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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-16

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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









Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Tomorrow at 11 a.m., the Secretary-General will hold a year-end press conference.

There will be no noon briefing tomorrow.


The Security Council adopted Tuesday afternoon a resolution declaring its support for the negotiations initiated at Annapolis, Maryland, last year and its commitment to the irreversibility of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The resolution was adopted by 14 votes in favor and one abstention.

Speaking at that meeting before the vote, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

said that, although we still face many hurdles, a serious process is underway, and we must ensure that what has been started is seen all the way through to its conclusion. As we enter 2009, he said, we must stabilize the situation on the ground and ensure that all tracks of the peace process are intensified.

Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General had read out the latest statement by the Quartet dealing with the negotiations, adding that efforts to advance the negotiations have been tireless, and are continuing. He said that we look forward to working closely from the outset with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to achieve the goal of a two-State solution and comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.

The Quartet reaffirmed support for the bilateral, comprehensive, direct, uninterrupted, confidential and ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and commended Israel and the Palestinians for their continuous efforts to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues without exception.

The Quartet called on all States to demonstrate their support for the Annapolis process and their commitment to the two-state solution by contributing to an environment conducive to an end to the conflict.

Meanwhile, the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process informs us that the movement of goods into Gaza at the crossing points was limited today, as crossings closed earlier than scheduled because of the firing of rockets from Gaza towards Israel. A total of 49 truckloads, including 17 for humanitarian aid agencies, were allowed entry into Gaza today. Limited fuel was supplied from Israel to the Gaza power plant, meaning that some power was able to be supplied to Gaza city, reducing power cuts,

UNSCO adds.


This afternoon at 3:00, the Security Council will hold a formal meeting to consider a draft resolution concerning efforts to deal with piracy and armed robbery in the waters off the coast of Somalia.

The Secretary-General expects to address Council members at that meeting.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime today put forward

several proposals to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa region.

Asked about the actions taken by Kenya against the President of Somalia, the Spokeswoman noted the Secretary-Generals concerns about signs of a split within Somalias Transitional Federal Government, adding that the United Nations was monitoring the situation.


Asked about the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Niger, Robert Fowler, who was reported as missing in that country, the Spokeswoman said that Fowler had undertaken two exploratory visits to the region in his capacity as Special Envoy.

By appointing Fowler, she said, the Secretary-General wanted to ensure that the United Nations remained engaged in supporting efforts of the Government and people of Niger in addressing various challenges to the countrys stability.

He has visited Niger on a number of occasions previously to consult with Government and other national actors on issues of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

Fowler arrived on 11 December during this current trip.

Asked why Fowlers appointment as Special Envoy had not been announced, Montas said that, given that the assignment was exploratory in nature, any public announcement would have prejudiced the evolution of the Special Envoys mission. She added that the Government of Niger was informed in July of this appointment, as is customary of good offices appointments. His contract, she added, allows for him to be paid for days when he is actually employed.

She added that not all good offices missions are announced before any results are achieved.

Asked why he was selected for the job, Montas noted Fowlers record as a respected diplomat with longtime experience at the United Nations.

Asked about his whereabouts, the Spokeswoman said that Fowler had been traveling with a Canadian aide and a UNDP driver, in a marked UNDP vehicle, about 45 kilometers from the capital, Niamey, when all three disappeared. There has not been any solid information on his whereabouts, she said.

She added, in response to further questions about whether he had been taken hostage, that there has been no solid information on that; rather, there have been contradictory messages on the Internet, which are currently being studied. Those messages would need to be evaluated before any further comment is made, Montas said.

Asked whether Canada had been informed of Fowlers travels, she said that the Governments of Niger and Canada had been provided with information.


The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council yesterday afternoon that we continue to witness a failure of the leadership in Zimbabwe to address the political, economic, human rights and humanitarian crisis that is confronting the country and to do what is best for the people of Zimbabwe.

He also deplored the fact that "neither the (Harare) government nor the mediator (the Southern African Development Community or SADC) welcomes a United Nations political role.

This clearly limits our ability to effectively help find immediate remedies to this crisis," he said.

The lack of progress on the political front is accompanied by a dramatic deterioration in living conditions and of the humanitarian situation, the Secretary-General noted.

He urged all parties to put the interests of the people of Zimbabwe first and to make all the compromises necessary for a workable political solution to emerge in the coming days.

The people of Zimbabwe cannot afford to wait any longer, he said.

Regarding the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization today said it hoped to inaugurate this week a

Cholera Command Control Centre to properly coordinate the different activities regarding the cholera outbreak and to better identify where the cases were emerging and to better respond to them.


The African Union-United Nations operation (UNAMID) in Darfur reports today that it is dispatching an assessment mission following the reported tribal clashes in South Darfur.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports that a group of 97 Sudanese refugees, mainly from Darfur, who have been stranded in a makeshift camp in the desert in Iraq since 2005, left this morning for Amman, Jordan, from where they are scheduled to fly to Romania. In Romania they will be housed in a new Emergency Transit Centre while they wait for their resettlement applications to be processed.

The refugees suffered abuse, blackmail, eviction and assaults by militias in Iraq. A total of 17 Sudanese were killed between December 2004 and February 2005.

Because of this targeting by the insurgent groups, the refugees tried to flee Iraq but were not successful. They became stranded in a camp east of the Jordan/Iraq border. Here they were subject to severe weather conditions and harassment by militias. UNHCR has delivered humanitarian aid to the group, which includes women and children, while trying to find a durable solution for them.


The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is

saddened by the shooting death yesterday in North Kivu of a Congolese worker for the Voluntary Association for International Service. UNHCR says armed men ambushed the vehicle carrying a number of the relief agencys staff and opened fire on it. The incident took place outside Rutshuru, a town near the provincial capital of Goma. The Voluntary Association for International Service has been helping Congolese civilians since 2002 and has lately focused on the plight of children in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

UNHCR has also voiced concern at reports from Rutshuru that Laurent Nkunda's rebels are coercing displaced civilians to return to their villages. The more than 10,000 displaced civilians have been staying in a makeshift camp near a UN peacekeeping base. They have said that they are seeking UN protection because they fear reprisals if they return to their homes at this time.

Meanwhile, Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, has

returned from his first trip to Dungu, a town in Orientale Province, where repeated raids by the Lords Resistance Army have displaced tens of thousands of civilians. Doss said he was in Dungu in a show of solidarity with the people of the region. He strongly condemned killings perpetrated by the LRA, which he called an organization that has no reason to exist and must be brought to justice.


High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today criticized Israels refusal to allow UN expert Professor Richard Falk to transit Israel in order to carry out his officially mandated functions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

She called the situation -- along with his detention at, and subsequent expulsion from, the countrys main airport -- unprecedented and deeply regrettable.

Falk was travelling in his official capacity as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He was stopped at immigration shortly after arriving Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport.

He remained there for more than 20 hours before being deported to the U.S., according to OHCHR. The Office adds that Professor Falk followed standard practice in his travels.

Pillay said she was taking the matter up directly with the Israeli authorities, including possible breaches of UN privileges and immunities.

Asked whether Falk had followed standard procedure, the Spokeswoman referred to the statement by Pillay, which indicated that he had done so. She noted that the Secretary-General had expressed his own concerns about Falks treatment on Monday.


The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer today spoke to the press, following the meeting of Cyprus leaders in the U.N. Protected Area of Nicosia.

He said that todays meeting discussed external relations and the powers of a federal government. Downer added that the next agenda item is the hierarchy of norms, or the relationship between the laws of the constituent states and the federal government. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 22nd.


WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME APPEALS FOR HUMAN RESCUE AMID FINANCIAL RESCUE SCHEMES: The head of the World Food Programme today urged countries to allocate a small fraction of their proposed financial rescue packages to meeting the worlds urgent hunger needs. WFP hopes to feed nearly 100 million people in 2009, and will begin in the new year needing more than $5.2 billion for urgent hunger needs.

IKEA STORES DONATE TO UNICEF: As part of an annual

campaign, UNICEF is benefiting from holiday sales of soft toys at IKEA. The department store chain is donating one euro for each toy sold through 24 December. The funds will be used to finance education projects run by UNICEF and Save the Children.

DISASTER ASSESSMENT TEAM EN ROUTE TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is sending today a six-member U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team in support of the UN country team in Papua New Guinea. On 8 December, rising sea levels hit the northern shoreline of Papua New Guinea, affecting eight provinces across the pacific island. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people have been affected.

BAN KI-MOON HAS NO IMMEDIATE PLANS TO VISIT MYANMAR: Asked whether the Secretary-General had decided to visit Myanmar, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General had made clear that he would have to have an indication that a visit would be productive before he decides to go. Asked whether his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, would visit the country, she said that Gambari is in touch with number of people in the region but has no immediate plans to visit Myanmar.

CONDITIONS IN HAITI REMAIN DIRE: Asked about the UN's reaction to a decision by US authorities to start once more to repatriate Haitian illegal immigrants, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations still believes that the situation in Haiti remains dire following the recent hurricanes that have devastated the island.

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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