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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-28

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

[There are no noon briefings planned until January 2, 2008.

Developments within the UN system will be posted on this website daily throughout this period.]

Friday, December 28, 2007

NEW SURVEY FINDS ALARMING MALNUTRITION RATES IN DARFUR

A joint survey by UN agencies and the Government of

Sudan has found that the malnutrition rate in Darfur for children under the age of five has now surpassed the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has expressed its concern, pointing out that, in North Darfur specifically, the rate is actually above 20 percent.

The report notes various contributing factors, including poor feeding practices, inadequate sanitation, low health coverage, and low coverage of special feeding programmes. OCHA adds that continued insecurity is also a primary cause.

AFRICAN UNION TO TRANSFER AUTHORITY TO U.N./A.U. MISSION IN DARFUR

The United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) will formally take over from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) on 31 December 2007.

At full strength, the new mission will be the UNs largest peacekeeping operation, with some 20,000 troops and more than 6,000 police and civilian staff.

Some 9,000 uniformed personnel are on the ground now, including 7,000 troops and 1,200 police serving with the AMIS, which was established in 2004, as well as UN soldiers and police officers serving as part of the UNs heavy and light support packages deployed to support AMIS over the last year.

The transfer of authority, which is in accordance with the timeline specified in UN Security Council

resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007, will comprise a signing ceremony between both parties in the presence of a representative of the Sudanese Government.

In addition, AU troops will exchange their green headgear for the UNs blue beret.

The deployment of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission is complemented by joint efforts on the political front. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, and the AU Special Envoy for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, are pursuing a political settlement to the Darfur crisis through negotiations aimed at a achieving a peace agreement.

SRI LANKAN REBELS ARE GUILTY OF CHILD ABDUCTION/RECRUITMENT

The Secretary-Generals latest report on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka is available today.

In it, he says that both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the so-called Karuna faction, which broke away from the LTTE, have failed to cease the abduction, recruitment and use of children.

They have also failed to release all children associated with their forces and engage in transparent procedures for release and verification.

The Secretary-General welcomes the Sri Lankan Governments efforts to look into allegations of abduction and recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

At the same time, however, he urges the Government to take more active steps to prevent the abduction and recruitment of children by armed groups and secure the immediate release of children associated with any armed group in areas it controls.

NEPAL IS ELIGIBLE FOR PEACEBUILDING FUNDS

The Secretary-General today declared Nepal eligible to receive assistance from the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which was established a year ago to help countries emerging from conflict consolidate their gains and not relapse back into war.

The Secretary-General has instructed his Special Representative, Ian Martin, and the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to ensure that PBF funds are spent on the priority peace process needs that have already been determined by the UN after consultations with the Government of Nepal, parties to the peace process, donors and other stakeholders. The funds are expected to be channeled through an existing mechanism known as the UN Peace Fund for Nepal.

Also on Nepal, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that tens of thousands of displaced Nepalese have returned home to rebuild their lives. The challenges are daunting, but UNHCR and other agencies are helping them to ensure that their return is sustainable.

Regarding the Peacebuilding Fund, to date it has approved grants of $43 million for 21 projects in Burundi and Sierra Leone, the first two countries to be formally considered by the related UN Peacebuilding Commission.

It has also funded several emergency projects in Africa, which have supported critical peacebuilding initiatives such as dialogue in Côte dIvoire and mediation efforts in the Central African Republic. The PBF also agreed to provide Liberia with $15 million over the next two years to fund projects there.

LIBYA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY NEXT WEEK

As of today, there are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled for the rest of the month.

On 1 January, Libya will assume the Security Councils rotating Presidency from Italy.

On 3 January, Libyas Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi, is scheduled to brief the press in the afternoon, following the Security Councils consultations on its programme of work for January.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME PRAISES CREATIVE WAYS TO FIGHT HUNGER

The World Food Programme (WFP) has lauded new, creative efforts in 2007 that galvanized more support to feed the hungry.

The Internet, with its immense power and reach, combined with social networking, chalked up many successes, according to WFP.

Effective initiatives included Freerice.com, a web-based vocabulary game that has donated 11.5 billion grains of rice to WFP, and Food-Force.com, the worlds first and most popular humanitarian video game, which helps kids to understand more about hunger.

BAN KI-MOON APPOINTS NEW UNICEF DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The Secretary-General today appointed Saad Houry as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). Houry, a native of Lebanon, also has Canadian citizenship.

Since January 2003, Mr. Houry has been the Director of UNICEFs Division of Policy and Planning. He is also a member of its Global Management Team, Programme Management Group, and Audit Committee.

His career with UNICEF began in 1978. He has served in Jordan, Burkina Faso, Cote dIvoire, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

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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