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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-04

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 MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION AGAINST CLUSTER BOMBS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, says he is closely the international communitys efforts to address the issue of cluster munitions.

"I have on several occasions made known my views that the inhumane impact of these weapons requires urgent action," he said in the statement issued in his name. "I have urged Member States to prohibit cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, and to take domestic measures to freeze the use and transfer of all cluster munitions until a new legal instrument is adopted.

"I very much hope that all efforts to deal decisively with this issue will intensify over the year ahead. Member States gathering in Vienna at the beginning of December will have an opportunity to give further impetus towards the success of these efforts, and I wish them well. These are high humanitarian, human rights and developmental stakes."

NEW CLIMATE CHANGE GROUP IS AN ENCOURAGING SIGNAL

At the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Bali, Indonesia, Framework Convention Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer is hailing as an encouraging signal the creation by Member States of a contact group, which will prepare a decision on the launch of negotiations on a post-2012 climate change regime for consideration at next weeks high-level segment. The Secretary-General will also be attending that segment.

Participants have also agreed on a mechanism that could speed the transfer of technology that developing countries consider essential for addressing climate change.

Discussions also moved forward today on deforestation, which is estimated to cause up to 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Also today, the UN Environment Programme and the Global Environment Facility today

launched a report on ways vulnerable communities and countries can climate proof their economies in the years to come.

NEW ASSESSMENT SHOULD HELP DEFUSE IRAN CRISIS

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei received with great interest the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate about Iran's nuclear programme, and he

noted in particular that the Estimate tallies with the Agency's consistent statements over the last few years that it has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons programme or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.

The Director General believes that this new assessment by the United States should help to defuse the current crisis.

At the same time, it should prompt Iran to work actively with the IAEA to clarify specific aspects of its past and present nuclear programme, as outlined in the work plan and through the implementation of the additional protocol.

U.N. ENVOY NOTES NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN DARFUR & CHAD

As part of the United Nations and African Union (AU) joint mediation to expedite preparations for direct negotiations between the Darfur Peace Agreement parties and non-signatory movements, Special Envoy Jan Eliasson is arriving in

Sudan tomorrow.

While in Sudan, Eliasson will hold a series of extensive consultations in Darfur, Juba and Khartoum with all stakeholders concerned.

He will be arriving in Khartoum from Egypt, which is hosting a meeting today in Sharm-El-Sheikh between the AU and UN Special Envoys for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, with regional partners of the Darfur peace process.

From Sharm-el-Sheikh today, Eliasson told UN Radio that he cannot hide that we are in a difficult situation, noting the certain negative developments in the level of violence both inside Darfur, but above all in Chad.

He emphasized that it was very important now that the movements and the government itself do everything to facilitate a political process.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, is traveling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he will represent the United Nations at meeting tomorrow being convened by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the parties, as well as with the regional partners and senior representatives of the African Union and United Nations.

Tribal problems sparked by cattle thefts in the eastern region of South Sudan have forced the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to temporarily suspend the repatriation of Sudanese refugees mainly from Kenya to the area, according to the UN refugee agency. The situation remains tense with fears that the revenge attacks could spread to other parts of the major return area for refugees and internally displaced persons.

CHAD: REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED BY GROWING INSECURITY

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is gravely concerned about the worsening security environment in eastern Chad. The Agency says that 10 days of gun violence between the Army and rebel forces has limited their access to refugee camps.

The fighting is taking place around Abeche, where UNHCRs main operational base is located. Refugees in camps near Abeche, an estimated 212,000 people, now fear that the already volatile situation may worsen still, and they have reported feeling extremely vulnerable and insecure.

In related news, some 130 humanitarian workers from various organizations who, since November 24th, had been prevented from leaving a town near Farchana because of heavy fighting were finally relocated yesterday. They are now safe in Abeche.

Together with its partners, UNHCR in eastern Chad is assisting a total of 240,000 refugees from Darfur and 180,000 displaced Chadians.

U.N. MISSION TO HELP IRAQIS WISHING TO RETURN HOME

The UN Mission for Iraq says it will assist the Iraqi Government, at the Governments request, in its efforts to organize and implement the voluntary return of Iraqis. The Mission and the Iraqi Government today launched a Rapid Response Plan for those Iraqis who wish to return home.

This plan aims to assist approximately 30,000 people with an immediate relief package, which will be delivered through the UN Refugee Agency and International Organization for Migration.

The United Nations does not encourage or promote the return of refugees or internally displaced persons, given the prevailing security environment, but we are taking active measures to support the Iraqi authorities in meeting the assistance needs of those returnees and in preparing for organized movements.

BAN KI-MOON RECOMMENDS EXTENSION OF GOLAN HEIGHTS FORCE

In his latest report on the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF), the Secretary-General says that, during the past six months, the Israel-Syria sector has remained relatively quiet.

Nevertheless, he adds, the situation in the Middle East is tense and will likely remain so unless a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem is reached.

In that regard, he recommends that the Security Council extend UNDOFs mandate for a further six months. At the same time, he draws attention to UNDOFs funding shortfall, saying that troop-contributing countries are owed around $24 million.

RESTRICTIONS WORSEN LIVING CONDITIONS FOR PALESTINIANS IN GAZA

According to the UNs latest humanitarian fact sheet on Palestinians living in Gaza, roughly 75% of Gazas population receives food aid. But while regular humanitarian aid is continuing, import restrictions have led to the suspension of more than $200 million worth of programming, including shelter and re-housing projects for 27,000 refugees and construction at three major hospitals.

Also, 17 water and sanitation projects are unable to proceed since UN agencies cannot get building materials, such as cement and piping, through the crossings.

The fact sheet also shows that the unemployment rate in Gaza has soared past 32%. At the same time, food prices have shot up. The price of wheat flour, for example, has gone up by 46%.

Regarding health, deaths among hospitalized newborns in three surveyed Gaza hospitals are 20% higher this year than in 2006, and nearly 50% of the incubators in pediatric hospitals are in need of urgent maintenance.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT GETS THREE NEW JUDGES

At its session now underway at UN Headquarters, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), after four rounds of balloting, elected three new international lawyers to fill judicial vacancies.

They are: Bruno Cotte of France; Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko of Uganda; and Fumiko Saiga of Japan.

Judge Saigas term will end in March 2009, while Judges Cotte and Nsereko will serve until March 2012. The three will be sworn in mid-January 2008.

In related news, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, in a speech made public today, that he will open two new cases in the Security Council-mandated investigation he has been conducting in Darfur. The Prosecutor did not identify new potential suspects but said that the new cases will relate to attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers.

U.N. COUNTRY TEAM LEADER LEAVES MYNAMAR

The Spokesperson responded to a question about the head of the UN Country Team in Myanmar, Charles Petrie, by confirming that Petrie is leaving Myanmar today, as planned.

As agreed with the Myanmar authorities, a senior member of the UN Country Team will take over the functions of UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar in an acting capacity pending Petrie's replacement, she said. Dan Baker, a UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, has been designated for this purpose.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES MONTHLY SCHEDULE: The Security Council, in its first consultations this morning under Italys Council Presidency, approved its programme of work for the month of December.

U.N. PEACEKEEPERS NOT ENGAGED IN DIRECT FIGHTING IN D.R. CONGO: Asked about fighting by the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission was not engaged in direct fighting in the eastern Congo. It was operating in accordance with its mandate, which, like all mandates of UN peacekeeping missions, is determined by the Security Council.

BAN KI-MOON PLEASED THAT U.N. BODY GETS HIGH MARKS: The Spokesperson, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General was pleased with a Global Accountability Report that cited the UN Development Programme as its top performer.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

to the Spokesperson's Page


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