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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-07-25

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING AND DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST

Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for the

Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council in an open meeting this morning that over the past month, there have been a number of important political developments giving cause for hope.

Most notable is the re-engagement of the international community and Israel with the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He noted that the Foreign Ministers of Jordan and Egypt have arrived today in Israel to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative.

This is an impressive diplomatic momentum, Williams said, but the positive developments are offset by a problematic and increasingly complex reality on the ground, where violence continues.

He told Council members that it is important that the people of Gaza are not punished for the Hamas takeover there. Re-opening the crossings to prevent the complete collapse of Gazas economy remains a priority, he said. The humanitarian and emergency response has been an effective short-term measure, but a solution led by President Mahmoud Abbas is an urgent necessity.

The open meeting was followed by consultations in which Council members continued their discussions with Williams on the Middle East.

Asked about the UNs relationship with the Quartet on the Middle East, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was one of the four Quartet members (along with the European Union, Russia and the United States).

Asked about Tony Blairs status, she said he was the Quartet envoy, whose terms of reference had been detailed in previous Quartet statements. The Spokeswoman added that Quartet members continue to discuss ways to support Blairs office.

GAZA ECONOMY IS SUFFERING SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the continued closure of the Karni Crossing is causing significant damage to the Gazan economy.

Rice, vegetable oil and baby milk are in short supply, and rising prices, especially for vegetables, meat and milk powder have placed a strain on the ability of households to maintain a balanced diet.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have been sending basic foods, animal feed and medicines through other crossings, but OCHA notes that with the planting season getting underway, the agricultural sector is in serious jeopardy.

U.N. PEACEKEEPER IN LEBANON IS KILLED WHILE CLEARING ORDNANCE

Today, at 12:40, while a team from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was clearing unexploded ordnance in a valley south of Shama, one peacekeeper died from the explosion of ordnance.

UNIFIL medical and explosives teams were immediately dispatched to the location and an investigation is underway.

DRAMATIC ESCALATION ON HUMANITARIAN STAFF

AND FOOD CONVOYS REPORTED IN DARFUR

The World Food Programme (WFP) is condemning the dramatic escalation in attacks on humanitarian staff and food convoys in Darfur, which are hampering WFP's ability to deliver assistance to millions of hungry people in the strife-torn region.

In the last two weeks, nine food convoys have been attacked by gunmen across Darfur, and the WFP representative in Sudan called on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers so that the UN food agency and other aid organizations can continue with their work.

Due to a lack of security, WFP says it was not able to reach 170,000 people in June, a sizeable increase from the lowest point last March when 60,000 people could not be reached.

The UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), meanwhile, notes that the number of humanitarian vehicles hijacked this year reached a total 76, and the number of convoys attacked and looted was 77.

OCHA notes that heavy rains are also creating concerns in several parts of Darfur. For example, a waterway near one camp housing displaced persons overflowed, causing a number of latrines to collapse and the loss of food rations. Much of the food waiting for distribution was also reportedly soaked by rains. In another camp, flooding forced the relocation of some displaced persons.

U.N. ATOMIC INSPECTORS TO VISIT IRANIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit Irans Arak reactor early next week, and more talks are planned for August, the agency says.

The visit was announced yesterday in Vienna after a meeting between senior IAEA officials and a delegation from Iran, as part of a process to resolve outstanding issues related to Irans past nuclear programme and to clarify some present safeguards implementation issues.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director General for Safeguards, said that, a week after they visit the Arak reactor, the IAEA team will go to Iran to talk about other outstanding issues, such as plutonium contamination.

Asked about reports by the IAEA, the Spokeswoman said that in general, the IAEA reports to its own Board of Governors and to the Security Council.

HUMANITARIAN APPEAL FOR TIMOR-LESTE IS LAUNCHED

The Prime Minister of Timor-Leste and the Deputy UN Envoy and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen, today officially

launched the Consolidated Appeal Mid-Year Review for Timor-Leste.

In the launching ceremony, the humanitarian coordinator stressed there is no short-term solution to the internal displacement situation in Timor-Leste and assistance programs must be designed with a medium-term perspective.

The international humanitarian community, in close consultation with the Government of Timor-Leste, is appealing for an additional $17.9 million to address the ongoing urgent humanitarian needs in the country for the remainder of the year.

The revision brings the total appeal for humanitarian projects in Timor-Leste to $34.2 million, from the January to December 2007 period.

ICTY PROSECUTOR RENEWS CALL FOR ARREST OF FUGITIVES

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia issued a statement today, marking the 12th anniversary of the Tribunals first indictment against Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the political and military leaders of the Bosnian Serbs during the wars of the 1990s.

In it, she called the fact that the two men remain at large a permanent shadow not only on the work of this Tribunal, but also on the international community as a whole.

She again called upon Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (especially the entity of Republika Srpska), and Montenegro to do everything they can to locate and arrest the men, as well as all remaining fugitives.

NO CONFIRMATION OF REPORTS ON ABDUCTEES IN AFGHANISTAN

Asked about reports concerning the abductees in Afghanistan, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations had no independent confirmation of those reports.

She said, in response to questions, that the Secretary-General had spoken to Afghan President Hamid Karzai today on the matter, and was in regular touch with the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

U.N. KOSOVO ENVOY TO REMAIN AVAILABLE ON AN AS-NEEDED BASIS

Asked about reports that the mission of Special Envoy for the Future Status of Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari is over, the Spokeswoman said that Ahtisaari would be available on an as-needed basis if and when his services are required.

  • The guest at the briefing was Jane Holl Lute, Assistant-Secretary-General and Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Field Support, who briefed on a number of outstanding conduct and discipline issues, including the situation in UN Operation in Côte dIvoire.

    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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