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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-09
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, March 9, 2009
HAITI: BAN KI-MOON, BILL CLINTON BEGIN VISIT TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON RECOVERY NEEDS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due to arrive this afternoon in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, accompanied by former US President Bill Clinton and a group of potential investors, as well as humanitarian actors. The trip is designed to focus international attention on
Haitis recovery and reconstruction needs.
The first part of the afternoon will be devoted to visiting education projects, including a feeding programme, at a school in Cite Soleil and meeting with honour students from severely disadvantaged backgrounds at a Leadership Programme.
Later this evening, the Secretary-General and President Clinton are expected to meet with President René Préval and Prime Minister Michele Pierre Louis, along with members of the Haitian private sector and civil society.
Included in the delegation are representatives of NGOs active in Haiti, like Dr Paul Farmer, who has established a hospital in the village of Canges, and musician Wyclef Jean whose Foundation Yele Ayiti has worked extensively on community projects in the country.
BAN KI-MOON PLANS TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA TUESDAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE
The Secretary-General is
pleased to have received an invitation from United States President Barack Obama and looks forward to meeting him in Washington D.C. on 10 March.
The Secretary-General and the President expect to discuss a wide range of issues including managing the consequences of the global economic crisis, climate change, challenges in Sudan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, non-proliferation and disarmament, human rights, United Nations reform, and United States-United Nations relations.
While in Washington D.C. from 10 to 11 March, the Secretary-General will also meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
SUDAN: BAN KI-MOON SEEKS TO AVERT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS ON THE GROUND
The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that the security situation there is relatively calm. During the past 24 hours, UNAMID conducted 32 confidence-building patrols, 11 escort patrols and eight night patrols covering 65 villages and camps for displaced persons.
The AU-UN Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada,
today met with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, in Khartoum to discuss the current situation in Sudan, especially in the aftermath of the International Criminal Courts announcement. Jean Ping urged UNAMID to continue discharging its responsibilities to help the people of Darfur.
Special Representative Adada stressed that UNAMID has a specific mandate to implement, including providing protection for civilians and facilitating humanitarian assistance to those in need.
[The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes told reporters at the noon briefing there have been no new suspensionsthere are still 13 international Non-Governmental Organizations and three national NGOs that have had their operations stopped. The latest count of those staff affected is up to 7,610, across northern Sudan, including Darfur.
Holmes said the Secretary-General, OCHA staff and other UN agency officials have been in touch with all relevant stakeholders at all levels.
UN Agencies and NGOs are working with partner line ministries to identify the most critical, life-threatening gaps in aid provision created in key sectors of food, water, and health where possible. This is a bridge in the short term only to make sure aid continues to get to the most need, but in no way covers any real portion of the gap it only allows for a response to situations where imminent loss of life is possible. ]
Asked about comments attributed to President Omar al-Bashir, threatening to expel international personnel from Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was aware of media reports. The Secretary-General had not spoken to President Bashir over the weekend, she said in response to further questions. Okabe said that the Secretary-General had placed a number of calls to leaders, last week and over the weekend, concerning the situation in Sudan. His top priority there, she said, is to avert a humanitarian crisis on the ground.
ATTACKS AND RETURN OF FIRE ACROSS BLUE LINE A CHALLENGE TO PEACE IN SOUTHERN LEBANON
The Secretary-General, in his latest
report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon, said that the attacks and return fire along the Blue Line during the hostilities in Gaza was the most serious challenge since that resolution was adopted more than two years ago.
He said that the firing of rockets from southern Lebanon towards Israel constitute serious violations of resolution 1701. He also said it was a cause of serious concern that the Israel Defense Forces on two occasions returned fire without providing prior warning to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
In the report, the Secretary-General says he is pleased that the parties have made progress, in cooperation with UNIFIL, to visibly mark the Blue Line. He reiterates his call upon Israel to cease immediately all overflights of Lebanese territory. And he calls upon all Lebanese leaders to exercise restraint ahead of the 7 June parliamentary elections.
Security Council is expected to discuss the report tomorrow in its closed consultations. Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, will be on hand to brief Council members on the report.
UNICEF CHIEF TOURS WAR-RAVAGED SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS IN GAZA AND ISRAEL
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), all crossings from Israel into Gaza, with the exception of the Sufa crossing, have been open today. OCHA also reports that 9 truckloads of medical supplies from Libya entered Gaza yesterday through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, UNICEFs Executive Director, Ann Veneman, wrapped up a week-long
mission to the region that included stops in Jordan, the West Bank, southern Israel and Gaza.
In Gaza, Veneman visited a damaged school, a pediatric hospital and a psychosocial counseling center. She also saw a school in Sderot, in southern Israel. During these visits, she spoke with Palestinian and Israeli children affected by the recent hostilities.
Veneman also met with senior officials including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, as well as Israels Minister of Social Welfare and the Head of the Israeli Supreme Court.
ZIMBABWE CHOLERA DEATHS NOW EXCEED 4,000
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization report that the total number of deaths from cholera during the outbreak in Zimbabwe has now exceeded 4,000, reaching 4,011. The cumulative number of cholera cases in Zimbabwe has risen above 89,000.
At the same time, OCHA and WHO report that the fatality rate in treatment centres has declined significantly, to 1.8.%, down from a rate which had exceeded 4%. The decline results from improved monitoring and response mechanisms instituted by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with international partners. Over 60 % of deaths occur in rural areas where limited or no treatment is reaching people. And we have more upstairs.
STRONGER INSTITUTIONS ENSURING RIGHT TO FOOD COULD HELP DEFEAT HUNGER
In Geneva this morning, the Human Rights Council took up the right to food. In her remarks, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
said that, clearly, the global food crisis is not over yet. And efforts to tackle it will only bear fruit if they are grounded in the very basic human right to adequate food.
In that regard, Pillay said, the Human Rights Council's efforts should be directed towards protecting the most marginalized segments of society. She said she was especially concerned by the situation of the rural and urban poor, landless and small-scale farmers, and households headed by women.
Pillay noted that any successful strategy to defeat hunger should involve: stronger institutions with better accountability; sustainable investments in agricultural production and research; and targeted support to and empowerment of smallholders and the poor.
POVERTY LIKELY TO RISE AS FINANCING SHORTFALL HITS DEVELOPING WORLD
Developing countries face a financing shortfall of $270 billion to $700 billion this year, according to the World Bank. The Bank
adds that only one quarter of the most vulnerable countries have the resources to prevent a rise in poverty.
In a report released ahead of next Saturdays meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors, the World Bank also says that many of the worlds poorest countries are becoming more dependent on development assistance. It also voices concerns over the increasing volatility of aid flows -- as some countries cut their aid budgets.
LAW & ORDER CREW SHOOTS EPISODE ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS
The cast and crew of the hit television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit were at United Nations Headquarters on Saturday, 7 March to film part of an episode that brings to the fore themes of children and armed conflict as well as refugees. This collaboration marks the first occasion a network television show has been granted access to film at the United Nations.
It also represents the first official project under the Secretary-Generals newly established Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI), within the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, which aims to partner with the international film and television industries to raise the profile of critical global issues.
Emmy-nominated actor Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler) and Stephanie March (Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot) were at United Nations Headquarters on Saturday, along with nearly 200 cast and crew.
Scenes filmed include the traffic circle outside of the Secretariat building, the Visitors Entrance Plaza, and the Public Lobby. The episode is currently scheduled to air on Tuesday, 24 March at 10 pm Eastern Standard Time on NBC Universal.
HEAD OF AFGHANISTAN MISSION VISITS TEHRAN: Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Afghanistan, visited Tehran yesterday to further explore areas of cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan. The visit is part of a series that Eide has made to improve regional cooperation. Today, he is scheduled to address a Council of Ministers meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization, a 10-nation group whose summit this week is being hosted by Iran.
INDIA IS A STRONG PARTNER OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING: The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has dismissed as unfounded recent news reports alleging that the United Nations has asked India to cancel new Indian deployments to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The UN Missions Indian air force contingent is currently at full strength and remains in the DRC. The United Nations both greatly appreciates and relies on India's continued participation in its peacekeeping operation in the DRC.
BAN KI-MOON REMAINS EXTREMELY CONCERNED ABOUT CIVILIAN DEATHS IN SRI LANKA: Asked about a report citing thousands of casualties in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General, in a strong statement issued last week, was extremely concerned over the deteriorating situation for civilians trapped in northern Sri Lanka. He strongly deplored the mounting death toll of civilians and stressed the need to bring the conflict to a speedy end without further loss of civilian life.
LIBERIA: AN INTEGRATED U.N. OFFICE OPENS IN SOUTHEAST: The second joint-UN office in Liberia was inaugurated today in Zwedru, the provincial capital of southeastern Grand Gedeh County. The office brings together five agencies the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNHCRtogether with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The Mission says this joint office is an opportunity for the UN to bring together all of its extensive expertise to maximize the benefits for the people of Liberia.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL TO TAKE UP GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES: The
Committee for Development Policy an expert body of the Economic and Social
Council -- opened its 11th session today, at Headquarters. One of the main topics of the Committee's deliberations will be on global public health. The Committee will also conduct the 2009 triennial review of the list of Least Developed Countries, and address the current financial turmoil and its implications for developing countries. In his opening remarks, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, underlined the enormous challenges facing the world right now. He said these also presented a unique opportunity for the United Nations to provide leadership in addressing the crisis and forging a new partnership for governance of the world economy. The 11th session of the Committee for Development Policy runs through 13 March.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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