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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-07

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








Friday, November 7, 2008


The Secretary-General this afternoon concluded a press conference in Nairobi, telling reporters that he had come to Nairobi with a very heavy heart, but is now able to return with some encouragement, after seeing the strong will and commitment demonstrated by leaders of the region.

In Nairobi, Kenya today, the Secretary-General

told a regional summit meeting on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that, for far too long, peace and security in Central Africa has been threatened by armed groups, domestic and foreign, present on that countrys soil. Neither the DRC, nor Rwanda, nor the rest of Central Africa can afford to be dragged back into conflict, he argued.

The Secretary-General outlined three priorities. First, he spoke of the need to take urgent measures to contain the present crisis created by the upsurge of fighting in the eastern DRC. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) will continue to work to the full measure of its capacity, with the Congolese Government and with other parties concerned, to ensure that a maximum of civilians are protected.

The Secretary-General also drew attention to the huge humanitarian crisis worsened by the recent fighting on the ground, saying that the United Nations and its international partners are mobilizing all possible resources to provide urgent assistance. He exhorted all parties to ensure that international humanitarian law is observed and that access to suffering populations is guaranteed.

And third, he emphasized the need to tackle the root causes of the crisis, saying that it is only at the political level that lasting solutions can be found. We need to end the conflict in the east, he said, and prevent it from spilling over into the wider sub-region.

To assist in this task, the Secretary-General presented former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, his Special Envoy for eastern DRC, saying that Obasanjo will work very closely with regional leaders to reach comprehensive and durable solutions to the problems created by the continued existence and destructive activities of the illegal armed groups.

Prior to the start of the African Union-sponsored meeting on Friday, the Secretary-General had a number of bilateral meetings, including with President Joseph Kabila of the DRC and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. He also met with President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, who is also the Chair of the African Union, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping. Special Envoy Obasanjo joined him in those meetings.


Intermittent fighting continued in North Kivu this morning, according to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). A counter-attack last night landed the Congolese army the upper hand in Nyanzale, which had yesterday fallen to rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda, who have now retreated the towns outskirts.

There are concerns that 65,000 displaced civilians at the Kibati camps, just north of Goma, are increasingly in harms way, as heavy artillery fighting intensified overnight in the area. Thousands of camp residents who had

fled the rattling of guns last night are now said to have regained their shelters. But the situation remains tense and unpredictable.

The latest estimates by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), meanwhile, places at 250,000 people the number of North Kivu civilians displaced by the violence since September. The bulk of the recently displaced came from Rutshuru and Kiwanja. In response, UN agencies and their partner NGOs have stepped up relief operations, handing out food, health supplies, shelter equipment and water and sanitation equipment. As of today, the World Food Prgramme continued food distribution to some 135,000 people in six camps, including those at Kibati.

With more cases of cholera reported at camps for the internally displaced, UNICEF is increasing the availability of clean water and of water purification tablets and is installing more latrines. Diarrhoea and measles among children remain top concerns, and UNICEF is launching today a vaccination campaign for some 13,000 children at the Kibati camps. It hopes to reach a total of 73,000 children in coming days.


Within the context of his responsibilities, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, has closely followed the situation in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Noting the tragic history of loss of life in the region over at least the past 15 years, including on the basis of ethnicity, the Special Adviser has been especially alarmed by the escalation of violence in the past few weeks.

The Special Adviser notes that the intention to destroy an ethnic population group, in whole or in part, is a grave crime under international criminal law - one which the international community, including Member States in the region and beyond, has an obligation to prevent and to punish when it does occur. He emphasizes that the belligerents in Eastern Congo must refrain from actions that might encourage genocide and that they, and any actors who provide material support, will be held accountable if they fail to do so.

The Special Adviser welcomes the initiative launched in Nairobi to resolve the current crisis. He is also in contact with relevant authorities to indicate his own intention to visit the countries of the region as soon as possible to assess recent developments from the perspective of his mandate and to provide advice and support accordingly.


Children are increasingly victimized and traumatized by the recurrent hostilities in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,

said Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She urges the parties to the conflict to halt fighting and to take all necessary measures to protect civilians including children.

The population in the Kivus is terribly vulnerable, especially children. They have to flee the fighting, are internally displaced and are subject to extreme violence, said Coomaraswamy.

The Special Representative raised specific concerns about the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and child soldiering. Widespread recruitment of children by the troops of Laurent Nkunda and the Mai Mai continues. Forcing them to participate in the hostilities is a war crime, she underlined.

Coomaraswamy welcomed the High-level Summit Meeting in Nairobi and urges international community to ensure robust peacekeeping to protect civilians. All necessary measures should be taken to stop the suffering of the population, especially children. The protection of the most vulnerable should be an integral part of the peace negotiations including the immediate release of all children associated with fighting forces as a priority, concludes Coomaraswamy.


Upon leaving Nairobi, the Secretary-General will head for Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Egyptian Government will host a Quartet meeting. On Sunday, members of the Quartet will be briefed by the parties to the Annapolis process.

The Secretary-General will be in New York on Monday and will brief the press on Tuesday at his regular monthly press conference.

The Secretary-General will attend on Wednesday the Plenary of the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Culture of Peace.


Available today are two related reports by the Secretary-General on the Middle East. The first

report concerns Israeli settlements. It recommends that Israel immediately dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001 and freeze all settlement activity. It also says Israel should take action to halt attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.

The second

report deals with Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people. It notes the worsening human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. It also says the General Assembly should seek help from the Security Council in implementing the

International Court of Justices 2004 advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

These two reports were prepared at the request of the General Assembly.


Next week, the Secretary-General is set to embark on his first visit to Los Angeles, California, as part of an overall United States outreach.

During his brief two-day stay, he will meet with leaders of the Los Angeles community and beyond, including the Governor of California and the Los Angeles City Mayor. As a part of the programme, the Secretary-General will reach out to Hollywood and meet with representatives and leaders from the creative community and the entertainment industry. These meetings aim to build partnerships to highlight issues of global concern and tell the UN story.

Also during his stay, the Secretary-General hopes to commend and encourage Los Angeles leading role in promoting climate change and sustainable economic development.

He will also speak at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is to receive a UCLA medal in recognition of his contribution to world peace and security. The Secretary-General will address the common goals of the United Nations and the United States, and the indispensability of a close relationship in a new era of UN-US relations.

From Los Angeles, the Secretary-General will travel to Washington D.C., to attend the G20 Summit meeting on the global financial crisis.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would be pushing to have Hollywood make movies about the United Nations, the Spokeswoman said that he would meet with the Writers Guild while on this visit as part of an effort to have the creative community involved with the United Nations.

She noted that a meeting the Secretary-General had earlier this year in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with movie producers, already resulted in the making of eight short films about the

Millennium Development Goals.


The UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has released information about the ongoing African Union Fact-Finding Mission, currently in Darfur, which is in the region to mend relations between Chad and Sudan.

Speaking to UNAMID, the leader of the mission, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, said that he was encouraged by the comprehensive agreement reached on the deployment of UNAMID, saying, We can now be optimistic that UNAMID is going to work in better conditions.


Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict,

said she was horrified by the stoning to death of a young Somali girl on 27 October. She strongly condemned the incident and urgently called for better protection of children in Somalia.


reported that a 13-year-old Somali girl, Aisha Duhulow, was stoned to death in a stadium of spectators in Kismayo on 27 October 2008 after having been found guilty of adultery. However, reports indicate that she had been raped by three men while traveling on foot to visit her grandmother in the war-torn capital, Mogadishu. Following the assault, she sought protection from local leaders, who then accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death.

The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia, which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness, Coomaraswamy stated.

The Special Representative also raised serious concerns about widespread recruitment and use of children by all parties to the conflict. She also said that children were killed and maimed on a daily basis in military operations.

It is the duty of the international community and the local authorities to stop these violations and to ensure better protection for children. No efforts should be spared, Coomaraswamy concluded.


Malnutrition is now very high among children under the age of 5 in Chads western Kanem region, said Kingsley Amaning, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad. Amaning

appealed for an urgent response to the emerging crisis, calling the results of a recent health survey in the region alarming. According to that survey, 3 children under 5 die every day for every 10,000 people in western Chad.

Chad is already experiencing grave humanitarian crises. They concern over 315,000 Sudanese and Central African refugees and nearly 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are heavily reliant on humanitarian aid for their survival. Except for approximately 57,000 Central African refugees in the south, all IDPs and Sudanese refugees live in the arid lands of eastern Chad.


The Deputy Secretary-General today made

remarks at the General Assemblys Commemorative Meeting on the 60th Anniversary of Peacekeeping.

She said peacekeeping has evolved into one of the cornerstones of international diplomacy, with more than 100,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in 18 missions across the globe. But she stressed that peacekeepers need support. They need clear and achievable mandates, as well as the political will and material resources of Member States.

The Deputy Secretary-General concluded by paying tribute to the more than 2,500 peacekeepers and other personnel who have given their lives while serving the United Nations.


At 3:00 this afternoon, the

Security Council will hold a formal meeting, followed by consultations, to discuss the work of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Ian Martin, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Nepal, will brief the Council on the work of that Mission.

After simultaneous separate

meetings on Thursday, the Security Council and the

General Assembly re-elected two judges whose terms were due to expire and chose three new judges to serve on the

International Court of Justice. The five elected judges came from Brazil, France, Jordan, Somalia and the United Kingdom.


A High-level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer is taking place today and Saturday in Beijing. The Conference is co-organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Government of China.

In his keynote address, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang delivered a

message from the Secretary-General. In it, he stressed that technology is one area that unites the interests of developed and developing countries alike.

All countries have an interest in the rapid development, deployment and diffusion of climate-friendly technologies, which enhance the ability of countries to take effective mitigation actions and pursue adaptation strategies, he said.


On Honduras, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

reports that Tropical Storm Paloma has caused flooding in new areas of the country, bringing the total number of people affected by floods to almost 320,000.

OCHA says that urgent support is needed to avert a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

So far, the World Food Programme has delivered food aid to nearly 16,000 families living in shelters in isolated areas. The World Health Organization is mobilizing medical teams and purchasing emergency and general medicines. The Pan-American Health Organization has also mobilized regional experts in water and sanitation, and disaster management.

UNICEF is also providing assistance, while OCHA and the U.N. Development Programme have provided more than $200,000 dollars in cash. This is in addition to an allocation of $1.5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has

approved a Stand-By Arrangement for Hungary. Over the next 17 months, the country will have access to more than twelve billion Euros.

Approved under the fast-track Emergency Mechanism, the funds are expected to help Hungary rapidly reduce stress on its financial markets.

The IMF says its support, combined with commitments from the European Union and the World Bank, should provide Hungary with sufficient reserves to meet external obligations, even in extreme market circumstances.


Representatives of the project Youth Voices against Racism, an initiative of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have

presented to the European Parliament ten recommendations to counteract racism in and through sports.

One of the recommendations involved printing antiracist slogans on containers of drinks sold in stadiums. The recommendations emerged from a meeting with young people between the ages of 15 and 18.


The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a $12 million contribution from the Government of India that will be used to provide fortified biscuits made from Indian wheat for 1.2 million school children in Afghanistan.

The biscuits, which were produced in India, will be shipped to Afghanistan through Pakistan. This marks a major transportation breakthrough, opening a new route for humanitarian aid from India to Afghanistan.


DISCUSSION HELD ON SOMALIA: The Spokeswoman confirmed that the Secretary-General had spoken with the head of the International Maritime Organization on Somalia. The Secretary-Generals own views on Somalia would be sent to the Security Council, she added.

BAN KI-MOON INTENDS TO SPEAK WITH BARACK OBAMA: Asked whether the Secretary-General has spoken by phone with US President-elect Barack Obama, the Spokeswoman said that they had not spoken, noting the Secretary-Generals current travels, but added that he intends to do so.


Capital Master Plan, the Spokeswoman said that the planned financial contributions for the renovation of UN headquarters have been paid, and she added that personnel at UN Headquarters will be relocated to the North Lawn, the library building or other nearby locations.

IMMUNITY NOT APPLIED IN LIBERIA CASE: Asked about a former staff member working at the UN Mission in Liberia who was accused of not paying child support, the Spokeswoman said that UN immunity had not been applied in that case, which was unrelated to official duties.

  • *The guest at noon was Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who provided an operational update on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, following his recent visit.


    08 November 14 November 2008

    Sunday, November 9

    The Secretary-General is in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to attend a meeting of the Middle East Quartet.

    Monday, November 10

    The guest at the noon briefing is Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal and Head of the U.N. Mission in Nepal.

    In observance of the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht Pogrom, there will be a panel discussion on Nowhere to Turn from 1 to 3.30 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium. At 6 p.m., in the same location, there will be a screening of the documentary film My Opposition: the Diaries of Friedrich Kellner.

    From today through Friday, the Special Rapporteur on the Question of Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, visits Ecuador at the invitation of the Government.

    Tuesday, November 11

    At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, the Secretary-General holds his monthly press conference.

    At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, the President of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, briefs on the upcoming High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the U.N. Mission in Kosovo.

    From 3 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 2, there will be a panel discussion on Overcoming Economic Insecurity.

    Wednesday, November 12

    Today and tomorrow, the General Assembly holds a High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace.

    This morning, the Security Council holds a debate on its 1267, 1373 and 1540 Committees.

    At 2 p.m. in Room S-226, Aminata Touré, Chief of the Culture, Gender and Human Rights Branch of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), discusses UNFPAs State of the World Population 2008 report, which is being launched today.

    In Geneva, the International Telecommunication Union hosts a high-level meeting on climate change, information and communication technologies, and cybersecurity.

    Thursday, November 13

    The Secretary-General is in Los Angeles, where he is scheduled to meet with the citys mayor, the governor of California, and other leaders. He is also scheduled to speak at the University of California at Los Angeles.

    At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, briefs on the General Assemblys High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace.

    From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 2, the General Assemblys Second Committee holds a panel discussion on Post-Conflict State Capacity: Reconstructing Public Administration for Conflict Prevention, Recovery and Development.

    Friday, November 14

    From today through Sunday, the Secretary-General is in Washington, D.C, for the meeting of the leaders of the G-20 countries on financial markets and the global economy.

    This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Multi-National Force.

    The guest at the noon briefing is Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq.

    Today is World Diabetes Day.

    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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