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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-14
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
BAN KI-MOON ARRIVES IN GENEVA AHEAD OF GEORGIA TALKS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Geneva this morning, where this evening, he will attend a working dinner on Georgia, a day in advance of technical level meetings that will be held on Georgia. After the working dinner, the Secretary-General will take part in a press briefing, organized by the European Union (EU) Presidency.
The Secretary-General met with this morning with his Special Representative for Georgia, Johan Verbeke, who will represent him at tomorrows meeting.
He then had a working lunch with the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Supachai Panitchpakdi. In the afternoon, he also met with Ambassador Pierre Morel, the Special Representative of the European Union for Georgia, and Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
He also visited the headquarters of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where he underlined the critical importance to the UN as a whole of UNHCR leadership in hot spots. He underscored priority commitment for the UN and UNHCR, including the impacts of climate change, the food crisis and the financial crisis on the situation of the worlds refugees and displaced persons.
Later today, the Secretary-General plans to meet with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and with Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Ban Ki-moon also met with Djibril Bassolé, joint African Union-UN Chief Mediator for Darfur.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS HAITI MISSION, HEARS BRIEFING ON AFGHANISTAN
The Security Council this morning heard a briefing on the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) from the Secretary-Generals Special Representative there, Kai Eide.
Eide said that the last few months have witnessed a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, with the number of security incidents in July and August being the highest such number since 2002.
The influence of the insurgency has extended beyond the south and the east, he said, and civilian casualties have increased. Yet Eide cautioned against gloom and doom, noting such positive developments as the improving relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the strengthening of the Interior Ministry and Afghan police.
Earlier today, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) by twelve months, until 15 October 2009.
Asked about a request by Haitian President René Préval for the UN Mission not to have a Chapter VII mandate, the Spokeswoman noted that the Missions extension, in todays vote, remained under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (She later added that the Council, in its resolution, took into account the need to adjust MINUSTAH´s composition and realign its activities to reflect the changing circumstances and priorities on the ground.)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: FIGHTING RESUMES IN NORTHEAST
Fighting resumed yesterday morning in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the UN Mission there (MONUC).
The fighting is between Government troops and rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda, who attacked Government positions near the town of Rushege. No casualties were reported.
Meanwhile, the Mission says that despite reassurances given by the government, the regular army has still not redeployed around the town of Tongo, as agreed in a disengagement plan between the warring parties.
UN peacekeepers, meanwhile, continue to support government troops in a military campaign against some 250 fighters from the rebel Popular Front for Justice in the Congo in the Ituri region.
The fighting in that region
continues to displace large numbers of civilians, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Its latest assessment places at more than 50,000 the number of people who were forced to flee both the fighting and recurrent raids by Ugandas rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES JORDANS EFFORTS TO BUILD PALESTINIAN INSTITUTIONS
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, returned today to Jerusalem after an official visit to Jordan.
While meeting with the Jordanian King, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Serry conveyed the Secretary-Generals appreciation for Jordans role in supporting efforts to negotiate a two-State solution and build the institutions of a Palestinian State.
He also stressed the importance of further action on the ground to enable Palestinian institutional and economic development and to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.
Serry welcomed Jordan's support of efforts underway in Cairo aimed at reunifying Gaza and the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority.
He also expressed the UNs continued support for the Arab Peace Initiative and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace based on Security Council resolutions and international law.
DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES DAUNTING, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS BUDGET COMMITTEE
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today presented to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with administrative and budgetary matters, the Secretary-Generals proposal for strengthening the development pillar of the UN Secretariat.
Dedicated attention will have to be given to climate change, innovative financing, international migration and development, violence against women, and indigenous issues, she said, adding that we must continue to support national development strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.
Saying there is a serious mismatch between mandated responsibilities and available resources, she said the Secretariat needs to have adequate capacity to carry out these important new functions effectively.
In short, she said, the development challenges are daunting. This has become even more so as the world faces a global financial crisis of profound magnitude.
U.N. AGENCY CALLS FOR RETURN TO PRIMARY HEALTH CARE|
The World Health Organization (WHO) today
launched its World Health Report 2008 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The report documents a number of health care failures and shortcomings that have created dangerous imbalances in the health situations of different populations.
According to the report, differences in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceed 40 years. And vast differences can even occur within individual cities. In Nairobi, for example, the under-five mortality rate is below 15 per 1,000 in the high-income area. In a slum in the same city, the rate is 254 per 1,000.
The report shows that many health systems have lost their focus on fair access to care, their ability to invest resources wisely, and their capacity to meet the needs and expectations of people, especially the impoverished and marginalized. And unequal access, impoverishing costs, and erosion of trust in health care are threats to social stability, the report says.
To steer health systems towards better performance, the report calls for a return to primary health care, a holistic approach formally launched 30 years ago.
HUMANITARIAN OFFICE APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO HELP DISPLACED CENTRAL AFRICANS
Violence and banditry have led hundreds of thousands of people to flee the northern region of the Central African Republic (CAR) in the past 2 years. That is according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
OCHA says that more than 100,000 of these civilians fled to Cameroon, Chad and Sudan. Another 108,000 are internally displaced and live in precarious conditions. The overall situation has compelled humanitarian agencies to strengthen their presence in the country, from 7 offices in 2006 to 46 this month.
OCHA also notes that victims of conflict in the CAR and elsewhere have so far benefited from the joint humanitarian aid programme of the UN and non-governmental organizations.
That programme is now short of some $25 million and OCHA appeals to donors to show their generosity in order to reach the $116 million required for the programmes 2008 operations in the CAR.
U.N. EMERGENCY FUNDS ALLOCATIONS TOP $1 BILLION
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
says the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has now allocated more than $1 billion for humanitarian aid around the world since its launch in March 2006.
An allocation this week of more than $200,000 for nutrition and supplementary feeding for women and children in Tajikistan, took the total allocations beyond the $1 billion dollar level.
Underlining that humanitarian agencies faced with a sudden onset crisis such as an earthquake or cyclone struggled to find resources to start immediate operations,
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the CERF can now allocate funds within days of an emergency to kick-start relief efforts saving thousands of lives.
So far, 65 countries have benefited from the Response Fund. This year alone, nearly $265 million was allocated to such emergencies, including $94 million to countries particularly affected by the global food crisis.
The CERF aims to raise $450 million every year, in addition to a revolving loan element of $50 million.
NO OFFICIAL REQUEST TO STOP TIMORESE PROBES
Asked about reported comments by Timorese President José Ramos-Horta calling for a halt to investigations into the 1999 violence in East Timor, the Spokeswoman noted that there is no official request to stop the investigations, and the United Nations has not received any communications on the subject from the President or seen the full text of his reported statement to the media.
Although she declined to comment on the remarks attributed to the President, Montas added that the United Nations support for the completion of investigations into the serious crimes cases is guided by UN resolutions.
There is no linkage, she emphasized, between the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) process and the UN Serious Crimes (SCIT) investigations.
The Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) process is a bilateral mechanism between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, set up in 2005 to look into the events of 1999. The SCIT, Montas noted on the other hand, is a UN process, in a way a continuation of the Serious Crimes panels that were set up and working during 2002-2005. The Serious Crimes panels and the investigations were closed in 2005 and all the case files were handed over to the Timorese authorities (the Prosecutor-General).
However, the Spokeswoman added, when UNMIT was established, it was agreed to set up the SCIT to continue to assist the Office of the Timorese Prosecutor General with the investigations into the serious crimes cases of 1999.
U.N. AGENCY ISSUES URGENT PLEA FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES AT IRAQ-SYRIA BORDER: The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
issued an urgent appeal for the resettlement of the Palestinian refugees who used to live in Iraq. Many of them have been stranded for over two years at two camps near the Iraq-Syria border. UNHCR says that living conditions at the border camps are very difficult, with the refugees facing extreme temperatures, regular sandstorms, minimal security, and open sewage pits near tents and cooking facilities. In addition, there are no medical facilities nearby and no ambulance services.
UNITED NATIONS AND PAKISTAN IN CLOSE CONTACT OVER BHUTTO INQUIRY: Asked about the delays in agreeing on an inquiry into the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations and the Pakistani authorities are in close contact on the issue. Discussions continue on the modalities for such an inquiry, including how it should operate, its specific mandate and funding.
TREATY ON UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE TO GO INTO FORCE IN JANUARY: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
reports that 20 States have now ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The treaty will now enter into force on the 2nd of January 2009.UNESCOs General Conference adopted the Convention in 2001 to protect varied and rich cultural heritage: including shipwrecks, landscapes, rock art caves and ruins, which are at the bottom of the sea. The treaty represents the international communitys response to the increased looting and destruction of underwater cultural heritage.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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