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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-03
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
[There will be no noon briefing tomorrow. The briefing will resume on Friday, September 5]
BAN KI-MOON TO LAUNCH REPORT ON DEVELOPMENT GOALS TOMORROW
Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. there will be a press briefing to launch the
report of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Gap Task Force, entitled Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make opening remarks, and then questions will be taken by Ad Melkert, Associate Administrator of the U.N. Development Programme, who chaired the Task Force, and Rob Vos, Director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who was the lead author of the report.
The Task Force, which was convened by the Secretary-General as an input to the High-Level Event on MDGs, examined gaps in achieving Goal 8, on aid, trade, debt relief and access to essential medicines and new technologies.
FULL-FLEDGED NEGOTIATIONS ON CYPRUS LAUNCHED TODAY
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today issued a
message to mark the formal launch by the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Demetris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, of full-fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In that message, which was delivered by his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General warmly welcomed the launch and commended the leaders for their seriousness of purpose, sense of compromise, and commitment to seeing the peace process through to a successful conclusion.
He added that the UN supports and encourages both parties as they take this historic step together, so as to reach a negotiated settlement to reunify the island for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus.
The Secretary-General also assured the parties that the UN will provide unwavering support to the process, as requested.
In a separate statement to the two leaders, Alexander Downer said, You own this process and, as a result, your continuing leadership is the critical element to make it succeed. He added that a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue will be the leaders enduring legacy and an inspiration to a troubled world.
DR CONGO: RECOVERY TEAMS TRYING TO REACH PLANE CRASH SITE
The search for the passengers onboard the flight that crashed outside of Bukavu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues today, 48 hours after the crash occurred. However, given that aerial reconnaissance found that the plane suffered an extremely violent impact, the likelihood of survivors is low.
The recovery teams include MONUC (UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) military contingents, Congolese Civil Aviation authorities, operations coordinator AirServ, the company that owned the crashed plane, and South African Special Rescue Teams. The teams have decided to combine ground and air recovery operations.
The crash site is 10,000 feet above sea level, in extremely difficult terrain. Combined with the current rainy season, rescue operations are facing a number of difficulties. It is estimated that operations to reach and work on the site could take a few more days. Earlier today, two MONUC helicopters carrying 25 MONUC military and South African special rescue teams left for the site.
INCREASED GOVERNMENT POLICE PRESENCE REPORTED NEAR DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP
The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today
reports an increased presence of Government of Sudan Police near the Kalma camp housing displaced persons in Nyala.
According to UNAMID, on Monday, a UNAMID patrol in Nyala noticed an increased police presence, with more tents going up at their new location about five kilometers away from the camp.
UNAMID, meanwhile, has decided to deploy, on a permanent basis, a joint force of UNAMID Military and Police. Until such a force is established, UNAMID police are present in and around the Kalma camp, 12 hours a day. Daily UNAMID military patrols have also been reinforced since August 25th in the Kalma camp area.
The mission also
reports that the UNAMID radio unit today started a one-month radio journalism training and capacity-building program for ten local radio journalists in El Fasher. This is the first in a series of basic radio journalism training to be conducted for Darfurians in El Fasher and Khartoum between now and December. The aim of the training is to develop capacity for a full-fledged UNAMID Radio broadcast operation for Darfur.
PEACEBUILDING FUND NEEDS FURTHER INVESTMENTS AND REFORMS
In his latest
report on the Peacebuilding Fund, the Secretary-General notes that the Fund has established itself as a unique and strategic instrument that is supporting 37 projects in seven countries. The Fund has attracted nearly $270 million in pledges to date, exceeding its initial target.
The Secretary-General notes that further investments and reforms are urgently required for the Fund to adequately fulfill its role. These include a simplification of national coordination structures, more in-country training, a review of the emergency window to support larger-scale operations, and additional staffing and resources to build surge capacity.
He adds that an annual pledging conference should be held, in order to ensure donor support over the long term to the Peacebuilding Fund.
U.N. ASSISTS HAITI IN RESCUE AND RELIEF EFFORTS FOLLOWING TROPICAL STORM HANNA
The United Nations mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) continues to assist local authorities in rescue and relief operations in Gonaives. The city was hit by floods and mudslides triggered by Tropical Storm Hanna.
UN peacekeepers are assessing the safety of roads and bridges in the wake of the storm, as part of technical and logistical assistance to the authorities. Meanwhile, a UN helicopter is carrying three tons of relief supplies to Bainet, a hard-hit area in the south-east. UNICEF and the
World Food Programme are
providing life-saving assistance to thousands of people. Peacekeepers have also distributed drinking water to some 10,000 people in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
In the Secretary-Generals latest report on Haiti, he says that the countrys stabilization process has suffered a significant setback due to political disturbances, a crisis in government and the delay in selecting a new Prime Minister.
EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR CALLS FOR INCREASED AID FOR ETHIOPIA
Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes has wrapped up a three-day visit to Ethiopia by renewing his call for a boost in humanitarian activities there.
Holmes today chaired a meeting with the head of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, World Bank representatives, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to discuss the effects of rising food prices in the country.
Noting that food prices in some parts of Ethiopia have risen by as much as 500 percent in the past year, Mr. Holmes stressed the need for comprehensive and coordinated policies.
Participants at the meeting highlighted the need for better investment in agricultural productivity and rural development, the vital necessity of the Productive Safety Net Program, and the challenges presented by Ethiopias high population growth.
Yesterday, Mr. Holmes
visited the Somali region, which has been hard-hit by drought, high food prices and ongoing conflict. At a refugee screening centre, Mr. Holmes met Somali refugees and Ethiopians desperately seeking aid. He noted that the absence of humanitarian assistance has driven many Ethiopians to adopt the status of asylum seekers, in the hope of obtaining food, shelter and medical care.
U.N. COUNTRY TEAM IN SRI LANKA REITERATES COMMITMENT
TO PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FOR CIVILIANS
The United Nations in Sri Lanka today, in a
statement, acknowledged the announcement by the Government of Sri Lanka of additional measures aimed at facilitating the freedom of movement of civilians who have been affected by fighting in the Vanni.
The United Nations remains fully committed to assisting the Government in its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those civilians who remain in the Vanni and to those civilians who will leave.
Stressing that measures must be taken to prevent displacing people from their homes and livelihoods, the U.N. has also raised with the Tamil Tigers its urgent concern that civilians be allowed maximum freedom of movement at all times.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME TO FEED MORE THAN SIX MILLION PEOPLE IN DPRK
The United Nations World Food Programme is
launching a new emergency operation valued at approximately half a billion dollars to feed 6.2 million people in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), including many in previously inaccessible areas of the country.
The new emergency operation, expected to be approved in the coming days, will extend to areas in the country that were previously inaccessible, targeting the young, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Nearly half of the beneficiaries will be in the remote provinces in the northeast that have been hard-hit by industrial recession and deemed most vulnerable to food insecurity.
WFP says the new operation is designed to make sure that the millions of people in the DPRK who do not have enough to eat will, and adds that US$8 million per week is needed to provide the level of food assistance required in the country.
Asked about a reported reopening of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) office in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Spokesperson later relayed UNDP's categorical denial that a UNDP team chaired by Vinnet Bhatia (Deputy Resident Representative) had arrived in Pyongyang in mid-August and had started the re-opening of the office. There is absolutely no truth to this. Vineet Bhatia has been in New York since December 2007, and there are no plans for UNDP to return to the DPRK without an explicit green-light from its Executive Board.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAD FRANK/OPEN DISCUSSIONS WITH SENIOR MANAGERS LAST WEEK
Asked to elaborate on a speech on UN personnel the Secretary-General gave to a group of top UN officials gathered at a
retreat in Turin, Italy, the Spokeswoman said that this was one of three sets of remarks that Ban Ki-moon made at this internal meeting of senior management under the central theme of Building a stronger UN for a better world.
It was a frank and open exchange, and that speech is now posted on the UN intranet for all the staff to become aware of. There's nothing hidden about it, Montas explained. It's all about pushing for change and making the UN workforce an instrument of change towards a more modern, more flexible, more responsive organization, and that's what the Secretary-General has been saying all along, she said.
She added that the issue of UN personnel was one of the topics of the retreat which also covered such issues as climate change, human rights and meeting the challenges of peace and security.
FIRST DPI/NGO CONFERENCE OUTSIDE OF U.N. HEADQUARTERS GETS UNDERWAY IN PARIS
The 61st annual DPI/NGO
conference got underway today at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This is the first time the event is taking place away from U.N. Headquarters. This years theme is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed in the French capital in 1948.
In a video message, the Secretary-General noted that human rights and freedoms continue to be a distant reality for too many people. It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality, he said, adding that he is committed to doing all he can to make the rights in the Universal Declaration a reality.
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, Under- Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka, and UNESCOs Director General Koïchiro Matsuura also addressed the gathering.
ATTENDEE LIST FOR TERROR VICTIMS SYMPOSIUM NOT YET COMPLETE
Asked for a list of attendees at next week's planned symposium of victims of acts of terrorism, Montas explained that the list of attendees is as of yet incomplete because not all participants have yet confirmed their presence in New York. Invitations went out to all countries, including observer states, to help the Organization identify possible participants in the symposium. Following that, potential attendees were sent letters seeking a confirmation of their attendance.
"Now we're in the process of getting visas and going through administrative procedures for some of the participants. But in some cases it is not easy and it takes time," Montas said.
Asked if the victims of state terrorism would be invited, the Spokeswoman said the notion of state terrorism is not recognized or included in existing international conventions. A definition of state terrorism is still being discussed among member states, she said.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR SEPTEMBER: The Security Council adopted its
programme of work for the month during consultations this morning.
U.N. LEBANON FORCE STAFF MEMBER ACCIDENTALLY KILLED WHILE CLEARING UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE: The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is saddened by the accidental death of a member of its explosive ordnance disposal team. The staff member died from an explosion earlier today while carrying out an unexploded ordnance clearance mission in the vicinity of Aytarun, in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL medical and explosive ordnance disposal teams were immediately dispatched to the location and an investigation is underway.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS REPEATEDLY CONDEMNED KILLINGS OF CIVILIANS IN COMBAT SITUATIONS: Asked for a reaction on reports of civilians killed in a an alleged violation of Pakistan's sovereignty by international forces operating in Afghanistan, Montas said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly condemned killings of civilians among "collateral damage" in combat situations, and he has repeatedly appealed for fighting parties to minimize such occurrences.
U.N. PEACEKEEPERS DID NOT FIRE AT DEMONSTRATORS IN THE DR CONGO: Asked if UN peacekeepers had shot at demonstrators in Rutshuru in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she also relayed later the U.N. missions (MONUC) categorical denial that any live munitions were used by UN peacekeepers to disperse the rioting crowd. Congolese soldiers fired in the air, though the Mission is unsure what type of munitions were fired.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY PROVIDES FLOATING CLINIC ON RIVER IN NORTHERN ECUADOR: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees
says a new floating health service is bringing urgently needed care to locals and Colombian refugees in Ecuadorean settlements on the San Miguel River.
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