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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-05

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:








Friday, November 5, 2004



UN agencies are very concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the new military offensive in Côte d'Ivoire. They are trying to resume the full range of their activities there despite the difficulties they are facing in carrying out their work.

On Thursday, after fighting erupted around the towns of Bouaké and Korhogo, tensions rose around the country, prompting UN humanitarian agencies to restrict the movement of their staff.

Five vehicles belonging to UN humanitarian groups were confiscated by armed groups and another UN vehicle was destroyed. The movement of humanitarian personnel and supplies was severely slowed by checkpoints.

The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has taken measures to ensure that former child soldiers staying at a demobilization site are being protected.

The World Health Organization is still preparing to carry out a polio vaccination campaign scheduled to begin later this month.

The UN food agencies are greatly concerned that continued hostilities could prevent populations from accessing their fields, thus jeopardizing the harvest of food stocks as well as cocoa, the main source of revenue for rural populations in the West and South.

According to the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, another cause for concern is that electricity has been cut off in all areas controlled by the Forces Nouvelles rebels in the North. This will seriously hamper hospitals abilities to deliver services and will create a shortage of clean water, as water distribution facilities depend on electricity.

The Security Council, after listening Thursday to a briefing by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the developments, demanded that the ceasefire be fully respected. The Security Council said it was actively engaged and reviewing the situation with a view to deciding on action to be taken.

Asked what actions were being taken by the UN Mission in Cote dIvoire, the Spokesman said the peacekeepers main responsibility is to monitor, observe and report cease-fire violations. About 6,000 UN peacekeepers are currently in 30 different locations. They are also providing close protection and residence guards to almost 20 members of the government of national reconciliation. In addition, the peacekeepers were securing UN compounds and providing protection for UN staff, as well as for Ivorians who were seeking refuge in UN compounds.


On Sudan, the Security Council on Thursday afternoon joined the Secretary-General in expressing concern about the Government of Sudans forced relocations of internally displaced persons in Darfur.

In a press statement, the Council said these relocations are contrary to Security Council resolutions. They reiterated their call on the Government of the Sudan to cease all forcible relocations of civilians and to return those who have been removed. They also called on Sudan to allow humanitarian relief workers immediate access to all internally displaced camps.

From Khartoum today, the UN mission reports that a humanitarian mission had visited two camps where the relocation had taken place. One camp in South Darfur, to which Special Representative Jan Pronk had referred, was completely destroyed, the mission found. The UNICEF-installed water pump and generators had reportedly been looted by police, leaving no water source in the camp.

On Wednesday when several thousand internally displaced persons had returned to the camp after being scattered by the disturbances of the previous day, those who had returned said they had no intention of leaving the camp. But no assistance was allowed into the camp. They said the Government had given them no reason for the move, and no assistance.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that its monitors present in Sudan continue to receive reports of rape, physical harassment, killings and other violence outside camps for the internally displaced in west Darfur. They also continue to receive reports of increasing violence by the different parties across the region.

In north Darfur, the overall security situation according to reports received by the monitors was becoming increasingly tense, with daily reports of incidents between the Sudan Liberation Army and the Government of Sudan forces. There had been reports of government helicopter gun-ships operating in the area.


The Security Council has not scheduled any formal meetings or consultations today.

Starting at 4:45 p.m., Council members in place of their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General will hold an iftar with him.

The iftar is the feast after the sun goes down that ends the Muslim fast, during the month of Ramadan; U.S. Ambassador John Danforth, who is Security Council President for November, had proposed having that meal, instead of the monthly working lunch, this time around.


The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, today met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh.

Saleh, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Qazi discussed preparations for the national elections, scheduled for late January, and the technical support the United Nations is providing to enable the Independent Iraqi Electoral Commission to carry out its duty of organizing the polls.

Talks, which took place over an end-of-day iftar meal that the Deputy Prime Minister held in honor of Qazi, also dealt with the situation in Kurdistan.

Asked about media reports claiming that the Secretary-General had written letters to several Heads of State about his concerns regarding Fallujah, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General considers such letters to be privileged communications. The United Nations will not comment on them. [The Secretary-General later took questions on the same subject during a brief press encounter.]

Asked whether the Secretary-General had informed UN staff union representatives, during a meeting earlier this week, of the decision to expand the number of UN staff in Iraq, the Spokesman said that the decision to raise the ceiling on UN international staff in Iraq had not been taken by the time of that meeting. The Secretary-General, he added, had discussed with the staff union representatives his concerns about security.



Peter Hansen, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), expressed his growing concern and distress over the humanitarian situation of over 660,000 Palestine refugees in the West Bank.

The refugees have been denied essential services, including emergency relief, by the continued strike of UNRWAs 4,000 local staff in that area of its operations.

UNRWAs Area Staff Union began its strike on October 11 in a dispute about staff pay. Asked who was involved in the UNRWA staff strike, the Spokesman said it was done by local staff.


The UN Mission in Afghanistan was informed by the Afghan authorities that many callers to a Government-run hotline have expressed solidarity with the United Nations over the abduction of three staff members a week ago.

In addition, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a nationwide address Thursday night, underscored the work that the UN staff had been doing on behalf of the Afghan people, and expressed his hope that, with the help of God, we manage to get them safely released.


The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Hocine Medili of Algeria as his Principal Deputy Special Representative for Haiti. Medili has recently led a multidisciplinary assessment mission to Haiti and has vast experience in peacekeeping. He arrived in Haiti earlier this week.

The spokesman of the UN Mission in Haiti has reported that the UN Civilian Police component is monitoring the situation of some 90 people arrested Thursday by the Haitian National Police, to ensure that they are treated according to international standards. The detainees were arrested during a joint UN-Haitian police security operation in the Port au Prince neighborhood of Bel Air, which had been largely controlled by gangs in recent weeks.

Louis Joinet, the UNs Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti, will be in the country from November 6 to 17. He is scheduled to meet senior officials from the transitional government, as well as senior magistrates and judges, and representatives of the UN system and the Organization of American States.


The International Year of Sport and Physical Education 2005 was launched today, and the Secretary-General provided opening remarks at the event, outlining plans for a year-long push to highlight the power of sport to bridge cultural and ethnic divides.

Swiss tennis champ Roger Federer and New York City Marathon record-holder Margaret Okayo attended the launch, as did Adolf Ogi, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace.


GREECE-F.Y.R.O.M. DISCUSSIONS TO CONTINUE: Asked about the UN response following the U.S. decision to call the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Macedonia, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has had long-running negotiations between Greece and the FYROM, conducted by Matthew Nimetz. Nimetz said the U.S. decision on the name will not affect the negotiations, with both Governments saying they would continue their talks under the Secretary-Generals auspices. The Spokesman added that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the name approved by the United Nations.

LABOR ORGANIZATION AND REFUGEE AGENCY STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIP: The International Labour Organization and the United Nations refugee agency are strengthening their partnership to promote employment and poverty reduction strategies for refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons.

UNHCR CONCERNED ABOUT VIETNAM MONTAGNARDS: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned that a growing number of Montagnards from Viet Nam have crossed into Cambodia under the mistaken impression that it could help them get their confiscated lands back. UNHCR says this has exposed the refugees to risk and put the agency in a dilemma, since repatriation is not assured and many have refused to be resettled.

FAO SAYS LOCUSTS WONT HINDER CEREAL PRODUCTION: The preliminary findings of a study co-authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization have found that cereal production in the Sahel region wont be affected in a major way this year, despite large-scale desert locust infestations. But a combination of drought and locusts have caused severe localized damage to crops in many rural communities.

RAPPORTEURS VOICE CONCERN ON RUSSIA: The UNs Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Leïla Zerrougui, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Stephen J. Toope, have expressed their grave concern over the recent statement by Russias Prosecutor General calling for a law to allow the authorities to detain relatives of terrorists by force as a measure against hostage-taking.

ENVIRONMENT SHOULD NOT BECOME VICTIM OF WAR: Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflicts. In a message to mark the occasion, Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, says that, in order to prevent the environment becoming a victim of war, theres a need to ensure that pollution, contamination and other environmental woes dont play their part in triggering conflicts in the first place.

HEALTH AGENCY ANNOUNCES NEW AIDS INITIATIVE IN POOR COUNTRIES: The World Health Organization has announced measures to ensure that HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts in poor countries will also help deliver better health services. Of all the health system areas which need strengthening, WHO says the most pressing is that of addressing the shortage of health workers in countries suffering the most pressure from the effects of HIV/AIDS.


Monday, November 8

The next lecture in the Secretary-Generals Lecture Series will run from 1:25 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., in the ECOSOC chamber at UN Headquarters. Professor Leon Botstein, the President of Bard College Conservatory of Music and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, will speak on Why Music Matters; the presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Tuesday, November 9

The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing, followed by consultations, on Afghanistan. It has also scheduled consultations on Cote dIvoire.

Alberto Motivans, Research Officer for UNESCO's Institute for Statistics, will be the guest at the Spokesmans Noon Briefing to discuss the findings of UNESCOs Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2005.

Wednesday, November 10

The World Intellectual Property Organization will present a dance performance by Janis Brenner and Dancers at 2:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium.

Thursday, November 11

The Security Council has scheduled a public meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will also meet with troop contributors for the UN Mission in East Timor.

Friday, November 12

The United Nations will be closed in observance of the Eid holiday.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162 -

press/media only

Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212)

963-4475 or by e-mail to:

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