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Hole in the Heart of Africa

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ban-ki-moonBy Ban Ki-moon

The Security Council has approved my proposal to deploy a United Nations peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic – opening the way for 10,000 troops and almost 2,000 police to bring a semblance of order to a nation in ruins.   

I have just returned from a visit to the country to see the situation first-hand.  Desperate is an understatement.   
More than half the population of the Texas-sized country need life-saving assistance.  One out of four Central Africans has been uprooted from their homes.  At makeshift camps I visited at the airport outside the capital city of Bangui, as many as 500 people share one toilet.  Conditions will only get worse with the onset of the rainy season.   

“Who would accept to live here?” one woman cried out to me.  “But we are risking our lives to live where we lived.”
The majority of the country’s Muslim community has fled the country, escaping a brutal wave of sectarian strife that has claimed innocents on all sides.  Atrocity crimes continue. 

The justice system has crumbled.  Ethno-religious cleansing is a reality.  Whole communities have been dismantled.   

Despite the many deprivations, the commodity that the Central African Republic lacks most is time.  The peacekeeping mission will take at least six months to get up and running.  Meanwhile the country’s people are caught in a daily struggle for survival.

I travelled to the CAR on my way to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide.  In Rwanda, I expressed my profound sadness for the international community’s inaction during that country’s hour of need.   

But what of crises on our watch?   

Will the international community act now instead of apologizing in 20 years for not doing what was needed when we had the chance?  Will national leaders heed the lessons of the past and prevent another Rwanda in our time?

In the centre of one of Bangui’s hardest-hit neighborhoods, we drove past block after block of the concrete carcasses of shops and homes.  We passed a sea of trucks filled far beyond capacity with pots, pans, water jugs, the last possessions of a population on the run.

Women and men shared harrowing tales of sexual violence, kidnapping and constant threats on their lives.  Now they are virtual prisoners desperate only for escape.  They told me how schools, hospitals, even cemeteries are off-limits.  As one person lamented, “We can’t even help our dead.”   

Now is the time to help the living.  That requires fast-track action on three fronts.

First, security.  African Union and French forces are working hard to restore peace and security.   The European Union force that began hitting the ground this week is a welcome addition.  But they need reinforcements to contain the violence and protect civilians.  I have called for the immediate deployment of 3,000 more troops and police who would lay the groundwork for the future United Nations peacekeeping mission.   
Second, the government needs help with the very basics – including getting police, judges and prison guards back on the job.  The Head of State of the Transition Catherine Samba-Panza is committed to restoring state authority.  But with no budget, her abilities are sharply constrained.  Funding for humanitarian aid is also falling short with only 20 per cent of pledges received.

Third, since the new peacekeeping operation can be only part of the solution, establishing an inclusive political process is crucial.  Community and religious leaders are fundamental  to promoting tolerance, non-violence and dialogue.  Accountability for horrendous crimes is central to peace.  The people of the CAR must see that the rule of law matters no matter who they are or what they believe, from leaders to individual combatants.

These are essential building blocks for reconciliation and ensuring that refugees and the internally displaced can return to their homes and communities.  The alternative is a de facto partition that would lay the seeds of conflict and instability in the fragile heart of Africa for years, perhaps generations.   

During my visit, a leader of a women’s peace group said, “Our social fabric is in shreds.  The bonds of our communities have broken.  There is nothing to connect us.  But you represent the world and you are here.  Now we know we are a part of the world.”

I appreciated her trust but I know we need action to earn it.   

The CAR is blessed with abundant resources and fertile land.  For generations, it has been a crossroads of cultures where different communities have lived peacefully.   

It is up to the international community to prove through deeds that the people of the Central African Republic are indeed part of our common humanity and shared future.   A little help will go a long way.  We have a collective responsibility to act now instead of expressing regrets twenty years later.   




New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.


The secretary-general's message for the International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls


25 November 2016 - At long last, there is growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development.  Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and response.


UNIDO Director General's Op-Ed Article to media on the occasion of UNIDO's 50th anniversary


Did you know that in Viet Nam, the net flow of foreign direct investment increased from USD1billion in 2003 to USD10 billion in 2008, and that by 2015 reached USD23 billion?  Or that the total value of exports rose from USD2 billion in 1990 to USD72 billion in 2010, to reach USD162 billion in 2015? These impressive figures highlight the country’s robust economic success, providing a boost to the economy and employment.

These accomplishments are largely due to the reforms undertaken by Viet Nam since Doi Moi in 1986 which liberalized the economy, attracted foreign investment, fostered exports and reduced poverty. To prepare for reform, Viet Nam received extensive technical assistance from the international community, including from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), well before 1986 and, more precisely, since 1978.

For more than 35 years, UNIDO has been sharing international best practices to help Viet Nam develop inclusive and sustainable industry. With more than USD100 million in expenditure, UNIDO’s technical cooperation activities have been carried out across a broad range of fields, including support to the private sector and technical and industrial research organizations, facilitation of technology transfer, trade capacity-building, human resource development, environmental protection, energy efficiency, investment promotion and responsible business practices.


Call for participation - Volunteering for SDGs – UNV Vietnam Facebook Photo Contest

Volunteering for Sustainable Development Goals – UNV Vietnam Facebook Photo Contest

On the occasion of International Youth Day (IYD) celebration event organized by the UN in Vietnam "Vietnamese Youth: Partners in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals", the UNV Field Unit (FU) in Vietnam is thrilled to launch its Facebook Photo Contest – "Volunteering for Sustainable Development Goals". Vietnamese Youth is a driving force of Volunteerism and has an important role to play in achieving SDGs, including through Volunteer activities. Show the world how you contribute to achieving the SDGs by Volunteering! Either you are a young volunteer or any other kind of volunteer, you are welcome to join the contest!