Rabat – The Moroccan Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.5 percent in May due to a rise in food products, particularly vegetables, says the High Commission of Planning (HCP).The prices increased most from vegetables (5.6 percent) and fruits, fish and seafood (3.4 percent). By contrast, prices decreased by 0.6 percent for coffee, tea and cocoa, according to the HCP.This 0.5 percent increase in food products was the result of simultaneous 1.3 percent growth in the food products index and stagnation in non-consumable goods. Vegetables head the list of increased food products, notes the HCP, with a 5.6 percent increase, followed by  fruits, fish and seafood  by 3.4 percent. By contrast, prices decreased by 0.6 percent for coffee, tea and cocoa.The CPI registered the most important increases as occurring in the city of Safi (1.3 percent), Oujda (1 percent), Fez (0.8 percent), Tetouan and Rabat (0.7 percent each). Guelmim registered the lowest increase of 0.1 percent.The index increased at a lower rate of 0.3 percent in May 2016.In the month before Ramadan, products with the largest increases were water and soft drinks (59 percent), fruit juice (42.3 percent) and oil (26.5 percent), while the imports of honey “more than doubled.” By contrast, purchases of alcohol dropped by 54 percent in the lead up to the holy month. read more

The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:WJA) CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it earned $29.2 million in its fourth quarter, down from $47.8 million in the same period a year earlier.The Calgary-based airline says the profit amounted to 26 cents per diluted share for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with 41 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2017.Revenue in the last three months of 2018 totalled $1.19 billion, up from $1.12 billion a year earlier.Analysts on average had expected a profit of 13 cents per share for the quarter and revenue of $1.19 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.For the full year, WestJet says it earned $91.5 million or 80 cents per diluted share, down from $279.1 million or $2.38 per diluted share in 2017.Revenue totalled $4.73 billion for 2018, up from $4.51 billion. read more

CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is reporting first-quarter net income that beat analyst expectations thanks to higher oil prices, record downstream results, more oilsands production and a $264-million insurance gain on its assets in Libya.The Calgary-based oilsands producer and refining giant says it had net earnings of $1.47 billion or 93 cents per share in the three months ended March 31, up from $789 million or 48 cents in the same period of 2018.That’s well ahead of analyst forecasts of $709 million or 53 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Suncor’s operating profit came to $1.2 billion, compared with $985 million in the first quarter of 2018.The company reported average realized prices of $62.92 per barrel at its newly expanded Fort Hills oilsands mine, up from $30.57 in the fourth quarter of 2018, as steep discounts on western Canadian oil prices eased following the Alberta government’s imposition of crude production curtailments as of Jan. 1.Despite the program, it noted total oilsands production of 657,000 barrels per day, compared to 572,000 bpd a year earlier, thanks to gains at Fort Hills and higher contributions from Syncrude, in which it has a 58.7 per cent stake.The company says refining and marketing delivered record operating earnings of $1 billion, up from $789 million in the first quarter of 2018. Companies in this article: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press read more

11 September 2007The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, has inaugurated a week-long exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York on development in Bahrain, to mark the award the UN-Habitat award the country’s prime minister, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa. The exhibition, organized by the Mission of Bahrain to the UN and dubbed “Bahrain: Making policy a reality, meeting the millennium challenges,” features the Middle Eastern country’s efforts to preserve the environment through responsible urban planning. “Development is indispensable for advancement, prosperity and safeguarding the future. It is a fundamental human right that we must all strive to protect and promote,” Sheikha Haya said.In implementing initiatives in the pursuit of development, “the needs of the poor must be paramount, for poverty, just like unemployment and illiteracy, reinforces the foundation upon which tension, fanaticism and violence thrive,” she added. read more

“Armed combat, presence of irregular groups, targeted killings and landmines all contribute to the rising trend of forced displacement,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond said of the latest incident involving 1,018 Awá in southern Colombia, almost half of them children under16. The local authorities have delivered food for the past three days, a doctor is on site and UNHCR has offered to meet the needs in water, sanitation and accommodation, Mr. Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. The area is part of the department of Nariño, which in recent years has suffered some of the worst violence in Colombia. Since the start of 2007, there have been 18 cases of mass displacement involving more than 50 people moving at one time within Nariño, forcing more than 10,000 people out of their homes. The four decades of conflict between Government forces, leftist guerrillas, rightist paramilitaries and criminal gangs has not only affected the south of the Andean country. Over the past year the violence has also uprooted indigenous communities in north-western Chocó region near the border with Panama. UNHCR has repeatedly warned that some indigenous communities, displaced from land to which they are tied by their culture and traditions, are in danger of disappearing altogether. Under the UNGuiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the State has a special duty to prevent the forced displacement of indigenous people and others with a special relation to the land and Colombia’s Constitutional Court is holding a hearing today to seek more information from the Government on measures to protect indigenous people. Indigenous representatives from all over Colombia, including the Awás, are to present the situation in each community, and at the Court’s invitation UNHCR will take part. Last year, the Court found that there were “persistent gaps” in specific attention to the rights of indigenous people, which could put at risk the cultural survival of displaced communities. There are 87 different indigenous groups in Colombia, making up 3 per cent of the population of 42 million. They comprise one of the richest and most varied indigenous heritages in the world. 21 September 2007More than 1,000 indigenous Colombians have taken refuge in a school to escape fighting between the army and an irregular armed group, the latest victims of more than 40 years of conflict which has uprooted 3 million people and has recently had a disproportionate effect on the country’s original inhabitants, the United Nations reported today. read more

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for another six months so that it can continue to support the country’s peace process, particularly the holding of a Constituent Assembly election by 12 April. In his latest report to the Security Council, Mr. Ban states that UNMIN should maintain its existing configuration and staffing, “subject to some reduction in the electoral staffing, taking into account the technical assistance already provided, and other minor adjustments.” An agreement reached last month by the Nepalese Government’s Seven-Party Alliance on key issues of the country’s transition to peace paved the way for the holding the Constituent Assembly election, which had been postponed twice last year. Once elected, the Assembly is supposed to draft a new constitution for Nepal, where an estimated 13,000 people were killed during the decade-long civil conflict that formally ended when the Government and Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006. Mr. Ban advises against any downsizing of the UN’s presence, stressing that it could endanger prospects for a successful election in the newly agreed time frame. “The deployment of international personnel to the regions and districts of Nepal has consistently been regarded as a key factor in creating a free and fair atmosphere for the election,” he writes. “Not only is such an atmosphere required in the last stages of the electoral process but it also needs to be established with urgency for a successful election by 12 April,” he adds. While welcoming the decision by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) to rejoin the Interim Government – which it did on 30 December 2007 – Mr. Ban warns that “the remaining political challenges, which could negatively affect the electoral calendar, should not be underestimated.” Among these is the need to respond to the concerns of traditionally marginalized groups. In addition, he notes that it will be difficult to ensure a credible and fair ballot unless the State can provide security to its citizens during the election period. “The Interim Government and the Seven-Party Alliance must give law and order a very high priority.” Along with electoral assistance, UNMIN is also tasked with monitoring the arms and armies of the former adversaries, the Maoist army and the Nepal Army, who are confined to cantonments and barracks in the lead-up to the election. In that regard, the second phase of registration and verification of Maoist army personnel – to ensure that no minors are serving – was completed on 23 December, Mr. Ban reports, adding that the next step will be to release and reintegrate the “unqualified” personnel. 10 January 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for another six months so that it can continue to support the country’s peace process, particularly the holding of a Constituent Assembly election by 12 April. read more

22 January 2008The Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today stressed the “historic” importance of the war crimes trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor in signalling an end to impunity, even at the highest level. Mr. Taylor is facing 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law – including mass murder, mutilations, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers – for his role in the decade-long civil war that engulfed Sierra Leone, which borders Liberia. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp said the arrest and transfer of Mr. Taylor “after he had been permitted to go into what was anticipated to be a safe and comfortable exile was precedent shattering in several respects.“I think it has awakened many in the world to the possibility that individuals who might commit or be alleged to have commit similar crimes will in the end face a day of justice,” he said at a press briefing in New York.Indeed, “the case is one of historic importance in signalling an end to impunity of individuals, even at the highest level.” He added that “the challenge that remains for those of us that are involved in this process is to make sure that when you do try an individual at that level, that you are able to do it expeditiously, that justice be done and be seen to be done.” That is particularly important in the case of the Taylor trial, he noted, because of its transfer to The Hague in the Netherlands – some 5,000 kilometres from the seat of the Special Court in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. In 2006, the Security Council authorized the staging of Mr. Taylor’s trial at The Hague, citing reasons of security and expediency. Although the trial will be held at the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it will remain under the exclusive jurisdiction of the SCSL. Mr. Rapp said the Court is continuing its outreach programme so that people know what is going on with the case even though it is taking place far away from the “scene of the crime.” Given the “excellent progress” being made in the trial, he said the case could be concluded within 12 to 18 months. The Court’s judges have indicated that they will have a judgment at first instance by January 2010, presuming that the evidence is concluded by the end of July 2009.The Special Court, established in January 2002 by an agreement between the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN, is mandated to try “those who bear greatest responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against community committed in the country after 30 November 1996. Last July, it reached an agreement with the British Government whereby Mr. Taylor will serve out his sentence in the United Kingdom if he is convicted. read more

28 March 2008The United Nations’ top envoy for Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) has consulted with CAR President François Bozizé on deployment of an innovative peacekeeping mission in the two countries, a UN spokesperson said today. The UN mission, known as MINURCAT, was set up by the Security Council last September to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the northeast of the CAR and eastern Chad and in the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.It is a multidimensional operation supported by European Union military forces and comprising 300 police and 50 military liaison officers, as well as civilian staff, focusing on the areas of civil affairs, human rights and the rule of law. Visiting CAR’s capital, Bangui, yesterday, Victor Da Silva Angelo, Special Representative of Secretary-General in Chad and the CAR, told President Bozizé that MINURCAT and the EU force are “twin sisters that are intimately linked by the nature of their work and are, in fact, complementary.” While the EU Force provides a security umbrella, he said, the UN Mission trains those tasked with protecting refugees and the internally displaced inside UN-run camps.Earlier this week, Mr. Angelo signed a status of mission agreement, setting up the legal basis for MINURCAT’s operations, with authorities in Chad. read more

18 November 2008A group of experts and policymakers will kick off a United Nations-backed conference in Tokyo today aimed at mitigating the catastrophic effects of landslides worldwide. The First World Landslide Forum expects to strengthen research and learning on risk analysis and disaster management by bringing together academia, government, the UN, the private sector and individuals contributing to landslide research and education. The four-day conference follows the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Hyogo, Japan, which adopted an action plan for building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. Some 168 governments around the world committed to taking action to reduce disaster risk at that gathering, and adopted guidelines to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards, which became known as the Hyogo Framework for Action.The landside forum, held at the UN University in Tokyo, is organised within the scope of the Hyogo Framework and is expected to feed into the work of the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). read more

Drought and high food prices in much of the developing world coupled with a diversion to bio-fuels and the disincentive of high planting costs in the West look likely to reduce grain production in most of the world’s major producers.The latest issue of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report warned that acute food shortages persist in 32 countries worldwide and pointed to the situation in the Gaza Strip as cause for particular concern.In Eastern Africa more than 18 million people face serious food insecurity due either to conflict, unrest, adverse weather or a combination of the factors, while in Southern Africa the total number of food insecure is estimated at some 8.7 million. The report stressed that in Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe, the situation is very serious citing drought, civil unrest and economic crises as causes. The outlook for cereal crop production in low-income countries with food shortages is gloomy, with a likely reduction in maize crops in Southern Africa, and prolonged dry spells affecting wheat farmers in Asia. Almost half of China’s winter wheat harvest is already suffering from severe drought and India is experiencing a lack of rainfall.In South America, 2008 wheat production was halved by drought in Argentina, and persistent dry weather is damaging prospects for the region’s 2009 coarse grains.The report noted that despite the decline in international food prices in the second half of 2008, domestic prices remain very high in several developing countries, making food unaffordable for low-income groups. In Southern Africa and Central America, prices of their main food commodities have continued to rise or have not decreased in recent months, and in Western and Eastern Africa January prices were significantly higher than at the same time last year.Imported rice and wheat prices, staples in these sub-regions, are also on the increase, and remain high in several poor Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.The FAO report pointed out that while conditions are generally favourable for winter wheat throughout Europe and the United States, the amount of planted area in these countries has declined, reflecting the prospect of sharply reduced profits compared to last year and persistently high input costs.FAO also forecasted further increases in the use of cereals for bio-fuel production with a total of 104 million tons, up 22 per cent from the 2007/08 estimated level, representing almost 5 per cent of world cereal production. The United States alone is expected to increase production of bio-fuels to roughly 93 million tons, which is up 19 percent from the 2007/08 level. 12 February 2009Bad weather, violent conflict and volatile market prices could force a drop off in the global production of cereal crops this year, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicted today after already warning that some 1 billion people worldwide are going hungry. read more

“While MINURCAT is developing measures to ensure the continuation of operations in all sectors, the capacities of the force will be stretched,” UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Edmund Mulet told the Security Council, using the acronym of the mission set up two years ago to protect civilians and assist the distribution of aid for thousands of people uprooted by inter-ethnic conflict and the spill-over of fighting from Sudan’s neighbouring Darfur region.“We continue to do everything possible to expedite the deployment of all pledged contingents,” he said, noting that MINURCAT at present comprised only 2,750 troops, or 53 per cent of its authorized strength, due to difficulties faced by some contributing countries in acquiring and transporting equipment.This is all the more critical since replacements for departing engineering and transport units are only scheduled to arrive between December and March, he added.Mr. Mulet said that despite the challenges, the mission had continued to build confidence through high-profile operations to deter criminality and provide a security umbrella, particularly for humanitarian aid, including a UN initiative to combat sexual violence by promoting the enforcement of legislation in line with international human rights.He noted the expressed desire of the Chadian and Sudanese Governments to restore confidence but added: “Progress to normalize relations between Chad and Sudan must be matched by efforts to address the internal conflicts prevailing in both Sudan and Chad.”In his latest report to the Council released earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that continuing tensions between Chad and Sudan have stalled regional peace efforts, prolonging the humanitarian crisis in both nations.Mr. Mulet welcomed the establishment of an independent electoral body to oversee elections in Chad, and announced that UN agencies would soon begin discussions with the Government on the electoral process.On CAR he said the situation had stabilized to a degree but remained unpredictable as the underlying causes of insecurity, notably inter-ethnic tensions, had not been resolved. 22 October 2009The United Nations force seeking to provide security in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad, already at barely half its mandated strength, will be further constrained in the coming months due to the departure of some units, a top UN official warned today. read more

18 November 2009Although melting glaciers, rising sea levels and polar bears may be the faces of climate change, women – who bear the brunt of global warming – are on the front lines of its ravages. In some areas, women provide up to 80 per cent of agricultural labour, a task that will be made more difficult with the onset of inconsistent rainfall and fluctuating temperatures since they will have less resources and capacity to adapt.Already up to 14 times more likely to die in natural disasters, women could suffer more as hazards increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change. In the aftermath of disasters, many women who were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative have perished, while others who never learned how to swim also lost their lives.Household tasks often falling on women – including gathering water and fuel – will become increasingly onerous as global warming leads to shortages.Their health will also take a hit due to increases in diseases and food shortages, and as primary caregivers, they will also see their responsibilities increase as their family members suffer from rises in diseases such as malaria and cholera.“We’re dealing with age-old problems that have more significance” as a result of climate change, said Tracy Raczek, Partnership Analyst and Focal Point for Climate Change at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).Even before the current economic crisis, women and girls have comprised the majority of the world’s poor. Existing inequalities between men and women will only amplify the effects of climate change, she stressed.Nations are expected wrap up negotiations on an ambitious new climate change agreement in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.The current negotiating text includes over 20 references to gender, including “recognizing gender equity as an integral part of effective implementation of adaptation” and boosting women’s roles in decision-making processes.It also includes language on recognizing that women and children are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change.“We hope governments recognize that [these references] are a valuable inclusion,” Ms. Raczek said.Efforts to improve gender equality must be seen as a long-term process, but she underscored the need for systems to be put into place now to strengthen women’s participation and access so they can better deal with climate change.“Gender equality brings resilience to entire communities,” with fewer people losing their lives as a result of global warming, the UNIFEM official emphasized.An early-warning system run by women is credited with contributing to the zero-fatality rate in the Honduran municipality of La Masica when Hurricane Mitch struck in late 1998, according to a UNIFEM-supported study. That hurricane claimed an estimated 7,000 lives and caused some $3.8 billion in damage to infrastructure, agriculture and homes in the Central American nation.“If women are recognized as stakeholders, you have a more well-balanced problem-solving paradigm,” Ms. Raczek noted, highlighting the value of real-life experience and generational knowledge in combating climate change. In its just released State of World Population 2009 report, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) contends that the international community’s fight against climate change would be more successful if policies, programmes and treaties consider the needs, rights and potential of women.It also states that investment in women and girls – particularly in education and health – boosts economic development, reduces poverty and benefits the environment. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored that, with their skills, perspectives, and experiences, the voices of women – many of whom depend directly on the environment for their livelihoods – must be heard more clearly in responding to the impacts of climate change.“It is time to involve them as equal partners. When we do, our world as a whole will benefit,” he said in a message to an event in New York in September on peace and security through women’s leadership.Although the UN has succeeded in amplifying the voices of women on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, Mr. Ban said the special perspective of women is often overlooked in global discussions on climate change.“We must do more to give greater say to women in addressing the climate challenge,” he stated.“I urge Member States to foster an environment where women are key decision-makers on climate change, and play an equally central role in carrying out these decisions.” read more

12 February 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern today about events in Côte d’Ivoire, where the Government has suspended voter registration ahead of this year’s already delayed presidential election because of rising tensions. “The violence in [the town of] Vavoua and other locations in the country is a cause for serious concern. The mission has called upon the population to remain calm as a solution to the problems encountered by the electoral process is being sought. The mission is also on alert, and ready to assist the Ivorian authorities to contain violent incidents,” Martin Nesirky, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told journalists today in New York.The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Choi Young-Jin plans to meet with leaders of the major political parties this week to resume the Ivorian political process. Originally intended to be held in 2005, the polls have been repeatedly postponed. Last scheduled for November 2009, they have been slated for March. The election is seen as a crucial benchmark for the country, which was split into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south by civil war in 2002. read more

29 September 2010Ethiopia today accused Eritrea of continuing to undermine efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia by arming insurgents battling the transitional Government in Mogadishu and urged the Security Council to strictly enforce existing sanctions against Eritrea. “Despite the sanctions, Eritrea is still the principal architect of the complicated situation in Somalia by training, arming and nurturing the extremist elements such as Al Shabaab and Hisbul Islam who are causing havoc in the country today,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said in his statement to the General Assembly’s high-level debate.In a resolution in January last year, the Council imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and a travel ban and an assets freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders who violated the embargo or provided support to armed opposition groups destabilizing Somalia.The resolution followed a request by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) for the Council to take such action.“The time, therefore, is long overdue for the Security Council to take resolute action and see to it that its decisions are complied with if we are to maintain the integrity of the decisions of our organizations,” Mr. Mesfin said.Yesterday, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh told the General Assembly that the UN “continues to ignore” Ethiopia’s failure to comply with the ruling of an international commission that delineated the border between the two countries after their 1998-2000 war.“While the United Nations grapples with Sudan and Somalia, it continues to ignore grave consequences of Ethiopia’s continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory, eight years after the ruling of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and three years after the Commission ended its work by depositing in the United Nations the demarcated boundary between the two countries,” said Mr. Saleh.To end the border war, both parties agreed to abide by the ruling of the border commission, which was reached in April 2002. However, Ethiopia’s rejection of the decision stalled the physical demarcation of the border in 2003.“Ethiopia’s illegal occupation and the United Nations silence, which mean the continuation of the conflict, is exacting a heavy price on the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia and complicating the regional situation.“I wish to remind the United Nations that Eritrea awaits responsible and urgent action to end Ethiopia’s violation of international law and its threat to regional peace and security,” Mr. Saleh told the General Assembly’s high-level debate.Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a meeting yesterday with Mr. Mesfin during which they discussed regional peace and security, including the situations in Somalia and Sudan. They also discussed Ethiopia’s support of UN climate change initiatives and the country’s commendable progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to end extreme poverty by 2015.Mr. Ban also met with Mr. Saleh and thanked Eritrea for its participation in the MDG summit last week and in the General Assembly high-level debate.The Secretary-General and Mr. Saleh discussed, among other issues, peace and security challenges in the Horn of Africa, including in Somalia and Sudan, and the agreement on the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, mediated by Qatar.Mr. Ban encouraged Mr. Saleh to continue to engage the UN on all matters relevant to Eritrea. read more

18 January 2011The return to Haiti of former Haitian leader Jean Claude Duvalier clearly raises issues of impunity and accountability, the United Nations human rights office said today, adding that it was looking into the matter. There are major issues surrounding Mr. Duvalier and the considerable range of human rights abuses that took place in Haiti during the 15 years that he was in power, the spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told a news briefing in Geneva. There are also other issues like corruption, Mr. Colville added, noting that it was not clear if Haiti was in a position to arrest and charge Mr. Duvalier. Human rights groups have long called for Mr. Duvalier to be arrested in relation to human rights abuses carried out during his rule. The former president of Haiti made a surprise return to Haiti on Sunday, after 25 years of exile in France and amidst a political crisis in his country. Asked about Mr. Duvalier’s return, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told journalists today that it came as a total surprise to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as was the case for many people. Mr. Nesirky added that it was a source of concern to see him resurfacing in the landscape, especially now, at a critical time for the stability of the country, as all energies are focused on looking for a settlement of the current electoral crisis.Beyond the January 2010 earthquake that killed 220,000 people and made 1.5 million others homeless and a cholera epidemic which erupted in October and has already infected almost 200,000 people, killing over 3,700, Haiti is embroiled in turmoil following the first round of elections in November.In December thousands of protesters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital, accusing the ruling government coalition of rigging the results, after provisional tallies put former first lady Mirlande Manigat and the candidate of outgoing President Rene Préval’s party, Jude Celestin, in first and second place, thus qualifying for a run-off scheduled for this month.Popular musician Michel Martelly was less than one percentage point behind in third place, but thus excluded from the run-off. The Organization of American States has reviewed the count and sent a report to Mr. Préval. MINUSTAH, currently with nearly 12,000 military and police personnel, has been on the ground since mid-2004 after thee then-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, went into exile amid violent unrest. read more

14 February 2012The United Nations said today it is working with Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania to relocate refugees fleeing renewed fighting in Mali to safer locations away from the border areas, as thousands continue to arrive on a daily basis. The recent outbreak of conflict in northern Mali between Government forces and Tuareg rebels has sent thousands of civilians fleeing to neighbouring countries, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) having received reports of “significant” new arrivals over the weekend in northern Niger. “UNHCR does not at this stage have confirmed numbers for overall arrivals from Mali into Niger, but from available estimates we know there are multiples of thousands,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva. He said people are living in makeshift shelters, facing extremes of heat by day and cold at night. The health situation is relatively stable but there are incidences of malaria, eye infection, diarrhoea and respiratory infection, said Mr. Edwards, adding that the sanitation and clean water situation is “inadequate.” UNHCR health experts are working with Niger’s health authorities and medical agencies on the ground to coordinate the response. They are also working with the Government on plans to move the refugees to sites away from the volatile border. The agency has identified a site to set up a camp near Ouallam town, 100 kilometres north of Niger’s capital, Niamey. “Some refugees have told us that they are reluctant to move since they hope to return home as soon as the security conditions permit them to,” said Mr. Edwards. “Refugees we met told us that many people are now displaced at the Mali border areas and that they might cross over to Niger should the confrontation situation in Mali deteriorate,” he added. According to the authorities in Burkina Faso, 8,000 people have entered that country so far, many of them women and children. The Government has asked UNHCR to help with the relocation of thousands of these refugees from spontaneous settlements in the north of the country, to two sites in Goudebo and Ingani, further away from the border. Meanwhile, UNHCR said that over 13,000 people have arrived in the past two weeks – an average of 1,000 a day – in Mauritania, where they are living in makeshift shelters. The agency is working with the Mauritanian authorities and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to prepare a camp in M’Bera, 50 kilometres from the border. read more

TORONTO — Goldcorp Inc. says an Ontario judge has dismissed Barrick Gold Corp.’s claims that its acquisition of the El Morro project in Chile was illegal because its rival already had an agreement.Barrick Gold Corp. of Toronto, the world’s largest gold producer, claimed in the Ontario court that it had a deal in October 2009 to acquire a majority stake in the project from European miner Xstrata PLC.However, Xstrata’s minority partner, New Gold, claimed a right of first refusal, acquired the majority stake and sold it to Goldcorp, which provided the funding to facility the transaction.New Gold retained its original 30% and received $50-million in cash for assisting Goldcorp.“We are pleased that the court has confirmed our position that our acquisition of El Morro was completely proper and consistent with the relevant agreements and Chilean law and that Goldcorp’s 70% ownership share of the project has now been clarified for our shareholders,” said Chuck Jeannes, Goldcorp president and chief executive officer.El Morro is a copper-gold development project in the Huasco Province, Atacama region of northern Chile, approximately 800 kilometres north of Santiago.Goldcorp Inc. announced in April it has suspended construction of the El Morro gold-copper mine after the country’s Supreme Court rejected the $3.9-billion project’s environmental permit.The Vancouver-based company said it continues to work with Chilean authorities and local communities to correct deficiencies in the permit.Shares in the company, which made the announcement after markets closed, were down 1.86% or 73 cents to $38.44. read more

Environment Minister Diana McQueen says Alberta is a long way from imposing higher carbon levies on its energy industry.Responding to a story in the Globe and Mail, McQueen on Thursday acknowledged that she’s working with her federal counterpart on a new climate change policy. But she said those talks are preliminary and nothing specific has been determined.“We are currently in the early stages of exploring a variety of options through a collaborative process with industry, the federal government and our department experts,” she said in a statement.“These discussions are ongoing and revised targets have not yet been finalized.”McQueen said last month that she’s asked her staff for a “renewed climate change strategy.” She added that could involve raising the province’s $15-a-tonne levy on greenhouse gas emissions.Alberta consistently points to that legislation as unique in North America, but critics question its effectiveness.Under the legislation, industrial facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon a year are required to reduce their “carbon intensity” — emissions per unit of production — by 12 per cent a year.The $15-a-tonne levy applies only to carbon that exceeds what the facility would have emitted if it had met the intensity target. Groups such as the Pembina Institute suggest the levy actually works out to less than a couple of dollars per tonne averaged over a facility’s entire carbon output.Companies that exceed their carbon allowance can also buy carbon offsets such as wind power to make up the difference. Some of those offsets cost as little as $8 a tonne.Most independent experts and some government departments agree that neither Alberta nor the federal government will achieve their greenhouse gas reduction targets without substantial changes, including a higher price on carbon.Still, McQueen said, the current levy has collected $312 million, with $181 million of that committed to 49 green technology projects.“We realize we need to continue to meet our environmental responsibilities, while at the same time ensuring economic competitiveness within a global marketplace.”New Democrat Rachel Notley suggested the timing of the story was related to another trip to Washington, D.C, by Premier Alison Redford to lobby for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.“They have nothing to offer in terms of substance,” said Notley. “As a result, what we have is the environment minister briefly, publicly, talking about making a significant change and that gives the premier something to talk about.“It’ll never happen.”Notley likened the province’s effort to develop a new climate change strategy to other partially completed environmental initiatives.The environmental monitoring plan for the oilsands remains without a solid funding plan or governance model. Crucial guidelines and regulations for a land-use plan in the oilsands region remain blanks.Standards supposedly required for new oilsands projects such as Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine still aren’t in place, said Notley, despite the fact Kearl is now producing.“These guys talk and talk and talk and talk,” she said. “That’s 90 per cent of their environmental plan.“The press releases they put out, if they weren’t put out, would have a measurable impact on emissions.”16:58ET 04-04-13 read more

CALGARY — The head of the National Energy Board says a proposed overhaul of how the federal regulator consults, operates and is organized will make it better prepared to respond to modern expectations.Speaking at the sidelines of an industry safety workshop Wednesday, NEB chairman Peter Watson says recommendations last month by a modernization panel could fix some of the limitations of the regulator and help it keep up with the times.“Some of the things at the root of our challenges are embedded in our enabling legislation, so I actually think that whatever comes out of these reviews, it’s kind of time to refresh for the 21st century,” said Watson.“We know expectations have changed on us and we need to keep pace with where things are going.”He says changes to rules on governance, public participation and the role of indigenous peoples will help the NEB respond better to concerns of the public.The federal regulator’s own plans for more reporting on how it’s performing and driving safety culture in the industry will also help the public keep the NEB accountable, said Watson.“People should understand how we’re performing and then use that information to assess whether they think we’re good enough or not.”Watson says he’s not concerned by the suggestions the panel put forth. These include splitting off data production into a separate organization, a one-year federal review of projects to determine if they’re in the public interest before a detailed review by the regulator, and no longer requiring board members to live in Calgary.The panel made the recommendations after finding that the regulator had fundamentally lost the confidence of many Canadians.Watson added that while waiting for the government overhaul, the NEB is also taking its own initiative to improve pipeline safety and regulations — including a two-day workshop being held in Calgary to discuss how to improve manufacturing standards for pipeline parts.“Even while the modernization review is going on, we’re making significant steps on how we drive safety culture into the oil and gas industry, and into the companies we regulate,” he said.The NEB organized the workshop after the regulator and pipeline companies found flaws in parts being supplied by several global manufacturers.Since the Canadian regulator has no direct control over the manufacturing process, it has brought together academics, manufacturers, international regulators and others to identify the issues and find solutions, including better standards.On Wednesday, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association also released its annual report that showed members leaked 38 barrels, or 6,042 litres, of crude oil in three minor incidents, with no incidents classified as significant for the second year in a row. read more

OTTAWA — The federal finance minister says steps taken to tame Canada’s hottest housing markets have already helped slow down a sector he believes was moving at an unsustainable clip.Bill Morneau’s comments Tuesday follow this week’s release of data showing Canada’s home sales for June posted their biggest monthly plunge in seven years. The national figure was led by a drop in the Greater Toronto market.The new data provided the latest evidence that steps taken at federal, provincial and municipal levels have begun to temper the country’s real estate sector, particularly in the Vancouver and Toronto regions.“What we’ve put in place has had some impact — and some impact in having a slight cooling in the market, which of course was our objective,” Morneau told The Canadian Press in an interview at his Ottawa office.“We thought that the price increases in Vancouver and Toronto, specifically, were unsustainable.”Earlier Tuesday, Morneau told a news conference that changes in the housing sector were playing out “largely the way we thought it might.” He also noted, however, that it was “too early” in the emerging situation to draw conclusions.On a national basis, last month’s housing transactions were down 6.7 per cent compared with May, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday. It was the third-straight monthly decrease and the Greater Toronto Area registered a 15.1 per cent drop.Compared to May, sales fell last month in 70 per cent of all local markets measured by the association, including the Lower Mainland in B.C., Montreal and Quebec City.Earlier this year, the Ontario government put in place more than a dozen measures to curb the Toronto market, including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers. Since then, sales in Canada’s largest city have slowed.A number of federal measures have also been introduced in recent years to address housing market concerns during the extended period of low interest rates. They’ve included higher minimum down payment requirements, reduced amortization periods and stress tests on insured mortgages.Separately, mortgage interest rates have started to rise following last week’s hike in the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate.The federal banking regulator recently proposed to expand stress tests to include uninsured mortgages as part of the effort to tighten lending rules.Asked about the recommendation by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Morneau said the measures under consideration are slightly different because they’re clearly aimed at the higher-end part of the market.In the months ahead, Morneau said the federal government will remain vigilant.“We’re going to be careful as we do this every step along the way,” he said.“We need to continue to focus on this market. We’re not going to assume that the measures that we’ve put in place so far have necessarily given us comfort that the market’s exactly where we want it to be.”Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter read more