UNGA Meeting Amid Unprecedented Crises

UNGA Meeting Amid Unprecedented CrisesUNGA Meeting Amid Unprecedented Crises

Facing a world in turmoil from multiple crises ranging from wars in the Mideast and Africa to the deadly scourge of Ebola and growing extremism, leaders from more than 140 countries opened their annual meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday.

The issue certain to top the agenda is the threat from IS terrorists intent on erasing borders, with the first US and Arab airstrikes in Syria delivered Monday night in response.

Many diplomats hope that crisis won’t drown out the plight of millions of civilians caught in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza; the misery of the largest number of refugees since World War II; and global support for goals to fight poverty and address climate change.

Looking at the array of complex challenges, Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende told The Associated Press: “It’s unprecedented in decades, that’s for sure.”

He pointed to an unprecedented situation regarding four top-level humanitarian crises at the same time in Iraq, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria, which is now in the fourth year of a civil war which the UN says has killed more than 190,000 people

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a bleak preview to reporters last week: The world is facing “multiple crises,” with all featuring attacks on civilians and having dangerous sectarian, ethnic or tribal dimensions.

In addition to the major conflicts, Ban said the world must not forget the continuing violence in Mali, the volatile situation in and around Ukraine, the chaos in Libya, and the advances of Boko Haram in Nigeria which “grow more alarming every day.”

The opening of the annual UN meeting, which ends Sept. 30, follows the highest-level meeting ever on climate change, with some 120 world leaders responding to the secretary-general’s call for increased political momentum to address the warming planet.

This year’s VIPs include Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, French President Francois Hollande, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Two prominent no-shows are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because of the Ebola crisis that has hit her country hardest and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who gave no public reason.

While the assembly’s newly renovated chamber will be the scene of constant speech-making, most of the real “business” during the General Assembly takes place in private meetings and dinners.