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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-13

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MEETING ON INTERFAITH DIALOGUE TO CONCLUDE TODAY

Today is the second and final day of the

General Assembly meeting on the interfaith dialogue, which has brought together the heads of state and senior officials of more than 75 Member States. At the close of the meeting, the Secretary-General and Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, will hold a joint press conference at 5 p.m. in Conference Room Four.

HUMAN SECURITY MUST FEATURE IN FINANCIAL SECTOR REFORM: BAN KI-MOON

In advance of this weekends G-20 summit on financial markets in Washington, D.C., the Secretary-General has sent a letter to leaders of those countries. In it, he underlines the need to prevent the financial crisis from becoming a human crisis that could assume overwhelming political and security dimensions. One important way of doing this will be by meeting existing commitments on aid, he says.

Reforms cannot be restricted to financial sector regulation alone, the Secretary-General adds. They must also deal with the broader challenges for human security, including climate change, conflict prevention and the eradication of poverty. An early resolution of issues holding up the

Doha trade round would also be a significant contribution to overcoming the crisis.

These broad challenges can only be met through a reinvigorated and inclusive multilateralism, the Secretary-General says. The United Nations has much to contribute and remains the anchor of such a system.

SPECIAL ENVOY TO START FIRST MISSION ON DR CONGO;

RELIEF AGENCIES RESUME FULL DUTY AS CALM PERSISTS

From North Kivu, the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has reported two skirmishes late yesterday between government troops and the armed PARECO movement. These incidents, for which there are no reported casualties, appear to be isolated, as the rest of the region remained relatively calm for a second straight day.

The Mission, meanwhile, has confirmed the recent arrival in Goma of some 3,000 displaced civilians and some further movements of civilians across the Ugandan border. And UN aid agencies say they have restored full service to the displaced after a difficult week, fuelled by insecurity, during which they have had to cut off some key services.

Distribution operations have resumed for health kits, immunization packages, fresh water and sanitation equipment, food and shelter. And the World Health Organization (WHO) says it is attempting to prevent and control an outbreak of cholera as the number of new cases has tripled to 150 a week.

On the political side, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy on peace in the Great Lakes Region, former President Olusejun Obasanjo, will be traveling for a first round of consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning tomorrow in Luanda. He will meet there with the President of Angola before traveling later on Friday to Kinshasa for an expected meeting with President Kabila. He is expected to proceed on the weekend for further discussions in Goma.

GAZA FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS SUSPENDED AS CROSSINGS REMAIN CLOSED

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that crossings into Gaza were closed today, meaning that commercial and humanitarian food deliveries were not allowed in for the eighth day in a row.

As a result, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was forced to suspend food distributions to some 750,000 Gazans. It is unprecedented for UNRWA warehouses to be empty of food, the agency notes. UNRWA says it is not clear when the crossings will reopen or when it will be able to resume its distributions. The agency stressed today that having hundreds of thousands of hungry and desperate people in Gaza is not in the interests of anyone who believes in peace.

Meanwhile, UNSCO reports that fuel was prevented from entering Gaza today, with the Israeli Government citing as its reason the firing of mortars and rockets into Israel. As a result, Gazas power plant will shut down today and probably remain closed until Sunday. Supplies of diesel and petrol are also running low, according to UNSCO.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza with senior officials, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday afternoon and the humanitarian situation on the ground had been among the topics discussed.

Okabe said that the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister had discussed the interfaith initiative and the briefing to the Quartet in Sharm el-Sheikh by Foreign Minister Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Other topics included: the situation on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza; settlements; demolitions; the need for UN humanitarian projects to be allowed to proceed; the implementation of resolution 1701 on Lebanon; and the Israeli-Syrian track.

She also noted the Secretary-Generals recent comments to the press when he chaired the Middle East Quartet meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

DARFUR: BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES SUDANS CEASEFIRE DECLARATION

In a

statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed 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 stressed 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 emphasized 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.

UNAMID has also welcomed the announcement and noted that the ceasefire could signal the start of a new phase in the search for a just and lasting peace in Darfur.

Asked about allegations of diplomatic pressure on the International Criminal Court not to seek an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has affirmed his respect for the ICCs independence.

At the same time, she added, the Secretary-General hopes that the Government of Sudan will press for an end to the conflict in Darfur, and will allow the two UN peacekeeping missions and humanitarian agencies to proceed with their work.

MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNS SPATE OF TERRORIST ATTACKS

Chris Alexander, the Secretary-Generals Deputy Special Representative for

Afghanistan, has condemned the three attacks in Afghanistan over the past day in which civilians have been the principal victims.

The attacks include one yesterday in Kandahar in which acid was used to harm girl students on their way to school, which Alexander called a hideous crime that is contrary to previous assurances Afghans have been given that there would not be further attacks against schools or students.

Also yesterday, a large explosion in Kandahar resulted in the death of civilians and injuries to members of the Provincial Council and many others. Todays attack in Nangarhar, which took place in a crowded market area, has inflicted enormous suffering in an otherwise peaceful community. The Deputy Special Representative called for an end to this cycle of senseless violence.

IRAQ ENVOY OUTRAGED AT CONTINUED TARGETING AND KILLING OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, today expressed his shock and outrage at the continued targeting and killing of religious minorities, following the murder of two Christian sisters in the northern city of Mosul. That murder was followed by the flight of thousands of Mosul residents from their homes after a campaign of threats and attacks.

De Mistura said that Mosul has historically been, and must remain, a cradle of religious and ethnic diversity. He reiterated the United Nations position that respecting and guaranteeing the rights of minorities in Iraq is "absolutely fundamental to a stable and democratic future for the country.

Staffan de Mistura will brief the

Security Council on Iraq in an open meeting tomorrow, and we expect him to be the guest at tomorrows noon briefing, if the Council meeting wraps up in time.

SOMALIA ENVOY WELCOMES EUROPEAN UNION ANTI-PIRACY MISSION

The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has

welcomed the European Unions decision to send ships to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. Ould-Abdallah said that piracy in that region has led to increased prices of food and fuel, with a direct negative impact on the lives of the poor. It also poses a serious threat to the environment through attacks on oil tankers and other ships, he added.

The EUs naval mission, which is expected to begin next month, will protect vulnerable vessels off the coast of Somalia and the delivery of aid. It will also join NATOs already operating vessels, which are protecting food shipments to Somalia. A number of individual countries have also sent warships.

Ould-Abdallah also announced that he was organizing a ministerial-level international conference on piracy on December 3rd in Nairobi.

MYANMARS JAILING OF RIGHTS ACTIVISTS HAS BAN KI-MOON DEEPLY CONCERNED

The Secretary-General is

deeply concerned by recent reports of sentences and severe prison terms imposed in connection with the peaceful demonstrations of last year in Myanmar.

He calls once again for all political prisoners to be released and for all citizens of Myanmar to be allowed to freely participate in their countrys political future as part of an inclusive national reconciliation process.

GOOD PROGRESS BEING MADE IN CYPRUS REUNIFICATION TALKS

The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, spoke to the press in Nicosia today, following the second meeting this week between the Cypriot leaders. Downer noted that the leaders discussion today focused on the judiciary and that good progress had been made.

The leaders are scheduled to meet again on Monday afternoon to discuss deadlock-resolving mechanisms.

MUCH WORK AHEAD TO REALIZE CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS TREATY

In his

message to the 2008 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Secretary-General commended the 25 years of efforts to make the treaty an indispensable element of contemporary humanitarian, disarmament and arms control machinery.

He also highlighted the major achievements reached in the CCW process but stressed that much more could be done to further address anti-vehicle mines.

Adding that the treaty has the potential to respond to the humanitarian challenges posed by advancements in weapons technology, the Secretary-General urged the need to make full use of the Conventions unique and dynamic structure.

The Secretary-General also urged the need to continue efforts by member states to best way to secure its credibility and enhance its considerable humanitarian potential for the benefit of all victims of armed conflicts.

He also took this opportunity to urge, once again, for all States that have not yet done so to consider acceding, as soon as possible, to the Convention and its Protocols. The United Nations will continue to strongly support your work.

ASIAN CITIES SKIES GET DIMMER AS POLLUTION SHUTS OUT SUNLIGHT

A U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) scientific panel today released a

study on Atmospheric Brown Clouds. It found that these clouds, which result from burning fossil fuels and biomass, combine with greenhouse gases to produce dramatic effects across Asia.

Theyre dimming sunlight by up to 25 percent in Shanghai, Beijing, New Delhi, and Karachi.

Meanwhile, ground pollution has been linked with a variety of health effects, such as respiratory disease and cardio-vascular problems, and is also contributing to the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas.

While brown clouds have been most intensively studied over Asia, scientists stress that the phenomenon also exists across North America, Europe, southern Africa and the Amazon Basin.

REGIONAL MIGRATION EXPOSES SOUTHEAST ASIANS TO HIV/AIDS

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports that, as Southeast Asians search for economic opportunities and mobility increases within their subregion, millions of people are becoming more vulnerable to HIV infection.

The new report, produced jointly by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), features a country-by-country assessment of HIV and mobility in the ten ASEAN member countries.

The report shows that, despite their contributions to national economies, migrants have little or no right to legal or social protection and generally lack access to HIV/AIDS services and information.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS AGENCY BEEFS UP CHILD SAFETY ONLINE

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) today

launched a new initiative to safeguard children, who it described as the most vulnerable users of the Internet. Addressing the ITUs high-level meeting on cybersecurity by video message, the Secretary-General said, "We have to protect against cyberthreats, especially when they target children.

The Child Online Protection initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the international community, with the aim of creating a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere. Through the initiative, participants will work to: identify key risks and vulnerabilities to children in cyberspace; create awareness of the issues; develop and promote practical tools to minimize risk; share knowledge and experience; and facilitate international partnerships.

The Secretary-General has urged all States to support the initiative.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DISEASE-FREE CASSAVA BOOSTS AFRICAN CROP YIELDS: The Food and Agriculture Organization is

hailing the comeback of cassava in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. This staple crop, one of the continents principal foodstuffs, had been devastated by a virus in recent years. New disease-free varieties have helped turned around crop yields.

ANTI-DOPING TREATY ADVANCES TOWARD UNIVERSALITY: UNESCO

says that 100 countries have now signed the International Convention against Doping in Sport. Yesterday in Paris, Paraguay became the 100th signatory to the Convention, which aims to ensure a consistent approach to anti-doping efforts across the globe.

PROJECT SEEKS BETTER ENERGY USE AT HOTELS: World Tourism Organization has

launched a new project to increase energy efficiency in hotels. The initiative aims to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent overall, while increasing the use of renewable energy by 10 per cent.

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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