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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-20

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BAN KI-MOON PLANS SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING ON MIDDLE EAST TRIP

Upon his return to New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to brief the Security Council tomorrow afternoon on his just-concluded trip to the Middle East. He plans to speak to reporters afterwards.

BAN KI-MOON VISITS GAZA TO DEMONSTRATE HIS SOLIDARITY WITH POPULATION

The Secretary-General visited

Gaza today to demonstrate his solidarity with the population of Gaza, and to assure them of the United Nations and the international communitys full support.

He visited the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) compound that was bombed last week, and he told reporters, I am just appalled, adding, It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations. He reiterated that he has asked for a full investigation and to make those responsible accountable.

He added that he will dispatch a humanitarian needs assessment team on Thursday, led by

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes. He asserted, I will do all I can, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, to help in this time of need.

The Secretary-General met earlier today with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During the meeting the Secretary-General once again

expressed his relief that Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire. He stressed the importance of the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and of putting a framework in place to ensure a durable and sustainable end to the violence.

The Secretary-General informed Prime Minister Olmert that the United Nations would continue to play a pivotal role in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, as well as in long term recovery and reconstruction.

In addition to visiting Gaza, the Secretary-General will also visit the town of Sderot in southern Israel.

The Secretary-General firmly believes that a true end to violence, and true security for both Israelis and Palestinians, will only come through a just and comprehensive settlement to the long-festering Arab-Israeli conflict, including the creation of the State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel, in peace and security, consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions.

MANY GAZANS RETURN TO U.N. SHELTERS AFTER FINDING THEIR HOMES DESTROYED

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) stresses that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza will not end unless the main goods terminals, between Israel and Gaza, are all operating consistently.

UNRWA also reports that, at the time that the ceasefire was declared, there were almost 51,000 persons in UNRWA shelters. As of yesterday, some 5,000 persons had left the emergency shelters; however, many of them returned after finding their houses destroyed. During the 22 days of war, five UNRWA staff members were killed in the line of duty.

UNRWA reports that, since 2007, it has had to suspend $93 million in construction projects because it could not import into Gaza any construction or repair material. This had become very crucial because of the reconstruction needs being faced today. UNRWA is also very concerned about its schools, as many have been serving as temporary emergency shelters. Those structures will need rehabilitation and repair, if and when the displaced will be able to leave the structures, and before children can resume their education.

Today, all 17 UNRWA health services in Gaza are open. But UNRWAs six-month stocks of medicines and medical equipment, worth $4.5 million, have been destroyed. UNRWA is already moving equipment and medicines from its other operations in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the West Bank.

The World Health Organizations Executive Board opened its session yesterday. The agencys Director-General

spoke in length about the situation in Gaza, how the health infrastructure there has to be improved.

UNICEF is preparing radio spots to warn children and parents about un-exploded ordnance.

U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY IS BRIEFED ON D.R. CONGO-RWANDA OPERATIONS AGAINST REBELS

The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo, met today in Kinshasa with President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The President briefed the Special Envoy on the ongoing joint DRC-Rwanda operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group. These operations are expected to continue for some weeks.

The political dialogue for lasting peace in the eastern DRC continues with the facilitation and mediation of Special Envoy Obasanjo and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

CONGOLESE CIVILIANS DISPLACED BY LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY IN DIRE NEED OF FOOD & AID

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

says that civilians displaced by repeated raids by the Lords Resistance Army are in dire need of food, shelter, medicines, clothes and other aid items. Reaching them, however, poses immense logistical challenges because of a general lack of roads or the poor conditions of the few roads available.

The Lords Resistance Army has renewed its assault on Congolese civilians in recent days in the Haut Uele region over the past week. UNHCR estimates that LRA raids have displaced some 135,000 with more than 560 killed in the past four months.

SOMALIA: U.N. ENVOY CALLS FOR FULL REALIZATION OF DJIBOUTI AGREEMENT

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

has urged the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia to press ahead toward the full realization of the Djibouti Agreement.

Ould-Abdallah notes that the parties joint High Level Committee is meeting today in Djibouti to discuss expanding the Parliament and forming a unity government. Members of the international community are also present at the talks. This is a key moment for Somalia and it is extremely important to get it right, after almost two decades of violence he said.

INCLUSIVE POLITICAL DIALOGUE NEEDED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Available today is a

report by the Peacebuilding Commissions mission, which traveled to the Central African Republic two months ago.

The mission, led by Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, stressed the crucial importance of an inclusive political dialogue to ensure that all groups, including the opposition, civil society and rebel groups, have ownership of that dialogue. A date for that dialogue had been set shortly after the Peacebuilding Commission mission visited the country.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ASKS THAILAND FOR ACCESS TO BOAT PEOPLE

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today

asked the Government of Thailand for access to two groups of Rohingya boat people who sources tell the agency are being held in custody in the southern part of the country.

UNHCR wants to meet with all 126 of them see if any require international protection. This comes after the refugee agency expressed strong concern to the Thai government over allegations that large groups of Rohingya were intercepted in Thai waters, towed out to sea and left to die.

The Rohingya are stateless Muslims from northern Rakhine state in Myanmar. For several years now, many of them have been desperate enough to risk their lives in small boats sailing from Bangladesh or Myanmar.

UNHCR hopes to discuss with the Thai government ways to defuse the current crisis in line with international humanitarian standards, and how countries in the region can address the root causes that impel them to put their lives at risk on such perilous journeys.

NEGOTIATIONS START ON ANTI-RACISM REVIEW CONFERENCES OUTCOME DOCUMENT

On the Anti-Racism Review Conference, also known as the Durban Review Conference, members of a working group established to negotiate and finalize a draft outcome document began formal negotiations on Monday. The Review Conference itself will take place in Geneva from 2024 April.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched a new web site with information on the Review Conference and its preparatory process. One can visit it at:

www.un.org/durbanreview2009.

  • *The guests at the briefing 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.

    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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