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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-09

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

.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR COLLECTIVE RESISTANCE TO TERRORISM AT SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE

The

Security Council today is holding a debate on terrorism, which is chaired by Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.

The Secretary-General

opened the meeting by saying that terrorism is a global scourge, and pointing to the attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago as the most recent example of mad, misguided individuals run amok.

The best response to a corrosive, malevolent ideology, he said, is a strong assertion of collective resistance. At the same time, he said, we need to defend the values enshrined in the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the sixtieth anniversary of which we commemorate on Wednesday.

The Secretary-General said that todays meeting takes place just two days before the first anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations offices in Algeria, which took the lives of 17 UN staff and injured some 40 more.

He said that, although the United Nations is becoming more of a target of terrorists, the recent tragedies in which UN staff have been killed have deterred neither our will nor our ability to serve the international community.

Also today, the Secretary-General and the members of the Security Council held their monthly luncheon.

Asked how the Secretary-General would defend human rights in the fight against terrorism, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would be speaking out extensively on the issue of Human Rights when he addresses the General Assembly on Wednesday through a video message and when he speaks at a human rights event in Geneva this Friday for the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Asked about the Security Councils list of individuals and entities linked to terrorist organizations, the Spokeswoman noted that the Council, not the Secretary-General, controls that list.

DIALOGUE BEGINS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND REBEL GROUP IN D.R. CONGO

The Department of Political Affairs confirmed that dialogue between the Congolese Government and the Laurent Nkunda-led rebel group, Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, began today at the UN Nairobi headquarters. The Secretary-General is represented at the talks by his special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Benjamin Mkapa, the former President of Tanzania, is co-facilitating the meeting on behalf of the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

In their opening remarks to the talks, the two envoys urged participants to find a workable solution to the political and humanitarian crisis in eastern

DRC. The talks are expected to continue on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the eastern DRC, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, while the transfer of internally displaced civilians from the Kibati camps to a safer location continues, some 9,000 newly displaced people have arrived in Kibati.

While some displaced civilians are returning to their original homes, the looting of private property was reported from several regions in the past week. Looting also affected five former relief sites for IDPs in Rutshuru, with houses and shelters forcibly emptied and destroyed. According to the

UN Refugee Agency, some 50,000 IDPs across North Kivu cannot be provided for at this time for lack of means.

Asked about the European Unions response to the Secretary-Generals request for additional troops in the DRC, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is waiting to be informed officially by the EU about its decision.

CONFERENCE ON PIRACY AROUND SOMALIA OPENS THIS WEEK

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has confirmed the holding of an international Conference on Piracy around Somalia, on Wednesday and Thursday in Nairobi.

Ould-Abdallah said that a meeting of technical experts, to be held Wednesday, will be followed by a day-long conference at the ministerial level, which will have as keynote speaker President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.

Ould-Abdallah said some 140 officials from 40 countries, regional and international organizations will be attending. He also welcomed the fact that the Conference comes on the same week as the first naval operation carried out by the European Union, known as Operation Atalanta, an anti-piracy task force aimed at protecting ships from pirate attacks off the Somali coast.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES INCLUSIVE POLITICAL DIALOGUE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Secretary-General on Monday

welcomed the convening of the Inclusive Political Dialogue in the Central African Republic, which demonstrates the political will of the Central African stakeholders to give new momentum to the development of their country. He said that the dialogue's inclusive nature has the potential to produce the results which all Central Africans have awaited for a long time.

While conflicts in the sub-region will continue to threaten stability in the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General noted with satisfaction the solidarity and support that regional states have continued to extend to the Central African Republic. The UN system, for its part, will do everything in its power to help implement the recommendations of the Inclusive Political Dialogue.

HIGH-LEVEL DELEGATION ARRIVES IN ZIMBABWE TO ASSIST IN DEALING WITH CHOLERA OUTBREAK

A high-level delegation from the

World Health Organization arrived over the weekend in Harare, headed by Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for WHO's Health Action in Crises cluster. That trip follows a call by Zimbabwes Ministry of Health seeking international assistance to deal with the nations cholera outbreak.

Laroche met with the Zimbabwean Health Minister on Monday and offered WHOs support for coordination of the specific cholera response and the overhaul health interventions.

Today, WHO hosted a meeting of 50 representatives of non-governmental organizations, the UN and Ministry of Health partners. Laroche called for a strong control and command mechanism to be established to lead the containment and response to the outbreak of cholera, as well as to coordinate the activities of the multiple health providers operating in Zimbabwe.

WHO reports that the number of suspected cases of cholera has risen above 15,000 (15,219), and 774 deaths had been recorded since August in two-thirds of the country's 62 districts.

Roughly half of cases have been recorded in Budiriro, a heavily populated suburb on the western outskirts of the capital, Harare. Other major concentrations of reported cholera cases include Beitbridge, on the South African border, and Mudzi, on the border with Mozambique.

WHO cautions that it does not yet know how fully the currently reported numbers reflect the true extent of the outbreak, as reporting from many of the more remote areas of the country is incomplete. WHO and its partners were working on a scenario for an outbreak of 60,000 cases, in order to ensure an adequate response.

U.N. MISSION IN KOSOVO STARTS PHASING OUT POLICE COMPONENT

In response to earlier questions, the Spokeswoman noted that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has now started phasing out its police component, and the EU Rule of Law Mission, known as EULEX, has phased in Kosovo-wide.

This marks the start of EULEX policing throughout Kosovo under the overall authority of the United Nations and within the framework of resolution 1244 -- after nine and a half years of UNMIK policing.

During that time, UNMIK has succeeded in establishing from scratch a local police force that is well respected in Kosovo and in the region.

U.N. TRUCKS CARRYING GOODS ENTER GAZA FROM ISRAEL

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that some goods were able to enter Gaza from Israel today. Those goods included ten trucks of flour for the

World Food Programme.

For its part, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) managed to get in three trucks of tinned meat and three of cooking oil. But this is still not enough, according to UNRWA.

Meanwhile, in New York, UNRWA's annual pledging conference will be held Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. in Conference Room 4. UNRWAs general budget requirements for 2009 amount to nearly $550 million. That sum covers the costs of the Agencys education, health, social support and microfinance services. The Secretary-General has urged Member States to fully fund the budget so that UNRWA can maintain its essential services for 4.6 million registered Palestine refugees.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the blocking of shipments of aid into Gaza, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General, while not commenting on that specific issue, has repeatedly called for an easing of humanitarian aid into Gaza. In particular, she said, he has asked for an opening of the crossing points so that aid can reach the population.

Asked about the situation of Palestinian prisoners, she said that the Secretary-General has called for the release of prisoners.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETING TO BE HELD NEXT WEEK AT UNHQ

In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the

Quartet will be meeting at UN Headquarters on 15 December, in the afternoon. It will be followed by a press conference in Conference Room 4 at 4:00 pm.

The Secretary-General will then host Quartet members and a number of Arab foreign ministers for a discussion, Montas added.

REPORT SAYS HARIRI INVESTIGATION MAKES FURTHER PROGRESS

The latest

report of the International Independent Investigation Commission dealing with Lebanon is available as a document today. In it, Commissioner Daniel Bellemare notes new information that may allow the Commission to link additional individuals to the network that carried out the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. He adds that the Commission has made further findings that help to identify the possible geographic origin of the suicide bomber.

Given that its current mandate expires on 31 December, while the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is on track to begin functioning on 1 March 2009, the Commission requests that the Security Council extend its mandate until the end of February 2009, so that it can continue its investigation without interruption.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY INACTIVITY ON KUWAITI REMAINS

In a new

report, the Secretary-General said that the inactivity on the exhumation and repatriation of the remains of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals in Iraq during the last year is of serious concern.

He is also concerned at the absence of progress with regard to finding the Kuwaiti archives. The Secretary-General stresses the need to translate statements of goodwill into concrete activities to speed up progress on the ground and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1284.

REPORT SAYS FOOD AID NEEDED FOR 8.7 MILLION PEOPLE IN D.P.R.K.

A joint

report released Monday by FAO and the World Food Programme says around 40 percent of the population of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) - an estimated 8.7 million people - mostly young children, pregnant and nursing women and the elderly, will urgently need food assistance because of an expected cereals deficit in the coming months.

The Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission report states that despite favorable climate conditions during the past growing season, the country's agricultural production will not meet basic food needs this year. In the first such comprehensive field assessment mission since 2004, the joint mission visited the DPRK from 9-24 October 2008.

The Chief of the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System said the DPRK will face a severe food situation over the coming months, adding that the prospects for next year are bleak, with a substantial deficit of basic foods that will only partly be covered by commercial imports and anticipated food aid.

UNITED NATIONS LAUNCHES OPERATION BLUE SHIELD IN HAITI

The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has launched Operation Blue Shield in support of an urban security plan floated by the Haitian National Police. The plan aims to reduce crime in urban centers by increasing police presence and nighttime patrols. UN peacekeepers are expected to make up a substantial part of the patrolling force. Peacekeepers will also double the number of mobile checkpoints.

The Mission says Operation Blue Shield comes in response to the staggering rise in acts of banditry, including kidnapping, which have gone up by some 40% in recent months, especially in Port-au-Prince.

HIGH-LEVEL REGIONAL POLICY DIALOGUE OPENS IN INDONESIA

A high-level meeting

kicked off today in Denpasar, Indonesia, aimed at finding strategies to address the impact of the food, energy and financial crises on Asia and the Pacific, in the context of climate change and preventing the triple crises from becoming a development emergency.

The High-level Regional Policy Dialogue on The Food-Fuel Crisis and Climate Change Reshaping the Development Agenda, jointly organized by the Government of Indonesia and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), has attracted a wide-ranging group, including policy-makers, finance experts, climate change specialists, and private sector entrepreneurs.

The two-day event is the first time that the issues of the food, energy and financial crises, and climate change, have been addressed in a comprehensive and integrated manner in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.N. MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST CORRUPTION

Today is the International Day against Corruption. In a

message to mark the day, the Secretary-General notes that greed and corruption are partly to blame for the current global financial crisis.

While this is bad enough, there is another, silent financial crisis that is afflicting the worlds poorest and attracting far less attention: the billions of dollars for health care, schools, clean water and infrastructure that are stolen or lost through bribes and other misdeeds.

The Secretary-General calls for making the UN Convention against Corruption, which entered into force three years ago, the global norm. He asks everyone to do their part to strengthen integrity, play by the rules and turn the tide against corruption.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime is

leading an initiative called Your No Counts, aimed at showing individuals that they are not at the mercy of corruption and often have the power to prevent it.

REPORT: 963 MILLION PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD STILL HUNGRY

According to the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) latest

report, the number of hungry people around the world has risen to 963 million. An additional 40 million people were pushed into hunger this year, mainly because of higher food prices.

Although prices have dropped since earlier this year, they are still 28 per cent higher than they were two years ago, FAO says. Prices for seeds and fertilizers have more than doubled, which means that poor farmers have not been able to increase production.

FAO also warns that lower prices for food, combined with the credit crunch, could force farmers to plant less, which would lead to another round of dramatic increases next year.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN AND PAKISTAN DISCUSS FORMAT AND FUNDING FOR POSSIBLE COMMISSION ON BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: Asked about an inquiry into the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Spokeswoman said that discussions continue between the UN Secretariat and the Pakistani authorities about the format and funding of a possible commission.

LIBERIAN PRESIDENT AWARDED FOR EFFORTS IN FOOD SECURITY: Over the weekend, FAO

awarded its Ceres Medal to Liberias President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in honour of her outstanding contribution to food security and agricultural development. In conferring the medal, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf noted President Johnson-Sirleafs determination to invest in agriculture, despite the current international financial crisis.

U.N. LAUNCHES SURVEY OF ON SLAVERY: UNESCO has

launched its first-ever survey of historical and contemporary slavery. Entitled Unfinished Business, the project is a comparative analysis of historical slave systems and modern forms of human bondage.

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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