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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-22

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 22, 2008

SECURITY COUNCIL IS WRAPPING UP DECEMBER PROGRAMME OF WORK

The

Security Council held several meetings this morning. First, it adopted a resolution, extending the mandate of the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by one year.

Council members then voted to renew DRC sanctions until the end of November 2009.

Following that, the Council voted to extend the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi by one year.

The Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on the Great Lakes region and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Specifically, it reiterated its welcome for the Final Peace Agreement negotiated between the Ugandan Government and the LRA. And it agreed with Special Envoy Joaquim Chissanos recommendations that the peace efforts should continue. At the same time, the Council condemned the repeated failure of Joseph Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement. It also strongly condemned recent attacks by the LRA in the DRC and Southern Sudan.

This afternoon, [he Council adopted a resolution extending for a year arrangements for depositing proceeds from oil and gas export sales into the Development Fund for Iraq.]

As of today, there are no other meetings of the Security Council scheduled for 2008.

SPECIAL ENVOY DESCRIBES DR CONGO DIALOGUE AS DIFFICULT BUT ENCOURAGING

The Secretary-Generals special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obansanjo, has formally informed the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alan Doss, of the outcome of the latest round of the Nairobi talks between the DRC government and the CNDP. According to the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Obasanjo has described the dialogue as difficult but encouraging.

A statement from Obsanjos office had earlier said that three procedural documents about the planned substantive talks were discussed in Nairobi. Of these, two documents were adopted while the third one had to be withdrawn to be resubmitted at a more appropriate, future time because of the CNDPs objections to its contents. While some disagreements persist between the parties, both sides have publicly committed to pursuing the Nairobi Dialogue, which is expected to resume on January 7th.

In their conversation this past weekend, Doss told Special Envoy Obasanjo that the UN Mission fully supports his efforts and those of his co-facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa. Doss said the Mission is ready to help any way possible to advance that dialogue.

DR CONGO: MORE THAN 100 ATTACKS ON HUMANITARIAN WORKERS REPORTED

There have been more than 100 reported attacks on humanitarian workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year alone, said John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Holmes strongly condemned the awful tally and appealed to all armed groups operating in that country, including the national army, to ensure the safety of aid workers.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has repeatedly warned that the lack of humanitarian access in the region is cutting off displaced people and other needy Congolese from life-saving assistance. It is also gravely endangering the lives of humanitarian workers. Several key routes are no longer accessible due to widespread insecurity, in particular in Rutshuru territory.

SECRETARY-GENERAL PROPOSES NEXT STEPS ON SOMALIA TO SECURITY COUNCIL

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday sent a letter to the Security Council about the situation in Somalia. Following up on his November report to the Council and his statement of 16 December during the Security Council ministerial meeting on Somalia, the Secretary Generals letter includes a paper that sets out some proposals for the next steps on security and on considerations for a possible peacekeeping option for Somalia.

The Secretary-Generals letter notes the progress made in the Djibouti peace process, but it is of the view that conditions are not as yet ripe for a UN peacekeeping operation. His efforts to mobilize a robust stabilization force have yet to materialize. In the absence of a stabilization force, the options forwarded to the Security Council provide a package of measures such as the strengthening of AMISOM, intensified training of Somali military and police personnel, and the establishment of a maritime force with a quick reaction capacity, aimed at allowing the peace process to grow roots.

UNICEFS FIRST-EVER AIRLIFT ARRIVES IN ZIMBABWE

UNICEF

announced today that its first ever airlift of critical emergency supplies to Zimbabwe has landed in Harare, as Zimbabwe grapples with cholera and a collapsing health system.

The cargo which includes intravenous (IV) fluids, drip equipment, essential drugs, midwifery and obstetric kits will boost the UN Childrens Fund cholera response and aid government to deliver some essential health services to expecting mothers.

UNICEF noted that it is already supplying 70 percent of the countrys essential drugs. The 140 metric tonne consignment provides intravenous and oral re-hydration supplies, which are the first line of treatment in any management of cholera. The supplies also include essential midwifery kits for pregnant women.

More than 1,100 people have already died from cholera and nearly 24,000 cases have been reported in Zimbabwe, UNICEF says.

The situation is worsened by a health crisis characterized by the closure of major hospitals, a critical lack of drugs and equipment, and nurses and doctors not able to come to work. The combined result is the poor management of cholera cases and serious risks to women and children during child birth.

MISSION IN DARFUR RECEIVES ADDITIONAL REINFORCEMENTS

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur reports that it has received 85 members of the Pakistani Engineering Company over the weekend. Another 176 personnel are expected to arrive in Darfur later this week. The total strength of the company when fully deployed will be 335.

The Pakistan contingent will work primarily on the completion of a UNAMID super camp in El Geneina, West Darfur, and will expand other UNAMID camps in Darfur, providing infrastructure and facilities that will allow more peacekeepers to deploy.

Also over the weekend, two groups of the Ethiopian Logistics Unit arrived in Darfur, giving UNAMID a much needed boost in logistical support. The strength of this company when fully deployed will be 300 personnel.

The Ethiopian Unit, which brings additional logistical and engineering capabilities to the Mission in the areas of supply, transport, maintenance and force protection, will work primarily on providing logistical support to the military components in the Sector. Ethiopias contributions to UNAMID include one Infantry Battalion; one transport Company, one Reconnaissance Company, 29 Staff officers and nine Military observers. In addition, another battalion is expected to be deployed in 2009.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES REPORTED RELEASE OF MAURITANIAS PRESIDENT

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General

welcomes reports that President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been released from house arrest.

He also welcomes the removal of other restrictions imposed on him since he was deposed in a coup détat on 6 August 2008.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the prompt restoration of constitutional order in Mauritania in the interest of peace and respect for the rule of law

in the country.

GAZA CROSSINGS REMAIN CLOSED; ELECTRICITY AND WHEAT GRAINS IN SHORT SUPPLY

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that Gazas goods crossings are closed today.

No fuel, humanitarian aid or any other commodities have been able to get into Gaza today. UNSCO also reports that Gazas power plant is still not operating. In addition, due to the shortage of wheat grain, all Gaza mills have been shut down, and more than half of Gazas 47 bread bakeries have had to close.

Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that shortages of drugs and pharmaceuticals in Gaza are continuing to rise. There are now 105 essential drugs out of stock.

For its part, the World Bank

said today in a report that the Palestinian economy has the potential for dramatic growth, even in the midst of the current global recession. But new restrictions are hampering export-oriented growth.

The report adds that an improved international trade route through Jordan would make the West Bank economy much more competitive for exports, particularly to the Arab Gulf.

Meanwhile, the World Bank

said today in a report that the Palestinian economy has the potential for dramatic growth, even in the midst of the current global recession. But new restrictions are hampering export-oriented growth. The report adds that an improved international trade route through Jordan would make the West Bank economy much more competitive for exports, particularly to the Arab Gulf.

Asked about reports that Israel sent a letter to the Secretary-General, saying that it will respond to continuing rocket fire from Gaza upon the expiry of a truce with Hamas, Montas said that Ban Ki-moon has not received the letter. She noted however that the Secretary-General is extremely concerned at statements calling into question the continuation of the Egyptian-brokered calm in and around Gaza.

A major escalation of violence would have grave consequences for the protection of civilians in Israel and Gaza, the welfare of the Gazan civilian population, and the sustainability of political efforts. Montas added, We reiterate the appeal made last week by Special Coordinator Robert Serry, on behalf of the Secretary-General, that the calm should be respected and extended, rocket attacks against Israel must be immediately halted, and all acts of violence must cease.

CYPRIOT LEADERS REAFFIRM THEIR STRONG COMMITMENT TO SETTLEMENT

On Cyprus, the two Cypriot leaders met today in Nicosia under UN auspices. A joint statement by them was read out by the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, following the meeting.

According to that statement, the leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to finding a comprehensive settlement. Noting that progress so far has been insufficient, they stressed that they were resolved to do all in their power to reach a settlement as soon as possible.

In his own remarks to the press today, Downer noted that todays discussions had featured continued talks on external affairs powers. He added that the leaders next meeting will be on 5 January.

U.N. ENVOY ASSESSES HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS IN EASTERN CHAD

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Chad, Victor Angelo, this weekend completed a mission to the eastern region of Dogdore. His goal was to assess humanitarian conditions and discuss the situation with local authorities.

He also met with representatives of the 28,000 internally displaced persons in the region, which has suffered repeated bandit attacks, prompting aid workers to temporarily suspend their work.

Angelo said that the Chadian authorities will soon be deploying gendarmes and nomad guards to the area, in the hope that an improvement in security condition will bring back the aid groups to assist the IDP population.

U.N. CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST NEPAL PUBLISHING HOUSE

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in

Nepal condemned today the attack against staff at Himal Media publishing house in Kathmandu, as an attack against freedom of expression.

Dozens of persons entered the Himal office at mid-day on Sunday, physically assaulting a number of individuals, including the Publisher and CEO.

U.N. Human rights officers followed up the incident in support of investigators from the National Human Rights Commission. The attack is the latest in a series of assaults against the media in Nepal.

OHCHR-Nepal encourages the Nepal Police, which investigated Sundays incident, to complete its investigation as swiftly as possible so charges can be laid. It also urges State authorities to take all steps necessary to ensure that the media has a secure environment in which to do its work.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME TO STEP UP RELIEF EFFORTS ACROSS COLOMBIA

The World Food Programme has

launched an emergency operation in Colombia. Its aimed at helping 30-thousand people throughout the country.

Heavy rain has plagued much of Colombia since September, making this the most destructive rainy season on record, authorities say. The eruption of a volcano in southern Colombia late last month left thousands more people in need of assistance there.

WFP will begin distributions to some 4,500 people along the northern Pacific coast. They will receive non-perishable foods to cover their nutritional needs for the next 40 days.

U.N., CANADA AND NIGER WORKING CLOSELY TO RESOLVE ISSUE OF MISSING ENVOY

Asked about an update in the case of mission special envoy Robert Fowler, the Spokeswoman said that the UN, the Government of Canada and the government of Niger are working in close partnership with each other and regional actors to resolve this case. We are pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information about this case and to secure their safe return.

We will not comment or release any information which may compromise these efforts and endanger the safety of these persons, Montas said. We are in regular touch with the families to provide assistance and support. We ask the media to respect their privacy.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NO COMMENT ON O.S.C.E. WITHDRAWAL FROM GEORGIA: Asked about the UNs reaction to reports that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would be withdrawing its mission to Georgia on 1 January, the Spokesperson declined to comment on the mandate of another international organization and an area, namely South Ossetia, where the UN does not have a mandated peacekeeping or political presence. She added that, as she understood it, the OSCE mandate expires on 31 December, so there is still time for further discussions.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY CONDEMNS KILLING OF ADVOCATE: The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, today

condemned the assassination of a Kirkuk-based woman advocate. He called the reported killing of Calwiz-Nahla Hussein a "heinous crime that underscores the urgent need for addressing the issue of violence against women in Iraq." De Mistura urged all Iraqi authorities, political components and concerned civil society groups to give the issue of protecting women's rights in Iraq, as stated in the constitution, the critical priority it deserves.]

NOT APPROPRIATE TIME TO COMMENT ON BUDGET PROPOSALS: The Spokeswoman, in response to a questions, declined to comment on ongoing deliberations in the General Assembly's Fifth Committee on various aspects of the Secretary-General's budget proposals, saying it would inappropriate to comment on matters still being negotiated.

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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