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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-02
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, February 2, 2009
BAN KI-MOON CONGRATULATES IRAQIS ON VIOLENCE-FREE PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
congratulates the people of Iraq for strongly exercising their right to vote last weekend in governorate elections, in an atmosphere that was notably and admirably free of violence.
He was deeply impressed by their resolve to participate in a process that should strengthen Iraqs democracy and further the cause of national reconciliation. He commends their determination to ensure a transparent and credible process.
The Secretary-General lauds the efforts of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for organizing these elections as planned, and commends the professionalism and commitment of the staff involved at each step of the process. He salutes the massive domestic observation effort facilitated by IHEC, involving more than a half million national observers and political party agents.
The Secretary-General is also pleased to note the significant presence of international monitors, which is a strong demonstration of support to the Iraqi people and the IHEC on this important day.
He expresses his satisfaction that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was able to make helpful contributions to the process, including through its technical assistance. He reaffirms the United Nations' commitment to support and assist the IHEC during the next stage of the process, which includes the adjudication of formal complaints before results can be certified.
PAKISTAN: BAN KI-MOON DEEPLY DISTRESSED BY KILLING, APPARENT ABDUCTION OF STAFF MEMBERS
The Secretary-General was
deeply distressed to learn about the attack on two UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers today in Quetta, Pakistan that took the life of Syed Hashim and resulted in the apparent abduction of John Solecki.
He condemns, in the strongest terms, attacks on UN staff who serve the neediest people around the world. Such acts are aimed, not only against UN personnel, but also against those they serve selflessly and with dedication.
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Hashim and calls for the immediate and safe release of Mr. Solecki.
UNHCR reports that the two staff members were on their way to UNHCRs office in Quetta about 8 a.m. when their vehicle was stopped by armed men. The driver, Syed Hashim, who had worked for UNHCR for 18 years, was shot and died later in a Quetta hospital. John Solecki, the head of the UNHCR sub-office in Quetta for the past two years, was apparently abducted.
The High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is quoted as saying that UNHCRs mission in more than 110 countries around the world, including in Pakistan, is aimed solely at easing the plight of refugees, displaced people and innocent civilians in a totally impartial and Humanitarian manner, he added. The targeting of those who help the worlds most vulnerable people leaves all of us deeply shocked and saddened.
In response to further questions, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was doing its best to secure the earliest possible release of the apparent abductee. She noted that, as general policy, the United Nations does not comment on such situations until a release has been obtained, and she also reiterated UN policy of not paying any ransom.
BAN KI-MOON, ADDRESSING AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT, PLEDGES CONTINUING U.N. SUPPORT FOR AFRICA
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today
addressed the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, pledging the United Nations continuing support for Africa and praising progress in the efforts to form governments in Somalia and Zimbabwe.
He said that all of us can take pleasure in the progress to a political settlement in Somalia, and he congratulated the newly elected President, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. The people of Somalia, he added, must build on their excellent start in Djibouti to achieve a truly national political and social compact. We issued a statement over the weekend about the election in Somalia.
On Zimbabwe, he urged all sides to build on the hard-won breakthrough which has taken place, so that the international community can partner with Zimbabwe in meeting the desperate humanitarian needs of its people. He added that he will immediately send a high-level humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe.
Speaking later at a press conference, the Secretary-General said that, at a meeting yesterday with President Robert Mugabe, he urged the President to uphold the human rights and democratic freedoms of all Zimbabweans and promote national reconciliation, including the release of all prisoners arrested over the past few months.
The Secretary-General also told the
African Union summit his concerns about the latest violence in Darfur on which we also issued a statement last night. In his press conference, he noted that dramatic events have unfolded in Muhadjeria, and that he has urged President Omar al-Bashir for maximum restraint and has urged the Justice and Equality Movement to withdraw from the city to protect innocent civilians.
He also spoke about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he said that the spirit behind the new cooperation in the east should be the basis for building lasting peace. And he expressed his concern about recent developments in Madagascar and urged all parties in that country to address their differences peacefully and through existing constitutional mechanisms.
Asked about the humanitarian mission that is to go to Zimbabwe, the Spokeswoman said that the agreement to send the mission came when the Secretary-General met on Sunday with President Mugabe on the margins of the African Summit.
Describing that meeting, Okabe said that the Secretary-General, while welcoming the agreement of the parties to form a government as a first step towards full democracy, urged President Mugabe to take immediate measures to address the humanitarian and economic crises. He further urged him to uphold the human rights and democratic freedoms of all Zimbabweans and promote national reconciliation.
In this regard, the Secretary-General urged President Mugabe to release all prisoners arrested over the past few months. The Secretary-General pledged that the United Nations would work closely with the new government on the implementation of humanitarian programs, the Spokeswoman said.
Asked about further details of the humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe, Okabe said that it would be led by Catherine Bragg of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
THOUSANDS SEEK PEACEKEEPERS PROTECTION IN DARFUR TOWN
The African UnionUnited Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that it received yesterday a request from the Government of Sudan to withdraw its forces from Muhajeriya, approximately 80 kilometers east of Nyala, South Darfur, due to the recent deterioration of the security situation in the area.
Highly conscious of its responsibilities in Darfur, UNAMID has initiated diplomatic and political consultations, at the highest levels, with the Government of Sudan. These discussions, which are still ongoing, aim at ensuring that the Missions presence in Muhajeriya is maintained, so that it can continue to carry out its mandated tasks of providing protection to the civilian population and secure the provision of humanitarian assistance to those who need it.
UNAMID reported earlier today that the security situation in Sector South remains unpredictable due to aerial bombardments and frequent movement of unidentified aircraft over the town of Muhajeria. UNAMID estimates that about 5,000 people are reported to have concentrated at the UNAMID base for the second time since the fighting began between Government of Sudan and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces on 15 January. It was also reported that two persons were injured during an explosion that occurred earlier during the day and were taken to a hospital in Muhajeria.
SOMALIAS OPEN AND TRANSPARENT VOTE IS WELCOMED
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah has
praised the open and transparent manner in which the voting in Djibouti was carried out.|
He said the election showed that progress is being achieved in establishing an inclusive Somali parliament. He is encouraged by the fact that all candidates for parliament have voiced support for a possible national unity government. He also noted that the international community has already pledged to back the reconciliation process. He also pledged continued UN support.
D.R CONGO: UNITED NATIONS WILL HAVE NO DEALING WITH INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) wishes to clarify that it will not participate in any transaction or operation in which Congolese warlord Bosco Ntangada will play a role at any level. Ntangada, as you know, was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, including enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them in active hostilities.
Meanwhile, the Missions Task Planning and Liaison team assigned to the Goma headquarters of the DRC/Rwanda joint military operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels is not yet up and running. The Task Planning and Liaison team was dispatched last week at the request of the Congolese government. Its role is strictly limited to planning and liaison, with a goal of facilitating and coordinating the United Nations humanitarian work in the areas affected by the joint military operation.
UNITED NATIONS SEEKS $613 MILLION FOR GAZA RECONSTRUCTION
Today in Geneva, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes launched a $613 million flash appeal for Gaza. The UN arrived at that amount following various needs assessments over the past two weeks.
The plan incorporates 106 projects by non-governmental organizations, as well as 82 UN projects, which will respond to the emergency humanitarian and early recovery needs of some 1.4 million people in Gaza.
Launching the appeal, Holmes said, We are here today not to debate the rights and wrongs but to highlight the needs arising from the recent events in Gaza and to request urgent funds to allow the UN and partners to: restore basic social services such as water, health and education; provide food; support emergency repairs of critical infrastructure; and begin to tackle psychological and protection concerns.
Holmes stressed that, in order for the aid agencies to meet the formidable challenges ahead, two basic conditions have to be met. The first is much freer access for humanitarian goods and staff. In that context, he noted that many humanitarian workers are still being refused regular entry into Gaza.
The second condition is that meeting immediate needs should be kept separate from political considerations. Holmes said the UN will engage all parties in Gaza, including the Palestinian Authority, Israel and those in control on the ground, to try to ensure that there is no political interference in the movement or distribution of humanitarian aid, and no diversion of it. The UN is, for example, exploring ways to strengthen audit and control over the delivery of aid to ensure that it reaches the intended beneficiaries.
SPECIAL ENVOY MEETS MYANMAR OPPOSITION LEADER, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in Yangon on Saturday for a four-day working visit in the context of the Secretary-General's good offices mandate.
Since his arrival, Mr. Gambari has met extensively with Government counterparts, members of the opposition and other political parties, as well as other interlocutors.
Mr. Gambari has met with the so-called Government Spokesperson Authoritative Team composed of the Ministers of Information, Foreign Affairs, and Culture, as well as with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Planning, Health and Agriculture. He also met with the Minister for Liaison with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Today, for the first time, Mr. Gambari met for over an hour jointly with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the Central Executive Committee of the National League for Democracy, as well as, separately, with representatives of the Shan National League for Democracy.
In addition, Mr. Gambari has met with the Tripartite Core Group, composed of Myanmar,
ASEAN and the United Nations, on the progress made in the humanitarian, recovery and reconstruction efforts following Cyclone Nargis.
Asked about press accounts that Aung San Suu Kyi was frustrated by the process in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman noted that today was the first time in almost a year that Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the Central Executive Committee of her NLD party have been able to meet, and the first time that Gambari was able to meet with them together. Okabe said that they had open, detailed and cordial discussions on the agenda developed with all interlocutors in the course of his visits so far, including the release of political prisoners, the dialogue between the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi, the need for a credible and inclusive political process, and ways to address socio-economic issues.
Asked whether Gambari would brief the Security Council, Okabe said that Gambari will brief the Secretary-General immediately after his visit, possibly towards the end of this week. Asked about a possible visit by the Secretary-General to Myanmar, she said that the Secretary-General first wants to hear from Gambari before considering that possibility.
SRI LANKA: HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL CONCERNED AT FATAL SHELLING OF HOSPITAL
The UN Humanitarian Coordinators spokesman, Gordon Weiss today expressed concern over a northeastern hospital that has been shelled numerous times over a 24-hour period, including at midday today. The
shelling resulted in the killing of 11 people altogether, including one nurse.
Weiss said that it is uncertain where the shellfire came from but that his office had notified both parties about what has been going on. Unfortunately, this has not seemed to bring an end to the artillery strikes, he added.
The hospital, which is located in the Mullaithivu District, has around 600 patients, with new people arriving all the time. Hundreds of those are critically injured and cant be treated. The International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to negotiate a new convoy out of the area and into Government-controlled territory, where the patients can be treated properly, according to Weiss.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is continuing negotiations with the Government to secure an adequate window for the next humanitarian convoy into the area. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), no convoy has gotten in since last week.
JAPAN ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY FOR FEBRUARY: Japan has assumed the rotating Presidency of the
Security Council for the month of February, and Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu is holding bilateral meetings with other Council members today to discuss the programme of work for the month ahead.
AFGHANISTAN: MISSION CHIEF SADDENED BY SUICIDE BOMBING: Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, said today that he was deeply saddened to learn of a bomb attack at a police centre in the province of Uruzgan that has left many dead or wounded.
Eide said the attack shows contempt both for human life and for the communitys wishes for a just Afghanistan. He said that people across Afghanistan want and need better justice and law enforcement, and efforts to train and professionalize the police are aimed at meeting that demand.
TRIBUNAL CONFIRMS LIFE SENTENCE FOR FORMER RWANDAN OFFICIAL: An appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has
confirmed a life sentence against François Karera, a former Rwandan official, for his leading role in the attempted extermination of Rwandas ethnic Tutsi population. Karera was proven guilty in December 2007 of crimes against humanity, including genocide. He was most active in the organized mass murder in the region around Kigali. Karera will remain held at the UN detention facility in Arusha, pending his transfer to a host country to serve his full sentence.
OPIUM PRODUCTION EXPECTED TO DECREASE ACROSS THE BOARD: The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued two separate reports on opium production today. The first,
covering Afghanistan, says the amount of opium grown there will likely drop this year. Declines are even expected in the seven most unstable provinces in the south and southwest, where most of the countrys production is concentrated. The
second report covers South East Asia, which now accounts for just five per cent of the worlds illicit opium, down from 50 per cent in 1990. Thailand and Laos are almost opium-free. Myanmar saw a slight increase last year and remains the worlds second largest producer of opium. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warns that recent gains are fragile, and sustainable development measures are needed to maintain the progress made so far.
STUDY FINDS VACCINE COULD HAVE AVERTED GERMAN MEASLES CASES: According to research published today in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO), immunization could have
prevented a fatal measles outbreak in Germany in 2006. The outbreak highlights the need for vaccination reminders and better information for parents. Measles still causes an estimated 197,000 deaths each year around the world, the majority of them children under the age of five.
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