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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-06
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BANK KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, October 6, 2008
NEW HEAD OF PEACEKEEPING TOURS SUDAN
The Under-Secretary-General for
Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy is in Sudan on a familiarization tour, during which he will meet with leadership of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan and other key interlocutors, as well as members of the UN missions in Khartoum (UNMIS) and
UNAMID (African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur).
The visit to UNMIS is his first to a peacekeeping mission since being appointed to head the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in August 2008.
Le Roy arrived in Khartoum this morning. During his week-long stay in the Sudan, he will visit Kadugli, Abyei, Juba and El Obeid, as well as El Fasher, Nyala and El Geneina in Darfur.
AFGHAN PEACE AND HUMANITARIAN ACCESS NEED URGENT BOOST
Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, today told a news conference that there is a need for a robust political surge to boost Afghanistans peace prospects and to answer urgent humanitarian needs.
He also appealed to the Taliban to ensure access for food distribution.
Eide acknowledged that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, but he warned against pessimism and asserted that there is a strong international commitment to reverse the negative trends in the country.
BAN KI-MOON TO STEP UP CONSULTATIONS WITH GEORGIA AND RUSSIA OVER ABKHAZIA
The Secretary-Generals latest
report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, is available today.
In it, he says the tragic developments of August 2008, which inflicted human suffering and risked destabilizing the wider region, were not entirely unexpected.
He notes that, over the past few years, he had highlighted the very serious deterioration in relations between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides.
The Secretary-General also notes that a number of external developments, including those related to Kosovo, contributed to a general climate of polarization in which joint international action to contain local conflicts became more and more difficult.
Turning to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), he says the context in which the Mission has operated during the past 14 years has changed considerably. It is too early at this stage to define the role it may play in the future, he adds.
He therefore recommends that the Missions mandate be extended on a technical basis for a period of four months, until 15 February 2009.
He also says that, in the coming four months, he intends to intensify consultations with the two sides and with the relevant international actors, including at the upcoming Geneva talks, with a view to exploring whether and how it is possible for the UN to follow up on the support of the two sides for the continuation of UN involvement.
WORLDS POOR AND DISPLACED MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN
High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres warned today in Geneva that the welfare of the worlds poor and uprooted people is increasingly at risk as the international community struggles with a combination of adverse economic, social and political trends that threaten to trigger even more displacement in the years to come.
Competition for scarce resources has become an increasingly important factor in provoking and perpetuating violence, Guterres told the agencys
Noting that a hungry man is an angry man, Guterres warned that if the international community fails to meet the basic needs of the worlds poor, then we can only expect more social and political turmoil in the years to come.
IMPLEMENTATION STILL LAGS SORELY FOR DURBAN DECLARATION ON RACISM
Today in Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
called for a more concerted effort by States to act on promises to tackle racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.
She added that implementation of the
Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was agreed upon by Governments attending the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, still lags sorely.
Pillay was addressing a preparatory meeting for a Review Conference, which will take place next April and will examine progress since the 2001 World Conference.
Referring to the lingering controversy and divisions dating back to the original Conference, she called for a more forward-looking approach. She said that, seven years ago, the virulent anti-Semitic behavior of a few non-governmental organizations on the sidelines of the Durban Conference overshadowed the critically important work of the Conference as a whole. But measures had been taken to address this betrayal of the core principles of the Durban Conference, and the NGO document had not been forwarded to the Conference.
Pillay noted that the current review process was burdened -- unfortunately but understandably -- with a fear that incidents expressing hatred and intolerance would be repeated. But it would be tragic to allow that fear to compromise efforts to find common ground, she stressed. In that context, she urged all Governments to participate fully in the review process.
U.N. AGENCIES RUSH TO HELP KYRGYZ EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, 17 miles below the surface, hit the south of Kyrgyzstan yesterday, seriously affecting the high altitude and sparsely populated areas of Chon-Alai and Alai Rayon, some 220 kilometers from the main city of Osh. Chon-Alai has a total population of 21,800 in 17 settlements and Alai has 72,600 in 57 settlements.
Nura village right at the epicenter in Chon-Alai Rayon, with a population of 941 people is currently the only place for which impact data is available.
Preliminary data shows that 60 people were killed at the epicenter alone and another 60 people need urgent evacuation and medical aid. 128 buildings have been completely destroyed, which constitutes some 70% of the entire infrastructure in the village.
A tented camp for 600 displaced families is being set up as an initial response, while the
UNHCR is collecting 400 mattresses and 1,500 blankets from its warehouse in Osh for dispatch to the disaster site tomorrow.
The UN resident coordinator, Neal Walker, said UN agencies in Kyrgyzstan, along with the Kyrgyz Red Crescent, and the NGO ACTED Kyrgyzstan had sent their teams, in cooperation with the ministry, to the affected area to conduct a needs assessment.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR HARMONIZATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT ON WORLD HABITAT DAY
World Habitat Day. This years theme is harmonious cities. In a message to mark the day, the Secretary-General notes that many of the worlds most pressing challenges such as poverty, natural disasters, and escalating prices for food and fuel have important links with rapid urbanization.
Cities have tremendous potential to be places where balanced development prevails, where diverse people live in harmony, and where healthy living conditions coexist with low levels of energy consumption, resource-use and waste, the Secretary-General says.
He calls on all partners and stakeholders to do their utmost to realize their potential, and to build decent living conditions for all in a way that also preserves natural heritage and promotes greener and smarter growth.
Meanwhile, UN-HABITAT this year, for the first time, is giving its highest award to a city rather than to an individual. The Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation honours the Chinese city of Nanjing for its comprehensive redevelopment and revitalization along the Qinhuai river.
Notable improvements include addressing river pollution and providing flood control, improved waste management, and affordable housing, UN-HABITAT says.
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY TO HELP REBUILD DAMAGED ECOSYSTEMS
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is piloting large-scale
rehabilitation projects in five countries over the next two years. The goal is to demonstrate that reinvesting in damaged ecosystems can generate significant economic, environmental and social returns. Projects include restoring a lost seasonal lake in Mali that once covered up to 600 square kilometers but has been almost completely dry since the 1970s.
Meanwhile, UNEP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have launched a new online database that lets users monitor the worlds national parks and protected areas. Via Google Earth, users can zoom in and fly over more than 100,000 sites.
And UNEP and the World Tourism Organization (WTO), along with the
Rainforest Alliance and
U.N. Foundation Chairman Ted Turner, today announced the first-ever
criteria for sustainable tourism. Based on best practices from around the world, these criteria offer guidance to ensure that such tourism actually helps, rather than harms, local communities and the environment.
UNESCO PRESENTS MIDTERM REPORT ON LITERACY DECADE
UNESCO presented its midterm review of the United Nations Literacy Decade (20032012) today.
The report shows that literacy rates have been rising globally during the last five years despite the fact that financial aid remains insufficient. At the current pace, the world literacy rate will reach a level of nearly 87 per cent in 2015.
Progress has been slowest in South and West Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO says.
FORUM ON CHILDREN AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS BEGINS IN DUBLIN
Fourth Global Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS began today in Dublin, Ireland, with a call for a package of social welfare services to tackle child poverty and assist households in developing countries affected by HIV and AIDS.
The Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman, spoke at the Forum, saying that, for too long, children have been the missing face of the AIDS pandemic.
VETERAN U.N. CORRESPONDENT TO RECEIVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The International Womens Media Foundation (IWMF) will present this week its Lifetime Achievement Award to Edith Lederer, chief correspondent at the United Nations for the Associated Press.
According to the announcement, Edie Lederer began her journalism career in 1966. In her more than four decades with the AP, she has worked on every continent except Antarctica covering wars, famines, nuclear issues and political upheavals. Edie Lederer was the first female resident correspondent in Vietnam in 1972; she lived in a jail with a guard for protection because most other reporters were men. She was the first woman to head an AP foreign bureau in Peru, the first AP reporter to cross the Yalu River after the Korean War and the first journalist to file the bulletin announcing the start of the first Gulf War.
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