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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-03-18

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UNITED NATIONS URGES TRANSITION TO DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN MADAGASCAR

Asked about the UNs reaction to the change in power in Madagascar, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations does not support an unconstitutional change in government. Our concern, she said, is stability and peace on the island, and a transition to a democratic process based on broad consensus to legitimize any arrangements, as the Secretary-General made clear in his

statement on Tuesday. We continue to appeal for calm and stability, she said.

Asked whether the United Nations regarded what happened in Madagascar to be a coup, Montas said that the legality of the situation is not something the United Nations can determine. A court has said it is legal, although, she added, the United Nations also hears reports that such a decision was made under duress. The African Union is considering this question at this moment.

She asserted, We certainly do not condone unconstitutional changes in government, as we have said, and our focus at the moment is to urge a transition to a democratic process.

SECURITY COUNCIL LOOKS AT WAYS TO STRENGTHEN A.U.-U.N RELATIONSHIP

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

spoke at the open meeting of the

Security Council concerning ways to strengthen the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union and to further enhance the AUs capacity for peacekeeping. At that meeting, former Italian President Romano Prodi presented the

report of his high-level panel on modalities for support to African Union peacekeeping operations.

Noting the reports findings, the Secretary-General said that many of the challenges facing the African Union result from the difficulties it faces in securing the necessary resources to support both its deployments and its own long term development. It was in this context, he said, that the Panel made its recommendations to address issues of funding and resources, which will require detailed analysis, particularly in the case of assessed contributions.

The Secretary-General said the African Union continues to develop its capacity for peacekeeping, and that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is supporting these efforts with a dedicated capacity and, through specific programmes.

There are 35 speakers inscribed so far for todays meeting.

MULTIFACETED APPROACH NEEDED TO TACKLE PIRACY OFF SOMALI COASTS

In a

report to the Security Council on piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Secretary-General says that there is a critical need to tackle the problem with a multifaceted approach, to ensure that the political process, the African Unions peacekeeping efforts, the strengthening of law enforcement institutions and capacity-building initiatives work in tandem.

He encourages Member States to place an increased emphasis on the resolution of the lawlessness in Somalia through the development of the Djibouti peace process and support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

He adds that it is necessary for the international community to implement effectively the existing international legal framework and consider its further strengthening to facilitate the apprehension and prosecution of those suspected of having committed piracy off the coast of Somalia.

GAZA: HUMANITARIAN AID STILL BELOW URGENT NEEDS

According to a

report by the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the overall levels of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza remain below what is urgently required.

A total of 671 truckloads of goods -- including 121 from humanitarian agencies -- were allowed entry into Gaza this past week. That is less than the 1,080 trucks that were let in the week before. Items banned by the Israeli authorities over the past week included jam, biscuits and tomato paste.

The Humanitarian Coordinators office also notes that Israeli clearance procedures for access into Gaza by international staff from non-governmental organizations continue to be very lengthy -- thus hindering the work of aid groups.

Meanwhile a report by the UN Development Programme finds that 65% of Gazans live below the income poverty line and 37% live in extreme poverty. Sixty-six per cent of the unemployed are extremely poor compared to 56% before the recent Gaza conflict.

Asked whether the Secretary-General has received a letter from individuals who were asking for an inquiry into alleged human rights violations in Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the letter has been received and is now being studied.

Asked about the status of UN investigations into events in Gaza, she said that the Board of Inquiry that was looking into the damage done at UN facilities is expected to complete its work by the end of the month. The Secretary-General looks forward to receiving the report, Montas said, adding that he will review it to decide on any further action.

NEW TEXT MARKS MAJOR TURNING POINT IN PREPARATIONS FOR ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today

welcomed the release of a significantly shorter draft outcome

document for the Durban Review Conference, which is due to be held next month in Geneva.

Pillay said she hoped the introduction of this latest version of the draft would be a major turning point in preparations for the Conference.

She noted that States now had a good, solid basis to consider as they enter the final stretch leading up to the gathering.

She added that she hoped the new document is the breakthrough needed to achieve consensus on a text, which will offer help to hundreds of groups and millions of individuals who are subjected to racism and other forms of intolerance all across the world. No continent is free of racism, she said, and it would be inexcusable if States failed to reach consensus on such an important issue.

Pillay urged all States to refrain from taking narrow politicized or polemical stances on particular issues, and to work together for the remainder of the process towards a successful outcome.

Meanwhile, also in Geneva today, the Human Rights Council

adopted Universal Periodic Review reports on Botswana, the Bahamas, and Burundi.

BANDITRY, HARASSMENT CONTINUE IN DARFUR

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that banditry activities and harassment of civilians continue to take place, particularly in South and West Darfur.

Today, at about 07:25 a.m. local time, a UNAMID vehicle was carjacked in Nyala, South Darfur, by two unidentified armed men in military uniforms. The gunmen ordered the driver out of the vehicle and drove off. No injuries were reported. The incident was reported to the Sudanese police.

UNAMID also reported that on Monday, two UNAMID national staff members were harassed and beaten by five armed men dressed in civilian clothes in El Geneina, West Darfur. The two staff members were stopped while they were driving a UN vehicle, beaten and left by the attackers. The incident was reported to the police.

In addition, the mission says the number of new arrivals in the Zam Zam Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in North Darfur continues to rise, bringing the total to about 80,000. The majority of the newcomers are from villages and IDP camps in South Darfur, but there are also arrivals from elsewhere in North Darfur.

On the humanitarian front, the joint UN/Government of Sudan assessments of humanitarian gaps in Darfur were extended by one day and will completed tomorrow. The three teams will have wrap-up meetings at the state level tomorrow and then travel to Khartoum where they will sort through the data for the following few days.

Asked whether the Secretary-General has spoken to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir since the decision was taken to expel humanitarian groups from Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that he has not. However, she said, the Secretary-General has been in contact with a number of other leaders as part of his effort to obtain a reversal of the expulsion decision and to ensure that humanitarian aid will get to those in Sudan who need it.

UNITED NATIONS VOICES CONCERNS OVER HEALTH OF ABDUCTED STAFF MEMBER IN PAKISTAN

In a press release issued today in Pakistan, the United Nations reiterated its

concerns that the group which claims to hold John Solecki reported that his health was deteriorating.

The United Nations is keen for Solecki to receive immediate professional medical care in a clinic or hospital where the necessary medical tests can be carried out. The swift delivery of medical help is important. John Soleckis well-being is the responsibility of the group who is holding him.

The United Nations appreciates all efforts on behalf of the Baloch tribal leaders to ensure Soleckis safe release and remains in active communication and contact with them to support this goal.

Asked about the difference between the amount of information put out concerning Soleckis abduction and the information provided in other cases of abduction, the Spokeswoman pointed out that the UNs response varies with circumstances, depending on whether providing information on an abduction is deemed to have an effect on the safety of the abductee.

EDUCATION IS FIRST STEP TOWARD RE-ESTABLISHING HOPE AND SECURITY IN EMERGENCIES

Today, the General

Assembly is holding a

thematic debate on the right to education in emergency, post-crisis and transition situations caused by man-made conflicts and natural disasters.

In her remarks, the Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro

said that where children have been thrown into chaos, schools can provide some measure of stability. Education is the first step toward restoring security and hope she added. We must act -- for the sake of children everywhere caught in crisis, where education makes the difference between hope and despair.

The Deputy-Secretary-General also noted that protecting children and teachers was a moral imperative -- in Afghanistan alone, she said, there were more than 275 attacks against schools last year.

DEPUTY-SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON STATES TO SIGN CLUSTER MUNITIONS CONVENTION

The Deputy-Secretary-General will also spoke at a signing event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions today.

In her remarks, she called on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.

The Deputy-Secretary-general highlighted the role of the Convention in helping to address the humanitarian, socio-economic and environmental damage these weapons cause and the need to consign cluster munitions to the pages of history.

The event is organized by the United Nations Mine Action Team in coordination with the Cluster Munitions Coalition.

SRI LANKA: UNICEF HEAD WARNS OF RISKS OF DISEASE AND MALNUTRITION IN CONFLICT ZONE

Executive Director of the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), Ann Veneman today

stressed that children and their families caught in the conflict zone in Sri Lanka are at risk of dying from disease and malnutrition.

Highlighting that hundreds of children have been killed and many more injured as a result of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Executive Director said thousands are now at risk because of a critical lack of food, water and medicines.

She also said that the rights of children caught in the conflict must be fully respected and every effort should be taken to prevent civilian casualties.

Stressing that children are the innocent victims of Sri Lankas conflict, the Executive Director added that extraordinary efforts must be taken to protect them.

Asked about information obtained by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) concerning casualties in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman clarified that the information was an estimate based on data obtained by local groups. She could not confirm the casualty figure.

UNAIDS STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF FIGHTING NEW H.I.V. INFECTIONS

UNAIDS issued a

statement today, stressing that its number one priority is universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. It adds that, with more than 7,400 new HIV infections each day, the world can not stop the AIDS epidemic without stopping new HIV infections.

According to UNAIDS, condoms are an essential part of combination prevention, which includes among other elements: access to information about HIV; access to treatment; harm reduction measures; waiting longer to become sexually active; being faithful; reducing multiple partners and concurrent relationships; male circumcision; ensuring human rights; and the reduction of stigma.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. AGENCIES REGISTER REFUGEES IN SOUTHEASTERN CHAD: The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered more than 5,200 refugees who fled to a village in southeastern Chad after fighting between the Central African Republics (CAR) army and rebels intensified in northern CAR towards the end of 2008. UNHCR and

WFP carried out food aid distribution to the refugees this week, the second time they have been provided with food rations since their arrival.

UNICEF has also started distributing high-protein biscuits to all children in the two sites where the refugees are camped. The agency has started the construction of five water wells for the refugees and the host population.

W.F.P. SCALES UP FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN KENYA: In Kenya, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up food assistance to feed 3.5 million people hit by drought and high food prices. The new WFP operation set to start on 1 April -- will allow to increase the numbers of people in Kenya receiving general food distributions from 1.2 million people to 2.5 million through February 2010. It will also provide 655,000 children with a meal at school and assist another 340,000 people including pregnant and nursing mothers. WFP is appealing to donors for a total of $244 million dollars to prevent the most vulnerable from going hungry.

U.N. PROGRAMME TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS FROM FORESTS SUPPORTS FIVE PILOT COUNTRIES: UN-REDD, the United Nations programme aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forests and boosting livelihoods in tropical nations has

approved $18 million in support of five pilot countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The funds will help the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Viet Nam prepare their national plans for the inclusion of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in a new climate deal. UN-REDD was launched in September of last year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg.

UNIFIL LAUNCHES OFFICIAL WEBSITE: The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today announced the launch of its official public website (http://unifil.unmissions.org). The website provides comprehensive information on UNIFILs history, mandate and activities in south Lebanon.

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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