The United Nations refugee agency says number of people seeking asylum in industrialized nations in 2012 rose to nearly 500,000, the highest level in 10 years, writes Stephanie Nebehay. Afghans were the largest group of asylum seekers, followed by Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Somalians. "I urge countries to keep their borders open for people fleeing for their lives," says Antonio Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees.
Empowering girls is a proven method of alleviating poverty and that is why the United Nations is seeking to empower girls and women, UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin told a National Press Club audience. "[W]hile it's never been part of my job title, women and girls have always been part of my focus and part of my passion," Calvin says. "Girl power, to me, is one of global development's most potent weapons in the fight against poverty," she added.
Global prosperity can only be achieved when development and environmental targets are jointly pursued, writes John Vidal. "Sustainable development goals" must be developed to help achieve the goals of "universal clean energy, an end to water and food shortages, thriving lives and livelihoods, and healthy and productive ecosystems," he writes.
Rwanda warned that it will withdraw its 3,000-troop contingent from the beleaguered UN–African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur if the UN makes good on efforts to remove Major General Emmanuel Karake Karenzi, the second-highest ranking commander of the mission and an alleged war criminal. Karenzi, a Rwandan, was indicted earlier this year on alleged war crimes committed in the 1990s, charges that Rwanda claims are baseless.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited a national memorial in remembrance of the Rwandan genocide. He said the international community, including the United Nations, will be haunted "for generations" for failing to stop the massacre of some 800,000 Rwandans. Ban hailed Rwanda for its economic and political recovery.