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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-25

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ZIMBABWE: BAN KI-MOON DISTRESSED AT DESPERATE HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is

alarmed that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is now desperate and will worsen in the coming months.

He is deeply concerned that nearly half of the total population of 12 million could require food assistance, and by reports that many households are now cutting back the number of meals eaten each day. He is distressed at the collapse of health, sanitation and education services, and the consequent rapidly escalating cholera outbreak.

The Secretary-General urges all parties to support and provide humanitarian assistance, leaving political considerations aside.

The Secretary-General supports the humanitarian initiative on Zimbabwe offered by The Elders and regrets the decision of the Government of Zimbabwe not to cooperate with their timely, well-intended effort to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

The Secretary-General hopes that another mission can take place in the near future, given the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country.

The Secretary-General calls on the Zimbabwean parties meeting in South Africa today to rapidly reach an agreement on the formation of a new Government consistent with the letter and spirit of the 15 September agreement.

The people of Zimbabwe cannot afford another failure by their political leadership to reach a fair and workable agreement that would allow Zimbabwe to tackle the formidable challenges ahead.

ZIMBABWE: THERE IS A RISK OF CHOLERA OUTBREAK SPREADING

The number of reported cholera cases in Zimbabwe has reached nearly 9,000, with more than 350 deaths reported as of today.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this is an increase of some 1,600 cases and 53 more deaths from the previous day.

OCHA also says the

outbreak is taking a regional dimension, with detection of suspected cholera cases reported in Botswana. This follows earlier reports of cholera cases reported in South Africa.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says it is in touch with Angola, South Africa and Mozambique regarding the cholera outbreak on their borders with Zimbabwe.

For WHO, the major concern at the moment with regard to cholera was in the urban areas of Harare. There was a risk of the disease spreading to other regions of the country, which was why WHO was extremely concerned about the control of the disease.

UNICEF called on the Government of Zimbabwe to urgently address the water, sanitation and sewer infrastructural challenges that were driving the outbreak. This was the only way to stop it.

The World Food Programme said all of this concern about the health situation in Zimbabwe was on top of the fact that the population in Zimbabwe was in a particularly fragile food security situation.

WFP estimated that by January, 45 per cent of the population would need food assistance -- around 5.1 million people.

In December, WFP hoped to be able to feed 4 million people, but because it did not have enough resources to get enough food into the country, it would most probably be a reduced ration for people who were already surviving on one meal a day.

EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR BEGINS DARFUR VISIT

John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, began a six day visit to Sudan today by going to one of the largest camps housing internally displaced persons in Darfur.

At the Kalma camp in Nyala, home to 88,000 IDPs in South Darfur, John Holmes listened to the concerns of the camp representatives and assured them of continued humanitarian support.

Among the concerns of the sheikhs in the camp were the incidents on 25 August, when 33 IDPs were killed and 108 wounded after Government security forces surrounded Kalma camp. For their part, the sheikhs appreciated the role played by aid organizations and the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) but called for reinforced protection.

John Holmes said that UNAMID police are now patrolling the camp on a round-the-clock basis, which has helped people to feel more secure, but added that more needed to be done, not least to ensure women can feel safe as they move in and out of the camp.

In meetings with UN agencies and NGOs, aid workers voiced their continued concern about security incidents, including increasingly frequent car-jackings and break-ins and a challenging work environment stemming from bureaucratic and other obstacles, particularly in sensitive protection of civilian areas.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONVENES SPECIAL SESSION ON DR CONGO;

DISPLACED CIVILIANS BEGIN TO MOVE TO MORE SECURE SITES IN GOMA

There were no major security incidents in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo or elsewhere in the country, according to the UN Mission there (MONUC).

The region around Goma remains tense, and UN peacekeepers continue daily and nightly patrols of strategic areas.

Humanitarian agencies, meanwhile, are about to start a major transfer of internally displaced civilians from the Kibati camps to more secure sites away from rebel or government lines. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says the voluntary relocation drive will focus on vulnerable persons, children, the sick and the elderly. They will be relocated to four existing camps on the outskirts of Goma where shelter and sanitation and other services are already available. The transfer could affect as many as 30,000 people, and the final decision on its active implementation is expected this afternoon.

And yesterday afternoon here at Headquarters, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the eastern DR Congo, Olusegun Obasanjo,

told reporters that he will be returning to the region this weekend to resume talks with the Congolese government, the CNDP rebel group and other key actors. He is expected to visit Kinshasa on Saturday and Goma on Sunday, with other regional stops along the way.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Council has decided to hold a special session on the situation of human rights in the eastern DRC. The special session will be held on the morning of Friday, 28 November 2008, in Geneva.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP KOSOVO TOMORROW AFTERNOON

The Secretary-Generals latest report on Kosovo is now out as a document.. In it, he notes that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has faced significant challenges, as new institutions are being created and new roles assumed by the Kosovo authorities under the Constitution.

These challenges have underscored the need to move forward with the reconfiguration of UNMIK within the framework of resolution 1244, he says. That reconfiguration is taking place in a transparent manner and is consistent with the UNs position of strict neutrality on the question of Kosovos status.

On the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, the Secretary-General notes that it will fully respect resolution 1244. It will operate under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. It will submit regular reports to the UN, and its deployment throughout Kosovo will be coordinated with UNMIK, he adds.

The Secretary-General also mentions the UNs dialogue with the Government of Serbia on matters concerning police, customs, justice, transportation and infrastructure, boundaries, and Serbian patrimony. He notes that, while Serbia has accepted the results of this dialogue and the arrangements set out in his report, the authorities in Pristina have not.

Nevertheless, the Secretary-General says he is encouraged by Pristinas indication that it is willing to cooperate with EULEX. And he stresses that the implementation of the temporary arrangements set out in his report will be carried out on the basis of continuous consultation and coordination.

The Security Council is scheduled to take up the report in a public debate tomorrow afternoon.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE PEACE DEAL DEEMED UNLIKELY THIS YEAR

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the

Security Council this morning on the Middle East. He expressed regret that Israel and the Palestinians will likely fall short of their commitment, made at Annapolis, to reach an agreement by the end of the year. But the parties affirmation that they have engaged in direct, sustained and intensive negotiations is welcome, he added.

Pascoe noted that, despite the Palestinian Authoritys security efforts in the West Bank, there has not been a significant reduction in Israeli incursions or easing of closures there. He added that it is deeply regrettable that settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is ongoing. He also noted continuing Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Syrian Golan.

In Gaza, where the crossings remain closed today, Pascoe said there is a severe shortage of cooking gas, which is preventing 30 out of Gazas 71 bakeries from operating. Lack of fuel is also one of the principal factors leading to water-rationing throughout the Strip, affecting some 600,000 people.

Also on Gaza, Pascoe expressed concern about reports of human rights abuses committed under the de facto Hamas regime. He also reiterated the Secretary-Generals repeated condemnation of rocket and other attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilian targets.

Pascoe concluded by saying there is a need for tangible improvements in the living conditions and security of civilians, to give them faith in the political process. The Secretary-General has urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to engage early in this regard. Security Council members are now holding consultations on the Middle East.

Asked about the situation at the crossing points into Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that some crossing points were opened on Monday but were closed again today.

HARSH RHETORIC THREATENS CALM IN ISRAEL/LEBANON RELATION

The Secretary-General, in his

latest report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, says that he is pleased that relative calm continues to prevail between Israel and Lebanon.

However, he adds, greater overall progress should have been achieved since the resolution was adopted two years ago, and he is disturbed by the repeated exchange of threats between Israel and Hezbollah.

He says that he welcomes the decision by Lebanon and Syria to further improve joint security along their common border.

The Secretary-General adds that he remains concerned by the presence of armed groups operating inside Lebanon, beyond the control of the state, and he says that he firmly believes that key issues are to be resolved through diplomatic means.

The

Security Council expects to discuss the report tomorrow.

AFGHANISTAN: SECURITY COUNCIL DELEGATION MEETS WITH PRESIDENT

The

Security Council mission in

Afghanistan continued its work today by meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Cabinet ministers.

The mission also met with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission, as well as with officials of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and NATOs Senior Civilian Representative.

The Security Council mission will continue to hold meetings this week to assess the humanitarian situation and how the international community is working with Afghan institutions, to ensure that Afghan needs are being properly answered.

Asked about the UN Mission in Afghanistans rejection of an offer by Australia of a one-star general to UNAMA, the Spokeswoman said that Australias offer came after the deadline for the position had passed, and a Canadian officer had been appointed.

CYPRUS LEADERS DISCUSS FEDERAL POLICE REFORM

In Nicosia today, the two Cypriot leaders met under UN auspices. During the meeting, which lasted around two and a half hours, they focused on federal offences and the Federal Police.

They reached almost full convergence on what constitutes federal offences.

Their next meeting will take place a week from today, on December 2. At that meeting, in addition to continuing discussions on the Federal Police, they will take up the Federal Public Service, the Federal Public Commission and external affairs.

KYRGYSTAN: HALF A MILLION TO RECEIVE EMERGENCY FOOD AID

The World Food Programme

announced today that it is launching an emergency food operation to help 580,000 vulnerable people during the bitterly cold season in Kyrgyzstan many of whom are unable to meet their basic food needs due to the impact of high food and fuel prices combined with a fall in remittances from expatriates working abroad due to the global economic downturn.

Also during 2008, the Kyrgyz people have suffered two droughts, a sequence of locust infestations, hailstorms and spring frosts. These factors have caused serious damage to the agricultural sector and a WFP assessment conducted in October shows that 1 in every 5 households is at high nutritional and health risk.

Adding that the poorest are eating less food with less nutritional value, the UN recognizes the severity of the situation and is moving fast to meet their needs. The WFP emergency operation, with a budget of $8.4 million, will provide a ration of wheat flour and oil designed to meet the food needs of those families living in rural areas and districts where more than one-fifth of the population are not getting their full daily nutritional requirements.

GOVERNMENTS TO FALL SHORT OF MILLENNIUM EDUCATION GOALS

UNESCO today

released its annual Education for All Global Monitoring Report. It finds that the failure of governments to tackle deep and persistent inequalities in education is consigning millions of children to lives of poverty and diminished opportunity; it also finds that the world is not on course to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

The report blames a combination of political indifference, weak domestic policies, and the failure of aid donors to act on commitments. Among its findings are that: one in three children in developing countries reaches primary school age with impaired brain development and education prospects, due to malnutrition; 75 million children of primary school age are not in school; while one third of children in rich countries complete university studies, not even one in three children complete primary education in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and just five percent reach university level.

The report calls on governments to take several steps, including the removal of school fees for basic education, increasing public investment, creating incentives for girls and marginalized groups, and strengthening commitment to education quality.

BAN KI-MOON TO ATTEND CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN POLAND

The Secretary General plans to attend the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland next month.

At the opening of the High-level Segment, he will articulate his ideas for some of the key issues under negotiation, such as the nature of the shared vision we need for long-term cooperative action on climate change.

He will continue to call on countries not to abandon their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of the global financial crisis, but rather to make use of solutions that will address both - such as public investments in alternative, low-carbon energy systems.

Speaking on behalf of the UN system, he will also demonstrate the readiness of the UN system to support governments in implementing existing and future agreements.

Given the little time before the crucial meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Secretary General will urge leaders and ministers that are in attendance to make the most of the opportunity in Poznan.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF: We were asked yesterday and this morning about remarks by the General Assembly President on Israel. The Secretary-Generals views are a matter of record, as reflected in his statement yesterday. The President of the General Assemblys statement was his own. Asked about complaints from Israel about the General Assembly Presidents comments, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-Generals office had received a number of phone calls on that matter. She reiterated that the Secretary-Generals own concerns about the Palestinians were made clear in his remarks yesterday.

PAKISTAN TO RECEIVE NEW I.M.F. LOAN: The International Monetary Fund has

approved a $7.6 billion dollar Stand-by Arrangement for Pakistan. The Fund will disburse that money over 23 months to support the countrys economic stabilization programme, while ensuring social stability and adequate support for the poor and vulnerable. Meanwhile, the IMF has

released its Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and the Pacific. It shows that the region is facing the risk of a sharp slowdown, as exports weaken and the effects of the global financial crisis spill over into domestic economies. Any hope that the region would escape the crisis unscathed has by now evaporated, the report warns. Theres more information on both of these items upstairs.

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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