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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-13

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

.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS COUNCIL ON GOALS FOR MIDDLE EAST TRIP

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the

Security Council in closed consultations this morning on his visit to the

Middle East, which will take him over the coming week to Egypt, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait. Council members expressed strong support for his trip, he said afterward.

At each stop, he told the Council, he will repeat his call for an immediate and durable ceasefire and insist that Security Council resolution 1860 be respected. He will also demand that urgent humanitarian assistance be provided, without restriction, to those in need, and he will encourage the diplomatic efforts underway among concerned parties.

As he said in his

press conference on Monday afternoon, his goal is to step up the pace of joint diplomatic efforts regarding Gaza and southern Israel. The Secretary-General sent a simple and direct message to all sides: the fighting must stop.

He said he expects the parties now meeting in Cairo to do what is required. They must agree to the elements of an immediate ceasefire.

At a minimum, he said, that means a halt to rocket attacks by Hamas militants and a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The international community must come together to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, he added, but by the same token, border crossings into Gaza must be re-opened in full.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet with Iranian officials during the current trip, the Spokeswoman said no meeting was planned at this time.

Asked whether the Secretary-Generals call for an immediate ceasefire was practical, Montas stressed that he would continue to work for an immediate ceasefire, and that he had stressed that negotiations could take place afterward, but for now, too many people are being killed.

She noted that his call for an immediate ceasefire and the resolution adopted by the Security Council could prod the international community to push for one.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICE SAYS OPEN SEWAGE FLOWS IN NORTHERN GAZA STREETS

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that a total of 94 truckloads, including 46 for aid agencies, were allowed entry into Gaza from Israel today through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Included in those truckloads were 35 for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which contained, among other things, flour, whole milk, cooking oil and food. An additional five trucks went to the World Food Programme (WFP), containing flour, cooking oil and high-energy biscuits.

In addition, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open today for aid supplies and medical evacuations; but the Nahal Oz fuel pipeline and Karni crossing, both between Israel and Gaza, remained closed.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of this morning, 60 percent of Gazans were not receiving any power. OCHA adds that Gazas electricity providers warehouse in Gaza City has been hit, which has led to the destruction of desperately needed spare parts.

OCHA also says that many water wells and sewage pumps are still not functioning due to the lack of electricity, diminished fuel supplies for back-up generators, and the lack of spare parts.

Half a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip still do not have access to running water. That includes 60% of the people in Gaza City. In addition, 80 percent of drinking water in Gaza is not safe for human consumption, according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, which are both in northern Gaza, sewage is flowing in the streets.

In other developments, WHO reports that the emergency room of the Dorah Pediatric Hospital in Gaza was directly hit on Monday. Staff are continuing to work despite the damage caused to the infrastructure. OCHA says that the number of people who have fled their homes in Gaza remains unknown, but is estimated to be in the tens of thousands.

Meanwhile, in Geneva today, the UN

Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is currently in session, expressed deep concern at the devastating effects that the current military engagement is having on children in Gaza.

U.N. ENVOY URGES SOMALIS TO PUT AN END TO VIOLENCE

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has

called on Somalis to seize the opportunity of the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Mogadishu to ensure peace and stability in their country. He urged them to stop the senseless killings and violence.

He also urged them to press ahead with the election of a new President, and he appealed to Somali lawmakers to increase their numbers and create a government of national unity.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the situation in and around the northeastern town of Guri Elle is tense following heavy fighting in December. The fighting claimed 40 civilian lives and displaced some 50,000 people.

Conditions for the displaced are made worse by the fact that humanitarian agencies can hardly access the region because of the widespread insecurity. But despite the challenges, the World Food Programme (WFP) intends to deliver food aid to some 1.5 million Somalis every month. Last year, the agency shipped some 260,000 tonnes of food to Somalia, almost four times the amount in 2007.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 65,000 Somalis have sought refugee status in Kenya in 2008 alone. UNHCR estimates the total number of Somalis in refugee camps in northeastern Kenya to be about 230,000. Last month, the United Nations and its partners launched a $913 million appeal to help some 3.25 million Somalis.

D.R. CONGO: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED OVER LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY ATTACKS

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

says it is increasingly concerned about continued attacks by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congos Oriental Province, which borders Uganda and South Sudan.

UNHCRs team in Dungu reports that the LRA has killed an estimated 537 people, and kidnapped 408 others, since violence broke out there last September.

According to rough estimates, more than 100,000 people have been forcibly displaced. Many are still hiding in the bush, particularly in areas around the town of Faradje. UNHCR is working with local authorities and other agencies to find ways to deliver aid in these insecure and inaccessible areas.

Also, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region, will brief the Security Council on the DRC talks this coming Thursday.

Asked about the contacts between the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano, and the LRA, the Spokeswoman said that Chissano is in contact with the LRA and with regional actors. However, she noted, the group has on three occasions refused to show up at a meeting point to sign an agreement through international mediation.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ZIMBABWE CHOLERA OUTBREAK HAS CLAIMED MORE THAN 2,000 LIVES: In todays update on the cholera situation in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization (WHO)

reports that the death toll there has now topped two thousand. More than 100 deaths and nearly 1,500 new cases were added just today. In all, there have been close to 40,000 cholera cases reported in Zimbabwe so far. 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.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SET TO RESUME CONVOYS ACROSS LIBYA TO CHAD: The World Food Programme (WFP) is about to begin delivery of food aid to some 250,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad. WFP convoys are now traveling some 2,800 kilometres through the Sahara desert from Libya in a bid to reach the refugees before the onset of seasonal rains. WFP notes that Libya has been helping it with its aid convoys traveling across the Sahara since 2004.

U.N. PREPARING POSSIBLE RESPONSE TO FLOODING IN FIJI: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that heavy rains in Fiji have caused severe flooding in the North, Central and Western Divisions of the islands since 8 January. The Fiji Interim Government has yet to request international assistance at this time, but another tropical depression is expected to bring more rainfall this week, which may extend and compound the current situation. OCHA is discussing the UNs response in case international assistance is requested.

AT LEAST 34 U.N. STAFFERS KILLED IN ATTACKS IN 2008: The U.N. Staff Union

reports that at least 34 U.N. personnel lost their lives as a result of malicious acts in 2008. Thats down slightly from at least 42 U.N. staffers killed in 2007. Those killed include at least seven World Food Programme truck drivers in Sudan and Somalia, and ten peacekeepers in Darfur. In addition, a suicide car bombing against a U.N. compound in northern Somalia claimed two lives. Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira said that the Staff Union once again appeals to Member States to guarantee the minimal security conditions necessary for the U.N. to carry out its life-saving work.

NIGER, CANADA AND U.N. WORKING TO FIND ENVOY MISSING IN NIGER: Asked about an update in the case of missing Special Envoy for Niger Robert Fowler, the 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, but she added that she had no information to disclose at this time. She declined to comment to remarks attributed today to Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja.

  • *The guest at noon was John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), via video conference link from 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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