UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Kanni Wignaraja of Sri Lanka as the new director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at UN Development Programme (UNDP), his press office said Monday.
Wignaraja succeeds Haoliang Xu of China, who has been recently appointed as director of UNDP's Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.
Wignaraja recently served as director of the Bureau for Management Services of UNDP and as special adviser to the UNDP administrator, roles that she has performed throughout 2019, after working as the director of the UN Development Operations Coordination Office from 2014 to 2018, the office said in a statement.
Wignaraja holds a Master's degree in public administration (development economics) from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts (economics) from Bryn Mawr College of the United States.
The UN envoy for Libya on Monday called for rejection of foreign involvement, including mercenaries and arms shipment, in the Libyan conflict.
Ghassan Salame, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), pointed out a growing involvement of mercenaries and fighters from foreign private military companies in the escalated fighting since the spring.
"The insertion of these experienced fighters has naturally led to intensification in the violence," he told the Security Council.
Moreover, he observed that the use of air power and precision technology has become a dominant feature of the ongoing conflict.
The UNSMIL estimates the total number of drone strikes in support of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) forces is well above 800, while the total number of drone strikes in support of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is around 240.
"It is our judgement that the drone infrastructure and operations are facilitated by external parties to the conflict," he added.
In early April, the LNA launched an operation in an attempt to take over Tripoli. The GNA has since been fighting the eastern-based fighters around the Libyan capital.
Libya has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The instability resulted in a divided country, with the GNA overseeing the west and a rival government in the east. Each is backed by an array of armed groups fighting over resources and territories.
Salame said the current violence is facilitated by Libya's plethora of Gaddafi-era arms as well as by continued shipments of war materiel brought into the country in breach of the UN-imposed arms embargo.
"External investment in the conflict risks surpassing the amount of national involvement, taking control of Libya's future away from the Libyans and putting it in the hands of foreign parties," he warned.
"It is in the interests of all Libyans to reject outside interference in their country's affairs," said the UN envoy. "I look to them for their support in calling for external actors to adhere to the arms embargo and commit tangibly to ending the conflict on the ground."
In Tripoli, the effects of the renewed conflict continue to impact the civilian population, he said.
More than 200 civilians have been killed and more than 128,000 people have fled their homes since the conflict began on April 4. Over 135,000 civilians remain in frontline areas, and an additional 270,000 people live in areas directly affected by conflict, according to Salame.
Marking the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal's opening to international navigation, Egyptian antiquities ministry organized an exhibition to showcase a collection of artifacts.
Held at the Cairo's Manial Palace and Museum, the exhibition displayed a variety of Mohamed Said Pasha, the Egyptian ruler who permitted the building the canal, and Khedive Ismail, the ruler who opened the canal for navigation.
"This exhibition is meant to mark the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal, which was opened on Nov. 17, 1869, in addition to providing people with information and historical background about the Suez Canal throughout history," Wala al-Din Badawi, director of Manial Palace and Museum, told Xinhua.
"Among the most prominent pieces on display is a collection of coins that mark the anniversary of the opening of the canal and as well as a group of cups bearing the name and image of Khedive Ismail," the official said.
He added that a rare oil painting of Khedive Ismail with his crown prince Mohammed Tawfiq, standing in front of a sculpture of the founder of Modern Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha, was also put on display.
"The exhibition also includes one of the rarest oil paintings and one of the most prominent works of art of a famous French painter depicting a scene of the opening of the Canal," Badawi said.
The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It was opened for navigation in November 1869 after 10 years of construction.
It is one of the most important waterways in the world since it allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa, thereby reducing the sea voyage distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 km.
In August of 2015, Egypt opened a new 35-km waterway alongside the original 190 km Suez Canal, plus a 37-km expansion and deepening of some parts of the existing one.
The new artificial waterway, which is part of a larger project to expand Suez port and shipping facilities and build large industrial zones, is designed to raise Egypt's international profile, and build the nation as a major trade hub.
For many Egyptians, the Suez Canal is one of the great achievements Egypt has made to serve humanity throughout history.
During a national celebration ceremony on Sunday to mark the anniversary, Chairman of Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabie said the SCA is now working to turn the old administrative building of the governmental body into a global museum that will be home to antiquities dating back to the time of digging the canal.
He noted that the museum will be opened by the first half of the next year.
"Egyptians are very proud of building this canal and the vital role it has played in serving world trade and shipping," Lamiaa Olwy, a lady in her early 30s, told Xinhua while touring the exhibition.
Olwy, who is a fan of antiquities, said she decided to visit the exhibition after she was told by her friends that it will show some items that were used during the opening ceremony of the canal.
"It is the first time to see such precious pieces that have historical background for such an important event," she said while looking admiringly at an oil painting at the exhibition.
"Such exhibitions are of great value and are highly important for Egyptians. These events take us back to the era when the Egyptians did great things for humanity," she added.
Yemen's Houthi rebels said they seized a Saudi ship along with two other vessels in the Yemeni waters, 3 miles (about 4.83 km) off Uqban Island on the Red Sea, Houthi TV al-Masirah reported on Monday.
"The ships, including the Saudi ship named Rabigh 3, were moved to Salif port for taking legal procedures," the television cited a statement by the Houthi-run coast guards as saying, without identifying the other vessels.
The statement comes hours after a senior Houthi official said his group was checking the seized ships.
"Our forces are inspecting the seized ship to make sure if it belongs to the Saudi-led coalition or to South Korea ... we will release the ship along with its crew if it belongs to South Korea," Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi revolutionary committee, said earlier on Twitter.
Earlier on Monday, the Saudi-led coalition involved in a war in Yemen accused the Houthi militia of hijacking a vessel south the Red Sea.
"The incident was reported on Sunday evening and targeted Rabigh 3 vessel that was towing a drilling rig owned by a South Korean company," the Saudi Press Agency quoted Turki Al Maliki, spokesman for the coalition, as saying in a statement.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 after the Houthi rebels overran the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.
Bolivia's interim government is looking to conduct presidential elections as the country is locked in political unrest after the resignation of Evo Morales, an official said on Monday.
Jerjes Justiniano, interim presidential minister, said the government wants to appoint new members to the Supreme Electoral Court, but the move is being blocked by the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, which holds a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly.
"Unfortunately, no progress has been made with the MAS bloc," said Justiniano. "Without them, it is impossible to take this legislative step. We are looking at other mechanisms that can lead to elections being held as soon as possible."
One possible solution put forward by former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga is to bypass legislation and issue a "supreme decree."
Bolivia has been plagued by anti-government protests since Morales won a fourth presidential term in the Oct. 20 elections. The opposition refused to recognize his victory, claiming fraud.
Morales announced his resignation on Nov. 10 after the military demanded his departure. He arrived later in Mexico, which offered him political asylum.