UN envoy to northern Uganda holds talks with regional leaders

Joaquim Chissano, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for areas affected by the LRA, met earlier today in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, with the President of the Central African Republic (CAR), UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York. Mr. Chissano briefed President François Bozizé, who is visiting Uganda, on his activities. This afternoon, Mr. Chissano will proceed to the southern Sudanese town of Juba, the site of previous talks between the LRA and the Ugandan Government, for further consultations on the peace negotiations. As part of his current mission to the region, the Special Envoy will also visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ms. Montas said. Appointed in December 2006, Mr. Chissano – a former Mozambican president – has been tasked with addressing the regional ramifications of the Ugandan conflict, particularly its impact on neighbours such as Sudan and the DRC, as well as its root causes. Thousands of civilians have been killed or abducted since the LRA began its rebellion in 1986, and more than 1.5 million people have become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs). During the conflict the rebel group became notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape. The Ugandan Government and the LRA agreed to a cessation of hostilities last year, but a comprehensive agreement has not yet been struck and some senior LRA figures face International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments. 23 August 2007The United Nations envoy for the conflict in northern Uganda is meeting with officials in the region as part of his ongoing efforts to broker a durable peace accord between the Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). read more

UN official warns of enormous task to prevent natural disasters

Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a press conference in Geneva that the number of people at risk from disasters is rising mainly, experts say, because economic migration has forced people to settle in large numbers in high-risk cities.More than 1,200 delegates from 120 countries will gather next month for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, where they are expected to agree to a 10-year global action plan to remove the worst effects of natural disasters.”For once there will be world resources focusing on prevention through which the world can become a better place,” Mr. Egeland said, adding he expected that donor nations would increase their financial support after the conference.Officials from Japan, Iran and Cuba are scheduled to conduct sessions explaining the lessons they have learned on disaster preparation and reduction after the deadly Bam earthquake and the series of typhoons and hurricanes that struck the Caribbean and East Asian regions this year.The head of the UN disaster-reduction body, Sálvano Briceño, told the same press conference in Geneva that while natural hazards can never be entirely eliminated, their impact can be “reduced enormously” so long as there is appropriate investment in environmental management.Mr. Briceño, Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), also warned that the continuing impact of natural disasters was hurting the attempts of many countries to lift their citizens out of poverty. “One thing natural disasters did was to keep the poor poor,” he said.ISDR has reported that migrants are increasingly willing to settle in high-risk areas, such as over-flooding plains or along seismic faults, because so many rural regions lack basic services and economic opportunities. read more