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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-13

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, February 13, 2009

Please note that on Monday, February 16, UN Headquarters in New York will be closed for a national holiday.

The noon briefing will resume on Tuesday, February 17.

BAN KI-MOON IS APPALLED BY LATEST ATTACKS IN IRAQ

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is

appalled by the suicide bomb attack against Shia pilgrims near Baghdad today, and similar attacks targeting innocent civilians in the past days which have left dozens of people dead and wounded, including many women and children. These acts cannot be justified by any political or religious cause and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

The Secretary-General joins with the people of Iraq in rejecting these cruel and reprehensible attempts to reignite sectarian violence in the country. He also calls on Iraqi leaders to work together in a spirit of national dialogue and mutual respect as demonstrated during the peaceful provincial elections held last month.

BAN KI-MOON MARKS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF ASSASSINATION OF LEBANONS RAFIQ HARIRI

On the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, the Secretary-General

shares the sorrow of the Lebanese people over the tragic loss of a man who stood strongly during his life for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.

This sad anniversary comes two weeks before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon begins to function on 1 March. The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to the Special Tribunals efforts to uncover the truth, bring those responsible for this horrific crime to justice and end impunity in Lebanon.

The Secretary-General also calls for the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions pertaining to Lebanon.

U.N. BOARD OF INQUIRY TO DEPART FOR GAZA ON 19 FEBRUARY

In a

statement issued on Thursday night, the Secretary-General announced that the UN Board of Inquiry into incidents in

Gaza has commenced its work in New York earlier that day, and is expected to travel soon to the region.

The Board is led by Mr. Ian Martin (UK) and includes, as its other members, Mr. Larry Johnson (US), Mr. Sinha Basnayake (Sri Lanka) and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Eichenberger (Switzerland). The Board of Inquiry will review and investigate a number of specific incidents that occurred in the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009 and in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to, United Nations premises or in the course of United Nations operations. The Secretary-General expects that the Board will enjoy the full co-operation of all parties concerned.

The Board of Inquiry will report to the Secretary-General upon completion of its investigation. The Secretary-General will review the report, and decide, at that point, what further steps to take.

Yukio Takasu, the President of the Security Council, said in a statement to the press today that the Council members welcomed the announcement that the Board of Inquiry has started its work and took note of the Secretary-Generals intention to report back to the Security Council.

Asked when the Gaza Board of Inquiry would be at work in the region, the Spokeswoman said it would depart for Gaza on 19 February. She said that the Board has assurances that it will be able to go to the region and conduct investigations.

She clarified, in response to further questions, that the Board of Inquiry would focus its work on the casualties and damage done in UN facilities, and was separate from an investigation into the events in Gaza that was being done by a body set up by the Human Rights Council.

GAZA: RESTRICTIONS HINDERING LANDMINE CLEARANCE EFFORTS

A landmine clearance group working with the UNs Mine Action Service has noted that a number of large aircraft bombs and white phosphorous projectiles have been gathered in an area inside Gaza City. But the de-miners say they will not know the true scale of the problem until more debris is cleared. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that teams have been collecting unexploded ordnance in Gaza City. But due to restrictions on supplies crossing into Gaza, they do not have the materials necessary to destroy or isolate the ordnance.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that over 14,000 homes were totally or partially damaged in the recent fighting. In an effort to meet the long-term shelter needs of the displaced, UNDP will see that 10,000 families get between 1,000 and 5,000 dollars in cash aid, according to family size, current socio-economic status and level of home damage.

UNDP also says that, of the more than 400 schools that it assessed in Gaza, over 60 percent had been partly or severely damaged. Repairing damaged schools remains an urgent priority, UNDP says. In the meantime, UNICEF has provided ten tents as learning spaces in the hardest-hit areas.

OCHA also reports that aid workers continue to face difficulty in obtaining access to Gaza through the Erez crossing. During January, for example, only 18 out of 178 staff requests were granted clearance.

Asked where aid workers have been stuck, the Spokeswoman said much of the problem was on the Israeli side. At the same time, she stressed, efforts are underway to secure their movement.

SRI LANKA: BAN KI-MOON HAS RAISED CONCERNS IN SECURITY COUNCIL

Asked about reports that 40 civilians were being killed daily during the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has raised his concerns about Sri Lanka in the Security Council just this week. He had briefed Council members on Monday on the results of his recent trip to Asia, during which he held several discussions on Sri Lanka, including with the President of Sri Lanka.

The Secretary-General has, she said, an obligation to act in the face of a crisis affecting the lives of tens of thousands of people and to inform the Council on such issues. This is being done right now, she added.

Asked about reports concerning the camps for displaced people in Sri Lanka, Montas said that the United Nations is not in a position to verify information about the camps.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS GEORGIA MISSION

The

Security Council this morning voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) by four months, until 15 June. The Council expressed its intention to outline the elements of a future UN presence in the region, taking into account recommendations that it expects to receive from the Secretary-General by 15 May.

The Council then held consultations on the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). Council members received a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy on that Missions work.

ZIMBABWE: FLOOD RISK COULD COMPLICATE CHOLERA TREATMENT

The World Health Organization (WHO), in reporting on the latest cholera statistics in Zimbabwe, said the figures showed that Zimbabwes cholera outbreak was still not under control. Those figures show more than 73,000 cases, including 3,524 deaths.

WHO did report that there were an increasing number of cholera treatment centers opening all across the country, but added that risks of flooding linked to the current rainy season would make access to some areas difficult. Also, the lack of food and transportation and the fact that health workers were underpaid were further challenges for the humanitarian community.

Turning to the funding of the health sector, WHO says that of the $73.5 million requested in the Cholera Appeal 2009, 21 percent had been received until now.

Speaking about the situation in the neighbouring countries, WHO said that in South Africa some 4,800 cases and 34 deaths had been reported between 15 November and 20 January 2009. For Mozambique, there was an ongoing cholera outbreak in 10 out of 11 provinces. A total of some 3,600 cases and 25 deaths had been reported. In Angola, 273 cases and one death had been reported. Three provinces were affected. And in Zambia, some 3,000 cases and 43 deaths had been reported between 10 September 2008 and 27 January 2009.

WHO believed that there was a link between the Zimbabwe outbreak and South Africa, and possibly with Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia. But it was hard to say whether all cases were linked to the Zimbabwe outbreak, as Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and parts of South Africa were endemic for cholera. Botswana was not endemic for cholera, and it had only had eight cases.

LIBERIA MAKES STEADY PROGRESS IN REDUCING POVERTY

The Secretary-Generals latest progress

report on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is out as a document. In it, he notes that the Liberian Government has made steady progress in reducing poverty and on its reform agenda. Limited institutional capacity remains a serious constraint, however; he urged international partners to continue their support during this crucial phase.

Despite progress in security and rule of law, significant challenges remain in strengthening judicial and correctional institutions and in developing the national army. The postponement of elections in Côte dIvoire and the recent military coup in Guinea have added to unpredictability in the subregion; any negative security trends in these countries will have a major impact on Liberia.

The Secretary-General recommends that no further adjustments to the UNMILs military and police components be made during the current mandate period. Subsequent adjustments might be made during the third phase of the drawdown, which begins in September.

U.N. AGENCY LAUNCHES FIRST FOOD VOUCHER OPERATION IN AFRICA

The World Food Programme (WFP) today

launched its first food voucher operation in Africa. The programme is aimed at 120-thousand people in urban areas of Burkina Faso, who continue to suffer from high food prices.

Under the programme, families will receive vouchers to buy maize, cooking oil, sugar, salt, and soap in shops that have signed a contract with WFP. During the launch of the operation, WFP is also handing out rations of PlumpyDoz, an enriched peanut paste, to families with young children.

WFP notes that vouchers can often be more effective than food distributions in urban areas where food is available but too expensive for many people to buy. Vouchers also cut down on the cost of transporting and storing food.

HAITI: WORLD BANK WELCOMES RETURN OF FUNDS STOLEN BY FORMER DICTATOR

The World Bank has welcomed the Swiss Governments return to Haiti of 6 million dollars allegedly plundered by former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier and his associates. This came about after Haiti sought the help of the Asset Recovery Initiative, a joint World Bank-UNODC (UN Office for Drugs and Crime) programme.

The Initiative provided technical and diplomatic assistance for the resolution of this case. It was launched in September 2007 by the Secretary-General, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and the head of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa. It facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries in tackling corruption, in asset recovery and in the prevention of asset theft.

Asked about the impact of the recovery of the money on Haiti, the Spokeswoman noted that an investigation carried out after the fall of the Duvalier regime had put out an estimate of the money taken from Haiti that was well in excess of the amount recovered today. She added of the recovered money, Haiti can certainly use it.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO HOLD SPECIAL SESSION ON FINANCIAL CRISIS

Today the President of the

Human Rights Council, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi of Nigeria, gave a press conference in Geneva. He noted that today the 4th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group is wrapping up. Thus, the human rights records of 64 States or one-third of all 192 UN Member States have now been examined.

He reminded reporters that the overall goal of the Universal Periodic Review is to improve the human rights situation in every country, address human rights violations wherever they occur, and shed light in the darkest corners of the globe.

The President also announced that the Human Rights Council will hold a special session next Friday, 20 February, on the current financial and economic crisis. This will be the 10th special session held since the body began its work over two and a half years ago.

He also spoke of the fact-finding mission created by the Human Rights Council at its special session on Gaza last month. He said he expected to announce shortly the head of that mission. He also expressed his intention to appoint up to three additional experts to join the mission.

U.N. HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF CURTAILING OUTER SPACE DEBRIS

Mazlan Othman, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has

renewed her appeal to member states and international organizations to that the UNs Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines are fully implemented. She said such action would be in humanitys common interest, particularly if we are to preserve the outer space environment for future generations. The mitigation guidelines were endorsed by the General Assembly in a December 2007 resolution.

Todays statement comes in the wake of a collision 790 km above the Earth of an inactive Russian communications satellite and an operational United States satellite. The collision released a cloud of nearly 700 pieces of space debris, which usually remain in orbit for long periods and pose significant risks to spacecraft orbiting the planet.

CONVENTIONAL ARMS MEETING BEGINS IN GENEVA MONDAY

A group of governmental experts is holding its first week-long meeting in Geneva starting Monday, to review the continuing operation of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and its further development. The group is expected to report to the Secretary-General later this year.

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs says the governmental experts are expected to examine a range of issues that include the current scope of the Register and its existing procedures and operation with a view to its further development. The review will be chaired by Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. DOING WHAT IT CAN TO PROTECT CONGOLESE CIVILIANS: Asked about reports of killings by the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) militia in eastern Congo, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) is not involved in military operations in the area but does what it can to protect civilians.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, 14 February

From today through 19 February, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, undertakes his second mission to Myanmar.

In Karura Forest, Kenya, the U.N. Environment Programme organizes Trees4Love, during which up to 5,000 trees will be planted as part of efforts to combat climate change.

Monday, 16 February

U.N. Headquarters is closed for an official holiday (Presidents Day).

From today through 6 March in Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination holds its 74th session.

From today through Wednesday, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development facilitates a meeting of experts on maritime transport, which will focus on the impact of climate change.

All this week in Nairobi, the U.N. Environment Programme holds its annual Governing Council, which will bring together environment ministers from around the world.

From today through 25 February, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, undertakes a country visit to Kenya.

Tuesday, 17 February

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In the afternoon, a briefing and consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo are scheduled.

Today and tomorrow, discussions on Georgia are scheduled to take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Wednesday, 18 February

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing, followed by consultations, on the Middle East.

Today and tomorrow in Rome, the annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Developments Governing Council takes place.

Thursday, 19 February

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on the U.N. Mission in Timor-Leste.

At 1 p.m. in Room S-226, Melvyn Levitsky, member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), presents the main findings of the 2008 INCB Report.

In Paris, UNESCO launches its Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

Friday, 20 February

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Myanmar.

In Geneva, the Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold its 10th Special Session, which will focus on the global financial and economic crisis.

Today is the World Day of Social Justice.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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