Roundup: Action on security issues in Middle East, Africa urged on last day of UN General Debate

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- As the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) concluded its annual General Debate on Monday, the long-standing challenges to international peace and security in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere were highlighted as major issues that require global action.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that his country is the subject of "a large-scale hybrid war" prompted by its decision to be a strong, sovereign and prosperous state.

He said human rights have become "a real weapon against undesirable and disobedient countries" in the hands of "short-sighted politicians," while unilateral restrictive measures, which violate international law and inflict serious damage on international relations, have become another "favorite toy of western states."

Citing Martin Luther King, Jr., he urged the international community to "live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today's crises underline the importance of collective responsibility, particularly in maintaining international peace and security.

He called for a summit of the five permanent members of the Security Council so that the Council can fully exercise its mandate, and begin a dialogue on key issues of arms control and collective security.

The world must focus on human rights violations, which constitute a serious threat to international peace, he added.

Minister for State of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa Shaheen Almarar said interference in Arab affairs -- especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq -- must halt and full respect for Arab countries must be ensured.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing recruitment of young people by extremist and terrorist groups," he said, adding that the Middle East must become a region without weapons of mass destruction.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the COVID-19 pandemic revealed both human solidarity and a sinister push to settle political scores.

On a national level, Syria's fight against terrorism remains a challenge, as some states continue to support terrorist groups. Humanitarian action in Syria must fully respect its national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, he said.

In response to illegal sanctions, he said Syria holds countries that support Israel responsible for war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Yemen Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak drew attention to the hardship his country has endured since the Houthi coup of 2014.

He called on the international community to put more pressure on the Houthis, to steer development and humanitarian funds through the central bank to help the economy, and to avert a catastrophic oil spill from the Houthi-controlled oil storage tanker, the Safer, in the Red Sea.

Spotlighting the severe impact of climate change on the Sahel region, Nigerian Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou called for attention to the ongoing attacks by terrorist groups on schools in West and Central Africa.

The international community must honor its commitments to supporting young people's right to education, he said. He also expressed strong support for efforts to reform the Security Council that aim to bring a bigger African presence in that organ.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea Osman Saleh Mohammed said that with the world facing the triple challenge of COVID-19, climate change and inter-state rivalry, "all of us must climb down from our high horses and ponder on these issues in a holistic manner."

Touching upon regional border disputes and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he said that acrimonious and internationalized forums will likely hinder efforts towards an arrangement that meets the requirements of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

In a hybrid format, 194 heads of state, heads of government, ministers and representatives of member states have taken the rostrum since Sept. 21, taking stock of the world as the Assembly opened its 76th session.

President of the 76th session of the UNGA Abdulla Shahid delivered closing remarks, saying that over the last week, the list of speakers included 100 heads of state, 52 heads of government, three vice presidents and 34 ministers -- although only 18 were women.

"I trust you are as encouraged as I am by the strong showing of our return to in-person democracy," he said, listing a set of emerging issues such as equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the need for success at the upcoming 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland; and peace, security and the risks of instability.

"It is now for us to address these demands and to do so in a manner that turns every challenge into an opportunity -- an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and deliver results on the ground," he said, emphasizing that there is no time for complacency. Enditem

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