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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-10-31

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:








Friday, October 31, 2008


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he has been very heavily engaged in discussions with leaders in Africa, the European Union and the United States as part of his efforts to stabilize the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

With each of the parties he has spoken with over the past 48 hours, he stressed the importance of doing everything possible to stop the fighting and bring the parties into talks.

During the last two days, he said he spoke twice with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda with President Joseph Kabila of the DRC and with President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, who is also the President of the African Union, as well as with Chairman Jean Ping of the African Commission, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Secretary David Miliband of Britain and all other relevant major key players.

Referring to the ceasefire declared by Laurent Nkunda of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), the Secretary-General said that it should be kept and the international community, African leaders, particularly those in the region, should take very concrete measures so that it can be maintained as it is now. There should be a disengagement of the forces from there, he added.

Now with the ceasefire in place, he said, he had mobilized all necessary humanitarian agencies to provide assistance.

Now there should be an ongoing political process, as I have been doing with key world leaders to keep this ceasefire as well as the disengagement in place," he told the press conference in New Delhi.

He described his efforts, including the dispatching of envoys -- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios to Rwanda to meet with President Kagame and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet to the DRC to meet with President Kabila.

The Secretary-General said he sincerely hopes that we will be able to first of all contain this situation and look more closely at how we can ensure that the Nairobi Communique and the Goma Process be implemented.

He also said that the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has been playing a very important role, a crucial role, in trying to manage the situation through disengagement proposals and through direct engagement with General Nkunda and other leaders in the region, DRC and Rwanda.

The Secretary-General stressed that he will continue to engage himself until such time that we see the situation stabilize.


Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), traveled to Goma today to assess the situation on the ground and hold meetings with the local authorities and the humanitarian community.

He was part of a high-level delegation that included Jendayi Frazer, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ali Bongo, African Union Representative to the DRC.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) reports today that the situation in Goma remains calm, and that no new fighting had been reported in the last 24 hours. The ceasefire seems to be holding so far.

Congolese Government forces have returned to the airport and taken the security responsibility.

Last night MONUC patrols heavily dominated the streets of Goma to reassure the population and give them a sense of security. As a consequence, no new cases of lootings or violence were reported.

The toll of the shootings in Goma two days ago stands today at 21 deaths, including 8 governmental soldiers shot while engaging in looting and people injured.

MONUCs Human Rights Section is actively investigating reports of some rape cases.

Asked about reports that Indian peacekeepers had to deploy in parts of Goma because Uruguayan troops were not present, the Spokeswoman asserted that Uruguayan troops remain deployed among the peacekeepers protecting Goma.

Asked whether UN efforts to deal with the Lords Resistance Army would continue even with some UN troops redeployed around Goma, Montas said that effort would continue. The current movement, she said, was a temporary redeployment because of the crisis situation in the Kivus.


Although movement within and outside Goma is still limited due to the fragile security situation, humanitarian agencies successfully delivered some relief supplies on Friday.

The World Food Programme, in a joint mission with UNICEF and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),

moved vitally-needed high-energy biscuits for malnourished children to a medical centre for the displaced north of Goma.

UNHCR, meanwhile,

reports that it has received disturbing reports that several camps for internally displaced people near the North Kivu town of Rutshuru, about 90 kilometers north of Goma, have been forcibly emptied, looted and burned. UNHCR says it is in the process of trying to verify these reports.

The area around Rutshuru has been the scene of fighting in recent weeks and is now under rebel control. UNHCR is trying to verify these reports, but says insecurity continues to hamper efforts.

From Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, a UN team reached Kibati, about 10 kilometers north of the city, to check on reports that some of the 45,000 displaced people who fled two camps there were now beginning to return. The team reported that displaced people were once again jamming the sites, which appeared more crowded than ever. The UN is distributing emergency aid.

Many Congolese fleeing the fighting north of Goma have headed towards Uganda looking for safety. Since the latest round of fighting started in August more than 8,500 refugees crossed the border into Uganda. Some 600 refugees arrived so far this morning. Many said they had walked for more than 20 hours. Meanwhile, some 1,200 refugees fled to Rwanda.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Italy will be sending 10 tons of medical supplies to help the tens of thousands of people affected by the ongoing insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.WHO has also helped re-establish activities of the blood bank at Goma's main hospital, where staffing shortages and insecurity had hampered its operations. Staffing and financial support have been provided by WHO to ensure the bank's operations.

There are 16 UNHCR-assisted sites in North Kivu sheltering some 100,000 people, plus more than 40 makeshift encampments housing tens of thousands of civilians. Altogether, there are more than 1 million internally displaced people in North Kivu.


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,

expressed deep concern today over the increasing number of killings and other human rights violations recorded over the past few days in North Kivu and called on all parties to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

During previous outbreaks of fighting in this region, we have seen horrendous large-scale summary and arbitrary executions, rapes, disappearances, torture, harassment, unlawful arrest and arbitrary detention, not to mention wave after wave of mass displacement, Pillay said. Over the past days, a number of fresh violations have been recorded by UN human rights staff in the region.

In the provincial capital Goma, the main perpetrators of looting, killings and rapes appear to have been renegade soldiers belonging to the national army, many of whom have fled the fighting. Other serious abuses, including targeted killings, have been reported from areas held by the CNDP commanded Nkunda.


The Secretary-General today wrapped up his visit to India, with meetings with President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, as well as with the UN Country Team.

Speaking to reporters before his departure to Nepal, the Secretary-General said it had pleased him to have arrived in India on the 63rd anniversary of the countrys admission into the United Nations. He added that it is truly impressive how much India has achieved since then, as a leading voice in the developing world, as a long-established democracy and as a growing economic power.

The Secretary-General added that, although he is impressed by Indias progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, he is concerned that the recent global food price hike has slowed this progress and the Goals will be adversely affected.

This is why, he said, he has been calling on the industrialized countries to make sure that the financial crisis does not affect their commitment to supporting developing nations as we all try to make sure that the Millennium Development Goals can be implemented on schedule.

He also told reporters that he is planning to go to Myanmar only when the political atmosphere is right, including by the acceleration of the democratization process there.

Asked whether it would be more useful for the Secretary-General to directly engage the Myanmar authorities, the Spokeswoman said that he is engaging them, including through the work of his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari.

The Secretary-General has now arrived in Katmandu, Nepal, on a trip to meet with senior Nepalese officials and to reaffirm the UN's firm commitment to continue to support the consolidation of peace and reform. Over the weekend, he will also pay an official visit to Bangladesh.


Today is the last day of the Chinese Presidency of the Security Council. Starting tomorrow, Costa Rica will assume the Councils rotating Presidency for the month of November.

Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, next months Council President, will brief the press next Tuesday on the Councils programme of work for the month.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

reports that UN agencies are working to help survivors of Pakistans recent earthquake and aftershocks. What are most urgently needed are winter-ready tents, blankets, warm clothing, food, health services and water supply systems, OCHA says.

For its part, the UN Population Fund has dispatched 3,000 hygiene kits. And the World Food Programme is currently distributing a emergency rations to 20,000 survivors. Those rations include biscuits, pulses, beans and wheat flour.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has sent two trucks containing enough medicines to treat 50,000 people for the next three months, as well as two kits with materials to treat up to 400 people suffering from extreme trauma injuries. WHO is also opening a mental health office in the quake-hit region to help provide psychosocial support to survivors.

In addition, UNICEF is providing immediate life-saving aid to children and women and is working to ensure the availability of clean water.


Six months after Cyclone Nargis, UNICEF

reports that relief efforts in Myanmar are on track, but support is still needed.

So far, UNICEF has cleaned ponds and wells that provide drinking water for 135,000 people. It has also provided learning kits and other supplies to nearly 400,000 children. In addition, UNICEF is working with the Government, the Red Cross and others to reunite families separated by the cyclone and to care for unaccompanied children.

Next month, UNICEF plans to begin construction of seven model schools that would offer resistance to cyclones and earthquakes and which could be used as shelter in emergencies.


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

reports that its World Telecommunication Standardization

Assembly drew to a close yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa. ITU members agreed on a number of wide-ranging decisions that will impact the future direction of the information and communication technology industry.

Among other things, ITU members agreed to work towards reductions in greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of information and communication technologies. They also agreed that such technologies can actually help mitigate the effects of climate change by limiting and reducing emissions across all industry sectors.


Nearly 20,000 athletes representing over 100 countries, all dressed in their nations colors, will participate in the annual Continental Airlines International Friendship Run on Saturday at 9 a.m., beginning at United Nations Headquarters and concluding at 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.

**The guest at noon was Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).


Saturday, November 1

The Secretary-General wraps up his visit to Nepal, where he is scheduled to meet with the President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and members of the Constituent Assembly, as well as visit Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha, before continuing on to Bangladesh.

Today is the first day of Costa Ricas Security Council presidency.

Sunday, November 2

In Bangladesh, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet the President and Chief Adviser, as well as visit a disaster management project.

Monday, November 3

From 3 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 4, the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities holds the second meeting of its first session, during which it is expected to elect the 12 members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Today and tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General is in Santiago, Chile, where she will address the regional coordination meeting for the Latin America and Caribbean region, as well as meet the Chilean President and the U.N. country team.

From today through 21 November in Geneva, the Committee Against Torture and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights each hold their 41st sessions.

From today through Thursday in Nanjing, China, the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum meets to discuss Harmonious Urbanization: The Challenge of Balanced Territorial Development.

Tuesday, November 4

At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, Jorge Urbina, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica and President of the Security Council for November, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.

At 3 p.m. in Room S-226, Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, briefs the press.

Wednesday, November 5

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 9, there is a special event on Enhancing Pacific connectivity.

Thursday, November 6

At 11.15 p.m. in Room S-226, Irakli Alasania, Permanent Representative of Georgia, briefs on the situation in that country.

Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflicts.

Friday, November 7

In Beijing, China, there will be a high-level conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer today and tomorrow. Also in Beijing, the World Health Organization organizes a Congress on Traditional Medicine from today through Sunday.

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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