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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-21
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, November 21, 2008
SECRETARY-GENERAL ASSERTS ISRAEL MUST PERMIT HUMANITARIAN AID DELIVERY TO GAZA
The Secretary-General continues to express his
concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He has underscored the importance of having Israel urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets that his calls have not yet been heeded. The Secretary-General has been briefed on the humanitarian situation in Gaza by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, and supports the statement just released by his office.
The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of rocket and other attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets. He calls for an end to such attacks and urges full respect by all parties for the calm that has been in effect since 19 June 2008.
In his separate statement, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today urged all parties to the conflict in the Gaza Strip to refrain from violence and to allow the immediate and sustained reopening of border crossings. Measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and must cease immediately, he stated.
Holmes noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly condemned rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilian targets. But Holmes also expressed particular concern that the human dignity and wellbeing of the civilians in Gaza, over half of whom are children, do not appear to be a major issue for the parties to the conflict.
The Spokeswoman declined to comment on remarks attributed to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni about a phone conversation that she and the Secretary-General had on Thursday. But she noted that, during that call, the Secretary-General had strongly expressed his concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the impact of the decision by the Israeli authorities to close the crossings into Gaza.
She asserted that, although the Secretary-General understands Israels security challenges, he does not believe that the civilian population should suffer the consequences. She noted that the Secretary-General has expressed his concerns in recent days to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would bring the issue to the Security Council, Montas noted that the issue has already gone to the Security Council many times.
NEW PANEL TO ASSESS BANGLADESH ELECTIONS
In response to a request from the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, the Secretary-General has
established a High-Level Panel for the forthcoming parliamentary elections slated for December. The Panel is tasked with assessing the preparations and conduct of the elections through visits to Bangladesh before and during the elections.
The Panel will be headed by Mr. Francesc Vendrell, former Special Representative in Afghanistan of the European Union and previously Personal Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan. Its other members are Mr. Bhojraj Pokharel, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, and Ms. Aracelly Santana, former Deputy Director of the UN's Electoral Assistance Division and most recently Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Nepal.
The Panel will report to the Secretary-General with its key findings and recommendations. It will undertake its first visit from 23-29 November, and will return for about a week at the time of the elections.
CIVILIANS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO LIVE IN CONSTANT STATE OF FEAR
situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is calm overall, according to the UN Mission in that country (MONUC). The ceasefire is holding, and the reinforcement of UN peacekeepers is proceeding as planned in and around Goma, where joint day and night patrols with the Congolese army continue.
The Mission reports three minor incidents involving brief exchanges of fire between Mai Mai fighters and General Nkundas rebels. There were no casualties.
In other news, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that looting has continued in North Kivu even as military hostilities have abated. Just this week, Congolese soldiers ransacked a therapeutic nutritional centre in Kayna, while an office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kirumba was looted.
OCHA says civilians in North Kivu live in a constant state of fear due to the insecurity and looting, illegal roadblocks and forced labour. In Goma, there were 20 cases of sexual violence in the past week.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, is increasingly
concerned about public safety among the 67,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the Kibati camps where a 20-year-old woman was shot and killed this morning. Many families have been forced to abandon their shelters, which were subsequently looted by armed men. UNHCR says the situation makes it all the more urgent that the Congolese authorities work with the United Nations to move the IDPs to a new site that has already been identified.
AFGHANISTAN: BAN KI-MOON URGES TALIBAN TO STOP ATTACKS AGAINST CHILDREN
In a new
report on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan, the Secretary-General urges all anti-government elements who are party to the conflict to immediately stop the use, exploitation and recruitment of children. And he strongly urges the Taliban to immediately cease attacks against civilians, especially children.
Also in the report, the Secretary-General asks the Government of Afghanistan and international military forces to grant the UN and human rights monitoring bodies full access to all their detention facilities, including the National Directorate of Security and the Bagram Airbase.
He also encourages the Government of Afghanistan to do more to prevent and punish sexual violence, support victims, and monitor grave sexual violations against boys and girls.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS BOSNIA FORCE, WELCOMES PEACEFUL ELECTIONS IN GUINEA-BISSAU
Following consultations on Thursday afternoon, the Security Council voted unanimously to
extend the authorization of the European forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as EUFOR, for a further twelve months.
Security Council members also issued a
press statement welcoming the peaceful and orderly holding of the 16 November elections in Guinea-Bissau.
There are no Council meetings or consultations today.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY RESUMES HUMANITARIAN WORK IN SOMALIA
The World Food Programme (WFP) has resumed work in the Somaliland region, where it was forced to halt its work following the multiple bomb attacks in the city of Hargeysa on 29 October. One of the bombs targeted the UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound there.
During the past week, WFP distributed a total of 522 tons of food through various projects in the region. Food deliveries have been slow, due to security concerns. WFP also began the delivery of assorted kitchen utensils and cutlery to 105 new schools in Somaliland for the implementation of the school feeding programme.
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that an estimated 25,000 people fled the town of El Waaq last week, fearing insecurity in the area. As of today, the majority of the internally displaced persons refused to return to their homes and is in need of humanitarian assistance.
GLARING GENDER DISPARITIES REMAIN IN AFRICA
Deputy Secretary-General today addressed the Sixth African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She noted that, while many African countries have experienced economic growth in recent years, there remain glaring gender disparities in the areas of health, higher education, employment and empowerment. The crises of climate change, global financial turmoil and high prices for food and fuel have the potential to widen gender inequalities, she said.
Women in Africa and throughout the developing world are largely responsible for the household water supply and energy for cooking and heating, as well as for food security, she noted. At the same time, they tend to have little income, and unequal access to resources, land, technologies and other assets. When food becomes expensive, women and their families fall deeper into poverty.
The Deputy Secretary-General said the world must move beyond short-term solutions like emergency food aid and address the underlying causes by improving access to education, health, marketing infrastructure, technologies, secure land rights, irrigation water and clean energy sources.
She also called for greater involvement of women in the decision-making processes in addressing climate change, the food and energy crises and the financial crisis.
DISARMAMENT WORKSHOP TO BE HELD IN BRAZIL
A UN Workshop on Implementing Security Council Resolution 1540 will be held from 24 to 28 November 2008 in São Paulo, Brazil, organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs.
The workshop aims to enhance national capacities for the management of export control processes at a practical level as well as to improve information and experience-sharing between national export control and enforcement authorities. It is also expected to facilitate assistance and cooperation related to the implementation of resolution 1540.
Hosted by the Government of Brazil and sponsored by the European Union and the Governments of Norway and the United States, some 50 officials and experts from Member States, as well as international, regional and sub-regional organizations will participate in the five day forum.
NEW GUIDE TO COMPUTER RECYCLING LAUNCHED
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has
launched a free guide to computer recycling for entrepreneurs and project sponsors. The guide seeks to address the effect of computer equipment waste on health and the environment, which is a particular concern in developing countries.
This year, almost 180 million computers have been replaced; an estimated 35 million of them were simply dumped, despite the toxic substances they contain.
UNESCO says that obsolete and unwanted IT and computer equipment should be recycled to benefit other users, whenever possible. Equipment and components not fit for reuse should be disassembled and processed to recover raw materials in an environmentally sound manner.
Meanwhile, the First Session of the Committee on Information and Communication Technology (CICT), which ended today in Bangkok,
concluded that narrow coverage of telecommunication networks and limited ownership or affordable access to personal computers continue to be among the main reasons for the persistence of the Asia-Pacific regions digital divide.
U.N. SECRETARIAT COMMITTED TO STARTING NEW INTERNAL JUSTICE SYSTEM SOON: Asked about the future of the UN administrative justice system, the Spokeswoman later said that the UN Secretariat is fully committed to preparing for the new system to start as soon as possible. The process of filling all the new positions is underway. The Secretariat is making the necessary preparations to ensure that the current system can remain functional until the new one is ready to be implemented, to avoid any vacuum in the justice system.
U.S. & PAKISTAN ENGAGED IN BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS: Asked about attacks by US forces in Pakistan, the Spokeswoman said that US and Pakistani officials were discussing the matter bilaterally at present.
MYANMAR POLITICAL PRISONERS SHOULD BE RELEASED: Asked about the arrest of an activist in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman reiterated the Secretary-Generals call on the Myanmar authorities to release all of the countrys political prisoners.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
22 November 28 November 2008
Saturday, November 22
The Security Council is scheduled to begin a one-week mission to Afghanistan.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is scheduled to begin a weeklong visit to Chad and Sudan.
Sunday, November 23
From today through 29 November, the Secretary-Generals high-level panel on next months parliamentary elections in Bangladesh undertakes its first visit to that country.
Monday, November 24
This afternoon, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), followed by consultations on MINURCAT.
In observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November), the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People holds a special meeting at 10.30 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. At 1 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a screening of the film La terre parle arabe. At 6 p.m., an exhibit on The Palestinians: 60 years of struggle and enduring hope opens in the public lobby of the General Assembly Building.
At 12.15 p.m. in Room S-226, U.N. Development Programme Administrator Kemal Dervis and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Jomo Kwame Sundaram brief on the upcoming Financing for Development Review Conference and the Secretary-General's high-level retreat on the global financial crisis in Doha. The noon briefing immediately follows the press conference.
All this week, the Committee on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families meets in Geneva.
From today through Wednesday in Geneva, the Fourth Annual Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development takes place.
From today through Friday in São Paulo, Brazil, there will be a U.N. workshop on implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (on preventing non-State actors from acquiring WMDs).
A one-day conference on Digital Solidarity: New Forms of Solidarity for Future Development takes place in Lyon, France.
From today through Wednesday in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, the 7th annual Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues takes place.
Tuesday, November 25
This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the Middle East, followed by consultations on the Middle East.
At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, General Assembly President Miguel dEscoto Brockmann briefs on the upcoming Financing for Development Review Conference in Doha.
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The guests at the noon briefing are Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of UNIFEM; UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman; Ambassador Piet de Klerk, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Netherlands; and Marie Nyombo Zaina, grantee of the U.N. Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women, who will announce the results of UNIFEMs Say No to Violence against Women campaign.
At 2 p.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, Permanent Representative of Egypt, and Ambassador Johan Løvald, Permanent Representative of Norway, discuss progress on the outcome document of the upcoming Financing for Development Review Conference in Doha.
In Geneva, the International Labour Office launches its Global Wage Report 2008/09: Minimum wages and collective bargaining: Towards policy coherence.
In Geneva, UNESCO releases the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2009: Overcoming Inequality: why governance matters.
From today through Friday, the Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Wednesday, November 26
This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a private meeting with Troop Contributing Countries to the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), followed by an open briefing and consultations on MONUC.
At 10 a.m. at the Millennium Hotel on East 44th Street, the Second Forum for Social Strategic Thinking in Latin America gets underway. [Journalists wishing to cover the event must RSVP to (212) 906-6127 or
In Jerusalem, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is scheduled to launch the Consolidated Appeal for the Palestinian territories.
Thursday, November 27
U.N. Headquarters is closed for an official holiday (U.S. Thanksgiving).
Today and tomorrow, the International Atomic Energy Agencys Board of Governors meets in Vienna.
In London, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa launches the final Afghan Opium Survey 2008.
Friday, November 28
In Doha, Qatar, the Secretary-General and the Emir of Qatar jointly convene a high-level retreat on the global financial crisis, on the eve of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus (29 November - 2 December).
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