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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-07

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON MIDDLE EAST ENTERS SECOND DAY

The

Security Council this morning resumed its formal meeting on the

Middle East, which began yesterday afternoon with an open debate on the recent fighting in Gaza and southern Israel. At 3:00 this afternoon, the Security Council has scheduled consultations on the Middle East.

Speaking to the Security Council yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger UN facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable, and should not be repeated. Equally unacceptable, he said, are any actions by Hamas militants which endanger the Palestinian civilian population.

The attacks on UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools yesterday underscore the dangers inherent in the continuation and escalation of this conflict, and the Secretary-General called once again for an immediate ceasefire.

The Secretary-General

told the Security Council that he intends to travel next week to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and to regional capitals. But he added that he does not believe we can wait until then to end the violence.

There must be an immediate ceasefire, durable and respected fully by all sides, he said. Immediate humanitarian measures, including open crossings for humanitarian assistance, should be ensured. In addition, viable international mechanisms will be required to ensure that borders are properly functioning. And Gaza's enormous social relief and reconstruction needs will need to be addressed.

The Secretary-General has been actively engaged with regional and world leaders to bring the violence to a speedy end. Yesterday, he met with President George W. Bush in Washington and stressed the importance of acting immediately, and he also spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN BREATHING SPACE IN GAZA

Despite continuing insecurity, the

World Food Programme has succeeded in delivering food assistance to more than 50,000 people since the latest hostilities erupted on 27 December. Another 15,000 people have been provided with bread, while canned meat and high-energy biscuits have been delivered to 13 Gaza hospitals, sufficient for 6,000 patients and staff for up to one month.

WFP is calling for all parties to allow a humanitarian breathing space to allow it to carry out an assessment of the needs of the most vulnerable people in Gaza and to resume full-scale distributions. In this context, WFP welcomes the Israeli announcement of a three-hour daily ceasefire from today, as a first step.

Meanwhile, the

UN Relief and Works Agency has been seeking support for its appeal to deal with the military action in Gaza. Conservative estimates suggest that UNRWA needs an additional $35 million to meet the immediate needs of Gazas population.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy also

expressed grave concern over the attacks against UNRWA schools and associated facilities set up by the UN as places of refuge for civilians fleeing the fighting in Gaza.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO HOLD SPECIAL SESSION ON THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

The

Human Rights Council in Geneva has announced that it will hold a special session this Friday, to address the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip.

The session was requested by: Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group and the African Group; Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; and Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will address Fridays meeting; representatives of UN agencies working in the region, States and observers of the Council, and the countries concerned will also speak.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES U.S. COMMITMENT TO AIRLIFT RWANDAN EQUIPMENT TO DARFUR

The Secretary-General conveyed to President Bush his warm

welcome of the most recent commitment by the United States to airlift to Darfur critical equipment required by

UNAMID (African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur).

The expedited arrival to Darfur of this material, which includes trucks and other essential equipment, will strengthen the ability of the United Nations to protect civilians and carry out other aspects of its mandate.

This initiative sets a constructive precedent for broad international support to expeditiously deploy UNAMID, and the Secretary-General calls upon other Member States to seriously consider undertaking similar efforts to expedite the full deployment of UNAMID.

BAN KI-MOON DISCUSSES ABYEI AND DARFUR WITH SUDANESE FIRST VICE PRESIDENT

The Secretary General spoke yesterday in Washington, D.C., with First Vice-President of

Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir. They discussed the implementation of existing agreements: the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Abyei Roadmap. They exchanged views on the situation in Eastern Sudan and the activities of the Lords Resistance Army in the area, as well as recent events in Abyei.

The Secretary-General expressed his concern over the deployment of forces, by both sides, just North and South of the Abyei area outlined in the agreement.

On Darfur, the Secretary-General affirmed we must make progress as a matter of urgency, especially if the people of Darfur are to participate and be represented in the national elections in 2009. Vice President Kiir and the Secretary General also discussed the possible impact of indictments by the

International Criminal Court on peace and stability in Sudan.

NAIROBI TALKS ON THE EASTERN DR CONGO RESUME, MOVING INTO SUBSTANTIVE DISCUSSIONS

The Third Session of the Nairobi Dialogue on the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between the DRC Government and the Congrès National pour la Défense du People (CNDP) resumed in Nairobi earlier today.

The talks have now progressed into substantive discussions.

The day began with the Co-Mediator, former President Benjamin Mkapa, chairing the session in the absence of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the Great Lakes region, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is engaged in consultations in the region.

Mkapa told the meeting that consultations are well underway to see if a Summit of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region can be held by the middle of this month so they can get an update on what progress has been made, what obstacles lie in the way and what possible future actions to take.

He went on to say that it will also be critical to reach an understanding concerning a formal and joint cessation of hostilities, or truce, in order to alleviate the human suffering that continues in the areas affected by the conflict.

BAN KI-MOON NAMES WESTERN SAHARA ENVOY AND HEAD OF SIERRA LEONE PEACE-BUILDING OFFICE

The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Christopher Ross of the United States as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and Michael von der Schulenburg as his Executive Representative for the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Mr. Ross will replace Mr. Peter van Walsum. Mr. von der Schulenburg will replace Mr. Victor Da Silva Angelo.

Mr. Ross will work with the parties, and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council Resolution 1813 and previous resolutions, building on progress made to date, in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Mr. Ross comes to this assignment following a long and distinguished career with the US State Department in which he focused especially on Middle Eastern and North African affairs. He is a former United States Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, and was most recently Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Mission to the United Nations.

Mr. Michael von der Schulenburg is currently Acting Executive Representative for the UN office in Sierra Leone. He accumulated a wide range of professional experience that covers virtually all aspects of UN activities from development assistance to humanitarian aid and managerial reforms, and from combating illicit drug trafficking to conflict resolution and political affairs.

His long and distinguished career with the United Nations includes serving in various challenging positions, many of the worlds trouble spots. In addition to holding various senior positions at headquarters, he served mostly in field assignments. These include long-term assignments in Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq.

UNICEF LAUNCHES HISTORIC VACCINATION CAMPAIGN IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

UNICEF is currently undertaking a 10-day vaccination and disease prevention campaign in the Central African Republic. The campaign, which is the largest in the countrys history, is aimed at addressing three of the leading causes of preventable death among children: malaria, measles, and diarrhea caused by improper hygiene.

Approximately 800,000 children under the age of five will be vaccinated for measles. They will also receive free bars of soap to help prevent diarrhoea, along with a treated mosquito net to eliminate malaria.

Preparations for the campaign took nearly year, including pre-positioning equipment throughout the country, training more than 1,750 health volunteers and identifying nearly 900 sites where vaccinations will take place, UNICEF says.

UNITED NATIONS. HELPED RESETTLE MORE THAN 8,000 BHUTANESE REFUGEES IN 2008

The U.N. Refugee Agency today

announced that in 2008, over 8,000 refugees from Bhutan have left their camps in Nepal for resettlement countries.

The United States which announced that it would resettle 60,000 refugees, and even more if needed, received the largest numbers so far, of nearly 7,600.

Since the start of the resettlement programme in November 2007, more than half of the refugee population equaling over 60,000 people have already expressed their interest for resettlement.

UNHCR continues to ensure that refugees are able to make a free and informed decision regarding solutions.

Some 16 to 18,000 refugees are expected to leave Nepal in 2009 while there are some 103,000 refugees from Bhutan living in 7 camps in eastern Nepal. Some have been in exile for as long as 18 years.

UNITED NATIONS URGES NEPAL TO END PRACTICE OF SENDING YOUNG GIRLS TO WORK IN PRIVATE HOMES

The United Nations has

urged Nepal to end the practice of sending young girls from indigenous families to work in private homes, where they risk being exploited, and to ensure justice for those who have been abused as well as search for those who have gone missing.

The practice is outlawed in Nepal, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal said in a news release issued in the capital, Kathmandu. However, no concrete steps have been taken to end the practice, and adolescent girls from poor Tharu families continue to be subjected to it, the Office added.

  • *The guests at noon were Robert Serry, U.N.

    Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for

    Humanitarian Affairs and U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator; and John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the U.N. Refugee and Works

    Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (via videolink), who briefed on the situation in Gaza.

    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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