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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-11

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BAN KI-MOON IS SHOCKED AND OUTRAGED BY TERRORIST ATTACK

ON U.N. OFFICE IN ALGERIA

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement in Bali:

"Words cannot express my sense of shock, outrage and anger at the terrorist attack on the United Nations mission in Algiers today.

This was an abjectly cowardly strike against civilian officials serving humanity's highest ideals under the UN banner - base, indecent and unjustifiable by even the most barbarous political standard.

We do not yet have an accurate count of the many casualties, both among UN staff and the local population. But our hearts go out to the victims. Their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten.

The perpetrators of these crimes will not escape the strongest possible condemnation - and ultimate punishment - by Algerian authorities and the international community.

I have instructed senior advisers from my Executive Office, UNDP and the Department of Safety and Security to proceed to Algiers immediately. We will take every possible measure to aid those injured in the attack and their families.

The security of UN staff is paramount. We will take every measure to ensure their safety, in Algeria and elsewhere, beginning with an immediate review of our security precautions and policies."

RESCUE EFFORTS UNDERWAY FOLLOWING ALGIERS ATTACK

At this time, the United Nations is unable to confirm the extent of UN casualties, while UN staff check with hospitals, examine the site of the blast and try to obtain any proof of death, if necessary. Rescue efforts are continuing right now.

What the United Nations can confirm is that, at approximately 4:30 a.m. in New York or about 10:30 in the morning in Algiers the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Algiers collapsed following a bomb blast, which Algerian authorities have indicated was caused by a car bomb. There was another car bomb explosion that took place near Algerias Constitutional Court.

The UNDP offices houses staff from UNDP, the World Food Programme, the International Labour Organization, the UN Population Fund, the UN Industrial Development Organization, UNAIDS and the Department of Safety and Security and the UN Information Center. Also, the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, located across the street, sustained damage.

There is no claim of responsibility at this time.

The UN flag at Headquarters is currently flying at half mast, to mark this tragic occasion.

The United Nations has a total of 40 international staff presently in Algeria, including 19 international staff who are based there and an additional 21 who were there temporarily. There are 115 local UN staff in Algiers.

The United Nations is continuing to work with the Algerian authorities in pulling people from the rubble; in fact, one person was pulled, alive, from the rubble just within the past hour. UN staff are going to all the area hospitals to obtain information.

The United Nations is still trying to account, at present, for 14 people.

The United Nations cannot provide any figures on fatalities until we have confirmed proof of death and the families have been informed. This information was received from the UN Resident Coordinator in Algiers, who says he was in the half of three-story concrete building that did not collapse.

In response to further questions about casualties, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was still trying to account for 14 people, in the midst of a confusing situation on the ground.

She noted that some preliminary information, which she stressed had not been confirmed, had indicated that [five] UN staff may have died.

In any case, Okabe reiterated, no details about fatalities would be provided until the next of kin had been notified.

She declined to confirm reports, attributed to the Algerian Government, of at least 45 dead from both bomb attacks.

Asked about the UN threat assessment for Algeria, the Spokeswoman noted that UN risk assessments are not made public, but added that the United Nations works with the authorities in every country in which it operates in order to make such assessments and update them regularly.

In response to a question, she added that she was not aware of any threats received in the period immediately before the attack.

Asked about the work of the UN system in Algeria, she noted that the agencies present in the country included those based in the UNDP and UNHCR offices, as well as UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization also have offices in Algiers.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ALGERIA BOMBING

[Following the noon briefing, the Security Council today issued a Presidential Statement, condemning in the strongest terms todays terrorist attacks in Algeria.

The Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.]

SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Security Council also held consultations this morning on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, on which they heard a briefing by Lisa Buttenheim, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations. The consultations were preceded by a meeting with the troop contributing countries for the Disengagement Observer Force.

The Council then heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane on the Secretary-Generals recent report on missing persons and property in Iraq. In a press statement on that topic, issued later, the Council strongly condemned the execution of Kuwaiti and third country nationals by the former Iraqi regime.

At 3:00 this afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Central African Republic, with a briefing by the head of the UN office in that country, Francois Lonseny Fall.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES

ACCELERATED RENOVATION PLANS FOR U.N. HEADQUARTERS

The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption of the Resolution on the Accelerated Strategy IV for the Capital Master Plan by the General Assembly, allowing for a completion of the project in five instead of seven years.

By approving the accelerated renovation strategy, it will be possible to minimize the inconvenience and risk for delegates, occupants and visitors to the UN Headquarters during construction.

After the completion of the Capital Master Plan in 2013, the UN Headquarters will not only be a safer, healthier, greener and more secure place; our renovated workshop for peace will also stand out as a symbol for building a revitalized United Nations for a better world.

The Secretary-General would like to thank the Member States once more for funding the Capital Master Plan and for their continued support of the Capital Master Plan.

CLIMATE CHANGE THE DEFINING ISSUE OF OUR TIME

The Secretary-General has arrived in Bali to participate in the Climate Change Conference, and he said at an event organized by the UN Development Programme, concerning its latest Human Development Report, that climate change is the defining issue of our time. He said it is visible, it is global and its first victims are the poor and defenseless.

He added that, although scientists describe the situation as grim, they also say that the measures required to prevent a catastrophe are achievable and affordable. All we need, he said, is the resolve to act.

The Secretary-General is also meeting with key officials dealing with environmental affairs on the margins of this Bali meeting, and he attended a dinner hosted by the Indonesian President for the conference participants this evening.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES SECURITY COUNCIL CONCURRENCE

ON APPOINTMENT OF ENVOY ON RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

The Secretary-General welcomes the concurrence of the Security Council with his intention to appoint Mr. Edward Luck as Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.

Luck, a distinguished international scholar with extensive knowledge of the United Nations system would serve at the Assistant Secretary-General level on a part-time basis.

U.N. OFFICIAL SHARES CONCERNS WITH HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The Human Rights Council today resumed the second part of its 6th session in Geneva. Council members heard a briefing from High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour on the recent activities of her office.

Arbour said that, during her latest visit to Sri Lanka, she had paid special attention to the issue of abductions and disappearances, which had been reported in alarming numbers over the past two years. Meanwhile, on Afghanistan, which she recently visited after two years, she said she was concerned by how little the womens rights agenda had progressed. On Pakistan, Arbour expressed concern that emergency rule had inflicted severe, long-term injury to the judicial and civil society there.

Arbour also drew attention to Sudan, where grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continued to be committed, for the most part with total impunity. She also expressed worry over Somalia, where the human rights situation, particularly in Mogadishu, continued to deteriorate.

SUDAN NEEDS MORE THAN $2 BILLION FOR HUMANITARIAN

AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Sudan

requires more than $2.29 billion for humanitarian, early recovery and development projects in 2008. That is according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which says that 20 percent of that amount has already been secured, with $1.84 billion outstanding. The money is expected to fund 59 projects across Sudan in the course of 2008.

In 2007, OCHA was able to secure 70 percent of the amount needed to fund its Work Program, enabling it to address Sudans emergency assistance, recovery and development needs.

Also on Sudan, asked whether the Secretary-General had contacted the US administration about the need for helicopters for UNAMID in Darfur, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General and his senior advisers had approached all countries that could potentially contribute helicopters.

Asked whether France should expel Darfur rebel leader Abdul Wahid Nur, Okabe declined to comment on bilateral affairs between France and Sudan.

She noted that the Secretary-General is engaged in moving forward with the Sirte process, to stop the fighting in Darfur and improve humanitarian conditions on the ground. His Special Envoy, Jan Eliasson, continues to try to bring rebel groups into the Sirte process.

U.N. WORKING TO SECURE RELEASE OF DETAINED STAFF MEMBER

Asked about a UN staffer reportedly detained in Brazil, the Spokeswoman said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed that a staff member is being detained at a reserve in Brazils Rondonia State, where he had traveled to meet with indigenous persons.

The UN team in Brazil is working with the Brazilian Government to secure his release.

He is reported as being in good condition, Okabe added.

U.N. TOUR GUIDES BACK AT WORK:

Asked about the status of UN tour guides, the Spokeswoman said that the tour guides were back at work and were expected to meet with Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka this afternoon.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

REFUGEE AGENCY ASKS FOR FUNDS: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees opened its annual Pledging Conference in Geneva today. The agency which relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions is asking donors to help fund its nearly $1.1 billion dollar budget for assistance to the millions of refugees, displaced and stateless persons around the world. The largest operations for which UNHCR is seeking funding are in Chad, Afghanistan, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

HUMANITARIAN OFFICE HIGHLGHTS FLOOD RECOVERY NEEDS IN UGANDA: On northern and eastern Uganda, which were devastated by flooding between August and October, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the first wave of emergency response was a success, with food delivered to those in need and any outbreak of epidemic disease prevented. But much more is needed to help the population recover. Priority areas include ensuring access to food for nearly 400,000 people at risk of hunger; providing safe water, sanitation, and medical care; and rehabilitating damaged schools.

NUMBER OF MYANMAR REFUGEES LEAVING THAILAND PASSES 20,000: According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Myanmar refugees who have left Thailand to begin new lives in third countries has passed the 20,000 mark. The refugees have been departing under the world's largest refugee resettlement programme, and the majority of them have gone to the United States.

OTHER ITEMS: In other news: the World Food Programme is out with its list of global hunger hotspots; a group of UNESCO experts who recently visited the Sundarbans World Heritage site in Bangladesh found massive devastation of the mangrove forest in the wake of last months deadly cyclone there; and the UN Environment Programme is out with press releases on how

urban areas can do their part to fight climate change, and on how protecting

peatlands could cut greenhouse emissions by 10 per cent.

  • *The guests at noon were: Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly; Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General; and Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. They discussed: the General Assembly's World Fit for Children +5 Event, which started today; the Secretary-General's recent report entitled, "Children and the Millennium Development Goals: Progress towards a world fit for children"; and UNICEF's latest Progress for Children report.

    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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