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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-15

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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

BAN KI-MOON OUTRAGED BY ISRAELI SHELLING OF U.N. COMPOUND IN GAZA

The Secretary-General,

speaking in Tel Aviv today, told reporters that the UN compound in

Gaza has been shelled again, and that he had conveyed his strong protest and outrage to the Israeli Defense Minister and to the Foreign Minister and demanded a full explanation.

He said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had told him that it was a grave mistake and that he took it very seriously. Barak assured the Secretary-General that extra attention would be paid to the UN facilities and staff and that this should not be repeated.

Speaking after his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the Secretary-General said that he believed from his talks in Egypt that the elements are in place for the violence to end now. He stressed that the time has come for the violence to stop and for us to change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza, and to pursue again the peace talks for a two-State solution, which is the only road to lasting security for Israel.

The Secretary-General also emphasized that civilian suffering has reached an unbearable point, asserting that the rockets must stop, Israels offensive must end and the bloodshed and suffering among the civilian populations must be halted.

Also in Israel today, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Prime Minister Olmert started the meeting by apologizing for the firing by the Israel Defense Forces on the compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Secretary-General protested again and said it was unacceptable. They went on to discuss the overall situation in Gaza, and the Secretary-General called again for an immediate ceasefire.

The Secretary-General also spoke by video-conference today to the staff in the UN compound in Gaza, thanking them for their hard work under difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

Also, the Secretary-General spoke by phone today to United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whom he had also met on Wednesday in Cairo.

On Friday, the Secretary-General expects to meet in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Asked whether the Secretary-General wanted an investigation into the attack on the UNRWA compound, the Spokeswoman said that he did. She added that the United Nations has steadily asked as well for an investigation into last weeks attack on the UNRWA-run school in Jabalya.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals remarks calling for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, Montas said that he has repeatedly called for Schalits release in the past. She noted, in response to further questions, that he had also repeatedly called for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Asked whether the Secretary-General planned to visit southern Israel, the Spokeswoman said that he did not.

SECURITY COUNCIL GRAVELY CONCERNED BY SITUATION FOR CIVILIANS IN GAZA

The

Security Council today asked for a briefing on the attack on the compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza. They received an update from Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios on that.

Following their consultations, the Security Council President, Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France, read out a press statement. He noted that Council members were briefed by the Secretariat on what happened today in Gaza.

Ripert also noted that all Council members expressed grave concern at the situation of civilians on the ground and called for full respect of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilians.

He also said that Council members believed that this was even more reason for the implementation of Resolution 1860. They reiterated their support for the Secretary-General's efforts to ensure that Resolution 1860 is implemented.

WORLD SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS GAZA RECONSTRUCTION

The

Deputy Secretary-General today

addressed an emergency special session of the General Assembly on Gaza. In her remarks, she stressed that it is imperative that the UN not be prevented from helping people who are in dire need of assistance.

She also said that, if a ceasefire is to be sustainable, we need arrangements to ensure a halt to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, the reopening of the crossings, and the reuniting of Gaza with the West Bank under its legitimate leadership.

She added that, beyond humanitarian assistance, the international community must engage in an early reconstruction effort, and she called on all Member States to contribute to that endeavor.

The Spokeswoman added, in response to questions on why the General Assembly session had not been held in the General Assembly Hall, that some insulation material in the Halls roof had fallen, and some water damage had been sustained. She said that the session was moved to a downstairs conference room in response to the damage to the roof and the snowfall in New York.

BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS FIRING OF ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL FROM LEBANON

The Secretary-General

condemns the firing of rockets from southern Lebanon towards Israel on 14 January. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has launched an investigation into the incident in close cooperation with the parties.

Thus far, the investigation team has found evidence that two rockets were fired towards Israel. A rocket launching site was found near the village of Rachaya el-Foukhar. Fragments of two rockets were discovered in the area of Ain Arab inside Lebanese territory. The Israel Defense Forces fired two retaliatory artillery rounds, which landed near Rachaya el-Foukhar and south-east of Khiam.

The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about any escalation of tension or hostilities along the Blue Line, and urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint. The parties must fully adhere to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and respect the cessation of hostilities.

U.N. INVESTIGATES REPORTS OF ROCKET FIRE FROM LEBANON INTO ISRAEL

On Wednesday, after receiving reports of rockets fired from Lebanese territory towards Israel, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) launched an investigation into the incident in close cooperation with the parties. During the joint search operation, a rocket launching site was found close to a school in the general area of El Hebbariye. The joint UNIFIL-Lebanese search party discovered three rockets equipped with timers ready to be fired, which were deactivated.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano is in contact with the Command of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces. He has stressed the importance of UNIFIL being able to complete the investigation to ascertain as soon as possible all the facts relating to this very serious incident. UNIFIL will submit the results of the investigation to the UN Security Council.

In the meantime, the Force Commander has urged maximum restraint and is working with both parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES LATEST DARFUR ATTACKS

Within the last few days, the Secretary-General has received several reports of aerial bombings in different locations in South Darfur. On Wednesday, the Government of Sudan confirmed that Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) aircraft bombed rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) positions in Southern Darfurs Muhajeria area on 13 January. Such actions are in violation of both Security Council Resolutions and relevant agreements. The Secretary-General has also received reports of clashes between the JEM and Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) in the Muhajeria area on 15 January.

The Secretary-General

condemns these attacks and calls on all parties to halt the violence as well as any preparations for further military action. He calls on all concerned to commit to an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities. Military action is not a viable solution to ending the conflict in Darfur and can only result in the unwarranted death and suffering of the civilian population of Sudan.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to intensify efforts to agree to a comprehensive political solution with the assistance of the African Union-United Nations Joint Chief Mediator.

D.R. CONGO: PROGRESS OF NAIROBI TALKS SLOWER THAN DESIRABLE

On the

Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council began its work today by hearing from the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo, about the progress of talks in Nairobi between the Congolese Government and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). He warned the Council that progress in that dialogue has remained slower than desirable.

In the past 48 hours, he said, both sides have once again become intransigent, the government side in particular. Consequently, he said, the facilitators have called for a brief recess to the dialogue.

Special Envoy Obasanjo then continued to discuss recent developments with Council members in closed consultations.

The Nairobi peace negotiations adjourned today and will resume on 25 January, said Co-mediator Benjamin Mkapa, the African Union representative at the talks. He said that the parties have made remarkable progress by adopting the ground rules that will guide the task of substantive dialogue to resolve the crisis.

Mkapa thanked the parties for their demonstrated commitment to the negotiations. He also urged them to sustain the momentum and to prepare for the next phase of the dialogue.

U.N. ENVOY BRIEFS IRAQI LEADERS ON ELECTION PREPARATIONS

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, met today with leaders of Iraqs political blocs to

brief them on the state of readiness and technical preparations for the upcoming elections, and to outline the special measures being put in place to tackle fraud.

He said that the technical preparations are well on track to have elections on 31 January, with over 20 million ballot papers to be delivered during the coming week. De Mistura emphasized that special security features will be used to make it extremely difficult to duplicate the ballots. Additional procedures have also been put in place to ensure that multiple voting and attempts to manipulate the polling are minimized.

ZIMBABWE CHOLERA OUTBREAK STILL NOT UNDER CONTROL

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that Zimbabwes cholera outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,200 lives, is not yet under control.

OCHA notes that humanitarian agencies are supporting 172 cholera treatment centers throughout the country. They are also promoting cholera awareness campaigns and helping to set up operational frameworks for cholera command centers and rapid response teams.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwes food security situation is becoming increasingly difficult as the lean season sets in, OCHA adds.

SENEGAL: HOMOPHOBIA HINDERING FIGHT AGAINST A.I.D.S.

The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a

statement today, deploring last weeks arrest and imprisonment in Senegal of nine men who have sex with men. The men were members of an association called AIDES Senegal, which works to provide condoms and HIV treatment to those who need them. They were sentenced for acts against nature and the creation of an association of criminals.

According to UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, There is no place for homophobia. Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must be accessible to all people in Senegal who are in needincluding men who have sex with men.

UNAIDS adds that homophobia and criminalization of consensual adult sexual behavior represent major barriers to effective responses to HIV.

WOMEN IN POOR COUNTRIES 300 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN CHILDBIRTH THAN THOSE IN RICH COUNTRIES

According to UNICEFs State of the Worlds Children

report, launched today, women in the worlds least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than women in developed countries. For every woman who dies, another 20 suffer illness or injury, often with severe and lasting results.

At the same time, a child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month of life than a child born in a developed nation.

The report highlights the link between the health and survival of mothers and their newborns, and suggests ways to close the gap between rich and poor countries. These include providing essential services through health systems that integrate home, community, outreach and facility-based care.

Meanwhile, the UN Population Fund is

calling for more action to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

NEW CAMPAIGN AIMS TO PROTECT GORILLAS

The UN Environment Programme today

launched the International Year of the Gorilla in London. Funds raised through the International Year will support a range of projects aimed at protecting gorillas in the ten African countries where they are still found.

In addition to a Gorillas on Thin Ice skating event to draw attention to the animals plight, UNEP also announced three projects to prevent the extinction of Africas rarest ape, the Cross River Gorilla, which lives in Cameroon and Nigeria.

Projects include education and public awareness campaigns to curb hunting, bush burning and logging, as well as data-gathering initiatives to protect the gorillas and conserve their habitat.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ASTRONOMY AN INSTRUMENT TO PROMOTE PEACE: The opening ceremony for the International

Year of Astronomy 2009 took place today at the Headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. Among participants were government representatives, diplomats, scientists, astronomy students, astronauts, and artists from around the world. Opening the event, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said, The sky belongs to everybody. Astronomy is an instrument to promote peace and understanding among nations and as such is at the heart of UNESCOs mission.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC REPORT LAUNCHED REGIONALLY: Regional launches of the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009 are taking place today in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Geneva, and Mexico. The

report is a joint publication of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and the five UN regional commissions. The global outlook of the report was launched in Doha in December, at the Financing for Development Conference.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK AT ELECTION OF ECOSOC PRESIDENT: Later this afternoon, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will address the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during the election of ECOSOCs new President. She will stress ECOSOCs role in promoting the UNs development work.

  • **The guests at noon were John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

    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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