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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-08

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY

MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, September 8, 2008

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES CYPRIOT LEADERS ON NEGOTIATIONS

The Secretary-General spoke by phone this morning, separately, with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to congratulate them personally on the formal launch last week of full-fledged negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

The Secretary-General also spoke today with his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, who is currently in Athens, where he met earlier today with top government officials, including Prime Minister Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Bakoyannis. Downer will visit Ankara on Wednesday where he is scheduled to meet President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Babacan.

He is scheduled to then return to Cyprus early Thursday morning to attend the first substantive meeting between Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat in the context of the negotiations.

NEW HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ADDRESSES HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL FOR FIRST TIME

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council

opened its ninth regular session today, hearing for the first time an address by the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay.

In her statement to the Council, Pillay highlighted the need to tackle discrimination and inequality, and urged greater efforts to prevent genocide, which she described as the ultimate form of discrimination.

Pillay, who was herself the victim of both racial and gender discrimination in apartheid South Africa, said that development, security, peace and justice are all undermined when discrimination and inequality both in blatant and subtle ways are allowed to fester and to poison harmonious coexistence.

Pillay also urged States not to let diverging points of view deter them from taking part in the Anti-Racism Review Conference scheduled for April 2009. She added that Nelson Mandela had taught her that far from being appeasement, coming to terms with other peoples experiences and points of view may serve the interest of justice better than strategies that leave no room for negotiation.

The Human Rights Council also heard this morning from its new President, Martin Uhomoibhi, and 29 Member States.

U.N. FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN DARFUR AT RISK OF SUSPENSION

The World Food Programme (WFP) has

warned that it will have to suspend food distributions in Darfur if the security situation does not improve.

WFP said that relentless attacks on truck convoys in Darfur are pushing to the brink the agencys ability to feed more than 3 million people each month.

While WFP managed to recover three hijacked trucks and four staff yesterday, following the latest attack in South Darfur, 69 trucks and 43 drivers remain unaccounted for.

WFP says since the beginning of the year, more than 100 vehicles delivering WFP food assistance have been hijacked in Darfur, with many more shot at and robbed. Drivers are refusing to travel along certain routes, significantly slowing food aid deliveries to hungry people.

FOOD SECURITY SITUATION IN ETHIOPIA DETERIORATING TO ALARMING LEVELS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

reports that the food security situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated to alarming levels, in the wake of drought conditions throughout much of the country. Relief operations are also grappling with considerable shortages of supplies. The World Food Programme, for instance, needs US$136 million worth of food for its operations.

Meanwhile, flooding in Ethiopias southwestern Gambella region has reportedly displaced nearly 35,000 people. The World Health Organization has provided emergency drugs and medical supplies for 10,000 people there.

U.N. MOBILIZES AID ACROSS CARIBBEAN FOR HURRICANE AND TROPICAL STORM SURVIVORS

In response to the recent hurricanes and tropical storms in the Caribbean, the UN is

mobilizing assistance across the region.

In Haiti, where as many as 800,000 people may have been affected, UN agencies are making available emergency food assistance, water, purification tablets, blankets and other supplies. The World Food Programme (WFP), for its part, has distributed 140,000 liters of water, as well as hygiene kits and plastic sheeting.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Hédi Annabi,

visited Gonaives over the weekend and promised that the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will do all it can to get aid to the area. A Flash Appeal for Haiti is also being organized.

The UN has also offered assistance to Cuba. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is preparing an emergency cash grant, as well as an application to the Central Emergency Response Fund. OCHA has also given a US$30,000 cash grant to Jamaica.

In the meantime, a Disaster Assessment and Coordination team has been dispatched to Turks and Caicos. The UN is also closely monitoring the situation in the Dominican Republic, but there is no special support needed at present.

U.N. TO ASSIST CASH-STRAPPED FARMERS IN SWAZILAND

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will

help cash-strapped farmers in Swaziland purchase seeds in time for the next planting season. FAO Director General Jacques Diouf made the announcement today during a trip to a school-based farming project outside the capital of Mbabane.

Starting September 29th, FAO will set up Input Trade Fairs, where farmers will be able to choose seeds and other supplies from local producers. Farmers will be able to use vouchers to pick and choose the varieties they prefer.

The programme is part of FAOs Initiative on Soaring Food Prices, which includes emergency projects planned for nearly 80 countries.

WORLD COURT HOLDS URGENT PROCEEDINGS ON GEORGIA

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is holding three days of urgent proceedings in connection with Georgias recent

case against the Russian Federation.

The proceedings, which began today, are taking place as a result of Georgias request that the Court, as a matter of urgency, order a number of

provisional measures, pending its determination of this case on the merits.

Included in the provisional measures requested by Georgia is a demand that the Russian Federation ensure that no ethnic Georgians are subject to violent or coercive acts of racial discrimination.

A binding decision on these provisional measures is expected within weeks.

U.N. WILL KEEP TRYING TO SEND HUMANITARIAN MISSIONS INTO GEORGIA

Asked about reports that a UN convoy had been blocked in Georgia, the Spokeswoman confirmed that, today in Georgia, the United Nations was attempting to undertake a preliminary humanitarian assessment mission in the area north of Gori, while at the same time delivering some basic relief supplies. The mission was not allowed to move beyond a Russian checkpoint in Karaleti.

Montas added that she did not have a specific reaction at this point to that blocking. But she confirmed that the United Nations will keep trying to send humanitarian missions to the area in question.

She noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, under the leadership of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, had been involved in todays convoy.

TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY

Today is International Literacy Day, which is dedicated to the concerns of the one in five adults some 774 million people who are illiterate, and thus live with no access to the vast global store of written communication.

The theme of this years observance of International Literacy Day, Literacy and Health, is meant to draw more attention to impact of illiteracy on human health.

In a message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General says that literacy is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals targeting maternal health and combating HIV and malaria, and for addressing some of the worlds most important public health challenges. Literacy for all will benefit us all, he says.

UNITED NATIONS EXTENDS COOL U.N. INITIATIVE, CONSIDERS SIMILAR MOVE FOR WINTER

"Cool UN," the initiative announced by the Secretary-General on 30 July to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy by turning up thermostats in the UNHQ for the month of August from 72 to 77°F in the offices and from 70 to 75°F in the conference rooms, has been successful.

The initiative saved about 30 million pounds of steam, which translates into the equivalent of 2,000 tons of CO2. This is the carbon-footprint equivalent to a passenger making 710 round-trip trans-Atlantic flights.

In view of these concrete results, the Secretary-General has decided to extend the "Cool UN" initiative until 15 September. A winter program is under consideration.

UNICEF VOWS TO PROVIDE AID TO FLOOD VICTIMS IN INDIA

With the humanitarian crisis due to unprecedented floods in northern India continuing, UNICEF has

reaffirmed the agencys commitment to work with the Government and partners to provide relief to the flood affected people, especially the most vulnerable children and women.

UNICEF stressed that their immediate priority is to work with the government to ensure that children and women receive all necessary relief aid, including medicine, nutrition, clean water and access to sanitation.

So far over 500,000 water purifying tablets, 200-litre water tanks, over 2,500 bags of bleaching powder, 65,000 oral rehydration salt, first-aid kit and other materials among others have already reached the worst-affected districts.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DIALOGUE WITH STAFF CONSIDERED HEALTHY: Asked about concerns expressed by some staff regarding the Secretary-Generals recent comments on staff mobility, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General believes that it is healthy to have reaction from staff on the issue. She noted that his views on staff mobility include ensuring that there is proper training and preparation before staff are to change positions.

  • *The guest at noon was U.N. Police Adviser Andrew Hughes, who briefed on the outcome of last months 4th International Policing Advisory Council meeting.

    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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