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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs