21 May 2007Voicing hope that the ceasefire reached by Palestinian factions operating in the Gaza Strip will hold after a week of deadly clashes, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all sides to abide by its terms and urged the Palestinian Authority to “take the necessary steps to restore law and order.” In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban thanked Egypt for its work in brokering the ceasefire, which took effect on Saturday after a week of fighting in which dozens of people have been killed in Gaza.The statement noted that Mr. Ban is deeply concerned about recent Palestinian rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, calling them “completely unacceptable” and a violation of international law.“The Secretary-General is also deeply concerned by the mounting number of civilian casualties from Israeli military operations, especially the targeted attack on the home of a Hamas legislator in Gaza, which killed six members of one family,” the statement added.“While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, he calls on Israel to abide by international law and to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them at undue risk.”
Efforts to train 20,000 police officers for Afghanistan’s elections are gathering additional momentum this month with a series of expanded intensive courses in the north and the southeast, according to the United Nations mission in the country (UNAMA). Beginning today in the southeast, 750 policemen from Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktika, Khost and Paktia are set to undergo a three-week training course at the Gardez Police Academy to upgrade their skills, UNAMA said. The course, part of the academy’s Transition Integration Programme, is the third in a series that began in Mid-November. The Programme, which is led and funded by the United States, complements training by Germany, the lead nation assisting in the reform of the Afghan police, which is preparing new recruits at the Kabul Police Academy. Next week in the north, 1,000 police from Balk, Sar-i-Pul, Faryab, Jawjan and Samangan are expected to start the same training at the Mazar Police Academy. Qualified Afghan police and US experts as well as members of United Kingdom Mazar-based team are providing the training. So far slightly more than 1 million of Afghanistan’s estimated eligible electorate of 10.5 million have registered to vote. UNAMA officials have said that it would be close to impossible to hold elections in June as planned because current security conditions do not permit registration teams to move throughout the country. Asked at a news briefing in Kabul yesterday how many police would be trained, UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the election target was 20,000. “That is the hope – let’s see if reality will prove that this hope is true,” he added. The spokesman also noted that women are signing up for the polls at an accelerated pace. “Female registration has been growing faster than male and has increased by 25 per cent versus 12 per cent (male) since 13 December,” he said.