arab world and elsewhere, announced they would cut ties with Qatar for allegedly supporting terrorism and undermining the security of Gulf states.Qatar rejected the accusations which it called “unfounded.” Morocco abstained from joining in the general campaign against Qatar.King Mohammed VI, who leads the Kingdom’s diplomacy, has sent foreign minister Nasser Bourita to mediate between the Gulf leaders, with whom the king entertains very good relationships.Ouahbi stated that Morocco’s position is “for the benefit of all. It is for building the future because the region’s destiny lies in mutual cooperation, healthy dialogue, and having a long-term vision.” read more

New food guide set to challenge prominence of meat, dairy industries

Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press VANCOUVER — Health Canada unveiled a radically new food guide Tuesday that eliminates food groups, encourages plant-based foods over meat and dairy products, and is likely to force changes across the country’s agricultural industry.“I see the food guide as a challenge for many industries. How they adapt will be of interest,” said Simon Somogyi, a University of Guelph professor studying the business of food.Meat enjoyed a dominant position in the previous food guide with a meat and alternatives category and a recommended two to three servings daily for adults depending on their sex and age. It now features much less prominently. The new guide encourages people to “eat protein foods,” but choose those that come from plants more often.It’s a win for plant-protein farmers, like those growing beans, chickpeas and lentils, but a potential threat to meat producers.Somogyi believes consumers will favour high-quality beef when they choose to consume red meat and farmers will likely want to shift to producing niche products.If Canadians eat less meat, there may be opportunities to export to Asian markets where a middle-class consumer wants safe, high-quality cuts.“If the Canadian beef sector can provide that then their future looks bright.”The industry may also want to collaborate with plant-protein producers, said Sylvain Charlebois, a Dalhousie university professor who researches food.He recently spoke to hundreds of people in the beef industry about the upcoming food guide, who he said were not overly happy with the plant-based narrative, and suggested they “befriend the enemy.”That kind of partnership could promote a meat loaf recipe that contains beef and lentils, he said.The new guide also minimizes dairy consumption. It touts water — not milk — as the “drink of choice” and eliminates the previous milk and alternatives food group. The visual guide shows a plate topped with a variety of produce, protein and whole grains, but the only dairy pictured is yogurt.The encouragement to consume less dairy contradicts Canada’s supply management system and doesn’t leave a choice but to rethink the status quo, said Charlebois.The system started in the 1970s and sets quotas for production of milk and other goods based on anticipated demand.Canadians will eventually buy less dairy as they adhere to the new guide’s recommendations, he said, and grocers will shrink the amount of space allotted to dairy in stores.Farmers will have to start looking at export markets, and that’s not possible under the current system, he said.“You’ll end up with an imbalance. So obviously, I think you need to look at supply management 2.0 very seriously and commit to a reform as soon as possible.”Somogyi suggests dairy farmers eye opportunities in export markets such as rising demand for infant formula in China and parts of southeast Asia.“In some ways, the guide is a challenge for the Canadian dairy sector to look at what other markets there are and what those products are in other countries.”Fruits don’t get off scot free either. While the new guide recommends “plenty” of vegetables and fruits, it suggests people “replace juice with water.”That directive could hurt Canada’s apple producers, which supply part of their crop to juice processing, said Somogyi.The heavy emphasis on eating whole produce also highlights the need for farms to grow more fruit and vegetables locally, said Charlebois.Canada imports much of its produce, leaving Canadians vulnerable to wild price fluctuations, he said. The consumer price index for fresh lettuce, for example, jumped 39.9 per cent from December 2017 to December 2018, according to Statistics Canada.There’s less risk to local production, he said, and Canada needs to build its economies of scale for produce farming.The changes to the food guide shouldn’t come as a surprise to industry, as experts expected much of what’s in the new guide and it simply reflects changing consumer eating habits.“This is already happening,” said Somogyi, whose research shows a growing number of Canadians are becoming vegetarian or eating less meat. “I think the food guide makes it a little clearer.”The restaurant industry and some processors have been adjusting to increased demand for plant-based protein for years.“It’s one of the most impactful, fast-growing trends right now in the industry,” said Robert Carter, executive director of food service for market research firm NPD Group.A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. added a veggie burger to its menu last year and Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has been adding alternative-protein makers to its portfolio in a bid to become the most sustainable protein company on earth.“Everyone seems to really have all of a sudden jumped on board.” read more

Incapacitated woman’s rape spurs push to catch up on cameras

PHOENIX — The rape of an incapacitated woman is driving Arizona to catch up to 10 states with laws or regulations governing electronic monitoring and other technology aimed at deterring abuse inside long-term care facilities.The Arizona House is considering a measure that would allow an intermediate care facility or group home to install video surveillance in common areas.Republican Rep. Nancy Barto is chairwoman of the House Health & Human Services Committee and believes the legislation has a good chance of passing. She sponsored the measure.Video cameras are the most common technology in facilities, though they pose privacy issues. Advocates and experts disagree about their effectiveness.Renewed attention on safeguarding vulnerable residents at care centres comes after an incapacitated woman gave birth at a Phoenix facility in December.Terry Tang, The Associated Press read more

McConnell won’t say if Senate would back Herman Cain for Fed

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say Thursday whether he thinks his chamber would confirm Herman Cain to join the Federal Reserve board, casting doubt on the former Republican presidential candidate’s prospects should President Donald Trump advance him for the post.Asked if a Cain nomination would face problems, McConnell, R-Ky., noted that successful nominees must pass background checks and have a likelihood of confirmation.“And, as you know, some of my members have expressed concern about that nomination,” McConnell told reporters. “But as far as I know, it hasn’t been made yet.”Trump’s interest in potentially nominating Cain along with another political ally, conservative commentator Stephen Moore, has sparked questions among lawmakers from both parties in Congress about the president’s influence on the central bank.Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the importance of the Fed’s independence during a talk Thursday evening with House Democrats meeting in Virginia for their annual issues retreat, according to a source in the room unauthorized to discuss the private session.Powell told lawmakers that he saw his role as totally apolitical. He also said the Fed does not consider political pressure in its decision making, the source said. Another source in the room confirmed the remarks.The chairman fielded questions from lawmakers during a question-and-answer session in Lansdowne, but declined to comment on the president’s potential picks.Powell was Trump’s choice to lead the Fed, but the president has been critical of him for raising interest rates.Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said elevating Cain and Moore to the Fed would risk politicizing the nation’s central bank and endangering the economy.“These two appointments to the Fed are the worst, ill-suited appointment that the president could come up with,” she told reporters.Three GOP senators — Utah’s Mitt Romney, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer — told The Associated Press they’d likely vote against Cain. With Republicans controlling the Senate 53-47, it would take opposition from just four GOP senators to sink the nomination, assuming all Democrats are also “no” votes.As he did earlier this week, McConnell also sidestepped a question about whether he would back Cain or Moore, a Fed critic and former Trump campaign aide, for the board. Trump has said he will nominate both men.“We’ll see who’s actually nominated,” said McConnell.Cain has run into concerns by lawmakers from both parties that, as a Trump loyalist and deeply conservative political figure, he would threaten the Fed’s traditional political independence. Trump himself has taken a nontraditional approach to the Fed, repeatedly accusing it of mismanaging the economy by not pushing hard enough for low interest rates.The White House offered no fresh comment Thursday about Trump’s intentions, referring reporters to his earlier comments about Cain.Trump initially called Cain “a very terrific man” who would “do very well there.” But he said earlier this week that he didn’t know how Cain was faring in the vetting process and that Cain “will make that determination” whether to continue.Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He dropped out of the race after allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity, which he denied. Last year, in September, he helped found a pro-Trump super political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, whose website says, “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”Cain formerly served on the board of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank. He has also called for a return to the gold standard to control inflation, which most economists consider unworkable.Moore is a conservative commentator and another Trump political ally.___AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Lansdowne, Virginia, and writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.Alan Fram, The Associated Press read more

Algeria Appoints New Ambassador to Morocco

Rabat – Interim president Abdelkader Bensallah recalled the Algerian ambassador to Morocco, Mohamed Salah Dembri, on Thursday, August 22. Dembri had been Algiers’ envoy in Rabat since 2009.Algerian news outlet Ennahar Online reported that the interim president replaced Dembri with Abfelazi Benali Cheri as ambassador to Morocco.Benali Cherif served before as the spokesperson of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition to Dembri, Bensalah recalled several other ambassadors, including Abdelkader Msdoua, who was posted in France. Bensalah replaced him with Abdellah Ba Ali.Algeria also appointed Milat Toufik as a new ambassador to Spain and  Tououahria Abdlekrim as ambassador to the UAE.Read Also: Khaled Nezzar: Gaid Salah Wants to Eliminate All Opposition FiguresAlgeria also recalled and replaced its ambassadors to Tunisia, the US, and the UK.The purge of Algerian diplomats came suddenly without explanation from Algeria. It is not the first time, however, that Algeria has sacked a slew of officials after the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Gaid Salah, the chief of the Algerian army, has sacked many military officials recently.Khaled Nezzar, the former minister of defense in Algeria, accused Salah of “eliminating all” opposition figures.“Gaid Salah prides himself on having a double cap and believes he can afford anything. This arises from a sick mind that should be reduced at all costs and quickly,” Nezzar recently said. read more

Chorus reports Q1 profit up on unrealized forex gain on long-term debt

The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:CHR) HALIFAX — Chorus Aviation Inc. reported a first-quarter profit of $33.4 million, boosted by an unrealized foreign exchange gain related to its long-term debt.The company, which provides regional services for Air Canada, says the profit was up from $5.2 million in the same quarter last year.Operating revenue totalled $343.9 million, up from $323.7 million.On an adjusted basis, Chorus says it earned $19 million for the quarter ended March 31, compared with an adjusted profit of $26.7 million a year ago.Chorus and Air Canada extended their partnership earlier this year in a deal that will see Chorus subsidiary Jazz Aviation LP continue to provide Canada’s biggest airline with regional service through to 2035.The company has also been growing its regional aircraft leasing business. read more

Thousands of displaced Chadians running out of food due to funding shortfall

30 March 2007Scores of thousands of displaced Chadians are running out of food in the eastern border region with Sudan and face a desperate struggle to survive absent new donations to meet the needs of a rising tide of people uprooted by continuing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. Scores of thousands of displaced Chadians are running out of food in the eastern border region with Sudan and face a desperate struggle to survive absent new donations to meet the needs of a rising tide of people uprooted by continuing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. “This is not a sustainable situation,” WFP Chad Country Director Felix Bamezon said, noting that even before the latest increase in displaced people the agency’s $85-million Emergency Operation to assist Sudanese refugees, internally displaced people, host communities and refugee-affected local people in eastern Chad from January 2007 until June 2008 had received only $39 million, leaving a 54 per cent shortfall. “Life in eastern Chad has always been precarious, but now tens of thousands of Chadians are being pushed to the breaking point. There is simply not enough food to go around,” he added of the “race against time” to pre-position as much food as possible before the rainy season starts in late June, making most roads impassable. WFP had planned to feed 50,000 displaced Chadians, but it now estimates that an additional 80,000 displaced people are in urgent need of aid, requiring 7,500 metric tons of food at a cost of $7.5 for the next six months. The agency already feeds 225,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad who have fled nearly four years of fighting between the Government, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy in Sudan’s Darfur region, as well as more than 45,000 refugees in southern Chad who have fled fighting and in security in the neighbouring. But then a flood of internal displacements added to the crisis in eastern Chad, fuelled by a series of bloody inter-ethnic attacks, competition for scarce water, grazing land and other resources, reflecting a spill-over of violence from Darfur with armed, mainly Arab attackers on horseback and camels burning African villages, destroying crops, stealing cattle, terrorizing villagers and killing people. “These people were forced to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Mr. Bamezon said. “They are completely dependent on host communities who can barely feed themselves, and their living conditions are going from bad to worse.” A recent WFP-led assessment found nearly 130,000 displaced people living on the outskirts of villages – almost three times the number expected – the vast majority living in flimsy shelters patched together from straw or millet stalks that will not survive the rains. One in five families does not even have a roof. Few have access to potable water or latrines, and local health services cannot handle the unexpected flood of new patients. With so many new mouths to feed, local host communities are being forced to kill off their livestock, and WFP fears that soon seed stores will start to be consumed as hunger and rising cereal prices take their toll. read more

UN Ethiopia agree on plan to send aid to eastern areas

The United Nations today announced plans with the Government of Ethiopia aimed at ensuring that much needed emergency relief food, medicines and other assistance reach the country’s Somali Regional State.“The Ethiopian Government has assured the UN that humanitarian activities within Somali region will be unrestricted,” said Fidele Sarassoro, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative. “These developments are very good news for the people of the region.”Under the plan, Ethiopia’s Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency will establish joint support centers in the most affected areas of the region to facilitate the logistics of bringing relief food, medicine, veterinary services and livelihoods help there.In August, the UN announced plans to send an assessment mission to Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State to determine humanitarian needs in the light of “security operations” in the area. 18 October 2007The United Nations today announced plans with the Government of Ethiopia aimed at ensuring that much needed emergency relief food, medicines and other assistance reach the country’s Somali Regional State. read more

UN emergency response funds allocated to neglected crises

1 February 2008The United Nations’ central body for coordinating relief and humanitarian aid has allocated more than 100 million dollars in grants for critical life-saving work in some of the world’s neglected trouble-spots. The money will fund the work of UN agencies and their partners in 15 countries, including Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Announcing the allocation, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, described the grants as “often the last bit of hope for millions of people caught up in some of the most severe and protracted humanitarian crises around the world.” The grants are made from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is mandated to commit one-third of its money each year to redress imbalances in the global distribution of aid by supporting neglected crises.“It is thanks to the existence of tools like the CERF and the generous support it receives from donors each year that we can fill gaps in the humanitarian response and provide assistance to the most vulnerable,” Mr. Holmes said. The $104.2 million allocated today includes $38 million to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), $10 million to Ethiopia, $7 million to Côte d’Ivoire and Pakistan, and smaller sums to Niger, Nepal, Kenya, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Myanmar. Over the past year, CERF funding has made a critical difference in countries including Côte d’Ivoire, which received only 53 per cent of the resources needed for critical basic needs in 2007. CERF funds were used to provide food, health care and education to internally displaced persons (IDPs), including children, and made it possible for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to restore access to safe drinking water in remote, rural communities. Over the past two years, a total of $200 million of all funds contributed to the CERF has been used in support of forgotten crises in 23 countries, mostly in Africa. The CERF is funded by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organizations, local governments and individual donors. read more

As Bhutan holds first democratic elections UN agency pledges ongoing support

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged to continue its support of Bhutan’s transition to democracy as voters went to the polls today in historic elections in the small Himalayan country.UNDP said in a press statement issued in Thimphu, the capital, late last week that it was committed to helping the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) fulfil its mandate beyond the current elections for a National Assembly – the first ever multi-party elections in the country.The agency has been assisting the ECB since last year, including by training election officials, providing them with better equipment, building temporary polling stations, printing print and audio-visual voter educational material and staging mock elections to help ensure that the country was ready for today’s vote.UNDP has also trained 40 Bhutanese journalists on how to effectively cover an election process and backed the Anti-Corruption Commission with its efforts to make both the electoral process and the Government more accountable.Bhutan had been an absolute monarchy until these elections; now the king will remain head of State while the National Assembly will comprise an upper house and a lower house that will form the Government. 24 March 2008The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged to continue its support of Bhutan’s transition to democracy as voters went to the polls today in historic elections in the small Himalayan country. read more

Security Council voices serious concern after deadly violence in Burundi

25 April 2008The Security Council has condemned the recent deadly spate of violent confrontations between Burundi’s National Defence Forces and the Palipehutu-FNL rebel group in and around the capital, Bujumbura. Council members, in a presidential statement issued yesterday, called on the two parties “to scrupulously respect” the ceasefire they reached in September 2006 and to resume dialogue to overcome any obstacles that might delay the conclusion to the peace process.They also urged the Palipehutu-FNL (Forces Nationales de Libération) to return immediately – and without any preconditions – to the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism that was established in the wake of the ceasefire accord.“Any attempt to jeopardize peace in Burundi through violent means is unacceptable,” according to the statement, read out by Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month.He added that the 15-member body backed several existing regional initiatives to bring the parties together to overcome the current crisis and implement earlier commitments, and that it may consider additional measures of its own to support peace and stability.Last Friday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a similar statement through his spokesperson on the fighting.Burundi is attempting to rebuild, with the support of the UN Integrated Office in the country (BINUB), after a brutal civil war between its Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. read more

TimorLeste UN welcomes surrender of fugitives linked to attack on President

The UNMIT head and Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, said that the attacks of 11 February had threatened the country, and that he shared “the feelings of the entire community in welcoming the peaceful submission of Gastão Salsinha and his men. They must now face justice.”President José Ramos-Horta was shot and wounded by rebel soldiers in the attack on his home. He recently returned to Timor-Leste from Australia after recovering from his injuries.In today’s statement Mr. Khare praised the people of Timor-Leste “for the calm manner in which the events of these past months have been handled.” He said that the lessons learned should serve to strengthen the country’s security institutions, and urged all Timorese to work together toward a “peaceful, prosperous and stable nation, securely anchored in a culture of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.” 29 April 2008The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) today welcomed the surrender of 12 armed fugitives wanted in connection with the assassination attempt on the President in February. read more