Middle East

UN marks Palestinian Solidarity Day with calls for peace with Israel

The United Nations today marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people with urgent calls for re-launching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, special meetings of the General Assembly and related committees and film shows and exhibitions.

Iraq: Security Council renews mandate of multinational force for another year

At the request of the Iraqi Government, the United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of the three-year-old United States-led multinational force (MNF) in the war-torn country by another year, until the end of 2007.

Lebanon: UN peacekeeping force reaches 10,500

The enhanced United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah now totals 10,500 troops from 21 countries, 4,500 below its mandated maximum strength, with additional personnel arriving from Indonesia, Portugal and Italy.

Nobel laureate Tutu to head UN rights probe of Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians

Former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu will head the United Nations Human Rights Council fact-finding mission into Israeli military operations in Gaza established after 19 Palestinian civilians were killed in an attack on the town of Beit Hanoun earlier this month.

UN rights group calls on Iraq, US to redress serious shortcomings in Saddam’s trial

A United Nations human rights group today called on the Iraqi and United States Governments to redress “serious procedural shortcomings” in the trial of ousted president Saddam Hussein and urged the Iraqis not to carry out the death sentence “imposed in a proceeding, which does not meet applicable basic standards of a fair trial.”

Iraqi factions need international help to overcome differences – Secretary-General

A national conference bringing together the various factions in Iraq could help promote stability, but any initiative in this direction would require international support, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

Lebanon: UN de-miners hurt as agricultural damage from conflict hits $280 million

Several United Nations de-miners working in Lebanon have been injured over the past several days, while a UN agency today estimated that the agricultural damage from the 34-day conflict between Hizbollah and Israel has reached $280 million.

‘Senseless violence’ seeks to destroy Iraqi unity, UNESCO chief warns

Warning that “senseless violence” could destroy the unity of the Iraqi nation, the head of the United Nations body mandated to protect freedom of expression today deplored recent attacks that have left hundreds dead or injured in Baghdad and claimed the lives of a comedian and two journalists.

Annan welcomes mutual ceasefire in the Gaza Strip

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the mutual ceasefire reached in the Gaza Strip at the weekend, but expressed deep concern that Palestinian militants have continued to fire rockets towards civilian targets inside Israel.

Annan speaks with US Iraq Study Group as sectarian violence soars

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today spoke with members of the United States Iraq Study Group as sectarian violence soared in the country, where his Special Representative is urging a national dialogue aimed at stemming the bloodshed.