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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-19

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BAN KI-MOON LAUDS TIMOR-LESTE PROGRESS, PLEDGES FULL SUPPORT

Speaking in an open meeting of the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the

remarkable progress made over the past year in Timor-Leste.

We begin 2009 with a clear horizon, he told the Council, in which the country can finally devote its undivided attention to the essential task of building the strong and durable foundations that are crucial for long-term stability and prosperity.

The Secretary-General pledged the full support of the United Nations system in helping the Timorese people realize their hopes for security, stability and well-being.

TOP HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL BEGINS SRI LANKA VISIT

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes arrived in Colombo this morning at the start of a three day visit to Sri Lanka.

Holmes met with various senior officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, the Secretary of Defense and the Minister of Resettlement. He also met with the United Nations

Country Team in Sri Lanka.

Holmes held constructive meetings with the Government officials, in which he stressed the need for civilians caught in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka to be protected from harm, underscoring his concern about reportedly heavy civilian casualties.

He also stressed that civilians must be allowed to leave the affected area.

In this regard, Holmes reiterated his call on the need for all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

In a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs following his meetings, Holmes called upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to allow civilians to leave the conflict area, and to cease the forcible recruitment of civilians, including minors.

He further reiterated the need for all parties to do everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.

Tomorrow, Holmes is scheduled to visit the vicinity of Vavuniya, where he will meet people displaced from the conflict zone.

KOSOVO: HEAD OF U.N. MISSION BRIEFS SERBIAN LEADERS ON TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY TO EUROPEAN UNION

Today in Belgrade, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, met with Serbian leaders and officials, including President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. They exchanged views on issues of concern and the way forward.

Zannier briefed the officials on the deployment of the European Unions mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, as well as on the reconfiguration of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He said he expected the European Union to play an increasingly important role in helping to resolve practical issues.

Earlier this month, Zannier held similar consultations with the authorities in Pristina.

GAZA: U.N, RELIEF AGENCY CHIEF MEETS WITH VISITING U.S. CONGRESSMEN

On Gaza, the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory reports that the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines and the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza are open today, and the Erez crossing is open for international staff. But the Karni and Sufa crossings remain closed, as does the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Karen AbuZayd, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) met today in Gaza with John Kerry, the Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Two U.S. Congressmen, Brian Baird and Keith Ellison, also visited Gaza today.

The U.S. representatives visited UNRWAs Headquarters and toured areas of Gaza damaged by the fighting. They also were briefed on UNRWAs work, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and the difficulties caused by the lack of full access through the crossings.

Asked about Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, the Spokeswoman noted that the issue of prisoners is being discussed as part of a possible agreement.

UNITED NATIONS, PAKISTAN AGREE ON $385 MILLION PLAN TO IMPROVE HEALTH SERVICES

In Islamabad today, the United Nations and Pakistans Ministry of Health and Population Welfare signed a joint initiative to address the needs for improving health and population issues in the country.

Fourteen UN agencies operating in Pakistan have combined their strength to plan, develop and implement the Joint Programme on Health & Population, with an overall objective to improve the health policy, planning and regulation leading to a more equitable, responsive and fair financing of a decentralized health system.

The programme has an estimated budget of around $384.7 million.

The vision of the Health and Population Joint Program is based on the Health for All approach, through five well-targeted components which will be treated in a holistic manner to ensure linkages and common concerns are well articulated.

One Programme builds upon, and stems from the reviewed and extended U.N. Development Framework and identifies key areas of support, expected outcomes and outputs that all UN entities jointly aim for.

MISSION IN CHAD DID NOT DENY SECURITY TO GEORGE CLOONEY, DOES NOT HAVE OWN ARMED POLICE

In response to questions, the Spokeswoman said she was still trying to ascertain the facts concerning a report that alleged that the United Nations had withdrawn a security escort from actor George Clooney while he was visiting Chad.

She also said that Mr. Clooney traveled to Chad in his own capacity, not in his role as a UN Messenger of Peace.

The UN Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) itself does not have armed military police, Montas said; rather, it relies on Chadian police and EUFOR (the European Force in Chad) for armed escorts.

EUFOR has been advised of the presence of Mr. Clooney and indicated that it would be prepared to provide Mr. Clooney with emergency support, if required, within the area of its operations, she added.

On the logistics side, the Spokeswoman said that the World Food Programme (WFP) was contacted in January by the "Not on Our Watch" Foundation, which has acted as a donor to WFP's flight service in Sudan. They requested WFP to assist with their planned trip to eastern Chad. The Foundation brought George Clooney and journalists with them.

WFP has provided flights to eastern Chad and at times, other logistical assistance needed to visit WFP project sites, Montas noted. The Not on Our Watch team is also in contact with other NGOs and has travel plans with them.

MISSION IN SUDAN HAS NO SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF UGANDAN REBELS WHEREABOUTS

Asked whether the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is aware of the whereabouts of two Lords Resistance Army leaders who are under International Criminal Court indictment, the Spokeswoman said that UNMIS says that, contrary to media reports, UNMIS is not and has not been preparing to help the return to Uganda of Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.

UNMIS, she said, has no specific information about their whereabouts, beyond a general understanding that the two individuals are not inside the territory of the Sudan. UNMIS has not facilitated, and will not facilitate, the return of the two men to Uganda, she added.

DR CONGO: TRAINING TO START FOR MILITARY LAW OFFICIALS

Continuing the implementation of a key part of its mandate, the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) will on Saturday begin a military justice course for some 580 Congolese military staff.

Participants will include military field commanders and lawyers, registrars and prosecution staff, as well as police inspectors and court clerks.

The workshop will be held at various locations throughout the DRC through June. Its curriculum includes a review of the DRCs legal texts and international humanitarian law, sexual abuse; military court management and the ethics and code of conduct for judiciary officials.

The goal of this initiative is to improve or reinforce the skills those with oversight of the implementation of Congolese military law.

AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT FUND ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT

Addressing the International Fund for Agricultural Developments annual Governing Council meeting in Rome,

IFADs outgoing President, Lennart Bage, called on world leaders to do more to address the fact that long-term food supply is not keeping up with rising demand.

With access to the right seeds, fertilizer and irrigation and financing, most of the worlds 500 million smallholder farms could double or triple their yields. In Africa and Asia, such farms cultivate 80 per cent of the total farmland.

In other news, IFADs Governing Council has chosen Kanayo F. Nwanze of Nigeria as the agencys next President. Mr. Nwanze has 30 years of experience in agriculture, rural development and research and is currently the agencys vice-president. Mr. Nwanze takes up his post on April 1st.

CLIMATE CHANGE: UN-BACKED EVENTS UNDERWAY AROUND THE WORLD

A three-day

conference on maritime transport, hosted by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, has wrapped up in Geneva with a call for the industry to do more to limit its carbon dioxide emissions. Maritime transport accounts for as much as four percent of the worlds total greenhouse gas emissions; that number could triple by 2050. Experts are urging changes in vessel designs, engines, propulsion systems, and energy use.

At a meeting in Beijing, organized in part by the

World Meteorological Organization, international experts focused on ways to cope with the increasing frequency and severity of droughts and extreme temperatures around the world. Several experts cited as an example the recent heat wave, drought and wildfires in Australia.

And the City of Copenhagen today became the 100th participant in the Climate Neutral Network. The Network, led by the

U.N. Environment Programme, was launched one year ago to promote global action towards low-carbon economies and societies.

MORE THAN 200 LANGUAGES HAVE BECOME EXTINCT

According to a new atlas by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than

200 languages have recently become extinct.

Among them are Manx from the Isle of Man, Aasax from Tanzania, and Eyak from Alaska. The atlas establishes that India, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico, countries that have great linguistic diversity, are also those which have the greatest number of endangered languages.

But the situation is not all bad. For example, Papua New Guinea has the greatest linguistic diversity on the planet, with more than 800 languages, but relatively few of those languages are endangered.

In connection with the new atlas, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today said the death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of invaluable cultural heritage.

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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