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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-02-26
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 26, 2009
WE MUST NOT LET AFRICAS SUCCESSES BE UNDERMINED BY GLOBAL CRISES, BAN KI-MOON SAYS IN TANZANIA
Secretary-General arrived in the capital of Tanzania today and went straight to a meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
At that meeting, the two discussed: the global economic and financial crisis; the upcoming elections in Tanzania; the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is expected to complete its work next year; and regional issues, including Burundi, Zimbabwe, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On Burundi specifically, the Secretary-General expressed concern over delays in the disarmament of the Forces nationales de libération (FNL).
The Secretary-General and President Kikwete also spoke about climate change and its impact on food security in Tanzania, as well as the public health situation in Tanzania and the Governments efforts to stamp out HIV/AIDS.
In a separate meeting chaired by President Kikwete, the Secretary-General met with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who briefed him on the Nairobi talks concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which Mkapa co-chairs with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. They discussed the reintegration of fighters from the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) into the Congolese Armed Forces, the prospects for UN assistance in supporting military integration, and the question of temporary amnesty.
Also today in the Tanzanian capital, the Secretary-General delivered a lecture to the local diplomatic corps, the academic community and representatives of the media. He said that we must not let Africas successes be undermined by global crises. He called on African leaders to move forward on education, efforts to battle climate change and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
He also emphasized the need for violence to stop throughout the continent -- including in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
Asked whether the Secretary-General was aware of the concern of Pemba elders during his visit to Tanzania, the Spokeswoman said that he was aware of press reports, but added that no meeting on that matter was on his schedule.
MADAGASCAR: U.N. OFFICIAL MEETS WITH LEADERS AHEAD OF NEW MEDIATORS ARRIVAL
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, who has been traveling in Africa with the Secretary-General, has been sent by the Secretary-General to Madagascar to continue the UNs good offices work there. He will report to the Secretary-General on his return from the country.
Menkerios arrived in Antananarivo today, and he has already met with President Marc Ravalomanana. He expects also to meet today with the Mayor of the capital, Andry Rajoelina.
Last night, the Secretary-General met at the airport in Johannesburg with Madagascars foreign minister, Marcel Ranjeva, and the minister of economy, commerce and industry, Ivohasina Razafimahefa, who asked for a more active UN role in dealing with the parties in the country. The Secretary-General assured them that a mediator, in addition to Menkerios, has been appointed who would arrive in Madagascar shortly.
SECURITY SITUATION RELATIVELY CALM IN DARFUR
The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that the security situation is relatively calm today, although banditry is still occurring in North Darfur and locals in South Darfur have reported to UNAMID that armed militiamen continue to attack or harass civilians.
UNAMIDs forces continue to intensify their routine patrol activities, investigation duties, escort duties and confidence-building patrols throughout their area of responsibility.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS ON ZIMBABWE FOOD CRISIS
A UN humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe
wrapped up its work and reported that the countrys humanitarian crisis remained grave. It called on both the government and the international community to support efforts by the humanitarian community to strengthen its work there.
Some of the most acute manifestations of Zimbabwes complex humanitarian crisis include one of the worlds worst outbreaks of cholera and up to seven million people in need of food aid.
Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UNs Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who led the mission, said, Despite tremendous efforts by both the government and the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe to contain the cholera epidemic, major challenges remain. She spoke of the need for continued food assistance and resources to help Zimbabweans improve food security.
The mission stressed that the welfare of the people was largely the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe. The mission included representatives from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP, meanwhile, says the food crisis in Zimbabwe has reached its peak. WFP is aiming to provide monthly relief rations to 5.1 million of the most vulnerable people in both February and March the two hardest, and hungriest, months before the annual maize harvest starts in April.
ELECTIONS SHOULD INCREASE IRAQIS CONFIDENCE IN THEIR LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, told the
Security Council that, following the governorate elections last month, Iraq has emerged sovereign and rising to expectations. He said the elections should increase the confidence of Iraqis in their local institutions and added that it is heartening that approximately one quarter of the 440 new governorate council members will be women.
De Mistura said that the
UN Mission in Iraq is working as an honest broker to promote a spirit of dialogue among Iraqs communities, including by its work on Kirkuk. He said that he has detected a momentum for Kirkuks people to explore locally generated options regarding the citys administrative future.
Earlier, the Security Council voted to
extend the mandate of the
UN Mission in Timor-Leste by one year.
HARIRI TRIBUNAL TO START FUNCTIONING THIS SUNDAY IN THE HAGUE
report that is available as a document today, the Secretary-General says that all the necessary measures have been taken for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to commence functioning this Sunday, 1 March. On that day, Commissioner Daniel Bellemare will assume office as Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal and continue his investigations from The Hague.
The judges of the trial and appeals chambers will assume their responsibilities on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Special Tribunal. Meanwhile, the courtroom for the trials is expected to be ready for use by early 2010.
UN Legal Counsel Patricia OBrien will attend the ceremony this Sunday in the Netherlands to mark the start of the Tribunal, and she will speak to reporters in a UN press briefing at 11:00 a.m. next Tuesday.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN SOMALIA
On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council President, Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, read out a
press statement on the Councils behalf condemning in the strongest terms the attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Mogadishu over the weekend.
Council members, he said, reiterated their commitment to support a strengthened AMISOM. They also welcomed the ongoing political process in Somalia that led to the expansion of Parliament and the election of a new President, and they called on all Somalis to reject violence and extremism.
COLOMBIA SHOULD INVEST IN DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is back in New York following his three-day
visit to Colombia. He said he had an honest and constructive dialogue with the Government on the humanitarian situation in Colombia. He noted good progress on laws about internally displaced persons and on resources being made available to address their needs. But more is still needed, he said.
Holmes also noted the likely effects of climate change in Colombia, and the risks posed by increasing disasters such as floods. In that regard, he stressed the importance of investing in disaster risk reduction and said that the United Nations is interested in working even more closely with the Colombian Government on this, as well as on natural disaster preparedness and response.
FIVE CONVICTED, FORMER SERBIAN PRESIDENT CLEARED OF KOSOVO CRIMES
Five former high-ranking Yugoslav and Serbian political, military and police officials were today convicted by the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo in 1999.
Former Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, Nikola ainović, and two generals, Neboja Pavković and Sreten Lukić, were each sentenced to 22 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Two other senior army officials were found guilty of aiding and abetting the deportation and forcible transfer of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, and each was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
The Tribunals Trial Chamber III said that former Serbian President Milan Milutinović did not have direct individual control over the Army, a federal institution; instead, it ruled, in practice, it was President Slobodan Miloević who exercised actual command authority over the Army during the campaign. Milutinović was therefore acquitted on all counts.
SIERRA LEONE REBEL LEADERS FOUND GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES
On Wednesday, in Freetown, three former leaders of Sierra Leones rebel Revolutionary United Front were
found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the countrys decade-long civil war.
Former RUF Interim Leader Issa Hassan Sesay and RUF commander Morris Kallon were each found guilty on 16 of the 18 counts in the indictment. Former RUF Chief of Security Augustine Gbao was found guilty on 14 counts. All three were found guilty on charges relating to forced marriage, and, for the first time in history, the three were also all convicted for specific war crimes relating to attacks on peacekeepers. Sesay and Kallon were also found guilty on charges relating to the use of child soldiers.
They will face sentencing in the coming weeks.
HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD BE AT CENTER OF DRUG CONTROL EFFORTS
took place in Shanghai, China today to mark the 100th anniversary of the first international conference to control drugs: the International Opium Commission.
Addressing the commemoration, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa cautioned that, despite progress over the past century, the drug problem has not been solved and reducing demand for drugs should be the number one priority.
He added that health and human rights should be at the center of drug control efforts, stressing that although drugs kill, Governments should not kill because of drugs.
U.N. BOARD OF INQUIRY NOW IN MIDDLE EAST: Asked about the UN
Board of Inquiry which is reviewing and investigating 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 Spokeswoman confirmed that the Board had already arrived in Jerusalem and had planned to go into Gaza today.
DECISION ON SUDANESE PRESIDENT TO BE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK: The decision of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court with regard to the Prosecution application of 14 July 2008 for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan will be
announced during a press conference which will take place on 4 March 2009 at the seat of the Court. The press conference will start at 2:00 p.m.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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New York, NY 10017
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