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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-12
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, January 12, 2009
BAN KI-MOON TO EMBARK ON MAJOR MIDDLE EAST TRIP
On his upcoming trip to the Middle East, the Secretary-General, in Cairo on Wednesday, is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as well as the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, and the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. He will then meet with Jordanian King Abdullah Bin al-Hussein in Amman. Next Thursday, the Secretary-General will be in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with meetings scheduled with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The Secretary-General will then visit Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. He will also briefly travel to Turkey to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He will then move on to Beirut to meet Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and speaker Nabih Berri. He will also visit the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura, before flying to Damascus where he will meet with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. His last scheduled stop at this point is Kuwait, where he will attend the meeting of the Arab League.
Asked whether the United Nations has been unable to achieve anything in halting the fighting in
Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has been making a substantial effort, including through meetings and phone contacts, to push all sides for a ceasefire; that effort is the focus of his trip. Still, she acknowledged, a lot more is needed to obtain a ceasefire.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL FACT-FINDING MISSION TO LOOK INTO ALLEGED VIOLATIONS IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
The Human Rights Council
concluded its ninth Special Session today in Geneva by adopting a resolution on grave human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory. By that resolution, the Human Rights Council strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza.
It also called for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks in Gaza and demanded that Israel immediately withdraw its military forces from the Gaza Strip.
And it decided to
dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by Israel against the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Human Rights Council also asked the Secretary-General to investigate the latest targeting of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) facilities in Gaza, including schools, which resulted in the killing of Palestinian civilians.
Todays resolution was adopted by a vote of 33 to 1 with 13 abstentions.
U.N. AGENCY LAUNCHES OPERATION LIFELINE GAZA
The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings, between Israel and Gaza, are partially open today. But the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines remain closed.
The Rafah crossing, between Egypt and Gaza, is partially open for the entry of aid supplies and the evacuation of medical cases. The Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is closed for all Palestinians with the exception of very urgent medical cases.
Over the weekend, the World Food Programme (WFP)
launched Operation Lifeline Gaza, a global appeal to ramp up the distribution of food to people caught in the current conflict.
WFPs Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, who went to the Egyptian border with Gaza on Friday, made the announcement after meetings with the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry and with Suzanne Mubarak, who is the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent as well as Egypts First Lady. The Egyptian Government, which gathered a large number of companies in Cairo for the launch of the new initiative, pledged to facilitate Operation Lifeline Gaza by offering assistance to companies that can provide food to WFP.
WFP says that, while it has enough food stocks to feed almost 360,000 people for the next three weeks, the heavy fighting has limited the possibility of wide-scale distributions. Many truck drivers and forklift operators have been unwilling to work due to the insecurity, and the civilian population is often too frightened to go to food distribution points.
For its part, UNICEF
reports that a charter flight from its supply hub in Copenhagen was due to arrive this morning in the region, carrying emergency medical supplies for Gaza. Those supplies include equipment for specialized obstetrics care.
UNICEF also says that, yesterday, it managed to deliver 30,000 bottles of water from the West Bank to Gaza, where safe water supplies are dangerously low. In addition, 500 family water purification kits were delivered into Gaza from the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, has
deplored attacks on media installations in Gaza and condemned the killing of Palestinian journalist Basel Faraj.
Asked about a letter from Qatars First Lady that calls for schools in Gaza to be used as safe havens, the Spokeswoman said that the letter is certainly in line with the Secretary-Generals primary objective: to obtain a ceasefire and ensure the protection of civilians.
JERUSALEM-BASED PEACEKEEPING MISSION TO GET NEW CHIEF
The Secretary-General has announced his intention to appoint Major-General Robert Mood of Norway as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which is based in Jerusalem.
Major-General Mood, who was appointed Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Army in April 2005 and has served twice with the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) Kosovo Force, will replace Major-General Ian Campbell Gordon of Australia. Major-General Gordon will relinquish the post on 15 January.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT PROSECUTORS ACCUSE CONGOLESE REBEL OF WAR CRIMES
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have formally
accused Jean-Pierre Bemba, the founder and ex-leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, with war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the charges are confirmed, Bemba will go on trial for crimes that include torture and murder.
Bembas crimes are alleged to have taken place in 2002 during a bloody power struggle in the Central African Republic. Prosecutors say Bembas fighters, who were leased to the embattled government of the Central African Republics then leader Ange Felix Patassé, engaged in a systematic assault on the civilian population.
Bemba was arrested in Belgium in July last year and remains in ICC custody at the Courts detention facility in The Hague.
CYPRUS LEADERS MEET UNDER U.N. AUSPICES
Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met today in the UN Protected Area of Nicosia.
Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on
Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said that the meeting began with a half-hour tête-à-tête discussion. That was followed by a long discussion on relations between a federal government and the constituent states, as well as talks on deadlock-resolving mechanisms.
The discussions are scheduled to continue on Friday, when governance and power-sharing issues will be taken up. At that time, a date will likely be set for a future meeting to begin discussions on the property question.
COTE D'IVOIRE MAKES PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING AGREEMENT
In his latest report on Cote dIvoire, the Secretary-General says that significant progress has been achieved in implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement between the government and former rebels.
He welcomes the solution adopted by the parties on issues around the integration of the army and other security matters. He encourages both to press ahead with the realization of outstanding provisions of the Ouagadougou Agreement. He also calls on the electoral commission to make public, as soon as possible, a new and realistic electoral timeline that defines critical milestones.
In conclusion, the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of the UN Operation in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI) be extended for six months in order to set in motion a reduction of UN troop levels by one battalion.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY MEETS U.S. VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, Kai Eide, met with the United States Vice President-elect, Senator Joe Biden, on Saturday in Kabul to discuss Afghanistans situation and priorities for 2009.
Their meeting touched on security, political, and development issues, including donor coordination, police reform and regional cooperation. Special Representative Eide emphasized the importance of continuing and determined international support for Afghanistan and its people, in line with the priorities identified at the Paris Conference of June 2008. This was a positive and constructive meeting, he said later.
NEPAL: HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONDEMNS KILLING OF JOURNALIST
The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Nepal today
deplored yesterdays murder of a journalist, Uma Singh, who died after being attacked at her home by armed men. Singh was a reporter at Radio Today FM and a member of the Womens Human Rights Defenders Network, Dhanusha. No one has yet claimed responsibility for her murder.
The Office calls on Nepals Police to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into her death, to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. It also urges authorities to swiftly investigate and prosecute death threats and an attempted attack on another female journalist the same night.
The Office calls on all sectors of Nepali society to respect freedom of opinion and the rights of journalists, and reiterates that there will be no impunity for attacks against the media.
DARFUR MISSION WELCOMES NIGERIAN TROOPS: The Force Commander of the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), General Martin Luther Agwai, and other senior military officials from mission headquarters today paid a one-day working visit to El Daein and Graida in Sector South. They welcomed the newly-arrived troops from the Nigerian battalion. Meanwhile, senior UNAMID officials today received the visiting reconnaissance team from Burkina Faso at UNAMIDs Sector West headquarters. The team was briefed on the security situation in the area, among other key topics, prior to the expected arrival of troops from Burkina Faso.
HEALTH AGENCY NOTES INCREASING CHOLERA CASES IN ZIMBABWE: Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its latest update on the cholera situation in Zimbabwe. There have now been nearly 38,000 cases, and more than 1,900 deaths. Virtually no part of the country has been spared in the epidemic, WHO says. It has affected all ten of Zimbabwes provinces, and nearly 90 per cent of the countrys 62 local districts.
GREECE-F.Y.R.O.M. TALKS TO CONTINUE NEXT MONTH: Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary General's Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), announced today that there will be a resumption of talks between the representatives of Greece and FYROM in New York on 11 February 2009. Greece will be represented by Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and FYROM will be represented by Ambassador Zoran Jolevski. The venue and time will be determined at a later date.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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