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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-08-29
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, August 29, 2008
[U.N. Headquarters in New York is closed on Monday for an official holiday (Labour Day).
The noon briefing will resume on Tuesday, September 2]
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES ZIMBABWES LIFTING OF SUSPENSION ON AID OPERATIONS;
EMPHASIZES NEED FOR FULL/UNHINDERED ACCESS TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
[According to a statement issued after the noon briefing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
welcomes the announcement of the Government of Zimbabwe to lift the suspension of field operations of Non-Governmental and Private Voluntary Organizations (NGOs and PVOs).
This positive development will help ensure that neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance is provided to the people of Zimbabwe.
The Secretary-General also welcomes the Governments invitation to all NGOs and PVOs as well as United Nations agencies to discuss the operational modalities following the lifting of the suspension.
He would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that people in need have full access to humanitarian assistance essential to their health and well-being and that humanitarian organizations have full and unhindered access to vulnerable populations in order to carry out vital relief operations.
The United Nations stands ready to work together with the Government and NGO/PVO partners to continue provision of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe.]
BAN KI-MOON SENDS CONDOLENCES TO THOSE AFFECTED BY FLOODS IN INDIA
The Secretary-General was
saddened to learn of the loss of life and damage to property in Bihar, India due to flooding. He extends his deepest condolences to those affected, especially to the families of those who have been killed or who are missing.
The United Nations stands ready to assist as required.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has offered technical assistance to the health ministries of both India and Nepal, which has also been affected by the severe flooding. WHO has enough emergency health kits pre-positioned to provide emergency assistance to 120,000 people for one month. The
World Food Programme is providing an initial 15-day food basket to 50,000 flood victims in Nepal, with more on the way. UNICEF is
providing water purifying products and hygiene kits, as well as hand pumps, latrines and garbage facilities throughout camps for displaced persons.
U.N. AGENCIES HELPING HAITIAN GOVERNMENT RESPOND IN WAKE OF HURRICANE GUSTAV
Hurricane Gustav had forced around 6,300 people from their homes. UNICEF
says that they were mainly city dwellers, but the agency was very concerned because the population of Haiti was already suffering from extreme poverty, and soaring food prices were aggravating the situation.
UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners were working with the Government to ascertain the extent of the damage. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the destruction in Port-au-Prince was less significant than had been expected, owing to very good preparations, but deforestation of Haiti also meant that there had been significant damage elsewhere.
Hurricane Gustav had also hit the Dominican Republic, where prevention had played an important role in limiting the damages, with 5,900 people evacuated in time, according to OCHA.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON SITUATION IN GEORGIA
There are no meetings scheduled in the Security Council today. Yesterday afternoon, the Council held an
open meeting on the situation in Georgia.
Briefing for the Department of Political Affairs, Elizabeth Spehar said that there are 18 Russian checkpoints north of the town Gori. There are also media reports of additional checkpoints in Georgia, including around the port town of Poti.
Ms. Spehar also provided an update on humanitarian efforts on the ground, noting that the situation remains complex and unpredictable, with continuing movements of people. According to the latest figures from the U.N. Refugee Agency, some 2,300 people have registered in Gori as internally displaced persons; 800 of them are staying in a tented camp set up by UN agencies on the outskirts of town.
Briefing for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber said that the situation in and around the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone remains tense. The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has observed large-scale movements of Russian troops from the Georgian to the Abkhaz-controlled side of the ceasefire line. But UNOMIG has also observed that CIS-peacekeeping force checkpoints have moved forward from the ceasefire line towards the boundary with Georgia proper.
He also said there are reports of mines having been laid in the Gali district. UNOMIG cannot, at this point, verify any of these claims, as it has not been able to obtain appropriate security guarantees to resume normal patrolling in that area. UNOMIG has also been unable to conduct patrols in the Kodori Valley, but has resumed normal patrolling in the Zugdidi sector.
Asked if the Secretariat, in response to requests made at yesterday's Security Council meeting, will be sending an assessment team to Georgia to look into allegations of ethnic cleansing and conduct a comprehensive humanitarian survey, Okabe said she had no information on the proposed missions but added that UN humanitarian agencies usually deploy in crisis regions to carry out a needs assessment as soon as possible.
She noted also that High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, was recently in the region and
met with some of the civilians displaced by the conflict. There is nothing the humanitarian agencies would like to do more than go into the area themselves" to assess the needs of the people on the ground, she said.
DR CONGO ENVOY CONDEMNS LATEST ROUND OF FIGHTING
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Alan Doss, has
condemned the recent fighting between the Congolese army and rebels from the National Congress for Peoples Defense. The Special Representative called on the parties to exercise restraint, return to their initial positions and avoid any actions that might escalate the situation.
Meanwhile, UN, European Union and Rwandan officials met Wednesday in Kigali in preparation for Mondays Joint Monitoring Group meeting in Kinshasa. Among other issues, they discussed disarmament and repatriation of the DRC-based armed group FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda).
U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES RECENT SIGNING OF AGREEMENT BY SOMALI LEADERS
The UN Special Representative for
Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has welcomed the agreement signed by Somalias leaders in Addis Ababa on August 25th.
Under this agreement, facilitated by the Government of Ethiopia under the auspices of the East African-bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development, President Yusuf; the Speaker of Parliament, Sheikh Aden Madobe; and Prime Minister Hussein have resolved to promote reconciliation, the rule of law and good governance in Somalia. They also fully committed to implement the Djibouti Agreement.
NO RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL RELEASED AT IAEA LABORATORY
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
says that independent analysis has confirmed that there was no release of radioactive material to the environment following an incident at the IAEA´s Seibersdorf Laboratory on 3 August.
The test focused on analysis of soil, plant and water samples collected outside the IAEA´s laboratory. And since the incident, constant air monitoring near the laboratory has also provided no evidence of any radioactive contamination.
An investigation into the circumstances and causes of the incident is still underway. In the meantime the first stage of the clean-up of the storage room was successfully completed on August 22nd.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO TRAVEL TO ETHIOPIA
Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is set to begin a three-day visit to Ethiopia on Monday. While there, he will travel to various locations and meet with communities affected by drought and the food security crisis.
Specifically, he will observe the changes in the humanitarian situation since last November. While in Ethiopia, Holmes is also scheduled to meet with government and regional officials, community representatives, and other UN partners.
SECRETARY-GENERAL OPENS TWO-DAY RETREAT WITH SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS
The Secretary-General opened in Turin, Italy, a two-day retreat with about 60 UN senior officials, Under Secretary-Generals and Assistant Secretary-Generals coming from New York headquarters as well as other duty stations.
The retreat, organized by the
UN staff college based in Turin, by the
United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the UN Department of Management is focusing on assessing the last 20 months and on how best the United Nations can tackle major global challenges from climate change, to the food crisis, from human rights to peace and security issues, including staff safety.
The working sessions will also address organizational matters of accountability, teamwork and building a modern, mobile and efficient workforce within the UN system.
The UN managers' retreat, the second held in Turin, was opened this morning after the swearing-in ceremony of two new senior staff members: the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, and Peter Taksoe-Jensen, the new Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.
The retreat is hosted by the regional and local governments of the Piedmont region and the City of Torino in a World Heritage site, the newly-restored Royal Palace of the House of Savoy.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO GENEVA, ZARAGOZA AND MADRID NEXT WEEK
On Sunday, 31 August, the Secretary-General is expected be in Geneva, where he plans to address a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and speak to reporters afterwards.
On Monday, also in Geneva, the Secretary-General would attend a signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding between United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the Iraqi Government. Then the Secretary-General would participate in a fifth anniversary commemoration for the victims of the attack against United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.
Following the ceremony, the Secretary-General would leave Geneva and travel to Spain. He will attend on Monday Exposition Zaragoza 2008, whose theme is Water and Sustainable Development, and he will speak on the importance of water for social, economic and political security.
SPECIAL ADVISER TO BRIEF PRESS ON VISIT TO MYANMAR: Okabe, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, was expected to brief the press as soon as he briefs the Security Council about his recent visit to Myanmar.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS RECEIVED AND DISTRIBUTED LETTER FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: In response to a question about whether the Secretary-General had received a letter from the United Arab Emirates regarding a territorial dispute with Iran, the Spokeswoman later said that the letter had been received and had been published as a Security Council
document as had been requested by the sender.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, August 30
In Turin, Italy, the Secretary-General hosts a retreat of senior managers of the U.N. system.
Today is the 25th anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared.
Sunday, August 31
In Geneva, the Secretary-General is scheduled to address the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at its 20th anniversary celebration and the opening of its 29th plenary session, which runs through Thursday.
Today is the last day of Belgiums Security Council presidency.
Monday, September 1
In Geneva, the Secretary-General takes part in a wreath-laying and commemorative ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the Canal Hotel Bombing in Baghdad. Later in the day, he will be in Zaragoza, Spain, to visit the Exposition Zaragoza 2008.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes begins a three-day visit to Ethiopia.
Today is the first day of Burkina Fasos Security Council presidency.
U.N. Headquarters in New York is closed for an official holiday (Labour Day).
Tuesday, September 2
In Madrid, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and hold a press conference.
At 10 a.m in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council reform meets to discuss the report on its work. The meeting is closed to the press.
The guest at the noon briefing is U.N. Police Adviser Andrew Hughes, who will brief on the outcome of last weeks 4th International Policing Advisory Council meeting.
From today through Friday, the International Telecommunications Unions TELECOM ASIA 2008 takes place in Bangkok.
Wednesday, September 3
At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Michel Kafando, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso and President of the Security Council for September, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.
From 3 to 4 p.m. in Conference Room 3, the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples holds its 12th meeting, to consider an increase in its membership.
From today through Friday at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the 61st Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference meets on the theme of "Reaffirming Human Rights: The Universal Declaration at 60.
Thursday, September 4
At 10 a.m., the General Assembly holds a plenary meeting to review the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted two years ago.
At 10 a.m. in Conference Room 1, the 27th Meeting of States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights takes place.
From 10.30 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. in Conference Room 5, there will be a U.N. University panel discussion on Political Parties in Conflict-Prone Societies.
At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, the Secretary-General, U.N. Development Programme Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, and Rob Vos of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs launch the first report of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Gap Task Force, entitled Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the MDGs.
From 1.15 to 2.30 p.m. in Conference Room 4, there will be a side event on Public-Private Partnership in Countering Terrorism.
In Geneva, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development launches its Trade and Development Report 2008.
Friday, September 5
[No major events are scheduled at this time.]
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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