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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-11-28

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:






Friday, November 28, 2008

[There was no noon briefing today. The noon briefing will resume on Monday, 1 December.]


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Emir of Qatar held today in Doha, Qatar, a high-level informal discussion on the implications of the financial crisis for development, climate change and multilateralism.

The four-hour, closed discussion on the eve of the Conference on Financing for Development was attended by about 30 delegations, including 10 heads of states, government and international agencies.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Secretary-General said that one of the main goals of the discussion, and indeed of the conference itself, was to build a bridge between the G-20 and the rest of the world. This requires a truly global stimulus plan that meets the needs of emerging economies and developing countries, one that protects the poorest and most vulnerable, not only the rich and powerful, he said.

He stressed the need for a globally coordinated response to the financial crisis, one that also addresses the development and climate change emergencies. If we focus only on the financial crisis, we will find no solutions at all, he said.

He called for promoting sustainable development, through investments in green technologies, and for a new multilateralism that gives emerging economies a greater voice in institutions. He also urged developed nations to stand by their commitments to Official Development Assistance.


The Secretary-General, in remarks to reporters in Doha today, strongly condemned the violence we have seen in Mumbai in the past two days.

"No cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against civilians, and the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice," he said. "I send my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the wounded, and express my solidarity with the people and Government of India."

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Secretary-General had said, "Such violence is totally unacceptable."

The members of the Security Council, in a press statement issued Thursday, condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that started on 26 November 2008, which included the taking of hostages and caused numerous deaths and injuries.

The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of India.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Indian authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, and reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

Arbitrary arrest and detention are rife in various parts of Sudan

Arbitrary arrest and detention are widespread in many parts of Sudan, and are often linked to further serious human rights violations, including torture and other forms of ill-treatment, according to

a report issued today by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The 51-page report covers the capital Khartoum and other parts of Northern Sudan, Southern Sudan, and the three central areas of Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State (but not Darfur, which has been the focus of previous OHCHR reports.)

The report concludes that intelligence and security services, police, and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), as well as the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South, have all committed violations of Sudanese and international law in the form of arbitrary arrests of civilians, in the length and manner of their detention, and in the physical treatment of detainees.


John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator today concluded a two day mission to Juba in Southern Sudan.

Holmes met the Government of South Sudan and assured them of continued support in confronting critical humanitarian issues particularly in the health sector. He urged continued donor support for this and noted that a huge construction and development effort is still needed in the south, particularly building up rapidly the road system, and basic health and education services. Government of South Sudan capacity also has to be built up to takeover the needs in all these areas.

Earlier he Holmes met President of southern Sudan Salva Kiir. As well as discussing the continuing scale of the needs confronting the south, they also expressed shared concerns for the full implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement.

As well as mutual commitment to a rapid and successful negotiated solution to the Darfur conflict, both also strongly urged the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) leadership to go through with their promise to sign the peace agreement on the 29 November.

Prior to visiting Juba, Holmes had traveled to Agok where he met some of the 30,000 people who fled Abyei when fighting broke out on 14 May. The internally displaced persons stated they need assured security before returning home. Holmes also met the new Administrator and his Deputy and assured them of the continued commitment of the humanitarian community to assisting the displaced and helping them return to their homes as soon as conditions allow. He urged them to promote inter community reconciliation and full implementation of the road map.


The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) investigated reports of aerial attacks by the Government of Sudan from 21 to 22 November in Abu Dangal, South Darfur, and confirmed visible effects of air strikes, including four craters created by bombing and the presence of unexploded ordnance on the ground.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the Secretary-General reiterates his call for all parties to use restraint and renew their commitment to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

The Secretary-General further expresses his disappointment that military activity by the Government continues in Darfur, particularly in light of the 12 November announcement of an immediate ceasefire by the Government.


The Human Rights Council opened a

special session on the Democratic Republic of the Congo earlier today in Geneva.

In her address to the delegates, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay warned that the North Kivu violence is part of a now entrenched pattern fuelled by widespread impunity. The periodic cycles of bloodshed and destruction that have for so long affected the DRC will keep recurring unless the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice, she said.

She added that little will improve unless the illegal exploitation of natural resources, too, is adequately and comprehensively addressed.


The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for eastern DR Congo, Olusegun Obasanjo, has begun another regional visit in search of a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Kivus. Obasanjo arrived this morning in Kinshasa where he was meeting with President Joseph Kabila. He will also visit Goma, the capital of North Kivu, for discussions with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda before meeting with regional leaders.

In North Kivu, the UN Mission (MONUC) reports a number of clashes between rebels led by General Nkunda and the armed PARECO militants. It is unclear if there were any casualties. Nkundas rebels are also reported to have clashed with ethnic Mai-Mai fighters in towns near the Uganda border, causing a displacement of civilians.

The situation is somewhat better in the northern reaches of North Kivu, from where humanitarian agencies report notable improvement and the return of some IDP returns.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has begun the voluntary relocation of some 25,000 internally displaced civilians from the Kibati camp, some 12 kilometers north of Goma, to a secure site away from rebel lines. Some 1,000 IDPs will be transferred today and UNHCR hopes to maintain this pace over the coming week.

UNHCR, meanwhile, says that thousands of

civilians have fled to Uganda in the past two days ahead of a new outburst of violence in North Kivu. The wave of fleeing civilians continues as of today, the agency notes. It estimates that some 13,000 Congolese have reached the Ugandan border town of Ishasha since Tuesday. Some 27,000 Congolese civilians are now believed to have fled into Uganda since August, bringing to 50,000 the total of Congolese refugees in Uganda.


A Security Council mission wrapped up a visit to Afghanistan today urging the country's leaders and its international partners to intensify their efforts in bringing stability and security to the war-torn country while expressing cautious optimism for its future.

Speaking at a press conference, delegation leader Ambassador Giulio Terzi of Italy said Afghanistan was faced with a difficult security situation, but not a security crisis. We should avoid any inclination to disillusion and frustration, he said. This is instead time for Afghans and their international partners to redouble their joint efforts.

The three-day visit included meetings with President Hamid Karzai, Government leaders, parliamentarians, civil society representatives, and members of the international community, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).


The Afghan Opium Survey 2008 released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows that opium has become less important to the Afghan economy due to a decrease in cultivation, production and prices. However, opium finances the Taliban war economy and is a major source of revenue for criminal groups and terrorists.

Opium cultivation in 2008 declined 19% to 157,000 hectares. Production was down by 6% to 7,700 tons. The Survey shows that prices are also down by around 20%. As a result, the value of opium to farmers dropped by more than a quarter between 2007 and 2008, from $1 billion to $730 million. The export value of opium, morphine and heroin (at border prices in neighbouring countries) for Afghan traffickers is also down, from $4 billion in 2007 to $3.4 billion this year.

The area of arable land in Afghanistan used to grow opium dropped from 2.5% to 2.1% between 2007 and 2008, and one million fewer people were involved in opium cultivation this year. The Afghan opium problem is therefore shrinking in size and becoming more concentrated in the south-west of the country where 98% of the opium is grown.

Despite the drop in opium cultivation, production and prices, the Taliban and other anti-government forces are making massive amounts of money from the drug business.


The Secretary-General's High-Level Panel for the 2008 Parliamentary Elections in Bangladesh has been in Dhaka this week to assess the preparations and conduct of the country's upcoming parliamentary elections slated for December.

During its first three days, the team held extensive meetings with various government figures including Chief of Army General Moeen U Ahmed, leader of Awami League Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad (leader of Jatiya party) among others.

The panel, headed by Mr. Francesc Vendrell, former Special Representative in Afghanistan of the European Union, also met with the Election Commission, leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (allied with BNP) and leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party, as well as members of the EU Election Observation Mission.

Highlighting that the developments of the election process look positive, Vendrell said he believes that the elections will be held in the right environment. He reiterates though that the elections should be held without violence and that if observers conclude that elections were conducted in a credible manner, parties should accept the results.

Vendrell is scheduled to brief the press on Saturday in Dhaka to reiterate the Panel's purpose and highlight once again that its purpose is not to observe the elections but to assess the preparation and conduct of the elections.

The Panel will report its key findings and recommendations to the Secretary-General. He had established the High-Level Panel for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in response to a request from the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports total number of cholera cases since the first outbreak on August 18, 2008 stands at 9,908 cases and 412 deaths. This is an increase of 445 cases, and 23 more deaths since 27 November.

Water trucking, sensitization and education programmes, the procurement of emergency medical supplies, construction of latrines and support to health centers are ongoing.

The World Health Organization and its partners were monitoring and responding to the outbreaks and supporting cholera treatment centres in 26 districts. WHO was airlifting emergency stocks of supplies from its warehouse in Dubai and mobilizing additional drugs and supplies. WHO and its partners were working on deployment of a full outbreak investigation and response team, including logisticians, epidemiologists, social mobilization, media management and water/sanitation specialists.


Fifty-five civilians are reported to have died in recent clashes in Mogadishu, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says. The dead include six children.

The fighting has caused yet another exodus from Mogadishu, with families rushing toward the relative safety of UN-assisted camps for the internally displaced on the Afgooye-Mogasishu road, temporary home to some 360,000 people. OCHA says more than 100,000 people have already fled the violence in Mogadishu since September. An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced from the capital this year alone.

Meanwhile, off the coast of Somalia, NATO and Dutch Naval Frigates successfully escorted in three humanitarian vessels from the World Food Programme (WFP) with some 18,730 tons of food.


The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is concerned by the increasing number for Haitian children dying of malnutrition less than two months a wave of tropical storms and hurricanes inflicted massive damage on the island. 27 children are reported dead from malnutrition and more than 60 are now hospitalized in Baie dOrange.

The Mission says that the situation is particularly worrisome in the greater Baie dOrange region where children have been hospitalized with a combination of malaria, respiratory problems and scab, in addition to having all the usual signs of severe malnutrition.


Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by floods following heavy rainfall in the northern Sri Lankan districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Trincomalee, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu during the past few days.

UNHCR will coordinate the distribution of non-food relief items as a soon as assessments have been completed. UNICEF will assist with water and sanitation related items, while WFP will provide dry rations at the request of the local authorities.

Humanitarian agencies report that sufficient stocks of relief items, including food and shelter material, are available in the Jaffna peninsula to help the affected families for the next few days.

In Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, increasing water levels few days have caused floods in some areas. Two to three reservoirs are at risk of overflowing in the area, which poses threats to populations and displaced settlements. Vehicle movement is obstructed by flood water and bad road conditions are also likely to affect the movement of weekly humanitarian convoys.


In research published today in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO), WHO says that adolescents and young adults with HIV are at high risk of treatment failure and of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.

More than half of all new HIV infections in the world now occur in adolescents and young adults, and are acquired predominantly through sexual contact, WHO says.

In a study conducted in Haiti, WHO found that, 12 months after beginning therapy, only 73% of patients were still in medical care (the remainder having died or left therapy); of these; less than half adhered well to antiretroviral treatment, and nearly three-quarters engaged in unsafe sex.


INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) BOARD OPEN DELIBERATIONS: IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei opened a busy Board of Governors meeting today in Vienna, Austria, by addressing issues of technical cooperation, nuclear power, safety and security, and nuclear verification.

FAO HONORS MALAWIS PRESIDENT FOR FOOD INITIATIVES: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yesterday awarded its Agricola Medal to Malawis President Bingu wa Mutharika, for his contribution towards transforming the countrys economy from a state of food deficit to a net exporter of maize. Since 2005, Malawi has succeeded in restoring national food security by increasing access to fertilizers and improved seeds by poor farmers and other vulnerable population groups, FAO say


Saturday, November 29

From today through Tuesday, the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus takes place in Doha, Qatar.

Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Sunday, November 30

Today is the last day of Costa Ricas Security Council presidency.

Monday, December 1

Today is the first day of Croatias Security Council Presidency.

At 10.30 a.m. in Room S-226, Jimmy Kolker, Chief of the HIV and AIDS section at UNICEF; Bertil Lindblad, Director of the UNAIDS Office in New York; Andrey Pirogov, Executive Director of the World Health Organization office in New York; a representative from the U.N. Population Fund; and Joan Laporta, President of the Futbol Club Barcelona, present the Third Stocktaking Report on children and mothers affected by HIV and AIDS.

From today through 12 December, the latest round of U.N.-backed climate change talks takes place in Pozna&#324;, Poland.

In Doha, Qatar, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs is scheduled to launch its World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009 report.

From today through 15 December in Geneva, the Human Rights Council holds its 3rd Universal Periodic Review session.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Coomaraswamy, begins a 12-day visit to Nepal and the Philippines to assess the situation of children in armed conflict, and of child soldiers in particular.

From today through Friday in Rome, Italy, the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals takes place.

Today is World AIDS Day.

Tuesday, December 2

This morning, the General Assembly is scheduled to take up the reports of its First Committee.

At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Neven Jurica, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia and President of the Security Council for December, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.

Wednesday, December 3

Today is the International Day of Disabled Persons. Numerous activities are scheduled at Headquarters, with an opening event at 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room 4.

At 1.30 p.m. in Room S-226, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will be joined by other speakers to brief on the Courts report on the situation in Darfur.

Thursday, December 4

In Geneva, the World Health Organization and UNICEF launch the World report on child injury prevention.

Friday, December 5

The guest at the noon briefing is John Holmes, who will brief on the Central Emergency Response Fund.

Today is the International Volunteer Day for Economic & Social Development.

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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