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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-06
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, December 6, 2007
AFTER THE NOON BRIEFING, BAN KI-MOON SPEAKS TO PRESS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO LEAD U.N. DELEGATION
TO AFRICAN UNION/EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will be leading the UN delegation to the African Union-European Union Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
As part of her delegation, she will have the High-Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked and Small Island Developing States, Cheick Sidi Diarra, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and the Deputy Chef de Cabinet, Kim Won-Soo.
Mulet and Kim are scheduled to meet with the Sudanese delegation at the summit on issues related to the deployment of the AU-UN hybrid force (UNAMID). The purpose of those meetings, which will take place tomorrow and Saturday, will be to address and resolve the issue of force composition as well as all other obstacles impeding the deployment of UNAMID.
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Côte d'Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin, is expected to participate in a mini-summit on Côte d'Ivoire.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL
OF DIRE SITUATION IN SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND SOMALIA
The Security Council began its work today with a briefing on the work of the Councils mission to Timor-Leste by the head of that mission, South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo.
After that, the Council held another formal meeting to hear from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes about his recent visit to Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. He told the Council that he is extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in all three areas.
He said that there are strong reasons to believe that a catastrophe could occur in the next few months in Ethiopia if all the necessary action to avert it is not taken.
He added that, despite its scale and relative success in sustaining millions and saving hundreds of thousands of lives, the humanitarian operation in Darfur is increasingly fragile.
He is particularly concerned about the seriousness of the situation of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Mogadishu, scattered over inaccessible areas in South and Central Somalia.
This afternoon, the Security Council is scheduled to take up Burundi, first in a formal meeting, and then in closed consultations.
HARIRI ASSASSINS LIKELY STILL HAVE OPERATIONAL CAPABILITIES, U.N. INVESTIGATOR TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
Serge Brammertz yesterday afternoon delivered his last briefing to the Security Council as the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission dealing with
He told the Council that the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariris 2005 assassination, as well as preliminary results in other cases, suggest that the perpetrators had, and most likely still have, operational capabilities available in Beirut.
Brammertz said that, in recent months, as investigative tracks have advanced, the scope of the investigation has narrowed. He added that, based on the progress made recently, he is more confident and optimistic than ever that the investigation can be concluded successfully.
Brammertz and his successor, Daniel Bellemare, met with the press following the meeting and Security Council consultations. Mr. Bellemare expressed his commitment to a seamless transition when he takes up his job on 1 January.
U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE HEAD CALLS ON INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES
TO TAKE THE LEAD IN REDUCING EMISSIONS
At the climate change talks in Bali, all of the negotiating groups that will draw up draft conclusions for adoption next week have now been established, and theyve begun work on all the major issues.
Meanwhile, the plenary is taking up the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Some parties are suggesting that those reports should be updated by the end of 2009, when a post-2012 climate change deal is expected to be in place.
The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, today called on industrialized countries to take the lead, by reducing their emissions between 25 and 40 percent from 1990 levels. He stressed the need to include the carbon market in negotiations on a future deal, in order to achieve these targets.
And, also on climate change, the Framework Convention is stressing the need to do more to extend the benefits of the Clean Development Mechanism to Africa, and the U.N. Environment Programme
notes that environmental sustainability could potentially create millions of new green collar jobs in fields like construction, sustainable forestry, agriculture, engineering and transportation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES IMPORTANCE
OF U.N. DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
The Deputy Secretary-General this morning addressed the General Assembly Dialogue on Development. Highlighting the new UN Development Agenda, she said the publication reflects the importance that the entire UN system attaches to building a more equitable, healthier and more secure world for all.
She added that there will be no more important mission for the United Nations than helping developing countries share in the world's prosperity.
A stronger United Nations needs a stronger development pillar, she concluded.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLING OF DRIVER
The head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Josette Sheeran, today condemned the killing of a truck driver in Afghanistan, who was delivering WFP food aid. The drivers assistant was abducted and remains missing.
Sheeran said she strongly deplored this attack, as she does with all acts of aggression against humanitarian workers helping people in desperate need.
The truck, which was carrying 14 tons of high-energy biscuits, was ambushed by armed men on the road from Kandahar to Helmand, in southern Afghanistan. The truck and its cargo are still missing.
In October and November, two other attacks on trucks delivering WFP food occurred in the same area.
Asked what happens to food that is transported on UN vehicles that are hijacked, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations does not know what happens to food that goes missing. However, she noted that many of the hijackings take place in conflict zones, where needs are desperate, so the hijackers may need to use the food themselves or sell it.
UNICEF LAUNCHES IMMUNIZATION CAMPAIGN IN SOMALIA
UNICEF is launching a large-scale immunization campaign for some 47,000 children under five and 56,000 women who live in camps for the internally displaced. The campaign is starting this week in IDP camps along the Mogadishu-Afgooye road.
With 95 percent of children under 5 having never been immunized, Somalia has some of the worst health and social indicators for children in the world. The UNICEF effort will complement ongoing campaigns to deliver clean water and sanitation, build schools and improve health services.
The approach is cost effective. UNICEF and WHO believe that they can reach 3.5 million children and women in the next two years for as little as US$ 15 per person per year.
Asked about reports that the Transitional Federal Government had been blocking food deliveries, the Spokeswoman said that World Food Programme (WFP) operations in Lower Shabelle resumed yesterday after restrictions imposed by the Transitional Federal Government one day earlier were lifted. [WFP began unloading two of its ships in the port of Merka, and also resumed food distributions for 40,000 people in that city.]
U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH IVORIAN PRESIDENT
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Cote dIvoire, Y. J. Choi, today met with President Laurent Gbagbo to discuss the implementation of the Ouagdougou Peace Agreement. Also present at the meeting was Boureima Badini, the Representative of the Facilitator of the Ivorian dialogue.
Choi said at the end of the meeting that the discussion placed particular emphasis on preparations for general elections expected to take place in 2008. He said he left encouraged by the Presidents plans to realize various programmes provided for in the additional protocols to the Ougadougou Agreement which were signed on Novermber 28th between the President and former rebel leader and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.
Choi reaffirmed the UNs support to the peace process.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WRAPS UP VISIT TO BRAZIL
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour wrapped up a three-day
visit to Brazil last night. Arbour met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, other Federal Government officials and the Federal Supreme Court, as well as State authorities in São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.
They discussed Brazils progress and challenges with regards to human rights. Civil society groups in Brasilia and São Paolo also had the opportunity to discuss their human rights concerns with her.
Arbour encouraged the Brazilian authorities to continue their efforts to improve the administration of justice, especially with regards to the widespread use of pre-trial detention. She suggested specific measures to alleviate prison overcrowding, to foster accountability among law enforcement officials, and to prevent abuses against detainees.
MORE FOOD AID REACHES DISPLACED IN YEMEN
The World Food Programme says that improved security in Yemen will allow food assistance to reach many more people in the Saadah governorate, where thousands have been displaced by conflict between the Government and rebels.
The agency is appealing for funds to make up a shortfall of more than $3 million, in order to feed 77,000 people until March, more than double the number of previous months.
HEALTH KITS DISTRIBUTED TO EXPECTANT MOTHERS IN BANGLADESH
The UN Population Fund is distributing health kits to cyclone-affected areas of Bangladesh, in order to help ensure the safe delivery of approximately 30,000 babies expected to be born in the next two to three months.
The kits are designed for complicated deliveries, and include intravenous fluids, antibiotics, pain killers, syringes, gloves and a small sterilizing machine.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION UNVEILS NEW AGENDA
FOR CHILD-FRIENDLY MEDICINES
The World Health Organization (WHO) today
unveiled a new research and development agenda, which aims to ensure that children get better access to child-friendly medicines.
According to WHOs Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, the need for more child-appropriate medicines is an issue that affects both rich and poor countries.
WHO is also releasing today the first international List of Essential Medicines for Children.
HEAD OF CAPITAL MASTER PLAN WELCOMES ACCELERATED STRATEGY
Asked about delays in the implementation of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), the Spokeswoman said that the CMPs Executive Director, Michael Adlerstein, welcomes the adoption today by the General Assemblys Fifth Committee of the accelerated strategy for the plan, which is in line with his own views to implement the Plan as soon as possible.
Adlerstein will brief the press on December 17.
'SNAIL MAIL IS ALIVE AND WELL'
Despite the proliferation of email, snail mail is alive and well, according to the Universal Postal Union (UPU). In its report on world postal statistics for 2006, released today, the UPU finds that the number of letters sent has remained steady.
In Switzerland and the United States, for example, the average inhabitant sends around 700 letters per year.
Meanwhile, parcel traffic continues to grow, with Africa, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States showing the biggest increases. And postal revenue is up sharply thirteen percent from the previous year.
NEW TENDERS FOR EAST JERUSALEM HOUSING "NOT HELPFUL": In response to a question asked at the briefing about the Secretary-General's reaction on whether recent building activity by Israel violates the Road Map, the Spokeswoman later said that the UN's position on the illegality of settlement activity is well-known. These tenders for 300 new homes in east Jerusalem, coming so soon after the renewed commitment to Road Map implementation at Annapolis, are not helpful. The UN will be discussing this with Quartet partners, she said.
HEAD OF PUBLIC INFORMATION TO DISCUSS ISSUES OF CONCERN WITH U.N. TOUR GUIDES: Asked about the reduction of guided tours to UN Headquarters, the Spokeswoman said that the guided tours were reduced drastically today after 22 guides called in "sick". Visitors who had made prior reservations were generally able to go on their tour as scheduled, but all others were prevented from visiting UN Headquarters. Okabe said that this is apparently related to a number of issues that the tour guides have raised with Management in recent weeks, but no communication has been received from the guides today. A meeting had been planned this afternoon to discuss these issues, and Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Kiyo Akasaka had planned to join and announce that he would constitute a Working Group to discuss the issues of concern, she added. The meeting is scheduled as planned and the United Nations is fully committed to dialogue with the Tour Guides, she said.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES TO RECEIVE KOSOVO REPORT SOON: Asked when the Secretary-General and Security Council will receive the troika report on Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that he hopes to get it from the Contact Group before he leaves for Bali. She declined to comment on remarks attributed to the Deputy Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo, Albert Rohan, noting that the Secretary-General is awaiting the Contact Group report before any further comment.
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