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World News in Brief: UN helicopter captured in Somalia, Ecuador violence condemned, new Human Rights Council president

The helicopter was captured after it was forced to make an emergency landing in an area controlled by the armed group, according to international media reports.

“I can confirm that there was an incident involving a UN-contracted helicopter that took place today in Galmudug in Somalia,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York at the regular daily briefing. 

“Response efforts are underway, but I think you will all understand for the sake of the safety of all those involved we are not going to say anymore at this point,” he said, adding that “our primary concern is for their safety so we will leave it at that for now.”

Guterres condemns Ecuador violence, voices solidarity with the people 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned the recent wave of criminal violence in Ecuador, his spokesperson said on Wednesday.

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The South American country has been rocked by deadly gang attacks following the apparent prison escape of a prominent gang leader this past weekend.  Several police officers also have been abducted.

The crisis prompted President Daniel Noboa to declare a 60-day state of emergency on Monday.

In a sign of how normal life has been disrupted by the proliferation of gangs and drugs trafficking-related violence in recent months, a television station in the coastal city of Guayaquil was overrun on Tuesday and briefly seized by gang members while cameras rolled.

The military has indicated that it will meet force with force saying that every “terrorist group” is a legitimate target with the future of the country now at stake, according to news reports.

During his daily media briefing on Wednesday, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General spoke by phone with Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the UN that morning.

Mr. Guterres “is alarmed by the deteriorating situation in the country, as well as its disruptive impact on the lives of Ecuadorians,” he said.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns these criminal acts of violence that we’ve seen and he sends a message of solidarity to the Ecuadorian people,” he added.

Omar Zniber (left), Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, speaks during the opening of the 54th session of the Human Rights Council.
UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré

Omar Zniber (left), Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, speaks during the opening of the 54th session of the Human Rights Council.

Human Rights Council elects new president 

A career diplomat from Morocco has been elected as the president of the UN Human Rights Council for this year.

Ambassador Omar Zniber was chosen on Wednesday by secret ballot – a procedure that only takes place when the Council’s 47 members cannot reach consensus on who will guide proceedings of the UN’s premier human rights forum, which is based in Geneva. 

Mr. Zniber edged ahead of the South African candidate, Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi. Both men were nominated by the Group of African States which holds the Council presidency in 2024. 

“It is an honour for both the Kingdom of Morocco and for me personally to have been elected as head of this august Council for its 18th cycle – a position belonging to Africa,” he said after being elected.

The next regular session of the Council begins on 26 February, when top rights experts will report on human rights situations of concern around the world that require the attention of the international community.

Mr. Zniber has been serving as the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN Office at Geneva since 2018.

His previous appointments have included serving as Morocco’s Ambassador to Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia and Austria, and Chief of the United Nations Division in his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. 

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