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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-10
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, November 10, 2008
MORE CIVILIANS DISPLACED AS FIGHTING SPREADS IN D.R. CONGO
Fighting continued intermittently over the weekend and earlier today in North Kivu, says the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
As a result of the spreading hostilities, the UN Mission has restricted the movement of UN personnel. Meanwhile, internally displaced civilians continue to gather at UN facilities, with another 600 new arrivals reported today. The UN refugee agency, for its part, says that a total of 15,000 Congolese fleeing the violence have now been registered in neighboring Uganda.
In response to the mounting humanitarian crisis, UNICEF says that
29 tons of emergency relief supplies arrived yesterday in Goma to assist some 100,000 people displaced from their homes in the past 10 days. Distribution of food aid to displaced people at the camps in Kibati, which was interrupted because of fighting on 7 November, restarted over the weekend. Food for 65,000 people was delivered by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Materials to build shelters for 333 families up to 1,200 people - have also been delivered at Kibati, but more shelter equipment is still required.
The UN Mission, meanwhile, says that a team it sent to the village of Kiwanja, near Rutshuru, to
investigate reports of massacres of civilians has now returned. The team said that it received credible reports that civilians were targeted, that a large number of them were murdered, even though no precise number is yet available. The military hostilities on November 4th and 6th involved the PARECO movement and rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda. The team visited 11 burial sites that witnesses said contained 26 bodies of combatants and civilians. Some sources gave a higher number for civilian deaths, but this is unconfirmed.
Asked about the International Criminal Courts activities in the eastern Congo, the Spokeswoman said that the ICC had not yet sent investigators to the region following the latest fighting.
PALESTINIANS, ISRAELIS BRIEF MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETING
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met yesterday with members of the Middle East Quartet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The meeting was unique since it was the first time that the Quartet was briefed by the parties themselves. The two parties were represented by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The Quartet, in a statement read at a press conference by the Secretary-General,
reiterated its commitment to supporting the parties' efforts, underlined its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations, pledged to respect the bilateral and confidential nature of the negotiations, and called on all states to adhere to these same commitments.
The Quartet also renewed its call on relevant states and international organizations to assist in the development of the Palestinian economy and maximize the resources available to the Palestinian Authority.
In addition, the Quartet stressed its determination to keep working with Israel and the Palestinian government to facilitate access and movement and an improvement in conditions on the ground -- in order to address urgent humanitarian needs, foster economic activity, and improve the atmosphere for the negotiations.
The Quartet also reiterated its call to the parties to fully implement their obligations under phase one of the Roadmap, including in relation to freezing settlement activity and the dismantlement of the infrastructure of terrorism.
The Quartet agreed that the spring of 2009 could be an appropriate time for an international meeting in Moscow.
BAN KI-MOON DEEPLY DISTRESSED AT PLIGHT OF GAZA CIVILIANS
In a press conference held after yesterdays Quartet meeting, the Secretary-General
said he was deeply distressed about the plight of the civilian population in Gaza. He added that, through its humanitarian work, the UN was standing by the people of Gaza and helping them in these difficult times.
The Secretary-General also said that the closure of crossings, roadblocks, settlement issues and the demolition of houses were not desirable for the ongoing peace process. He had discussed such matters with Israeli officials, he added. The Secretary-General noted that the creation of an atmosphere conducive to the ongoing peace process was extremely important.
Stressing that the calm brokered by Egypt needed to be respected, he also said that he was concerned about recent violence and called for it to stop immediately. He added that the Palestinian factions must work together towards national unity and reconciliation.
IRAQ: U.N ENVOY CONDEMNS REPUGNANT DOUBLE BOMBING
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Iraq, condemned the double bombing in Baghdad today, which killed dozens of innocent civilians and wounded scores more. De Mistura described these bombings as repugnant crimes aimed at re-instilling fear, distrust and division among the public, just as Iraq prepares itself to assume political normalcy with the upcoming provincial elections.
He extended his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and his wishes for the full and speedy recovery for the wounded.
Also today, the Secretary-Generals latest
report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Mission in Iraq is out as a document. In it, he notes the fragility of the improvements in the security situation and says that national reconciliation remains the main priority for ongoing UN efforts in Iraq.
He says that the provincial elections in early 2009 represent the most significant events in the coming months, as they can advance political dialogue, establish representative provincial councils and empower community leaders to meet the needs of local citizens in cooperation with the Government of Iraq. At the same time, he warns, there is potential for election-related violence and instability.
Asked about UN data on death tolls in Iraq, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations used to receive information from the relevant Iraqi ministries about fatalities, but that it had stopped receiving that information and has consequently stopped providing casualty figures.
DARFUR: PEACEKEEPING PATROL IS AMBUSHED
According to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation (UNAMID), on Sunday afternoon, a UNAMID patrol from the Nigerian Protection Force Company stationed at the Geneina Super Camp, in West Darfur, was ambushed by a group of unknown men, armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and AK-47 assault rifles, in the Super Camp vicinity.
The patrol returned fire in self-defense and one Peacekeeper was injured in the arm during the ensuing firefight, while a UNAMID vehicle was stolen by the attackers. The wounded soldier was evacuated to a UNAMID medical facility in El Fasher, North Darfur, where he was admitted for treatment and listed in stable condition.
UNAMID strongly condemn this unprovoked and dastardly attack, which will not deter it from resolutely pursuing its peacekeeping mandate and operations.
UNAMID is investigating the circumstances of this ambush and, once again, reminds all parties that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.
EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR DEPLORES DEADLY COLLAPSE OF SCHOOL BUILDING IN HAITI
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is saddened by the massive death toll of the
collapsed school building in Port-au-Prince. In a statement just released, Holmes expressed his condolences to the relatives and friends of the children and teachers who lost their lives in the accident.
He also appealed for calm in Port-Au-Prince to give rescuers time to do their work. The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says that the official Haitian Civil Protection Unit has put at 89 the number of dead with 150 people wounded. Some 260 people were reported to be in the building when it collapsed on Friday.
Meanwhile, search and rescue operations by UN peacekeepers, local and international teams continue. And the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Haiti, Hedi Annabi, has
warned against any rash action to put heavy demolition equipment to work. As long as there remains a chance to find survivors, one must hold back on using heavy equipment, he said.
Asked about actions taken by the UN Mission at the site of the school, the Spokeswoman said that the MINUSTAH peacekeepers had faced a serious problem of crown control as frantic parents were trying to reach the site. The peacekeepers had to create a clear corridor so that injured children could be taken out. Asked about building codes in Haiti, Montas noted that the country has building codes that unfortunately are not reinforced by some municipalities.
CYPRIOT LEADERS TO MEET THURSDAY UNDER U.N. AUSPICES
The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, arrived on the island today in preparation for two meetings of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, which will be held tomorrow and Thursday, 13 November, under UN auspices.
Today Downer will host a meeting of the leaders representatives. On Wednesday, 12 November, Downer is scheduled to meet separately with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
This week, Downer will also hold discussions and briefings with members of the diplomatic community and other officials.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION EXPANDS ITS GEOGRAPHIC PRESENCE
Over the weekend, the
UN Mission in Afghanistan opened its 18th office, in the town of Pul-i-Khumri in the province of Baghlan. The office, the Mission said, will play a crucial role in coordinating development efforts, monitoring human rights, strengthening good governance and the rule of law, assisting local institutions and facilitating aid deliveries.
The UN Mission highlighted the opening of the office in its press briefing today in Kabul, which also mentions the World Food Programmes efforts to pre-position and distribute 36,000 tonnes of food before winter hits.
BAN KI-MOON APPEALS FOR SUPPORT FOR REMOVAL AND DESTRUCTION OF EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR
The Secretary-General has a
message to the State Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons protocol on explosive remnants of war. That meeting started today in Geneva.
In his message, the Secretary-General says he encourages the parties to agree on strong practical steps to help victims of explosive remnants of war. More support to the clearance, removal and destruction of unexploded ordnance is also needed.
He also says that the Parties should establish a culture of information sharing.
The Secretary-General calls upon those States that have not yet ratified the relevant protocol, to do so without delay.
IMF AND WORLD BANK URGE G-20 LEADERS TO ADDRESS LONG-TERM ISSUES
NEEDS OF THE POOR AT SUMMIT ON FINANCIAL CRISIS
In a letter to the heads of state of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing economies, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that next Saturdays G-20 summit in Washington D.C. should not only deal with the immediate fallout from the financial crisis but also tackle longer-term issues relating to the international financial architecture, such as fixing an inadequate regulatory system and developing a reliable early warning and response system.
Meanwhile, World Bank President Robert Zoellick is stressing the need to make sure that the financial crisis doesnt become a human crisis. Speaking to the press during this past weekends meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Zoellick noted that the G-20 does not represent the worlds poorest countries. The threat of the financial crisis to the worlds bottom billion must be taken into account, he said. For that reason, there was a particular need for developed countries to honor their Gleneagles commitment to double aid to Africa.
F.A.O MOURNS DEATH OF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR MIRIAM MAKEBA
With the sudden death of South African singer and human rights activist Miriam Makeba, the Food and Agriculture Organization has lost one of its most dedicated advocates, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said today.
Makeba had been an FAO Goodwill Ambassador since 1999. She participated in a long list of events and concerts organized by FAO and was also active in communications campaigns against hunger.
Makebas last official mission on behalf of FAO was this past March. She traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit FAO emergency projects designed to help survivors of violence and HIV-positive women and men feed their families and revive their livelihoods through farming.
AN SCIENTIFIC BODY ON BIODIVERSITY IN UNDER CONSIDERATION: Discussions are underway in Malaysia on whether to establish an intergovernmental scientific body on biodiversity and ecosystems, similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Supporters say that such a body would put the state of the natural world high on the worlds political radar, and give momentum to policies that address the decline of the planets natural assets. They note that scientific discoveries often remain within research institutes and universities for years before they reach the wider world. By that time, it may be too late to protect the species concerned.
BAN KI-MOON TO MEET SAUDI KING THIS WEEK: Asked whether the Secretary-General will be in New York this Wednesday and Thursday, when the Interfaith Meeting is taking place, the Spokeswoman said that he would be at the United Nations on Wednesday but would then have to travel. Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, she said that he would.
KOSOVO REPORT OUT LATER THIS WEEK: Asked when the Secretary-Generals latest report on Kosovo would come out, the Spokeswoman said it was not expected to come out yet, but it might be ready later this week. She indicated that a Security Council meeting on Kosovo, scheduled for Tuesday, could as a result be delayed.
BANGLADESH/MYANMAR TENSIONS EASING: Asked about tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was happy to see that tensions in that area were easing.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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