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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-09
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, February 9, 2009
BAN KI-MOON TO BRIEF ON HIS RECENT TRAVELS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet with the members of the
Security Council at 3.30 this afternoon, in closed consultations, to brief them about his recently-concluded travels. Over the past two weeks, he attended the African Union summit in Addis Ababa and visited UN Missions in
Afghanistan and in
Iraq, among other stops.
Then, at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), the Secretary-General plans to brief the press on his recent travels.
U.N. IN SRI LANKA CONDEMNS SUICIDE ATTACK AT CENTRE FOR DISPLACED PERSONS
The United Nations in Sri Lanka condemns todays suicide attack on a registration centre for displaced people fleeing the conflict zone.
The attack killed and wounded many civilians, including children, who had already been forced from their homes by fighting.
Reiterating that civilians must be distinguished from combatants and protected from the fighting, the United Nations calls once again on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to separate its forces from civilians under its control.
Meanwhile, the number of people leaving the conflict zone, where the United Nations has reported that no safe place exists, continued to rise over the weekend. The number stands at more than 15,000, which means that a great majority of those in the area have remained there.
The number of deaths and injuries also remains high.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 6 new transit sites for those who have left have been set up in Vavuniya in the last 3 days, while the UN is assessing 3 more proposed temporary sites.
The United Nations is providing both shelter and non-food items to those displaced persons who have fled the fighting, but is unable to get more aid into the conflict zone.
U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH PRESIDENT OF MADAGASCAR AND MAYOR OF ANTANANARIVO
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios is in Madagascar, where he met today in the capital with President Marc Ravalomanana and mayor Andry Rajoelina.
Both parties deplored the loss of lives and agreed to put an end to the violence. They declared that they are committed to start a UN-facilitated dialogue and to resolve their differences peacefully.
Menkerios is consulting with all stakeholders and exploring how best the UN could support this dialogue process and contribute to national reconciliation.
statement, issued yesterday in response to Saturday's tragic events, in which at least 25 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured, the Secretary-General deplored the violence and lack of restraint on all sides that led to this tragedy, and he urged the Malagasy authorities to urgently initiate a fair process by which those responsible will be brought to justice. He also called upon all concerned parties to resolve their differences through peaceful and democratic means and through the exercise of responsible leadership.
DARFUR MISSION HELICOPTER IS FIRED ON NEAR EL FASHER
The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
reports that earlier today a UNAMID Mi-8 helicopter was fired at by unknown assailants, approximately 70 kilometres south west of El Fasher, while on a food supply mission.
No casualties were recorded, and the aircraft returned to El Fasher safely.
A technical inspection conducted after landing showed that the aircraft windscreen was severely damaged. UNAMID is currently investigating the incident.
Meanwhile, UNAMID also reports today that widespread displacement is ongoing following recent fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur.
Figures have yet to be verified pending sustained access, but significant numbers of people have arrived at villages and camps in North and South Darfur.
UNAMID Force Commander, General Martin Luther Agwai, today paid a one-day visit to Muhajeriya to assess the situation following the clashes between Government of Sudan forces and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
Aid agencies there have found people in urgent need of food, medicine, and water. The agencies are concerned that as many as 89,000 beneficiaries in Muhajariya and surrounding areas have not been reached with food rations.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF VISITS EASTERN D.R. CONGO
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes continues his
mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today Holmes visited the towns of Dungu and Doruma in the Haut Uele province. That region has been the theater of repeated deadly attacks by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) on civilians. Several hundred have been killed in those raids, and the Ugandan rebels have also abducted hundreds of children to fill their ranks.
While there, Holmes discussed local conditions with internally displaced people. He met with some victims of the LRA attacks. He surveyed the humanitarian response to the crisis, including issues of access and protection of civilians.
Before leaving the region, Holmes renewed his condemnation of atrocities committed by the LRA. He also called on regional authorities and the
UN Mission to keep up their efforts to prioritize the protection of civilians across eastern Congo. Holmes is now en route to Kinshasa, where he intends to meet government officials, foreign diplomats and the UN country team. His mission ends tomorrow.
Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies continue to respond to the increasing number of displaced people as a result of Lord Resistance Army (LRA) attacks in the Western and Central Equatoria states of South Sudan. The attacks resulted in death, damage of property and the displacement of thousands of people in the area, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The number of displaced people has surpassed 40,000, and humanitarian agencies are trying to meet their needs, OCHA says.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PEACEBUILDING IN SIERRA LEONE
Earlier this morning, the Security Council held an open meeting on Sierra Leone.
The Secretary-Generals Executive Representative there, Michael von der Schulenberg, presented the first
report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in that country, saying that Sierra Leone has made great strides in recent years. He said that peacebuilding in Sierra Leone will need sustained political and financial support from the international community.
HAMAS RETURNS SEIZED AID SUPPLIES TO UNITED NATIONS IN GAZA
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has today reported that the Hamas authorities in Gaza have returned to UNRWA all of the aid supplies they seized last week. As a result, UNRWA can now lift its suspension on aid imports.
But the Agencys food distribution operation to 900,000 refugees continues to be jeopardized by Israels refusal to let materials for plastic bags into Gaza.
Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has
released the findings of a survey, which show that the recent fighting has taken a strong economic, social and psychological toll on the lives of Gazans.
Almost two-thirds of the households polled said they need assistance, identifying emotional and psychological aid as a top priority, followed by employment, housing, financial support and medical attention.
With regards to children, the survey cited signs of stress, such as bedwetting, nightmares, aggressive behavior and anxiety.
Asked whether the Secretary-General has received a report from Israel about the damage done in Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations is still awaiting that information. At the same time, she said, the United Nations is conducting its own investigation into the damage done to UN schools and other facilities in Gaza.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy is continuing a visit to
Afghanistan, where today he told the press that the United Nations is working to ensure that the countrys elections take place on time, with fairness and transparency.
Le Roy noted the achievements Afghanistan has been making in health, education, de-mining and the strengthening of the armed forces and police. The United Nations, he said, will be in Afghanistan for the long term to help these achievements to be sustained in the future.
U.N. ASSISTING FAMILIES FLEEING VIOLENCE IN PAKISTANS SWAT VALLEY
The United Nations, as part of the broader humanitarian response, has begun
providing assistance to as many as 2,000 families displaced due to the on-going military operation in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.
The assistance to the migrating people provided by the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency and the World Health Organization includes food supplies, shelter materials, clothing, kitchen utensils, and water and sanitation facilities.
Twelve trucks loaded with food and non-food assistance that left Peshawar on Saturday morning safely reached the outskirts of the Swat Valley during the weekend.
Thousands of families have been migrating from Swat, where the military is engaged in an operation against militants. With fighting having intensified in recent weeks, it is estimated that 50 percent of the 1.8 million people in the area have been severely affected.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED OVER FATE OF ABDUCTED REPRESENTATIVE IN PAKISTAN
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is expressing concern over the fate of its representative in Quetta, Pakistan, John Solecki. The United Nations is seeking further information on a group called Balochistan Liberation United Front, which claimed through the local media on Saturday that it was holding Solecki.
UNHCR says that the unknown circumstances behind the abduction hampers the delivery of vital humanitarian aid in the volatile western region of Pakistan, where UN workers are now required to take extra security precautions.
UNITED NATIONS IS AWARE OF REPORTS OF VIDEO OF ABDUCTED U.N. ENVOY IN NIGER
Asked about a video reportedly showing the missing UN Special Envoy in Niger, Robert Fowler, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was aware of the reports and had no further comment.
TECHNICAL TEAM VISITS FIJI TO HELP MEDIATE POLITICAL DIALOGUE
A joint Technical Team by the United Nations and the Commonwealth is in Fiji from today until 14 February. This follows the decision by both organizations to accept the request to mediate a political dialogue. The Technical Team, in consultation with the Interim Government and Stakeholders, will develop the modalities for the United Nations and the Commonwealth to jointly mediate an inclusive, independent and time-bound political dialogue process.
While in Suva, Fiji, the Joint Technical Team will consult with a broad range of national stakeholders, as well as with regional and international actors.
SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES CHALLENGES ILLEGAL TRAFFICKING POSES TO CARIBBEAN REGION
remarks to the opening of this mornings fifth general meeting of the U.N. and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Secretary-General said that the Caribbean region possesses abundant natural assets, as well as strong democratic roots in many countries, but this stands in stark contrast to some of the regions ills. Foremost among them are trafficking in illicit drugs and small arms, and the use of the regions countries as transit points; with this trade comes violent crime.
The Secretary-General emphasized that renewed cooperation between CARICOM and the
UN Office on Drugs and Crime will be an important part of efforts to address the problem. He added that the U.N. is committed to supporting CARICOM in strengthening human rights institutions and carrying out the provisions of the Charter for Civil Society.
HAITI: U.N. MISSION URGES STRONG EFFORTS FOR SUCCESSFUL UPCOMING ELECTION
The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says it is crucially important that all efforts be made to ensure that the upcoming election can proceed in a transparent and inclusive way.
The Mission recalls that it has an electoral assistance mandate, including providing logistical and security backing to the Haitian authorities.
The Mission welcomes the progress made so far, saying that it is satisfied with the approval by the Provisional Electoral Council of 33 parties to contest the poll. But, noting the publication this past Friday of a list of certified Senate candidates, the Mission stressed that the widest participation possible is the best way to ensure the credibility of the vote and the acceptance of results by all.
In that spirit, the Mission calls on all parties to work together in an atmosphere of peace, openness and tolerance.
UNESCO TO LAUNCH ATLAS OF THREATENED LANGUAGES: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is planning to launch an
atlas of world languages that are in danger of disappearing. The event will take place in Paris next week. The atlas is published for the first time as an interactive, digital tool with updated information on over 2,500 languages. It will be available free of charge worldwide.
OUTER SPACE COMMITTEE TAKES UP RANGE OF ISSUES IN RESUMED SESSION: Possible dangers from near-Earth objects, a safety framework for nuclear power sources in outer space and space debris mitigation will be the key discussion topics at the
46th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The meeting began today in Vienna, and will last through 20 February.
Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who briefed on her recent trip to southern Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, who provided (via videolink) an update on the situation on the ground.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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New York, NY 10017
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