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Global Updates: Middle East and North Africa

Written By David D'Angelo on Thursday, June 19, 2008 | 6/19/2008

Iran

The top UN human rights official has asked Iran not to execute four people sentenced to death for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18, reminding the country of its obligations under international law. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed her concern June 10 over reports that the four men - Behnoud Shojaaee, Mohammad Fadaaee, Saeed Jazee and Behnam Zaare - are at imminent risk of execution. (UN News Service)

Iraq

UN inspectors monitoring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq have submitted a final report after the shutdown of their operations last year, nearly two decades after they first started work on the issue. UNMOVIC, which carried out inspections in Iraq until March 2003, said that it had created a unique monitoring mechanism for weapons of mass destruction and long-range delivery systems. “The international community could benefit if practical ways were found to preserve for appropriate future use the experience and expertise accumulated over the years of the Special Commission and UNMOVIC operations," the report says. (UN News Service)

Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Monetary Authority is working on a plan to become a full central bank in 2010, the governor said in an interview with Dow Jones. The creation of an independent central bank, still a rarity in the Middle East, would be another step for the Palestinian Authority toward further improvement in its financial governance track record after economic reformer Salam Fayyad became Prime Minister last year. (Dow Jones)

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will call for a summit between oil producing countries and consumer states to discuss soaring energy prices, Information and Culture Minister Iyad Madani said June 9. The kingdom will also work with Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to "guarantee the availability of oil supplies now and in the future," the minister said following the weekly cabinet meeting, held in the seaport city of Jiddah. The Saudi announcement comes just three days after the biggest single-day price leap ever, when oil surged more than USD 11 to surpass USD 139 per barrel. (WSJ)

Yemen

The Gulf of Aden continues to be a death trap for African migrants who risk all in flimsy boats to try and reach Yemen. Recent poor weather has caused several fatal accidents, the Somali consul in Aden, Hussein Haji, said. Dozens of African migrants have died so far in June while trying to reach the 2,500km-long Yemeni coast, according to Haji. He told press that on June 8 a vessel carrying 120 passengers - equal numbers of Somalis and Ethiopians - had been adrift in international waters between Somalia and Yemen. Haji said the passengers had had nothing to eat or drink, and that eight people had died as a result. (IRIN)

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