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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-27

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS DEBATE ON WORKING METHODS

The Security Council began this morning by unanimously extending the

U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

It then moved on to an open debate on the Security Councils working methods.

In a

speech, the Secretary-General stressed that it is essential for the Council to keep addressing these issues, given the increasingly complex responsibilities it is facing, as well as the surging demand for UN conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities.

The Secretary-General noted, too, that the Secretariat has taken steps to make the UN more effective, efficient and accountable. He added that he looked forward to working to strengthen cooperation between the Secretariat and the Council even further.

Yesterday, the Council adopted a

press statement on Burundi, in which it urged the parties to implement the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement in accordance with the agreed timeline. Security Council members were also briefed, in closed consultations, on Somalia, Afghanistan and the Kalma camp shooting in Sudan.

UN ASSESSMENT TEAM DISPATCHED TO KALMA CAMP FOLLOWING EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE

UNAMID, in a press release issued yesterday afternoon, strongly

condemned what it called the excessive, disproportionate use of lethal forces by Sudanese security forces against civilians during a raid inside a displaced persons camp in Darfur, in contravention of the Darfur Peace Agreement and international humanitarian law.

As part of its investigation of the incident, UNAMID has sent an assessment team to Kalma today to further gather information of what happened at the camp. Composed of officers of the UNAMID Formed Police Unit of Nyala, police and military advisors, and human rights and civil affairs personnel, the team has been tasked with ascertaining the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

UNAMID has

obtained concrete evidence of the death of 31 displaced persons, among them 7 children, 10 women, and 13 men, aged 11 to 60, who were buried in Kalma.

Expressing their concerns, to which the armed presence maintained by Government of Sudan security forces in the camp further contributes, Kalma Camp leaders have called for a meeting with the UNAMID leadership. Responding immediately to their request, Rodolphe Adada, the African Union United Nations Joint Special Representative and Chief of UNAMID, has directed that a high-level delegation engage today in a series of meetings with the IDPs and other concerned parties. In order to rebuild confidence among the IDPs of Kalma, another UNAMID assessment mission to the camp has been scheduled.

HEAD OF UN REFUGEE AGENCY IN SOMALIA RELEASED UNHARMED

[In a press release issued after the noon briefing, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that the head of the

UNHCR office in Somalia has been released unharmed after two months in captivity.

Hassan Mohammed Ali, who is also known as Keynaan, was abducted from his home near Mogadishu on 21 June by an unknown armed group. He is in good health, and preparations are underway to reunite him with his family.

UNHCR is grateful for all expressions of public support and thanks all Somali organizations and members of civil society who organized demonstrations to call for his release.

The refugee agency extends its sympathies to aid workers who are still forcibly detained in Somalia. Such abductions and attacks on humanitarian workers have increased in recent months, jeopardizing the delivery of aid to vulnerable populations, UNHCR notes.]

GRAVE CONCERN EXPRESSED AT LARGE NUMBER OF CIVILIAN VICTIMS IN AFGHANISTAN BOMBING

The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, today

voiced her grave concern on the high toll of civilian victims, mostly children, caused by an aerial bombardment in Shindand district of the Herat Province in Afghanistan on August 21.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a

statement yesterday saying it had found convincing evidence that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, in that operation.

The Special Representative strongly condemned the large number of deaths of civilians, and especially children, as a consequence of the escalation of the conflict. During her recent visit to the country, Radhika Coomaraswamy raised the need to limit such incidents with the leadership of the International Security Assistance Forces.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED OVER VIOLENCE IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

says it is concerned about the recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have reportedly led to civilian casualties as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

OHCHR calls on the Indian authorities and in particular security forces to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and comply with international human rights principles in controlling the demonstrators. The use of force should be proportionate to the threat posed, and firearms must only be used in dispersing a violent assembly to protect individuals against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.

The Acting High Commissioner calls for thorough and independent investigations into all killings that have occurred so far.

OHCHR also calls on the demonstrators to protest using peaceful means only. Leaders of the different protesting groups have a responsibility to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and that the demonstrators are not carrying sticks, guns or other weapons, and to refrain from intimidation. Political actors are urged to take all necessary protection measures to avoid exposing people under 18, including young children, to violence and to manipulation for political ends.

Asked why the Secretary-General himself has not issued a statement on the situation in Kashmir, Montas explained that a statement has been issued by the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Secretary-General supports statements issued by his advisers and special representatives. "That the Secretary-General himself does not issue a statement should not be read as a sign that he is not aware of, or concerned about, the situation," Montas added.

UNILEVER PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS TO BENEFIT WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME OPERATIONS IN PAKISTAN

The World Food Programme (WFP) says it has joined hands with the Unilever corporation, to fight against child hunger in rural Pakistan.

Dubbed Together for Child Vitality, the three-year partnership is part of the companys commitment to ending child hunger and achieving the

Millennium Development Goals.

More than 600 Unilever staff are taking part in an automated employee payroll programme, which is expected to raise 2.5 million rupees per year. The money will be go to more than 3,000 WFP-assisted government girls primary schools in rural areas.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE TO 50,000 FLOOD VICTIMS IN NEPAL

The World Food Programme (WFP) in Nepal

announced today that it is mobilizing emergency food assistance for 50,000 people displaced by floods in the eastern Terai districts of Nepal.

The emergency operation is in response to the governments request after monsoon rains caused an embankment of the Saptakoshi River to collapse, flooding thousands of hectares of land and forcing an estimated 50,000 people to flee their homes.

The WFP Country Representative in Nepal said food supplies were moved quickly to thousands of displaced families affected by the floods, but there are concerns about the continuous rains which could increase the number of people in need. As an initial response, WFP will provide a 15-day food basket consisting of rice, pulses, salt and vegetable oil to 50,000 flood victims. It is prepared to provide food for up to 30 days for families who cannot return to their homes because of high water levels.

WFP estimates that it will need an additional US$1.5 to US$3 million in contributions to meet longer-term food needs and to provide livelihood support and recovery for flood victims in Nepal.

HAITI: U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME CHIEF TOURS AREAS DAMAGED BY HURRICANE GUSTAV

U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Ad Melkert has extended his trip to Haiti.

Yesterday he toured Cité Soleil, Haitis largest slum, with troops from the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Today, along with the UNs Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti Joel Boutroue, he toured parts of Port-au-Prince, including the harbor and Cité Soleil, that were damaged by hurricane Gustav. He will also view progress made on UNDPs Disaster Preparedness Programme with Haitis Ministry of Interior.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE

SELF-DECLARED INDEPENDENCE OF ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA

The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General's

statement of yesterday on the Russian Federation's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states should not be misread as an acknowledgement of the self-declared independence of these two regions. "Only countries recognize countries," she said. "The Secretary-General does not."

She added that yesterday's statement focused on the possible repercussions of this development for security and stability in the Caucasus and on the urgent need to protect all civilians living in the conflict zones.

The Secretary-General, she said further, has voiced his concerns about this situation since the crisis began in early August. In addition to remaining engaged in the matter, via phone calls to various regional leaders and extensive consultations with his advisers, the Secretary-General has also endorsed the six-point agreement brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and signed by both Georgia and the Russian Federation.

ENCOURAGING PROGRESS NOTED IN GHANA CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS

The latest

round of UN climate change talks are wrapping up today in Accra, Ghana. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, says the meeting has been very encouraging. Progress is speeding up towards the goal of reaching a new global climate change deal in Copenhagen by the end of 2009, Mr. de Boer says.

He noted that good progress was made in the areas of deforestation, expanding the clean development mechanism and other programmes to more sectors of the economy, and on ensuring that Africa gets a larger share of clean technology projects under the Kyoto Protocol.

He added that the debate in Accra made clear that these approaches are not about imposing targets on developing countries, but rather about what governments may or may not choose to do on a voluntary basis at the national level.

The next round of talks will take place at the ministerial level in Poznan, Poland, in December.

WORLD BANK FINDS MORE WIDESPREAD POVERTY IN DEVELOPING WORLD

New estimates from the World Bank

show that poverty has been more widespread across the developing world over the past 25 years than previously thought. The numbers also show more robust, if uneven, progress toward reducing overall poverty.

The World Bank notes that one in four people in the developing world, or a total of 1.4 billion people, were living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2005. In comparison, 1.9 billion people, about half of the developing world, were living below the poverty line in 1981 when the world population was estimated at 4.5 billion.

On the basis of the new numbers, the World Bank believes that the developing world is still on track to halve extreme poverty by 2015, and thus meet this key Millennium Development Goal.

UNICEF URGES GREATER JUDICIAL REFORM TO REDUCE CHILD TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH ASIA

A

report launched today in Kathmandu by UNICEF states that all too often child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking are blamed and punished across South Asia, where weak national legislation can lead to further victimization of children.

The report, South Asia in Action: Preventing and responding to child trafficking, found that the judicial process itself needs to be reformed and strengthened to protect children who have been victims of trafficking, as well as protecting other children from being exploited.

South Asian children continue to be trafficked for multiple forms of sexual exploitation including prostitution, sex tourism, child pornography, and paedophilia as well as labour exploitation. Trafficking occurs both within and between countries in the region and also from South Asia to other regions including East Asia, Europe and the Gulf States.

Although South Asian governments have developed national plans of action and adopted laws that criminalize human trafficking, so far only two countries in the region India and Sri Lanka have signed the Palermo Protocol, the first legal instrument to provide international definition of trafficking in human beings and specifically addressing children.

U.N. TRAINS 168 MEMBERS OF POLICE UNIT IN ABYEI, SUDAN

In a joint effort, the UN Mission in Sudan and the United Nations Development Programme have successfully

concluded the first ten-day Police Basic Training Course for a total of 168 members of the new Abyei Joint Integrated Police Unit.

In accordance with the Abyei Road Map signed on June 8, the new Police Unit works for restoring the rule of law and ensuring the safety and security for the return to Abyei of Internally Displaced Persons.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN ENVOY VISITS KENYA AND SOMALIA

UN Special Humanitarian Envoy, Mr. Abdul Aziz Arrukban, is currently on a mission to Kenya and Somalia.

Hes there to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and advocate for stronger involvement of Gulf Countries in tackling the unfolding emergency. Today, he is visiting the Bakool region in South Central Somalia and Dagahaley camp in north-eastern Kenya. The camp is part of the Dadaab camp complex, which houses more than 200,000 Somali refugees.

U.N. MEETING TO EXAMINE IMPACT OF ORGANIZED CRIME ON PEACEKEEPING

Opening today in Stockholm is the fourth International Policing Advisory Council meeting.

The meeting seeks to examine the impact of organized crime on peacekeeping. It will also develop proactive strategies for UN operations to respond to challenges posed by organized crime. The UN Secretariat is represented at the meeting by Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Dmitry Titov, and UN Police Adviser Andrew Hughes.

Hughes, who will be the guest at noon on September 2, said that the international community must recognize that organized crime has been one of the central spoilers of UN and other peace efforts.

The Police Division is the fastest growing component of the United Nations. It employs 16,900 officers as of January 2008, with more than 12,000 police officers from 98 countries deployed in 19 UN peace operations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. ENVOY TO BRIEF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON RECENT VISIT TO MYANMAR: In response to a question about Myanmar envoy Ibrahim Gambari being allegedly prevented to meet with opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyii by the authorities, Montas said that the envoy was expected to brief the Secretary-General on the outcome of his mission in three days. Asked if Gambari was specifically asked by the Secretary-General to meet with Suu Kyii, Montas confirmed that Gambari had indeed been assigned the task and that he had met her on previous visits to the country.

LEBANON BORDER ASSESSMENT REPORT SENT TO SECURITY COUNCIL: The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the latest report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team, has been forwarded by the Secretary-General to the Security Council. It will become an official document soon.

MINISTERIAL MEETING EXAMINES HEALTH-ENVIRONMENT LINKS IN AFRICA: The first-ever Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa is taking place through Friday in Libreville, Gabon. The World Health Organization and the U.N. Environment Programme have jointly organized the

session, whose theme is health security through healthy environments. The meeting is aimed at securing political commitment for reducing environmental threats to health. These include unsafe water, pollution, poor sanitation, inadequate waste disposal, insufficient disease control, and exposure to chemicals. Up to a quarter of diseases in Africa may be associated with environmental changes, the agencies say.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS SPOKEN OUT AGAINST NEW ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS: Montas, in response to a question, noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly spoken out against the building of new settlements by Israel in the occupied territories as a serious obstacle to a peaceful solution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

SYMPOSIUM WITH VICTIMS OF TERRORISM TO TAKE PLACE IN EARLY SEPTEMBER: On September 9th, the United Nations will host a symposium with victims of acts of terrorism, the Spokeswoman said in response to a question. Montas said that although there is no set definition of terrorism within the UN's conventions and laws, there is a definite acknowledgment and evidence of acts of terrorism and what it is to be a victim of acts of terrorism.

CONSULTATIONS CONTINUE ON WESTERN SAHARA: Asked for an update on efforts to resolve the political stalemate on Western Sahara, Montas said that consultations continue between the parties in order to prepare for a fifth round of talks. So far no conclusion has been agreed upon. "The issue is not dead" she said in response to another question as to why the United Nations seemed quiet on the matter.

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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