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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-03
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES HOLDING OF ELECTIONS IN IRAQ AND SOMALIA
Security Council held its first consultations under Japans Security Council Presidency and approved its programme of work for February.
Also, under other matters, the Security Council heard a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General for
Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet about recent developments in Darfur.
Ambassador Takasu then read out two press statements by the Council. In one statement, Council members
welcomed the election of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as President of Somalia and expressed their strong support for the peace process there.
Iraq, Council members
welcomed the holding of provincial elections on 31 January and congratulated the Iraqi people for demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful and democratic political process.
CIVILIANS SEEK SAFETY FROM AERIAL BOMBINGS NEAR A.U./U.N. CAMP IN DARFUR
The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reports today that aerial bombings were conducted around Muhajeria town in South Darfur, and civilians are still gathered outside the UNAMID camp seeking refuge.
UNAMID officials were prevented by Sudanese National Security from undertaking an assessment visit to Muhajeria, due to the current security situation in the area, according to the mission.
The Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada, is engaged in diplomatic and political consultations with the Government of Sudan, with the aim of ensuring the protection of civilians in Muhajeria. He is also scheduled to travel to Chad tomorrow.
Meanwhile, leaders from Labado, about 60 to 80 kilometres from Nyala, met with UNAMID officials to discuss the prevailing security situation in the town. They indicated that people from surrounding villages have started moving towards Nyala.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has
expressed her alarm about rapidly deteriorating conditions reportedly facing civilians in the Muhajeria area of South Darfur.
Fighting between Government forces and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Mini Minawi faction (SLA/MM) against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has resulted in civilian casualties and displaced some 30,000 people. Some 5,000 have sought refuge in the vicinity of the UNAMID military camp in Muhajeria.
Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, this morning briefed the Security Council on the grave developments over the last 96 hours in the Muhajeriya area. Regarding the development today in which UNAMID was prevented from travelling to Muhajeriya, Mr. Mulet said it is critical that the Government ensure access for UNAMID personnel.
The Secretary-General, in his
statements over the last several days, has urged both parties to immediately cease all hostilities and exercise restraint, called on the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to withdraw from Muhajeriya, and recommitted UNAMID to protecting civilians in the area.
U.N. ENVOY WRAPS UP TRIP TO MYANMAR
The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari concluded a four-day working visit to
Mr. Gambari was received today for about an hour by Prime Minister Thein Sein in Yangon. The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Planning, Information, Culture and Health.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Gambari also met for the second time with the Government Spokesperson Authoritative Team, composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Information and Culture.
Mr. Gambari is expected to meet with the Secretary-General in India to report on the overall outcome of his visit.
The Spokeswoman said, in response to a question, that the Prime Minister was the most senior Government official that Gambari met on the trip that just ended.
Asked about press accounts that Aung San Suu Kyi was frustrated by the good offices process in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman reiterated that yesterday 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.
The Spokeswoman 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 what more the Secretary-General can do to press the Myanmar Government, Okabe said that the Secretary-General has expressed his frustration at the lack of progress on the issues which Gambari raised with the Government during his last visit, including the need for dialogue between the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi. He is nevertheless determined to persist in his efforts, she said.
He had therefore asked Gambari to continue his discussions and engagement with the Myanmar Government, opposition and other stakeholders as an integral part of this process in the implementation of the Secretary-Generals mandate, she added.
Asked when Gambari and the Secretary-General would meet, Okabe said it would be in India on Thursday.
Asked whether he would then meet the
Security Council, she said that would be for Council members to decide.
APPEAL LAUNCHED FOR FOOD AND OTHER ASSISTANCE FOR AFGHANISTAN
John Holmes, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, today
launched a Humanitarian Action Plan for
Afghanistan for 2009, for a total of slightly more than US$600 million.
Speaking to the press in Geneva, Holmes said that the situation in Afghanistan is serious, and is getting worse, in particular due to the escalating armed conflict and the severe drought which had been present for two years in some parts of the country. He warned, The lack of security in some areas also prevents humanitarian aid workers from carrying out their life-saving work.
The biggest single need, he said, is to increase food assistance, in particular because of the effects of rising food prices. Also, as a consequence of drought, an estimated 1.2 million children under five years of age and some 550,000 pregnant and lactating women are at high risk of malnutrition. Some $354 million of todays appeal will be set aside for food aid, with another $100 million to be for mine action.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon left Addis Ababa today for the United Arab Emirates, arriving this afternoon in Abu Dhabi. In the evening, he met with the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayed al Nahyan. That meeting is being followed by a working dinner.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for a durable and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza and for the opening of all the crossing points into Gaza.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with the UAE Foreign Minister, the Spokeswoman later added that they discussed various issues of mutual interest, including the
Millennium Development Goals, Gaza and the Middle East, Iraq and the UAE's support for mine action in South Lebanon.
NOT ENOUGH AID GETTING INTO GAZA
The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report that the number of truckloads of aid permitted to enter Gaza daily by the Israeli authorities remains insufficient.
In addition, only a very restricted list of items is being allowed in through the crossings. For example, last Friday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was not allowed to bring into Gaza the plastic bags that it uses to distribute supplies. With some 20,000 food parcels distributed daily, such bags are a vital component of UNRWAs assistance.
Meanwhile, as of yesterday, only three non-school UNRWA shelters remain open, hosting nearly 400 displaced people. But although most people have left the shelters since the ceasefire, thousands of Gazans still remain homeless, according to UNSCO.
World Health Organization reports that most health facilities have resumed normal operation and that large volumes of medical supplies have been donated, but drugs used to treat mental health problems are still lacking and urgently needed. Also needed are items such as syringe pumps, ventilators and anesthesia monitors.
In terms of additional priority requirements, UNRWA says it needs blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, kitchen kits, hygiene kits, water tanks, clothing and tents.
UNSCO also reports that rolling blackouts are still continuing in most of the Gaza Strip, with some areas experiencing power cuts of 12 hours a day.
Asked what the United Nations can do to obtain the opening of crossing points to Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is working through a variety of avenues to get the crossings opened.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER RISE OF ILLEGAL DRUG TRAFFICKING IN SIERRA LEONE
In his first
report on the U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, a follow-on mission whose mandate took effect on 1 October 2008, the Secretary-General says Sierra Leone has continued to make progress in consolidating peace, but much remains to be done, particularly in the areas of youth unemployment, poor infrastructure, and an extremely low revenue base.
A new phenomenon of particular concern is illicit drug trafficking, with Sierra Leone being used as a trans-shipment point, he says. It is critical that the countrys capacity to address this issue be enhanced, including through assistance in combating piracy in coastal waters, before the problem takes root and poses even greater challenges.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS MEMBER STATES FOR MORE TROOPS FOR DR CONGO MISSION
In a letter to the Security Council president, the Secretary-General regrets that Member States have not come forward as hoped with additional troops for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). 49 troop contributing countries and 12 potential troop contributors have been asked for resources.
So far, the Organization has accepted an offer from Bangladesh for one infantry battalion, one engineer company and one formed police unit. It has also accepted a Belgian offer of a C-130 aircraft, while five other Member States will send the Mission the required intelligence experts. There are also several indications of offers by other Member States.
In conclusion, the Secretary-General renews his appeal to troop- and police-contributing countries to come forward with essential offers.
Meanwhile, in the field,
UNICEF says that it has helped secure the release of 85 children recruited by the Mayi Mayi ethnic militias in the eastern part of the DRC. The children, aged between 7 and 17, include five girls. The agency is now attempting to find their families.
Asked why countries have stopped contributing troops to UN peacekeeping operations, the Spokeswoman noted that Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy had
briefed the Security Council in detail last month about the challenges involved in force generation.
ROMANIA AND UKRAINE AGREE TO INTERNATIONAL COURT RULING ON MARITIME BORDER
Both Romania and Ukraine appear to have agreed to a unanimous
verdict delimiting their maritime border in the Black Sea after a decades-old dispute. The ruling by the International Court of Justice marked the sea border halfway between the territorial waters of the two countries, but handed Romania some 80% of the disputed area. The continental shelf of that area is believed to contain considerable hydrocarbon deposits.
Romania filed a complaint against Ukraine in 2004 after half a dozen rounds of bilateral efforts failed to settle the matter. The case initially focused on a disagreement on the jurisdiction over an islet between the two countries known as Serpents' Island.
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