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May 18, 2015

Merkel urges tighter WHO management after ‘Ebola catastrophe’

GENEVA (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the World Health Organization must streamline its management to respond quickly to crises like West Africa’s “Ebola catastrophe” that has killed more than 11,000 people.

The WHO and its director-general Margaret Chan have come under heavy fire for their slow response to the Ebola epidemic, which began in Guinea in December 2013 but was not declared an international public health emergency until August 2014.

May 15, 2015

UN seeks speedier inspections on Yemen-bound goods

GENEVA, May 15 (Reuters) – The United Nations humanitarian
coordinator for Yemen urged a Saudi-led coalition to ease its
inspections of Yemen-bound cargo to speed up imports of vital
goods which are still being held up despite a humanitarian

As electricity is lacking across Yemen, fuel is critical to
run generators in hospitals, pumps for the water and sanitation
system, and the communications grid, Johannes van der Klaauw
told a U.N. briefing in Geneva via audio link from Sanaa.

May 13, 2015

Sapphire sets record at Christie’s, Spanish royal brooch stranded

GENEVA, May 13 (Reuters) – Rare coloured gems led by a
record-setting sapphire found new owners at Christie’s on
Wednesday, but a heavily publicised brooch from Spain’s royal
family was left on the block.

“The inexorable rise in demand for coloured gemstones and
pearls continued this evening,” Rahul Kadakia, international
head of Christie’s jewelry department who conducted the Geneva
auction, said in a statement.

May 12, 2015

Ruby sets record, pink diamond and pearls shine at Sotheby’s sale

GENEVA, May 12 (Reuters) – A Burmese ruby weighing 25.59
carats sold for a world record 28.25 million Swiss francs
($30.42 million) at Tuesday’s auction that saw strong demand for
coloured stones and exceptional natural pearls, Sotheby’s said.

“The Sunrise Ruby”, the star lot that had the rare grading
of ‘pigeon’s blood’ colour, was hotly disputed by two telephone
bidders. From a private collection of Cartier jewels, it had
been estimated at 11.7 million to 17.5 million Swiss francs.

May 12, 2015

As Ebola disappears, no useful data seen from vaccine trials: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – With Ebola nearly stamped out in West Africa, vaccine trials will probably fail to provide enough useful data on how well they protect people against the deadly virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Liberia was declared free from Ebola by the government and the WHO on Saturday after 42 days without a new case of the virus, which killed more than 4,700 people there during a year-long epidemic.

Apr 28, 2015

Red Cross ‘lost moral compass’ in war but says drew lessons

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Red Cross “lost its moral compass” during World War Two, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Nazis, but is speaking out more now about conflicts including Syria, its president said on Tuesday.

Peter Maurer said the International Committee of the Red Cross had not recognized Nazi Germany for what it was and failed to protect civilians and especially Jews from persecution and murder.

Apr 24, 2015

U.N. invites Syrian parties to peace talks in Geneva in May

GENEVA (Reuters) – United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited Syria’s government and opposition groups for separate talks in Geneva next month in the latest bid to end the four-year-old civil war, a U.N. spokesman said on Friday.

De Mistura, who is due to brief the U.N. Security Council later on Friday, plans for “low-key” talks with each of the main stakeholders over four to six weeks in the Swiss city, Ahmad Fawzi told a news briefing.

Apr 24, 2015

U.N. welcomes EU migrant plan, says test is whether lives saved

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations on Friday welcomed the European Union’s plan to triple the size of its naval search mission in the Mediterranean, but said the key test was whether lives were saved and those fleeing war had a chance of gaining asylum.

The EU’s assurances meant the operation would have capacity, resources and scope comparable to Italy’s Mare Nostrum, which was ended six months ago, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

Apr 22, 2015

ICRC says Yemen situation is disastrous, seeks better access and funding

GENEVA (Reuters) – The humanitarian situation in Yemen is “catastrophic”, with deep divisions fuelling the conflict there despite a declared halt to Saudi-led air strikes, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Tuesday that it was stopping its month-long bombing campaign offered a “glimmer of hope”, but had yet to be confirmed, said Robert Mardini, ICRC regional director for North Africa and the Middle East.

Apr 21, 2015

U.N. urges Europe to put asylum at centre of migrant debate

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged European leaders to put the protection of migrants at the centre of debate over the crisis in the Mediterranean and to do more to help Greece and Italy cope.

After as many as 900 people drowned in a ship off the coast of Libya this weekend, EU ministers on Monday called an extraordinary summit for Thursday and made an action plan.