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Year-end UN snapshot shows Asia-Pacific leading global economic recovery

A year-end update released today by the United Nations regional arm in Asia and the Pacific shows that the region is leading the global economic recovery, with the growth rate in 2010 forecast at 6.3 per cent – the highest in the world.

Swiss minaret ban discriminates against Muslims, says UN expert

An independent United Nations expert on religious freedom today voiced regret at the Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets, stating that such a prohibition clearly discriminates against Muslims.

Devastating cattle plague to be purged within 18 months, announces UN agency

A deadly and highly infectious animal disease which affects cattle and other hoofed livestock is set to be only the second virus in history, behind small pox in 1980, to be eliminated from the face of the Earth, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced today.

UN-backed campaign seeks to stem ‘widespread’ violence against Afghan women

The United Nations today called on all Afghans to take part in a 16-day campaign to end violence against women and girls, which it described as a “widespread and deeply rooted” problem in the country.

Laos: UN expert warns against marginalizing religious minorities

Religious minorities in Laos remain isolated with little access to higher education, few opportunities for job promotions in the public sector and effective exclusion from decision-making processes, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.

Somalia: Security Council mandates action against pirates for another year

The Security Council today renewed for another 12 months the authorization for States and regional organizations fighting piracy off the Somali coast to enter the strife-torn country’s territorial waters and “undertake all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” provided they have the transitional government’s consent.

UN agency launches assessment of oil-contaminated region in Nigeria

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched an assessment of the impact of contamination from oil across the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, which has been plagued by local unrest and ecological damage in recent years.

UN launches $7 billion appeal for humanitarian work next year

The United Nations today appealed for more than $7.1 billion over the coming year to assist 48 million people across 25 countries whose lives have been wrecked by conflict and natural disasters, with the largest amount – over $1 billion – sought for Sudan.

UN issues new guidelines for earlier start to treatment of HIV/AIDS

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the United Nations today issued new recommendations for fighting the pandemic, calling for an earlier start to treatment for adults and adolescents, as well as urging HIV-positive mothers and their infants to take antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) while breastfeeding to prevent transmission.

Staff abductions and regional stability in Darfur concern senior UN official

A senior United Nations peacekeeping official today voiced “extreme” concern over the fate of two abducted staff members of the joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID), warning that the security situation on the war-ravaged western flank of Sudan continues to be unstable.