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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-19

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

Monday, January 19, 2009

BAN KI-MOON IS DETERMINED TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ASSIST PEOPLE OF GAZA

Speaking at the Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

expressed his strong feelings of grief, of relief, and of determination regarding the situation in

Gaza. He said he felt grief at the death and injury of thousands of civilians in the past 22 days; he felt relief that, early yesterday, Israel announced a cessation of hostilities in Gaza and that later Hamas, too, announced a temporary ceasefire; and he felt determination to do all possible to ensure that immediate steps are taken to bring relief to the people of Gaza.

The Secretary-General said that he will dispatch this week a high-level humanitarian and early recovery assessment mission to Gaza. Within ten days of this mission, he will launch a Flash Humanitarian Appeal, and he has already directed UN staff to begin the assessment process.

Speaking at a conference on reconstruction in Gaza that was held yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the Secretary-General said that he expects all parties to show restraint, and to fully facilitate urgent help by the United Nations to civilians. If fighting resumes, if crossings are closed, or if the UN is hit by further attacks, he warned, it is the people of Gaza who will suffer. This must not happen.

Since late Friday, the Secretary-Generals travels to support efforts to halt the fighting in Gaza had taken him to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, before he came to Kuwait. In all those stops, he met with Government officials regarding ways to ensure a durable halt to all violence in Gaza and southern Israel.

Also, on Saturday, the Secretary-General

condemned in the strongest terms an attack on an

UNRWA-run school, the third such attack. He strongly demanded a thorough investigation into these incidents, and the punishment of those who are responsible for these appalling acts.

While he was in Kuwait today, the Secretary-General also met with World Bank President Robert Zoellick to discuss recovery and reconstruction efforts in Gaza. They also discussed the financial crisis and how it affects the most vulnerable countries. They exchanged ideas on how the World Bank can help peacekeeping missions, particularly in the rural areas. They agreed to meet in Madrid at the end of the month, for the High-level Meeting on Food Security.

Asked whether the Secretary-General was aware of protests directed against him while he was in Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said that he was aware of demonstrations, but she added that most of those demonstrations were not directed against the Secretary-General individually, but against the entire UN system, including the Security Council and General Assembly.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would travel soon to Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that such a trip is being considered, but no decisions have been taken yet.

GAZA: RELIEF AGENCY WELCOMES SAUDI DONATION FOR FOOD AID

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has welcomed a Saudi donation of $6 million to provide food for the people of Gaza.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Campaign for the Relief of the People of Gaza is also sending $500,000 to buy fuel, which UNRWA can provide to local authorities and utilities in Gaza. That fuel will be used to pump water and incinerate refuse, both essential to preventing outbreaks of disease.

The funds for food will enable UNRWA to provide food packages to 550,000 people for 60 days.

Karen Koning Abu Zayd, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said: This is an enormous help to UNRWA and the people of Gaza, coming at a time of dire need. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both government and people, have been generousto Gaza.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP)

says that Gaza needs an immediate, multi-dimensional early recovery strategy focused on the restoration of access and movement, the restitution and reconstruction of basic services and infrastructure and the reduction of additional risks and vulnerabilities, as well as additional investments in livelihoods, shelter, governance systems, security and rule of law and environmental sustainability.

In that regard, UNDP will work with the Palestinian Authority to assess damages and needs, and devise plans for rebuilding. Immediate responses will include the removal of unexploded ordnance and the clearing of rubble so that social and economic reconstruction may begin.

A.U.-U.N. MISSION WARNS OF CATASTROPHIC HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN DARFUR AREA

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has

confirmed that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has taken full control of South Darfur's Muhajeria area from the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minawi (SLA/M). That followed fierce fighting that has led to additional suffering to the civilian population.

According to UNAMID, recent reports indicate that the SLA/M is regrouping for a counterattack to regain control of Muhajeriya.

UN peacekeepers are on the ground to protect members of the local population, but the situation has reached a level where aid staff were evacuated from Muhajeriya, particularly after an aid agency office was destroyed.

UNAMID has evacuated six critically injured persons to Nyala, and it continues to provide some basic medical services within its compound.

UNAMID expresses grave concern for the lives and safety of the civilian population in Muhajeriya and warns that continued fighting between the two Darfurian movements could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the 30,000 residents and displaced civilians there. UNAMID deplores this alarming military escalation that jeopardizes the prospects for successful peace negotiations.

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued late last week, called on all parties to halt the violence as well as any preparations for further military action.

U.N. MISSION WELCOMES REBELS STATED INTENTION TO END WAR IN NORTHEAST D.R.CONGO

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has welcomed the decision by senior leadership of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) to end their rebellion.

The Mission welcomes the stated intention of the CNDP and the ethnic PARECO movement to place their fighters at the disposal of the Congolese army.

Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, said that he is awaiting details on a recent key agreement between the Congolese government and Rwanda, as well as on a separate agreement between Rwanda and the CNDP rebel group.

Doss said that it would be a real breakthrough if these agreements bring about a genuine cessation of hostilities between the Congolese parties. He also reiterated his appeal to all parties to take into account the protection of civilians and to ensure humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance.

SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS KILLINGS,

ABDUCTIONS BY LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY IN D.R. CONGO

John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the

Security Council on Friday about the recent attacks by the Lords Resistance Army in several parts of Central Africa.

Holmes expressed concern over massive violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law and the repeated refusal of LRA leader Joseph Kony, most recently in December, to sign the Final Peace Agreement that his own delegation negotiated through the Juba Peace Talks. He said that more than 560 civilians were estimated to have been killed in recent attacks, with more than 400 abducted.

In a

press statement read out on Friday afternoon, the Security Council President, Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France, said that Council members strongly condemned the recent attacks carried out by the LRA and emphasized that those responsible must be brought to justice. Council members demanded that the members of the LRA cease all attacks on civilians immediately, and urged them to surrender, assemble, and disarm, as required by the Final Peace Agreement.

There are no Council meetings scheduled for today.

UNICEF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VISITS ZIMBABWE; CHOLERA DEATHS RISE TO MORE THAN 2,300

UNICEFs Executive Director

announced over the weekend that the United Nations will make available US$5 million for the health sector in Zimbabwe as the country is battling an on-going cholera outbreak and the effects of collapsing social services.

The cholera outbreak is the tip of the iceberg, Ann Veneman is quoted as saying in a UNICEF press release. The economy in Zimbabwe is crumbling, with the highest inflation rate in the world at 231 million percent. Over half the population is receiving food aid, health centers have closed and when the school term starts there is no guarantee that there will be enough teachers.

She met with President Mugabe and key stakeholders. Discussions underscored the humanitarian impact on women and children.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 44,000 cholera cases have been reported and more than 2,300 people have died.

PAKISTAN: SPATE OF TALIBAN ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS IS CONDEMNED

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Children and Armed Conflict, today strongly condemned the increasing number of attacks claimed by Taliban insurgents and other armed groups that utilize and target children.

Coomaraswamy said she was particularly appalled by recent incidents, including the blowing up of five schools in northwestern Pakistan. Those attacks followed an edict in December ordering all private schools to close.

She also expressed grave concern about the increase in the number of child victims of attacks against schools by Taliban insurgents who deny children the right to education. The throwing of acid to prevent girl children and female teachers from going to school is deplorable, she stressed.

In that context, she strongly urged the Taliban and other armed groups to immediately stop using children and cease attacks against civilians, especially children. Children must be protected and not targeted, she said.

PEACE AND SECURITY IMPROVES IN WEST AFRICA BUT SERIOUS CHALLENGES REMAIN

In his latest report on West Africa, the Secretary-General says that the region continues to make progress towards consolidating peace and security. He says that the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) will continue to play a mediation role in regional conflicts, including the follow-up on the settlement of the Nigeria-Cameroon dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula.

The Office will also place a stronger emphasis on conflict prevention and peacebuilding in general.

It will also strengthen its working relations with ECOWAS, the Mano Union, the African Union and with the European Unions local initiatives.

The Secretary-General remains concerned by regional food insecurity and the impact of the global financial crisis there. Election-related issues are also of concern to the Secretary-General, as are security sector reform, human rights and transitional justice, and the rule of law.

In that respect, he is encouraged by the strengthening of relations between the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes and the West Africa Office in promoting measures to combat drug trafficking in the region.

HEAD OF U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ EXPRESSES SORROW AT APPALLING MURDER OF TOP POLITICIAN

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, today expressed his deep sorrow and regret following the assassination in a suicide bomb attack of the deputy head of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, south of Mosul.

To carry a bomb into the guest house of an Iraqi dignitary and to detonate it, killing him and two of his relatives is an appalling act that deserves the strongest condemnation, de Mistura said. He calls on the Iraqi authorities at this crucial juncture to guarantee the conditions for a safe and democratic electoral campaign.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION CHIEF CONDEMNS WEEKEND SUICIDE BOMBING IN KABUL

Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Afghanistan, condemned the Saturday suicide bomb attack in Central Kabul, which he said once more showed the blatant disregard of the insurgency for the safety of civilians.

He said, To take a bomb into the heart of a crowded city, and to detonate it, thereby deliberately causing such serious harm to civilians, deserves the condemnation of all of us.

U.N. AGENCIES OFFER CASH, OTHER AID TO FLOOD-STRICKEN FIJI

In Fiji, national estimates put the death toll from last weeks flooding at 11 and the number of people in evacuation centers at more than 10,000.

Although the waters are expected to recede over the coming days, allowing people to return home, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned that the evacuees will still face considerable health, sanitation and livelihood challenges.

International partners have presented an overview of immediately available assistance to the Fiji Interim Government, following a request for assistance. Several agencies, including the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and UNICEF, offered their support in technical assessment during the early recovery phase. UNDP has secured US$100,000 to conduct technical assessments.

UNICEF is conducting rapid assessments on the nutritional status of evacuees in general and specific groups which require special attention.

UNITED STATES VIOLATED TREATY WITH EXECUTION OF MEXICAN NATIONAL

The United States has acted in violation of the July 2008 ruling by the International Court of Justice when it executed a Mexican national held in a U.S. prison, the Court has ruled. This flows from a filing by Mexico seeking clarification of the July decision.

Acting on an earlier complaint by Mexico, the Court had last year decided against the execution of the Mexican man because the U.S. appeared to have not respected key provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not giving him and other Mexican detainees access to their embassy.

U.S. authorities ignored the ruling in what appeared to be a violation of the ICJ Statute, which states that the Courts rulings are binding.

GLOBAL FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT FALLS BY MORE THAN 20 PERCENT

According to the latest estimates from the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), global foreign direct investment fell by more than 20 percent last year, and will like fall further in 2009.

The developed world was hardest hit, with FDI falling by a third. Developing and transition economies fared better, with some regions even posting small increases, but they havent felt the full impact of the global economic crisis.

UNCTAD says that a quick recovery depends on reforms to the world financial system, prompt economic stimulus packages from national governments, and a resistance to calls for more protectionism.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

GERMAN COMPANY AWARDED U.N. SOFTWARE CONTRACT: In response to questions, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has decided to award a contract for Enterprise Resource Planning software to a European software company called SAP. The awarding of the contract is subject to successful negotiations, which will start immediately and are projected to wrap up within three months. As of now, no contract has been awarded, and the value of any such contract is as yet undetermined. A comprehensive and thorough evaluation process was undertaken, with the help of specialized external consulting services. Criteria for selection included the software's performance in low-bandwidth locations, so as to ensure its ability to support remote peacekeeping operations. Subject to a successful conclusion of negotiations, the UN looks forward to a fruitful relationship with SAP as it works to streamline the Organization's internal work processes, harmonize its information management and better serve the world's people.

WFP HONORS TOP PAKISTANI STUDENT FUNDRAISERS: The World Food Programme, in collaboration with Unilever Pakistan Limited, today commended 10 students of the local school Bay View Academy for their unprecedented efforts in creating awareness and collecting funds for

WFPs school feeding programme. The Feed One More campaign is an initiative under the Together for Child Vitality banner which came into existence when the UN-World Food Programme partnered with Unilever in 2007. The partnership is based on the common goal of creating awareness about hunger and malnutrition and raise funds for WFPs school feeding programme.

POSSIBLE NEW POSTS AT PROJECTS SERVICES OFFICE: Asked about a proposal for new posts at the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Spokeswoman said that the matter was expected to be addressed at the meeting of the Executive Board of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

TUESDAY PRESS BRIEFING PLANNED FOR EARLIER THAN USUAL: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said that there would be no briefing at noon on Tuesday, but a briefing could be arranged earlier.

  • *The guests at noon were John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (via videolink), who provided an update on the humanitarian situation in Gaza in the aftermath of the ceasefire.

    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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