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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-09-20
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
Thursday, September 20, 2007
TIME TO TAKE
CALCULATED RISKS FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE
Council this morning held its periodic meeting and consultations on the Middle
this morning, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe
said we are at a very important juncture in the search for peace in the Middle
East. A new push is being made, and holds genuine promise, he noted. But the
situation on the ground remains of deep concern. In that context, he added
that it was necessary to take "calculated risks" for peace.
On Gaza, Under-Secretary-General Pascoe said he was
particularly concerned by reports of mounting human rights abuses at the hands
of paramilitary Hamas forces. At the same time, he expressed worry over the
continued closure of Gaza. He added that the continued division of the
occupied Palestinian territory was a matter of deep political, security and
Pascoe also noted that no action had been taken to ease
obstacles to freedom of movement in the West Bank, and that settlement
construction was continuing on both sides of the barrier in the majority of
Lebanon, Pascoe said it was paramount that the presidential elections be
held in accordance with the timeframe and procedures stipulated in the
Referring to the Middle East-related meetings taking
place this weekend here at Headquarters, he said they would only be as useful as the agreements and steps of implementation they helped bring about, and the changes on the ground they helped to catalyze.
Noting that the Secretary-General would impress upon his Quartet colleagues his concerns for the welfare of the Palestinian people, he concluded that now was the time for leaders to put their long-suffering people first, to think of the next generation and to do what needs to be done.
SPECIAL ENVOY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON MYANMAR
The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, briefed the Security Council in informal consultations today on the good offices efforts on Myanmar.
Undoubtedly, the developments over the last few weeks in Myanmar have raised serious concerns in the international community and once again underscore the urgency to step up our efforts to find solutions to the challenges facing the country, Gambari told Council members.
Mr. Gambari briefed on his recent consultations in key capitals and indicated that discussions were still underway with the government of Myanmar about the timing of his next visit to the country. Regarding the protests and arrests of recent weeks, he said the Secretary-General remains very concerned about the condition of those in detention, particularly those reportedly on hunger strike, and hopes that the authorities will heed the calls worldwide for their release as well as the release of all political prisoners.
While referring again to these latest events as a clear setback for Myanmar, Mr. Gambari said we have no choice but to persevere through the Secretary-Generals good offices and with the support of the international community in trying to move events in the right direction, building on the trust and confidence that has developed so far and working with all the relevant parties inside the country.
Asked about a protest by monks in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that Gambaris briefing to the Security Council had raised that topic. She added, in response to further questions, that Gambari was preparing a trip to the region.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON LIBERIA AND AFGHANISTAN, MULLS FUTURE U.N. OPERATIONS IN CHAD AND C.A.R.
Earlier today, the Security Council unanimously adopted a one-year extension of the UN Mission in Liberia.
And late yesterday afternoon, the Council adopted an extension of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for one year. That extension was adopted by a vote of 14 in favour, with Russia abstaining.
Security Council members also discussed a draft resolution concerning a possible future UN operation in Chad and the Central African Republic.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS LEBANON TERRORIST ATTACK
THAT KILLED MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
The Secretary-General, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon, expressed his shock at the brutal assassination of Member of Parliament Antoine Ghanem, as well as other civilians, in Beirut that day. He condemned in the strongest terms this terrorist attack and expressed his sincere condolences to the bereaved families of those killed.
The Secretary-General calls, now more than ever, for continued dialogue among all Lebanese and urges all Lebanese to exercise utmost calm and restraint at this very critical time and to allow judicial procedures to take their course.
The Secretary-General has also received a letter, sent yesterday by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, requesting technical assistance in the effort to investigate Ghanems murder.
ADDITIONAL TROOPS STILL NEEDED FOR DARFUR FORCE
Yesterday afternoon, the latest meeting of troop and police contributors to the AU-UN force in Darfur (UNAMID) was held at UN Headquarters.
Today, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) reports that, with regard to force generation for the military component of UNAMID, they still have not received offers for some essential units, in particular for the Medium Utility Helicopter units and the Medium Heavy Transportation companies.
In other cases, troop contributors have said that they may be able to provide troops for the Hybrid Operation, but by their own admission, their contribution would not meet UN standards.
For these reasons, DPKO says it welcomes pledges for all units included in the UNAMID military component.
With respect to police recruitment, DPKO reports that is has received 19 firm offers for the 19 required formed police units and over 2,500 pledges for the 3,772 individual police officers.
TOP U.N. OFFICIALS ATTEND MEETING ON AFRICA AND DEVELOPMENT
At UN headquarters, a closed-door meeting of the Secretary-Generals UN Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group took place today. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro in a follow-up to the Groups inaugural meeting last week.
Todays meeting launched the operational work agenda of the Steering Group and was attended by top-ranking officials of the UN system, the Bretton Woods institutions, African and other multilateral organizations and the 30-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IS DETERIORATING
IN ETHIOPIA'S SOMALI REGION
The humanitarian situation in Ethiopias Somali Regional State has deteriorated substantially in the last few months, according to a recent UN inter-agency
mission that visited zones in which military operations are currently underway.
The mission found that the price of food has nearly doubled, owing to government restrictions on commercial and livestock trade.
Household food reserves are nearly exhausted, and food aid operations have been seriously delayed. The mission fears that the situation could rapidly worsen within two or three months unless more food gets to the population.
Asked about a report that was said to ask for an investigation into the human rights situation in the region, the Spokeswoman noted that the report issued today concerned the humanitarian situation; a report on human rights has not been released.
RWANDA TRIBUNAL APPEALS FOR MORE FUNDING
TO CONTINUE ITS VITAL WORK
In a report by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to the 62nd Session of the General Assembly and to the Security Council, the Tribunal describes its activities between July 2006 and June 2007 and gives an update on its efforts to meet the deadline of its completion strategy.
The report notes that during the reporting period, the Tribunals three trial chambers rendered five judgments in five cases before it involving 5 suspects, bringing the total of cases completed in the first instance to 27 and the number of individuals tried to 33.
Trials involving 22 accused in nine different cases are now in progress. Meanwhile, one case was transferred to the Netherlands, while another 30 were transferred to the national jurisdiction of Rwanda.
Among the reports recommendations, Tribunal officials appeal for more funding to continue the vital work of bringing to justice the architects of the Rwandan genocide.
W.H.O. TEAMS INVESTIGATING DISEASE OUTBREAK IN D.R. CONGO
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it and its partners now have substantial teams in the field investigating the disease outbreak in the western Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There will soon be two fully-functioning labs on the ground, which will allow for quicker diagnosis of disease.
Of roughly 400 cases of illness and 170 deaths since April, so far nine cases of Ebola, five cases of typhoid and one case of Shigella have been confirmed. Test results from 45 further samples are still pending.
U.N. DRUG PURCHASE FACILITY HAS REDUCED COST OF HIV TREATMENT
FOR CHILDREN BY NEARLY 40%
It has been one year since the establishment of UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO). During the past year, UNITAID has reduced the price of HIV treatments for children by almost 40%, and is on course to meet the needs of 100,000 children by the end of this year.
In other health-related news, author Anna Cataldi, who served as a UN Messenger of Peace from 1998 to 2007, has just been appointed by the WHO-hosted Stop Tuberculosis Partnership as an Ambassador in the fight against that disease.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS NOT MET WITH SPECIAL ENVOY ON RESOLUTION 1559: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General had not met with his Special Envoy for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, since his comments in the Lebanese press last week.
POSSIBILITY OF A U.N. FORCE FOR SOMALIA BEING EXAMINED: Asked about the possibility of a UN force for Somalia, the Spokeswoman noted that the Departments for Political Affairs and for Peacekeeping Operations were examining the issue.
NEW SITES ADDED TO UNESCOS BIOSPHERE PROGRAMME: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added 23 new biosphere reserves in 18 countries to its Man and Biosphere Programme. Such sites are examples of innovative approaches to combining conservation and sustainable development.
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