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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-10

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, March 10, 2009

BAN KI-MOON AND U.S. PRESIDENT OBAMA TO MEET AT WHITE HOUSE TODAY

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has left Haiti, and is on his way to Washington, DC, where he will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House this afternoon.

He 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, UN reform, and U.S.-UN relations.

Then, this evening, the Secretary-General will speak at a dinner hosted by the UN Foundation. Tomorrow, he will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with President Obama, the Spokeswoman said that the meeting was scheduled for 5:30 this afternoon, and would be followed by a press opportunity during which each of them was expected to make brief comments.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals other meetings in Washington, she noted that he would speak at an event hosted by the UN Foundation this evening and meet with members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Asked when the Secretary-General would hold his monthly press briefing, Okabe said that the Secretary-General would be back in New York on Wednesday and would be expected to hold that press conference by the end of this week.

NEED FOR JOBS FLAGGED AS BAN KI-MOON AND PRESIDENT CLINTON WRAP UP TRIP TO HAITI

The Secretary-General wrapped up his trip to Haiti this morning, visiting a factory of about 1,000 workers who were working for the garment industry, and meeting with staff of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

He spoke to the press this morning, telling them that Haiti needs one thing above all else: jobs. He added that Haiti has hope for the future, with a window of opportunity provided by MINUSTAHs presence and by a new US law allowing accessing to the American market for Haitis garment industry.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General met in Port-au-Prince with President René Préval, accompanied by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The Secretary-General

said that Haiti can be made into a success story, since it has many friends and all the right ingredients for recovery. But speed is of the essence. We must start moving now to create jobs for the poor and give the people hope for a better future, he stressed.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the Secretary-General and President Clinton took note of the progress achieved in terms of public security, political stability and good economic governance. The Secretary-General undertook to support the forthcoming donors meeting in Washington, D.C. and to encourage increased bilateral and multilateral assistance in order to meet immediate needs and pave the way for longer-term progress.

Meanwhile, the latest

report of the Secretary-General on MINUSTAH is available today. In it, the Secretary-General notes that continued and determined engagement by the Haitian authorities together with enhanced support by the international community, will be critical for the country in the coming months.

While underlining the urgent need to improve the daily living conditions of the Haitian people, the Secretary-General says the present situation still offers an opportunity to advance towards the consolidation of stability.

AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS MISSION IN DARFUR CONDEMNS ATTACK ON PEACEKEEPERS

In Darfur, yesterday evening, a patrol from the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), returning to its base in El Geneina, West Darfur, was

attacked by unknown armed men who fired at the vehicle with small arms.

Four peacekeepers were shot and wounded in the attack, one of them seriously. The injured personnel were evacuated by helicopter for medical treatment to the Missions hospital in El Fasher, North Darfur where their conditions were listed as stable and not life-threatening.

UNAMID is investigating the incident.

UNAMID strongly condemns these acts of violence against its peacekeepers who are in Darfur to help bring peace and stability to the region and for the benefit of the population.

Violence against UNAMID personnel and banditry have increased over the past six weeks in West Darfur. The number of incidents until now in West Darfur in 2009 has exceeded those for the entirety of 2008, according to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Also yesterday in El Fasher, in North Darfur, a UNAMID vehicle was carjacked by three unknown armed men. No injuries were incurred and the incident was reported to the Sudanese Government police.

This morning, an UNAMID military observer en route from his residence to the Mission team site in El Daein, approximately 160km southeast of Nyala, was shot at by two armed personnel. One bullet entered the rear of the vehicle and hit the front window. The driver lost control of the vehicle and hit a pole but no serious injuries reported.

Meanwhile, during the past 24 hours, UNAMID force conducted 31 confidence building patrols, 7 escort patrols and 9 night patrols covering 41 villages and camps housing internally displaced persons. Similarly, UNAMID police conducted a total of 96 patrols in and around villages and camps housing internally displaced persons.

UNITED NATION IS CONCERNED OVER SAFETY OF HUMANITARIAN WORKERS IN DARFUR

On the humanitarian front, the United Nations remains highly

concerned over the safety of national and international staff in light of repeated reports of intimidation and harassment.

Despite assurances given by the Sudanese Government that harassment and seizure of assets would stop, such reports continued to be received daily, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Crucial assets had been confiscated from these humanitarian organizations, including computers, vehicles and communications equipment, as well as essential data.

But OCHA reports that there have been no further revocations of permission to work.

But as the rainy season was now coming up, and as the country would soon be split in two due to the rains, it was urgent and essential to pre-position food and non-food assistance in the warehouses as rapidly as possible, OCHA says.

Some 1.5 million people were at risk in terms of health. An estimated 1.2 million people risked having no more access to potable water and education and hygiene programmes in the weeks to come.

Even though UNICEF is currently working 24 hours a day with their UN partners and their technical partners in the various ministries, it could not level the lack created by the absence of the various non-governmental organizations.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, says that four of the expelled non-governmental organizations were crucial partners. They were providing 35 percent of their food distribution capacity in Darfur. They had been distributing food to 1.1 million people plus 5,500 malnourished children and mothers receiving supplementary feeding in Darfur.

WFP and other humanitarian agencies do not have the capacity to fill such a large gap. WFP says it is doing everything it could to respond to the urgent needs in the areas where the non-governmental organizations had been forced to leave. They were planning a one-off distribution of enough food for two months through local food relief committees.

The World Health Organization says more than 1.5 million persons would no longer have access to primary healthcare with the absence of these non-governmental organizations. Their absence would be highly felt on several programmes: immunizations would be disrupted and the communicable disease early warning alert and response system would be interrupted. This situation would increase the risk of disease outbreaks and higher rates of mortality and morbidity. Further, an outbreak of meningitis had been reported in the Kalma Camp which currently houses 89, 000 people.

The United Nations and the Sudanese Government have agreed meanwhile that three joint UN-Sudanese Government teams, composed of experts from both sides would visit Darfur to conduct an assessment of critical short-term needs in four sectors: Food, Nutrition, Water, and Emergency Shelter.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP IRAN SANCTIONS, SUDAN SANCTIONS,

LEBANON, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The

Security Council began its work this morning with an open briefing on the work of the

1737 Sanctions Committee, which deals with Iran. Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, who chairs that committee, briefed Council members.

The Council then went into consultations on Lebanon, with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams providing an update on recent developments and presenting the Secretary-Generals

report on the implementation of resolution 1701.

Council members also heard an update from Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations, on the work of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Also this morning, the Security Council discussed sanctions on Sudan. Then, at 3:00 this afternoon, Francois Lonseny Fall, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Central African Republic, will brief the Security Council on developments there, in an open meeting followed by consultations.

IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY DEPLORES BAGHDAD BOMBINGS

Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, strongly condemned the bombings in Baghdads Abu Ghraib area this afternoon, which killed dozens of innocent civilians and injured many more after the conclusion of a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shia leaders.

He said that attack was a horrible crime that is designed to sabotage reconciliation efforts by the Iraqi people, adding that he is confident that they will continue on the road of dialogue.

De Mistura extended the United Nations sincere condolences to the bereaved families and its wishes for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded.

GAZA: MORE HUMANITARIAN TRUCKS ALLOWED IN BUT PROBLEMS STILL REMAIN

The office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory

reports that the overall humanitarian situation in Gaza remains unchanged. A total of 729 truckloads were allowed entry into Gaza over the past week. And more than 40% of those were for humanitarian aid programs. That represents an increase from the previous week, when less than 600 truckloads were allowed in.

But problems still remain. For example, no livestock, vehicles or construction materials were allowed entry into Gaza over the past week. In addition, two shipments of UNICEF T-shirts, which were meant for disadvantaged girls in Gaza schools, were refused entry on the grounds of not qualifying as a humanitarian priority.

In yet another case, more than 700 packets of washing powder were kept out of Gaza since they lacked a so-called environmental certificate even though an identical cargo had been allowed in through the same crossing in late February.

In addition to the nearly ten million dollars in cash aid that the UN Development Programme has recently provided to needy Gazans, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will start handing out cash next week to refugee families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged. That cash aid is meant to support those families until construction materials are allowed in and major repairs can take place. Without such construction materials, in the meantime, UNICEF has been forced to carry out minor repairs of school windows using nylon sheets.

Meanwhile, in related news, today in Cairo, UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd delivered a

message from the Secretary-General to the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People.

In that message, the Secretary-General reiterated that only a permanent negotiated political settlement, which ends the occupation, can provide a sustainable solution to the economic and humanitarian problems of the Palestinian people and lasting security for Israel.

Asked about continuing problems in bringing the amount of aid needed into Gaza, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General continued to press for improved access at the crossing points.

REBELS SURRENDERING WEAPONS TO U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN D.R. CONGO

Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), says that the UNs appeal to Rwandan rebels to surrender their weapons and return home is having a positive impact on peace and security in the Kivus.

Doss and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) report progress in that effort and in the consolidation by UN peacekeepers and Congolese soldiers of improved security conditions brought about by the Rwanda/DRC military campaign against the Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).

The Mission cites the case of an additional 335 Rwandan nationals who agreed to be returned to Rwanda since the start of this month. Meanwhile, FDLR rebels are also

surrendering their weapons to UN peacekeepers in small but steady numbers. They too, along with their dependents, will be returned to Rwanda with UN assistance.

MADAGASGAR: U.N. CLOSELY ENGAGED WITH PEACE EFFORTS

On Madagascar, the United Nations is closely engaged with the efforts underway to urge a peaceful resolution to the political crisis.

The United Nations is working in concert with the international community in this regard, including in support of efforts being made collectively to ensure the safety of persons involved. The senior UN adviser on the ground, Tiebile Drame, is in contact with the parties, the mediation and the diplomatic community, and is keeping the UN abreast of the situation.

Asked where Andry Rajoelina is being kept, the Spokeswoman said that the diplomatic community as a whole is addressing this issue. She added that the United Nations was not providing protection but is engaged with efforts collectively by international community to ensure the safety of the Mayor.

DRUG USERS DO NOT FORFEIT THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today

stressed the key roles that human rights and harm reduction should play in the response to drug use. Noting that drug users often suffer discrimination and are hurt by approaches that over-emphasize punishment, she said, Individuals who use drugs do not forfeit their human rights.

Pillay said drug users, including those held in detention, should be given appropriate health treatment and services. She also stressed that people charged with drug offences must never be transferred to countries where they will face torture.

The High Commissioner was speaking in advance of the High-Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which will take place in Vienna tomorrow and Thursday. We have more on that upstairs.

TEN MILLION NEW GREEN JOBS COULD BE CREATED

BY INVESTING IN SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

Ten million new green jobs could be

created by investing in sustainable forest management.

That is according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who adds that such an investment could also make a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions since forests are a vital storehouse of carbon.

The role and benefits of sustainable forest management will be the main topic of World Forest Week -- to be held in conjunction with FAOs Committee on Forestry, from 16 to 20 March in Rome.

ALLEGATIONS OF CYBERSQUATTING ON THE RISE

According to the latest report

released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), international trademark activity remained robust in 2008, with a record number of applications for trademark registrations.

Germany has the most applicants for the 16th consecutive year, followed by France, the United States, the European Community, and Switzerland. Among developing countries, Vietnam has the highest growth rate in filings for trademarks, up by over 50 percent.

At the same time, WIPO notes that allegations of so-called cybersquatting continued to rise in 2008. Cybersquatting involves registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intentions. The five countries with the highest number of complainants are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.

ARTICLE ON PROCUREMENT REPORT FEATURES UNFOUNDED ALLEGATIONS

Asked about the UNs response to a Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report on procurement, the Spokeswoman noted that a recent article issued by Fox News, about the report, had provided a series of assertions and allegations that are largely unfounded as regard UN Secretariat procurement.

The Note by the JIU presented a study of procurement procedures pertaining to the UN System as a whole, she said.

While the Note describes differences in procedures from one Organization to the other and provides recommendations for the entire UN system, Okabe said, the content does not always provide a clear indication as to which UN Organization, the findings pertain to.

Nevertheless, of the 22 recommendations issued by the JIU, the following applies to the UN Secretariat: 8 were already in place in the UN Secretariat prior to the Note; 3 would require an Enterprise Resource Planning System; 3 would require coordination with the High Level Committee on Management; 5 are accepted and 3 would require additional clarification from the Inspectors, as the recommendation is too vague.

The Spokeswoman noted that the amounts in question relating to corporate consultancies, a highly specialized element of procurement, represents an average expenditure of $15 million, as indicated on page 5 of the Note -- which is just 0.5% of the $3.2 billion reflected in the Fox News article. She added that this does not form a basis from which generic conclusions may be drawn regarding the management of UN procurement as a whole.

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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