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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-23

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

GUINEA: BAN KI-MOON STRESSES NEED FOR PEACEFUL AND DEMOCRATIC TRANSFER OF POWER

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has learned of the death of the President of the Republic of Guinea, General Lansana Conté. He wishes to extend his sincere

condolences and respect to the family of the late President and to the Government and people of Guinea as a whole.

He acknowledges President Contés long-standing commitment to the maintenance of peace and unity in Guinea and to the promotion of stability and regional cooperation in the Mano River Basin. He commends, in particular, Guineas generosity in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries.

At this time of transition in Guinea, the Secretary-General stresses the need for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power, in accordance with the Constitution. He calls for calm and urges the armed forces and all stakeholders to respect the democratic process.

D.R. CONGO: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS ON HIGH ALERT AMID REPORTS OF REBEL BUILD-UPS

The UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says there is mounting evidence of a buildup along key roads by rebels from Laurent Nkundas Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP). Peacekeeping bases in Masisi territory have been placed on high alert, and peacekeepers are now conducting additional patrols in strategic areas in the region.

MONUC is also concerned about a reported clash today between the CNDP and ethnic Mai Mai forces.

It calls on all armed groups to cease any and all build-up and movement of troops likely to inflame the situation and cause new displacement of civilians.

MONUC also urges all parties to refrain from threats or the use of force.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

says it remains concerned about the safety of hundreds of families in villages around the town of Dungu in the Orientale Province of the DRC. Among these civilians are many elderly and some disabled people, who are unable to make their way to safety as a massive military operation against the Lords Resistance Army is underway in the region, according to UNHCR.

The agency reports that a convoy carrying 23 tons of aid has reached Dungu after an 11-day trip across the DRC. The aid delivery includes jerry cans, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting, among other items, that UNHCR and UNICEF plan to hand out to some 9,000 people.

CHOLERA NOW AFFECTS ALL PROVINCES OF ZIMBABWE

Earlier today, the UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe, Roeland Monasch, briefed reporters in Geneva by telephone from Harare on the cholera situation in Zimbabwe.

The outbreak is not under control, he said. Since the last UN figures were published, there have been almost three thousand new cases, bringing the total to 23,712 cases. The number of deaths has also risen to 1,174.

The disease now affects all provinces in Zimbabwe, with half the cases in Harare. There continue to be staffing issues at cholera treatment centres, as many medics are going without salaries and cannot show up to work. Only a handful of professionals are staffing clinics, where several dozen are needed.

UNICEF is providing 700,000 litres of clean water a day, and even digging boreholes in urban areas. It is also procuring 4,000 tons of water treatment chemicals for urban areas.

DARFUR: NEW PERSONNEL FROM ETHIOPIA ARRIVE IN PEACEKEEPING OPERATION

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that it has received 45 members of the Ethiopian Medium Transport Company in West Darfur. The remaining 80 personnel are expected to arrive later this week.

The Ethiopian company will primarily support the distribution of cargo between sector logistics bases, the movement of bulk cargo, including water and fuel tankers, and provide transport capabilities.

Ethiopias contribution to UNAMID includes an Ethiopian Engineering unit, one Infantry Battalion and one Multi-Role Logistics Company,

United Nations Security Council resolution 1769 (2007) authorized UNAMID to have a strength of up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 military observers and liaison officers.

Todays deployment brings the total number of UNAMID military personnel in Darfur to 12,242, bringing the total percentage of military personnel in Darfur to just over 60 percent.

CHILDREN NEED SAFER SCHOOLS

UNICEF today

called for more concerted action to make schools safe for children. This comes after a string of school collapses in 2008, resulting from natural disasters and poor construction.

In China, Mays devastating earthquake damaged more than 40 per cent of the schools in Sichuan Province. In Myanmar, more than 4,000 schools still need to be repaired or rebuilt following Cyclone Nargis.

In Haiti, more than 1,000 schools were damaged by hurricanes and tropical storms, while more than 90 children and teachers perished in November, when their poorly constructed school collapsed.

Schools are unlikely to topple when natural disasters strike if they have a strong structural design, their construction is closely monitored, and they undergo regular maintenance, UNICEF notes.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS WORKING TO RESOLVE ISSUE OF MISSING ENVOY: Asked about details of the case of special envoy Robert Fowler, the Deputy Spokeswoman reiterated that the United Nations, the Government of Canada and the government of Niger are working in close partnership with each other and regional actors to resolve this case and were pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information about this case and to secure their safe return. She went on to say that the United Nations will not comment or release any information which may compromise these efforts and endanger the safety of these persons, and that the United Nations was in regular touch with the families to provide assistance and support.

DISASTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM GROWS: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

reports that disasters related to extreme weather events dominated the work of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams in 2008. OCHA adds that 67 Member States have now joined the UNDAC system, which ensures that more trained disaster managers can be made available to the international community. Since its inception in 1993, UNDAC members have carried out 183 missions.

NEW MEMORANDUM TO STRENGTHEN CHILD PROTECTION IN SUDAN: UNICEF today

welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between itself and the Sudan Armed Forces and National Council for Child Welfare as an important commitment to strengthen the effective protection of children in Sudan. This is considered a remarkable step forward and a significant commitment in implementation of the International and Regional Treaties and Conventions in Sudan related to children, according to UNICEF.

PHILIPPINES: U.N. AGENCIES HELP INVESTIGATE VIRUS SEEN IN PIGS: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are

helping the Government of the Philippines investigate the discovery of the Ebola-Reston virus for the first time in pigs. While this particular strain of Ebola can affect humans, no serious illness or deaths among people have been reported to date. WHO and FAO are helping with field and laboratory investigations, to track down the source of the virus and how its transmitted. Until these questions can be answered, the agencies are stressing the importance of good hygiene and food handling measures.

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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