News / Africa

Middle East, Africa in Spotlight at UN General Assembly

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy speaks during the 68th session of the General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2013.
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy speaks during the 68th session of the General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
Atop the agenda at the second day of the U.N. General Assembly in New York were the Syria crisis, the International Criminal Court, the recent mall attack in Kenya and other issues as more than 30 presidents and prime ministers took their turn at the podium and attended meetings.

EU President Herman van Rompuy spoke strongly about the need to end the Syrian conflict, and said that when world leaders met last September, there were 25,000 dead and 250,000 refugees. Today, that has skyrocketed to more than 100,000 killed and 2 million refugees.

“We cannot let this spiral of criminal, sectarian violence pursue its dreadful course at the heart of the world’s most unstable region.  What will the situation be when we meet again next year?” asked van Rompuy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a working lunch with the foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States to discuss the crisis and U.N. efforts to end hostilities and move toward a political settlement.  They also discussed efforts to inspect and safeguard Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.

Nearly two dozen countries became signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty Wednesday, which upon going into effect will regulate the international weapons trade. The U.N. says more than a half million people are killed globally each year by conventional arms.

The United States is the largest arms exporter in the world, so it was significant that Secretary of State John Kerry was among the new signatories.

“This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors.  This is about reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes,” said Kerry.

Also on Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn spoke as the rotating head of the African Union about discontent with the International Criminal Court and its perceived targeting of African leaders.

“Unfortunately, the manner in which the International Criminal Court has been operating left a very bad impression in Africa.  Instead of promoting justice and reconciliation and contributing to peace and stability, it has degenerated into a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans.  This is totally unacceptable, and that is why Africa has been expressing its serious reservation against the ICC,” said Desalegn.

Leaders also strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where scores of people were killed by gunmen from al-Shabab, a militant Islamist outfit.

The crisis in the Central African Republic was the subject of a ministerial-level meeting.  U.N. officials say more than 1.6 million people are in urgent need of assistance there following the overthrow of the prior government by the rebel Seleka coalition in March.

The U.N. says that a General Assembly appearance by Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, that had been scheduled for Thursday has been canceled.  The Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide in Darfur and could have risked arrest by traveling to New York. Instead, his foreign minister will address the world body on Friday.

Leaders Tackle World Crises at UN Meetingsi
X
September 26, 2013 5:15 AM
Dozens of world leaders are discussing the Syria crisis, the International Criminal Court, the recent bloody attack in Kenya and other issues at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid