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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-29
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
BAN KI-MOON ALARMED AT ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN D.R. CONGO,
SENDS ENVOYS TO BOTH D.R. CONGO AND RWANDA
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is
alarmed at the escalation of violence in North Kivu in the past 24 hours. The intensification and expansion of the conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions and threatens dire consequences on a regional scale.
He calls on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and to respect international humanitarian law. He deplores the use of civilians as human shields and their deliberate targeting by belligerents.
He appeals to all those with influence on forces on the ground to do everything possible to restore an effective ceasefire and prevent further suffering in the civilian population. He calls especially for an end to all threats against the city of Goma and its environs, for a halt to attacks on United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers and for immediate humanitarian access to endangered populations.
The Secretary-General is particularly alarmed at the reported exchange of heavy weapons across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)-Rwanda border and deplores the apparent targeting of UN peacekeepers at Kibumba.
The collapse of discipline in units of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), which have reportedly engaged in looting is especially worrying. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the DRC to spare no effort establishing control over its forces and bringing a stop to FARDC attacks on the United Nations and associated personnel.
The Secretary-General expresses his profound appreciation to the troops and civilians serving in United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), who are doing everything possible to protect civilians and fulfill their mandate in untenable circumstances. MONUC will use all necessary means, within the limits of its capacity, to carry out its mandate.
Throughout the last 48 hours, the Secretary-General has been in contact with key leaders in the region and in the international community to urge immediate steps to halt the fighting. He will continue his efforts to this end.
At a press conference in Manila earlier today, in response to a question about the situation in the DRC, the Secretary-General said he has been in discussions with the leaders of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, as well as European and African leaders.
He said that, in addition to his efforts, he has dispatched two senior advisors to the DRC and Rwanda to talk to the Presidents of both countries. Those advisors are Edmond Mulet of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, who was sent to the DRC, and Haile Menkerios of the Department of Political Affairs, who was dispatched to Rwanda.
In response to questions regarding the violence, the Spokeswoman said that the UN Mission and humanitarian agencies described the humanitarian situation as dire, with displaced persons streaming out of camps and both parties blocking UN access to civilians and humanitarian workers in need. She said that one such person had been a double-amputee nun who was wounded in the fighting.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET LATER TODAY ON IN D.R. CONGO
The Security Council has scheduled consultations today on the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following the conclusion of the open debate, which is going on right now.
Following the Security Council meeting and consultations on the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) yesterday afternoon, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy briefed the Council in consultations on the latest developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In a press statement afterwards, Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, which holds the rotating presidency this month, said Council members strongly condemned the offensive operations in eastern DRC, and members urged all parties to immediately observe a ceasefire and implement the disengagement plan, and expressed their support of the efforts of the Secretary-General and of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in restoring and maintaining peace in the DRC.
PANICKED CONGOLESE FLEE TOWARDS EASTERN CITY OF GOMA, INSECURITY HAMPERS U.N. RELIEF WORK
The situation remains very tense in and around Goma. There is no fighting in the town of Goma at present, but sporadic gunfire can be heard from its surroundings.
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
said that a human tide of internally displaced people (IDPs) is rushing toward Goma in a state of panic. The IDPs, estimated at some 45,000, are fleeing the Kibati camp 10 km north of Goma after they observed government troops on the run.
The IDPs, including 30,000 who had arrived in Kibati a day earlier, fled amid fears that fierce fighting between government troops and rebel fighters loyal to Laurent Nkunda was approaching the city.
"When they saw the military coming down from the north in the direction of Goma, people began leaving; everybody was going," a UNHCR staff member said. "People were running in all directions."
Later, many of Goma's streets were jammed with people in what witnesses described as complete chaos.
In a related development, more than 1,000 Congolese villagers have fled to Uganda over the past 24 hours and hundreds more are expected to cross the border soon to escape the escalated fighting.
As a result of the increasing insecurity, the World Food Programme says it cannot move as many as 15 trucks of food, which have been ready for delivery and waiting to seize the first opportunity to reach those in need. While some 10,000 tons of food assistance are required every month in the Kivus, the agency says that its supply is increasingly stretched, with only 4,000 tons available at this time. The poor state of roads also adds to the difficulties faced by humanitarian workers.
BAN KI-MOON DEPLORES BOMB ATTACKS IN SOMALIA THAT KILL 2 U.N. STAFFERS
The Secretary-General vehemently
condemns the multiple bomb attacks in northern Somalia today, which included a suicide car bombing at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound in Hargeisa that killed two UN staff and seriously injured six others, two of them critically.
The Secretary-General deplores these outrageous acts of violence deliberately targeting innocent civilians and United Nations personnel who work tirelessly to alleviate the dire suffering of Somali citizens. He stresses the neutrality of the United Nations as well as humanitarian personnel, and urges all parties to support and facilitate the delivery of assistance to the Somali population.
The Secretary-General sends his condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed and affected by these heinous attacks.
Asked whether the United Nations had received any threats in advance of the attack, the Spokeswoman said that there had been no claim of responsibility. She declined to comment on specific security matters.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY ENVOY FOR SOMALIA
The Secretary-General has appointed Charles Petrie of France as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for
Mr. Petrie brings to this job 18 years of extensive experience, during which he has carried out policy, operational and developmental activities with the United Nations. He has served in various postings in several conflict settings in Africa, including in Somalia.
Mr. Petrie is currently Special Advisor to the Department of Political Affairs and the UN Development Programme and has provided support and advice for the UN efforts in on-going conflicts and countries undergoing transitional changes.
UNITED NATIONS STANDS READ TO LEND ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
The Secretary-General is deeply
saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property suffered by the people of Baluchistan, Pakistan, after the earthquake that struck the area this morning. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed, injured or made homeless by the earthquake.
The United Nations has been in contact with Pakistani officials and is assessing the situation in collaboration with them. The United Nations stands ready to lend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needs created by the disaster, including by using existing resources and providing grants from emergency funds, and to mobilize international support for that response, if required.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that a joint government-UN assessment mission is being organized today and will go to the affected areas tomorrow.
In the meantime, the World Health Organization is sending emergency health and trauma kits to Quetta, while other UN agencies are also mobilizing to provide relief to survivors.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS LOSS OF ANY CIVILIAN LIVES IN SYRIA INCIDENT
Asked about a recent attack, reportedly by U.S. forces, in Syria, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General deeply regrets the loss of any civilian lives in this incident and reiterates his earlier call for the need for regional cooperation to solve issues of common concern, including border security.
The Secretary-General, Okabe said, notes that the Government of Iraq has launched an investigation into the cross border raid into Syria and hopes for an early conclusion. The United Nations remains committed to helping to promote regional dialogue to bring stability to Iraq and the wider region.
She noted that the Secretary-General has received a letter from the Syrian Government on the incident and the letter had been circulated to members of the Security Council as requested.
MIGRATION CAN BE A TOOL TO HELP LIFT US OUT OF THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS
The Secretary-General is in Manila, where he delivered the keynote
address to the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development, which kicked off today, and he stressed that migration can and should be a tool to help lift us out of the current economic crisis. By doing so, he added, nations can draw the greatest possible development benefits from migration.
He also stressed that only by safeguarding the rights of migrants, and ensuring that they are treated with the dignity and respect due to any human being, can we create the conditions in which migration can contribute to development.
Meanwhile, the United Nations and the European Commission have
launched a 15 million Euro Joint Initiative on Migration and Development. It aims to promote the positive impact of migration by strengthening the role of civil society organizations, codifying best practices, and better informing decision makers. The initiative will fund projects in migrant rights, remittances, and other areas. There will also be a special fair held in Brussels during the first week of December.
During his second day in Manila, the Secretary-General attended a ceremony at the University of Philippines where he
received an honorary doctorate. He spoke to the students, as well, telling them that the multiple crises dealing with food, finance, energy, climate change and development require us to take international cooperation to new levels.
GENDER ISSUES MUST BE ADDRESSED IN PEACE EFFORTS
The Security Council is holding an open debate on women, peace and security today. Addressing the meeting, UNIFEMs Executive Director, Ines Alberdi,
said that gender issues must be addressed in conflict mediation, peacekeeper deployment, integrated missions, stabilization and post-conflict recovery.
Rachel Mayanja, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, added that it is our obligation to millions of women in conflict areas to use the opportunity offered by Security Council resolution 1325(2000) to set in motion perhaps one of the most promising approaches to conflict resolution of this new century a comprehensive approach based on inclusive values and gender equality.
Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy briefed the Council on specific steps his department was taking to incorporate women and gender perspectives into peace and security work. For example, he said, the United Nations has sought to standardize the practice of regular consultations between womens groups and mission leadership, through a recently-issued checklist for senior managers. It has also issued gender guidelines for UN Police in peacekeeping missions, and has worked with UNIFEM to develop guidelines for military peacekeepers charged with protecting women and girls from sexual violence.
He added that the appointment of Susan Malcorra to the post of Under-Secretary-General for Field Support has enabled the United Nations to maintain gender balance at the highest level of decision-making in peacekeeping. Other high-level appointments include the Director of the Africa Division and the UNs first female Deputy Police Adviser, as well as two Deputy Special Representatives in the field.|
At the same time, Le Roy noted that it was unfortunate that we have yet to appoint a woman to a Force Commander or Deputy Force Commander position in any peacekeeping mission. In that context, he challenged Member States to provide nominations.
Earlier today, the Council unanimously
adopted a resolution extending the sanctions on Cote d'Ivoire, and the mandate of the Group of Experts for that country, by another year.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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