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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-12
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
ADDRESSING HIGH-LEVEL INTERFAITH MEETING,
BAN KI-MOON STRESSES WORLDS RICH CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the start of the
General Assembly High-Level Meeting on interfaith dialogue, warning that, even as societies around the world are brought closer together, communal strife is intensifying, extremist ideologies are on the rise and societies are more polarized. Sometimes, he said, it seems as if none of history's awful lessons have been learned.
One of the great challenges of our time, the Secretary-General said, must now surely be to ensure that our rich cultural diversity makes us more secure not less. For peace to endure, individuals, groups and nations must come to respect and understand each other.
He recalled the words of diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ralph Bunche, who said, I have a deep-seated bias against hatred and intolerance. I have a bias against racial and religious bigotry. I have a bias against war and a bias for peace. That, the Secretary-General said, is the only bias we can tolerate.
Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whom he praised for his dynamic role in making todays meeting possible, and he expects to meet with other leaders gathered for the meeting in the coming days.
Asked about the role of UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, the Spokeswoman acknowledged his work in the preparations for the high-level meeting.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF CEASEFIRE IN DARFUR
The Secretary-General welcomes President Omar al-Bashirs declaration of an immediate ceasefire between the Government of Sudan and the armed movements in Darfur as well as the intention by the Government of Sudan to disarm all the militias.
The Secretary-General stresses that the effectiveness of any ceasefire depends upon all parties demonstrating their commitment to a cessation of hostilities, particularly since past efforts to uphold a ceasefire in Darfur were not successful.
He further emphasizes that the international community continues to have high expectations that the Government of Sudan and the rebel movements will make concrete progress towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
EGYPTIAN HEAVY TRANSPORT COMPANY JOINS U.N. DARFUR MISSION
The United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
reports that an Egyptian Heavy Transport Company has arrived in Nyala, South Darfur, today to join the operation.
The company, with a total strength of 155 personnel, consists of 16 officers and 139 soldiers.
An additional seven personnel were already on the ground as part of the advance party to facilitate the deployment of the main body.
The Egyptian company will primarily support the distribution of cargo between sector logistics bases and the movement of bulk cargo, including water and fuel tankers, and provide transport and engineering capabilities.
U.N. Security Council
resolution 1769 (2007) authorized UNAMID to have a strength of up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 military observers and liaison officers. Todays deployment brings the total number of UNAMID troops in Darfur to 9,122.
Meanwhile, UNAMID also reports that Senior Presidential Assistant and Sudan Liberation Army/Movement Chairman, Minni Minawi, visited a UNAMID accompanied by SLA/M commanders and Government of Sudan Military Commanders in the area.
Minawi informed UNAMID that his visit was in an effort to convince non-signatory factions in the area to join the peace process with the Government of Sudan.
UNAMID also reported two separate car-jacking incidents yesterday. One NGO and one UN vehicle were stolen in South Darfur.
. DR CONGO: SITUATION IN NORTH KIVU REMAINS TENSE
As of this morning, fighting appeared to have abated in North Kivu although the situation remains tense, says the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). Here in New York, the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping Alain Le Roy briefed the Security Council yesterday afternoon in consultations on the situation in eastern DR Congo.
Le Roy described his impressions from a recent visit of the region. He later said he has also pressed Council members for an additional 3,000 troops to beef up the protection of civilians in North Kivu. Many Council members, he noted, now appeared inclined to support authorizing an increase in the number of peacekeepers.
In North Kivu itself, the UN Force Commander, General Babacar Gaye, yesterday confirmed reports of a looting spree by fleeing Congolese government soldiers in Kanyabayonga. Gen. Gaye was in the area with the Congolese armys regional commander to assess the damage caused by the looters and assist his counterpart in ensuring stronger command and control.
The Mission also
reports that several parts of North Kivu are being hit by a cholera, whooping cough and measles epidemics. The Mission cites Congolese government data saying that eight deaths have now occurred out of the more than 150 reported cases in camps for the internally displaced near Goma. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reports seven new cases of measles cases in the region. And the overall humanitarian situation remains extremely precarious.
The number of displaced people continues to
increase, to an estimated 250,000, as people continue to flee their locations.
Aid workers on the ground are particularly concerned about the safety of IDPs in Kibati camp due to its proximity to the front lines. Relief supplies continue to reach Goma, including 36 tons of goods delivered on Monday.
FUEL CROSSING INTO GAZA OPENS BRIEFLY;
POWER PLANT MAY HAVE TO SHUT DOWN THIS WEEKEND
According to the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), the Nahal Oz fuel crossing, between Gaza and Israel, was open today. But the Israeli Defence Forces closed it after less than 230,000 liters of fuel were delivered, citing ongoing clashes on the Gaza side. UNSCO says that, if no industrial fuel deliveries are allowed in tomorrow, Gazas power plant will have to be switched off this weekend.
Apart from the fuel crossing, all Gaza commercial crossings remained closed today for the seventh day in a row. Over this time period, no humanitarian or commercial commodities have been allowed in. According to UNSCO, there are concerns in Gaza over the growing shortage of cooking gas, and a number of bakeries have been forced to shut down, leading to worries about the availability of bread.
Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says the current blockade of Gaza is affecting its operations as never before. Materials being prevented from entering the Strip include linens for a center for blind children, textbooks for young students, and fire extinguishers.
On a related note, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has come up with a proposal for a strategy to retain and expand investment in the occupied Palestinian territory.
U.N. MILITARY ADVISER ON VISIT TO CHAD TO DISCUSS FUTURE WORK OF U.N. MISSION THERE
The UN Military Adviser, Gen. Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, is in NDjamena today for consultations with government officials and the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).
The Military Advisers meetings with Chadian officials will focus on the next concept of operations for the UN Mission after the withdrawal next March of EUFOR, the European force tasked with the protection of civilians and refugees in northeastern Chad.
Gen. Obiakor is also expected to travel to Abeche and Farchana in the northeast to visit the UN Mission and EUFOR operations there.
SECURITY COUNCIL IS BRIEFED ON WORK OF MAIN SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Security Council today is holding a formal meeting to receive updates from the chairman of its main subsidiary bodies.
Council members received briefings on the work of the
1267 Committee, which deals with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated individuals and entities; on the
Counter-Terrorism Committee; and on the
1540 Committee, which deals with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
ASSESSMENT FINDS VAST IMPROVEMENT IN FOOD ACCESS FOR IRAQIS
The number of people without adequate access to food in
Iraq has fallen dramatically, according to the findings of a joint assessment carried out by the Iraqi Government and the World Food Programme (WFP). WFP
says that the assessment found some 930,000 people were without adequate access to food last year, down from around four million in 2005.
We can give a cautious welcome to these figures, said Edward Kallon, WFP Country Director for Iraq. He warned that 930,000 people without adequate food access are still far too many for a relatively wealthy country.
U.N. TEAMS HELP WITH FLOOD RELIEF EFFORTS IN HONDURAS
On flood relief efforts in Honduras, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the World Food Programme (WFP) has so far delivered more than 370 tons of food to families in isolated shelters.
UNICEF, for its part, has provided more than US$700,000 dollars in emergency assistance.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and OCHA have deployed a joint team of geologists to identify areas at risk from land- and mud-slides.
OCHAs Flash Appeal for US$17 million for Honduras launched two weeks ago -- is still only 10 per cent funded.
MYANMAR: BAN KI-MOON HAS REPEATEDLY STRESSED NEED FOR RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
Asked about the recent arrest of activists in
Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly stressed the need for the Myanmar authorities to release all political prisoners and allow all citizens of Myanmar to freely participate in their countrys political process as part of a process of national reconciliation.
Asked further about UN efforts, Okabe said that the UNs role is to facilitate the efforts of all parties to talk to each other and address any concerns or differences they may have through mutual understanding and dialogue, including with regard to any constitution or election.
The United Nations, she added, has always said that the future of Myanmar ultimately is the hands of the people and Government of Myanmar. That is why the Secretary-General and Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari have consistently called for a credible, inclusive and transparent political process in which all the people of Myanmar can contribute to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for their country. They will continue to make every effort to that end.
U.N. CYPRUS ENVOY NOTES STEADY PROGRESS BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES
Speaking to the press in Nicosia yesterday, following the meeting of the Cypriot leaders, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer said yesterdays meeting had consisted of a tête-à-tête, which lasted for around half an hour, and a discussion lasting several hours on the issue of the legislature.
The leaders representatives will have a further discussion on Friday on points of divergence concerning the legislature.
In response to questions, Downer said steady progress was being made but that sudden solutions were unrealistic. He noted that there had been discussions on the competencies of the federal government, the role of the executive, and how the executive would be elected.
The leaders next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning.
WORLD BANK ANNOUNCES $100 BILLION IN COMMITMENTS FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Ahead of this weekends G-20 summit in Washington, D.C., the World Bank has
announced up to US$100 billion in new commitments for developing countries over the next three years.
In addition, the World Bank also plans to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to the worlds 78 poorest countries. It is also ramping up support to the private sector, including by establishing a global equity fund to recapitalize distressed banks.
W.H.O. WARNS OF POTENTIALLY DEVASTATING IMPACT OF FINANCIAL CRISIS ON GLOBAL HEALTH
Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), today issued a
statement on the current global financial crisis. She noted that fiscal pressures in rich countries may prompt cuts to official development assistance. Worse still, she said, is the prospect of cuts in health spending that many poorer countries may be forced to undertake.
Both of these responses have occurred in the past. And both could be equally devastating for global health, she said.
In that context, Chan called on all governments and political leaders to maintain their efforts to strengthen and improve the performance of their health systems and to protect the health of the people of the world.
POPULATION REPORT STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL SENSITIVITY IN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
In its annual State of World Population 2008
report, entitled Reaching Common Ground: Culture, Gender and Human Rights, the U.N. Population Fund examines the links between culture and promoting human rights, especially womens rights.
The report stresses the importance of development strategies that are sensitive to cultural values, which can play an integral part in success or failure of projects in developing countries. International development agencies ignore culture or marginalize it at their peril, the report says.
Advancing human rights requires an appreciation of the complexity, fluidity and centrality of culture by intentionally identifying and partnering with local agents of change. To develop cultural fluency, UNFPA proposes a culture lens as a programming tool. Culturally sensitive approaches investigate how variables such as economic status, politics, law, class, age, gender, religion and ethnicity intersect and lead to divergent understandings and manifestations of power.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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