Syria and neighbours need urgent development response UN officials tell conference

“A comprehensive development response to complement our humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbours is overdue. We are determined to change that,” said Sima Bahous, Chair of the Regional UN Development Group, which is hosting the meeting, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).The meeting of the Regional UN Development Group, which started today and will continue over two days, is expected to conclude with a plan focused on development in Syria and its immediate sub-regional context and how to put that response to action, according to a UNDP news release.Regional directors and representatives of more than 20 UN agencies, including UNDP, are in the Jordanian’s capital of Amman to discuss means to harmonize UN responses to the conflict which has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes within Syria and into neighbouring countries. Almost 97 per cent of Syria’s refugees are hosted in the immediate surrounding region, with around one million in Lebanon, followed by Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. “The spillover of the crisis into its four neighboring countries is impacting economic and human development outcomes in those countries at the national and local levels,” UNDP said in a news release.Key sectors including investment, tourism, trade and local production are affected at varying levels of intensity, according to the UN agency. The crisis also is raising concerns over possibilities of triggering tensions between refugees and local populations in those countries.Recent impact assessments in the two countries most affected by the crisis – Lebanon and Jordan – raise concerns that the crisis may be seriously compounding the deterioration of their economies, which were already under stress, with direct impact on incomes and poverty levels especially among the most vulnerable populations.A joint World Bank-UN assessment in Lebanon estimates that over the period of 2012- 2014, the Syrian conflict may cut real GDP growth by 2.9 percentage points annually, leading to a cumulative loss in wages, profits, taxes and investment of up to $7.5 billion. The number of Lebanese who are living in extreme poverty could rise from 1 million to 1.17 million and the unemployment rate could double to above 20 percent.According to UNDP, official assessments in Jordan indicate that the Government has incurred over $251 million during 2012 to provide and maintain services and basic needs of Syrian refuges and estimate that additional costs needed to continue hosting them may reach $1.68 billion, excluding the additional costs for the camps.This burden has stifled efforts to recover economic growth in the Jordan from 8.15 per cent in 2005 to 2.3 per cent in 2010. According to the cited figures, the national unemployment rate rose to 13.1 per cent from 12.7 per cent. read more

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Troubled upbringing of 21st century highwaymen no excuse for stabbing strangers judge

Two killers described as “21st century highwaymen” were told by a judge their troubled upbringing was no excuse for their murderous spree as they were jailed for life. Nathan Gilmaney, 19, and Troy Thomas, who was just 17 when they robbed 28-year-old Abdul Samad’s iPhone, lashed out when he refused to give them his PIN number – stabbing him to death. Video footage captured them riding around on a moped and attacking strangers at will on October 16 last year. It shows them mounting the pavement to steal a victim’s belongings. The Common Serjeant of London Judge Richard Marks heard both teenagers had problems in their lives, but he dismissed them as a reason for their violence. He said: ‘There are many, many young people who have these of difficulties who do not resort to thuggish and wicked behaviour like you did that night’Mr Samad, who was engaged to be married, was killed during a four hour robbery spree the pair carried out when they were “bored” after smoking cannabis and taking Xanax tranquilisers.The killers were both handed life sentences at the Old Bailey with Gilmaney told he must spend 27 years in jail and Thomas 22.Relatives and friends of the murderers crammed into the packed public gallery sobbed and screamed “love you, son” as the sentences were handed out. Murder victom Abdul Samad “Since his death there has not been a single moment that goes by for me without shedding tears.”I would do anything to get him back. Sometimes when I am at home I think he will walk in again and that this has all been a bad dream. However, as each minute, each hour and each day goes by I then realise Abdul is not going to come back home. Abdul has been taken from us forever.”I will never be able to get over losing a son. I feel like Abdul’s death has caused a hole in my heart and a vital organ of my body is missing. I often feel like a dead woman walking around my home.”  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. As the emergency services rushed to help and “tried to comfort his traumatised family”, the moped muggers “completely unmoved by what they had just done, prowled the streets looking for another target”.A few minutes later they tried to rob Joseph Denby on Golborne Road, and when he showed his phone was an old Nokia, they demanded his wallet but he escaped.Two other victims were robbed of their belongings before the pair returned to Maida Vale to offload their stolen goods – including Mr Samad’s iPhone and some foreign currency – to a man in a high-rise. In part of a victim impact statement Abdul’s girlfriend Sultana Ahmed, said: “I had known Abdul for 11 years and he had the most amazing personality. He was caring, kind, loving and everyone adored him.”I had seen Abdul grow into a beautiful human being who always wanted to help people in whatever capacity he could. “We had many plans for this year and the last thing Abdul said to me was, ‘watch, this year will be our year and we will be a family’. He also said, ‘I will give my mum and dad the perfect gift in the new year – which is you as a daughter-in-law’. They threatened them with knives and stole jewellery and money, and allegedly stabbed Mr Fierro-Berbesi in the stomach.Seconds later, they confronted Mr Samad. At first the pair rode off but turned around and shouted at him.Mr Glasgow told jurors that Mr Samad had been confronted by the teenagers in St Mary’s Terrace, in Paddington, and handed them something from his pocket.He gave them something else but Gilmaney allegedly got off the moped and stabbed him in the chest.Mr Glasgow said: “Mr Samad managed to stagger the short distance back to where his family lived but he collapsed at the door. His parents, who heard his cries, found him bleeding to death outside their home.”He died later in hospital having suffered a devastating wound to the heart. As the number of casualties mounted, police were alerted and scoured the area for the culprits.Mr Glasgow said the defendants tried to escape but were arrested after a police chase.Their pockets were stuffed with stolen valuables and CCTV captured them in the act of riding around and attacking helpless strangers, the Old Bailey heard.Mr Samad’s mobile phone was among stolen items sold on the same night but recovered during a police search of the man’s flat off Harrow Road.Abdul Samad: Beautiful human being who was adored by everyoneIn part of a victim impact statement Abdul’ Samad’s mother Layla Begum, said: “The death of my son has absolutely broken my husband, my eldest son, my entire family and me. “Had we both known that this would be our last conversation ever and that he would not call me back as he had promised that night we would have had a longer conversation. “I felt like I died with Abdul that day. He took a part of me that will never come back. “Abdul lived for his job of helping children – he was the change we needed to see in the world. The change he brought because he wanted to brighten the future for the youths of this generation. Why would someone hurt him and snatch his life away?”It still feels like a nightmare to me as I relive everything every single day, sometimes I do not feel like waking up in the morning because I fear reality.”Every time I close my eyes I remember his laughter, his infectious smile and I cry because I remember the day I went to the mortuary to see him and how my world shattered.” Troy Thomas’ flick knife Sentencing, the judge said: “You were both to admit that it had been your invariable practice for many months prior to these events to go out armed with a knife.”Your methodology was disarmingly simple. It was dark and late at night and there were people about, sometimes on their own, at other times in pairs.”Having identified a target you would drive up to them, sometimes on the pavement where they walked, with a view to either snatching their phone if they happened to be using it or alternatively by demanding they handed their property over.”In cases where they ran away you chased them on moped, cornering them and as they were obviously utterly terrified, and you had a vehicle whereas they were on foot, and there were two of you, they proved in the main to be very easy targets.”Abdul Samad was an outstanding young man in his twenties who was engaged to be married and had his whole life in front of him.”Your wicked stabbing of him has left his family utterly devastated. Whether they will be able to recover from that devastation is open to doubt.” Murder victom Abdul Samad About 20 minutes later, at 1.30am, they tried to rob Graipich Vudto in Porchester Road, and Gilmaney stabbed him in the stomach after he refused to let go of his phone, before speeding off.Minutes later, Gilmaney stabbed Silverio Pina in the arm on Princess Square, and at 1.50am, they snatched a phone out of the hand of Natevan Casinova at the junction of Portobello Road and Pembridge Road.Just after 2am, they approached Shemiqua Moore-Dingwall and her friend Matthew Calonga on Cricklewood Lane.She handed over her bag, but Gilmaney punched her in the face and just five minutes later they demanded Nelson Aparicio hand over his phone and wallet, only to be stabbed in the stomach. Thomas admitted theft, three counts of attempted robbery and six counts of robbery. He had denied four counts of wounding with intent but was also found guilty by the jury of those grievous bodily harm offences.On Friday, 15 June, they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Murderers Nathan Gilmaney, left, and Troy Thomas, right Murderers Nathan Gilmaney, left, and Troy Thomas, right Troy Thomas' flick knife As he was led into the cells Gilmaney shouted “suck your mum” as Thomas stayed quiet, but neither showed any remorse during the short hearing. Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said they were “highwaymen of the 21st Century who thought they had the right to threaten and rob whoever they found, who attacked their targets in a brazen and shocking manner and who stabbed their victims often for no reason other than simple aggression and blood lust”.He said the pair had both armed themselves with a knife and set out on Gilmaney’s moped to steal wallets, phones and valuables to sell on.One of their victims was Mr Samad, who died in his family’s arms having been stabbed for an iPhone. The four-hour spree on London’s streetsThe spate of robberies began at 10.30pm in Maida Vale when they approached Nazmul Chowdhury and demanded he handed over his belongings.After spotting a knife he fled, but they chased him and mounted the pavement, and as he tried to board a bus to escape Gilmaney stabbed him in the back.An hour later in Paddington the pair attacked Venezuelan Ehimer Fierro-Berbesi and his elderly aunt Ana Fierro-Berbesi who were sat outside their home. read more

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