REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
17 May 2013
Alessandra Vellucci, Chief, Press and External Relations Section of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by Spokespersons for the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Programme, International Organization for Migration and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,.
Dan McNorton for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the number of Syrian refugees who had left the country now surpassed 1.5 million. The Syrian conflict continued to have a devastating impact on the lives of those who were forced to flee. The fact that more than 1.5 million people had registered or had appointments with UNHCR sadly meant the actual number was much higher.
The increasingly widening gap between the needs and resources available was a growing challenge. UNHCR had registered close to one million refugees since 1 January this year – that was about a quarter of a million people each month. Refugees told UNHCR that the increased fighting and changing of control of towns and villages, in particular in conflict areas, resulted in more and more civilians deciding to leave. UNHCR continued to respond to the emergency needs of those in desperate need inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.
On the outskirts of Tartous inside Syria, UNHCR continued this week to follow up on the needs and situation of several hundred families displaced in the village of Zamarin. The people had fled Banias district in Lattakia Governorate where clashes erupted in early May. Some families found shelter in a mosque and local schools, but the majority had been hosted by families in Zamarin.
Those families received UNHCR emergency relief assistance last week. Follow-up of the situation with partners in Zamarin showed that many families had returned to Banias, where children had to take their exams very soon. That assistance was part of a collaborative UN inter-agency effort. UNHCR had been present in Tartous since early April and was permanently present in five cities – the others were Damascus, Aleppo, Hassakeh and Homs. Overall in Syria UNHCR’s relief assistance (non-food items only) had reached 860,000 displaced Syrians since the beginning of the year.
UNHCR's registration operation in Lebanon was one of the largest and most complex urban registration programmes in the world. In Lebanon, UNHCR had now stepped up its capacity to register refugees. Every day over 4,200 people approached the offices for registration. In April, over 90,000 refugees were registered in centres. That was more than a ten-fold increase when compared to the same month in 2012. Waiting periods for registration had also decreased with an average waiting time of between 16-30 days throughout the country, apart from the south where the registration centre had just become operational. But even there too, each week the waiting period for refugees was decreasing.
Answering a question about the figure for people registered, Mr. McNorton said the concerns a number of people had regarding registration related to their own personal security. People had legitimate reservations and UNHCR and other partners worked very hard with refugee communities to encourage them to register, in order for them to get the support they needed and deserved.
As to a question about the real number of Syrian refugees being higher than 1.5 million, Mr. McNorton said the numbers were increasing and there were detailed figures on the press release, but any estimate as to what that higher figure might be had not yet been reached. Revisions as to the funding needed for Syria were also ongoing, and they would include estimates of how many Syrian refugees would need assistance by the end of the year. Estimates of the numbers of Syrian refugees in Europe would be provided to the journalists later today.
Marixie Mercado, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that despite heavy fighting, UNICEF and partners had provided life-saving supplies over the last week to some of the hardest-to-reach areas in Syria, including Aleppo and Al Houla, as well as to people who fled recent violence in Al Bayda and Baniyas.
UNICEF and partners reached Zamarin, a village of about 6,000 people on the outskirts of Tartous that was hosting some 6,000 people who had fled the nearby villages of Al Bayda and Baniyas, where mass killings reportedly took place earlier this month. The vast majority of the displaced were women and children – the team saw no middle-aged or even young men. They were dispersed throughout the village, or living in construction sites, or taking shelter in three of the village’s five schools.
At the school the team visited, classrooms were being shared by between five and 16 families. Water was being tankered in, but there were no shower facilities, and women, some of whom had arrived with just the clothes on their backs, said they had not been able to bathe in days. UNICEF was able to distribute clothing and hygiene supplies. Additional clothing, medicine, jerry cans, bed sheets, hygiene supplies, and kitchen sets were urgent needs. Children asked specifically for drawing material. UNICEF staff described the displaced population as ‘deeply fearful’ and children as ‘easily frightened’.
In the past week, UNICEF and partners had also brought in six trucks carrying clothing, hygiene and nutrition supplies, oral rehydration salts, incubators, and water purification tablets to Aleppo, where almost four million people were affected or displaced. Earlier this week, UNICEF reported on the mission to Al Houla, near Homs, an area largely cut off for many months and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. On that mission, UNICEF was able to bring in hundreds of hygiene kits and nutrition supplies.
Another major operation had been the installation of generators across the country, including one in Homs, that would provide safe water to about 300,000 people. Despite the deteriorating security situation UNICEF and partners had managed to scale up the humanitarian response. This year, close to one million children in Syria had been vaccinated, some 7.4 million people had been provided with access to safe water, and close to 100,000 children had been enrolled in school clubs.
But the needs were growing faster than funding. As at 6 May, UNICEF’s $68 million appeal for Syria was 68 per cent funded, and UNICEF’s $127 million appeal for the region was also 68 per cent funded. UNICEF was looking at a potentially massive funding gap by June.
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), answered a question about footage released by the Syrian human rights group yesterday on the summary execution of eleven blindfolded prisoners of war by opposition forces in Syria. He had not seen that video but he drew the journalist’s attention to the High Commissioner’s last two statements which included examples of atrocities by rebel forces as well as by Government forces. OHCHR had already very clearly requested that such crimes be stopped and people who had carried them out be arrested.
Ms. Vellucci replied to a question confirming that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Russia, but not only to discuss Syria. He had many meetings planned and she would check whether a press conference had been announced. (The full transcript of the press encounter of the Secretary-General and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was later sent to the journalists.)
Dan McNorton for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said UNHCR was prepositioning aid for tens of thousands of Darfur refugees in eastern Chad amid fears heavy rains would cut off access to the group. Almost 30,000 people recently fled communal violence in North and West Darfur, Sudan. The refugees were mainly women and children and they urgently needed shelter, food, clean water and medical assistance.
A group began arriving in early April due to tribal conflicts around the Um Dhukun area of West Darfur. In addition to the Darfur refugees, the violence also forced almost 20,000 Chadians to cross into Tissi, as well as 458 refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) who had been in Darfur for years. Tissi was in a remote and volatile Chadian border area straddling troubled parts of northern CAR and Darfur. Roads to the area became impassable during the rainy season lasting from May to November and the first rains had already started. The region had little infrastructure and new arrivals’ presence was a strain on the local communities.
To date, UNHCR had registered 28,278 Sudanese refugees in the Tissi area. To ensure UNHCR was able to offer protection and assistance to the refugees until the next dry season, they had prepositioned enough aid in the area to cover the needs of 3,000 refugee families. Aid distribution would begin this weekend. Additional supplies were due to arrive from their regional stockpile in Douala, Cameroon, to cover the needs of another 4,000 families.
Jens Laerke for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, was scheduled to visit Sudan from 20 to 23 May. During her three-day mission, Ms. Amos would meet with officials from the Government of Sudan and representatives from humanitarian organizations. She would discuss with them ways to improve humanitarian access to people affected by conflict and displacement, particularly in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
The Under-Secretary-General was also expected to travel to Darfur to see for herself the ongoing humanitarian operation ten years after the current emergency began. A press conference was scheduled for 2.15 p.m. on Thursday 23 May at the UNDP Merawi Conference Room in Khartoum.
International Day Against Homophobia
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that today was the International Day against Homophobia, a day that had grown in significance in recent years for millions of people around the world. To mark the date High Commissioner Navi Pillay would deliver a speech later today in The Hague which would highlight the progress made over the past 20 years in combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex people (LGBT). She would also point out how much remained to be done to achieve a world where everyone was free, equal and respected.
The fact that States were divided on those issues was not, the High Commissioner said, a reason to hold back from speaking out for fear of controversy. Rather, the abuse still suffered by LGBT people made it all the more important to speak out. In 2011, 85 States signed a statement expressing their concern at human rights violations perpetrated against LGBT people, and the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever resolution to specifically address the issue. Last year, the UN Human Rights Office produced a guide to LGBT rights entitled “Born Free and “Equal” that sets out States’ core legal obligations. LGBT issues were no longer taboo at the United Nations, which was warmly welcomed, but the struggle for full equality for LGBT people continued.
The High Commissioner had highlighted three particular areas of concern: homophobic and transphobic hate crimes which took place with alarming regularity in all regions of the world, ranging from bullying to torture to kidnapping and murder; the criminalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships; and the discrimination suffered by LGBT individuals and the lack of legal protection by national laws. The goal, in the High Commissioner’s view, was that everyone should be treated with the same measure of respect and dignity.
OHCHR had also this week released a video that highlighted the continuing stigma - and danger - of being gay. By 10:35 a.m. this morning it had already received 91,958 views, which was 13,000 more than for any other video OHCHR had placed on YouTube. OHCHR hoped the video would bring home to everyone the terrible impact of homophobia on the lives of LGBT people around the world. The video could be viewed on OHCHR’s YouTube channel.
Responding to a comment about a new statistic that showed 25 per cent of LGBT people living in the European Union had been attacked because of their sexuality in the last five years, Mr. Colville said that homophobia was found in every country in the world and was a common problem. The discrimination was still evident even in subtle forms. He said he was not surprised by that statistic, although it was shocking, and that there was clearly a long way to go in eradicating discrimination towards LGBT people.
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said they welcomed the fact that dozens of international companies had made a legal commitment to improve safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories, in the wake of last month’s building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people. By the midnight deadline on 15 May, 37 companies including major retailers in Europe such as Inditex, Carrefour and H&M, had signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
It was an important and in many ways unprecedented agreement, which could be enforced in the countries where the multinationals were based, which was its most important element. However, some major retailers, especially in the United States, had chosen not to sign but instead carry out their own inspections. The spotlight would be on them to ensure they fulfilled their pledges.
The accord and reforms announced by the Bangladeshi government and local factory owners stemmed from a wake-up call that safety policies were neither adequate nor enforced, and that the catastrophe at the Rana Plaza building was totally preventable.
The measures taken so far may mark a turning point in the history of Bangladesh’s clothing industry, but OHCHR believed they should be a beginning not an end result.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay called for swift action to empower trade unions and overhaul the garment sector, with a far more stringent approach to oversight and inspection.
The issue did not just concern Bangladesh. Two years ago, the UN agreed a series of Guiding Principles on what needed to be done by businesses and governments everywhere. Governments must have effective policies to prevent, punish and redress abuse of workers’ rights, businesses must act to prevent and address rights abuses, and victims must have access to effective remedy. In other words, while the spotlight has been on the international brands sourcing from Bangladesh, it should not detract from the duties and responsibilities of governments and factories to prevent that kind of disaster happening, and to ensure redress and accountability when they did.
The world was now saying enough was enough, but it took the deaths of at least 1,127 of the largely female workforce crammed into five factories in the Rana Plaza to make that happen. The best way to honour the victims was to ensure such a tragedy never happened again – in any industry anywhere. The international framework, in the form of the Guiding Principles, as well as a package of labour reforms and all the norms and standards developed by the ILO, was already there to help bring that about.
Answering a question about the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to Bangladesh, Mr. Colville said he was not sure whether her mission would include the issue of the Rana Plaza catastrophe. Responding to another question, Mr. Colville confirmed the figure of 37 companies that had signed the Accord.
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said they were very concerned about a recent statement issued by the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) announcing that it intended to resume the death penalty, more than half a century since it last carried out an execution. PNG had maintained a long standing de facto moratorium since 1954 which was subsequently passed into law in 1970, so resuming the death penalty again would be a major setback, especially after so many other States had subsequently abolished the death penalty or adopted moratoriums.
Since 2007, the UN General Assembly had adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolition. The movement towards abolition had gained ground in every region, spanning different legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds. Today about 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States had either abolished the death penalty or no longer practised it.
While recognising the challenge presented by the recent alarming rise in violent crime in PNG, including rape, torture and murder, the use of capital punishment had never been proved to be a more effective deterrent than other forms of punishment. The High Commissioner had written to the Prime Minister stating her concerns about the planned resumption of the death penalty, and was calling on the Government to maintain its moratorium and subsequently join the growing number of Member States that had abolished the practice altogether, including 11 States in the Pacific.
On a more positive note, OHCHR welcomed the decision by the National Executive Council last week to repeal Papua New Guinea’s Sorcery Act.
Furthermore, the High Commissioner very much regretted the executions earlier today in Indonesia of three men, Suryadi Swabuana, Jurin bin Abdullah and Ibrahim bin Ujang. Indonesia had now executed a total of four people since the resumption of the death penalty there in March. It was a very unfortunate development as Indonesia was close to establishing a moratorium on executions. From 2008 to 2012, no executions at all were carried out, and public statements by prominent leaders, including President Yudhoyono, were encouraging.
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the President of Nigeria had declared a state of emergency in the three north eastern states of the country, citing the rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which posed a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity.
The High Commissioner had repeatedly condemned the cowardly attacks by Boko Haram which had targeted civilians and politicians, members of government institutions, security forces and foreign nationals. The High Commissioner had also noted that members of Boko Haram and other groups and entities, if judged to have committed widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population – including on grounds such as religion or ethnicity - could be found guilty of crimes against humanity. Deliberate acts leading to population “cleansing” on grounds of religion or ethnicity could also amount to a crime against humanity.
OHCHR called on the Nigerian government to make sure its efforts to achieve security were in full compliance with human rights principles and urged security forces and the military to respect human rights, and avoid excessive use of force when conducting operations, as those can all too easily feed local resentment, especially when civilians were killed or had their property damaged. OHCHR urged the Government of Nigeria to ensure the regime of safeguards set out in international human rights law were respected during its emergency operations.
Ms Vellucci added that the United Nations Secretary-General had also expressed his
concern about the continued violence and the deteriorating security situation in north-eastern Nigeria, which posed a threat to national peace and security. He had called on all extremist groups to cease their attacks. The Secretary-General had reiterated his firm conviction that no objective could ever justify such use of violence and had underscored the need for all concerned to fully respect human rights and to safeguard the lives of all Nigerians.
Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), updated on Mali saying that in the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, one household in five faced extreme food shortages, with a significant deterioration of household food consumption over the past weeks. With the beginning of the lean season, the critical period where household stocks were most at risk of exhaustion, food assistance was a top priority in Mali and across the Sahel.
Deliveries of food commodities used in emergency school feeding activities were ongoing for 76 schools in Timbuktu and were scaling up in the weeks ahead. In southern Mali, WFP was assisting 113,000 children in 568 schools, including some schools hosting children of internally-displaced persons. Supplementary feeding was underway in the North with distributions to children from 6-59 months and pregnant women and nursing mothers in Timbuktu region. Thus far, 21,000 children and 4,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers had been reached.
In March, emergency food assistance was provided to more than 278,000 people in the whole country, of whom more than 125,700 conflict-affected people in the North (Timbuktu and Gao, as Kidal was not accessible in March) and more than 152,300 internally displaced people and host households in the South. WFP continued to scale-up its assistance and was currently planning to assist 517,500 beneficiaries in May.
The emergency operation faced a shortfall of US$74.8 million, equivalent to 54 per cent of the total project requirements. Due to the funding gaps, serious pipeline breaks in all commodities were expected from August to September 2013 onwards.
Gaëlle Sévenier for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that Myanmar, Bangladesh and India avoided a potential catastrophe as Cyclone Mahasen weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall in Bangladesh on Thursday. But fears remained that some remote areas may have experienced some destruction. IOM staff were taking part in joint assessments in the Chittagong division of Bangladesh and western Myanmar to determine if assistance was needed.
Brian Kelly, IOM’s Asia-Pacific Emergency Advisor was quoted as saying: “The storm was weaker than expected, but we have to commend the preparedness work done by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar and their partners to get people to safety and ensure that communities were ready. If this same storm had hit 20 years ago, we might have seen thousands of deaths. As it is, people are already leaving the storm shelters to go home”.
Some deaths had been reported in Bangladesh, where over a million people were evacuated to purpose-built storm shelters and public buildings. The caution was justified: in 1970, Cyclone Bhola killed some 400,000 people, Cyclone Sidr killed nearly 4,000 people in 2007, and Cyclone Aila killed some 200 people two years later. Earlier this week seven persons died and thousands were displaced in Sri Lanka when heavy rains, caused by Mahasen, washed over the north and east of the island. Concerns in Myanmar had also eased. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from vulnerable locations, and humanitarian aid was pre-positioned. Initial impact assessments in and around the city of Sittwe started this morning. While information was still scant, initial indications seemed to suggest that the damage has been minimal.
IOM would continue to play an active role in the humanitarian community’s ongoing efforts to help communities impacted by the storm.
Juan Carlos Vasquez, for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), spoke about the elephant poaching crisis and said that CITES had today published a press release announcing National Ivory Action Plans adopted by the first eight countries identified as primary source, transit and import destination countries for illegal ivory [China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam]. The situation in these countries was discussed at the meeting in Bangkok last March in response to a dramatic increase in the number of elephants poached for their ivory in Africa.
Journalists were probably aware that some armed individuals in the Central African Republic were now present in the south of the country including the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. CITES was working with its partners including Interpol, the World Bank, UNODC and the World Customs Organization on the imminent threat and to prevent another tragedy like the one that happened last year in Cameroon. CITES has now identified primary source, transit and import countries affected by illegal trade in ivory:.
Mr. Vasquez announced that CITES representatives would be in London next week discussing wildlife crime with Prince Charles and Prince William, and other relevant authorities, particularly strategies to fight wildlife crime, poaching and smuggling in different parts of the planet.
World Health Assembly
Glenn Thomas, for the World Health Organization (WHO) briefed journalists on the agenda for the forthcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) which would take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from Monday 20 to 28 May. Agenda issues included WHO reform; draft comprehensive global monitoring framework and targets for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancers, heart and lung disease; monitoring of the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals; intensification of efforts to eradicate polio; pandemic influenza preparedness; sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines; the draft global vaccination plan; neglected tropical diseases; supporting countries in their efforts to move forward with universal health coverage; and health in the post-2015 development agenda.
The media advisory available on the website outlined all events, but highlights journalists might want to cover include the opening address by WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan at 2.30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on Monday 20 May; on the Tuesday 21 May at 2.30 p.m. addresses by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation in Sweden.
Also on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Room XXIV a side event organized by China would look at the Influenza A (H7N9) situation and also Novel Coronavirus. Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment would answer questions at the event which was organized by the Permanent Mission of China and would have interpretation in all six official United Nations languages.
Mr. Thomas announced the findings of a confidential and independent survey on perceptions of the WHO involving 3,500 key stakeholders. The survey showed that more than 80 per cent of external stakeholders saw WHO as either indispensible or important for work to improve people’s health. Two thirds of external stakeholders saw WHO as providing leadership on global health matters. Other findings were all available online.
Ms. Vellucci also made announcements in association with the World Health Organization’s forthcoming World Health Assembly which would take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 20 to 28 May. On Monday 20 May two events would take place: an event sponsored by the Ministry of Health of Brazil on viral hepatitis in Room IX from 12.45 p.m. to 2.15 p.m. entitled ‘Viral Hepatitis – addressing the challenge of the 21st Century’; the second event entitled “Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants can lower the death toll from air pollution-related diseases” would take place at 6 p.m. in Room XXIV. It was a “new approach” to tackling air pollution, which now killed more people than many of the world’s other major diseases.
Novel Coronavirus/Yellow fever
Glenn Thomas, for the World Health Organization (WHO), answered a question about the spread of the Novel Coronavirus to medical personnel and in hospitals. He said when health workers became infected that was a significant development and something WHO was worried about; at the same time WHO had seen previously, in Jordan, cases of health workers infected by Novel Coronavirus, in April. The concern was about patients passing on the infection to health workers, and WHO had published guidelines on infection control. The guidelines were on the Novel Coronavirus page of the WHO website.
Replying to a question about when the World Health Organization Experts who had been in Saudi Arabia would report back, Mr. Thomas said that Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment was a member of that team and would be answering questions about the latest H7N9 and Novel Coronavirus developments and on his recent missions to both Saudi Arabia and China, at the 6 p.m. briefing on Tuesday 21 May (details above).
Mr Thomas also noted that a press release on yesterday’s press briefing on Yellow Fever was available at the back of the room and online.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, reminded journalists that Monday 20 May was a holiday for United Nations Office at Geneva although the Palais des Nations would remain open. Further information had been sent to all correspondents.
Ms. Vellucci announced that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights completed its work this afternoon after considering the reports of seven countries: Japan, Iran, Jamaica, Azerbaijan, Togo, Rwanda and Denmark. Its concluding observations should be available Tuesday afternoon.
The Committee Against Torture would complete its review of the report of Bolivia this afternoon, Ms. Vellucci said. Next week it would examine the reports of Japan and Estonia. The Committee had so far considered the reports of the United Kingdom, Mauritania, Netherlands, Guatemala and Kenya.
Ms. Vellucci said that the Conference on Disarmament would hold its next public meeting on Tuesday 21 May which would feature a discussion on transparency in armaments. The Conference on Disarmament was currently in the second part of its annual session which runs from May 13 to June 28.
Jens Laerke for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced a press conference to be held today, at 12.30 p.m. in Press Room 1 of the Palais des Nations on the humanitarian situation in the Sahel. Robert Piper, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, would be speaking.
Melissa Begag, for the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy would be in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday 23 May where he would meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, speak at the University of Nairobi and visit TradeMark East Africa. On Thursday 23 May the Director-General would travel to Kigali, Rwanda where he would give a press briefing with the Foreign Association of East Africa. On Friday 24 May the Director-General would be visiting the TradeMark East Africa Rwanda office and meeting with Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry François Kanimba. The Director-General would travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday 25 May to attend the 50th Anniversary of the African Union.
At the WTO in Geneva, Ms. Begag announced that the Trade and Development Committee would hold an informal meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday 21 May. On Friday 24 May the Dispute Settlement Body was meeting at 10 a.m. while the Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group would hold an informal meeting that afternoon (time to be confirmed).
The representatives of the International Labour Organization and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development also attended the briefing but did not speak.
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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly