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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-18

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BAN KI-MOON IS SET TO EMBARK ON FIVE-NATION AFRICA VISIT

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to travel early next week to South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Egypt.

It will be his first official visit to South Africa and Tanzania where he will hold discussions on national, regional and international issues.

In South Africa, he will meet with President Kgalema Motlanthe, as well as the Ministers for Finance and Environment. The Secretary-General is also expected to meet with former President Nelson Mandela.

In Tanzania, one of the pilot countries for the UN reform program on Delivering as One, the Secretary-General will hold discussions with President Jakaya Kikwete. He will address the diplomatic and academic community in Dar es salaam. In Zanzibar he will inaugurate the One UN Office, provided by the government of Zanzibar to house all UN agencies.

The Secretary-General is also due to fly over the receding ice cap of mount Kilimanjaro on his way to Arusha to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, his next stop, he will meet with President Joseph Kabila, with parliamentarians as well as members of civil society. He will then go to Bukavu to visit Panzi Hospital, where victims of sexual violence are cared for. In Goma, he will meet with members of the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, and with local authorities. He will also visit in Goma the Mugunga camp for people displaced by conflict before flying to Rwanda to meet with President Paul Kagame.

The Secretary General then plans to travel to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, where he will participate on 2 March in the International Conference in support of the Palestinian Economy, for the reconstruction of Gaza. The Conference is co-chaired by Egypt and Norway.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP THE MIDDLE EAST

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the Security Council this morning on the Middle East. He said a number of realities have to be squarely addressed if peace is to be advanced.

Those include: the severe humanitarian, economic and political repercussions of the Gaza crisis; continued Palestinian divisions; a new political situation in Israel; the inconclusive results of last years Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; unmet Roadmap obligations, especially regarding settlements; and the freeze in indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations.

On Gaza, Serry noted that, one month since unilateral ceasefires were declared, a proper ceasefire regime is still not in place. As a result, there is an ever-present danger of a return to renewed and more devastating violence.

He added that a ceasefire regime will only be durable if there is broader progress, including: an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for the release of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit; continued cooperation and action to prevent the re-supply of weapons in Gaza; the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access; and Palestinian unity. Such steps would also pave the way for the longer term recovery and reconstruction of Gaza.

Turning to Lebanon, Serry said that country continues to enjoy a period of relative stability, but there are also signs of increased political tension in the run-up to the parliamentary elections there.

The Security Council also held closed consultations on the Middle East.

BAN KI-NOON DISPATCHES TOP HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL TO SRI LANKA

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, will travel to Colombo this week, at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka.

During his three-day visit from 19 to 22 February, Holmes will discuss and review the humanitarian situation with a wide array of representatives from the Government, Member States, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and non-governmental organizations.

He will also have the opportunity to meet internally displaced persons in the Vavuniya and its vicinity.

Mr. Holmes is set to hold a press conference to wrap up his visit there.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Childrens Fund

expressed grave concerns on the growing number of children reportedly being recruited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The agency is also extremely alarmed at the high number of children being injured in the fighting in the northern area of Vanni. UNICEF reiterates its call to the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE that civilians, especially children, must be given every protection from the fighting.

DARFUR: Under-Secretary-General for Field Support IS IN SUDAN to ensure mission deployment

The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susanna Malcorra, is currently in Khartoum for a regular tripartite meeting with the Government of Sudan and the African Union, as part our efforts to ensure the continued deployment of troops and equipment for the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

This is the fourth such regular meeting to ensure that every effort is made by all parties to speed up the deployment of troops and equipment.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the United Nations have gained assurances from the Deputy Governor of South Darfur for continued access to Muhajariya and surrounding localities. The UNs humanitarian chief in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, led the discussions that resulted in commitments to see aid programmes reach some 100,000 people.

Discussions also broached the need for independent humanitarian assessments of population movements, and of requirements for other relief, including early recovery assistance.

HUTU REBEL GROUP TERRORIZING CIVILIANS IN DR CONGO

The embattled ethnic Hutu rebel group Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) is

terrorizing civilians through systematic looting, abduction, rape and murder. Thats according to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

The Mission condemns these cowardly terror tactics, through which the FDLR is attempting to undermine a joint DRC/Rwanda military operation to flush it out of the Congo.

A UN-backed disarmament and voluntary repatriation programme remains available to FDLR fighters, but most of them have so far shunned this opportunity.

The FDLRs assault on civilians also seeks to frustrate an eventual restoration of Congolese state authority in northeastern DRC. In response, the Mission has maintained civilian-protection teams at peacekeepers bases, and round-the-clock patrols continue.

The Mission and Congolese authorities are also collaborating in monitoring the situation and are preparing to beef up their engagement in other areas.

In a briefing to the Security Council yesterday, John Holmes, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that the security situation in the eastern and northern provinces of the DRC has added another half million people to the internally displaced population. Holmes, who recently conducted an assessment mission to the DRC, says that despite the overall difficult and unpredictable security situation, UN agencies are working as rapidly as possible to address the major humanitarian crisis there.

UNAIDS WELCOMES BURUNDIS REJECTION OF LAW TO CRIMINALIZE HOMOSEXUALITY

UNAIDS today

welcomed the Burundian Senates rejection of a draft law that sought to criminalize homosexuality in Burundi.

Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that, by rejecting the amendment, Senators in Burundi protected the human rights of their people and set a standard for other lawmakers around the world.

According to UNAIDS, criminalizing adult sexual behavior and violating the human rights of people living with HIV are hampering HIV responses across the world.

GEORGIA DISCUSSIONS WRAP UP TWO-DAY MEETING IN GENEVA

In Geneva today, the co-Presidents of the international discussions on Georgia briefed the press at the Palais des Nations, following the wrap-up of their two-day meeting.

They noted that participants in the talks had agreed by consensus on proposals for joint incident prevention and response mechanisms. The co-Presidents added that those agreed proposals were an important step in helping to bring stability and security.

On the humanitarian front, they noted various positive developments on the ground, including the resumption of gas deliveries. But they also acknowledged that no agreement had been reached yet on a specific proposal to get humanitarian aid to the needy population using simultaneous convoys and certain routes from the north and south.

Participants did, however, agree to focus their future efforts on facilitating the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons.

The co-Presidents for these talks are Johan Verbeke, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative and Head of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, as well as representatives of the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

AMAZONIA REGION FACES GROWING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION

A report on the environmental outlook for the Amazon region, prepared in part by the U.N. Environment Programme and released today, finds growing environmental degradation in the planets most extensive forest zone. The Amazonian ecosystem is being rapidly transformed by changes in land use, the exploitation of natural resources, and expanding urbanization.

Deforestation has resulted in a 17 percent reduction in vegetation cover, and there has also been an increasing loss of biodiversity and localized climate change impacts. Because of the burning of forests, Amazonia is progressively becoming a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the report notes.

While efforts are underway on the national level to deal with environmental challenges, more needs to be done at the regional level, including water management, harmonizing environmental policies, and tracking of biodiversity, the report says.

ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT ON THE ASSESSMENT OF BEIJING OLYMPICS RELEASED

UNEP today also released an

assessment of the Beijing Olympics. It found that the Games met, if not exceeded, many environmental pledges from reducing air pollution to investing US$17 billion in public transport, renewable energies, and other environmental projects.

The report adds, however, that more could have been done to engage with non-governmental organizations and to cut the Olympic and Paralympic Games carbon footprint.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. AWARE OF REPORTS ON THE ABDUCTEES OF ENVOY: Asked about reports that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed to have abducted Special Envoy for Niger Robert Fowler and his colleagues, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations is aware of the reports but has no further comments.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SUPPORTS ALL EFFORTS FOR PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES: Asked about a dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran over islands, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General supports all efforts at peaceful resolution of disputes.

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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