Asia Pacific

Sri Lanka: UN rights chief hails probe into extrajudicial killings but voices concerns

The top United Nations human rights official today welcomed Sri Lanka's establishment of a commission of inquiry into extrajudicial killings and disappearances, but expressed concern that shortcomings in the national legal system could hamper its effectiveness.

Faced with zero response, UNICEF renews appeal for 2.5 million drought-hit Afghans

Faced with zero response to its most recent appeal to help 2.5 million drought-stricken Afghans, half of them children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal today for $3.8 million, warning that lack of water and food will exacerbate the outbreak of disease and malnutrition among the young.

Annan stresses need for human rights progress in Myanmar as top political officer to visit

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today emphasized the need for “tangible steps forward” by Myanmar on such issues as human rights, democratic reform and national reconciliation, as he announced the UN’s top political officer will visit the South East Asian country from Thursday to Sunday.

UN agencies spearhead efforts to curb escalating spread of HIV in Asia-Pacific

With an estimated 930,000 new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific last year, United Nations agencies have called for urgent efforts to prevent the escalating spread of the virus and reduce mortality by better integrating HIV prevention, treatment and care into maternal and newborn health services.

Ancient Silk Road to get its modern railway counterpart at UN regional conference

A railway version of the famed Silk Road is set to move a step closer to reality at a regional United Nations transport conference that opened in the Republic of Korea (ROK) today, with an agreement for a trans-continental network linking national systems from Armenia to Viet Nam.

UN agency goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie urges help for Burmese, Afghan refugees

United Nations refugee agency Goodwill Ambassador and international film star Angelina Jolie has visited Afghan and Burmese women refugees in India, some of whom were forced to flee persecution in their countries almost 30 years ago, and praised their courage while calling on the world community to do more to end their plight.

UN adviser visits Sri Lanka to ensure children are better protected from conflict

A United Nations Special Adviser on children and armed conflict has begun a 9-day field visit to Sri Lanka aimed at ensuring better protection from the ravages of the civil war in the strife-torn country, where 17 relief workers killed three months ago were today honoured by their relatives.

Afghanistan: UN-backed panel voices alarm at surge in opium cultivation

A United Nations-backed panel on narcotics control today expressed alarm at the rise in illicit opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, by far the world’s largest supplier, and called on its neighbours to crack down on the apparent smuggling of a chemical needed for the manufacture of heroin within the country.

UN agencies rush to prepare Pakistani earthquake survivor camps for winter

Humanitarian agencies and the United Nations are speedily trying to prepare tented camps for winter in the rugged mountains of northern Pakistan, where more than 2 million survivors are still living after the deadly 2005 earthquake that killed 80,000 and left 2.5 million homeless, the United Nations humanitarian affairs coordination office said today.

Afghanistan: UN helps Government draw up national strategy to tackle drought

With over 2 million people facing the effects of drought in Afghanistan, the United Nations has teamed up with the Government to run a two-day workshop to tackle water scarcity, a vital factor in a country where agriculture accounts for 52 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 66 per cent of the work force.