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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-15

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET IS MEETING TODAY AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be hosting a meeting of the Middle East Quartet this afternoon here at Headquarters.

Attending will be U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, European Union High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Bettina Ferrero-Waldner. As of now, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the EU Presidency, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair are scheduled to participate by video-link.

The focus of the meeting will be the ongoing political process, including the Annapolis process, as well as developments in Gaza.

Following the meeting, at 4:00 p.m., there will be a press conference featuring the principals.

And after that, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the Secretary-General will meet with Quartet members and a number of Arab Foreign Ministers.

Asked whether the Quartet simply allows Israel to expand its presence while Palestinian rights are denied, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General disagrees with such an assessment and believes that the Quartet is a useful body.

MAIN GAZA POWER PLANT IS SHUT DOWN

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Gaza power plant, which supplies a portion of the territory's needs, has been turned off by the company in charge there. The decision was taken following the closure of all goods crossings yesterday. The company in charge says it made the move to avoid damage that might occur due to frequent switchings on and off, as a result of unreliable supply routes.

A series of rolling blackouts has been occurring throughout the Gaza Strip since yesterday evening - ranging from 12 hours a day in some areas to 4 hours a day in others.

UNSCO also reports that 81 truckloads of materials did pass from Israel into Gaza today, including 20 truckloads for humanitarian aid agencies. Those contained flour, milk, medicine, and other items for UN agencies and others.

In related news,

imams and rabbis from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as many other countries, are currently meeting at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to launch new initiatives to help build peace in the Middle East.

BAN KI-MOON REGRETS THAT HUMAN RIGHTS RAPPORTEUR WAS DENIED ENTRY INTO ISRAEL

In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed that, on 13 December, Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 travelled on an official mission to the occupied territories.

She said that he was denied entry to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport, detained for several hours and expelled the following morning. He was separated from his accompanying UN staff.

The Special Rapporteur is duly mandated by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the OPT, and the Israeli authorities were notified of his planned visit as per usual practice.

The Secretary-General regrets that Mr. Falk was denied entry and urges the Israeli authorities to fully cooperate with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, Montas said.

BAN KI-MOON CHAIRS MEETING OF U.N. FOOD TASK FORCE

The United Nations Secretary General

chaired the sixth meeting of his High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis on the morning of December 15th 2008 in New York.

The Task Force agreed on its programme of work for 2009, with a focus on reducing hunger, promoting food security and intensifying small-scale agriculture in countries that need and request assistance. The Secretary-General also announced that he has agreed with Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain to co-chair a high-level meeting on Food Security for All in Madrid on 26-27 January 2009 to gather governments, private entities and civil society groups and examine progress on improvements in food security, define a road map for the future and tackle hunger more effectively.

The Secretary-General also welcomed the follow-up to the proposals made by several heads of government at the "High Level Conference on World Food Security" in Rome last June to establish a global partnership for agriculture and food security. He acknowledged the contribution of the G8, under the presidency of the Government of Japan, to support the evolution of this partnership.

The Secretary-General announced that given the high demands on John Holmes in his role as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, he has asked David Nabarro to assume the role of Task Force Coordinator as of 1 January 2009.

The Principal Hub for the Coordination Secretariat will be in Rome, within the premises of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Dr Nabarro will also continue in his role as Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza.

BAN KI-MOON TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL IN PRIVATE MEETING ON ZIMBABWE

Secretary-General will brief the Security Council in a private meeting at 2:00 this afternoon on peace and security in Africa. He will discuss the latest developments in Zimbabwe.

The Council this morning heard briefings from the chairmen of its subsidiary bodies. Then, later this afternoon, it intends to hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On Saturday, the Security Council held consultations during which Council members received a draft resolution on the Middle East. The Council expects to consider that draft resolution in a formal meeting tomorrow.

THOUSANDS OF CHOLERA CASES SUSPECTED ALL ACROSS ZIMBABWE

The number of suspected

cholera cases has risen above 18,000 (18, 413) with 978 deaths reported.

The cholera outbreak is now affecting nine out of ten provinces in the country and spilling across borders into South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique. However 50% of the cases are in one suburb of Harare and a further 26% in a town on the border with South Africa.

The death rate in Zimbabwe at this point is 5.3 percent of all cases, which WHO characterizes as high. For the epidemic to be considered under control, the death rate had to be under 1 per cent.

The main problems are the lack of adequate clean water, exacerbated by recent interruptions in the supply, overcrowding, and lack of capacity to dispose of solid waste and repair sewage blockages in most areas.

A comprehensive cholera response operation plan has been drawn up by the World Health Organization and WHO is in the process of procuring and distributing emergency stocks of supplies to run the centers.

The government has accepted the plan and has also declared a state of emergency.

SOMALIA CONTACT GROUP TO MEET TUESDAY IN NEW YORK;

EUROPEAN SHIPS BEGIN HUMANITARIAN ESCORT ROLE

The UN Political Office on Somalia (UNPOS) has confirmed that the International Contact Group on Somalia will meet here at UN Headquarters tomorrow, December 16th. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said that US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, is expected to attend the meeting along with other ministerial-level officials. He says that the meeting will cover the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia, including political cooperation, human rights, piracy and reconstruction and development.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, has

thanked the European Union for providing naval escorts against piracy for its humanitarian cargoes. The first of the escorted WFP ships is already en route to Somalia with enough food aid to assist some 50,000 people a month. The EU force will provide escort vessels to WFP for up to a year.

Somalias humanitarian situation has worsened in the later half of 2008 more than 3 million people in dire need of assistance. WFP this year alone shipped to Somalia 260,000 tons of food, already three times what it shipped in 2007 and eight time its 2005 shipments.

Asked about a UN response to Indias arrest of pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Spokeswoman noted that the Security Council would deal with the issue of Somalia piracy on Tuesday.

GREAT LAKES REGION: ENVOY ON GENOCIDE COMPLETES VISIT

Francis Deng, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on the prevention of genocide, has returned from a 12-day mission to the Great Lakes region.

In the DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, Deng met with UN and government officials, civil society, the clergy and victims of large-scale human rights violations. Members of his delegation also traveled to Burundi for similar meetings, while Deng himself met with leaders of some of the largest armed groups in eastern DRC.

He says his office is assessing whether the continued violence and massive human rights abuses in North Kivu could amount violations of the Genocide Convention.

The UN Mission (MONUC), meanwhile, says that more than 90% of UN peacekeepers in the DRC are now deployed across the restive northeastern provinces. The security situation in those provinces is now calm as some 6200 UN troops patrol North Kivu, with 1000 troops in Goma alone.

Another 3,500 peacekeepers are dispersed across South Kivu while 3,800 patrol Ituri. The remaining troops are working in the rest of country, including Kinshasa.

Asked about a three-nation operation launched against the Lords Resistance Army in the eastern Congo, the Spokeswoman said that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has not been involved in the planning and implementation of these joint operations. However, the mission has been supporting the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) with logistics, such as transport, water and food, for the containment operation which the Congolese Armed Forces were conducting prior to this new operation by the regional forces. MONUC has also helped consolidate and widen the airfield at Dungu, which serves as operational bridgehead for the FARDC and Ugandan troops, she said.

AFGHANISTAN ENVOY STRONGLY CONDEMNS TALIBANS USE OF A CHILD AS SUICIDE BOMBER

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, over the weekend strongly condemned an attack where a young boy was allegedly used as a suicide bomber against British forces in the province of Helmand. He said that the killing of three marines by a 13-year old boy again demonstrates the Taliban's total disrespect for human rights.

Such unscrupulous use of children cannot be justified under any circumstances, Eide said. The Taliban and all others who use children in warfare must cease doing so, and the rights of children in Afghanistan must be fully protected.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL WRAPS UP THIRD SESSION OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The

Human Rights Councils Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group concluded its third session in Geneva today.

During this session, it reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations of 16 States.

Those States were: Botswana, the Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan and Tuvalu.

The Working Groups next session will take place from 2 to 13 February 2009. At that time, the following States human rights records will be reviewed: Germany, Djibouti, Canada, Bangladesh, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, Jordan and Malaysia.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS AGAINST BACKSLIDING ON DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro this morning addressed the General Assembly during which she said that the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has been inspiring.

But she urges Member States to not go back on the promises made. This is a time to come together, she said. We should use every opportunity in 2009 to ensure that these trying times do not distract us from our commonly shared goals, particularly the goal of pursuing peace and prosperity for all.

RELIEF AID STILL NEEDED IN POST-CYCLONE MYANMAR: A comprehensive field assessment endorsed today by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) on Myanmar shows that relief assistance to the Cyclone Nargis affected people continues to be urgently needed, even as recovery efforts have commenced. The Periodic Review is an overview of the humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts in the Cyclone-affected areas while also producing sectoral data for use in the planning of continued assistance. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Bishow Parajuli, highlighted that there are chronic needs in food, security and nutrition and the international community needs to increase the support particularly in the western delta. The endorsement of the first of three such Periodic Reviews coincides with the 200-day mark since the formation of the TCG.

POTATO PRODUCTION COULD FALTER DURING GLOBAL RECESSION: The Food and Agriculture Organization warns that

potato production in the developing world could falter as the global economic slowdown reduces investment, trade and farmers' access to credit. The threat comes at a time when potatoes have become an important staple food and a lucrative cash crop in many developing countries. Drawing on the most recent FAO statistics, the report shows that potato is the world's number one non-cereal food crop, with total production at a record 325 million tons in 2007, most of it harvested in developing countries.

  • ** The guest at the noon briefing today was Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who briefed on her recent trip to Nepal and the Philippines.***

    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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