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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-12
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 12, 2009
DARFUR: IMMEDIATE HUMANITARIAN ACCESS NEEDED TO MORE THAN 100,000 CIVILIANS
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Ameerah Haq has
called for immediate access to over 100,000 civilians in Muhajariya and two others areas of South Darfur.
International humanitarian agencies have attempted to reach the area four times since 7 February but are unable to obtain clearance for humanitarian flights.
Ms. Haq said aid agencies need urgent access to the people who are in critical need of assistance. Unless access is immediately granted, the situation for hundreds of thousands of civilians could deteriorate rapidly, she warned.
The UN and non-governmental organizations in Nyala stand ready to provide vital food, water, shelter and medical care to vulnerable civilians who were displaced from Muhajariya into the surrounding areas following recent hostilities in the area.
NO DECISION TAKEN ON ISSUANCE OF ARREST WARRANT FOR SUDANESE PRESIDENT
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a press release, which says that no arrest warrant has been issued by the ICC against President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
The ICC press release also says that no decision has yet been taken by the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I concerning the Prosecutors application of 14 July 2008 for the issuance of such a warrant.
Finally, the ICC says that the decision will be made public once it is reached by the normal way of a press release and publication on the Courts website.
Asked about a recent meeting between the Secretary-General and ICC President Philippe Kirsch, the Spokeswoman said it was a courtesy call in which they discussed issues relating to the ICC. She said, contrary to reports, that no sealed envelope of names regarding Darfur had been transmitted to the Secretary-General. She added, in response to further questions, that Kirsch had cancelled a press appearance due to scheduling problems.
Asked how the Secretary-General would receive information about Bashirs case, Montas stressed that the Court is an independent body and does not need to inform the Secretary-General of the decisions it takes. In other cases, she noted, it has not done so.
Asked whether the Secretary-General was informed that the ICC would come to a decision on President Bashir on 20 February, Montas said that he had not received such information.
Asked whether the Secretary-General is concerned about how an ICC decision would affect the work of UN peacekeepers in Sudan, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General, in his press conference on Tuesday, had noted that he had discussed the issue with President Bashir in their recent meeting in Addis Ababa. She later added that President Bashir did commit to the Secretary General, during that meeting, that in the event of a ruling, the safety and security of UN staff in Sudan would be respected. Although the Secretary-General is concerned, she added, he has stressed that the ICC makes its decisions as an independent body.
The Spokeswoman declined to comment on reports that the discussion between the Sudanese President and the Secretary-General had been stormy, beyond noting the Secretary-Generals own description of that meeting in his recent press remarks.
ZIMBABWE: NEW GOVERNMENT MUST RESTORE RULE OF LAW
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today said she hoped the establishment of Zimbabwe's new Government of National Unity would result in an immediate effort to restore the rule of law. She expressed continuing concern over the disappearance of opposition officials, the reported use of torture to extract false confessions and infringements of the independence of the judiciary.
The Secretary-General, in a statement yesterday welcoming the swearing-in of Morgan Tsvangirai as the Prime Minister, said the new Government of National Unity will need to immediately address the economic and humanitarian crises in the country, including the current cholera epidemic. The period ahead will also be critical for consolidating human rights and democratic freedoms. He reiterated the United Nations offer of support to the new Government in its recovery efforts to ease the suffering of the Zimbabwean people.
According to the latest available statistics from the World Heath Organization, the number of cholera cases has risen above 73,000, with the cumulative deaths reported at 3,513.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS & SOMALIA
The Security Council began its consultations this morning by receiving an update on the work of the Sanctions Committee dealing with resolution 1718, which concerns the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. That committee is chaired by Ambassador Baki Ilcin of Turkey.
The Council then received briefings on recent developments in Somalia, as well as on support for the African Union Mission there. Under-Secretaries-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, and for Field Support, Susana Malcorra, are briefing Council members.
Yesterday afternoon, the Security Council President, Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, read out a press statement on behalf of the Council member that condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks at government facilities in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier that day. He said that the members of the Security Council reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, and they reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
TALKS TO RESUME SOON BETWEEN CONGOLESE GOVERNMENT AND REBEL GROUP
The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo, says that talks will resume soon between the Congolese government and the armed National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). Obansanjo said that yesterday, following a round of consultations with the concerned parties in Goma.
He also said that it now appears that all the parties would like the talks to be held on Congolese soil when they resume at a date still to be specified. For his part, the Special Envoy said that it remained desirable that the talks proceed in Nairobi. He also encouraged Congolese armed groups other than the CNDP to join the talks.
Obansanjo arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday and began an assessment of current conditions with a visit to the areas most affected by recent developments.
HUMANITARIAN MISSION FINDS DIFFICULT LIVING CONDITIONS IN WESTERN COTE DIVOIRE
The Humanitarian Coordinator in Côte dIvoire, Georg Charpentier, has led a UN multi-agency assessment mission in the west of the country. A number of non-governmental humanitarian groups also took part in the mission.
Charpentier and his party met with local authorities and formerly displaced people who are resettling in their original villages. The returnees and their representatives told the visitors that living conditions are difficult. They say they lack sufficient food, water and medical infrastructure.
The returnees also face insecurity caused by violent ex-combatants and rogue youths. They appealed for UN assistance, a request Charpentier and his team assured them would receive due consideration.
As of September last year, some 70,000 of internally displaced had returned to their original homes. Their number topped 750,000 in 2006.
SRI LANKA: AID TO AREA WHERE FIGHTING IS ONGOING REMAINS AT A STANDSTILL
With fighting continuing in northern Sri Lanka, some 24,000 displaced people have crossed over from the Vanni region this year so far. Transit sites are becoming overcrowded due to the relatively rapid influx of people and the limited number of sites prepared so far.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says a new safe zone has been demarcated along the western boundary of Mullaitivu Lagoon. This area includes the location where UN staff and their dependents are staying.
Some 368 people, including wounded children and orphans, have been evacuated to Trincomalee, where the hospital now lacks space for new arrivals.
Health authorities have identified a facility to accommodate approximately 100 of those less severely wounded, while the United Nations and Sri Lankas Department of Public Health are reviewing the adequacy of levels of preparedness and response.
The World Food Programme has provided 95 metric tons of food to the displaced people in Manikfarm, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said it is ready to meet the needs of 150,000 internally displaced persons, if required, but aid to the area where fighting is ongoing remains at a standstill.
MYANMAR ENVOY HOLDS CONSULTATIONS IN CHINA AND JAPAN
Following his recent visit to Myanmar, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari completed his consultations in the region on behalf of the Secretary-General.
In this context, Gambari visited Beijing, where he was received by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei.
They held extensive and detailed discussions on the outcome of his recent visit to Myanmar.
From Beijing, Gambari went on to Tokyo, where was received by Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and held a working meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae.
They discussed ways in which the international community can further support the Secretary-General's good offices efforts with a view to encouraging the Government and people of Myanmar to engage in a credible and inclusive democratic process.
FIRST EXPORTS IN OVER A YEAR MANAGE TO LEAVE GAZA
According to the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a truckload of cut flowers made it out of Gaza today and into Israel en route to Europe for sale. This is first time since January 2008 that Israel has allowed any exports from Gaza to leave the Strip. It is not yet clear whether more exports will be allowed out of Gaza in the coming days, the Humanitarian Coordinators office says.
Meanwhile, the office also reports that a number of crossings between Israel and Gaza were open today. At Karni, for example, 34 trucks, including 23 carrying wheat flour, made it into Gaza. Also, 440,000 liters of industrial fuel for Gazas power plant went through the Nahal Oz pipeline.
NAME ISSUE ENVOY STRESSES NEED FOR POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE
BETWEEN GREECE & FORMER YUGOSLAV REP. OF MACEDONIA
The Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, met with both parties yesterday afternoon in New York.
Yesterdays encounter was considered an exploratory meeting, as this was the first joint meeting with Skopjes new negotiator, Ambassador Zoran Jolevski. The parties continued to exchange views about the name issue.
For his part, Nimetz stressed the need to create a positive atmosphere and to avoid creating irritations among the parties. Although no new proposals were aired, he described yesterdays talks as a good, solid discussion.
The parties decided to meet again, but no date has been set yet.
USING CHILD SOLDIERS IS ONE OF THE MOST APPALLING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
This afternoon, the Secretary-General will attend an event related to the Red Hand Day Campaign, whose aim is to highlight the continued use of child soldiers.
The Secretary-General is expected to say that the forced recruitment and use of child soldiers is unacceptable and one of the most appalling human rights abuses in the world today. He will also say that the recruitment and use of children in warfare violates international law, as well as our most basic standards of human decency. Along with the entire UN system, he is determined to stamp out such abuse.
UNICEFs Executive Director, Ann Veneman, and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, will also address this afternoons event.
UNITED NATIONS RELEASES FIRST GLOBAL ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, issued today, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that enforcement, including the number of convictions, is increasing, but denial and neglect continue to undermine the fight against human trafficking.
According to the report, the first global assessment of the scope of this scourge and what is being done to fight it, the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, predominantly of women and girls.
Surprisingly, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers, at least in 30% of the countries which provided information on gender, UNODC says. Forced labour makes up 18% of human trafficking, though this could be underreported, as it is much less visible.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa urged governments to enforce international agreements, including the UN Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, which entered into force in 2003. He also called on government and social scientists to improve information-gathering and sharing on human trafficking.
In a ceremony at UN Headquarters later today, Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino is expected to be appointed a Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking.
BAN KI-MOON ENCOURAGES U.N. SENIOR MANAGERS TO WORK TOGETHER
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed this morning his senior managers compacts for 2009. Nineteen senior managers were present at the ceremony here at Headquarters. Five senior managers participated via videoconference.
The Secretary-General stressed the need for teamwork, saying, From the Millennium Development Goals to combating climate change and improving staff security, we confront problems that no senior manager or single department can solve alone.
The next crucial step, he added is to look closely at what works, and to fix what doesnt. The Management Performance Board will be charting progress each quarter.
The ceremony was chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, who leads the Management Performance Board.
WORLD GRAIN PRODUCTION WILL LIKELY DECLINE THIS YEAR: In its latest update, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says world grain production will likely decline this year, due to smaller plantings and adverse weather. This comes after a bumper crop in 2008. While international food prices declined in the second half of last year, domestic food prices remain very high in several developing countries, FAO notes.
CYPRUS LEADERS DISCUSS PROPERTY ISSUE: The Greek Cypriot leader, Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, met today under UN auspices in Nicosia. Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, noted that the leaders discussed the issue of property. Those discussions will continue next Thursday, Downer added.
ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL RULINGS ARE BINDING: Asked about a decision by the UN Administrative Tribunal ruling that the United Nations must pay some legal fees for Benon Sevan, the Spokeswoman acknowledged that UN Administrative Tribunal rulings are binding, and its judgments will be carried out. The Secretary-General, she added, has no further comment.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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