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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-27

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 BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FOOD CRISIS HAS NOT GONE AWAY, AND STEPPED-UP EFFORTS ARE NEEDED IN 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered the

concluding remarks today at the High-level Meeting on Food Security that was convened in Madrid by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, and he told the gathered leaders that, although food prices may have come down for the time being, the number of hungry people is set to rise again, and the prospects for smallholders remain grim.

He said that the coordination promoted by the United Nations to deal with the

food crisis last year resulted in an unprecedented effort to support nations and respond to the impact of the food crisis on the world's most vulnerable people. As food prices rose and brought the number of hungry people close to one billion, he noted, we achieved the largest emergency scale-up against hunger and malnutrition in human history.

Now, the Secretary-General said, we will have to work even harder in 2009, this year of recession. In 2008, for example, we were unable to get the seeds and fertilizers to all the smallholders who needed them in two planting seasons. We must do better in 2009, he warned.

Following the conclusion of that meeting, the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Zapatero put out a joint press statement, warning that there are nearly one billion hungry people in the world today and the number is rising as a result of the economic crisis. The way forward, they said, is a comprehensive approach that links nutrition, food security, agriculture and trade.

They expressed their delight with the response to this meeting from at least 15 countries, which indicated their intention to commit funds, technical assistance and political support for the effort to eliminate hunger. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister agreed that the UN system will establish improved mechanisms to ensure that the funds lead to sustainable benefits and measurable results.

Earlier, the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Zapatero held a bilateral meeting in which they discussed food security and the situation in Gaza.

This evening, the Secretary-General will have an audience with the King of Spain and a working dinner with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

UNITED NATIONS MARKS HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

Today is the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the

Holocaust.

To mark the day, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka chaired an event this morning here at U.N. Headquarters. At that event, the Deputy Secretary-General delivered a

message on behalf of the Secretary-General. The Secretary-Generals message said that we must continue to examine why the world failed to prevent the Holocaust and other atrocities since. That way, we will be better armed to defeat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.

His message added that we must continue to teach our children the lessons of historys darkest chapters. That will help them do a better job than their elders in building a world of peaceful coexistence.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also issued a

message to mark the day. She said this day of remembrance is about the past, but it is also about present and future challenges. She added that the International Day serves as an annual reminder that, in the future, we must act more decisively at the first signs that a climate conducive to genocide is starting to develop.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP CÔTE DIVOIRE MISSION AND MIDDLE EAST THIS AFTERNOON

At 3:00 this afternoon, the

Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting to vote on a resolution extending the mandate of the

UN Operation in Côte dIvoire.

After that, the Security Council has scheduled a formal meeting, followed by consultations, on the

Middle East.

Council members intend to hear briefings on the humanitarian situation in Gaza from the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Karen AbuZayd, and from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes. Holmes last week assessed humanitarian needs in Gaza, along with

UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry.

Earlier today, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported that all crossings between Israel and Gaza were closed today as a result of an Israeli soldier being killed. That includes the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines and the Karni grain conveyor belt.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP)

reports that it is currently assessing damage in Gaza and preparing a plan for reconstruction. Among its priorities are rubble removal and activities centered on agriculture and water and sanitation. Those areas are critical for humanitarian work to continue, UNDP says. In addition, UNDP has created womens focus groups so that local women in Gaza can provide input on how the rebuilding should proceed.

UNDP adds that it is concerned about Israeli restrictions hindering the early recovery process. For example, its team of international early recovery advisors has arrived in Jerusalem but has not yet been given access to Gaza.

UNICEF is

providing essential educational equipment and materials to re-establish learning and recreational activities, create safe environments, and help restore a sense of normalcy for children in Gaza.

In northern Gaza, UNICEF tents are serving as temporary learning spaces for girls.

Yesterday, UNICEF supplied Gaza with 130 school-in-a-box kits, which include enough exercise books and pens and pencils for 10,400 children. UNICEF also provided recreational kits and math and science kits for thousands of children, as well as 12,000 water bottles for students.

Regarding the dangers of unexploded ordnance, UNICEF is working to raise awareness through radio spots and the printing of messages on games for children.

U.N. OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER IMPACT ON CIVILIANS OF MILITARY OPERATIONS IN DR CONGO

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that the joint Congolese/Rwandan military operation against DRC-based Hutu militias continues in the east of the country.

Meanwhile, in Goma, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Alan Doss, and the Missions Force Commander, Babacar Gaye, are meeting with Congolese authorities to discuss the possible impact of the operation on civilians and on the Missions work in general.

Earlier today, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,

said that unless they are properly planned and carried out, joint military counter-operations can lead to further gross abuses of civilians rights. Pillay called on the warring parties across eastern DRC to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. She appealed to the international community to include accountability measures in its efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement of the crisis.

UNICEF, meanwhile, has

called for an immediate end to abductions, forced recruitment and extreme violence against children and women in northeastern DRC. The agency says that it has extended emergency interventions to some 9,000 internally displaced persons in the Haut-Uele region, which has suffered repeated raids by the LRA. The agency also helped return to their families a total of 114 children previously abducted by the LRA.

A team from the UN Refugee Agency has

visited the south Sudanese village of Lasu just across the Congolese border, where it has registered 680 Congolese refugees. The refugees said they had fled their homes after an attack by the LRA. There are a total of 2,000 Congolese refugees in Lasu.

U.N./A.U. DARFUR MISSION REPORTS GROUND AND AERIAL BOMBINGS NEAR EL FASHER

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that the security situation in the area remains tense.

Ground and aerial bombings by the Government continued this morning approximately 9 kilometers from El Fasher, North Darfur, in an attempt to clear the area of armed movements who had advanced towards the outskirts of the city yesterday, our mission reports. There have been no reports of civilian deaths or casualties. El Fasher airport has re-opened but the movement of personnel remains restricted.

UNAMID also reports that fighting between the Government and the Justice and Equality Movement also continued in Muhajeriya, South Darfur, resulting in approximately 3,000 people gathering around the UNAMID camp to seek shelter and protection. Three civilians were reportedly injured and are currently receiving treatment at the MSF hospital.

SUDANESE REFUGEES EVACUATED FROM IRAQI DESERT CAMP ARRIVE IN ROMANIA

The UN refugee agency

says a group of 42 Sudanese refugees arrived in Romania last night after being evacuated from a makeshift camp in the desert in Iraq.

The refugees are staying in the new Emergency Transit Centre set up by the Romanian government, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country.

They are joining another group of Sudanese who arrived last December. A total of 138 Sudanese refugees are now in the Centre, including 40 children. They will stay there until their applications for resettlement in the United States are processed.

In Iraq, the Sudanese refugees suffered abuse, blackmail, eviction and assault by militias following the 2003 downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime. A total of 17 Sudanese were killed between December 2004 and February 2005.

Because of this targeting, the refugees tried to flee Iraq but became stranded in a desert camp some 75 kilometres east of the Jordan-Iraq border. UNHCR says conditions in the tented camp were very harsh, with desert sandstorms, soaring daytime temperatures and freezing weather at night.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED OVER FORCIBLE RETURN OF SOMALI REFUGEES FROM KENYA

The UN Refugee Agency is deeply

concerned by the Kenyan governments forcible return of Somali asylum seekers. Kenyan authorities, as recently as last week, forced out three Somali nationals who had crossed the northeastern border in search of a safe haven. The three had been duly processed by UNHCR, which recommended that their case be handled by Kenyan authorities. They were among 29 Somali asylum seekers whose car was fired upon by Kenyan border patrol officers after the driver reportedly ignored the officers order to stop. UNHCR says the fate of the other 26 passengers remains unclear.

Noting that similar cases of forcible return of refugees were brought to its attention throughout 2008, UNHCR calls on the Kenya government to fully respect the principle of non-refoulement enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention.

U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF MAKES FIELD VISIT TO HAITI

Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, is in Haiti on a field visit. He met with Haitian and

UN Mission officials both at their Port-au-Prince headquarters and in Ouanaminthe, on the border with the Dominican Republic.

So far in the course of his visit, Le Roy has received a briefing on judicial and police reforms, human rights and the planned elections. He was also extensively briefed on the management of the Haitian-Dominican border.

In response to the expressed expectations of Haitian authorities, Le Roy renewed the Missions commitment to continue to support the Haitian government in building a stronger state.

UNICEF LAUNCHES $1 BILLION APPEAL FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN

CAUGHT IN PROTRACTED HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCIES

UNICEF today

released its annual Humanitarian Action Report, which highlights the plight of women and children in humanitarian emergencies, many of which have been largely forgotten.

As part of its annual funding appeal, UNICEF is seeking a little more than one billion dollars for protracted humanitarian emergencies in 36 countries. Thats an increase of about 17 per cent over last year, largely because of increased needs in eastern and southern Africa.

More than half the funds are intended to support people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY HELPS INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO FLED FROM COLOMBIA INTO VENEZUELA

The U.N. Refugee agency is

concerned about rising violence in the La Guajira province in northeastern Colombia, which is forcing indigenous populations to flee.

Earlier this month, armed men attacked the Wayuu people on their collective territory, burning down houses and threatening to kill their leader. A group of them fled across the border into Venezuela, where UNHCR is helping them.

Those who fled say that an even larger group, also fleeing the attacks, remains in hiding inside Colombia.

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM SAW ABRUPT SLOWDOWN IN SECOND HALF OF 2008

International tourism slowed down abruptly in the second half of 2008, because of a number of factors, including the financial crisis and oil price rises. This trend is expected to continue well into 2009 and probably beyond, according to the latest data from the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO).

But despite the general downward direction, several destinations around the world actually showed positive results, in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2008. These included several countries in Central America, as well as the Republic of Korea, India, Morocco and Lebanon.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS TEAM VISITS SITE OF RECENT ATTACK BY U.S. FORCES

Regarding questions asked yesterday about an incident that took place over the weekend in eastern Afghanistan, with a dispute over whether or not civilians had been killed in an attack involving U.S. forces, a team from the human rights unit of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today visited the site of the incident, in Garoosh in the province of Laghman.

Early, but as yet uncorroborated findings point to both civilian and anti-Government elements being among the dead, the Mission informs us.

UNAMAs findings are still being verified. Meanwhile, the UN Mission awaits the findings of a joint US-Afghan investigation into the incident.

  • *The guest at noon was Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the

    U.N. Population Fund, who briefed on the new U.S. Administrations intention to restore U.S. financial support for the Fund.

    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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