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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-06
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, September 6, 2007
DARFUR: RENEWED PEACE TALKS SET FOR 27 OCTOBER
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a joint press conference in Khartoum with President Omar al-Bashir of
Sudan following a meeting between the two, announced the start of renewed peace talks on Darfur on 27 October in Libya. He said that the negotiations would be under the lead of the African Union and UN Special Envoys, who will continue to work in close coordination with the countries of the region.
The Secretary-General said he urges and expects all parties to declare their serious commitment to cease all hostilities immediately; achieve a political solution to the Darfur crisis; create a secure environment in Darfur conducive to negotiations; and participate in and commit to the outcome of the negotiation effort.
He added that there must be an end to violence and insecurity and a strengthened ceasefire supported by the incoming Hybrid Operation, as well as an improvement in the humanitarian situation and greater prospects for development and recovery for the people of Darfur.
Also, a joint communiqué between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations was issued at that press conference, expressing the hope that the parties will cooperate fully with the African Union and UN Special Envoys in order to ensure that negotiations are concluded as expeditiously as possible.
The Secretary-General began his last day with three back-to-back meetings. The first was with the Foreign Minister, Lam Akol, together with senior government officials. He then met with the Speaker of the National Assembly and members of Parliament, and after that with Mini Minawi, Senior Assistant to the President.
The Secretary-General is to conclude his official visit to Sudan tonight with a reception hosted by the Foreign Ministry.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE A SOCIETAL CANCER, HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SAYS IN D.R. CONGO
Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today continued his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In South Kivu Province, he visited a hospital where he heard stories that go beyond the imagination from women who had been raped and then shot or stabbed in their genitals.
Calling such sexual violence a societal cancer, Holmes stressed the importance of helping the victims and punishing those who committed such crimes.
On Friday, Holmes is scheduled to travel to North Kivu Province, where fighting has displaced more than 10,000 civilians in the past 10 days.
NEW ASSIGNMENTS WILL HELP BETTER MEET CHALLENGES IN AFRICA
The Secretary-General, in a recent exchange of letters with the Security Council, proposed that Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, who currently heads the UN Office in West Africa, be appointed as his Special Representative for Somalia.
The current Special Representative in Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, would be reassigned to head the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic. And the head of that office, General Lamine Cissé, would be temporarily reassigned as officer-in-charge of the UN Office in West Africa.
These are changes aimed at ensuring that the United Nations is doing its utmost to rise to a number of challenges and opportunities it faces in several key arenas in Africa particularly Somalia and the Central African Republic.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON LIBERIA
The Security Council held consultations today on Liberia, and heard a briefing on the work of the UN Mission in Liberia by the head of that Mission, Alan Doss. Doss also briefed troop contributing countries earlier today.
The Liberia Missions current mandate expires at the end of the month, and the Secretary-General has proposed that the mandate be extended by a year.
U.N. APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO FEED NEARLY 400,000 IN EASTERN CHAD
The World Food Programme (WFP) today urgently appealed for more than $80 million to feed nearly 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad.
WFP says those new funds are needed by next month in order to ensure that enough food is pre-positioned in the area before next years rainy season.
FOOD AGENCY AIRLIFTS FOOD INTO HURRICANE-HIT NICARAGUA
On Nicaragua, the World Food Programme on Wednesday delivered an emergency airlift of more than four tons of beans, rice, and cooking oil to the coastal town of Bilwi, which bore some of the worst devastation from Hurricane Felix.
The Wednesday distribution follows the delivery of 70 tons of food on Tuesday, just hours after the storm hit. WFP has also distributed food to thousands of people in shelters in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
WFP Deputy Director Gordana Jerger said that the agency was able to respond so quickly because it had food stocks on hand for long-term projects in the area. She noted, however, that those stocks will need to be replenished and urged donors to provide immediate financial assistance.
CYPRIOT LEADERS HOLD CONSTRUCTIVE TALKS
The two Cypriot leaders, Tassos Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali Talat, and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael Moller, met Wednesday in Nicosia, and Moller said afterward that their discussions were held in a constructive atmosphere.
He said that they agreed on the need for the earliest start for the process and discussed other issues leading to a comprehensive settlement. They have agreed to continue their contacts through the United Nations and to meet again when appropriate.
U.N. SADDENED BY DEATH OF OPERA STAR LUCIANO PAVAROTTI
The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Luciano Pavarotti, the tenor and United Nations Messenger of Peace. He extends his sympathy and condolences to Mr. Pavarotti's family, as well as to the Government and people of Italy, at this painful time.
The Secretary-General notes that Mr. Pavarotti made a profound contribution not only to music and the arts, but also to people in need around the world. His work for children -- particularly those affected by armed conflict -- stretched from Afghanistan to Liberia and beyond. By staging concerts and marshalling talented friends to help raise funds, he generated millions of dollars for humanitarian aid. A true friend of the UN, he described himself as a small link to help promote the humanitarian aims and inviolable rights which are under the United Nations flag.
The Secretary-General joins Mr. Pavarotti's countless fans and admirers, as well as all those he worked with to help and heal, in giving thanks for his life.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also issued a statement on the death of Mr. Pavarotti, whose concerts brought in more than $7 million for refugee projects over the years.
U.N. TO LOOK INTO WHETHER MATERIALS AT WEAPONS INSPECTORS OFFICES WERE MISLABELED
Asked whether the United Nations would look into whether materials at the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) offices were mis-labeled, the Spokeswoman said that a panel would soon be formed that would look into the matter.
For now, she said, the good news was that there was no sign that the substance discovered at the UNMOVIC offices was harmful. However, she added, the United Nations was still awaiting a final report on the substance.
Asked about the work of the investigative group, Montas said that the group first had to be formed. She said it would include internationally recognized experts with expertise on substances, which could look into how the incident at the UNMOVIC offices happened and the history of how substances were handled by the inspectors, as well as the safety procedures in place at headquarters and in the field offices.
Asked about the reasons for such an inquiry, she said that it was important to avoid any recurrence and to ensure security.
MYANMAR ACTION UP TO SECURITY COUNCIL
Asked about a letter from 88 students in Myanmar that urged the Secretary-General to bring the issue of Myanmar to the Security Council, the Spokeswoman said that the letter had been received, as had a letter from a number of Hollywood personalities urging the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
She said that there have been a number of interventions by UN officials, including the Secretary-General, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari, on the situation in Myanmar. She later highlighted some elements of the
press briefing given by Gambari on Wednesday, in which he called once again on Myanmar to release its political detainees, including those arrested during the recent peaceful demonstrations.
The Special Adviser had noted that the United Nations is the only international actor to maintain a face-to-face dialogue with Myanmars top leaders and with Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Montas quoted Gambari as saying that the United Nations is moving very systematically to line up the support of the international community to ensure that all key countries are working together to spur Myanmar to make progress, and it is making use of the Secretary-Generals good offices to pursue peace.
The Spokesperson noted, however, that was it up to the Security Council to determine what is on its agenda.
U.N. IS MONITORING ISRAEL/SYRIA SITUATION: The Spokeswoman declined to comment on a question concerning reports that Syria had fired on Israeli warplanes, adding that the United Nations was monitoring the situation.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM LOOKS INTO VIOLATION REPORTS: Asked about reports that ethnic cleansing is taking place in
Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations and its human rights system look into all reports of human rights violations.
JOINT APPEALS BOARD REVIEWING WHISTLEBLOWER CASE: In response to questions about a potential whistleblower at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Spokeswoman noted that UNDP has said that the case was being reviewed by the Joint Appeals Board. Regarding a letter from a US Congresswoman concerning another complainant at UNDP, Montas said that letter has not been received yet.
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