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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-16
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, January 16, 2009
SECRETARY-GENERAL RENEWS CALL FOR CEASEFIRE IN GAZA AFTER MEETING WITH PALESTINIAN LEADERS IN WEST BANK
The Secretary-General this morning traveled to Ramallah, in the West Bank, where he met with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and discussed efforts to obtain a ceasefire in Gaza, as well as the humanitarian situation there.
Speaking to reporters after those meetings, he emphasized once more that the fighting must stop now, saying, We have no time to lose. He said that a unilateral declaration of a cease-fire would be necessary at this time, and that he would exert his utmost efforts to realize that goal. He stressed his full support for President Abbass leadership.
Last night, he met in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres,
telling reporters afterward that the Israeli government will make an important decision on a ceasefire and that he hopes that decision will be the right one, and that Israel will show to the world that it is a responsible member of the United Nations, abiding by Security Council resolutions.
The Secretary-General has since traveled to Ankara, the Turkish capital, where he is to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul. He is to tell them that he has come determined to work with the Turkish Government to help find solutions to the terrible crisis in Gaza.
He will then travel this weekend to Lebanon and Syria, to meet with Government officials in both countries about the violence in Gaza and southern Israel, before going to Kuwait to attend the Arab Economic Summit there next Monday.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals response to reports that Israel has rebuffed his call for a unilateral ceasefire, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General will continue to pursue his goal of an immediate ceasefire, regardless of public statements from the various parties.
Asked about the response to the attack on Thursday on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound in Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has called for accountability and expressed his views about the attack strongly in his meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other senior Israeli officials. The United Nations has asked for an investigation.
MEDICAL SITUATION IN GAZA ALARMING & DETERIORATING
The UNs Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Max Gaylard, issued a
statement today, saying that the situation for hospitals, medical workers and the injured in Gaza is alarming and deteriorating. He stressed that hospitals must be protected and remain neutral areas under any circumstances. Civilians and the injured must have access to medical care, he added.
The Humanitarian Coordinator noted that 16 health facilities have been damaged and 16 ambulances have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the Israeli military operation on 27 December. In addition, 13 health workers have been killed and 22 have been injured. Medical relief workers face extremely dangerous conditions when trying to reach injured Palestinians in combat zones or areas made inaccessible by the Israeli army, he said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that a total of 69 truckloads of goods, including 39 for aid agencies, were allowed entry into Gaza from Israel today through the Kerem Shalom crossing. These included 26 trucks for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) which contained flour, blankets, rice and bread and one truck of medical supplies for the World Health Organization (WHO).
UNSCO adds that, at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, nearly 15 truckloads of food and medical and relief supplies passed through today. In addition, 18 medical cases were evacuated, and five doctors and five journalists were allowed into Gaza. UNSCO also notes that the fuel pipelines and the Karni grain conveyor belt, both between Israel and Gaza, remained closed today.
For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP)
reports that, in addition to its regular caseload, it has delivered canned meat and high energy biscuits to 13 Gaza hospitals, enough for 6,000 patients and staff for up to one month. WFP is also distributing ready-to-eat food to overcome the scarcity of cooking gas. As an additional emergency response, WFP is now planning to distribute ready-to-eat meals to 16,000 people in UNRWA shelters and 7,000 people in hospitals for up to 12 days.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that a key challenge for the people of Gaza is their inability to have access to food due to the security situation. That inability extends both to farmers trying to get to their fields and civilians trying to go to shops. Also, the lack of banknotes means the population is unable to pay for the limited food stocks on the markets.
Asked about the reported use of white phosphorus gas by Israeli forces in Gaza, the Spokeswoman noted comments by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes that white phosphorus is not a banned weapon in terms of existing international conventions, but its use in heavily populated areas is prohibited.
SECURITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO ESTABLISH U.N. PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN SOMALIA
Security Council this morning
adopted a resolution, under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, that renews for up to six months the authorization of African Union Member States to maintain a mission in Somalia. The Council expressed its intention to establish a UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia as a follow-on force to the African Union Mission (AMISOM), subject to a further decision of the Security Council by 1 June.
The Council also requested the Secretary-General to submit a report for a UN peacekeeping operation by 15 April and to develop recommendations in that report on the mandate of such an operation.
FUNDAMENTALS OF NEPALS POLITICAL PROCESS BEING ERODED, U.N. ENVOY WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL
Ian Martin, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Nepal, briefed the
Security Council for his last time in that post about the work of the UN Mission in that country.
Speaking in an open meeting, he warned that, for all of the important achievements of Nepals peace process, he fears that there is now a danger that the fundamentals of the process are being challenged and eroded. Martin stressed the need for a political consensus required for completion of the peace process and the drafting of a new constitution and for an end to impunity.
He said that, during his time in Nepal, the demand by the countrys people for peace, for change and for inclusion was unmistakable. I hope that their political leaders will not let them down, he said. That open briefing was followed by consultations, also on Nepal.
Later, in consultations, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes about the humanitarian consequences of the activities of the Lords Resistance Army in Central Africa.
U.N. TEAM VISITS CONGOLESE VILLAGE WHERE LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY ATTACKS TOOK PLACE
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that a UN team, traveling under the protection of peacekeepers, was able to
visit the village of Duru in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Duru was the scene of repeated attacks by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)
Last week the LRA killed four residents of Duru and caused the survivors to flee into the bush, leaving behind what UNHCR calls a virtual ghost town.
The agency says that survivors were, however, able to meet with the UN team and describe their acute needs for immediate food aid and other life-saving help. UNHCR estimates that LRA attacks have claimed more than 560 civilian lives in northeastern DRC since September.
SRI LANKA: U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER CIVILIANS CAUGHT UP IN FIGHTING
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, in a statement today, expressed increasing concern for the well-being of tens of thousands of civilians caught up in the conflict raging in the northern Vanni area of Sri Lanka. He is concerned that families are increasingly susceptible to harm due to the fighting.
The humanitarian chief said that, while civilians have had access to basic food, in large part due to the Government and the UN assistance transported through the lines of fighting, they have few, if any, reserves.
The conditions of their basic shelter, water and sanitation are increasingly inadequate, as many have been displaced multiple times over the last months.
In accordance with international humanitarian law, the United Nations calls upon the LTTE to allow civilians to be able to move freely to areas where they feel most secure and for the Government to receive newly displaced people according to internationally agreed principles.
The UN also calls for civilians to be protected from the fighting and for civilians to continue to have access to basic humanitarian assistance.
U.N. AGENCIES PROVIDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE FOR MYANMAR REFUGEES IN THAILAND
Refugees along Thailands border with Myanmar will be able to continue to plan their families, thanks to cooperation between the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the U.N Population Fund (UNFPA).
The two UN agencies are
collaborating to fill gaps in reproductive health care for the 111,000 refugees from Myanmar living in 9 camps. A quarter of the refugees are women of reproductive age.
As an initial step, UNFPA on Wednesday passed out contraceptives to meet the needs of 8,500 current users and 400 new users for six months to one year. UNHCRs private aid agency partners will distribute the supplies and provide related counseling, education and hospital referrals in four camps.
The two agencies are also talking with the Thai Government about long-term cooperation to address the needs of adolescents, whose access to information and services has been limited by cultural taboos.
U.N. DOCUMENTS POSTED ON WIKILEAKS SITE ARE MOSTLY OLD PUBLIC REPORTS
Asked about UN documents that have been posted on a web site, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has been made aware of the presence of what are purported to be confidential UN documents on that site.
These are essentially old reports from the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), Montas said, that are publicly available to Member States at their request to ensure transparency in the UNs work. Many of the allegations in these reports have already been well documented publicly. At least one Member State has already placed many of them, even the majority, on its own UN Missions web site in the past.
She added that, in many of the cases mentioned in the so called "leaked" reports, UN follow-up activity has already been carried out, and the follow-up actions have already been reported to the press.
Asked about the investigation of sexual misconduct cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said that the UN Mission there (MONUC) has followed up on the recommendation to implement preventive measures. These include a curfew, a list of out-of-bounds establishments, and continued training and awareness-raising on the UN's zero tolerance policy.
UNICEF CHIEF VISITS ZIMBABWE TO SEE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS FIRSTHAND:
UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman is in Zimbabwe, on a three-day visit to see firsthand the impact of the current humanitarian crisis on the countrys children. During her visit she will meet with Government officials, the UN Country Team, non-governmental organizations and donors, as well as talk to children and women. Veneman will brief the media on her return to South Africa about her impressions and also provide an update on education, nutrition, health, and child protection.
FORMER BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDER TO SERVE OUT LIFE SENTENCE IN GERMANY: Stanislav Galić, a former senior Bosnian Serb army commander, was transferred yesterday to Germany to serve his life sentence for war crimes committed in Sarajevo during the war in the Balkans. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
says that Galić was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison in December 2003 for murder, inhumane acts and acts of violence on Sarajevos civilian population. But after both the prosecution and defense appealed the verdict, the ICTY appeals judges ruled in November 2006 that Galić deserved no less than life imprisonment.
CYPRIOT LEADERS DISCUSS DEADLOCK-RESOLVING MECHANISMS: The Cypriot leaders met today in Nicosia under UN auspices. After their meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, spoke to the press. He said todays meeting had focused on deadlock-resolving mechanisms and that the leaders would meet again on 28 January to discuss the issue of property. Downer stressed that the leaders meeting had been very good. In response to questions, he said that there was a real possibility of reaching a settlement and that he remained cautiously optimistic. He also noted that it wouldnt be helpful to the negotiations to impose a timeline on them.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ELECTS ITS SECOND FEMALE PRESIDENT: Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg was elected yesterday as the 65th President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), making her the second woman to lead that body. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro congratulated Ambassador Lucas, and
told her that, in the face of multiple global crises, ECOSOCs work will be especially challenging in the months ahead. The effects of the recent financial turmoil continue to reverberate around the world, she said, adding that years of painstaking efforts hang in the balance.
I.F.A.D. GIVES $16 MILLION TO BOOST RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGER: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is to
provide US$16 million dollars to Niger, to boost good governance and improve economic conditions in rural areas. The project will target poor communities that are also vulnerable to environmental risk, particularly those where no similar development projects are currently in place. In addition to helping 56 rural communes in the Maradi region run local affairs, the money will also be used to establish local investment funds. These can be used by communes and villages to respond to local priorities, including improving food security and quality of life for poor households.
U.N. UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE WINS AWARD IN BLOG COMPETITION: The
UN Universitys web magazine has won an award for best blog design in the 2008 Weblog Awards, the worlds largest blog competition. UNU launched Our World 2.0 last July. The magazine explores the links between the climate, energy and fuel crises, with the goal of inspiring people to act and bring about change.
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (via video link), who provided an update on the situation on the ground in Gaza.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
17 January 23 January 2009
Saturday, January 17
The Secretary-General is in Lebanon, where he is scheduled to meet with the President, Prime Minister, and Parliament Speaker. He will also address Parliament and visit the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.
From today through 23 January, the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Walter Kälin, visits the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Sunday, 18 January
The Secretary-General is scheduled to visit Syria, where he will meet with the President and Foreign Minister. Later in the day, he attends the inauguration ceremony of U.N. House in Kuwait.
Monday, January 19
The Secretary-General is scheduled to address the Arab League Economic Summit in Kuwait.
The guests at noon are John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and John Ging, U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East Director of Operations in Gaza, who will provide an update on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council meets all day in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
From today through Friday in Conference Room 3, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute holds its resumed seventh session.
From today through 28 January in Conference Room 1, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations holds its regular session.
A thematic exhibition on the Holocaust, organized by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine, opens today in the first basement area of the Conference Building (near the Café Austria) and runs through 30 January.
At the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the public reading of the Judgment takes place in the Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the Case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America).
In Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women begins its 43rd session (through 6 Feb.), the World Health Organization Executive Council opens its 124th session (through 27 Jan.), and the Human Rights Council Working Group on Situations holds its 3rd Session (through 23 Jan.).
Tuesday, January 20
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 5, there will be a panel discussion on the rule of law in public administration.
In Geneva, the Economic Commission for Europe Working Party on Gas begins a two-day meeting. Todays opening session includes a presentation by the head of the international business department of GAZPROM on the current state and prospects of Russian gas exports to Europe.
In Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament holds the first public plenary of its 2009 session.
Wednesday, January 21
This morning, the Security Council holds a private meeting with Troop Contributing Countries to the U.N. Operation in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI), followed by a briefing and consultations on UNOCI. In the afternoon, a briefing and consultations on the U.N. Office for West Africa are scheduled.
At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, the Secretary-General holds a press conference on his recent trip to the Middle East.
At 1 p.m. in Room S-226, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Kiyotaka Akasaka; Amir
Dossal, Executive Director of the
U.N. Office for Partnerships; and French filmmaker Romuald Sciora hold a press conference on tonights world premiere of Planet UN, a documentary highlighting the challenges faced by the UN in the 21st century. The premiere takes place at 6 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.
From 1.15 to 2.45 p.m. in Conference Room 5, there will be a briefing on the World of Work 2008 Report Income inequalities in the age of financial globalization.
In Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay chairs a seminar on the prevention of genocide.
Thursday, January 22
All day in Conference 4, the U.N. Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) holds a conference on "Innovative Policies to Advance Security Governance." UNICRI Director Sandro Calvani and Assistant-Secretary-General for Policy Planning Robert Orr brief on the conference at 12:30 p.m. in Room S-226.
In Geneva, the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction releases its 2008 disaster figures.
The launch the International Year of Natural Fibres takes place at the Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome.
Today is the centenary of former UN Secretary-General U Thants birth.
Friday, January 23
This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on U.N. peacekeeping operations.
A one-day organizational meeting of the Towards an Arms Trade Treaty Open-Ended Working Group begins at 10 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
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