Middle East

UNESCO chief pleads for release of French journalists abducted in Iraq

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today issued an urgent plea for the release of two French reporters held hostage in Iraq, vigourously condemning for the second time in a week the “shameful targeting” of journalists in the strife-torn country.

Annan condemns Palestinian attack in Israel, calls for end to 'heinous crimes'

The United Nations today strongly condemned the double deadly terrorist attack in the Israeli city of Beersheba, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling on the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice and "put an end to such heinous crimes."

Annan 'appalled' by murder of 12 Nepalese civilian hostages in Iraq

Voicing his condemnation of the gruesome murder of a dozen Nepalese civilian hostages in Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he was especially concerned by the cruel use of the killings as a public spectacle.

Iraqi officials seek UN help in rehabilitating Najaf and Sadr city

Iraqi officials today sought United Nations help in rehabilitating urban areas hard-hit by recent clashes, including Najaf and Baghdad’s Sadr city.

Israel: UN concerned for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

More than a dozen United Nations institutions operating in the occupied Palestinian territories today voiced concern at a reported hunger strike by over 2,900 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and reminded the country's authorities to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

UN helps Middle East data centre set pace as agricultural online trendsetter

In a part of the world where mounting epidemics and animal health risks, chronic lack of food and scarce water pose serious challenges in the war on hunger and poverty, the United Nations is helping the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enhance its role as a regional and inter-regional online resource for agricultural information.

UN ‘strongly protests’ Israel’s use of Palestine refugee school as detention centre

The main United Nations agency helping Palestine refugees has strongly protested Israel’s use of one of its schools as a detention and interrogation centre for hundreds of suspects, calling it “a flagrant violation of UN privileges and immunities.”

Iraq: Annan welcomes cleric's effort to broker peace in Najaf

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed efforts by Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric to end the fighting in the holy city of Najaf, voiced great concern over the high death toll in nearby Kufa and other cities, and reiterated the world body's readiness to help the country's political transition.

Top UN Iraq envoy ends first visit after talks with broad range of key figures

The top United Nations envoy for Iraq today ended his first visit to Baghdad since his appointment last month after meeting with a long line of political leaders and prominent figures in civil society to discuss the world body's role in the political and humanitarian reconstruction of the war-torn country.

Annan calls on Israel to cease West Bank settlement expansion

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Israel to cease its recently reported expansion of West Bank settlements, calling the practice a clear contradiction of the country's obligations under the Road Map peace plan that provides for the establishment of two states - Israel and Palestine - by 2005.