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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-05
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 5, 2009
BAN- KI MOON DISPATCHES SENIOR OFFICIAL TO MADAGASCAR
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remains
concerned about the tense political situation in Madagascar.
At the invitation of the Government of Madagascar, he is dispatching Haile Menkerios, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to assess the situation in the country and explore what the United Nations could do to help avert further violence and contribute towards peace and stability in Madagascar.
Mr. Menkerios will visit Madagascar from 7 to 10 February and will hold meetings with Government officials and others concerned.
BAN KI-MOON: FACING CLIMATE CHANGE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Secretary-General accepted the Sustainable Development Leadership Award in New Delhi, and, upon receiving the award, he
stressed that combating climate change will need all our leadership, all our commitment, all our ingenuity. By facing up to this crisis, he said, we have been given an exciting opportunity to make progress on a wide range of sustainable development issues. It is an opportunity we must seize.
He added that, earlier in the day, he had heard some positive messages from CEOs of Indian industry about how they plan to respond to climate change issues. He emphasized that green growth is the abiding trend of the times.
The Secretary-General also met today with his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, who briefed on the outcome of his recent visit to Myanmar from 31 January to 3 February.
The Secretary-General took note that his Special Adviser was able to continue his consultations with both the Government of Myanmar, including Prime Minister Thein Sein, and key members of the opposition, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as other relevant interlocutors. The Secretary-General looks forward to building on this visit with a view to further promoting national dialogue and reconciliation through his good offices. The Secretary-General calls on the Government and opposition to resume substantive dialogue without preconditions and without further delay.
The Secretary-General met in the afternoon with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, with whom he discussed the regional situation following the Mumbai attacks, the Secretary-Generals efforts to foster regional cooperation and Indias important role in dealing with climate change.
He also discussed the regional security situation following the Mumbai attacks with Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan. They also talked about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and progress in Nepal.
And the Secretary-General met later in the day with Sonia Gandhi, leader of the United Progressive Alliance, and discussed development and climate change issues with her.
GAZA: PLASTIC FOR FOOD PACKAGING AND PAPER FOR SCHOOLBOOKS ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED
On Gaza, the World Food Programme (WFP) is working to
distribute more than 40,000 ready-to-eat meals, which will help feed sick and injured patients in hospitals across the Strip.
Those meal packages contain items such as canned meat, chicken curry, cheese and biscuits. They are being handed out in addition to WFPs normal distributions to 365,000 Gazans affected by conflict and food shortages.
Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that it desperately needs materials to make the plastic bags it uses for food distributions, as well as paper for schoolbooks.
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has wrapped up a four-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territory and southern Israel. She was in the region to assess firsthand the situation of children. She found that, despite the Gaza ceasefires, children continue to suffer and remain in a precarious state of insecurity.
SUDAN: SECURITY COUNCIL RECEIVES BRIEFING ON NORTH/SOUTH PEACE PROCESS
The Security Council began its work this morning by hearing a briefing by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, on the latest report on Sudan.
Mr. Qazi stressed that the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement remains fundamental to peace in Sudan.
Sudans parties and leaders, and indeed, the international community, he said, will be judged by the people of Sudan on whether or not they deliver peace to them.
The Council members then held consultations on Sudan.
DARFUR: REBELS WITHDRAW FROM FLASHPOINT TOWN
The joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, completed a two-day visit Chad, where he met with the leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Khalil Ibrahim.
The consultations are part of
UNAMIDs efforts to establish good working relations with all parties involved in the Darfur conflict and recent developments in Muhajeriya.
Khalil Ibrahim informed the Special Representative that the JEM had decided to pull out of Muhajeriya after the UNAMID peacekeepers decision to remain in the area and following appeals by the Secretary-General to ensure that the local population be kept out of imminent danger.
UNAMID today confirmed the withdrawal. No fighting was reported in Muhajeriya today although the situation remains tense and approximately 3,000 people are still gathered around UNAMID team site there. UNAMID continues to monitor the situation.
In North Darfur, UNAMID is assisting the humanitarian community in the construction of accommodation people displaced by the conflict; so far 17 tents were set up in the Wadi area, West of Zam Zam camp.
SECRETARY-GENERAL AND SECURITY COUNCIL EXCHANGE LETTERS ON COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
INTO BENAZIR BHUTTO KILLING
The Secretary-General, in a
letter sent earlier this week to the President of the Security Council, announced his intention to establish a three-member Commission of Inquiry to determine the facts and the circumstances of the 2007 assassination of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto.
In his letter, the Secretary-General presented the draft terms of reference for the Commission, in which it would have a mandate of no more than six months, and would not have the duty of carrying out a criminal investigation. That duty, he writes, would remain with the Pakistani authorities.
He adds that the Commission would be composed of a panel of three eminent personalities having the appropriate experience and a reputation for probity and impartiality. The Council President, in a
reply, said the Council takes note of the Secretary-Generals intentions, with appreciation.
Asked about who would be on the Commission, the Spokeswoman said that no names would be announced until all three Commissioners have been selected.
Asked why the Commission was announced so many months after the 27 December 2007 assassination, Montas noted that the formal request for an inquiry came from the President of Pakistan during the last session of the General Assembly.
Even prior to that, she said, the United Nations and the Government of Pakistan had discussed UN assistance for an inquiry. There were many months of extensive consultation on the shape the Commission would take, she added.
EMERGENCY COORDINATOR TO BEGIN D.R. CONGO VISIT
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is traveling to Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he will arrive tomorrow. He will conduct a four-day visit there focusing on maintaining attention on urgent humanitarian issues. These include the need for concrete steps to end the violence in eastern Congo. He will also advocate for an end to violence against civilians, including sexual violence against women.
Holmes is expected to travel widely across the vast country, meeting with national and local authorities, as well as with internally displaced people, their host families, and others working to address the humanitarian crises.
He is expected to depart the DRC February 10th.
DR CONGO: U.N MISSION HELPS EXTRACT CHILDREN FROM RANKS OF ARMED GROUPS
The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) yesterday separated 28 children from the armed groups with which they were associated. Surrendering the children in their ranks, a process facilitated by the Mission, is among the requirements for these groups to be integrated into the national army. The Mission notes that 16 of the 28 children were associated with the CNDP rebel group. Others were in the ranks of various ethnic Mayi Mayi and PARECO groups.
Yesterdays action brings to more than 220 the number of children separated from armed groups by the Mission in the past week alone.
The children are now in the custody of
UNICEF, whose teams will prepare them to reintegrate into civilian life.
The Mission thanked the Congolese authorities for working toward a full integration of the army. It also renewed its appeal to all parties to continue to support this initiative, prevent children from being sent to the front, and to help separate them from armed groups.
CYPRUS LEADERS RESUME TALKS ON PROPERTY ISSUES
The Greek Cypriot leader, Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, met yesterday under UN auspices in Nicosia.
Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, Tayť-Brook Zerihoun, noted that the leaders had continued their discussions on the property issue.
Following what Zerihoun called a good round of substantive discussion, the leaders agreed to continue their talks next week, on the afternoon of 12 February. The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, will arrive on the island that morning, so he will attend that meeting.
ABKHAZIA, GEORGIA: BAN KI-MOON RECOMMENDS MISSION STAY ON DESPITE PRECARIOUS POSITION
Available today is a
report by the Secretary-General on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia. Referring to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, he says that the overall security situation in its area of responsibility since its mandate was extended on 9 October 2008 has remained tense.
He notes that the Mission has continued its work on both sides of the ceasefire line without major impediments, but the context in which the Mission operates has changed fundamentally.
For example, the status of the Moscow Agreement, which provided the basis for its mandate and the ceasefire regime, is, at best, no longer clear, and the Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeeping force, on which the Mission had to rely for its own security, is no longer in place.
In that regard, the Secretary-General says the Missions position has become precarious and could rapidly become unsustainable.
The Secretary-General also notes that the Geneva discussions on security and stability, co-chaired by the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the UN have yet to deliver tangible results. In that context, he calls upon the parties to redouble their efforts towards an agreement on security, as well as issues related to refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Secretary-General concludes that, because of the precarious security situation and in order to contribute to the well-being of local populations, the Security Council should endorse the continued presence of a UN mission, retaining the current configuration and deployment.
Asked about the use of the words Abkhazia, Georgia, in the report, the Spokeswoman noted that the designation had been used in the mandate provided by the Security Council on that topic. It would be up to the Council to decide if there are to be any changes in how the subject is designated, she added.
THAILAND: ANGELINA JOLIE VISITS CAMP FOR MYANMAR REFUGEES
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie spent yesterday
visiting a refugee camp in northern Thailand. The camp, three kilometers from the Myanmar border, is home to more than 18,000 mainly Karenni refugees. After listening to the stories, Ms. Jolie called on the Thai government to grant greater freedom of movement to Myanmar refugees in northern Thailand.
Jolies visit comes as attention has been focused on the large numbers of Rohingya migrants fleeing Myanmar in rickety boats. UNHCR recently gained access to 78 Rohingya boat people in detention in southern Thailand.
UNESCO CALLS FOR PRESERVATION OF RECENTLY-FOUND BRITISH SHIP WRECK
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has
called for measures to preserve the wreck of the British warship HMS Victory. The ship sank in the English Channel in 1744 and was recently found by a commercial deep-sea exploration company.
UNESCO stressed the need to protect this historic find, in light of its Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which entered into force last month.
The Royal Navy ship is believed to contain a large amount of gold. It sank during a storm, killing approximately 1,000 men aboard.
**The guest briefer was John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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