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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-14

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 FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR END TO FIGHTING AND LAWLESSNESS IN GEORGIA

The Secretary-General is extremely

concerned by the humanitarian impact of the recent conflict on the civilian population in Georgia, which has suffered loss of life and injury, significant damage to property and infrastructure, as well as sizeable displacement.

The Secretary-General welcomes the ceasefire agreement reached by the Governments of Georgia and the Russian Federation, but notes that notwithstanding this agreement, there are reports of some continuing violence, with civilians bearing the brunt. He reminds all parties concerned of their obligation to respect and protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law. All fighting should end immediately and the current state of lawlessness should cease. Moreover, as tensions continue to run high, it is essential that measures be taken to ensure the protection of minority groups throughout Georgia.

The United Nations stands ready to assist the Governments of Georgia and the Russian Federation to respond to humanitarian needs of the affected populations. United Nations agencies, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Childrens Fund, as well as other humanitarian actors, have begun providing relief supplies to tens of thousands of affected persons in those areas of the country that are accessible. However, large parts of the conflict-affected area, particularly South Ossetia and the Gori region, remain, for the most part, inaccessible to humanitarian organizations due to ongoing insecurity, lawlessness and other constraints. In this regard, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will visit Georgia and Moscow.

The Secretary-General reiterates the critical importance of safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors to all conflict-affected areas. He welcomes the express undertaking in the ceasefire agreement to allow free access of humanitarian aid. He calls upon all parties concerned to honour this commitment and take immediate measures to allow and facilitate the work of humanitarian actors in assessing and responding to the needs of the conflict-affected population, and to ensure their safety.

SECOND AID FLIGHT FROM U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ARRIVES IN TBILISI

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

says its second humanitarian flight arrived in the Georgian capital this morning, bringing in 32 tonnes of vital aid supplies for thousands of displaced persons. The supplies included tents, jerry cans, blankets and telecommunications equipment.

UNHCR also reports that, today, two of its vehicles were hijacked at gunpoint by people in unmarked uniforms on the outskirts of Gori, in central Georgia. The UNHCR team had been traveling to the Gori region to identify areas of displacement and assess the immediate needs of the displaced. The vehicles were later recovered and the two UNHCR staff members made it safely back to Tblisi.

Despite that incident, UNHCR is moving ahead rapidly with assessment missions and the distribution of aid to thousands of people. Immediate needs include medications for people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Sanitation and hygienic items, as well beds and mattresses, are also in demand.

A third UNHCR airlift flight is scheduled to land in the Georgian capital tomorrow morning. UNHCR is also scheduling two flights to Vladikavkaz, in the Russian Federation, for next week.

In related news, the UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia, Robert Watkins, has

appealed to all sides to allow the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, as agreed in the ceasefire plan. And the Secretary-Generals Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin, has reminded both the Russian Federation and Georgia of their obligations to respect the rights of internally displaced persons and to provide protection and aid to them.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General did manage to speak with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. President Saakashvili called him this morning.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had spoken by phone with the Russian President in recent days, the Spokesman said he had not.

BAKASSI PENINSULA HANDED OVER FROM NIGERIA TO CAMEROON

Today in Calabar, Nigeria, a ceremony took place to mark the completion of the withdrawal and transfer of authority of the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria to Cameroon, and Kieran Prendergast and Said Djinnit attended that ceremony on the Secretary-Generals behalf.

In a statement delivered by Mr. Prendergast, the Secretary-General

said that the June 2006 agreement signed in Greentree by Nigeria and Cameroon was testimony to the determination of both countries to move beyond a difficult past and address their border dispute in a way that secured lasting peace and good neighbourly relations between their peoples. For the United Nations, the Secretary-General added, the Greentree Agreement was also the embodiment of an innovative approach to conflict resolution and a model for the peaceful resolution of sensitive disputes.

Asked under what status Prendergast has spoken at the Bakassi ceremony, the Spokesman said that, for the past two years, he had served as the Special Envoy who followed up on the implementation of the

Greentree Agreement. In that capacity, he organized the work of monitors who verified the implementation of the accord in the Bakassi Peninsula.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR END TO HUMANITARIAN AID RESTRICTIONS IN ZIMBABWE

Recalling a decision by the Government of Zimbabwe in June 2008 to impose restrictions on field operations of private voluntary organizations and non-governmental organizations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today made the following statement:

I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe where, despite requests made by the United Nations Country Team and other humanitarian partners, operations of voluntary and non-governmental organizations remain restricted. These groups have a vital role in the delivery of humanitarian aid, including much needed food assistance. Due to their inability to operate, only 280,000 people of the 1.5 million in need of food assistance are being reached with distributions.

This ban must be lifted immediately so that aid organizations can carry out their relief work and avert a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

I call on the Government of Zimbabwe to fully respect humanitarian principles and the impartiality and neutrality of voluntary and non-governmental organizations, allowing them to operate freely and with unrestricted access to those in need.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES OUTCOME OF SYRIA-LEBANON SUMMIT

The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the summit between Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held in Damascus. He notes positively the decisions to begin the process to establish diplomatic relations through an exchange of ambassadors, and to take steps towards the delineation and control of the borders between the two countries.

The Secretary-General encourages both parties to begin implementation as soon as possible, in keeping with Security Council resolutions 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006).

SECRETARY-GENERAL AND SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMN BOMBING IN LEBANON

Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General and the members of the Security Council, in separate statements, condemned the bombing that took place earlier that day in the Lebanese city of Tripoli.

The Secretary-General

said that he believes this attack should not hinder the positive steps that have been taken to return Lebanon to normalcy. And the members of the Security Council

emphasized the importance of the unity of the Lebanese people and reiterated their full support for all ongoing efforts in Lebanon to combat terrorism, solidify democratic institutions, engage in political dialogue and pursue national reconciliation.

U.N. SUDAN ENVOY NOTES RECENT CHALLENGES TO COMPREHENSIVE PEACE AGREEMENT

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Sudan, briefed the press in Khartoum today, saying that recent months have been challenging ones, in which the Comprehensive Peace Agreement process has been put to the test by the Justice and Equality Movement attack on Omdurman and the violent clashes in Abyei.

Qazi said that whether in the north, the south or in Darfur, peace in Sudan is indivisible and interdependent, and that the context for that process to be effective is embodied in the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He expressed his hope that the Abyei roadmap will serve as a catalyst for progress on other outstanding issues in the framework of that Agreement.

U.N. MISSION TRAINS TWO MORE CONGOLESE BATTALIONS

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has

completed the training of two more integrated battalions of the Congolese Army. This latest achievement in the discharge of the Missions mandate was celebrated yesterday at a military camp in South Kivu province. In his remarks to the gathering, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Alan Doss, said that the three-month training programme for some 1,800 soldiers marks a major advance in the UNs effort to reform the Congolese security sector.

The training programme included courses in military tactics, weapons handling, logistics and professional ethics. To date, MONUC has trained twelve integrated Congolese battalions, and it intends to train a total of 28 battalions by September of next year.

WORLD BANK APPROVES $4 MILLION FOR EMERGENCY FOOD PROGRAMME IN SIERRA LEONE

The World Bank has

approved a US$4 million dollar grant for Sierra Leone to help the country cope with the global food crisis. The money will be used to fund an emergency cash-for-work programme aimed at those households most vulnerable to rising food prices.

The World Bank is also supporting Sierra Leones government through a 30-million dollar Rural Private Sector Development Project, which is intended to boost agricultural productivity by improving transportation, storage, preservation, and other programmes.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL PREPARES TO WRAP UP INAUGURAL SESSION

In Geneva today, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee adopted a number of draft proposals. Among the issues addressed in the adopted texts are human rights education and training, missing persons, and the global food crisis.

The Committee, which is made up of 18 experts who serve in their personal capacity, is the think tank of the

Human Rights Council. It provides expertise and advice and will conduct research and studies at the Human Rights Councils request.

Tomorrow it will wrap up its inaugural session, which began on Monday, 4 August.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ONE PER CENT OF U.N. CONTRIBUTIONS FOR MYANMAR CYCLONE RELIEF LOST THROUGH FOREIGN EXCHANGE DIVERGENCES: Asked about the amount of money lost through foreign exchange divergences in terms of humanitarian aid following Cyclone Nargis in

Myanmar, the Spokesman said that the value lost as a result of exchange rate divergences had been calculated at US$1.56 million, representing 4.5 per cent of local expenditure, or 1 per cent of total contributions to the UN. He noted that, when Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes had earlier used the figure of US$10 million as an estimate for the money lost, it was based on a very rough, preliminary calculation. He also said this was the maximum amount that could have been lost.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME HOLDS ONLINE VIDEO COMPETITION: The World Food Programme (WFP) is targeting the YouTube Generation, in an effort to raise awareness about global hunger. As part of a video competition called Hungerbytes WFP has been collecting submissions from around the world. A panel has narrowed the field to five finalist videos. Whichever one is viewed most often by World Food Day on October 16th wins the top prize: a trip to shoot a video at a relief operation in one of WFPs hotspots. The finalist-videos are on view for two months of voting at

www.youtube.com/hungerbytes.

U.N. FOLLOWING TENSIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN: Asked about tensions between India and Pakistan, the Spokesman reiterated that the Secretary-General and the

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were aware of the situation but had no comment to make at present.

  • *The guests at noon were Maj. General Claudio Graziano, Force Commander of the

    UN Interim Force in Lebanon, and Brig. Patrick Davidson-Houston, Acting Force Commander of the

    UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162

    Fax. 212-963-7055


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