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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-07

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 FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A FREE PRESS IS ESSENTIAL FOR BUILDING A BETTER WORLD FOR ALL

This morning, at UN Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

spoke at an event in observance of World Press Freedom Day.

He said that at a time of economic crisis and other serious threats, it was crucial to support a free and independent media so that people can better understand the events that shape their lives, and the choices they face.

The Secretary-General also noted that the work of journalists contributes to stability and democracy, and should be encouraged. Journalists should be able to do their job free of intimidation and harassment, he said adding that a free press is essential for building a better world for all.

SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROGRESS ON SETTLING ABYEI DISPUTE

The Secretary-General

welcomes the conclusion of the written and verbal arguments on the final settlement of the Abyei dispute before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague by the two signatories to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The Secretary-General commends the reiteration, in the Abyei Roadmap Agreement, of the NCP and SPLMs commitment to abide by and implement the decision of the Abyei Arbitral Tribunal.

He encourages the two CPA signatories to achieve a peaceful final settlement to this dispute and to further strengthen their relationship as partners for peace in Sudan.

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF IN SUDAN TO FIND WAYS FORWARD

John Holmes, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Haroun Lual, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs today co-chaired the High Level Committee (HLC) meeting on the implementation of the Joint Communique on the Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur.

We still regret the decision that resulted in the departure of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs)," Holmes said. "It was not justified. The optimal way forward would be a reversal of the decision. However in the meantime, we need to work with the Government of Sudan to find ways forward. It is positive that today there was a reaffirmation that we are welcome in Sudan, both for existing NGOs and new NGOs. We need to work towards having a better operating environment than we had before March 4."

Holmes tomorrow will proceed to Southern Sudan where he will meet UN officials and representatives from the Government of Southern Sudan. In Southern Sudan, he will advocate for greater attention to north-south issues, the needs of civilians and a strategy for relief and recovery in Southern Sudan.

On Saturday he will travel to Darfur to meet with local leaders and aid workers and review the humanitarian situation in the areas, two months after the expulsions were announced. He will also review issues pertaining to the protection of civilians in Darfur.

LEBANON: UPCOMING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS WILL BE A NEW MILESTONE

The

Security Council this morning heard a briefing on Lebanon from the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, who told the Council that the situation in Lebanon has improved markedly over the past year. He said the Secretary-General is also glad that relations between Syria and Lebanon have improved significantly and entered a new phase, particularly with the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Roed-Larsen noted that the Secretary-General has been informed by the Government of Egypt that, during 2008, a cell led by a Lebanese member of Hezbollah was uncovered in Egypt. The Government of Egypt informed the United Nations that the issue was now in the hands of the judiciary authorities. Also, Roed-Larsen said, over the last few weeks, the Lebanese authorities have arrested a series of individuals on suspicion of spying for Israel. If those allegations prove true, they would constitute a serious violation of Lebanons sovereignty.

The Special Envoy told the Council that the, and said it was heartening that Lebanese leaders have committed themselves to a free and fair election devoid of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.

The Council then continued its discussions on Lebanon with Roed-Larsen in closed consultations.

NEW REPORT EXAMINES IMPACT OF ISRAELI PRACTICES ON BETHLEHEM

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today issued a new

report entitled: Shrinking Space: Urban Contraction and Rural Fragmentation in the Bethlehem Governorate. This report examines how Israeli measures -- such as the Barrier, settlements and closures -- have impacted Palestinian livelihoods, development and residential expansion in Bethlehem.

The reports key findings include the fact that only13% of Bethlehem land is available for Palestinian use, and much of it is fragmented. Also, Israel retains security control and jurisdiction over building and planning in 66% of the Bethlehem governorate.

The report finds that the historic, religious, economic and cultural connection between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem has been weakened by Israeli measures. It also notes that the Barrier route in the Bethlehem governorate reaches 10 kilometers into the West Bank. If completed, it will cut off some of the most fertile cultivated land in the governorate as well as 21,000 Palestinian villagers from the urban centre.

As of now, the report says, around 175,000 Palestinians live in the Bethlehem governorate. Since 1967, some 86,000 Israelis have also been settled there, and they live in 19 settlements and 16 settlement outposts.

Regarding the way forward, OCHA outlines steps that can be taken to prevent further deterioration, including halting construction of the Barrier inside the West Bank, opening closed military areas and nature reserves for sustainable Palestinian development, and freezing settlement construction.

Asked about the issue of Israeli reparations for UN damages in Gaza, the Spokesperson noted that the subject has been discussed with the Israelis. He noted that the figure for damages amounted to some $11.2 million, according to the relevant Board of Inquiry report.

U.N. AGENCIES HELPING DISPLACED SRI LANKANS

In Sri Lanka, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirms that a shipment of 25 metric tons of food and some medicine were sent by an International Committee of the Red Cross boat to the conflict zone, while 495 people were evacuated from the conflict zone.

So far over 196,000 people have crossed to Sri Lankan Government controlled areas. 194,303 people are now in camps, while 1,741 wounded and their caregivers are in hospitals. The UN still estimates the number left in the conflict zone are at least 50,000 and no new internally displaced persons (IDPs) are reported to be in transit.

A Temporary Learning Space (TLS) is being built by UNICEF for 550 children from an IDP camp while another TLS is being for 600 children from a separate camp. UNICEF and non-governmental organizations will provide water, sanitation and hygiene services for the TLS, as well as stationery, text books and uniforms, while the World Food Programme will provide mid morning meals.

This week, the United Nations and the Government of Sri Lanka launched an appeal for $50 million to meet the most immediate humanitarian needs of civilians fleeing fighting in the north.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka is stepping up its support for the health and safety of women and girls affected by the conflict, particularly those who are pregnant.

With health services increasingly challenged by the influx of internally displaced persons, UNFPA is expanding its support for mobile reproductive health clinics offering prenatal and postnatal care, services for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and psychosocial counseling.

UNFPA says at least 3,000 pregnant women have fled the fighting in the north in recent days and some 350 of them are due to give birth next month. Since December 2008, 139 mobile clinic sessions have been conducted in Vavuniya and Mannar, serving 5,550 people.

Asked whether the Secretary-General will visit Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that there was no trip to announce there at this point. He reiterated the Secretary-Generals contention that, if such a trip could make a difference and help to save civilian lives, he would definitely go.

INSECURITY LEADS TO SUSPENSION OF FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS IN EASTERN CHAD

The World Food Programme (WFP) says it has temporarily suspended food aid distribution for some 22,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad. The order to suspend work came on Tuesday after rebel activities were reported in the region around the Goz-Amir camp where the refugees are sheltered.

WFP says camp residents have sufficient rations of food to wait out the rise in insecurity. And while it has relocated some staff to the regional hub of Goz Beida, WFPs life-saving work continues unabated in the 11 other UN-run camps in eastern Chad. However, it says it will evacuate staff from other areas if necessary.

Some 250,000 refugees in eastern Chad, 180,000 internally displaced people and 150,000 of their local hosts rely on WFP assistance for their daily subsistence.

D.R. CONGO: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS BOOST PRESENCE IN NORTHEAST

UN peacekeepers are reinforcing their numbers in the northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) says the move will allow peacekeepers to provide better support to the Congolese army in its bid to flush out illegal armed groups. The regions concerned are Haut Uele, Ituri and North Kivu.

Meanwhile, the Mission says that the Congolese army has continued to extract children from the ranks of local armed groups, with another 10 youth freed from the Lords Resistance Army in recent days.

NUMBER OF LAB-CONFIRMED H1N1 CASES PASSES 2,000

On the influenza A (H1N1) virus, the World Health Organization (WHO)

confirms that the number of lab-confirmed cases has increased to 2,099 from 1,658 yesterday. That revised figure includes 44 deaths -- 42 in Mexico and two in the United States.

WHO says that it continues to see human-to-human transmission at the community level primarily in North America. Such transmission is not yet taking place in other parts of the world. But the agency also stressed that, although the influenza alert level remains at phase 5, and even though H1N1 cases have been relatively mild so far, we should not become complacent, as the situation is still evolving.

Meanwhile, WHO, along with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health,

reiterated today that pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices, will not be a source of H1N1 infection.

CHOLERA CASES DECLINE IN ZIMBABWE

The downward trend in reported

cholera cases in Zimbabwe continued throughout April.

According to an update provided by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, by the end of April, the cumulative cholera case load was at more than 97,400. The cumulative number of deaths since August 2008 stood at 4,271.

The Cholera Command and Control Centre continues to provide medical supplies to the districts. All provinces have received the provincial cholera kits and generators, which are being delivered by the logistics working group. Health partners are still providing support to the control effort across the country including case management, distribution of non-food items, borehole drilling and water trucking.

Aid agencies working in water, sanitation and hygiene continue to respond to cholera spikes as they occur. Particular emphasis in April has been in Harare.

UNITED NATIONS EXPANDS PRESENCE IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN

Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, today

opened the 19th UN office in that country, in Tirin Kot, the capital of the province of Uruzgan.

Speaking at the opening of the office, Eide said that the UN Mission is gradually expanding its presence in Afghanistan. By next week, the United Nations will have a permanent presence in 20 provinces in the country. He added his hope that all sides will see the United Nations as an independent interlocutor that can be trusted.

REFUGEE AGENCY IS CONCERNED BY RETURNS FROM ITALY TO LIBYA

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has voiced deep

concern about the fate of some 230 migrants rescued early Wednesday by Italian coast guards in Maltese waters.

UNHCR now fears that the migrants may have been returned to Libya, from where they had set off toward Malta, without proper evaluation of their needs for protection under international laws. Italian and Maltese authorities have apparently held heated discussions for a day before settling on returning the migrants to Libya.

Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, has appealed to both Italy and Malta to ensure that those rescued at sea be granted full access to their territory and to standard asylum application procedures.

BUSINESS LEADERS VOICE SUPPORT FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION TREATY

The Global Compact Office reports that CEOs from around the world have written a letter to the Secretary-General, strongly supporting the Convention against Corruption. They are describing the Convention as an essential instrument in the fight against corruption, which is particularly crucial now, in a period of deep financial and economic turmoil, in order to prevent an erosion of ethical standards that will be hard to reverse. They have also stressed the need for the establishment of an effective implementation review mechanism at the next Conference of States Parties, to be held in Doha this November.

The Secretary-General has welcomed this initiative and has asked Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, to transmit the CEOs letter to all the State Parties.

The Intergovernmental Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the Convention will be meeting in Vienna from May 11-13.

SPOKESPERSON NOTES ACTIONS TAKEN ON FRAUD ALLEGATIONS IN KOSOVO

Asked about investigations concerning corruption in Kosovo, the Spokesperson noted the work of the Investigative Task Force (ITF), which was established through the regulation of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and comprised of representatives of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, the European Anti-Fraud Office, and the Financial Investigation Unit.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General acted appropriately on all of the recommendations of the Task Force, which issued its last report in June 2008. Actions taken by the Special Representative included referring cases to the Department of Justice and forwarding recommendations to Pillar IV. As a result of the ITF recommendations, criminal investigations were conducted and proceedings were initiated against personnel found to have committed criminal offences, he said.

The Spokesperson added that the Department of Justice ceased operations and all of the Departments case files have been handed over to the European Union Mission in Kosovo. Any further criminal sanctions would have to be pursued by that mission's investigators and prosecutors.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

GEORGIA DIFFERENCES SHOULD BE HANDLED POLITICALLY: Asked about reported violence in Georgia, the Spokesperson reiterated the UNs belief that differences should be handled through the normal political process.

WORLD NEEDS PARLIAMENTARIANS INFLUENCE: In a

message he sent to a two-day meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the global economic crisis in Geneva, the Secretary-General said that parliamentarians possess considerable authority to make decisions that will have long-term repercussions for our collective future. The world needs your influence in addressing a number of urgent, inter-related global concerns, he stressed. The Secretary-General added that the world must respond to the current crises with a new multilateralism, in which the international community comes together not just to address individual problems, but to tackle them in tandem.

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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