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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-01-30

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

Friday, January 30, 2009

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF SAFE PASSAGE FOR CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN SRI LANKA FIGHTING

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

welcomes President Mahinda Rajapaksas announcement of safe passage for all civilians trapped in the area of intense fighting in the North to a secure environment. However, he continues to be concerned by the threat to the estimated 250,000 civilians caught in the area, who are in close proximity to the fighting.

He urges the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to do all in their power to make this safe passage a reality, and to ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.

The Secretary-General calls upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in particular, to allow civilians in the conflict zone to move to where they feel most secure, including areas controlled by the Government of Sri Lanka. He also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that those civilians arriving from the Vanni and other conflict areas are treated in accordance with international standards. Such standards include guaranteeing their freedom of movement, providing basic services, and allowing full access by humanitarian agencies.

For its part, the United Nations stands ready to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance.

The Secretary-General strongly underlines the need for urgent steps toward a speedy and orderly end to the fighting.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, yesterday, the United Nations, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross, negotiated a four-hour pause in fighting. That pause allowed for 226 patient evacuations including 50 critically injured children. Some UN staff also left. Also during the four-hour window, 14 Government trucks, carrying nearly 180 tons of food aid from the World Food Programme, were brought into the area controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

UNICEF today called the situation in Sri Lanka a crisis for children, noting that the increasing number of children injured includes some who are only a few months old.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES POWER-SHARING AGREEMENT IN ZIMBABWE

The Secretary-General

welcomes the agreement of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to join a government of national unity in Zimbabwe, in line with the 15 September Global Peace Agreement and the communiqué of the Extraordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community Heads of State and Government of 27 January 2009.

The United Nations pledges its full support to the implementation of the 15 September Agreement.

The Secretary-General calls on the new Government to take all necessary measures to address the humanitarian and economic crises in the country and respect democratic freedoms.

ZIMBABWES CHOLERA EPIDEMIC NOT UNDER CONTROL

The World Health Organization (WHO)

says that Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak, one of the world's largest ever recorded, is far from being brought under control.

An enhanced response is needed to urgently reverse an epidemic that has so far infected more than 60,000 people and killed more than 3,100 since August 2008.

Unless drastic action is taken by all players in this crisis, more Zimbabweans will succumb to the outbreak, and other countries in the southern African region will face the continued threat of spill over epidemics," says Dr Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for WHO's Health Action in Crises Cluster.

WHO lists a number of urgent measures needed in Zimbabwe including: Increasing awareness, particularly at grassroots level, regarding prevention and treatment measures, Making available more medicines, particularly Oral Rehydration Salts and chlorine tablets, at the community level so that health care workers, and ordinary people themselves, have the means to quickly treat cases of cholera that emerge, and mobilizing resources to pay thousands of Zimbabwean doctors, nurses and other health staff who have been unable to obtain salaries and have not had enough money for basic needs, such as buying a bus ticket to get to work and opening access to more nongovernmental organizations to respond to the cholera outbreak in more areas of the country.

In an effort to bolster the fight against the spread of the disease, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, has allocated some $7.8 million from the

Central Emergency Response Fund to help the Zimbabwean authorities and United Nations agencies to implement a number of urgently-needed life-saving programmes.

U.N. ENVOY TO BEGIN VISIT TO MYANMAR TOMORROW

The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, will

begin on 31 January a four-day visit to Myanmar, at the invitation of the Myanmar Government.

The Secretary-General has asked his Special Adviser to visit Myanmar to continue his consultations with the Government and other relevant parties in the implementation of the good offices mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly.

He looks forward to meaningful discussions with all concerned on all the points raised during his last visit.

Asked about who Gambari would be meeting, the Spokeswoman said he looks forward to meeting all stakeholders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and top members of the State Peace and Development Council.

In response to whether Gambari would brief the Security Council, the Spokeswoman said that, as usual, Gambari will first brief the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. It is up to the members of the Security Council to decide whether to invite Gambari to brief them, she added.

BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL PUSH FOR DEVELOPMENT

Speaking to the press at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Secretary-General made an appeal this morning for new partnerships to push for development, growth, global health and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. The call to stand in solidarity with the poorest people of the world came during a joint press conference by the Secretary-General and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The Secretary-General told reporters about the potential for a Green New Deal, saying, Many more people now understand that scaling up a green, low-carbon economy is the best investment we can make. It can help solve the economic crisis. It will create jobs and spur growth. It is a critical step towards a sustainable future, for rich nations as well as poor. He added that pushing for employment opportunities in jobs that help to deal with climate change is a way to catch two birds with one stone.

The Secretary-General later had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Brown, where they discussed Gaza and the Middle East peace process, the next Group of 20 gathering in London, climate change, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Sudan.

In a later meeting with Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, the Secretary-General received an update on the prospects for concluding the Doha round of trade talks in 2009. They agreed that concluding the round and guarding against protectionism could make a critical contribution to the global economic recovery.

The Secretary General and Quartet envoy Tony Blair met to discuss how best to make progress in the

Middle East peace process -- first by making sure that humanitarian and early recovery needs are met, and then by laying the ground for a durable ceasefire acceptable to both sides, as well as long-term reconstruction and a political resolution.

The Secretary-General had a constructive meeting with the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, on how a successful deal on climate change can be reached in Copenhagen later in the year.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General will travel onward to Addis Ababa, where he will attend the summit of the African Union.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY CONDEMNS KILLING OF PROVINCIAL COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms the assassination of three of the candidates in this weekends elections, in Mosul, Baghdad and Mandali, and he warned that the killings were an attempt to disrupt the democratic process on the eve of the elections.

De Mistura added, The Iraqi people have overwhelmingly shown their determination for conducting this election fairly and freely, undeterred by isolated intimidating tactics.

Both the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and the United Nations expressed their confidence in the electoral process for tomorrows provincial council elections, as well as in the mechanisms available for conducting the elections in a transparent manner.

DR CONGO: MILITARY OPERATIONS IN NORTH KIVU CAUSE MORE CIVILIANS TO FLEE

Tensions are rising in the Congolese province of South Kivu, and civilians are being displaced due to the joint DRC/Rwanda military operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the neighboring North Kivu province, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

reports.

The agency adds that some 5,000 people have fled the area after local militia opposed to the military operation blocked the main road in and out of the area. This emerging crisis will likely delay the return of Congolese refugees from neighboring Tanzania, UNHCR says, as the region is a hub for those returning from exile in Tanzania.

The security situation in the region has recently caused some 4,500 Congolese to flee into to Uganda, bringing to 40,000 the number of Congolese refugees in southern Uganda. UNHCR intends to relocate some 8,000 of them next week.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of Rwandan exiles, including relatives of FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) fighters, are asking for UNHCR assistance for a safe return to Rwanda. The agency has so far helped more than 200 of them travel back to their country. Another 300 are now in transit center in the DRC waiting for their time to go home.

THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES FLEE INTO CHAD FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The UN Refugee Agency

reports that more than 4,500 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have recently arrived in south-eastern Chad, fleeing attacks from CAR-based rebels. Following up on this, a UN humanitarian assessment team traveled to southern Chad near the border with CAR. There the team met with refugees who told them that rebels invaded their village in late December. The refugees, most of whom are women and children, said they believe that the rebels still control the area, making it unsafe for them to return.

In northeastern Chad, meanwhile, the UN-trained Integrated Security Contingent conducted a weapons search in the Am Nabak refugee camp. The raid led to the seizure of forbidden equipment.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ROBUST U.N. STRATEGY TO IMPLEMENT RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

In his latest

report on implementing the responsibility to protect, the Secretary-General underscores that the best way of preventing the misuse of that concept would be to develop fully a UN strategy, as well as standards, processes, tools and practices, for the responsibility to protect.

To that end, the report outlines a three-pillar strategy for advancing the agenda mandated by the Heads of State and Government at the 2005 World Summit. The strategy stresses the value of prevention and, when it fails, of early and flexible response, tailored to the specific circumstances of each case.

CODE OF CONDUCT SIGNED TO INCREASE COOPERATION ON FIGHTING PIRACY

Nine countries yesterday signed a Code of Conduct to fight piracy on ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, at a high-level meeting convened by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in Djibouti.

These countries are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen.

The Code of Conduct mentions the possibility of shared operations. In the future, certain authorized law enforcement officials might be allowed to embark on patrol ships or aircraft of a signatory state to facilitate the arrest and subsequent prosecution of suspected pirates.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT UNREST IN MADAGASCAR

The Secretary-General has been closely

following the situation in Madagascar, as a result of serious unrest and the death of dozens of people that took place in Antananarivo and elsewhere recently. He is concerned about the security of the population and deplores the loss of life there.

The Secretary-General calls on the Malagasy Government to place an absolute priority on the protection of the population.

It is up to the Malagasy parties to settle their disagreements through peaceful means and an inclusive dialogue.

The United Nations reiterates its offer of support to the dialogue process and to national reconciliation.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MOURNS PASSING OF WOMENS RIGHTS CHAMPION

The Secretary-General was deeply

saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair. A lifelong champion of the rights of women, she served as Secretary-General of the World Conference on the United Nations Decade for Women, held in 1980 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and also served as Special Advisor to UNICEF on womens development. As the first ever woman to be appointed, in 1982, as an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Mair had the distinction of serving the United Nations diligently for many years.

A Jamaican, Dr. Mair served her country with distinction for many years, including as Ambassador to the United Nations, as Minister and Senator. She also had strong connections to the NGO and academic communities in her country, in her region the Caribbean and globally. She has left a legacy of which her family and many friends, and men and women around the world can be justly proud.

PROCESS LAUNCHED TO IDENTIFY NEXT UNDP ADMINISTRATOR

Asked whether Ad Melkert might be selected to replace Kemal Dervis as Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has written to inform Member States of the search process that has been launched by the Secretary-General in order to identify the next UNDP Administrator.

The first step in this process, she said is to establish a shortlist of qualified candidates. Member States have been invited to encourage suitable candidates to apply for the position. In order to obtain as wide a basis for selection as possible the vacancy is also being advertised in The Economist.

Following a rigorous and orderly selection process, the Secretary-General will consult on his choice with the Executive Board of UNDP before forwarding the name of his nominee to the General Assembly, Okabe added.

The Spokeswoman said that the process is a careful and transparent effort to identify the strongest candidates and to allow for a rapid but also deliberate determination of who should take charge of one of the key appointments in the developmental field within the United Nations system.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY TO PASS FROM FRANCE TO JAPAN: Over the weekend, Frances Presidency of the

Security Council will end, and Japan will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February.

U.N. EXPANDS APPEAL FOR THOSE DISPLACED IN PAKISTAN: The U.N.s six-month

Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan, launched last September to help those displaced by floods and conflict has been revised and extended through the end of 2009. The Appeal now seeks US$127 million, up from US$55 million earlier. While most of the immediate needs have been met, fighting between the Government and militant groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in Swat District in the North West Frontier Provinces continues to cause significant internal displacement. The UN foresees that the conflict in these areas will continue to escalate throughout 2009, resulting in new displacements of up to 625,000 people.

  • *The guest at noon was John Ging, Director of Gaza Operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

    THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS[1]

    31 January 6 February 2009

    Saturday, 31 January

    Special Adviser to the Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari begins a four-day visit to Myanmar.

    Today is the last day of Frances Security Council presidency.

    Sunday, 1 February

    Today is the first day of Japans Security Council presidency.

    Monday, 2 February

    In Addis Ababa, the Secretary-General is scheduled to address the African Union Summit.

    At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Stephen Rapp, Chief Prosecutor for the

    Special Court for Sierra Leone, briefs on the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

    The guest at the noon briefing is Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, who will provide an update on the status of renovations at U.N. headquarters.

    From today through Friday, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy visits the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

    In Geneva, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes officially launches the Flash Appeal for Gaza.

    From today through 13 February in Geneva, the Human Rights Council resumes its Universal Periodic Review.

    Tuesday, 3 February

    The Secretary-General is scheduled to be in Abu Dhabi for an official visit.

    At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Staffan de Mistura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, briefs via video conference link on the Iraqi elections.

    At 12.30 p.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Yukio Takasu, Permanent Representative of Japan, briefs, in his capacity as the President of the Security Council for February, on the Councils programme of work for the month.

    In Geneva, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes and Bo Asplund, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, launch the Humanitarian Action Plan for Afghanistan.

    The World Trade Organizations General Council meets today and tomorrow in Geneva.

    Wednesday, 4 February

    The Secretary-General is scheduled to make an official visit to Pakistan.

    From today through 13 February, the Commission for Social Development (CSD) holds its 47th session. The opening meeting takes place at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 4.

    At 2 p.m. in Room S-226, Wim Kok, Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Ambassador Kirsti Lintonen, Permanent Representative of Finland; Elsa Stamatopoulou from DESAs Division for Social Policy and Development; and Bience Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union, discuss social integration, the theme of the current CSD session.

    In Nicosia, the Greek Cypriot leader, Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, meet under UN auspices.

    Thursday, 5 February

    The Secretary-General is scheduled to be in New Delhi, where he is expected to attend to attend the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2009.

    Friday, 6 February

    Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator is scheduled to begin a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    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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