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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-11
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
SECRETARY-GENERAL, PRESIDENT OBAMA DISCUSS ECONOMIC CRISIS, CLIMATE CHANGE, SUDAN
The Secretary-General had a wide ranging and very productive
meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, which covered a broad range of issues confronting the international community.
Among other things, they discussed the international economic crisis, and emphasized the need to ensure that the world's poor and most vulnerable people are not left behind. Both called for redoubling efforts to achieve the
Millennium Development Goals, and ensure food security around the world. They agreed that progress could be made on this front even during difficult economic times. And they both strongly emphasized the need for an international agreement on climate change both to save the planet and ensure a sustainable economic recovery.
comments to the press afterward, the Secretary-General said that leaders of the Group of 20 should not lose sight of the challenges and plight of hundreds of millions of the poorest people in the developing countries who have been impacted by this economic crisis.
The Secretary-General and the President discussed at length the situation in Sudan, particularly the acute humanitarian situation caused by the Government's decision to expel 13 international NGOs, and emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution of the situation. Other topics included the need for strengthening civilian support for Afghanistan, facilitating cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, actively pursuing peace in the Middle East, supporting reconstruction in Haiti, and working together to support Iraq in a period of transition. They also discussed disarmament and non-proliferation issues, including the situation in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General welcomed President Obama's statement that the UN is an extraordinarily constructive partner for bringing peace and security to the world. We look forward, the Secretary-General said, to working together to turn this 'make or break' year full of crises into a 'make it work' year full of solutions.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS IN WASHINGTON WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS
The Secretary-General today is continuing his meetings in Washington D.C. with key US officials. He participated this morning in a working breakfast with the House Foreign Relations Committee after meeting with its chairman, Representative Howard Berman.
The Secretary-General spoke about
UN reform, in particular the restructuring of peacekeeping support; developments in
Sudan; and the upcoming G-20 meeting on the economic crisis. The Secretary-General noted that the United States continues to owe about $1 billion to the United Nations, and he told the Committee that, while the United States generously supports the work of the UN, We cannot do the work you ask us to do without the resources to get the job done. They also discussed Gaza and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Somalia, Sudan, the Durban Review Conference, Afghanistan, climate change, and the Human Rights Council.
The Secretary-General also met with Senator John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and they discussed climate change, Sudan, Gaza and US arrears to UN.
He will meet later today with other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with members of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce before returning to New York.
Following the conclusion of his trips to Haiti and Washington, the Secretary-General will hold his monthly press conference on Thursday, at 11:00 a.m.
UNITED NATIONS VEHICLE CARJACKED BY ARMED MEN IN DARFUR
The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that on Tuesday night a UNAMID vehicle was carjacked by three unknown armed men in front of the staff members home about 500 meters from UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher, North Darfur. No injuries were reported and the incident was reported to Sudanese authorities.
UNAMID also reports that a peaceful demonstration comprising mostly of youth and labour movement figures took place today in Nyala, South Darfur, condemning the recent
International Criminal Court decision to issue an arrest warrant against the President.
During the past 24 hours, UNAMID Forces conducted 30 confidence-building patrols, 11 escort patrols and 10 night patrols covering 43 villages and camps housing internally displaced persons (IDPs). UNAMID Police conducted 96 patrols in and around the villages and IDP Camps.
Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé was in Doha on Tuesday for meetings with the officials from the State of Qatar and representatives of the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
During the meetings, both the Government and JEM recommitted themselves to the Doha political process and a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Darfur conflict.
Bassolé intends to meet with other rebel movement representatives and regional countries in the coming days in an effort to broaden inclusivity in the Doha talks. He is scheduled to brief the Security Council on 26 March.
MORE INTERNATIONAL STAFF DEPARTS SUDAN, WHILE OTHERS AWAIT EXIT VISAS
On the humanitarian front, the United Nations is continuing to compile information on the impact of the orders given to the non-governmental organizations to cease operations in Northern
Sudan, including Darfur. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of 10 March, 183 international staff has already left the country, with others awaiting exit visas to depart.
Another issue of particular concern is for the safety of national and international staff on the ground following repeated incidents of intimidation and harassment. In addition, reports continue of efforts to confiscate NGO, UN, and donor-owned equipment. The United Nations has requested the Government of Sudan to return these items.
Information is reaching the United Nations from Abyei, Blue Nile State, and Southern Kordofan State, which were located along the frontlines during the North-South civil war and which have been particularly hard hit by the countrys decades of warfare, and also Eastern Sudan, which includes three other states. It should be remembered that many of the agencies asked to leave these areas have been working in Sudan for decades.
While the information is still incomplete, the departure of these NGOs will affect hundreds of thousands of people in the non-Darfur areas.
In South Kordofan, for example, the NGOs affected provided health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education, food security, and other assistance. Up to 800,000 people could be affected by the departure of NGOs working in health and nutrition, while those benefiting from interventions in water and sanitation number up to 400,000, and those benefiting from assistance in food security are as many as 200,000.
In Blue Nile and Kassala, the International Rescue Committee alone served over 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, in Kalma camp, a UN inter-agency team visited the camp on Tuesday to assess and respond to the urgent needs in water, sanitation, and health sectors. They found that water and sanitation conditions are deteriorating.
In Zam Zam camp, distributions of non-food items have stopped due to the departure of an NGO amidst a cavalcade of new arrivals in recent months, and there are reportedly health concerns, including increased diarrhea and eye infections.
The joint UN-Government technical assessment mission to evaluate food, water, health and emergency shelter situations in Darfur commenced today. More information will be available upon completion of the mission and the analysis of data from these surveys next week. Many of the NGOs that have been expelled have been integral to this massive logistical effort in previous years.
SECURITY COUNCIL BEGINS MISSION TO HAITI
The Security Council today is beginning a mission to
Haiti, which is to last until this Saturday. The mission is led by Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, and it is traveling to reaffirm the Councils support to the people and Government of Haiti and to evaluate the progress in implementing its resolutions on Haiti, particularly resolution 1840.
The list of the members of the Council mission to Haiti and its terms of reference are available on the racks today as a letter from the Council President to the Secretary-General.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Council heard a briefing by François Lonseny Fall, outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic. He told the Council that the framework for lasting peace agreed in that country following inclusive political talks late last year remained on track, despite a recent wave of rebel attacks on northern villages. Prospects are still good for overall progress towards sustainable peace in Central Africa, said Fall.
The countrys leaders and other stakeholders were committed to meeting the aims of the talks, but would surely need the international communitys assistance to do so, he said.
CYPRIOT LEADERS MEET UNDER U.N. AUSPICES
The Greek Cypriot leader, Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, met today under
UN auspices in Nicosia.
Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, noted that the leaders began with a tête-à-tête meeting, which lasted ninety minutes.
They then started discussions on matters concerning the European Union (EU). The leaders decided to refer some of the particularly technical legal issues to their experts, who will be meeting on Friday and Monday.
The leaders themselves will meet again next Tuesday to review the work of the technical experts and further discuss EU matters.
UNCERTAINTY REMAINS ON ROLE OF PEACEKEEPERS IN SOMALIA
The Secretary-General says in his latest
report on Somalia that there remains uncertainty about whether peacekeeping is the right tool to back the political process in Somalia. This assessment comes a month before his final advice and recommendations to the Security Council, due 15 April, on a possible UN peacekeeping deployment to that country.
In the meantime, the Secretary-General says he will continue to update and refine the contingency plan prepared by UN departments after a number of technical assessment missions to Somalia.
In its current form, the contingency plan provides for a force of 22,500 peacekeepers operating from 5 sectors in southern and central Somalia and equipped with utility and attack helicopters. A maritime component with a landing ship and inshore patrol boats would also be essential to protect UN re-supply and humanitarian aid shipping.
While the United Nations awaits a final Security Council decision, the Secretary-General says that the UN will continue to provide key assistance to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and remain engaged in the search for a political solution to Somalias 18-year old crisis.
U.N. MISSION TO HELP FAST-TRACK DEPLOYMENT OF CONGOLESE NATIONAL POLICE
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says it will be helping to fast-track the deployment of the Congolese national police throughout eastern DRC. The police deployment is part of a 2008 UN-backed regional stabilization plan.
The Mission says the plan made notable progress when 332 Congolese police officers began their deployment across the restive North Kivu province. Sixty of these officers will have the specific role of providing security for major road work between the towns of Sake and Masisi, which employs some 1,200 people. Road construction was suspended last summer due to fighting between rebels and government troops.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TAKES UP RIGHTS OF CHILD
Today in Geneva, the Human Rights Council took up the rights of the child. In
remarks this morning, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that the Convention on the Rights of the Child enjoys almost universal acceptance and has transformed the way the world views children. Children are no longer viewed as the property of parents or the passive recipients of charity or goodwill, but as rights-holders, she said.
Noting that children suffer disproportionately in conflict situations, Pillay urged the Human Rights Council to remain vigilant in order to confront emerging challenges and ensure that the spirit and letter of the Convention shapes the policies of the international community.
U.N. ENVIRONMENT BODY CALLS ON PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS TO ADOPT GREEN TECHNOLOGY
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is calling on peacekeeping missions to adopt environmental technologies and sustainable management practices.
At a meeting gathering military and civilian aid experts this week, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director,
said that the primary role of international peacekeeping forces and aid agencies is to keep the peace and support vulnerable communities. But, he added, they also have the responsibility to ensure that their presence and operations have a minimal ecological footprint and do not aggravate environmental degradation -- which may be a dimension of the conflict.
The meeting, hosted by UNEP and co-organized by the Swedish Defence Research Agency, the UN Department of Field Support, the UN Mission in Sudan and the Environmental Law Institute, looked at concrete ways to integrate sustainable practices into peacekeeping and relief operations.
For example, the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan is investing $5 million to make the operations of its 10,000 troops spread across 25 bases more green.
TOURISM SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
In his opening speech at an international tourism fair in Berlin today, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General ad interim Taleb Rifai urged world leaders to include tourism as a key part of their economic stimulus programs.
He also stressed that the industry should be at the forefront of countries transformation to environment-friendly economies. He noted that the complex nature of the current crisis makes it unpredictable, and the tourism sector will need innovations and bold action to contribute to economic recovery.
F.A.O., FOOTBALL LEAGUES TO HOLD ANTI-HUNGER WEEKEND
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and European professional football leagues will join forces in an anti-hunger match weekend.
Over 200 football clubs, 100 stadiums and millions of fans will be involved in the first ever Europe-wide football weekend, from 20 to 22 March. The funds raised during this event will help finance anti-hunger micro-projects around the world.
The match weekend is part of the Professional Football against Hunger campaign launched last October by FAO and the European Professional Football Leagues.
WORLD POPULATION TO EXCEED 9 BILLION BY 2050
World population will exceed 9 billion people by 2050, up from the current 6.8 billion people. Thats according to the 2008 Revision of the official United Nations population estimates and projections, released today.
Most of the additional 2.3 billion people will enlarge the population of developing countries which is projected to rise from 5.6 billion in 2009 to 7.9 billion in 2050. In contrast, the population of the more developed regions is expected to change minimally.
WHO NOTES IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON HEALTH
World Health Organization (WHO) experts today put forward three key findings on the impact of climate change on health at a conference in Copenhagen.
First, they said that climate change has adverse consequences on health through, for example, increased risks of extreme weather events. Second, reducing greenhouse gas emissions can benefit health. And third, the health impacts of climate change are felt unequally. People at greater risks for climate-related health problems and premature deaths are the poor, the very young, women, and the elderly.
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