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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-06
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
GAZA: BAN KI-MOON APPEALS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE
AFTER STRIKES ON U.N. SCHOOLS SHELTERING PALESTINIANS
[Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued in his name following the noon briefing, said: "In the last day, three schools operated by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have been hit by nearby Israeli military strikes. A substantial number of civilians have been killed, particularly in the third strike, and many more have been injured. I am awaiting full confirmation of the details of these incidents.
These, and over 20 other schools, are serving as temporary shelters to over 15,000 Palestinians whose homes have been destroyed or who are fleeing the violence. They are seeking sanctuary in UNRWA schools because they have no other place to go and are not able to flee the Gaza Strip.
In another incident, seven UN staff were injured, three seriously, together with three patients, when a strike on a neighbouring building caused substantial collateral damage to an UNRWA health centre.
The locations of all UN facilities have been communicated to the Israeli authorities and are known to the Israeli army. After earlier strikes, the Israeli government was warned that its operations were endangering UN compounds. I am deeply dismayed that despite these repeated efforts, todays tragedies have ensued. These attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger UN facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated. Equally unacceptable are any actions by militants which endanger the Palestinian civilian population.
Todays events underscore the dangers inherent in the continuation and escalation of this conflict. I call once again for an immediate ceasefire."]
BAN KI-MOON DISCUSSES GAZA SITUATION WITH U.S. PRESIDENT BUSH
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Washington, D.C., where he and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, are having lunch with U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush.
Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General
said that, in his meeting with President Bush, he would stress the importance of bringing the violent situation in
Gaza to an immediate halt, with durable and permanent systems which can be respected fully by all the parties concerned. He said they would also discuss how to bring humanitarian assistance to the civilian population who are suffering from the current situation.
The Secretary-General was speaking after he met with a delegation of Arab foreign ministers and other senior officials here at Headquarters, saying afterward that they had a very good exchange of views on the security situation in Gaza and southern Israel. He said that the meeting provided an excellent and appropriate opportunity to discuss how to bring the violence to an immediate end and restore peace and stability in the region.
The Secretary-General added that the participants at the meeting agreed to discuss a credible mechanism to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people, as well as humanitarian assistance. He believed that there had been a convergence of opinions on the major elements, which can be the basis of the discussions at the Security Council.
Asked about details of the Secretary-Generals meeting with President Bush, the Spokeswoman said that it was a private farewell lunch. The meeting, she said in response to further questions, was planned in advance.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals activities concerning the Middle East, she said that he would also meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon, before speaking at the Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
DOZENS KILLED IN MISSILE STRIKES ON U.N. SCHOOLS IN GAZA
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today called for an investigation into the Israeli shelling of one of its schools in Jabaliya where Palestinians had sought shelter.
John Ging, UNRWAs director of operations in Gaza, said that the school in Jabaliya Camp was being used as a shelter, when three artillery shells landed there. The latest casualty figures, he said, were for some 30 deaths, as well as 55 injured.
In addition, Ging said, there was an earlier missile strike on a school in Gaza City, where three men were killed. Also, this morning, in Bureij camp, a house was targeted near a UN health centre, and 10 people in the health centre were injured in collateral damage.
Ging said that the United Nations has provided GPS coordinates to Israel about all UN locations, including schools, and has updated them recently. He added that militants have not violated the sanctity of UN facilities and that it would be unacceptable for them to do so.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Monday
called for strict adherence to humanitarian principles in the continuing conflict in Gaza, including respect for the universal rights of those fleeing war to seek safety in other states.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP SITUATION IN GAZA AND SOUTHERN ISRAEL
Security Council will hold a formal meeting on the
Middle East at 5:00 this afternoon. The Secretary-General will speak about the latest developments in Gaza and southern Israel at that meeting, which is to be chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Earlier, the Security Council, in closed consultations, agreed on its
programme of work for this month, and on the chairmanship of its bureaux for 2009. It also agreed that Burkina Faso and Mexico will represent the Security Council on the Peacebuilding Commission in 2009.
GUNMEN KILL WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME WORKER IN SOMALIA
The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) has
condemned todays killing of a WFP staff member in southern Somalia. Josette Sheeran urged all parties to the worsening conflict there to protect humanitarian workers.
According to WFP, three masked gunmen shot and killed 44-year-old Somali national Ibrahim Hussein Duale. He was monitoring school feeding at a village in the Gedo region at the time. Witnesses say the gunmen approached Duale while he was seated, ordered him to stand up, and then shot him.
Duale is the third staff member killed in Somalia since last August. He leaves behind a wife and five children. WFP currently feeds more than 1.5 million people in Somalia.
U.N. TEAM VISITS DR CONGO TOWNS WHERE ATTACKS RECENTLY TOOK PLACE
A team from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with other U.N. colleagues, carried out a mission over the weekend to two towns in the Democratic Republic of the Congos Orientale Province, which have seen bloody attacks in recent weeks by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
More than 70 people were killed in the town of Faradje when it was attacked nearly two weeks ago. An estimated 37,000 people were displaced; most of them are still hiding in the bush. According to local sources, the LRA kidnapped 225 people, including 160 children. In addition, more than 80 women were raped.
The town of Nagero was attacked this past Saturday. At least eight people were killed and another 3,500 displaced. The mission said the town had been pillaged and destroyed by fire. More than 800 houses, three schools, government buildings and medical facilities were all burned to the ground.
In addition, UNHCR says it has received sketchy reports of another attack yesterday on the village of Napopo, in which up to eight people were killed and houses set ablaze. An unknown number of people were reportedly kidnapped in that attack.
Asked about reports that Laurent Nkunda had been replaced as head of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations is unable to confirm or deny recent press reports on General Nkunda. She said that the CNDP has informed the U.N. Mission in the DRC (MONUC) that the same CNDP delegation that participated in the talks late last year will be travelling to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the resumed talks with the UN Special Envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo. It is vital that all parties remain committed to these talks as we continue efforts to seek a peaceful settlement, Montas said.
Asked about a letter from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) asking for a meeting with the United Nations, the Spokeswoman noted that LRA leaders had repeatedly failed to show up to sign an agreement under UN auspices last year.
MORE THAN NINE MILLION PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DISPLACED IN CENTRAL AND EAST AFRICA: In a new
report on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Central and East Africa, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, as of last month, there were more than nine million IDPs in that region. Nearly three quarters of them were in the greater Horn of Africa, reflecting the combined internal displacement from crises in Sudan and Somalia. The displacements are triggered mainly by intra-state conflicts and natural disasters or, in many cases, both, the report says. Scarcity of resources, limited access to land, and inconclusive peace and reconciliation processes create multiple challenges. Humanitarian response is often hampered by a lack of access, caused by ongoing conflict or high insecurity, including the targeting of humanitarian workers.
U.N. MISSION IN LIBERIA HANDS OVER RENOVATED SCHOOL: The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has handed over a newly-refurbished nine-classroom school in northern Lofa County for use by the local community. The school, destroyed during the civil crisis, was rehabilitated through UNMILs Quick Impact Projects programme. Four new projects intended to enhance the rule of law have been approved for Lofa County in 2009, including the refurbishment of immigration, corrections and court facilities.
UNITED NATIONS ASSESSES NEEDS OF INDONESIA QUAKE VICTIMS: The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP),
UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) yesterday conducted a joint rapid assessment of areas in Indonesias West Papua Province, hard-hit by a series of earthquakes two days ago. The UN agencies also reviewed what assistance could be provided to local authorities in the affected areas, if required. An estimated 14,000 people who fled their damaged homes or left their houses fearing more earthquakes or aftershocks have sought accommodation in displaced peoples shelters.
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