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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-21

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ANNAN CONDEMNS MURDER OF LEBANESE INDUSTRY MINISTER

The Secretary-General was shocked to learn today of the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the Minister of Industry of Lebanon and one of the leaders of the 14 March movement, who believed strongly in an independent, democratic and united Lebanon. The Secretary-General strongly condemns this murder and extends his deepest sympathies to the family and to the Government of Lebanon.

This cold-blooded murder was carried out one day after the Security Council considered the report on the establishment of the special tribunal for Lebanon. The Secretary-General reiterates that such acts of terrorism undermine Lebanons stability, are unacceptable and have no place in a democratic and open society. The perpetrators and instigators of todays attack must be brought to justice to ensure an end to impunity. The Secretary-General calls upon all parties to maintain national unity at this critical moment.

Also on Lebanon, available as a document today is the Secretary-Generals report on the establishment of a special tribunal for Lebanon.

Asked if the assassination of Pierre Gemayel would be among those prosecuted by the tribunal under consideration by the Security Council, the Spokesman said it is too early to tell. We will have to wait for the results of the initial inquiry by the Lebanese authorities, he said, before making any further comments.

Asked if Serge Brammertz, the head of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), has had any contact with Lebanese authorities over the Gemayel killing, Dujarric said he could not comment on Brammertzs contacts nor his whereabouts and that it is too early to elaborate on the Gemayel assassination.

ANNAN CALLS RECENT DARFUR DECISIONS A TURNING POINT, URGES HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO NOT ONLY FOCUS ON MIDDLE EAST

The Secretary-General is now on his way back to New York, having completed a trip that took him to Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia and Switzerland.

He is expected back at UN Headquarters in New York tomorrow, when he will brief the Security Council on the recent meetings regarding Darfur.

Prior to leaving Geneva, he held a wide-ranging press conference at the UN Headquarters there.

On Darfur, he said while answers were still pending from Khartoum on some issues, the decisions taken at the recent meeting in Addis Ababa could be described as a turning point.

In answer to a question on the new Human Rights Council and its current focus on Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Secretary-General said that he had hoped that the Council members would have started by doing a peer review and examining their own human rights records. He added that it moves forward he hopes the Council will look at other situations and not only concentrate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

He also spoke on Iraq, the non-proliferation and his own personal future.

PAST MONTH A DARK HOUR FOR ISRAELIS & PALESTINIANS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

The Security Council met this morning to adopt a resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina, authorizing the extension for one year of the multinational stabilization force in that country, known as EUFOR.

Following that, the Council began a debate on the Middle East. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari told the Council that the last month had brought an "alarming escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians" and because of the tragedy in Beit Hanoun would be remembered as a "dark hour in this very long conflict." Urging an end to "legally and morally wrong" rocket attacks on Israel as well as a more prudent and proportional response by Israel while defending its citizens, he said both Israelis and Palestinians should return to the political track rather than "continuing in a never-ending cycle of punishment and revenge." Gambari added that the Secretary-General fervently hopes that the Quartet will take concrete steps to promote a return to negotiations.

On Lebanon, Gambari said the political and security situation continued to deteriorate, citing the assassination today of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayal and what he termed the "threat of even greater violence looming over Lebanon's political horizon."

ROCKET EXPLODES NEAR U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF IN ISRAEL

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour was in Israel today, as part of her Middle East visit. First, she travelled to the southern Israeli town of Sderot, where she witnessed firsthand what the people there go through on an almost daily basis. As she arrived, a Qassam rocket exploded a few hundred yards away from her. Arbour, who went to the site of the impact, said she could understand the sense of vulnerability and despair of Sderots residents.

The High Commissioner recalled that one of her main areas of concern in the region was the protection of civilians, stressing that governments had a duty to protect their people, although within the bounds of human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Later in the day, Arbour went to Ramallah, where she met with Palestinian human rights defenders. Among the issues raised was the difficult situation caused by restrictions on movement, including the separation barrier, checkpoints and closures. On her way to Ramallah, she saw parts of the barrier.

Arbours visit continues tomorrow with talks with Israeli officials, including members of the country's Supreme Court.

NEPAL: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES NEW PEACE AGREEMENT

Ian Martin, the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative in Nepal for Support to the Peace Process, was present today at the signing in Kathmandu of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Seven-Party Alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

In a statement, Martin congratulated both sides for their hard work in finalizing an agreement to end the armed conflict, calling it entirely a Nepali achievement. Todays agreement promises to convert the cease-fire into long-term peace, Martin said.

Martin also recalled that the Secretary-General has said that he intends to move promptly to respond to the request to the UN to help in key areas of the peace process. In that regard, he announced that Martin's office had reached agreement with both sides today on the locations of seven divisional cantonment sites for Maoist combatants and also hoped that the UN and the two parties could reach a tripartite agreement quickly on full modalities for the management of arms and armies.

The United Nations will then be able to move forward with its planning to deploy monitors and other personnel, Martin added.

U.N. MISSION REPORTS GROWING INSECURITY IN DARFUR

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports a continuing deterioration of the security situation in Darfur. The Mission says fighting broke out yesterday between SLA rebels and the militia of an Arab tribe in two villages near the town of Saleah in South Darfur. As of early this morning, the Mission says the fighting was continuing sporadically.

Also near Saleah yesterday, unidentified armed men hijacked two vehicles belonging to an international NGO and a local organization. The hijackers seized the mobile phones, money and other personal items of the NGO workers before and driving away aboard the stolen vehicles. The hijacking occurred as the NGO workers completed an assessment mission in Saleah. No one was injured in this incident.

D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS LATEST ELECTIONS-RELATED VIOLENCE

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has condemned todays outburst of gun violence around the Supreme Court of Justice building in Kinshasa. The Mission says the violence erupted between a squad of Congolese police and supporters of Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba who had gathered to attend the first hearing into Bemba's appeal of the provisional results of the presidential election, which forecast his defeat by incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

The Mission says the Court building and a police vehicle were set on fire during the violence, prompting UN peacekeepers to shoot in the air to disperse the protesters and restore order. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

SOMALI TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO DIALOGUE

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, who just completed a working visit to that country, said he has obtained firm commitment from Somalias transitional government to resume the dialogue with the leaders of the Union of Islamist Courts following the postponement of the third round of the Khartoum peace talks early this month.

Fall today urged the international community to respond generously to the needs of Somali communities affected by the devastating floods of recent weeks. Fall said some 1.1 million people were in dire need of humanitarian assistance in southern Somalia alone.

Asked if the Secretary-General had any comments on persisting reports that Ethiopian troops were engaged in gun battles with the Somali Islamist factions, and whether it implied an outbreak of all-out war in the Horn of Africa, the Spokesman said that Kofi Annan has repeatedly urged the parties to refrain from violence.

Dujarric said the Secretary-General has most recently in Nairobi reiterated his appeal to the parties to put their differences aside and work toward peace and reconciliation. Dujarric added that the Secretary-General also appealed to the international community to assist the Somali people in their attempt to reunite their country peacefully.

There are enough guns and there is enough violence in Somalia as it is, Dujarric said, recalling the Secretary-Generals appeal to Somalias neighbours not to intervene militarily or bring weapons into that country. What we need to support is a resumption of the dialogue between the Islamic Courts and the transitional government.

Asked if there would be a UN probe into the information, first reported by the expert group of the Security Council sanctions committee on Somalia, that some 700 Somali citizens had fought alongside Hezbollah during this summer war in Lebanon, Dujarric said the UN Interim Force for Lebanon (UNIFIL) did not have anything to report in that regard.

He added that UNIFIL is proceeding with its mandate of assisting the Lebanese Government establish a weapon-free zone between the Litani river and the Israeli border.

U.N. AGENCIES DELIVER RELIEF SUPPLIES TO FLOOD SURVIVORS IN KENYA

According to the World Food Programme, 100 tons of high energy biscuits were delivered to flood survivors in Kenya today, and more assistance is expected to arrive within days.

In the same region, a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) emergency airlift has delivered five planeloads of relief supplies since Sunday to thousands of refugees and surrounding communities. Also, UNHCR had started a relocation movement to help survivors move from flooded refugee camps to drier ground in Kenya.

H.I.V. INFECTION RATES RISE SIGNIFICANTLY IN EASTERN EUROPE & CENTRAL ASIA

The UNAIDS/World Health Organizations 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update was

launched in Geneva today.

According to the report, the global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there is concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining. At the same time, however, declines in infection rates are being observed in some countries, as well as positive trends in young people's sexual behaviours.

According to the latest figures published today, nearly 40 million people are living with HIV. There were more than 4 million new infections in 2006; 65% of those occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. There were also significant increases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where infection rates have risen by more than 50% since 2004.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL IN BARBADOS: The Deputy Secretary-General is on an official one-day visit to Barbados to address the African-Caribbean-Pacific-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly and also to participate in various discussions and events on development and other related issues.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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