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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-28

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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

BY MARIE OKABE

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SECURITY COUNCIL TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING ON GEORGIA

The Security Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Georgia at 3 p.m. today.

Council members began consultations on the situation in Georgia at 11 this morning.

On the humanitarian front in Georgia, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

reports that the town of Gori has been a gathering place for people fleeing a buffer zone between Georgia and South Ossetia, as well as for those trying to return to villages in the volatile area.

By late yesterday afternoon, more than 1,200 people had registered as internally displaced with local authorities in Gori, UNHCR says. The agencys new office there has been providing assistance. It has already erected 100 family tents in a football field on the towns outskirts.

The new arrivals tell similar tales of intimidation, beatings, and looting by militias in buffer zone villages, according to UNHCR. A UNHCR team tried to reach those villages on Tuesday, but was turned back at a checkpoint and told that the security situation did not allow for movement in that zone.

The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) has been

providing basic personnel hygiene kits for families. It has also mobilized members of the Georgian Medical Students Association to stuff plastic bags with soap, shampoo, towels, toothbrushes and paste, sanitary napkins, shaving kits, and other supplies.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES WORRYING INCREASE OF VIOLENCE IN DARFUR

In his

latest report on the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), covering the month of July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the month has seen an extremely worrying increase in violence in Darfur.

The Secretary-General reports and notes that continuing air strikes in all three States of Darfur, even during the days surrounding President Al-Bashirs visit to the region, cast a shadow over the conciliatory message the President delivered during his visit.

In the report, the Secretary-General urges all parties to recognize the urgent need to end the suffering of innocent civilians and immediately commit themselves to an unconditional ceasefire.

He also reiterates his appeal to Council members to urge troop- and police contributing countries that are in a position to provide these desperately needed supplies to do so without further delay. In spite of our efforts, deployment will take many more months during which UNAMID will continue to experience serious shortfalls in communications, logistics, medical evacuation and treatment, and air support.

The Secretary-General says the decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to

seek an arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir has altered the political landscape, although it is too early to assess the impact it will have on the peace process.

Without prejudice to the decision of the ICC on the Prosecutors application, the international community should continue its engagement and support of the parties efforts to achieve progress towards resolving the crisis in the Sudan.

The international community also has the responsibility to seek agreement on the equal importance of peace and justice in trying to meet the needs of the people of Darfur, he says, and urges Member States to spare no efforts to reach a consensus on how to move forward on both goals in order to achieve a comprehensive political solution in Darfur.

NEW CHIEF MEDIATOR FOR DARFUR TAKES UP HIS POST

UNAMID today reports the arrival of the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassole, who has arrived in El Fashir to re-energize the Darfur peace process.

In an interview with UN radio earlier today, the chief mediator said, We are trying to find a good approach We need to improve this dialogue and to do so we have to discuss with everybody on the ground.

And UNAMID Force Commander, Gen Martin Luther Agwai, visited the Zam Zam camp for displaced and welcomed the recently arrived Egyptian Engineering and Signal Company.

A UNAMID joint patrol team, consisting of military and police, was deployed to Kalma camp to monitor and assess the situation following this weeks attack by the Government of Sudan.

NEW WESTERN SAHARA ENVOY TO BE NAMED SOON

In response to questions regarding press reports by Peter van Walsum, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General appreciates the work done by his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum. Over the past three years, Mr. van Walsum has worked with the parties, neighboring countries and other stakeholders, to convene four rounds of negotiations.

The Secretary-General remains committed to offering the Parties his good offices, as they prepare for the fifth round of the negotiations this fall. He firmly believes that there is a need to revitalize the negotiation process in order to attain a peaceful solution in Western Sahara. An announcement of the new Personal Envoy will be made soon.

The Spokeswoman also said that van Walsum's mandate came to an end on 21 August and was not renewed.

Okabe stressed that the next round of talk are expected to proceed as planned this fall. The Secretary-General, she added, plans to announce a new Personal Envoy shortly.

NEW DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR DR CONGO IS NAMED

The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Ms. Leila Zerrougui of Algeria as Deputy Special

Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms. Zerrougui has had a distinguished career in strengthening the rule of law, in particular through the administration of justice, and in human rights. Before her appointment to Algerias Supreme Court in 2000, Ms. Zerrougui served as a judge on the first instance Tribunal from 1980 to 1986, and on the Court of Appeals from 1986 to 1997. From 1998 to 2000 she was legal advisor at the Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice. Since 2000, she has also held the position of Chargé de mission in the Presidency of the Republic of Algeria.

Ms. Zerrougui has been a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention under the United Nations Human Rights Council since 2001 and served as the Working Groups Chairperson-Rapporteur from 2003 until May 2008.

She has previously served as expert member of a number of Working Groups and Committees to include under the Commission on Human Rights.

Ms. Zerrougui graduated from the Ecole Nationale dAdministration (Algiers) in 1980. Since 1993 she has held various academic positions at law schools in Algeria, and is now Associate Professor of the Ecole Supérieure de la Magistrature (Algiers). She has published extensively on the administration of justice and human rights. She was born in 1956 in Souk-Ahras, Algeria.

U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO DISPATCHES PATROL IN WAKE OF FIGHTING

In response to a question, the Deputy Spokeswoman said although the picture was not yet completed, fighting broke out in the early hours of Thursday between the CNDP (National Congress for Peoples Defense) and Congolese army units near Rumangabo in Rutshuru Territory. It is unclear who started the fighting or what provoked it. The fighting has now ceased.

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has no confirmed information regarding casualties or civilian victims. MONUC has dispatched strong patrols to the area to ascertain the details and, demand that both sides stop fighting and withdraw to their original positions.

UN humanitarian staff is also assessing the situation.

Meanwhile, she added, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Alan Doss, has met today at length with the Congolese Defense Minister and with the Interior Minister. The UN Force Commander has been in contact with the Congolese army Commander. The UN Mission is also in contact the representative of the CNPD to the Mixed Technical Commission on Peace and Security.

KOSOVO: "INTER-ETHNIC" INCIDENT IS REPORTED IN MITROVICA

Asked to confirm reports of ethnic fighting in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica, the Spokeswoman said that during the last 24 hours an incident considered having inter-ethnic nature that started with verbal insulting and stoning was recorded. The case was recorded to have occurred around 11 p.m. local time, in North Mitrovica.

Several persons were injured during the incident and two vehicles from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) were damaged, as well as firearms discharges were heard during the incident.

Okabe added that UNMIK Police and Kosovo Police intervened in putting the situation under control and dispersing both ethnic groups involved in stoning each other.

SOCIAL INJUSTICE PREVENTS MAJORITY OF PEOPLE FROM ENJOYING GOOD HEALTH

Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale, a research commission from the World Health Organization

said in conclusion to a new study released earlier today. The study found that bad policies, economics, and politics are in large measure responsible for the fact that a majority of people in the world do not enjoy good health.

To cite some examples, a child born in a Glasgow, Scotland, suburb can expect a life 28 years shorter than another living only 13 kilometres away. A girl in Lesotho is likely to live 42 years less than a girl in Japan. And while 1 out of 17,400 Swedish women die during pregnancy or childbirth, in Afghanistan, the odds are 1 in 8.

In welcoming the report, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that health systems will not naturally gravitate towards equity. Unprecedented leadership is needed that compels all actors, including those beyond the health sector, to examine their impact on health.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CHIEF WRAPS UP VISIT TO PAKISTAN

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres today

completed a three-day visit to Pakistan, during which the government agreed to revise its Afghan repatriation strategy beyond 2009.

After arriving in Islamabad earlier this week, Mr. Guterres met with Pakistans leaders. They reached a strong consensus on projects to develop refugee-hosting areas in Pakistan.

Highlighting that Pakistan, as UNHCRs biggest partner and host of the worlds largest refugee population, has shown incomparable generosity towards its neighbors, Guterres called for more support from the international community for the countrys efforts.

U.N. MISSION IN HAITI HELPING VICTIMS OF TROPICAL STORM GUSTAV

The UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is working with Haitian authorities across the south of the country to bring relief to those affected by the torrential rains and heavy winds from tropical storm Gustav.

UN peacekeepers are helping to evacuate thousands of people by boat or truck. They are also working with Haitian police to evaluate access to roads and bridges in the most affected regions and to assess the damage.

The Mission also says that preparations are complete to provide immediate assistance to up to 3,000 families.

PHILIPPINES: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME BOOSTS ASSISTANCE TO SOUTHERN MINDANAO

The World Food Programme (WFP) is

scaling up food assistance to more than 220,000 people displaced by conflict in southern Mindanao, delivering nearly 1,000 metric tons of rice to civilians caught up in the fighting between the Philippine government and troops and forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

WFP Philippines says it is responding to a request from the Government to provide food assistance to meet urgent needs among the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the sudden upsurge in violence in southern Mindanao.

Despite the challenge of working in a conflict zone, WFP has so far dispatched some 650 metric tons of rice to 160,000 displaced families. A further 250 tonnes of rice is being delivered to approximately 60,000 people who have been newly displaced by the conflict.

LATIN AMERICA/CARIBBEAN REGION SET TO HAVE SIXTH STRAIGHT YEAR OF ECONOMIC GROWTH

In its latest survey, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

says the region is on track for a sixth consecutive year of economic growth, capping its best period in 40 years.

GDP (gross domestic product) is expected to rise nearly five percent in 2008, fuelled by Indias and Chinas demand for exports. Poverty is also down nearly ten per cent since 2002.

ECLAC expects slower growth next year, however, because of rising inflation and a deteriorating international economy. But countries in the region will not suffer as deeply as in the past, given their greater economic strength, ECLAC says.

SPORTS CLOTHING FOR REFUGEES CAMPAIGN COLLECTS MORE THAN 80,000 ITEMS

With the Olympics over, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

says its Giving is Winning campaign has been a resounding success. During the Beijing Games, UNHCR and the International Olympic Committee collected 30,000 items of sports clothing from Olympic athletes to give to refugees. Thats on top of 50,000 items collected over the past year.

During the games, biodegradable plastic bags and information leaflets were placed in every athletes room in the Olympic Village so that they could make individual donations.

UNHCR has noted that, for the many refugees who spend years languishing in bleak camps, the gift of sportswear associated with famous athletes can be an enormous morale-booster and a sign that the world cares about their plight.

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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