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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-02

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

BAN KI-MOON IS SADDENED BY CRASH OF PLANE CARRYING HUMANITARIAN AID IN DR CONGO

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply

saddened by the news of a plane crash in the area of Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

His thoughts are with the families and colleagues of those United Nations and NGO aid workers, Congolese officials and crew who were on board the aircraft. He notes that a team from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) is making every effort to reach the site of the accident in order to verify the fate of those on board.

The Secretary-General expresses his gratitude to all the United Nations staff and international aid workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who continue to work tirelessly under difficult conditions to support the Congolese people in their efforts to consolidate peace in their country.

A team from MONUC has located the wreckage belonging to the private aviation company Air Serv International. The plane had been chartered by UN and Agencies and the humanitarian community in the country. It disappeared late Monday, and search and rescue operations were conducted this morning.

UN peacekeepers were able to locate the plane and view the crash site from a helicopter, but, due to the difficult terrain, they were unable to land and verify the fate of those onboard.

The plane had been en route from Kisangani to Bukavu when it apparently crashed into a mountain about 15 kilometers northeast of Bukavu Airport while beginning its landing approach in bad weather.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain left Kinshasa immediately this morning for Bukavu to coordinate the emergency operation with the United Nations and humanitarian community.

An investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the crash.

BAN KI-MOON WRAPS UP VISIT TO SPAIN, HEADS TO NEW YORK

The Secretary-General is now on his way to New York from Madrid, where he met this morning with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

During a joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister, the Secretary-General referred to the situation in Georgia and expressed his concern over the complex and unpredictable humanitarian situation on the ground. The Secretary-General stated that teams from the UN Refugee Agency continue to closely monitor these movements and to provide material support to the displaced.

Responding to a question regarding the situation in Western Sahara, the Secretary-General noted that he recognized the importance of maintaining the momentum of the negotiations as long as the parties are committed to the process. In the meantime, he said, he welcomed the parties agreement to expand the programme of confidence-building measures. It has a direct impact on the quality of life of Saharans and it can help build trust, which could help break the impasse in other areas.

Monday, the Secretary-General made a stop-over in Zaragoza, Spain where he visited the international EXPO 2008 under the theme Water and Sustainable Development. He visited a number of pavilions. The Secretary-General

addressed guests at the pavilion which is a forum devoted to Water, where he expressed the UNīs commitment to protecting and properly managing the worldīs precious water resources.

That morning, the Secretary-General had

attended in Geneva a ceremony to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. He met with families of the victims and some survivors of the event that struck the Organization on 19 August 2003.

Prior to that, he visited the site where the remains of the UN flag that was retrieved from the December 2007 attack on a UN office in Algiers, and laid a wreath.

On Sunday, he

addressed the opening of the 29th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that marked the 20th anniversary of the Panel. The Panel was awarded the Nobel Prize last year.

BURKINA FASO ASSUMES SEPTEMBER PRESIDENCY OF SECURITY COUNCIL

There are no meetings scheduled in the Security Council today, but with the beginning of the new month, there is a new presidency.

The permanent representative of Burkina Faso will brief tomorrow afternoon on the Councils programme of work for the month.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY REMAINS CONCERNED ABOUT HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN GEORGIAN TOWN

The UN refugee agency says it remains concerned about the humanitarian situation in and around the Georgian town of Gori, just south of the boundary with the region of South Ossetia.

The current shelter capacity in Gori is exhausted, with some 4,200 people registered as internally displaced persons (IDPs). All came from villages in the so-called buffer zone between Gori and the South Ossetian border. Some 1,200 are in the UNHCR tented camp in Gori, which was set up for internally displaced Georgians just five days ago. Another 1,000 are staying with host families, and some 2,000 are dispersed in 22 collective centres around the city.

At its height, more than 158,000 people were displaced during the conflict that erupted on Aug. 8 about 128,000 within Georgia and some 30,000 who fled to the Russian Federation. The vast majority of those who fled to the Russian Federation have now returned to their places of origin in South Ossetia.

HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR BEGINS THREE-DAY VISIT TO ETHIOPIA

Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes yesterday began a three-day visit to Ethiopia.

He travelled to the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region to review humanitarian efforts to address Ethiopias drought and food crisis. While there, Mr. Holmes met with farmers who had lost their crops to drought and visited an outpatient therapeutic centre.

Noting that Ethiopia is facing one of the worlds worst food crises, Holmes stressed that it was important to make every effort to respond to the tragedy. 75,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition, and 4.6 million people receive emergency food aid.

FLOODS IN INDIA AFFECT MORE THAN 3 MILLION PEOPLE

In South Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO)

said the recent flooding in India has affected some 3.1 million people with the death toll increasing to 56.

In Nepal, some 70,000 persons have been displaced due to the floods.

So far, there have been no outbreaks of communicable diseases, but Nepal has seen an increase in diarrhea and acute respiratory infections.

In both countries, there was an increased risk of water-borne infection and diseases due to the number of people displaced, the hot climate, inadequate levels of hygiene and sanitation, and the pools of stagnant water once the water receded.

WHO is working with the local Ministries of Health to provide technical assistance as requested.

UNITED NATIONS SENDS ASSISTANCE TO HURRICANE VICTIMS IN HAITI

UNICEF and WFP are bringing life-saving assistance to thousands of hurricane-affected people now living in temporary shelters across Haiti. This follows Hurricane Gustavs landfall on the island, which destroyed livelihoods, homes, livestock and crops.

The agencies are providing portable water, blankets, hygiene kits, cooking sets and food items to some 4,000 people in Port-au-Prince two other towns. UN Aid operations are expected to expand tomorrow after a joint review of emerging needs with the government.

SENIOR PEACEKEEPING OFFICIAL VISITS CHAD, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet is in Chad for a working visit. Earlier today in NDjamena he met with President Idriss Deby. They discussed the performance of the UN Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) after a six--month presence in the country.

Mulet also met with the head of Chads main agency for coordination and support of the international humanitarian deployment in eastern Chad.

Both Mulet and Victor Angelo, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Chad and the Central African Republic, are now en route to Bangui, where they are expected to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and the Central African Republic in the area of peacekeeping.

NEW HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF BEGINS FOUR-YEAR TERM

On Monday, South African, Ms. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay officially

began her four-year term as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Appointed as the fifth human rights chief in July by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Secretary-General, Ms. Pillay takes over a growing organization that now hosts 1,000 staff working in 50 countries with a total annual budget of some $150 million.

The new High Commissioner has spent the past five years as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the first permanent independent court set up to try cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Born in South Africa in 1941, Pillay has been very active in supporting womens rights throughout her career, and was one of the co-founders of the international NGO Equality Now, which campaigns for womens rights.

NEW DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR TIMOR-LESTE IS APPOINTED

The Secretary-General has appointed Takahisa Kawakami of Japan as his Deputy Special Representative for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law in the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

Mr. Kawakami is currently serving as Chief of Staff in the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He has held a number of posts within the UN, both in the field and at Headquarters. Prior to joining the United Nations, he served in the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

NEW CHIEF OF MARITIME TASK FORCE IN LEBANON TAKES UP POST

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF), currently led by the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR),

underwent a transfer of command from Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase of Italy to Rear Admiral Alain Hinden of France (EUROMARFOR).

A formal handover ceremony was held aboard the flagship Scirocco off the coast of Lebanon. It was attended by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, senior Lebanese military officers and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing troops to UNIFIL.

Since it was deployed in October 2006, the Maritime Task Force has hailed around 18,000 ships and referred more than150 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

UNITED NATIONS IS VERY CONCERNED ABOUT RECENT JUVENILE EXECUTIONS IN IRAN

The High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is very concerned and saddened by reports from the Islamic Republic of Iran that two minors were recently put to death, in violation of the countrys obligations under international law, which contains an absolute prohibition of the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

Reza Hedjazi is believed to have been executed on 19 August and Behnam Zaare on 26 August. They are reported to have been 15 and 16, respectively, when they committed their crimes.

The human rights office is also concerned about two other minors facing imminent risk of execution and has urged Iran not to impose the death penalty on juvenile offenders in strict compliance with its international human rights obligations.

OHCHR stresses the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which Iran has ratified, prohibit the death penalty for crimes committed by people below the age of 18.

OHCHR is also concerned over reports of a recent increase in the number of executions in Iran, noting that more than 220 people, including six juvenile offenders, are believed to have been executed this year.

DEATH OF U.N. CORRESPONDENT LEE LOVE

On a sad note, we send our best wishes to the family of longtime U.N. correspondent, Lee Love, who passed away Sunday night.

In her decades of covering the U.N., Lee focused especially on efforts to ensure the peaceful use of outer space. She wrote about the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space from its early days.

Lee will be missed.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BACKGROUND BRIEFING ON SYMPOSIUM SUPPORTING VICTIMS OF TERROR TO BE HELD MONDAY: On 9 September, the Secretary-General will host a full-day symposium on supporting victims of terrorism at United Nations Headquarters. The Symposiums aim is to provide a forum which will assist Member States in their commitment under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to strive to promote international solidarity in support of victims and foster the involvement of civil society in a global campaign against terrorism and for its condemnation. A background briefing by a senior UN official is now scheduled to take place on Monday, 8 September at 11a.m.

TEXT MESSAGING CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED FOR INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: Ahead of the International Day of Peace, which is September 21st, a text messaging for peace campaign has been launched today. In the United States, cell phone users are urged to compose a 160-character message beginning with the word PEACE and send it to the number 69866. The UN Department of Public Information will gather the messages, and publish them at

www.peaceday2008.org, as well as deliver them to world leaders gathered at the General Assembly later this month.

NEW ONLINE GAME GENERATES MORE THAN 40 MILLION GRAINS OF RICE: From the World Food Programme, the phenomenally successful FreeRice vocabulary game on the internet, now has a few competitors. Several additional games on art, math, language and chemistry have just been added to the site. In the new games, users can test their knowledge of world capital cities, chemical symbols, multiplication, and even the styles of famous painters. The vocabulary game has generated more than 40 billion grains of rice for WFP since its launch last fall. Thats enough to feed more than two million people for a day.

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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