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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-29

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

HEAVY FIGHTING IN SOUTHERN SUDAN VIOLATES PEACE AGREEMENT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is deeply concerned about the reports of heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on 28 November in the town of Malakal in Upper Nile State, Southern Sudan. These hostilities constitute a serious violation of the security arrangements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

While the situation in Malakal is relatively calm this afternoon, tension remains. A Joint Military Delegation comprising high level officers from the SPLA, SAF and the UNMIS (UN Mission in the Sudan) Force Commander has arrived in Malakal to assess the situation.

The Secretary-General appeals to the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to make all possible efforts to contain the situation, and expresses the hope that any differences in the area will be resolved peacefully.

Some civilian United Nations staff have been temporarily relocated to other locations in Southern Sudan.

No casualties figures were immediately available.

Meanwhile, on Darfur, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN system in Sudan has expressed grave concern at the expulsion of the Norwegian Refugee Council from Darfur and his disappointment at the lack of clear justification for this expulsion.

Manuel Aranda da Silva, the UN Humanitarian coordinator said that NRC has played a key role in coordinating humanitarian activities to respond to the needs of over a 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kalma camp as well as tens of thousands of other vulnerable persons with food and education programmes throughout South Darfur.

Asked whether the United Nations has yet received a letter from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the Spokesman said it still has not been received, although he continued to expect that it would arrive, possibly later today. He noted that a meeting in Abuja on Darfur, which had been scheduled to begin today, has now been delayed by 24 hours and will take place on Thursday afternoon.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE FOR MULTINATIONAL FORCE FOR IRAQ

The Security Council this morning heard a briefing on sanctions in Somalia from the chairman of the Sanctions Committee for that country, the ambassador of Qatar. Council members discussed the recently-issued report of the Monitoring Group for Somalia.

After consultations adjourn, Council members expect to hold a formal meeting to consider a resolution extending the Monitoring Groups mandate.

Also, under other matters in todays consultations, the Security Council heard about Nepal from the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Nepal, Ian Martin. Yesterday afternoon, the Council ended its open debate on children and armed conflict by approving a

Presidential Statement, which, among other things, commended the work carried out by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for that matter.

The Security Council also

extended the mandate of the multinational force n Iraq until the end of 2007.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had changed his position on not having UN involvement in Iraq, the Spokesman disputed the premise of the question and noted the extensive work the United Nations has done in Iraq since the end of the previous regime.

Among other things, he said, the United Nations has involved itself on issues of human rights, development and the creation of a new constitution.

It has not, however, taken the lead on security matters and does not seek that role. Dujarric said it would be up to the Security Council to make any changes to the UN mandate in Iraq.

He added that the Secretary-General has urged the main political factions in Iraq to meet and the United Nations would try to assist reconciliation efforts among the Iraqis.

ANNAN SAYS DARFUR SITUATION A GLARING OMMISSION

ON HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCILS AGENDA

The Human Rights Council ended its second session, during which it adopted a total of 18 texts on a number of issues, including the occupied Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Nepal and Darfur. The Human Rights Council then officially opened its third session by hearing a message from the Secretary-General, which was delivered by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.

In that message, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that there were other situations, besides the one in the Middle East, which would merit scrutiny by a special session of the Council and that Darfur was a glaring case in point. He added that if the Human Rights Council was to fulfill its vocation and take its place as one of the UNs paramount bodies, its work must be marked by a strong sense of purpose.

In her own presentation, Louise Arbour

briefed of her recent visits to Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and Haiti. She also updated the Human Rights Council on the human rights situations in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Darfur. On Darfur, Arbour called on the Government of the Sudan to provide convincing answers regarding its well documented links with the militia, as well as the possible criminal culpability of its officials in aiding or abetting acts committed by the militia on the Governments behalf.

Also today, the Human Rights Council heard a presentation by the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez. Mendez said that the UN is ashamed by not having done enough to prevent genocide from taking place again in the 20th century, despite the lessons from the Holocaust.

ANNAN ALARMED BY REPORTS OF LOOMING COUP ON FIJI ISLANDS

The Secretary-General is alarmed by the continued possibility of a military coup détat against the legitimate government of the Republic of Fiji Islands. He encourages the parties to continue their search for a peaceful reconciliation of their differences within the constitutional framework.

The Secretary-General also wishes to stress that further prolongation of the crisis may damage Fijis international standing, which it has built carefully over the years, as an important contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and more recently as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission.

The Secretary-General stands ready to complement national and regional efforts aimed at overcoming the crisis through dialogue.

Asked how the message in the statement was conveyed to the Fijians, the Spokesman noted that before the statement was issued, the Secretary-General had spoken to Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. His position was conveyed in the statement.

Asked about the effect on Fijian soldiers, the Spokesman underscored that soldiers who may take part in the unlawful seizure of power would most likely be unwelcome in UN peacekeeping missions; consequently, any coup would have an effect on what troops would be welcome for UN work.

Asked how many Fijians currently serve in UN peacekeeping operations, the Spokesman later said that number was 275.

U.N. OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY

WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The Secretary-General today observed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, saying at an event to mark the occasion this morning that he feels profound dismay that a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains so elusive.

He said that, with the announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza, there has been a glimmer of hope over the past few days that the latest hostilities might give way to a period of calm. He called on both sides to adhere to this commitment, to avoid any action that could jeopardise further progress and to extend the cease-fire to the West Bank.

NUMBER OF U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN LEBANON ON THE INCREASE

The strength of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has continued to rise, with the deployment of additional troops from Indonesia, Portugal and Italy. The current total is around 11,500 troops from 21 countries, of which 9,800 are ground troops and 1,700 are naval personnel.

Over the past week, UNIFIL de-miners from various national contingents destroyed over 300 separate explosive devices, including rockets, grenades, and cluster bombs.

UNIFIL peacekeepers also continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the local population, including medical, dental and veterinary aid.

ANNAN DECRIES MUTUALLY ASSURED PARALYSIS

ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

Speaking at Princeton Universitys Woodrow Wilson School yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General warned that the effort to deal with the threat of nuclear weapons, perhaps the greatest danger of all, is the one area where there is a total lack of any common global strategy.

He said that those who emphasise the need for disarmament to take place first and those who support non-proliferation before disarmament continue to wait for each other to move. The result, the Secretary-General argued, is that mutually assured destruction has been replaced by mutually assured paralysis.

He warned, We are asleep at the controls of a fast-moving aircraft. Unless we wake up and take control, the outcome is all too predictable. The Secretary-General laid out his case for the urgent need to deal at the same time with both disarmament and non-proliferation.

PROTESTERS ATTACK U.N FACILITY IN KOSOVO CAPITAL

The UN Mission in Kosovo reports that a protest in Pristina turned violent yesterday when pro-independence protesters pulled down a concrete barricade and tried to pull down two more, to gain entry to the UN compound. The protesters also threw an incendiary device at police officers located inside the compound, and broke over 20 windows.

Using tear gas, the police quickly gained control of the situation. There were no reports of injuries to protesters or police, and no arrests were made. In addition, Human Rights Watch was on hand to observe the protest.

A criminal investigation is currently underway.

UNITED NATIONS TO ASSIST IN HAITI ELECTION

The UN Mission in Haiti says that it will assist the Haitian authorities to ensure peaceful run of municipal and local elections on Sunday, December 3rd, when Haitians go to polls to elect more than 9,000 representatives and finish a number of legislative run-off elections.

The Missions principal tasks on this occasion are to provide security and logistic support throughout the country, including distributing election material to some 9,200 polling stations.

A joint-security plan is being implemented, involving the Haitian Police, the UN Police and the Missions Military Force. The Missions 6,500- plus troops and 1,700 police will be out in force on Election Day.

In spite of the recent upsurge in violence -- which is a phenomenon that preceded the successful elections held earlier this year -- and aware that anti-democratic forces may try to disturb the coming elections, the Mission remains confident that it has taken all necessary steps, in conjunction with the Government of Haiti, to ensure the vote is held in a secure environment.

FOOD AGENCY TO SPEED UP FOOD DELIVERY IN AFGHANISTAN

Ahead of winter, the World Food Programme (WFP) is racing to complete food deliveries to impoverished Afghans living in communities that will be cut off once the bitter cold arrives and heavy snows set in. WFP has already delivered 16,000 tons of food to a number of provinces.

Meanwhile, in other parts of Afghanistan, WFP is providing aid to victims of severe floods.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SLAMS LACK OF ACTION ON DARFUR

Jan Egeland held his last press conference this morning in Geneva in his capacity as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

He said that, although the international community had solemnly sworn a responsibility to protect, it was not living up to that oath in Darfur or other areas such as Iraq. He also warned that Gaza was going to explode very soon unless there was progress on the new political process that had started between Palestinian leaders and Israelis.

Egeland added that neither in the Darfur-Chad-Central African Republic subregion which he called the biggest conflict area in the world today nor in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, or Sri Lanka, were the result of natural disasters. They were manmade disasters. And man needed to put them right, he said.

Egeland will be stepping down from his current post next month.

Asked about Egelands departure, the Spokesman said it was expected in the early part of December. He said that it would be up to the incoming Secretary-General to designate a successor; until that happened, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs would be headed by an officer-in-charge.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNAN NOT IN RECEIPT OF IRAN LETTER TO AMERICAN PEOPLE: Asked about the UNs reaction to a message sent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the American people, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General was not the letters recipient, and had not analysed it or reacted to it.

SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF BAN KI-MOON SCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 14: Asked about the transition to a new Secretary-General, the Spokesman said it was ongoing, with Secretary-General Kofi Annans team working closely with Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moons team. The swearing-in of Ban, he added, was scheduled for 14 December.

U.N. MISSION IN COTE D'IVOIRE IN CONTACT WITH ALL POLITICAL ACTORS: Asked about a reported dispute between the President and Prime Minister of Cote dIvoire, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has not made any public comment about that, but he added that the UN Mission in that country was in contact with all political actors there, to make sure that they do their utmost to implement the relevant UN resolutions and maintain calm.

DRUGS AND CRIME OFFICE TO TAKE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING ISSUES AT PUBLIC FORUM: Our colleagues in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) would like to flag a public forum that will take place tomorrow night at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on issues of human trafficking in the New York region. The expected speakers include executive director of the UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and actress Julia Ormond.

UNICEF CONCERNED BY ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN UGANDA: The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) in Uganda, in view of the continued violence linked to the ongoing process of disarmament in areas of northern Kotido District, expresses its serious concern about the impact of escalating insecurity on the lives of children and families in those locations. UNICEF and its partners urge national and local authorities to undertake all measures required to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable members of the civilian population, including children and women.

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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