Headlines UNCA 09-08

• UNHCR Protection Chief launches new efforts to take a fresh look at the situation of refugees in Afghanistan.

Some 920,000 Afghan refugees who fled to Iran following succesive waves of conflict in their country have temporarily been given shelter by the Government of Iran for some 20 years. The UN Office for Human Rights which has been assisting the refugees is concerned that the situation appears to have reached to a turning point which is reflected in the fact the repatriation has come to a halt. This week, the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, travelled to provinces in Afghanistan talking with the refugees about their situation and the choices they will have to make in the future. Jennifer Pagonis, the Spokesperson for UNHCR accompanied Ms. Feller and spoke with me about the trip and what the refugees shared with the protection chief.

• The World Intellectual Property Organization breaks record on trademark filings in 2007

The World Intellectual Property Organization has issued its largest ever number of trademarks in 2007. The organization received a record 39,945 international trademark applications representing a 9.5% increase over 2006. A trademark reflects commercial activity by foreign companies in a specific country. For example, China remained the most designated country in international trade mark applications, reflecting increasing levels of trading activity by foreign companies in that country. I spoke, on the line from Geneva, with Ernesto Rubio the Assistant Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization responsible for trademark questions about the significance of the increased numbers and what it meant in the business world.

• And half the world’s population is expected to live in cities by the end of 2008; while in Asia, most populations will still choose rural areas; this too will change by 2050.

Half the world’s population, it is predicted, will chose to live mainly in cities as soon as the end of this year. Despite its low level of urbanization, Asia is home to about half of the urban population of the world in 2007. Hania Zlotnik, Director of the UN Population Division, part of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that by 2050 this trend will be reversed:

Hania: “China at this moment is 40% urban and we are expecting it to get to more than 70% urban by 2050. Its urban population is more than half a billion at this moment and we are expecting it to get to slightly more than one billion in 2050.”

Filed under UN Calling Asia.
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