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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-13

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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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

TOP U.N. OFFICIAL VISITS VICTIMS OF ALGERIA BOMBING

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Dervis is in Algeria, where he has been meeting with families of the victims of the 11 December bomb attack on the UN offices and visiting those who were injured.

At present, 11 UN staff are known to have died, while five are still missing; our effort to recover and identify bodies is continuing. At present, the list of nine confirmed fatalities, whose next of kin have been notified, has not changed.

Mr. Dervis, who was sent to Algiers by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to represent the entire UN family,

said, I am here to offer my support to the families of those killed in the attacks and to send to the people of Algeria a strong message of solidarity from the United Nations.

He emphasized that the United Nations work in Algeria will continue, and that the United Nations is a politically neutral body which is working for development, peace and humanitarian causes.

Following his visit to local hospitals to meet with injured staff, Dervis said it was sad to see the impact of the attack on his colleagues, adding, The victims are not soldiers who signed up for battle, but people, mostly Algerians, who are working for peace, development and to alleviate human suffering.

Asked whether the UN staff who are still missing are likely to be dead, the Spokeswoman said that they remain unaccounted for and that the United Nations expects that the number of casualties could rise as efforts to recover bodies continue.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would visit Algeria, the Spokeswoman said that, right now, the emphasis in Algiers is on recovery and tending to the injured. The UN's logistical and operational capacity on the ground has been lost and a visit under those circumstances at this time would be difficult in the extreme, she noted.

However, she added, immediately after the bombing, the Secretary-General dispatched Kemal Dervis and the head of the Department of Safety and Security, David Veness, to over see the operations, and they are keeping him updated around the clock.

The Secretary-General, Okabe said, remains extremely concerned about the welfare of the survivors and the families of our colleagues who perished.

Regarding the security review proposed by the Secretary-General, she said Veness was on the ground to gather information. The UN security office in Algiers had been destroyed in the bomb attack, and that information would have to be reconstructed. He would first conduct a review of the security in Algiers and see what lessons can be drawn. Then we will work with the heads of agencies in the UN system and with members states to implement whatever recommendations that emerge.

BAN KI-MOON TO EXTEND HIS STAY AT CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS

The Secretary-General spent his third day there in intensive bilateral discussions with Ministers and business leaders attending the high-level segment.

He met separately today with the Ministers of Environment of Canada, India, and Japan, the Minister of National Development of China and the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources of Saudi Arabia. He also met with Nobel laureate Al Gore, who arrived today in Denpasar and addressed a side event at the Bali meeting.

They discussed the state of play of the negotiations and some key pending issues. These included dissemination of technology, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, and how the negotiation process can proceed from here. They also discussed the Adaptation Fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change.

The Secretary-General also participated today in a special session organized by the President of Indonesia for the Heads of State and Government participating in the Conference.

Throughout the day, the Secretary-General continued to stress that the parties need to agree to launch negotiations here in Bali, agree on a clear agenda for those negotiations, and set a definite time line for the conclusion of negotiations by 2009.

The Secretary-General has decided to remain in Bali longer than originally scheduled because of the very critical phase of the negotiating process at the Climate Change conference. The successful launch of the negotiation process is a top priority for the Secretary-General, as well as the defining issue of our time, and he will devote as much effort as needed.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would talk to U.S. President George W. Bush to push the United States on the climate change issue, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has spoken to President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a number of times on that issue.

She said that, as he extends his time in Bali, the Secretary-General would be holding round-the-clock talks with all countries represented there, including the United States. He is spending as much time as he can to push for progress on the climate change issue.

Asked how his extended stay in Bali would affect the rest of his itinerary, Okabe said that the Secretary-General would leave at dawn on Friday for Timor-Leste, and then would return to Bali and from there take stock. Most likely, she said, he would travel onward to Paris from Indonesia.

She emphasized, in response to further questions about his extended stay in Bali, that the Secretary-General sees climate change as a top priority for him, and as one of the major global challenges of our time.

PAST DECADE IS WARMEST ON RECORD

This past decade (from 1998 to 2007) was the warmest on record, according to figures

released today by the World Meteorological Organization.

Based on information through the end of November, the global mean surface temperature for 2007 is estimated to be almost half a degree Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average.

The report also noted record-low Arctic sea ice; devastating floods, drought and storms in many places around the world this year; a relatively small Antarctic Ozone Hole due to a warmer winter in the southern Hemisphere, and development of La Nina weather pattern in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE

NORTH-SOUTH ISSUES IN SUDAN

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that recent discussions have resulted in an agreement on a number of key outstanding issues, with the exception of Abyei.

The parties have also affirmed that the agreement will pave the way for the return of ministers of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement to the Government of National Unity.

The Secretary-General commends both parties for their commitment to preserve the integrity of the CPA through dialogue and partnership, and looks forward to the early implementation of the decisions reached by the two sides. It is hoped that the Presidency will expedite a resolution to the issue of Abyei, which is essential in order to establish a firm basis for the next phase of the peace process.

The Secretary-General reiterates that the full implementation of the CPA is in the interest of both parties, and is fundamental for lasting peace and stability in Sudan and the region.

The United Nations stands ready to discuss with the parties how it can further assist them in ensuring the successful implementation of the Agreement.

REFUGEE AGENCY HEAD VISITS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has begun a five-day visit to that country, during which he will fly to North Kivu to assess the Refugee Agency's work helping tens of thousands of displaced persons.

A UNHCR emergency team has been working in the area since August to boost the Agencys crisis response, and Guterres hopes that his visit will strengthen their morale.

During his stay, Guterres will meet President Joseph Kabila, visit internally displaced persons camps in Goma and exchange views with UN Peacekeepers, humanitarian agencies and their non-governmental organization partners working in North Kivu.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that as of 3 December the violence in North Kivu had displaced some 58,000 people, bringing to an estimated 437,000 the number of new IDPs since December 2006 and to some 800,000 the total number of IDPs in North Kivu alone.

As the unescorted movement of UN humanitarian workers is limited due to the fighting, UNICEF has prepositioned emergency assistance kits in the areas likely to be made inaccessible by the spreading violence. And the World Food Programme and Caritas have distributed four weeks worth of food provisions.

Asked whether the Department of Peacekeeping Operations needs to focus more on humanitarian tasks rather than military ones in the DRC, the Spokeswoman said that she was not aware of any change in the UN Missions mandate. The UN Mission continues to work within the mandate established by the Security Council, while humanitarian workers continue to provide assistance to the Congolese people.

BAN KI-MOON RECEIVES LETTER ON KILLING OF LEBANESE GENERAL

Late yesterday, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on Lebanon in which it also condemned the assassination of General François el-Hajj of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and recalled its support for the Secretary-Generals efforts to establish a special tribunal for Lebanon in a timely manner.

That statement was adopted after the Council heard from Geir Pedersen, the Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator for Lebanon, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet about recent developments in Lebanon.

The Secretary-General has received a letter from the Government of Lebanon, requesting technical assistance in the investigation of General el-Hajjs death, and he has transmitted it onward to the Security Council. This is a response to a question that was asked here yesterday.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES TIMOR-LESTE AND SUDAN

The Security Council this morning discussed in an open meeting the recent mission by Council members to Timor-Leste. That meeting began with a briefing by the leader of the Council mission, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa.

Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno is in Timor-Leste today, where he met separately with representatives of political parties, civil society and womens groups, and visited a camp for internally displaced persons. The Secretary-General will visit the country in a few hours.

This afternoon at 3:00, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan, and will receive a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet about the talks that he and Deputy Chef de Cabinet Kim Won-soo had with Sudanese officials, concerning Darfur, at the European Union-African Union summit in Portugal.

Late yesterday, the Council President, Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, read out a press statement expressing the Councils concern at the security threat posed by drug trafficking and organized crime in Guinea-Bissau.

U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ CONDEMNS APPALING BOMBINGS IN AMARAH

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura,

condemned in the strongest terms the criminal bombings in Amarah, which left dozens of innocent civilians dead and more than other a hundred others injured in the capital of the Missan Province.

De Mistura called the triple bombing an appalling crime that deserves condemnation by all.

EXPERTS EVALUATE SANCTIONS ON LIBERIA

Out on the racks today is a report by the Liberia Panel of Experts, which the Secretary-General appointed last July to investigate the implementation of sanctions in Liberia.

Among other things, the Panel said that, while there was no confirmed case of diamond smuggling into Liberia, the Liberian Government should make sure that Ivorian diamonds dont pass through its porous borders and enter its legitimate trade.

On arms, the Panel recommended that the Liberia Sanctions Committee carefully review past exceptions to the arms embargo and inventories of weapons already transferred to Liberia before approving further military transfers to Liberias security services. Regarding specific individuals, the Panel found that, since its last report, the Liberian Government had not made any progress towards freezing the assets of any individual designated in Resolution 1532.

The Panel also said that a significant milestone in its work occurred when the Nigerian Government invited it to visit Nigeria to investigate allegations against former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT WASHINGTON, D.C.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C. today, on her first official trip there in her current capacity, and will be returning to New York tomorrow evening.

Later today, she is scheduled to meet with John Negroponte, U. S. Deputy Secretary of State.

On Friday morning, she is expected to address InterAction, the NGO coalition, on the UN Development & Humanitarian Assistance Agenda for 2008.

She also plans to be attending a luncheon with women leaders hosted by the UN Foundation and will be meeting with senior officials at the International Monetary Fund.

BAN KI-MOON APPOINTS DEPUTY EMERGENCY COORDINATOR

The Secretary-General has appointed Catherine Bragg of Canada as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Ms. Bragg will succeed Margareta Wahlström of Sweden.

Since 2004, Ms. Bragg has served as Director General of the Humanitarian Assistance, Peace and Security Programme in the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). She currently chairs the OCHA Donor Support Group and is a member of the Advisory Group of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

SECRETARY-GENERAL IS SADDENED BY DEATH OF YULI VORONTSOV

The Secretary-General learned with profound sadness that Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov of the Russian Federation passed away on 12 December.

A distinguished diplomat, Ambassador Vorontsov was appointed in February 2000 as the High-level Coordinator pursuant to paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999). Since that time Ambassador Vorontsov coordinated international efforts aimed at the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third country nationals or their remains, and return of all Kuwaiti property.

His death occurred just a few days after he returned from the mission to Kuwait where he had consultations and prepared the Secretary-Generals report.

Throughout his career, including as his countrys First Deputy Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he showed dedication and tireless effort. He enjoyed the deep respect of all his colleagues.

The Secretary-General wishes to convey his heartfelt condolences to the family of Ambassador Vorontsov and to the Government of the Russian Federation. He will be mourned with profound respect and affection by friends around the world.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS KOSOVO NEXT WEEK: Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on the final status of Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that his views on that matter had not change. At present, she said, since he has transmitted the Contact Groups report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General is waiting for the Councils deliberations on the matter.

  • The guest at the noon briefing today was John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affiars and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, who briefed on the outcome of today's High-Level meeting on the Central Emergency Response Fund.

    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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