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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-16

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WORLD FOOD DAY: GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISES EXACERBATE CONCERNS OF RISING FOOD/FUEL COSTS

Today is World Food Day. In a message to mark the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

says that global financial crises are exacerbating concerns about the rising food and fuel costs that have already driven 75 million people deeper into the abyss of hunger and poverty.

He also adds that widespread lack of food triggers other threats, from social unrest to environmental degradation, while undermining the wellbeing of an entire generation on whom the world will depend in the future.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Josette Sheeran,

says that rising food shortages, increases in fuel costs, and profound changes in climate conditions conspired this year to bring new dimensions of suffering to the poor, depriving almost one billion people of the food they need to live a healthy life

World Food Day is observed annually on 16 October, the day on which the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded in 1945. At a ceremony today at FAO headquarters in Rome, Director-General Jacques Diouf

noted that the share of agriculture in public development aid has declined significantly from 1980 to 2006. He also mentioned that financial institutions drastically reduced their funds for agriculture. Now the funds need to come back to the previous level of investment.

INCOME GAP INCREASES DRAMATICALLY AROUND WORLD

The gap between high and low wage earners has increased dramatically in most of the world since the early 1990s despite strong economic growth that created millions of new jobs, according to a report

published today by the United Nations labour agency.

The new study also said that the major share of the cost of the current financial and economic crisis will rest on the shoulders of hundreds of millions of people who have not shared in the benefits of the previous global economic expansion.

This report shows conclusively that the gap between richer and poorer households widened since the 1990s, said Raymond Torres, Director of the International Labour Organizations (ILO) International Institute for Labour Studies.

BAN KI-MOON WILL GATHER TOP U.N. OFFICIALS ON FINANCIAL CRISIS

Asked about the global financial crisis, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General remains in constant contact with world leaders on the issue, which is his primary concern. He has been focusing, she said, on the ways in which the crisis might hamper the development agenda, and on the need to ensure that commitments made on the Millennium Development Goals, such as the $16 billion pledged late last month, are implemented.

Montas noted that next week, the Secretary-General will chair a Chief Executives Board meeting comprising the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes, including the Bretton Woods institutions, and the financial crisis will be at the centre of that meeting.

UNITED NATIONS IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT CIVILIAN PROTECTION IN NORTH KIVU

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alan Doss, and the UN Mission there are deeply

concerned about the protection of vulnerable populations in North Kivu.

Doss said the fighting in that region has driven civilians out of their homes to seek protection and shelter at a UN peacekeepers base. He said the peacekeepers have since then been sharing their food rations with some 400 mothers and their children.

He also said that the Mission is reassessing its approach to the protection of civilians in the area with the aim of reducing operational constraints. That is necessary because protection work has become more difficult because of the hostility UN peacekeepers face in North Kivu and elsewhere.

UN personnel, he noted, daily face situations in which they must first protect themselves from hostile crowds before they can come to the aid of vulnerable populations.

SOMALIA: THIRD ROUND OF TALKS ARE ANNOUNCED

A third round of direct talks between the Somali transitional federal government and the opposition will take place on 25-26 October in Djibouti.

Thats according to a statement by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, under whose chairmanship the negotiations have been taking place.

Ould-Abdallah said he was hopeful that significant progress will be achieved at the talks. He also said that the UN and the World Bank are planning to hold an international donors conference early next year to seek funding for a one-year recovery programme for Somalia. A preparatory meeting for that conference is due to take place on Monday in Stockholm.

HUMANITARIAN CONVOY IN SRI LANKA IS FORCED TO TURN BACK

In

Sri Lanka today, a major United Nations food convoy en route to the Vanni, in efforts to reach civilians displaced behind the lines of confrontation, was forced to turn back due to fighting.

The U.N. Resident Coordinator in Colombo says they will immediately seek renewed security assurances from the two sides before attempting the journey again tomorrow morning.

The 50-truck World Food Programme operation carrying 750 metric tonnes of food left the northern town of Vavuniya this morning and was expected to reach by this evening, the estimated 230,000 civilians forced from their homes by fighting.

The convoy is the second in as many weeks, and is part of an ongoing operation to supply humanitarian aid to the displaced civilians moving to avoid fighting between the Government of Sri Lanka forces and the Tamil Tigers.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in addition to the urgent food requirements, the onset of monsoon rains in northern Sri Lanka has made providing shelter for the recently displaced people an urgent priority.

As of the end of September, just 2,100 shelters had been built by the displaced people and many of the IDPs have gathered in low-lying areas previously identified by humanitarian agencies as at risk of flooding and unsuitable for settlements.

The annual northeastern monsoon is likely to remain active until at least the end of November.

DARFUR: AFRICAN UNION AND UNITED NATIONS STRESS COOPERATION TO ACHIEVE PEACE

A meeting of the "Initiative of the People of Sudan for Solving the Darfur issue" kicked off its first session today at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Amru Musa; the African Union (AU) Chairperson, Mr. Jean Ping; the Joint Chief Mediator, Mr. Djibril Bassole; and UNAMID Joint Special Representative Mr. Rodolphe Adada.

Mr. Adada had a meeting with the AU Chairperson, Mr. Jean Ping during which he briefed him on the status of UNAMID deployment, as well as on the positive outcome of the visit of the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operation, Alain Le Roy and on the visit of Under-Secretary-General for Field Missions, Ms. Susana Malcorra.

For his part, Mr. Ping stressed the importance of the existing cooperation between the AU and the UN to achieve peace in Darfur through their Hybrid Operation and through the peace process led by the Joint Chief Mediator, Mr. Djibril Bassole.

WORLD FOOD AGENCY PROVIDES REGULAR FOOD AID TO HALF MILLION HAITIANS

Turning now to Haiti, the World Food Programme (WFP)

reports that it is now providing regular food aid to almost half a million cyclone and tropical storm survivors. Across the country, a total of 842,000 rations have been distributed to 485,000 people.

In the city of Gonaives, where thousands of people are still living on the roofs of their destroyed homes or in makeshift shelters, WFP has distributed some 640,000 two-week family rations of rice, beans, cooking oil and corn soya blend for around 266,000 people. In order to make sure everyone in need in Gonaives is receiving food, WFP monitors have been carrying out a door to door census to find out how many families are living in each house.

Meanwhile, more than 30 non-governmental organizations and UN and government agencies have used WFPs humanitarian passenger service to enable them to assess their own relief work. But despite the generosity of many donors, WFP has still only raised a little more than 30% of its funding requirements.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF EXPERTS ON SUDAN

The Security Council yesterday afternoon voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the Group of Experts dealing with Sudan sanctions by one year, until 15 October 2009.

The Council also adopted a Presidential Statement welcoming Guinea-Bissaus commitment to hold legislative elections on 16 November and calling on the Government and all actors to ensure an environment conducive to transparent, free and fair elections, and to respect the results of the polls.

The Council added that it remains seriously concerned by the continued growth in drug trafficking and organized crime that threatened peace and security in Guinea-Bissau and the sub-region.

There are no Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

UNICEF CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION TO ADDRESS ZIMBABWES EDUCATION SYSTEM

The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has called for urgent action to address Zimbabwes education system which UNICEF describes as once the best in Africa.

The current education system is suffering due to a combination of low salaries, poor attendance by both teachers and students, and transport and food problems.

Routine monitoring visits in recent weeks found that with national exams looming, some 40 per cent of the countrys teachers were attending lessons, a third of pupils were reporting for classes and district education officers were ill equipped to run national exams.

The current education crisis has crippled schools across the country leaving most school operating way below capacity and the sector in an apparent state of emergency, the agency said in a news release.

NEW FINDINGS ON OCEANS SHOW MILLIONS OF LIVELIHOODS THREATEN

The acidification of the worlds oceans, caused by the absorption of huge volumes of carbon dioxide, is

accelerating at an unprecedented rate, threatening marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

Thats the finding of a recently concluded conference in Monaco, which had been organized by a number of partners, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Participants agreed that reducing carbon emissions is the only effective way of stabilizing or reversing acidification. They added that, despite the reticence of many Governments, such reduction is both achievable and affordable.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES DIALOGUE AMONG PARTIES ON GEORGIA

Asked about the Secretary-Generals involvement in the talks on Georgia that took place on Wednesday in Geneva, the Spokeswoman noted that he had not participated in the talks themselves but in a number of prior bilateral consultations and a working dinner on Tuesday night , organized by the French Presidency of the European Union.

The Secretary-General was represented at the Wednesday meeting by his Special Representative for Georgia, Johan Verbeke.

Asked about arrangements for who could participate at the meeting, Montas said that the Secretary-General favors dialogue among the parties on Georgia, but the format of that dialogue should be agreed among the parties. She noted that the European Union had organized the meeting.

She added, in response to questions, that a date has been scheduled for another meeting, so the talks are not over.

Asked about reports that there had been a news blackout on Wednesday, the Spokeswoman reiterated that there had been a brief blackout that had been agreed to by the parties. She added that, later that day, many key participants, including Verbeke, had participated in a press conference.

BAN KI-MOON IS SET TO EMBARK ON FOUR-NATION ASIA TRIP

The Secretary-General, later this month, is set to embark on a four-nation Asia trip for official visits to the Philippines, India, Nepal and Bangladesh as well as to attend the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development to take place in Manila.

In Manila, the Secretary-General will hold a bilateral meeting with President Gloria Arroyo. The Secretary-General will also receive from President Arroyo a national honour the Order of Sikatuna in recognition of his diplomatic merit. An Honorary Doctorate Degree will also be conferred on the Secretary-General by the University of the Philippines.

On 29 October, the Secretary-General will attend the formal inauguration of the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development where he will deliver opening remarks as well as hold a joint press conference with Hon. Esteban Conejos, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and Executive Director of the Forum.

The Secretary-General will then move on to India, where full details of his programme are being worked out. He is expected to meet with the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs and the National Security Adviser, as well as other senior leaders and officials.

During the two-day visit, the Secretary-General will hold a public lecture hosted by a prestigious foundation, meet with the UN Country Team and staff, as well as meet with Indian business leaders active in the climate change area.

In Nepal, the Secretary-General will meet with President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal), Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav as well as members of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal. The Secretary-General will also visit Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha.

While in Bangladesh, the Secretary-General is expected to meet with President Iajuddin Ahmed, and other senior government officials including the Chief Caretaker Adviser and Caretaker Adviser for Foreign Affairs, as well as visit the United Nations Country Team and staff there. He is also expected to visit sites for micro-financing and disaster reduction/climate adaptation activities.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS STANDS UP AGAINST POVERTY: Tomorrow is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. To mark the occasion, UN staff, students and representatives from delegations and non-governmental organizations will Stand Up Against Poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals. The ceremony will take place tomorrow from 11:00 a.m. to noon near the Peace Bell. Participants will symbolically stand up to pledge their support to the fight against poverty and to call on world leaders to deliver on their commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Cast members from the Broadway musical A Tale of Two Cities will perform. Brief remarks will be made by the President of the General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary-General, the UN Development Programmes Associate Administrator and the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

NEW PERSONAL ENVOY ON WESTERN SAHARA TO BE APPOINTED SOON: The Spokeswoman declined to respond to comments made by a former Special Representative for Western Sahara, but she noted that the Secretary-General has made clear that he wants the Western Sahara talks to continue and intends to appoint a new Personal Envoy for those talks shortly.

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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