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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-10

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 THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP AT FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY

The Secretary-General this afternoon traveled to Madison, New Jersey, where he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the second Secretary-General to receive an honorary degree from the University; the first UN Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, also got one.

He also delivered the keynote address at the Universitys Academic Convocation, talking about global citizenship. He highlighted the need for action to deal with climate change, to implement the

Millennium Development Goals and to address security issues like terrorism and organized crime. He argued that it is in our national, and our personal, interest to think globally.

U.N. RELIEF COORDINATOR CONCERNED ABOUT SERIOUS VIOLENCE IN DARFUR

John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, is deeply concerned about reports of continued serious violence in

Darfur. Of particular concern is a military offensive in North Darfur and Jebel Marra, which has included sustained aerial bombardments in the Birmaza and Disa areas in recent days and attacks on humanitarians by armed groups in the region.

The towns of Birmasa and Disa serve as important hubs for medical, water and commerce for tens of thousands of people. Insecurity in North Darfur has led to the suspension of vital humanitarian aid, compromising the health and well being of entire towns and villages, and affecting up to 450,000 people.

Holmes urges all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities immediately and engage in meaningful discussions with Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé towards a negotiated settlement.

All parties to the conflict are reminded of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, to differentiate between civilian and military targets, and to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to the millions in need in the region.

UNITED NATIONS APPEAL FOR $108 MILLION FOR RELIEF IN HAITI

The UN has today

issued an

appeal for Haiti, which has been hit by a series of tropical storms in recent weeks. The nearly $108 million appeal will provide humanitarian and early recovery assistance over the next six months.

According to needs assessments, up to 800,000 people, or nearly 10 per cent of the countrys population, are in dire need of assistance. An estimated 70,000 people are living in temporary shelters, and nearly all of the agricultural land has been flooded. This means that the entire current harvest has either been lost or severely damaged.

Meanwhile, the

World Food Programme is coordinating logistics for the humanitarian community in Haiti. With roads damaged and bridges collapsed, WFP says it is only able to transport food by air and sea. It has sent three vessels and several helicopters to Gonaives, where it is making daily distributions.

WFP also has teams in the countrys south and west, which began distributing food after the earlier Hurricane Gustav. So far 282 metric tonnes of food have been delivered to Haiti, with WFP and UNICEF together providing high-energy biscuits, rice, beans, and vegetable oil, as well as safe drinking water, blankets and hygiene kits.

HOLMES: WEST AFRICANS AFFECTED BY FLOODS MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN

The international community must not forget West Africans who have been hit by severe floods, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said today.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

reports that a series of workshops on flood preparedness and management, which it held in the affected countries ahead of the rainy season, helped reduce the floods impact this year. For example, 800,000 people were affected by floods last year -- compared to 130,000 this year.

OCHA is also working with the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) to set up a regional stockpile of relief supplies in Mali as a disaster preparedness measure.

SPECIAL ADVISER ON CYPRUS MEETS SENIOR OFFICIALS IN TURKEY

The Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, is in Turkey today. He met today with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and other senior Foreign Ministry officials for a useful exchange of views on the Cyprus issue.

Downer appreciated the opportunity to hear the perspectives of the Turkish Government on the recent renewal of full-fledged negotiations between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leadership and looks forward to continuing to engage in a dialogue on the matter.

Downer is scheduled to be in Cyprus on Thursday to attend the first substantive meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the context of the negotiations.

GREECE-FYROM TALKS TO TAKE PLACE IN NEW YORK THURSDAY

Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), plans to meet on Thursday with the parties in New York. The purpose will be to continue discussions on the name issue.

In the morning, there will be a joint meeting. Representing Athens will be Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis. Representing Skopje will be Ambassador Nikola Dimitrov and Martin Protoger, the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff.

The joint meeting will be followed by separate meetings with the parties during the afternoon.

U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES DECISION TO EXPAND ARMY IN AFGHANISTAN

Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Afghanistan, today welcomed the decision by that countrys Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to expand the Afghan National Army, increasing its strength to 134,000 personnel.

Eide said that the increase is a huge step towards ensuring that the Afghan Government has the number of soldiers it needs to gradually take over responsibility for the countrys security.

BAN KI-MOON APPROVES $10 MILLION IN PEACE-BUILDING PROJECTS FOR NEPAL

The Secretary-General has approved $10 million from the

Peacebuilding Fund for projects in Nepal.

Pending the establishment of the new Government, areas that are strong candidates for support include the Constituent Assembly and human rights and protection efforts; recovery of communities affected by conflict; and conflict prevention and reconciliation issues.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT LEBANON

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will be traveling to Lebanon today to attend the 12th meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from 13 - 14 September.

The Mechanism is intended to coordinate the work of UN Agencies in the region in order to strengthen coherence, enhance synergies and avoid duplication of activities.

As this will be her first visit to the country, she will pay a courtesy call on Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

UNFPA ASSISTS TIMOR-LESTE ON FISTULA SURGERY

Under its programme of support to the Ministry of Health of Timor-Leste, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday will hand over to the Maternity Department two ultrasound machines as well as specialized instruments and supplies for fistula surgery.

Meanwhile, the Timorese President of the National Assembly today officially launched the Say No to Violence against Women campaign. The signing ceremony is in support of the Secretary-Generals multi-year campaign to end violence against women, which aims to engage leaders and mobilize men and boys as partners with women and girls to put a stop to violence against them.

The signing of the campaign will be complemented by various activities aimed at raising public awareness on gender-related violence and also collecting signatures. UNIFEM hopes to amass 30,000 signatures from across the country by end of October.

WHO SUPPORTS CHOLERA CONTROL EFFORTS IN IRAQ

The

World Health Organization is offering the UN's increased support to

Iraqs cholera control activities, following an announcement by the Iraqi Government of 21 new confirmed cholera cases in the governorate of Babil, with another 9095 suspected cases under investigation.

The Babil outbreak means Iraq now has 28 confirmed cholera cases in total. Three deaths are now confirmed as cholera-related through laboratory analysis, but the actual toll may be higher.

WHO and other UN agencies have been supporting cholera-affected governorates since the disease resurfaced three weeks ago.

FORMER SERBIAN PRESIDENT GRANTED PROVISIONAL RELEASE

The

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has granted the former President of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, temporary provisional release from detention so that he can undergo a medical procedure in Serbia.

Milutinovic, who is on trial on allegations of a campaign of terror and violence directed against Albanians and other non-Serbs living in Kosovo in 1999, will be under 24-hour electronic surveillance by the Serbian authorities while he is on temporary release. His trial, which began in 2006, had its closing arguments end this past 27 August.

SPOKESWOMAN STRESSES SAFETY OF U.N. HEADQUARTERS

Asked about a decision by the City of New York to bar its public school students from visiting UN Headquarters because of safety concerns, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations modified its guided tour route, in effect since 1 August 2008, in direct response to concerns about safety raised by Commissioner Marjorie Tiven.

She said that the UNs New York City-based safety advisers have confirmed that the building is totally safe for visitors, delegations and the staff.

Close to 50,000 students visit the United Nations each year, including many from the New York City area, Montas said. They are among the nearly 500,000 people from around the world that visit the Organization.

It is a pity that New York City's public school children would miss the opportunity to visit one of New York's greatest attractions, and to learn about its contributions to peace, the Spokeswoman said.

She added that the United Nations is confident that the UN facilities are very safe and looks forward to the opening of the General Assembly later this month and the arrival of delegates from all over the world, as in the previous 60 years.

Asked how much the recent fire safety measures cost, the Spokeswoman said it was about $3 million.

She noted, in response to further questions about problems that people with disabilities have in dealing with the new fire doors, that many of the fire doors at UN Headquarters have buttons to press that make it easier for people with disabilities to open them. She acknowledged, however, the problem with the newly-installed doors. These concerns are legitimate and will be conveyed to the building management office, she added.

ONLY GENERAL ASSEMBLY CAN DETERMINE CREDENTIALS FOR STATES

Asked about a letter from Myanmar politicians to the Secretary-General, asking that elected politicians be recognized at the United Nations instead of the current Government, the Spokeswoman said that the matter was one for the General Assembly, and specifically its Credentials Committee, to determine.

She noted that the Credentials Committee meets at the start of each Assembly session. The Secretary-General, Montas said, can only convey the letter from Myanmar to the Assembly.

In response to further questions, the Spokeswoman noted that Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari would brief the Security Council on Thursday on Myanmar, and intended to speak to the press at some point afterward.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENT NEAR ON WESTERN SAHARA ENVOY: Asked about reports that US diplomat Christopher Ross would be named the Secretary-Generals next Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, the Spokeswoman said that a decision was nearing on an appointment for that position, but there was nothing to announce yet.

HEAD OF JOINT U.N.-A.U. PANEL TO BE NAMED: Asked about reports suggesting that former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi would be appointed an envoy to Africa, the Spokeswoman noted that she expected to announce on Friday who would head a joint UN-African Union panel on security issues in Africa, mandated by the Security Council. That panel is scheduled to begin work next Monday.

TEMPORARY STRUCTURE TO BE BUILT ON U.N. NORTH LAWN: Asked about a structure that is to be built on the UNs North Lawn to accommodate the General Assembly while UN headquarters is refurbished, the Spokeswoman said that it would be strictly a temporary building so that the Assemblys work could continue in the coming years.

U.N. MISSION IN CONGO NOT INVOLVED IN FIGHTING IN NORTH: Asked about recent fighting in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo against Lords Resistance Army fighters, the Spokeswoman said that the UN Mission in that country was not involved in the fighting.

SPOKESWOMAN STRESSES CONTINUING EFFORTS TO HELP SREBRENICA VICTIMS: Asked about a recent decision taken by a Dutch court regarding the Srebrenica massacres in 1995, the Spokeswoman declined to comment on the courts decision but noted that serious discussions continue on ways to help the families of the Srebrenica victims.

U.N. TRANSMITTED MISCONDUCT INFORMATION ON FORMER STAFF MEMBER TO FRANCE, CONGO: Asked about a French national who was a former MONUC staff member and who was on trial in France for rape and grave sexual misconduct towards minors in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokeswoman said that the French courts were responsible for the judicial procedures. She later added that the UN Mission had led an internal inquiry on the allegations against that staff member and had transmitted to the authorities in the DRC and in France all the information it had collected. The Mission is happy to see that the case is being followed up by the French courts. The United Nations reaffirms its "zero tolerance policy" towards such crimes.

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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