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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-19
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO U.N. STAFF KILLED IN 2003 BAGHDAD BOMBING
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
paid tribute today to the UN staff who died or were wounded five years ago during the terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, saying that, over the past five years, the United Nations has continued to help the people of Iraq and others throughout the world who suffer from violence, disease and want.
This work is often dangerous, but it must go on, the Secretary-General said. Those who died on August 19th, 2003, would have it no other way.
He emphasized the work that continues to be done to strengthen UN staff security, and added that protecting staff requires more than barricades and shatterproof glass. The Secretary-General said, We must continue to explain, clearly and consistently, what we do and who we are.
ceremony included a wreath laying and a minute of silence in honour of fallen staff. Afterward, the Daedalus Quartet, a classical music group, performed a piece composed by Steve Heitzeg for the occasion.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP GEORGIA THIS AFTERNOON;
U.N. REFUGEE CHIEF ARRIVES IN GEORGIA
The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the situation in Georgia at 3:30 p.m. today.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Tuesday urged the international community to help the humanitarian aid effort in Georgia soon after arriving in Tbilisi to visit people displaced by the recent fighting and to discuss the situation with officials. Guterres had
arrived earlier today in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi at the start of a four-day mission to Georgia and the Russian Federation.
He will assess UNHCRs humanitarian operations in both countries and will meet people displaced by last weeks conflict in and around the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia. Mr. Guterres will meet with Georgian and Russian authorities and discuss any further aid they might require.
According to the refugee agency, the High Commissioner will again press for the protection of the civilian population, especially those newly displaced, and for safe and unhindered access by humanitarian organizations to the areas of displacement.
UNHCR also reports that its first humanitarian flight to Batumi in western Georgia was organized today. Aid supplies for more than 50,000 people have been flown to Tbilisi but road convoys cannot reach western Georgia, where some 15,000 displaced people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The latest estimates of displacement related to the conflict total more than 158,700 people - based on figures provided by the Georgian and Russian governments. It is reported that up to 30,000 people are displaced within South Ossetia. In addition, some 98,000 people are displaced in Georgia proper, including most of the population of the town of Gori. Russian officials in North Ossetia indicate some 30,000 people from South Ossetia are still in the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) yesterday afternoon
announced a consolidated appeal for more than US$58 million with regard to the situation in Georgia. The majority of that money will go to providing food, shelter, and health items for nearly 130,000 people. OCHA notes that since yesterday, several villages in Georgia, including the city of Gori, are now accessible for the first time in two weeks. According to the resident coordinator in Tbilisi, however, there is still no access to South Ossetia.
SOMALI PARTIES AGREE TO CEASE ARMED CONFRONTATION
Under the mediation of Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia yesterday agreed to cease all armed confrontation between them. They also agreed to refrain from inflammatory statements and to create a follow-up mechanism to effect this agreement.
These were among a number of measures adopted by the parties as part of the terms of reference for the implementation of the Djibouti Agreement. The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) says that they also discussed practical ways of making the agreement a reality.
This was the first meeting of the high-level committee and the joint security committee of the Djibouti Agreement. It was attended by representatives from the African Union, the European Union, and the League of Arab States, among others.
Asked about recent violence in Somalia, the Spokesperson said that the UN Political Office and Ould-Abdallah hadnt issued a statement on the matter, adding that the Political Office, based in Nairobi, does not have a presence on the ground in Somalia.
U.N. DARFUR MISSION REPORTS FLOODING AT SEVERAL DISPLACED PERSON CAMPS
The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, (UNAMID) reported today that several camps housing internally displaced persons in Darfur experienced flooding. At least five people reportedly lost their lives and about 1,500 homes were reportedly destroyed.
While an assessment of the damage caused by the floods was underway, NGOs were already in the area trying to provide basic needs such as water, food and sanitation, and the Chinese Engineering Unit was being contacted to find out what could be done to assist the victims of the flooding.
Asked about a
version of the Secretary-Generals interview with the newspaper al-Ahram that appeared on the UN Mission in Sudans web site, the Spokesman clarified that the text of the interview was the original English text of what the Secretary-General had said, as differentiated from any Arabic translation of that text.
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP TIMOR-LESTE, SOMALIA AND MAURITANIA
Security Council this morning has been discussing
Timor-Leste, and Atul Khare, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for that country, said that the Government there continues to make strides in addressing some of the priority challenges which emanated from the 2006 crisis.
He added that some progress has been made in the conduct of the Timorese-led comprehensive review of the security sector. Yet Khare noted some concerns about abuses by security forces, particularly the military, during the response to the 11 February events.
The Security Council follow its open meeting with consultations, also on Timor-Leste.
After those consultations, the Security Council held two formal meetings to issue presidential statements on Timor Leste and then on Mauritania. Council members heard yesterday afternoon from Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios about the coup earlier this month in Mauritania.
The Security Council began its work this morning by voting to
extend the authorization of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by six months.
NEW ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR LEGAL AFFAIRS NAMED
The Secretary-General is appointing Peter Taksøe-Jensen of Denmark as the new Assistant Secretary-General for
Legal Affairs. Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen will replace Mr. Larry Johnson of the United States.
The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Johnsons committed service to the United Nations and for his contribution to the cause of the Organization through his long tenure in various capacities related to the rule of law and international justice.
As Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs and Head of the Legal Service in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Taksøe-Jensen has been the principal legal adviser to the Danish Foreign Minister on all international law matters since 2004.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SENDS CONDOLENCES ON DEATH OF ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT
The Secretary-General was deeply
saddened to learn of the death of His Excellency Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, President of Zambia and Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community. He conveys his profound condolences to President Mwanawasas family, and to the people and Government of Zambia, at this difficult time.
As Vice-President and later President, Mr. Mwanawasa was at the forefront of Zambian politics at a time of exceptional challenges and change in his country and in the southern African region as a whole. His periods in office ranged from Zambias crucial role in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, to his firm stance, as SADC Chairman, on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe. In the latter context, the Secretary-General greatly valued his frequent interaction with him over the past few months. The Secretary-General wishes the people of Zambia and the region courage and fortitude in the time ahead.
U.N. ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO GREECE AND FYROM LATER THIS WEEK: The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Greece-FYROM talks, Matthew Nimetz, will travel to the region later this week. He has meetings scheduled Thursday in Skopje and Friday in Thessaloniki.
U.N. ADVISER EXPECTS TO MEET WITH A WIDE RANGE OF PARTIES DURING VISIT TO MYANMAR: Asked whether Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari would meet with opposition leaders while in
Myanmar this week, the Spokesman said that, in accordance with his mandate, Gambari expects to meet with all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process, including all those whom he has met on previous occasions. Gambari, he noted, has met with Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders on each of his visits.
HEAD OF U.N. AFGHANISTAN MISSION APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO HELP AFGHANS COPE WITH HIGH FOOD PRICES: Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, today spoke to the press in Kabul to appeal to donors to commit resources to the $404 million appeal to help Afghans overcome the impact of high food prices. He also called for a halt to the attacks that have been taking place against food convoys. Eide said, When we see that food convoys are attacked and food is stolen, it is not first of all stolen from the food convoys; it is stealing from those who need food most. It means stealing from the poorest.
FLOODS IN WEST AFRICA POSE HEALTH RISKS FOR MILLIONS: Rising flood waters across West Africa are increasing health risks for millions of people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. WHO also said that the floods are exacerbating the impact of the food price crisis. It appealed for international aid to help curb the risk of malaria, diarrhoea and other potentially fatal communicable diseases. Flooding has caused widespread damage to bridges, roads, railway lines and other infrastructure vital for delivering health services and humanitarian supplies. Seasonal rains have also caused damage in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone. And Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Togo have also been affected and need urgent assistance.
U.N. AGENCIES PARTICIPATE IN WORLD WATER WEEK: More than 2,000 water experts from around the world are gathered in Stockholm, for the 18th annual World Water Week. Several U.N. agencies are also participating. UN-HABITAT is
appealing for a global sanitation drive so that an additional nearly 1.5 billion people will have access to basic sanitation before 2015. UNICEF, which is conducting several seminars on water, sanitation and hygiene,
notes that simple behavioural changes can help reduce mortality rates related to certain diseases by nearly 50 percent. The agency is part of a global initiative to promote the use of handwashing with soap in developing countries. As part of that campaign, Global Handwashing Day will be marked on October 15th.
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