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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
GEORGIA: BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED TO COMPLY WITH PEACE PLAN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
believes that the question of recognition of states is a matter for sovereign states to decide.
He has expressed his position on the situation in Georgia in statements made since the beginning of the month of August. In particular, the Secretary-General has welcomed the agreement between Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation and reiterates the need to fully implement the six-point plan.
Todays developments may have wider implications for security and stability in the Caucasus. The Secretary-General regrets that ongoing efforts to find a common solution on the way forward in the crisis in Georgia within the Security Council may be complicated.
The Secretary-General strongly emphasizes the urgent need to protect all civilians living in the conflict zones.
REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED BY FORCIBLE DISPLACEMENT OF CIVILIANS IN GEORGIA
The UN refugee agency has called on all parties to the conflict over South Ossetia to make their best efforts to contain further outbreaks of lawlessness which could contribute to additional displacement. In this context, UNHCR today
concern over reports of new forcible displacement caused by marauding militias north of the Georgian town of Gori near the boundary line with South Ossetia.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), spontaneous
organized returns have been taking place across Georgia for the last two days. Approximately 10,000 people have returned to Gori, where the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme have both just opened offices.
assessment mission to villages north of Gori found near-deserted villages, burnt-out houses and looted shops. People told the agency that they were afraid to go into their fields and orchards because of possible mines and other unexploded ordnance.
OCHA reports that, as of yesterday, 104 airlifts, truck convoys or ships had delivered supplies to Georgia and North Ossetia; more airlifts are in the pipeline. Access to South Ossetia from Georgia is still not possible, OCHA says. Meanwhile, its appeal for nearly US$60 million for Georgia has only received roughly $10 million in committed funds.
AFGHANISTAN: UN MISSION FINDS CONVINCING EVIDENCE OF KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN MILITARY RAID
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a
statement issued today in Kabul that, following reports of large numbers of civilian casualties caused during military operations in Shindand district of Herat province, UNAMAs human rights team has now returned from a mission to the affected area to investigate these reports.
UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men. 15 other villagers were wounded or otherwise injured.
The Special Representative says this is a matter of grave concern to the United Nations and that he has repeatedly made clear that the safety and welfare of civilians must be considered above all else during the planning and conduct of all military operations.
It is vital that the International and Afghan military forces thoroughly review the conduct of this operation in order to prevent a repeat of this tragic incident.
MISSION IN DARFUR CONDEMNS USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE AT KALMA CAMP
press release issued today on the shooting incident Monday at Kalma camp housing displaced persons, the African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) strongly condemned the excessive, disproportionate use of lethal force by the Government of Sudan security forces against civilians, which violated their human rights and resulted in unacceptable casualties.
The UNAMID team noted that Sudanese Military and Police were heavily armed, while the IDPs seemed to carry only sticks, knives, and spears. Sudanese security forces alleged that they were met by a human shield of women and children, from behind which gunfire aimed at them erupted, thus prompting them to return fire.
UNAMID underscores the fact that the presence of weapons voids the status of IDP camps granted to them by international humanitarian law and exhorts the IDP community and its leaders and representatives, to insure that their camps are, and remain, weapons-free zones.
While the alleged presence of weapons in the Kalma camp is a real security concern for the Sudanese authorities, the actions taken to address it are a clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, according to UNAMID.]
In an update on the shooting incident in the Kalma camp for displaced persons in Darfur, UNAMID
reports today that the UNAMID military and civilian police together with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Holland evacuated 49 wounded people -- mostly women, children and some men -- and brought them to Nyala hospital last night.
UNAMID says information received indicate that other wounded -- mostly young men -- have refused to be evacuated so far for fear of being arrested, an indication they might have participated in the fighting.
UNAMID has urged the Government of Sudan to respect international humanitarian law and try to find a lasting solution to the Kalma camp situation.
Also today, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and the Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, traveled to Nyala in South Darfur. She visited some of the wounded from Kalma Camp at the hospital in Nyala. This incident comes at a time when the situation in Darfur remains as grim as ever or worse, characterized by insecurity, lawlessness, and impunity.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES BURUNDI, DR CONGO, SOMALIA
Security Council held an open meeting on
Burundi this morning. Ulla Strom, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, spoke on behalf of Ambassador Anders Liden of Sweden, who is the chairperson of the
Peacebuilding Commission group on Burundi. The permanent representative of Burundi also took the floor.
The Council then moved into consultations on Burundi, with a briefing by Youssef Mahmoud, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi. The Council is also scheduled to take up, in consultations, the activities of its committee dealing with sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other matters.
This afternoon, consultations are scheduled on Somalia and other matters.
COTE DIVOIRE: ELECTORAL PROCESS ENTERS FINAL PHASE OF PREPARATIONS
The heads of UN peacekeeping operations in West Africa issued a joint statement today welcoming progress in solving the political and military crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The UN officials, gathering for a two-day meeting in Bissau, commended the Ivorian political class on their determination to press ahead with plans to hold the presidential election in November and with the implementation of other key aspects of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement.
The statement was adopted in response to a presentation by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Côte dIvoire, Choi Young-Jin, who said that the electoral process was on the final leg.
ENVOY IN REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS AFTER MYANMAR VISIT
The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, today arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, as part of his consultations with the regional leaders regarding the Myanmar process.
There, he met with the Foreign Minister and held extensive and constructive exchanges of views on the current situation in Myanmar as well as the way forward in support to the Secretary-General's good offices.
Tomorrow, Gambari is scheduled to meet the Indonesian President among others, before heading to Turin to meet the Secretary-General and brief him on the situation.
U.N. ENVOY COMMITTED TO IMPARTIAL ASSISTANCE IN IRAQ
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Staffan de Mistura continues to meet with all parties, as circumstances permit, to promote political dialogue and national reconciliation in Iraq. On the issue of Kirkuk, he is committed to helping all sides find a mutually acceptable solution.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Staffan de Mistura and his team have the full confidence of the Secretary-General in implementing the UN mission's (UNAMI) mandate under Security Council resolution 1830 (2008).
DESPITE DROP, AFGHAN OPIUM OUTPUT REMAINS OF CONCERN
In its summary of the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008, issued today, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that
opium cultivation in Afghanistan decreased by 19 percent, but the situation is still vulnerable to a relapse.
According to the report, opium production so far this year was reduced to some 157,000 hectares, down from a record harvest of 193,000 in 2007. It also shows that since last year, the number of opium-free provinces has increased by almost 50%: from 13 to 18, indicating that opium is not grown in more than half of the countrys 34 provinces.
Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, called on the international community to reward the opium-free provinces and urged the Afghan authorities, assisted by NATO, to shift focus and resources from eradication to closing opium markets, destroying heroin labs, and going after the drug convoys.
TRIAL BEGINS FOR FORMER ARMY OFFICER AT RWANDA TRIBUNAL: The trial of former Rwandan army officer Ephrem Setako is
beginning today in Arusha before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Setako is facing six counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and a host of violations of the Geneva Conventions. He pleaded not guilty to all counts in November 2004.
FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES BENEFIT THE WEALTHY, NOT THE POOR: In a new report, the U.N. Environment Programme is
challenging the widely held view that subsidies for fossil fuels help the poor. UNEP says many such subsidies actually benefit the wealthy. Scrapping these subsidies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as six percent a year and offer a slight boost to economic growth, the report says. In other news, UNEP has found that Clean Development Mechanism projects are taking off in sub-Saharan Africa. New initiatives have emerged in the past 18 months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Mali and Senegal, UNEP notes.
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