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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-05

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

.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, March 5, 2009

BAN KI-MOON APPEALS TO SUDAN TO REVERSE EXPULSION OF AID GROUPS

The decision by the Government of Sudan to expel 13 non-governmental organizations involved in aid operations in Darfur will, if implemented, cause irrevocable damage to humanitarian operations there.

The operations of these agencies are key to maintaining a lifeline to 4.7 million Sudanese people who receive aid in Darfur.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses that these organizations provide humanitarian assistance to those who need it in a neutral and impartial manner. As such, he appeals to the Government of Sudan to urgently reconsider the above decision.

The Secretary-General is also concerned about the safety and security of national and international humanitarian workers in Sudan and their assets. The confiscation of equipment, money and other materials is unacceptable and must end immediately.

[According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the confirmed agencies are ACF, Save the Children (UK)(US): Medecins Sans Frontieres (Holland and France); CARE International; Oxfam GB; Mercy Corps; International Rescue Committee; Norwegian Refugee Council; CHF; Padco, solidarite. Today 3 more NGOs were expelledSCF-US, (does food in west Darfur), MSF/F (nutrition in Zalingei and Nertiti) and PADCO. ]

Asked whether the Secretary-General was asking President Bashir to hand himself in to the International Criminal Court, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General expects the Government of Sudan to address the issues of peace and justice in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1593. What States are to do when they receive those warrants is a matter for States, she added. She noted the role of States Parties to the Rome Statute and members of the Security Council in deciding how to implement what the Court has decided.

DARFUR SECURITY SITUATION REMAINS RELATIVELY CALM

The general security situation in Darfur is reported to be relatively calm.

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that peaceful demonstrations in support of President Al-Bashir took place today in El Geneina and Zalingei in West Darfur.

UNAMID forces and police continue to conduct their routine activities as prescribed in their mandate.

UNAMID Police Commissioner, Micheal Fryer led a confidence-building night patrol to Abu Shouk and Al Salaam camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

During the last 24 hours, UNAMID conducted 19 confidence building patrols, 8 escort patrols and 3 night patrols covering 28 villages and IDP camps throughout Darfur. Escort patrols mean providing security to humanitarian personnel, UNAMID and other convoys, as requested.

SRI LANKA: BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY DEPLORES MOUNTING CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL

The Secretary-General is extremely

concerned over the deteriorating situation for civilians trapped in northern Sri Lanka.

He strongly deplores the mounting death toll of civilians in the area of fighting, including a significant number of children.

There is an urgent need to bring this conflict to a speedy end without further loss of civilian life. In this respect, the Secretary-General renews his call to the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to suspend hostilities for the purposes of allowing civilians to leave the conflict zone, and allowing immediate humanitarian access to them.

The Secretary-General calls on the LTTE to remove its weapons and fighters from areas of civilian concentration, to cooperate in all humanitarian efforts calculated to relieve the suffering of civilians, and to immediately cease recruitment of children.

The Secretary-General strongly urges the Government to begin serious efforts to resolve the underlying causes of conflict.

CONDITIONS ARE DETERIORATING FOR CIVILIANS TRAPPED IN SRI LANKA WAR ZONE

In Sri Lanka, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the conditions for the civilians still trapped in the war zone of Vanni have rapidly deteriorated throughout February.

Many civilians seem to have moved to the new zone and the U.N. estimates the number of civilians there is between 100,000 and 200,000 people.

Consistent reports of a heavy loss of life among civilians within the war zone continue, including large-scale loss of life due to individual shell strikes within the new densely-packed No Fire Zone.

The United Nations places the numbers of killed and wounded civilians well into the thousands. No actual verifiable numbers are available due to lack of access for relief workers to the area where civilians are trapped.

Conditions in the No Fire Zone are understood to be squalid and overcrowded, with poor shelter, unsanitary conditions, extremely limited food stocks, water and drug supplies. The UN has also received reports of deaths stemming from a lack of food.

The actions of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam in preventing civilians from leaving, and recruiting adults and children as young as 13 years old have become more apparent. Consistent reports from civilians recount killings by the LTTE of family members who attempt to cross the front lines, and the forced movement of civilians to locations of the LTTEs choosing.

HIGH COMMISSIONNER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INTRODUCES ANNUAL WIDE-RANGE REPORT

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today

said that combating impunity and racism as well as discrimination against women, indigenous people, minorities, migrants and other vulnerable groups are top priorities for her office.

Introducing her wide-ranging annual

report to the Geneva-based Human Rights

Council, she underscored that discrimination is all too often at the root of other human rights abuses.

In the report itself, Pillay draws attention to the impact of the food, energy and financial crises, which is being felt most particularly by those individuals and groups in society who were already marginalized and discriminated against.

The High Commissioner also told the assembled delegates that discrimination against women triggers violence which has reached the proportions of a pandemic.

AFGHANISTAN: TOP HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL VOICES CONCERN OVER DETERIORATING SITUATION

High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay today presented her

annual report on

Afghanistan to the Human Rights Council, which expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, particularly regarding civilian casualties.

Pillay urged pro-government forces and anti-government elements to ensure greater respect for the protection of civilians, including women and children.

She noted a dramatic increase in threats and intimidation against women in public life or those working outside their homes, with many being forced to curtail their activities or abandon their jobs.

The report also says that freedom of expression came under significant threat last year, including through the killing of journalists, and Pillay warned that pressure on the media was expected to continue as the country heads towards elections.

GREEK CYPRIOT AND TURKISH CYPRIOT LEADERS MEET IN NICOSIA

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met under UN auspices in Nicosia today.

Speaking to the press after that meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Cyprus, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun,

noted that, following a ninety-minute tête-à-tête, the leaders continued their prior discussion on property issues.

He added that they had now referred the matter of property to their representatives, who were also currently working on governance issues and confidence building measures.

The leaders will meet again next Wednesday, on 11 March, to discuss matters related to the European Union.

ON INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

The Secretary-General

opened this morning the day long observance of International

Womens Day at Headquarters. The theme for this years International Women Day which is observed annually on 8 Marchis Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls. This ties in with the Secretary-Generals wider

campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, launched in 2008.

Addressing the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Secretary-General said that violence against women was an attack on all of us, on the foundation of our civilization. He spoke of his recent visit to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stressing that he had spoken forcefully about sexual violence in the country to President Kabila. I will keep speaking out against such unspeakable atrocities, he added.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL LAUNCHES NEW DATABASE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

On the occasion of International Womens Day, the

Deputy Secretary-General, Asha Rose Migiro, launched a new database on violence against women.

This database will provide the first one-stop shop for information on measures undertaken by Member States to address violence against womenas well as available data and statistics.

The Deputy Secretary-General stressed the importance of this database for encouraging exchange on initiatives and ideas, and the transfer of promising practices.

UNEMPLOYMENT AFFECTING WOMEN MORE THAN MEN

The International Labour Organization (ILO) today

warned in their latest report that the economic crisis this year is going to have a more serious impact on women than men in most regions in the world, when it comes to unemployment trends.

In a statement for International Womens Day,

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia cited a number of policies to address the problem, such as insurance schemes that recognize womens vulnerable position in the global market.

The ILOs report indicated that the only regions where there is a narrower gender gap in unemployment rates are East Asia, the developed economies, the non-EU South East Europe and the former Soviet republics.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES MORAL AND HUMANITARIAN IMPERATIVE OF RIGHT TO FOOD: The Secretary-General this morning

spoke to the students of the UN International School at a conference on the global food crisis, and he told them that the way the world grows, markets and trades food does not protect the poor, and the situation is getting worse. He said that food is not just a commodity, and agriculture is not just a business. Both are central to survival. Realizing every person's right to food is a moral and humanitarian imperative. The United Nations, the Secretary-General said, is moving on two fronts: delivering immediate food and nutrition assistance, and improving longer-term food production and agricultural development. He asserted, Hunger is a stain on humanity. The time has come to remove that stain forever.

UNODC LAUNCHES BLUE HEART CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Today in Vienna, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, launched the Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking. There is a lot of ignorance about modern slavery Costa said, adding that the Blue Heart demonstrates solidarity with the victims of a crime that shames us all. The campaign will take advantage of social networking, encouraging the public to change their Facebook picture to a blue heart, upload the Blue Heart to their webpage, spread the word through Twitter and watch video about human trafficking on YouTube.

MORE THAN 700 NEW OFFICERS IN U.N.-BACKED HAITI POLICE FORCE: Hedi Annabi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Haiti, has welcomed the addition of 702 new officers into ranks of the UN-backed Haitian National Police. There are 86 young women among the girls the graduates. The new policemen and women spent 7 months in intensive training from instructors including UN police and other experts from the Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

INQUIRY INTO DAMAGES DONE TO U.N. FACILITIES IN GAZA HAS STARTED: Asked about the UN inquiry into the damages done to UN facilities in Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the inquiry has already started, and its members had traveled to the region. Montas said that a one-month timeframe had been given for its work, after which a report is to be submitted to the Secretary-General which will help him decide on further action. She added, in response to a further question, that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on Israel to open the crossing points into Gaza.

  • *** The guest at the noon briefing was Catherine Bragg, Assistance Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. She discussed the humanitarian situation in Sudan.

    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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