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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-24

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 NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DARFUR: BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES COMMITMENT TO RELEASE PRISONERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to release prisoners as part of the "Agreement of goodwill and confidence-building for the settlement of the problem in Darfur" which was signed in Doha, Qatar on 17 February, and welcomes the role of the Emir of Qatar in this regard.

This represents a concrete step in the ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Darfur conflict.

In this context, the Secretary-General calls upon the parties to act in good faith to further implement this agreement and urges the Government of Sudan and the JEM to work with the African Union-United Nations Joint Chief Mediator and the Government of Qatar toward a cessation of hostilities and a final comprehensive peace accord.

U.N. ENVOY IS CONCERNED BY VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, today expressed his deep concern about the security situation in the Malakal area of South Sudan where armed confrontations erupted this morning.

Qazi called on all parties to cease the fighting immediately, to act responsibly to resolve their differences, and to take full account of their duty to protect and ensure the safety and security of the civilian population.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is actively engaged through the existing mechanisms to bring about a quick and durable settlement of the confrontation in Malakal and to prevent any recurrence of such incidents.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN SOUTH AFRICA

The Secretary-General has arrived in South Africa for an official visit.

He met with the Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, this evening to discuss regional developments.

Tomorrow, he will meet with President Kgalema Motlanthe, with former President Nelson Mandela and with UN staff in the country.

REFUGEE AGENCY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACKS ON CONGOLESE CIVILIANS BY ARMED GROUP

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it

remains extremely concerned about the increased violence against civilians in North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since 13 February, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have carried out numerous attacks in three areas in North Kivu, sparking a new wave of displacement.

Local authorities have informed UNHCR that some 3,000 people have been internally displaced in a village, some 20 km south of Masisi, following a recent FDLR attack. Some of these internally displaced people are staying in churches and schools and others have taken shelter at several UNHCR-assisted sites around the town of Masisi.

There are also growing fears of reprisal attacks by the FDLR against civilians suspected of collaborating with the joint DRC-Rwanda military operation against the rebel group that began in late January.

The humanitarian situation in North Kivu is already dramatic, according to UNHCR, with some 850,000 internally displaced people. Of them, some 250,000 were forced to flee just since last August, and many of them have already been displaced multiple times.

SENIOR HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL VISITS CHOLERA-STRICKEN ZIMBABWE

Catherine Bragg, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, arrived in Harare over the weekend. The humanitarian assessment mission comes at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak since the mid-nineties, an outbreak that has now lead to over 83,000 cases of the disease and more than 3,800 deaths.

Today, Ms. Bragg visited a food distribution center and a food warehouse. In the district she visited, 60,000 people out of a total population of 83,000 are receiving food aid for the next two months until harvest comes in. The harvest in the area is expected to be poor due to a combination of factors including drought and shortage of seeds and agricultural inputs.

The mission, which included participants from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), also visited a cholera treatment center outside Harare.

WHO today noted that there were more than 364 cholera treatment centres around the country. The tendency now is to decentralize the main command centre in Harare and create small command centres across the country to ensure the ability to reach people in distant villages. More than 61 per cent of the deaths are still taking place outside treatment centres and in local communities, which means that many people still do not have access to treatment centres.

U.N. PEACEKEEPING IS AT A CRITICAL CROSSROAD

Under-Secretary-General for

Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy spoke to the 2009 annual substantive session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and he told them that UN peacekeeping is at a critical crossroad. On the one hand, he said, it has become a flagship of the United Nations, but on the other, UN peacekeeping is today stretched to the limits.

Le Roy said that UN peacekeeping operations are often unable to find the resources they need, and they must grapple with increasingly complex, robust mandates in difficult, often hostile environments. He warned that some challenges emanate from sheer overstretch.

At the same time, Le Roy said, there seems to be a growing consensus on the need to take stock of the current situation and address the challenges that UN peacekeeping faces at the current juncture.

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TRAVELS TO WESTERN REGION OF COLOMBIA

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is currently in Colombia. Today he

traveled to the western region of Chocó to meet Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.

Following meetings in the Colombian capital of Bogotá yesterday, Holmes said it was clear that there is a serious humanitarian situation in Colombia. In that regard, he noted the problems of millions of internally displaced persons and continuing violence in many areas.

UNITED NATIONS STARTS CASH DISTRIBUTIONS TO NEEDY GAZANS

The office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory

reports that, last week, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) began cash distribution to Gazans who have lost their homes or need to repair their damaged houses.

To date, UNDP has distributed more than seven million dollars to 3,800 families. But it adds that major repair of damaged houses cannot be done until construction materials are permitted into Gaza. Israeli authorities have not allowed such materials to enter since last November.

GOVERNMENTS ASKED TO TRANSCEND POLITICAL DIFFERENCES AND WORK TOGETHER TO ELIMINATE RACISM

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has

called on Governments to transcend political differences and work together to eliminate racism and xenophobia.

Her call is contained in a new report issued to Member States in advance of the Durban Review Conference, which will be held in Geneva in April.

Pillay appealed to Governments not to allow any single issue such as Israels policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to dominate the discussions. She also proposed holding a series of expert workshops in order to help Governments find common ground on the issue of the defamation of religions.

U.N. AGENCY CONSIDERS IMPACT OF ECONOMIC CRISIS ON FINANCE WORKERS

More than 100 senior representatives of governments, workers and employers organizations

gathered today at the International Labour Office (ILO) Headquarters in Geneva to discuss the impact of the economic crisis on millions of people employed in the financial sector worldwide.

According to the ILOs new report, there has been a rapid rise in financial services job cuts over recent months. To help the sector cope with the crisis, the report puts forward a number of measures. For example, the reward system for executives and bank managers needs to be adapted to prevent excessive risk-taking.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. POPULATION AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED: The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) today announced that this years United Nations Population Award has gone to an Egyptian doctor, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, and a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization, which works to improve living conditions in Nicaragua through social and community development, gender equality and environmental protection.

SECRETARY-GENERAL REMAINS CONCERNED BY PLIGHT OF CIVILIANS IN SRI LANKA: Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the need for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman noted that he had expressed his views in

remarks to the press on Monday. The Secretary-General, she said, continues to be concerned about the plight of civilians caught up in the fighting.

NORTH KOREAN SATELLITE DEVELOPMENTS BEING MONITORED: Asked about the announcement from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea that it is preparing to launch a satellite into orbit, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is monitoring the situation closely.

SELECTION PROCESS FOR DEVELOPMENT CHIEF STILL UNDERWAY: Asked whether the Secretary-General would make public a shortlist of candidates to replace Kemal Dervis as Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Spokeswoman said that, for the sake of the privacy of candidates, no shortlist will be made public. She noted efforts to ensure the transparency of the process that is now underway, including the Secretary-General reaching out to Member States for candidates and the placement of an ad in The Economist.

  • ** The guest at the noon briefing today was Carlos Castresana, head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). He discussed CICIG's achievements since it became operational early last year, as well as some of the obstacles the Commisson continues to face.

    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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