Ban to chair highlevel donor conference next month for Syria humanitarian effort

The conference, to be held on 30 January in Kuwait, follows a $1.5 billion appealed launched last week by the United Nations and its partners, who have been hampered in their efforts to carry out relief activities due to lack of funds. The pledging conference is “a timely and much-needed opportunity to address the funding gap,” said a statement issued today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson. “The Secretary-General urges all Member States to be generous in their pledges and is thankful to those who continue to support the humanitarian efforts.”The bulk of the appeal – $1 billion – is to support refugees fleeing Syria to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. It is based on planning estimates that up to a million Syrian refugees will need help during the first half of next year.Another $519 million will be needed to support an estimated four million people inside Syria who need urgent humanitarian assistance, including an estimated two million internally displaced persons.This winter, many families are struggling to keep warm, without adequate shelter, warm clothes and heating fuel, the statement noted, adding that children make up more than 50 per cent of the civilians affected by the crisis. At least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011. Recent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which is now in its 22nd month.Meanwhile, the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will travel to Moscow to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tomorrow.This is the latest in a series of meetings in the region and elsewhere – including with Mr. al-Assad in Damascus earlier this week – held by the Joint Special Representative as part of his efforts to bring about a negotiated, political solution to end the fighting in Syria. read more

On World Day Ban spotlights role of seafarers in meeting sustainable agenda

“The world is now embarking on carrying out twin plans for the future that have the potential to transform our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Both can be advanced through actions of the shipping industry, giving added meaning to this year’s commemoration of the Day of the Seafarer,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the Day, which is commemorated annually on 25 June. The Day of the Seafarer was established in 2010 to recognize the contribution made by seafarers to international seaborne trade, the world economy and global society as a whole. The Secretary-General noted that by helping to keep the world’s people clothed, fed and housed, seafarers have the potential to drive economic growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sound. “At the same time, we must ensure that seafarers themselves benefit from the Sustainable Development Goals. Their work can be dangerous and difficult. At sea for up to a year, they may face loneliness, isolation and exploitation. They deserve appreciation for their efforts and compensation for their labour,” Mr. Ban emphasized. “On this Day of the Seafarer, let us advance the work of those who make shipping possible in a way that promotes our global vision of a life of dignity and opportunity for all,” he added. In another message to mark the Day, Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said the Day gives the international community a chance to reflect on how much everyone relies on seafarers for most of the things they take for granted in their everyday lives. “Over one million seafarers operate the global fleet yet billions of people depend on them for the essentials and the luxuries of life. Shipping is essential to the world – and so are seafarers,” he said. “So, this year, on 25 June, the Day of the Seafarer, we are once again asking people everywhere to show their appreciation for the seafarers that quietly, mostly unnoticed, keep the wheels of the world in motion,” he added. The theme for this year’s Day is ‘At Sea for All,’ which Mr. Lim noted has a clear link with the 2016 World Maritime Day theme, Shipping: indispensable to the world, emphasizing that seafarers serve at sea not just for the shipping industry or for their own career purposes, but for everyone around the world. read more